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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2529

Senator SHERRY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) (9.33 p.m.) —Senator Coulter's suspicion is without foundation. With due respect, I am informed that Senator Coulter may not fully understand hybrid technology.

Senator Alston —Unlike your good self!

Senator SHERRY —Of course. Thank you. I have been learning very fast on this one. The subclause does not reduce the public interest provisions of public access, which is the purpose of clause 19. Clause 19 relates to new varieties for which there is or could be a consumer demand. Subclause 19(11) relates only to those varieties that are distinct, uniform and stable, which have no consumer or farmer value and thus no consumer demand, but which have high commercial value. Only breeding stock—that is, inbreds and advanced breeding lines—fall into this category, or these varieties, since they are breeding stock and not a final product, and they have no value to the farmer or consumer since they are unproductive or of low quality. Inbreds are an intermediate stage in the production of a hybrid, and the breeders will have incurred considerable cost in their development.

  The purpose of clause 19(11) is to encourage the flow of this improved germ plasm into Australia in order to improve our competitiveness. Australian breeders do not have access to these inbreds at present. So the provision does not, in effect, restrict the access of breeders to genetic material. The desirable gene combinations in the inbreds will be available to all breeders as a source of genes from hybrids, which is the final form that is in consumer demand. They will be available from hybrids because hybrids do not qualify under clause 19(11).