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Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Page: 7035


Senator STOTT DESPOJA (5:54 PM) —In response to questions put forward by Senator Murphy, I think from a process perspective we are going to have a broader debate by virtue of the fact that there is at least one amendment put forward by Senator Murphy in relation to the Patents Act. I understand from Senator Collins that she is contemplating amendments as well in relation to patents, and there may be others in the chamber. I think that debate is going to happen, so let us have that debate later. I think we can facilitate this debate now. I am not suggesting that the issue of patents and common good and patentability is not related to this amendment, but I do think the specifics of legislative changes to the patents law are to be dealt with later on.

When the minister popped up and mentioned 1989, I was going to say that was the answer we were looking for. In 1989 there was a Patents Amendment Bill and my predecessor Senator John Coulter, who before me was the science spokesperson for the Democrats, said that the Democrats did not object to the patents bill in principle but there was one area that was not covered— and that was in relation to biological materials.


Senator Chris Evans —This is a speech bringing us back to the debate, is it?


Senator STOTT DESPOJA —That is a good point, Senator Evans. But in answer to Senator Murphy's question, my understanding is that in relation to the patents law there are not specific provisions that deal with the issues that you raised and that the issue in relation to genes, gene sequences, a genome or either one that has had genetic material added or deleted, an altered organism—basically human biological materials—can be patented. I think you know that. And while I appreciate what you were doing, I think that if we get that on record we can move on. We are going to have this debate, I can tell, at some scary hour tonight.