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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2060

Senator DURACK(11.39) —I have a few questions. The Minister's second reading speech stated:

The Northern Territory Government will be invited to assist in the conduct of the exploration program. To this end it is intended that the terms and conditions for exploration will correspond as closely as possible to those attached to exploration licences granted elsewhere under Northern Territory mining law.

That seems to be a delightfully vague statement, which I would interpret as meaning that, really, the Commonwealth Government will completely run the show, even with its own grants of mining tenements. From the answers Senator Evans has given in this Committee debate my impression, which is perhaps more consistent with what Senator Evans said at a recent Estimates committee hearing, is that the Commonwealth Government will be operating through Northern Territory mining law and the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy. This is very different from what was stated in the second reading speech.

The matter as it stands now is very vague. I would like it clarified. Specifically, will the new mining titles that are issued, either for exploration only or ultimately maybe for mining, be Northern Territory legal titles or will they be issued under some Federal law which presumably will have to be passed, although some law may be available which I am unaware of? Is the Government going to have the Northern Territory acting sensibly through its laws and administration or, as a result of all the negotiations that are going on, will the Northern Territory be prevailed upon, either by sticks or carrots, to attach to its own mining titles under its own laws the various conditions the Minister has indicated in this debate?