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Thursday, 23 March 1972
Page: 854


Senator BROWN (VICTORIA) - I believe my question is appropriately directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is important that I make a brief preamble. As it would appear that a serious international dispute may eventuate over the status of the Strait of Malacca, and having regard to the importance to our nation of free and unimpeded waterways for the transport of Australian export produce in the most expeditious and economic way possible, I ask: What steps have been taken or are being taken by the Government to have this critically important matter clarified?


Senator WRIGHT - I agree with the honourable senator's assessment of the importance of this matter. It is my recollection that in 1969 Malaysia and Indonesia, relying upon the extension to 12 miles of their claim to territorial waters, claimed the Strait referred to was territorial waters. Of course, that conflicts with the interests of Soviet Russia and Japan, which I think would contend that it is an international waterway. There is to be a conference on the law of the sea in 1973. Australia is busily engaged in discussions with the countries concerned and in preparation of the necessary material and brief to go for decision to that conference.







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