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Wednesday, 16 March 1966

Mr FAIRBAIRN (FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for National Development) - I am aware that there has been some criticism of the statement which was made by the six State Ministers for Mines and myself in the various parliaments last spring. As a result of this criticism, I invited the members of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association to come to Canberra and to discuss their problems with State officers and the Bureau of Mineral Resources. The State Ministers for Mines and I recently had a meeting in Sydney. As a result of that meeting, we have decided on some relaxations and improvements. For example, we have agreed that instead of allowing oil explorers four graticule blocks, which would be about 100 square miles, we will now allow them a further block, representing 125 square miles all told or approximately 25 times the size of the Moonie oil field. Recently, I have had an officer of my department, Mr. Livermore, abroad. He has been discussing this legislation with representatives of countries in Europe and America. Wherever he has been those representatives have informed him that this is a generous - in fact a very generous - scheme. However, the proof of the pudding. I think, is in the eating. I am informed that at least four new rigs will be brought into Australia to drill off shore this year. The Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. is contemplating the making of two rigs which will drill off shore at Gippsland. These will not be floating rigs. They will be platforms.

I have been asked about royalties. I do not have full knowledge of royalty arrangements in all other parts of the world. I can tell the House that the royalty in Australia will be fixed at 10 per cent., of which half will go to the States and half to the Commonwealth, . for the first twenty-one years. The royalty rate will be reviewed after that time. In the United Kingdom the royalty is at the rate of 12i per cent., but this is a longer period - 40 years. In the United States of America, the royalty generally is 16i per cent, for the life of the well.

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