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Tuesday, 27 November 1973

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - What Senator Wright said and what I earlier said was directed to the content of Part III. But I would also say that, as has been advanced in the course of the second reading debate, the successful exploration and exploitation of whatever mineral resources are to be found in the submerged seabed around our coastline will be achieved only if there is co-operation between those authorities- the Commonwealth and the States- which have responsibilities in and around those areas. I could not visualise, even if the Commonwealth were to be successful in its assertion of sovereignty over the whole of the offshore areas, that it could successfully grant to an operator in those areas all the facilities which the operator needed for successful exploration and exploitation unless at the same time either that operator or the Commonwealth could secure secure land bases for those operations. Putting that at possibly the lowest level in which the claim or case for co-operation can be made out, that type of arrangement is something to which I believe the Commonwealth must have regard. Likewise, if there should be an ultimate outcome in terms of what the judiciary decides which gives possibly to the States some authority over the submerged lands and the seas in the offshore area there must be co-operation between those bodies.

I think that we ought to have regard to the fact that in November 1967 the Supreme Court of Canada, when an advisory case was taken to it as to who had sovereignty over the onshore waters outside British Columbia, decided that it rested with the Dominion Government. Earlier this year when I last made researches there had been no resolution of what was necessary for exploration and exploitation to take place in the Canadian offshore waters. That was because the Dominion Government and the provincial governments could not resolve their differences. For all the plea which is made, for all the acknowledgement which is inherent in the second reading of this Bill that this is an area where constitutional authority should be resolved, the practical requirements require a co-operative arrangement between the States and the Commonwealth. I can only hope that when a new mining code is devised it will be the fruit of co-operation between the bodies which have responsibilities because I am quite satisfied it will be the national interest which will suffer if it is not done.

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