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Wednesday, 8 March 2000
Page: 14243

Mr ENTSCH (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources) (11:30 AM) —in reply—I thank the opposition for their support on this important bill, the Timor Gap Treaty (Transitional Arrangements) Bill 2000, enabling the smooth process to give effect under Australian legislation to the new treaty arrangements. The purpose of the bill is to amend the Petroleum (Australia-Indonesia Zone of Cooperation) Act 1990. The bill provides both Australia and East Timor with an important bilateral treaty to ensure security for oil and gas exploration and development in an area of proven great potential by providing continuity and certainty in the legal arrangements for existing and future commercial operators in the Timor Gap zone of cooperation.

We have watched the tragic destruction in East Timor unfold following the ballot last year, and it is an honour for me to have carriage of this bill, as it plays a significant role in assisting East Timorese rebuild their lives and the economic future of their country. The treaty is no less important for Australia. The zone has proven its resource potential and the treaty signed by UNTAET on behalf of East Timor on 10 February will provide a smooth and seamless transition for the treaty arrangements, especially for the petroleum company's rights and obligations under the treaty.

I take this opportunity to thank the officials of my department and the department of foreign affairs who facilitated, with their Indonesian counterparts, Indonesia's disengagement from the treaty. I also thank the member for Kingsford-Smith for his strong support of this legislation. Unfortunately, I do not have on hand today the detailed information he seeks in relation to the talks and agreement made by officials on behalf of all parties. I will however forward the relevant information following this debate. I also thank the members for Blair, Petrie, the Northern Territory, Charlton, Griffith and Throsby for their contributions in the debate today. I commend the bill to the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that the bill be reported to House without amendment