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Wednesday, 28 February 1973
Page: 36

Mr DRURY (RYAN, QUEENSLAND) - I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government, in considering proposed changes to the border between this country and Papua New Guinea, has taken into account the significance to Australia of the great North East Channel particularly in relation to defence and also trade and shipping. I ask also: Is the Government mindful of the fact that at present this channel is wholly under Australian jurisdiction and that if the border is changed to 10 degrees south latitude, a very substantial part of it will come under the jurisdiction of Papua New Guinea?

Mr WHITLAM - I can give the assurance that this matter is being considered by the Australian Government. The defence of Australia is certainly involved in transit of the Torres Strait; so also is the defence of Australia's neighbour, Papua New Guinea, which I expect will be independent within the lifetime of this Parliament. It ought to be possible for these 2 neighbouring countries, particularly in the light of their long association ex tending throughout this century, to achieve a border which will ensure that this transit with its defence significance is available to both countries. Australia would not give up its use of this channel nor does it expect Papua New Guinea to forgo the use of it.

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