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Friday, 3 December 1976

Mr PEACOCK (KOOYONG, VICTORIA) (Minister for Foreign Affairs) - As I have indicated previously in answering questions on this matter, both sides have views that must be considered. Involved in this matter are intricacies of public international law which is not an area of law with the same pristine purity and clarity as domestic law has. As a consequence, propositions that we have been putting, seriatim, not simply in regard to a line through a protected zone but covering the whole area from the Arafura Sea to the Coral Sea, require extensive research and analysis as each side proceeding through the negotiations weighs up the view of the other side. It would be grossly unfair on my part to give an indication of the view of Papua New Guinea on this specific question when it has asked at this stage to examine the matter further and to look into the implications of it. That is a perfectly acceptable situation from our point of view. There is no rejection of the proposition. Papua New Guinea wants to study the implications of it.

The honourable member will be aware that Sir Maori Kiki and I have already reached agreement on a wide number of issues. Those matters were contained within a joint statement that we issued. I think it is fair to say that Papua New Guinea has been extremely co-operative in this matter. The whole concept of a protected zone is unique in public international law. We are grateful that time is being spent in examination of not merely the location of the line but also the nature of the line and of the zone itself. Discussions are going ahead well. There is a great deal of work to be done on each side as each point is reached seriatim. I expect to be meeting again with Sir Maori Kiki some time early next year.

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