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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3025

Mr CHAPMAN (KINGSTON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -Does the Minister for National Resources recall that it was one of the Government's 1975 pre-election policy undertakings that the Petroleum and Minerals Authority established by the previous Labor Government should be abolished and that assets acquired by it should be divested? Can the Minister advise on the position reached in respect of these undertakings?

Mr ANTHONY (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Deputy Prime Minister) - I recall very well the High Court proceedings which made invalid and null the Petroleum and Minerals Authority created under the Whitlam Labor Government. That organisation was intruding into mineral activities which could well have been carried out by private enterprise or under State authorities. I am pleased to be able to say that in the case of the Wambo Mining Corporation $3m was repaid to the Commonwealth on 29 June 1977. In relation to Mareeba Mining N.L., its loan will be repaid by 1980. In the case of the Cooper Basin natural gas project which also has interests in petroleum exploration licence areas in South Australia, over a period of discussion with the South Australian Government we have been able to make arrangements to divest the Commonwealth's interest in this. We have been holding an 18 per cent interest in it. Whilst these negotiations have been somewhat protracted we have now reached a satisfactory conclusion. I hope to have the agreement signed by South Australia today and to be in a position later today to put out a statement giving the details.

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