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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 590


Senator VALLENTINE(12.40) —I wish to confine my comments to the second of the amendments under discussion at the moment relating to the matter of street stalls. It is ridiculous that people in community groups can be prosecuted for selling plants from their own gardens at street stalls to raise money for worthy causes. I would like to tell the Committee very briefly about a case which illustrates the absurdity of this possibility. It concerns a Dr Jock McClaren who sometime last year was selling plants on behalf of Community Aid Abroad to further its very commendable self-help programs. It was a Saturday morning street stall in Subiaco, Western Australia-a scene familiar throughout the country. The local Subiaco City Council prosecuted him on behalf of commercial interests because his selling of home grown plants was seen to be interfering with their Saturday morning trade. This raises all kinds of questions relating to civil liberties and free enterprise, albeit in this case on behalf of others and not in a self-interested way.

The prosecution was defended by Dr McClaren and finally the charge was withdrawn-a very embarrassing situation for the Subiaco City Council, which was quite rightly seen as protecting vested interests. This was a local council action, but with the provisions of this legislation we could have a Federal government prosecuting people for selling plants on street stalls. What is important from this example is the question of profit. This Plant Variety Rights Bill 1986 is all about money.


Senator Mason —At Labor Party street stalls it would be okay.


Senator VALLENTINE —Probably. The plant seed companies stand to gain a great deal by the regulation of plant varieties to suit their vested interests. The only conclusion I can make for the Government's change of mind on the issue of PVR-which it so strongly opposed only a few short years ago-is that it has been bought lock, stock and barrel by the companies that stand to make enormous sums of money with the introduction of this legislation. I cannot see any other reason why we have been constantly faced with the offensive spectacle of the Lib-Labs sitting on each other's laps not only against the better interests of the Australian people but also against the better interests of the world's people, whose food supply should be of concern to us all. The world's seed banks should be a shared heritage of all people and not the property of select few whose main interests is in making money. I support Senator Powell's amendments.