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Thursday, 2 November 1967


Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - I move:

That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill: 38a. Notwithstanding anything elsewhere contained in this Act, as from the thirty-first day of December, One thousand nine hundred and sixty- eight, no person or related interest shall hold more than one exploration permit:

Provided that this section shall not apply to any permit held under a grant made before the thirty-first day of December, One thousandnine hundred and sixty-eight, and not renewed or extended subsequent to that date.

In this section: hold' includes own, whether in whole or in part, have an interest in any farmout or similar arrangement, and have power to exercise control over policy or operations whether directly or indirectly; related interest' means companies, or other bodies, whether incorporated or unincorporated, where -

(a)   one company or body exercises control over another of the companies or bodies, whether directly or indirectly;

(b)   one of the companies or bodies owns more than one-quarter share of another of the companies or bodies; or

(c)   one person, company or body,incorporated or unincorporated, owns more than one-quarter share of two or more of the companies or bodies.'

Honourable members will notice that the amendment differs slightly from the draft amendment which has been circulated to them. The words 'two or more' appear in place of the word 'another' in the second last line. This is just a correction of a misprint. I have also deleted what was originally the third paragraph of the amendment. This paragraph would have no effect now that the amendment I proposed earlier has not been accepted. The Act would not operate in respect of this proposed new section until 1974, so there would be ample time to amend it if necessary to allow for multiple permits in respect of old permittees. This is why I do not press that part of the amendment as originally circulated which I have now deleted.

I do not think that a company should hold multiple permits. I make an exception in the case of permits issued by the States because we should honour what the States have done. But 1 do not think we should necessarily honour the extension of these multiple permits. However, let the future take care of itself because in the 6 years that elapse there will be ample opportunity to amend the Act if required. I suggest that as from 31st December 1968 - that is 12 months or so from now - no new multiple permits be issued and that with the exception of permits granted before that date, no multiple permits be held. The Committee will see that I have defined hold' and 'related interest' fairly concisely. I hope that my definitions will cover the case,

I will not labour the point. I simply say that these giant permits of 400 blocks should not be held in large multiples except in the case of permits already issued by the States and in the case of initial exploration, which, as the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) has said, can be made fairly quickly and certainly would not take as long as 6 years to complete. I suggest that no company, whether Australian or overseas, should hold these multiple permits. If honourable members will consider the possibility of prescriptive rights I think something might be done, although I am disappointed that my earlier amendment was not carried. It is not necessary for me to go further into the principles of this matter. They have already been referred to. The principle of multiple permits ad nauseam is bad, with the exceptions I have noted.







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