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Monday, 11 November 1991
Page: 2841


Senator SPINDLER (5.25 p.m) —I join Senator Hill in expressing satisfaction that the Government has seen fit to accept most of the Democrats and Opposition amendments that were passed in this chamber on the Copyright Amendment Bill. However, for obvious reasons, I cannot join him in congratulating the Government on its position on amendments Nos 5 and 10, particularly since both the Attorney-General (Mr Duffy) and the shadow Attorney-General, Mr Peacock, seem to be under a misapprehension. I quote from the brief address by the Attorney-General, Mr Duffy, who said:

. . . we reject the notion that Australian readers should be deprived of that access to the original book for a substantial period while readers in other countries have such access.

  These two amendments are designed to encourage Australian adaptations of overseas books. The amendments in question took great care to ensure that the original remained available to Australian readers and purchasers unhindered while the adaptation was being prepared. Not surprisingly, that statement was repeated by the shadow Attorney-General in the other place.

  There are a number of other criticisms made of that amendment which, however, could have easily been fixed if the Government had seen fit to encourage Australian adaptations of overseas works. I would have thought that was an admirable objective. The amendment said that there was no time limit, that it would be difficult to contest an application to the Copyright Tribunal, and that once an order had been made it would be difficult to have it terminated. They are technical matters which could easily have been introduced by the Government into the amendment if it had supported the basic strategy of encouraging Australian adaptations of overseas works.

  However, as it stands, it is clear that the Opposition and the Government have seen fit to join forces or, should I say, that the Opposition has capitulated to the Government's entreaties. We are used to that in the economic area; not so often in the legal area. But it seems that Tweedledum and Tweedledee are alive here as well. I cannot resist quoting some words from Mr Peacock's speech:

The Attorney-General has shown a propensity, in the period in which I have been shadow Attorney, to listen to the wisdom of my remarks from time to time, and to act upon them. So I thought that on this occasion I ought to reciprocate.

In the face of such intense mutual admiration, we simply must admit that the combined forces of the Government and the Opposition have defeated our amendment.