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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 572

Senator WATSON(10.28) —The Committee has been subjected to another ill- informed demonstration of trying to appeal to people's emotions by telling them that the qua-lity of foodstuffs will decline following the passage of the Plant Variety Rights Bill. All the great debates have already taken place. There is widespread support for this legislation throughout the informed community. There are very small pockets of vocal opposition and we are seeing a filibuster in this chamber to try to delay the passage of this Bill. If somebody invests his or her time and capital in testing and developing a new variety, it would seem right and reason-able that that person should be entitled to a return.

Surely the economic and humanitarian advantages of a new strain of rice which can grow a crop three times a year will be preferable to one which will yield one or two crops a year. In fact, the improvements in the quality of rice growing have greatly contributed to the feeding of the world's population in some of the Third World centres. Prior to acceptance and registration the variety characteristics have to be clearly set out. Each must be a new plant variety. It is a lot of hogwash to try to engender into the community the fear campaign that quality will be downgraded. If anything, quality will be upgraded. In fact, we are likely to have fewer chemicals used on plants because of the breeding in of rust resistant qualities. I believe that all the great debates have already taken place and the repetitious contribution in relation to this clause has constituted nothing but a scare tactic. It is not surprising that the Press is not taking up these ill-informed arguments of the Australian Democrats.