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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 587


Senator MASON(12.22) —The conspiracy theory is more than just a theory. It has been demonstrated by facts, by what has happened in Europe under plant variety rights. It is now taken seriously by the European Parliament, which last year raised this point. The conspiracy theory is a fact. The vast multinationals which manufacture pesticides and fertilisers have moved in in other parts of the world, bought up small seed companies and introduced varieties which are dependent on those things. That is one of the reasons why the Australian Democrats voted against this Bill at the second reading stage. We opposed it absolutely then. We are now merely trying to tidy up something that was passed over our protests.

The Minister said that what he called two conspiracy theories were exclusive. That is not so. I think any rational viewpoint would reveal that the two conspiracies would result first in a suitable variety and then in the holding back of others which might compete with it. There is nothing exclusive about those two things. There could be conditions under which they were seen as very sound commercial practice.

On that basis I am afraid that I cannot accept the Minister's argument. I urge honourable senator's despite the sort of blanket and rather unintelligent opposition to all our amendments, from both sides of this chamber, to have a little bit of lucidity and thinking outside party caucuses just for a few minutes. We must recognise that here we have something which is perhaps a little more important than other things that have been raised and which, once we let go, will have created a situation which is truly a Pandora's box.

Question put:

That the amendments (Senator Mason's) be agreed to.