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Monday, 6 December 1999
Page: 12796

Mr MURPHY (1:15 PM) —I would like to support the comments of the member for Denison and also of the chairman of the committee on the advisory report on the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Bill 1999. If the taxpayers had a window on the intellectual and physical rigour that was brought to the committee and the secretariat's work—and they are sitting over there and need to be congratulated, too—I am sure that they would feel that everyone earned their money.

The report certainly emphasises the profound effect that digital technology is having on the world at large in today's environment. Of course, the bill primarily reflects a respon sibility to ensure that we protect the owners of copyright. Also, from our deliberations it is quite obvious that the inquiry revealed that we can understand only too well how the owners of copyright must feel when their works are pirated or stolen. This report recognises that and the importance of the need to balance the rights of those in our community who must continue to get public access in a digital form to a wide range of information for the purposes of learning, education and public debate. Access to information and the use of information in furthering education and strengthening our position as a knowledge nation are all fundamental to our wellbeing as a vibrant country which should provide opportunities for each and every one of us.

The government has already proposed a review in three years, and the community should be confident that the Labor Party will take a keen interest in assessing whether the new legislation has improved or exacerbated the differences between the haves and the have-nots in our community. At all costs, we hope to prevent the creation of a new category of information haves and have-nots. The bill, along with the committee's recommendations, does not lead necessarily to this, but it does leave an emergent new information industry largely in the hands of industry players. Individual users are not readily represented in this environment, and libraries are not listened to often enough. This means that Labor needs to monitor, on behalf of many less privileged users, their capacity to access information and, in particular, whether libraries can maintain and improve the services they already offer to our community under the new regime.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl) —Order! The time allotted for statements on this report has expired. Does the member for Menzies wish to move a motion in connection with the report to enable it to be debated on a future occasion?