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Wednesday, 1 June 1994
Page: 1036

Senator COULTER (10.59 a.m.) —I wish to speak to the amendment moved by Senator Margetts. Unlike the Opposition—if I can pick up the words of Senator Boswell a moment ago—we are not here doing the bidding of the oil companies at all. I do have a purist view, for very good reasons, of the nature of scientific research and who should own that research. I believe that that information should be very free and should not be subject to the sorts of bias that is creeping into Australian research. I will not be supporting the amendment, on the grounds that it is worded in such a way that these bills be stopped pending this inquiry. But I have indicated to Senator Margetts that I would support a wide-ranging inquiry into this and other issues in relation to the nature of science.

  Picking up very briefly on the CSIRO, I notice that Senator Panizza has now supported a reference on science to the industry, science and technology committee. He would know that I had been trying for about six months to get such a reference before that committee and I was defeated by his colleagues. These issues are partly covered by Senator Margetts's amendment, but they are much broader than that. They go to the issue of CSIRO funding. Who pays the piper calls the tune; it is that sort of idea.

  That is a very important issue and must be looked at in relation to science funding and the nature of scientific research—what scientific research is done, who owns the results of that research, the issue of intellectual suppression and everything else that goes along with that. I will be supporting that broad principle in discussions with, hopefully, Senator Panizza and Senator Margetts on that reference foreshadowed by Senator Panizza. I think it is a very important issue and it should be taken up, but not in the context of blocking this legislation now to get that inquiry going.