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Friday, 19 October 1984
Page: 2040

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(9.24) —I thank all honourable senators who have contributed to this debate. As Senator Crichton- Browne so clearly outlined in his speech, this is an important piece of legislation which should be supported by all right-minded, right-thinking and progressive people. The only opposition to the Bill in this place comes from that small group of conservatives in the Australian Democrats who, for some reason, wish to preserve Paterson's curse. I suppose that Senator Haines would rather refer to it as salvation Jane. The legislation is to establish a system whereby we can introduce biological control in this country with ease, at the same time protecting the country and those who need it. The Government opposes the amendments which will be moved by Senator Macklin.

The Bill, despite the beliefs of Senator Macklin and others, is not to deal only with Paterson's curse. Had this been the intention it could have been achieved without providing for extensive public comment and review for all biochemical proposals to be submitted in the future. The Bill does not authorise the biological control of Paterson's curse. It provides for public inquiry to assess whether this should be the case. Speculation or assertions as to the outcome of the inquiry merely expose the prejudices of people who make those speculations. The Bill does not override the existing injunction. Clauses 36 and 37, which the Australian Democrats seek to amend in amendments Nos 1 to 5, merely ensure that the purpose of the Bill is to replace the injunction process with an administrative process in the future. We want this to be fulfilled as, I believe, every sensible person does.

Senator Macklin —Nos 1 to 5?

Senator GRIMES —If Senator Macklin and his colleagues would forget about Paterson's curse for a moment-

Senator Macklin —It is not Nos 1 to 5; it is Nos 10 to 15.

Senator GRIMES —I am sorry if I have the wrong numbers, but if Senator Macklin and his colleagues forget about Paterson's curse for a moment and look to the future, which is what we are all about, they will see that these clauses simply prevent legal actions or last minute court orders from effectively blocking an approved biological control program.

The Democrats should also note that the injunction does not concern itself with whether Paterson's curse should be subject to biological control. The national spokesperson for the Coalition for Jane, the pro-Paterson's curse group, has consistently stated that the matter can be settled by public inquiry. The Bill provides for such inquiry and enables any subsequent decision to be legally meaningful. The Bill is the result of a lot of thought and consultation. It has, as Senator Crichton-Browne said, general support in the community except from that small group of conservatives opposite.

Senator Crichton-Browne —Including the Australian Agricultural Council.

Senator GRIMES —It has the support of the Australian Agricultural Council. I do not know why Senator Macklin is taking this attitude to this very important piece of legislation. Whether he is after the basket weaving barefoot vote, I do not know. But I thank honourable senators for their support and announce that we will oppose the amendments.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.