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Wednesday, 1 November 1967

Mr CONNOR (Cunningham) - The Government has only itself to blame for the position in which it finds itself. Had it done what any normal government would have done it would have exercised its undoubted sovereign rights over the continental shelf. On that matter I agree with the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that it is under the external affairs power that the Commonwealth could claim jurisdiction - plus, of course, the international convention. But irrespective of the powers listed in clause 1 1 of the Agreement, a declaration of abject dependence is contained in clause 5 of the Agreement which says:

Except in accordance with an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments, a Government will not submit to its Parliament a Bill for an Act that would either -

(a)   amend or repeal an Act that is contemplated by the preceding provisions of this Part; or

(b)   in any material respect affect the scheme of the legislation that is contemplated by this Agreement.

This would be all very well if everything were for the best in the most perfect of all worlds. But on the question of good faith, which was referred to by the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), we have had the Premier of Victoria already bucking his brand off, even before the legislation went through in his own State, much less here. If this mirror legislation were to be acceptable it should have been determined and passed here, in this sovereign Parliament of the nation, before it was farmed out to the various States, despite their signatures to this shandygaff Agreement. Had that been done these points could have been considered. But now we are asked to accept a package deal.

To return to the Premier of Victoria I quote from the 'Financial Review' of Thursday, 19th October:

Victorian Premier Sir Henry Bolte said yesterday that New South Wales would not be able to get cheaper gas than Victoria as a result of the Commonwealth-States agreement.

Delightful evidence of good faith!

He said the annexe to the agreement, under which the States agreed to encourage interstate sales of gas, declared the common intention of the parties not to discriminate against interstate trade.

He said this made the annexe a 'two-edged sword.'

Sitting suspended from 11.30 p.m. to 12 midnight.

Thursday, 2 November 1967

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