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Tuesday, 11 April 1972
Page: 939

Senator POKE asked the. Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:

(1)   Is it true that an attempt by 10,000 Australians to buy land in the Simpson Desert area for 20 cents an acre, to retain it as natural parkland and thus prevent its sale to American interests, has been rejected.

(2)   Is it a fact that the land, comprising 3 pastoral leases near Bedourie, 1,200 miles west of Brisbane, is the subject of higher offers from American interests.

(3)   Will the Government take steps to ensure that this land does not become yet another part of Australia taken over by overseas owners.

Senator COTTON - The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question: (1), (2) and (3) This matter was referred to by the Minister for the Interior in several statements in Parliament recently. It appears that, following a newspaper report that negotiations were taking place concerning the sale of the Simpson Desert to overseas interests at 20 cents per acre, a Member of Parliament made a suggestion on an Australian Broadcasting Commission programme that anybody who wished 'to save the Simpson Desert' might send 25 cents to the Minister for the Interior to buy an acre of land in the Desert.

A large number of persons wrote to the Minister on the subject and some of these enclosed money in order to purchase land in the Simpson Desert. The Minister has replied to these people returning any money forwarded and explaining that the Simpson Desert in the Northern Territory is vacant Crown Land and the Government does not intend to make available for sale the Simpson Desert in the Northern Territory.

In South Australia and Queensland the Simpson Desert is reserved as a national park and the land cannot be sold or leased.

The Minister also explained in Parliament that the land to which the publicity was given is situated north of the Simpson Desert, in Western Queensland, and comprises 3 pastoral leases known as 'Yuluraa', 'Gungur' and 'Buruli'. Transfer of these leases would require the permission of the Minister for Lands in Queensland.

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