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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 574


Senator VALLENTINE(10.41) —I support Senator Powell's amendment to regulate the provisions of the Plant Variety Rights Bill 1986. Obviously, it will be passed by the Senate. I disagree with Senator Boswell when he says that the Democrats are trying to ambush the Bill or to filibuster. What is being attempted here is to put some regulation on the provisions of the legislation to ensure that its effects will not be quite as devastating if it goes through unamended. I think it was really offensive when we were debating the various amendments last week constantly to see members of the Labor Party going to sit on the laps of the Liberals in every division. There is less and less difference between the two major parties in this country on a range of issues but particularly on this piece of legislation. Members of the Government were opposed to it when in opposition, including the present Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Kerin.


The CHAIRMAN —Order! Senator Vallentine, we are considering a specific amendment to clause 26. A general debate on the merits of the legislation is not in order at this stage.


Senator VALLENTINE —My remarks are relevant to the comments that I am making about the Minister because he has actually lobbied members of the Senate to try to get them to change their minds on something that was originally his own amendment. He has given us no good reason for a change of mind; neither has any member of the Labor Party who has consistently crossed the floor to sit on the laps of the Liberals. In fact, the overseas evidence from the European Parliament suggests that there is increasing concern about plant variety rights legislation as one of the major causes --


The CHAIRMAN —Order! Senator Vallentine, I drew your attention a few moments ago to the fact that we are considering an amendment moved by Senator Powell about written notice being given to people who lodge objections. You should relate your remarks to that amendment.


Senator VALLENTINE —I think my remarks are very important because this was originally the Minister's own amendment when he was in opposition. Thousands of letters have come in from constituents around the country opposing the plant variety rights legislation. To my knowledge, none of these letters are in support of the legislation. The people of Australia, I believe, are being ignored. It is no wonder there is a great amount of disillusionment with the way in which the country is being governed, not only on this issue but also on others. It is important that the people's voices be heard, particularly relating to this amendment, which I support.