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Wednesday, 8 June 1994
Page: 1455

Senator BURNS (10.11 a.m.) —As the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs, I would like to make the point—

Senator Vanstone —Did they make you the chairman, Bubbles?

Senator BURNS —That is right. I make the point that the government did not refer this matter to the committee to examine the particular legislation, but once referred the committee was very concerned to see that the legislation was properly based and that the rights and interests of all people were taken into account, and that included the Aboriginal people in light of the native title legislation. As was pointed out by Senator Brownhill, we looked at all the legal implications in relation to this matter and we were assured that the position of those affected by native title would be taken care of. I believe that every aspect was looked at and that the legislation should go through in its original form.

  The proposed legislation in no way denies the right of Aboriginal people to make a claim and assert their ownership of genetic plant material. They can still do that, show proof, and be given ownership of that material. After all the consideration that has been given to this matter, for it to go now to another committee would be a complete waste of time and would not even serve the goal that Senator Coulter has set for such an action.