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Thursday, 4 May 1989
Page: 1753


Senator HILL(10.12) —Last night there was a little confusion, but I understand that the variation which the Australian Democrats made to their amendment was simple to substitute `the Government' for `Attorney-General's Department'. I was in the process of moving our amendment to that, which sought to substitute `the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs' for `the Government'. I hope the Government will not take that as disrespectful, but it happens to be my view that an investigation and report from a Senate committee might well be undertaken more expeditiously. I now regret, as the months have gone by, that clauses 9 and 10 were not referred to the same Senate committee at the end of last year. Had that been the case, the whole of the debate concerning the relationship between the Designs Act and the Copyright Act as they affect those provisions could have been considered in time and with all due effort. The advice of the Senate through its committee system would now be before us. At any rate, that did not happen. If I had a choice I would take that course today, but I know that the Government and the Democrats would not support such a move.

The third best option is that the Senate express an opinion today that the Committee, notwithstanding the passing of the legislation at the second reading stage, should address its mind to the design questions and report back to the Parliament. If our amendment to the Democrats' amendment is unsuccessful, I would nevertheless like to hear from the Government as to how it interprets the Democrats' amendment which proposes that the Senate express its opinion that the Government should examine and report. Is the Government prepared to indicate that it will accept the advice and prepare a report in accordance with the detail of Senator Macklin's amendment? How long does the Government think it might take to bring down that report? Is it willing to indicate that it will put a report to the Senate so that at least that report can be noted and debated in this chamber and perhaps, if necessary, referred to the appropriate Senate committee for further consideration? But I urge upon the Democrats and the Government that a better choice in this amendment of the Australian Democrats would be to express the opinion that the Senate Committee look at the question rather than simply relying on the Government to do so.