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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 4058

Mr CONNOR (Cunningham) (Minister for Minerals and Energy) - I do not know whether I have been listening to a debate or a morality play. A lot of people are patting themselves on the back and drawing very peculiar inferences from a political manoeuvre. Apparently the Opposition seeks to obtain some exiguous advantage from having rejected a mining code which it had drafted and which was available for introduction. In point of fact the Opposition is merely, as usual, 4 years behind the times. It has accepted in toto, reluctantly and in a laggardly fashion, the Gorton Bill which it was not prepared to put through in 1 970. If the Opposition can see any political advantage in that or if it can get any political kudos from it I miss my guess and the Opposition misses its objective.

Clause 12 of the Bill as returned by the Senate is the key. In that clause is a declara tion that the sovereign rights of Australia as a coastal State in respect of the continental shelf for the purpose of exploring it and exploiting its natural resources are vested in and exercisable by the crown in the right of the Commonwealth. We will be doing precisely that. As for logic in the Senate, there was not any. The only logic there was the logic of numbers, for what they were worth. If the Senate is to continue its path of flouting the will of the duly elected Government, the Constitutional government, it has only got -

Mr Peacock - Do you not realise that the Senate is duly elected also and that it is part of the constitutional structure?

Mr CONNOR - It is miles behind the times. You were heard in silence and with courtesy. The Senate is merely playing a partisan role. We are happy for it to do so, to put the noose right around its neck and we will hang it in due course, and it deserves it.

Mr Peacock - He espouses the cause of the hangman.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member for Kooyong was heard in silence during his contribution and the Minister should be given the same courtesy.

Mr CONNOR - Extreme courtesy but that would be beyond the Opposition. There will be no courtesy in the future activities of the Government in relation to asserting the sovereign rights of the Australian people.

Mr Viner - No courtesy?

Mr CONNOR - There will be no courtesy needed nor is it deserved on the part of people who can seek to glorify themselves for having thwarted the will of the electors as expressed 12 months ago. The battle will go on and you all know it will go on. You can flap your wings and blow your bags and if your halo is a little tight, enjoy tonight because there will be another battle to come.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Resolution reported; report adopted.

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