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Thursday, 2 November 1967

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - I point out to the Committee that this is an overriding clause. It says that a person shall not explore for petroleum except in pursuance of a permit. This clause is of consequence because it confers monopoly rights on the holders of permits. At present, practically the whole of the Australian coastline is covered by exploration permits which will be recognised under this legislation. This clause, therefore, means in effect that nobody except the people at present holding permits, or their assigns, will be able to explore offshore for petroleum for at least 6 years. If honourable members will look at the map that is available, they will see that the whole of the Australian coastline is now hypothecated with the exception of a small area off New South Wales, a small area off the south of Western Australia and a small area off the east of Arnhem Land in the Gulf of Carpentaria. These areas are bounded by rocks unlikely to be metalliferous and therefore unlikely to be attractive. I do not propose an amendment at this stage, but 1 point out the crucial importance of the clause. It virtually ties up the Australian offshore areas.

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