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Thursday, 7 June 1984
Page: 2739

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(12.20) —I wish to speak very briefly on the Copyright Amendment Bill and say that the Opposition supports it. Indeed, our attitude was made clear by Senator Durack, the shadow Attorney-General, in a statement that he put out on 24 March. He indicated at that time the Opposition's view that the Government should legislate without further delay to give interim copyright law protection to the creators of computer software. This is a matter of great interest, but its history is adequately set out in the second reading speech and in the Press release put out by Senator Durack. In the interests of brevity I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard that one-page statement put out by the shadow Attorney-General at that time.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-


The Government should legislate without further delay to give interim copyright law protection to the creators of computer software.

Shortly after the decision in the Apple Case, the Attorney-General, Senator Evans, and the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator Button, issued a joint statement in which they said,

'. . . industry should note that it is the Government's intention to promptly undertake such legislative action as is necessary to ensure that software is adequately protected'.

They foreshadowed the likely amendment of the Copyright Act as a short term measure. Last week when he opened a symposium on legal protection for computer software, the Attorney-General seemed to be less sure of what action the Government should take and to be more interested in a long-term solution rather than the need for immediate short-term protection for the software industry.

The Attorney-General has himself pointed out the size and importance of this industry in Australia and has recognised the strength of its claims for the protection of its interests.

Arguments about the best legal method of doing this and the role Australia can play in international consideration of the problem are all very interesting and no doubt stimulating for the lawyers taking part in them. They are cold comfort however for those who are competing in the market place and developing a worthwhile industry for Australia.

There should be no difficulty about introducing as a matter of urgency an amendment to the Copyright Act to give protection while the debate and discussion about long-term solutions is carried on in whatever forums appeal to the academic interests of the Attorney-General.


March 24 1984

Senator CHANEY —Having done that I simply wish to say that we are co-operating in the speedy passage of the Bill through the Senate because the House of Representatives is being lifted by the Government today and it is the Opposition 's view that this legislation should complete its parliamentary consideration during these sittings.