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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 575


Senator MASON(10.50) —Thank you, Mr Chairman. I am glad of that point, since I intend to address specifically what Senator Watson said earlier in this debate in relation to the amendment. In fact Senator Watson did not address himself particularly carefully to the amendment. He spoke about the legislation being above board, being good legislation and that sort of thing, which is quite off the subject. The point I want to make is that if Senator Watson indeed believes that there is nothing wrong with this legislation, and that this is the best thing for the country--


The CHAIRMAN —Order! Senator Mason, before you continue speaking, I wish the debate to be confined to the amendment before the Chair, which is in relation to words proposed to be added.


Senator MASON —If you let me finish my sentence, Mr Chairman, you will hear that it is. If Senator Watson believes those things he would support this amendment. There would be no reason whatsoever for him, the Opposition and the others to say that there is any objection-in fact doing exactly what Senator Powell's amendment states. The only possible conclusion from an objection to that, and a refusal by the Government or the Opposition to pass it, is that they have something to hide. In other words, as Senator Powell was saying a little while ago-I will pinch a phrase from her-it is mushroom legislation: Keep them in the dark and feed them on fertiliser. That, of course, is what the intention is; the public is not to be given information. Senator Watson is in the great cover up with everybody else in the Liberal Party and the Labor Party-and we do not know who they are in cahoots with-to cut down on public information. Because of that, Senator Powell's reasonable amendment, which would give objectors information at the time they ought to have it and which will allow them to operate within the normal public and democratic processes, is to be refused, regardless of the fact that this was something that the Labor Party thought was great and put forward itself when it was in Opposition. How far can we go with this? What will be the end of this matter? Every time the Democrats ask questions in Committee we see that both sides, the Labor Party and the National-Liberal Party, get deeper and deeper into this mire of concealment, and that relates to this particular amendment. They want to conceal things. We want them not to conceal things.


Senator Elstob —Mr Chairman, I raise a point of order. I take strong objection to the honourable senator saying that there is concealment. I thoroughly object to it.


The CHAIRMAN —Order! That is not a point of order, Senator Elstob.


Senator MASON —I would reply to Senator Elstob's interjection through you, Mr Chairman--


The CHAIRMAN —Order! Senator Mason, I ruled that it was not a point of order, so continue with your argument on the clause before the Chair.


Senator MASON —Yes. It is essential that anybody who feels that there is nothing wrong should support this amendment. That is the only way that the Government can tell the public, us, and everybody else that the Government is levelling with them and that there is nothing wrong. Just pass this amendment; it is as simple as that. If honourable senators vote against it they will be in the business of concealment, and they know it.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 27 to 31-by leave-taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 32 (Duration of plant variety rights).