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Wednesday, 13 November 2002
Page: 6184

Senator MURPHY (10:34 AM) —Firstly, I would like to pick up the point—and I think I have to—made by Senator Patterson with regard to senators' opportunities to participate in some committee processes. Senator Patterson understands that it is very difficult for senators on many occasions—I think she would be the first to admit that—to do so. Because we have so many committees and there are so many things being dealt with, it is often impossible. Also, it is often impossible for senators to actually write questions. Indeed, I wrote many questions directly to Biotechnology Australia seeking answers in respect of many matters and I found it very difficult to get answers. When I got answers, sometimes the answers were wrong.

With regard to what Senator Abetz is proposing in terms of creating a separate offence of possession, listening to what has been said and looking at the bill itself, I think it is probably unnecessary to create an additional offence of possession because of all the other offences that exist within the bill. It is not difficult to see that if it is an offence to create, if it is an offence to place or if it is an offence to import or export, somehow you would have to be in possession to be committing those offences anyway. I understand the logic of suggesting an amendment to create an offence of possession, but I feel that maybe it is covered. I would not be opposed to the additional provision, but I think that it is probably sufficiently covered. It will be a matter of time to see whether that is proven to be the case, but I think at this point in time the bill has a sufficient capacity to cover the issue of possession.