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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26401

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (8:28 PM) —I will have a go, but I actually thought Labor was supporting those provisions. Senator Lundy refers to detailed submissions that have been made on these issues, and it seems to me the more appropriate time to test both sides of the argument would have been across the table in either of the two committees that considered these matters at length. I am told that harmonisation is not actually referred to in the free trade agreement, and it is not totally clear to me whether Senator Lundy is referring to the patent or the copyright system.

Senator Lundy —Patent.

Senator HILL —If Senator Lundy is talking about patents, as I understand it there is a concern in the United States in that the test is a lot less demanding than the test in Australia. But I am advised that what is being done through the implementation of this agreement does not change the Australian test in that regard. That is correct, the expert tells me. I accept that these interest groups have a genuine concern or they would not be making their point, but the advice we have is that in the application of the Australian patent law there is not a real concern in that regard and this agreement will not alter that. With respect to Senator Lundy's goal, which I presume is to ensure that the patenting of this software or the processes within the software is not unduly restrictive, my advice is that there is no real concern in that regard. If she wants to explain to me the basis of her concern, I will get people to work on it; however, these people have been wrestling with these issues now for a very long time and that is their view.