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Friday, 11 October 1985
Page: 1124

(Question No. 224)

Senator Bolkus asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 18 April 1985:

(1) Have there been any government-to-government communications between Australia and the United States concerning renewal of the lease agreement for the Pine Gap joint defence facility.

(2) Has the Australian Government given any under-takings to the United States Government in regard to renewal of the lease agreement for the Pine Gap joint defence facility.

(3) Under the existing lease agreement or any other arrangement with the US Government, at what point is the Australian Government required to make a commitment for renewal of the lease agreement on the Pine Gap joint defence facility.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1), (2) and (3) The honourable senator's question is based on a misunderstanding about the nature of the agreement governing the establishment of the facility at Pine Gap. There is no ``lease agreement''. The agreement is published in the Australian `Agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Government of the United States of America Relating to the Establishment of a Joint Defence Space Research Facility', Treaty Series (A.T.S.). It comprises two documents, the 9 December 1966, as extended and amended by an Exchange of Notes of 19 October 1977 (A.T.S. 1977 No. 24).

These documents are concerned with the terms and conditions of a partnership between the Australian and United States Governments involving the establishment and operation of the facility at Pine Gap. The joint nature of the responsibilities is reflected in Article 3 of the Agreement, which says:

``The facility shall be established, maintained and operated by the Cooperating agencies of the two Governments and information derived from the research programmes conducted at the facility shall be shared by the two Governments'.

The relevant current provision governing the currency of the Agreement is contained in the 1977 Exchange of Notes. It provides that the Agreement be extended for a period of ten years from 19 October 1977 and thereafter until terminated. After this extension has been in force for nine years ``either Government may at any time notify the other in writing that it desires to terminate the Agreement in which event the Agreement shall terminate one year after such notice has been given''.