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Thursday, 2 November 1967

Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) - I support the amendments. It is essential that we provide in this legislation for the benefits derived from the natural gas found beneath our continental shelf to be available to the greatest possible number of people in the Commonwealth. An amendment which the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) will propose to clause 56 on page 37 of the Bill will provide for the sale of petroleum products in States other than an adjoining State to the State in which the product is produced. I believe this is a reasonable amendment.

I sometimes wonder whether this debate should ever have taken place in this Parliament. It seems to me that all we are doing is confirming the States' rights in this matter.

The honourable member for Cunningham has moved two amendments and I understand that it has been decided to discuss all these matters together so that the business can be disposed of as speedily as possible. One of the amendments to clause 43 provides:

No licence shall be granted to any applicant who is the holder of a production licence or licences in respect of an area or areas exceeding in aggregate forty graticular sections.

I thought this matter would have been resolved, but unfortunately the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has changed his attitude towards the graticular system. It appears to me that this is a basic matter in considering areas and in considering what is to become of petroleum products won from the continental shelf. The proposal of the honourable member highlights the national aspect of this matter. Australia must assert its position. The Australian content, as was mentioned b discussion of a previous clause, is of vital importance. I understand the honourable member for Mackellar will deal more specifically with that question in a later amendment. In any event it is imperative that our resources on the continental shelf be developed in an orderly way and in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia. They must not be developed for monopolies alone. Public interest should be the dominating feature. Therefore I support the amendments moved by the honourable member for Cunningham and I hope that the House will have second thoughts on this matter.

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