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Thursday, 27 April 1972
Page: 1362

Senator WILLESEE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I address a question without notice to the. Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the Government expressed a view on the current dispute over whether the Straits of Malacca is an internal or international waterway? What effect on Australian shipping and trade would result from the declaration that the Straits were no longer an international waterway?

Senator WRIGHT (TASMANIA) (Minister for Works) - The Government has not, to my knowledge, expressed a view on this subject, but it is watching the position carefully. Australia, for itself, does not acknowledge that the Straits are subject to the control of the 2 liberal States, Malaysia and Indonesia, which claim that position. As I indicated to the Senate a fortnight ago, this subject is expected to be discussed at the law of the sea convention in 1973. It will be understood that Singapore takes a view different from that of the other 2 countries I have mentioned. Of course, the Senate will be aware of the view of the major powers with regard to this matter which will have a considerable bearing upon the ultimate issue at the conference referred to.

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