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Thursday, 1 April 1971

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Minister for Air) - I wish to take a few minutes to reply firstly to Senator Milliner. He referred to the grower who, because of fire or some similar happening lost his receipts for his fruit. I think the simple answer to that problem is for the grower to ask the company or packing house for duplicates. I deal now with clause .ti. I point out to the Senate that the Government has already made a concession in relation to this clause. If one looks at other research legislation one finds that the equivalent clause states that a prosecution may be commenced at any time. The Government, recognising the Senate's views on similar matters, thought that it would look very carefully at the situation, and it did so. The Government finally decided that it could make this legislation work by making the period 5 years. Now the Australian Labor Party says that this is not good enough; that the period should be reduced to 12 months. I believe thu! 12 months is far too short a period. T give my reasons, which are these: In speaking on a previous clause I said that an inspector does spot checks at infrequent intervals. He might not go near a factory for 12, 15 or 1.8 months. A period of 12 months is far too short.

Senator Byrnesaid that he recognised that fact but that he believed that the Government should still shorten the period. I do not know whether he suggested a period, but he said that he thought that 5 years was far too long and that the inspectors should be able to inspect these packing houses or, in some cases, the premises of individual growers before that and that if prosecutions were to be commenced the Government should commence them before the 5 years had expired. Senator Byrne went on to suggest that I should have a look at the situation and consult with the officers and advisers of the Department of Primary Industry as well as the Minister for Primary Industry.

As members of all political parties in this chamber have expressed their disquiet about this matter, I thinkI should give it further consideration. In view of the circumstances pertaining at the present time I think the most appropriate course to adopt is to move that progress be reported.

Progress reported.

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