Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 16 June 1989
Page: 4270


Senator COULTER(1.47) —We will not support these amendments. I do not know where that leaves this debate; whether it means that it has become contentious and we cannot complete consideration of it. It seems to me that when one is dealing with a change in the law which involves something like patents-and some of these patents are attached to pharmaceutical agents, which are extremely valuable to the particular companies-necessarily, there will be a requirement to act at a particular time and to act decisively, so that those who attempt to use knowledge about the change to get a pecuniary advantage are unable to do so. It seems to me that what the Opposition is attempting to do is to put the clock back so that some people are allowed to take advantage of something which was not knowledge at the time, but which is knowledge now, and allow them to start a process which could involve the granting of an extension of patent for up to 10 years. However long the legal process took, the patent could be extended for that length of time.

We certainly accept the Government's position that it is much tidier to introduce this legislation fairly quickly; to make it clear that the uncertain 10-year period is replaced with a reasonably certain four-year period. That is fairer; everybody knows where they stand. My understanding is that there may be as few as two companies that may be involved in the process of actually preparing a case at the relevant time. I think the degree of penalty which is being imposed is quite small.