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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 573

Senator BOSWELL(10.35) —I wish to join in this debate to take up some points made by Senator Macklin. If one were to take Senator Macklin seriously-most farmers do not take the Australian Democrats seriously-one would think that farmers are completely unable to make a commercial decision. It will be up to the farmer to make a commercial decision as to whether he should buy a particular seed variety. He may wish to experiment, but ultimately whether or not he buys a particular type of plant variety will be his decision. At least he will have access to varieties that have been denied to him because Australia has not had plant variety rights legislation.

A number of horticulturists right across Australia, from Tasmania to Queensland, are demanding plant variety rights. The Democrats have some left wing philosophical hangup that I have never been able to get to the bottom of. The National Farmers Federation and all the other farmer organisations in Australia have said that they want plant variety rights. The National Farmers Federation has said it, the horticultural industry has said it and the wine industry wants it. All it is going to do is--

Senator Macklin —Increase the cost of seed.

Senator BOSWELL —It will not increase the cost because if the farmer does not want a plant variety he does not have to use it. He can make his own choice. We are not interested in what the Democrats want, because they have been anti-rural throughout the time that they have been in this Parliament. The Australian Democrats is the most anti-rural party; it is even more anti-rural than the Australian Labor Party. That is very hard to understand, but it is a fact of life. Let it be known to rural Australia that it was the Democrats who forced upon this Parliament the animal welfare committees that are running around and that have cost Australia $20m in lost sheep exports. They are the ones who caused it; it was their idea. And now they are crying crocodile tears for the farmers. The farmers could not care less about the Democrats.

Honourable senators interjecting-

The CHAIRMAN —Order! There are too many interjections from the Democrats.

Senator BOSWELL —Thank you, Mr Chairman; I appreciate your protection. They are getting excited. Senator Macklin knows that 39 per cent of his Senate quota comes from rural Queensland and he is trying to tell those people how interested he is. My view is that Senator Macklin has never done a thing for the farmers in Queensland except impose cost after cost. He has encouraged Senate animal welfare committees to go out there and disturb what the farmers are doing.

Senator Macklin —Ha, ha!

Senator BOSWELL —Senator Macklin can laugh now; he will not be laughing after the next Senate election though, because he will be gone.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! Senator Boswell, we are considering clause 26 of the Bill.

Senator BOSWELL —The point I want to make, Mr Chairman, is that no longer will farmers be unable to compete with the imports that are taking their markets. We have only to go out into the fruit shops to see a classic case involving imports. Nectarines and peaches are being flown in from New Zealand and are taking the markets of Australian horticulturists. On the other hand, the Australian horticultural industry can grow, provide more jobs and create overseas sales if it has access to plant varieties with increased yield, better colour and better fruit. The Australian rural industry can be only better served when this plant variety legislation is passed. It could have been passed three or four days ago or three or four weeks ago-even before the Parliament rose for the Christmas break-if the Democrats had not tried to ambush this Bill and to filibuster on it. The delay is costing the Australian taxpayer thousands and thousands of dollars, when every rural person in Australia wants this legislation.