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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2528


Senator COULTER (9.25 p.m.) —At 24 minutes past nine at night Senator Tambling has the audacity to suggest that he is being just a little facetious in his remarks. I suggest that he is very considerably facetious. We are not seeking to protect the interests of the Australian Democrats here at all. Senator Tambling knows that, while we would agree with many of the conservation groups and others who gave evidence to this committee, we are representing a viewpoint and I agree that in the context of this committee it is a minority viewpoint.

  However, I am asking him to consider the fact that there is a viewpoint there. There is a considerable non-commercial aspect to this which is not picked up by the membership as it is described in the bill. It is suggested that paragraph (e) picks it up when paragraph (e) specifically refers to qualifications and experience that are appropriate for a member of the advisory committee. In the context of this legislation, that is people who would have some experience in the area of the commercial protection of protected inventions—patenting, plant breeders' rights and those sorts of things—botanists, or people who might have a technical but disinterested concern about plant breeding, but not necessarily representing that public interest. We are seeking to represent that public interest, because to exclude it, is to undemocratically exclude a very important element.

  We must remember that this is an advisory committee to government. It may well be that that person will express a minority view on the committee, but to suggest that that view should not be expressed, that it should be excluded, or may be excluded at the whim of the minister, is simply not good enough. It is an important viewpoint and I think it should be represented from time to time to the minister. That is why we move this amendment.

  Amendment negatived.