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Thursday, 2 November 1967

Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer) (Minister for National Development) - The honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) said he was disappointed that all the areas bad been taken up. I say thank goodness they have been taken up because this shows interest in exploration in these areas.

Mr Benson - I meant they had been taken up by the wrong people.

Mr FAIRBAIRN - Not by the wrong people. Unfortunately, some Australian companies that have taken up areas, because of their lack of technical ability and financial resources, have been unable to carry out the necessary work and therefore have had to give up some areas. 1 would be the first to say that 1 would like to see a greater Australian participation in exploration in the offshore areas. But do not let us decry the fact that these areas have been taken up, because under this Bill they will all be subject to certain requirements and to surrender after 6 years. Thank goodness for that provision. This means that exploration will proceed in the offshore areas. Nothing could be worse for us than to have these areas lying vacant. We want to see exploration and we hope for discovery. The Bill will help to ensure that this happens, because it will give security of tenure. We all hope that there will be an increasing Australian equity in the permits and we are doing our best to ensure that areas will be available for Australian companies.

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