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Tuesday, 5 November 1985
Page: 1513


Senator CROWLEY —Has the Minister for Resources and Energy seen reports in the South Australian newspaper the Advertiser of Friday, 1 November, when Premier John Bannon announced a joint petroleum exploration venture on the State's Pitjantjatjara lands between the Pitjantjatjara people and the United States oil company Amoco and three other companies? Does this not give the lie to claims by the State Opposition that the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act should be amended to break the deadlock on lands exploration? Given the degree of good will between the Pitjantjatjara people and the proposed explorers of minerals and gas, will the Minister elaborate, so as to allay not only the fears but also outrageous commentary to the contrary of the Opposition? Will the Minister comment on the values of the exploration by Amoco and the prospects for South Australia and Australia?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I have seen the report to which Senator Crowley refers. Indeed, that report has been printed in every newspaper, I think, in the country in the last couple of days-and so it should have been, because, as Mr Bannon said, this certainly is a breakthrough in access for petroleum exploration on the Pitjantjatjara lands. Contrary to the State Opposition's criticism of the terms of the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act, this settlement demonstrates beyond question that, given a constructive and imaginative approach by the parties concerned, agreements can be reached. The agreement also assumes some significance in a larger context in the light of the current campaign by the Australian Mining Industry Council about land rights generally when one notes that the Pitjantjatjara Act is in fact, in many respects, closer to the existing Northern Territory model land rights Act than even subsequent legislation in South Australia, with the Maralinga Land Rights Act. If agreement of the kind that is involved here was able to be reached against that background, that again, one would think, significantly undermines a number of the claims that are currently being bandied around about the impossibility of reaching rational settlements in the national interest on these matters.

As to the particular details of this agreement, I am advised that the exploration permit has been granted over 20,749 square kilometres of the Officer Basin, covering the south-east portion of the Pitjantjatjara lands. The successful consortium comprises Amoco Australian petroleum company, 50 per cent; AP Oil Pty Ltd, 20 per cent; Crusader Oil NL, 15 per cent; and Quadrant Energy Development Limited with 15 per cent. The work program over the initial five-year term of the licence involves expenditure of $32.5m on the acquisition, processing and interpretation of 3,400 line kilometeres of seismic surveying and the drilling of five wells. The commercial arrangements which have been negotiated provide for the direct participation of the Pitjantjatjara in the consortium through AP Oil Pty Ltd.


Senator Chaney —How come you don't know all this and are reading it? Come on!


Senator GARETH EVANS —I do not need to read that part of my answer which amounts to congratulations to all the parties concerned for demonstrating that with good will and common sense-qualities that are not apparent in either the Leader or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition opposite-the Act can operate for the benefit of all parties and not least for the people of South Australia.