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Monday, 6 December 1993
Page: 3847

Senator MURPHY —My question is directed to the Minister for Science and Small Business. Earlier this year the Prime Minister's Science and Engineering Council received a report entitled The Role of Intellectual Property in Innovation. I understand that the government has considered and responded to the recommendations contained in the report. Can the minister inform the Senate of the government's response to the report? What are the implications for the commercialisation of research and development and the transfer of technology?

Senator SCHACHT —The Prime Minister's Science and Engineering Council received a report a few months ago on the role of intellectual property in innovation. This was a response from particularly the industries concerned that we get the maximum advantage from the development of science R&D in Australia by protecting it internationally as well as nationally in the intellectual property area. As a result of those recommendations to PMSEC, the government established an IDC and has responded. Two weeks ago I was able to announce that the government has endorsed the need to raise the profile of intellectual property and will undertake programs increasing the awareness and understanding of intellectual property issues throughout the business sector and higher education research institutions.

  The PMSEC report estimated that, in world markets, intellectual property supports $600 billion worth of industrial products and processes annually. What must be emphasised in the Australian context is that, as our manufacturing exports grow, our international competitiveness will be underpinned by our ability to obtain protection for intellectual property.

  The government's response to the report will, firstly, raise awareness of the importance of intellectual property and its protection; secondly, help to build stronger intellectual property systems in our region; and, thirdly, serve to make the Australian intellectual property system more accessible to firms and research groups. On behalf of the government, I would certainly like to place on record our appreciation of the efforts of the working group that reported to PMSEC, upon which the government has taken these decisions to enhance the intellectual property system in Australia.