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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2514


Senator COULTER (7.39 p.m.) —I move:

1.Clause 3, page 3, subclause (1), omit definition of "plant", substitute:

"plant" does not include any fungi, algae, bacteria, bacteroids, mycoplasmas, viruses, viroids or bacteriophages;".

Clauses 3 and 6, one of which we are seeking to amend and the other of which we are seeking to delete, clearly go together. They relate to the widening of the provision for plant breeders' rights to species which are not classified as plants. This is not in accordance with the international agreement, it is not necessary and we feel it draws a much wider compass for this legislation than is necessary or desirable. Clause 3 relates specifically to the fact that the definition of a plant includes all fungi and algae but does not include bacteria, bacteroids, mycoplasmas, viruses, viroids or bacteriophages. Any botanist will tell us that fungi and algae are not plants but are in a separate grouping by themselves. Clause 6, which we are seeking to delete, essentially suggests that one can take genetic material from these other species and put them into plants. Clause 6 reads:

For the purposes of this Act, an organism may be treated as constituting a plant grouping within a single botanical taxon despite the fact that the genome of the plants in that plant grouping has been altered by the introduction of genetic material that is not from plants.

It clearly recognises that that genetic material might come even more widely than from fungi or algae. Indeed, clause 6 suggests that we could take a human gene, for instance, and put it into a plant and that plant would then be covered by this legislation.

  For those sorts of reasons, we believe that this extends the application of this legislation much wider than is either necessary under the international obligations that we have negotiated or desirable in terms of drawing this legislation that broadly. Clause 6 opens the door for essentially the patenting of the use of genetic material, which is much wider than plant genetic material, including genetic material from humans. It is for that reason that we would seek to amend clause 3 to limit the definition of a plant to only things which are plants and to exclude clause 6 altogether.