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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2453


Mr GARLAND (Curtin) - I rise this evening to place on record and to emphasise what I believe was the outstanding work that was done on behalf of Australia by the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, now the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) in a negotiation of the boundary between Australia and Indonesia during his term of office. When the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill was before the House last week I unfortunately was not able to speak on it or I would have made these comments at that time. I believe that there has not been full recognition in this Parliament in this country of the honourable member's skill, or of the importance of the agreements which he signed on behalf of the country in May 1971 and October 1972. Those agreements were signed, as the House is aware, and their ratification by both countries is not in doubt. The House also is aware that relations have been difficult in the past between our 2 countries but they are certainly not now, and I acknowledge the good relations which this present Government has continued with Indonesia. I instance in particular the contact made by the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) on his recent visit to Indonesia.

Boundaries between countries are extremely sensitive matters. In the history of nations, the disputes, incursions and wars that have resulted from the placement of boundaries and the areas over which countries have sovereignty are without number. Yet last year an amicable agreement was reached by the former Minister for Foreign Affairs and, as will be seen by the map which was appended to the Bill circulated last week, it was not simply a mean line between the coastlines of those countries. It was, in fact, drawn closer to Indonesia and in that sense was in Australia's favour. The matter was largely concluded last year; and in election periods, particularly in the mood of last year, there is not much room for praise. I for one take this opportunity to ackncwledge this very great achievement. I believe that when the history of our country is written by the truly objective and detached in those days yet far off, the great work there was in this negotiation with Indonesia will be seen and it will be greatly praised,I think, together with those initiatives the honourable member began in other fields many of which have been carried on by this present Government and perhaps accelerated.







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