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Thursday, 2 November 1967

Mr BUCHANAN (Macmillan) - The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has just told us that he would like to see an amendment under which the override applying to the four blocks that come under a secondary licence would cease to be a condition of arrangements made after 1973. In recommending this he said that it would not interfere with any of the arrangements that people now have. This, of course, is quite true. The people who now have licences and who are working under the conditions as they now exist would not be affected if by some extraordinary chance this amendment were accepted. But let me explain to the Committee what the effect of this would be.

Five blocks out of the nine would be licensed by somebody who at some future date proposes to come into Australia and do exploration work. I believe that for generations to come somebody will be coming to Australia to do this work, but they would come with a threat hanging over them that they would have to give up four of the nine blocks. The honourable member for Mackellar does not say on what conditions the four blocks would be surrendered. I presume that we would go back to the old barter system or something like that. After spending perhaps millions of dollars to discover the location of oil, whoever held the four blocks would be asked to give them away or, rather, would have the four blocks taken from them. The only people who would be allowed to take up the four blocks would be Australians or an Australian company. I cannot think of anything more likely to deter people from coming to Australia to look for oil.

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