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Wednesday, 1 November 1967

Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) - [ want to make a small point that is relevant to clause 15. It relates to the designation of authority and is of importance. I hope the Minister will be able to explain coherently how this operates, especially as it affects the Commonwealth administration and the State administration of the agreement. Tt seems to me that once we delegate authority either by a State Minister or by a Commonwealth equivalent, we enter into the realms of Commonwealth and State responsibility. The Agreement has been said to have no legal standing; it cannot be made law. We therefore have the operation of a designation of authority with respect to some of the most important decisions that must be made in this country. One of the problems of this designation of authority will arise between the Commonwealth and the States when decisions must be made regarding the issue of exploration licences. The right to delegate authority in this way does not seem to be satisfactory, especially when the Agreement is not binding in law and when the rights of the States to grant leases for areas on the continental shelf are in question. 1 urge the Minister to explain in his reply how this provision will work in practice, especially with respect to the operation of designation of authority as between the Commonwealth and State responsibilities. This is important. It is particularly important when we have in mind that the decisions taken by the Commonwealth and the States could sometimes be different in intent.

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