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Friday, 15 November 2002
Page: 6547

Senator O'BRIEN (3:36 PM) —I canvassed in some detail earlier in the debate the opposition's concern about the attempt to import gene technology issues into the Plant Breeders Rights Scheme. This amendment seeks to impose liability on the grantee of a plant breeder's right in relation to damage or loss caused by genetically modified plants. The amendment seeks to establish a unique compensation regime for genetically modified plants within the PBR Scheme. It is our view that the establishment of this regime is an attempt to deal with gene technology concerns and that it is entirely inappropriate in this legislative form.

The inequity of holding PBR grantees liable for loss or damage in relation to genetically modified plants, when compared with someone who did not seek to so register a plant but caused damage, demonstrates that this legislative mechanism is not the appropriate mechanism to pursue this course of action. If this course of action were to be pursued, of necessity it could only have implications for a genetically modified plant which was registered under the scheme. It would have no application to a genetically modified plant which was not registered under the scheme. It would therefore arguably be ineffective, and certainly inequitable, that a regime designed to protect the environment and impose penalties applied only to one group of people and not potentially to another. In our view, that demonstrates that this is not the appropriate vehicle for this legislative amendment.