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Thursday, 2 November 1967

Mr BENSON (Batman) - I go along with the remarks of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). As he has pointed out, all the areas where it is relatively easy to drill for oil have already been taken. When I spoke the other night I said that very little interest has been shown in New South Wales, where the continental shelf is narrow and the water is very deep. But where it is likely that oil will be discovered, the areas have been taken. People who think that oil will be found there easily have already taken out permits. I said then that this is bad. We all want to see more Australian equity in these permits. I want companies to come to Australia; I am not opposed to foreign enterprise coming here and putting money into Australian projects. However, I am opposed to those people who come here, take out permits, lay them aside for a period, make a token gesture of searching for oil and then leave, so that they can come back again if somebody else finds oil near their area. I think the outlook for this country will be bad unless we have a greater Australian equity in the permits. I know that all we can do is say whether we agree with the Government in arriving at the agreement with the States. I know that it is really out of order to try to amend the legislation at this stage, because we must say either that we agree or disagree with the legislation as it is.

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