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Federal Government has power to protect reef



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He said that he expected that the necessary

Commonwealth legislation would be introduced in the current session of the Parliament. The transfer would take place as

soon as the legislation was enacted. .

Senator Durack said that the executive and .legislative organs of the Northern Territory Government had

now been established with a considerable degree of effective autonomy. It was therefore appropriate that the highest judicial organ of that Government, the Supreme Court, should be under its legislative and executive control.

The appointments of the four existing Judges of the Court would be preserved, , he said, and they would continue to be Judges of the Federal Court of Australia. Appeals from the Supreme Court would continue to lie to the Federal Court for the time being.

Canberra 21 May, 1979 29/79

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FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS POWER TO PROTECT REEF

The Attorney-General Senator Peter Durack, Q.C., today gave· an assurance that the Federal . Government would not permit any activity which could in any way damage the Great Barrier Reef. .

. . He said the Commonwealth.Government had full power of control in relation to the Great Barrier Reef region.

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"The Federal Government has the ultimate constitu­

tional power in this area to ensure that its policies are carried out and to ensure the exercise of its

responsibilities. It has the clear power to carry out the.,

undertaking on policy given by the Prime Minister as

recently as last Tuesday," he said.

• The Attorney-General said that following the

Premiers Conference agreement last year, discussions had taken place with all of the States on the issues involved in

returning the territorial sea to the States.

Senator Durack said he and Senator Webster had taken part in discussions with Queensland Ministers in

Sydney last Thursday about jurisdictional questions which had arisen in the offshore areas affecting Queensland. .

One of the questions still unresolved was the application of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act - a Federal. Act - in relation to jurisdiction over marine parks in the whole Great Barrier Reef region.

"The discussions with the States are on the basis of the exercise by this Parliament - not anybody else - of its constitutional power.

"We are not talking about giving away the ultimate constitutional power of this Parliament. Let that be clear," Senator Durack said.

Repeating the assurance given by the Prime

Minister, the Attorney-General said, "Let me say in the most clear and categoric terms that we would not allow anything

to occur that would in any way or could in any way damage

the Reef. If there is a doubt about whether an activity would damage the Reef, that activity would not take place.

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"I would also like to emphasise that since 1971 when the Royal Commission was established,· there has been a moratorium on any exploration or drilling on the Reef.

. "That situation will continue until the Government has considered the Report of the Royal Commission on the Barrier Reef and decisions are made in relation to its

recommendations.

■ "The decision may well be that the moratorium will continue indefinitely", the Attorney-General said.

Canberra 24 May 1979 30/79

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WELCOME TO MR JUSTICE WILSON

Address by the Attorney-General, Senator Peter Durack, Q.C.

If The Court Pleases ■

Your H o n o r , Mr Justice Wilson

This is an especially happy occasion for me today to congratulate you on your appointment to this co ur t. I also convey to you the best wishes of the Prime Minister and the Government. ■