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Thursday, 2 November 1967

Dr MACKAY (Evans) - I want to spend just a couple of minutes in putting the honourable member's mind at rest, and also to reassure industry representatives who might feel some reason for concern about this clause. It is possible, I suppose, to construe the words to mean that the designated authority or the Minister could make wholly unreasonable demands on an exploring company. In other words he could direct it to carry out a tremendous amount of highly expensive work. But I believe there must be some common sense ascribed to the framers of the Bill. After all, the designated authority is, to all intents and purposes, the government of the State concerned - a government intimately and vitally concerned with the sound technical and economic development of its resources. Only if a government suspected malpractice or at least a deliberate go-slow policy in exploration would it act under this clause. We must place a certain amount of reliance on the bona fides of an Australian government. What the clause really means is that if a government suspects that there has been a discovery which means the existence of a reservoir, and that it has not been properly evaluated, then the government can direct that steps be taken to see that a reasonable reservoir evaluation is made; that some kind of estimate of the potential, based on sound technical advice, is obtained.

Mr Buchanan - Then why not say so?

Dr MACKAY - The honourable member for McMillan asks: Why not say so? I should have thought that these words would be rather superfluous when they relate to the authority in question. If it was purely a private concern that we were referring to it would be a different thing, but we are talking about a government, and it is unthinkable that any responsible Australian government would direct a company to do anything that was not technically or economically, sound.

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