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Wednesday, 8 June 1994
Page: 1457

Senator COULTER (10.22 a.m.) —in reply—The Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories (Senator Faulkner) has given a very good answer to Senator Crane. Senator Crane said, `We urgently have to pass this legislation.' The minister said that this legislation is not substantially different from the 1987 bill and indicated, therefore, that there is protection in there already. If the 1987 bill is in conflict with native title legislation then that also should be sorted out.

  As far as Senator Vanstone is concerned, I would point out to her that we have a very good example at the present time in a High Court challenge by Philip Morris in relation to legislation which this parliament has passed and which her party has assented to in principle but with which her shadow minister for health disagrees, namely, the issue of advertising of tobacco products. One can argue in that case that there are substantial arguments on both sides and, clearly, there is a possibility that that legislation could be thrown out by the High Court. That is precisely the sort of situation we do not want to happen with the Plant Breeder's Rights Bill which is before us.

  The Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills report is dated 1 June. It is certainly true, as I admitted when I spoke earlier, that the Attorney-General (Mr Lavarch) gave advice that this bill is not in conflict with the Native Title Act. However, the scrutiny of bills report dated 1 June which came afterwards raised this issue that there may well be a conflict. In answer to all the speakers who oppose this motion, I simply point out that, if they are concerned about the rapid application of this legislation, if indeed there is a conflict here and this matter becomes litigated in the High Court, that will certainly tie for a very long time. This matter should be sorted out now as far as possible and not left for potential litigation in the High Court, and that is why I commend this motion to the Senate.

  Question put:

  That the motion (Senator Coulter's) be agreed to.