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Thursday, 2 November 1967

Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer) (Minister for National Development) - Mr Deputy Chairman, I do not wish to speak at length on this matter, because it was discussed very fully in relation to an earlier clause and I have already expressed my views on it. Let me first answer the allegation by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). It is certainly true that the areas for which exploration permits are given in Australia at present are probably larger than those to be found anywhere else. But where else are there continental shelf areas of this magnitude owned by one country? Such large areas of continental shelf are not to be found in the United States of America and Europe. We want to see all of these large areas prospected. We do not want to have vast areas over which there is no prospecting. Throughout the world there is only a limited number of companies that have the ability, the knowhow and the finance to undertake the exploration that is required. We have tailored the Australian system to what we believe suits the needs of Australia. There is no recognised standard for offshore prospecting.

We have looked into the matter carefully. Officers of my Department and of every State Mines Department have been overseas to look at systems operating elsewhere and to see whether any of them would be suited to Australian needs and whether we could in some way improve our present system. As a result of these investigations and discussions with top mining officials, both here and overseas, we have adopted our present proposals. After all, if anyone wants to see our offshore oil resources developed, surely it is our top mining authorities and the Mines Ministers of the States. For the reasons that I have given, the Government does not see its way clear to accept this amendment, and I propose to move that the question be now put.

Mr WENTWORTH (MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - May I have an opportunity to reply before that is done?

Mr FAIRBAIRN - No. I move:

That the question be now put.


Question resolved in the affirmative.

Question put:

That the amendment (Mr Wenlworth's) be agreed to.

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