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Thursday, 2 November 1967

Mr Whitlam asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

What have been the date and nature and result of any consultations between the Commonwealth and Queensland on rectifying the boundary between Papua and Queensland, which was fixed by Britain in 1878 and which proceeds for some sixty miles within three miles of the Papuan coast.

Mr Harold Holt - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: - The boundary referred to in the question is ยป line, described m Letters Patent of 1878 and confirmed in further Letters Patent of 1925, that serves the purpose of identifying islands forming part of the State of Queensland. Discussions took place with Queensland between 1903 and 1906 on the question whether certain islands in Torres Strait might cease to be part of the Stat: of Queensland and become part of the Territory of Papua. No action was taken. The matter was again discussed between the Commonwealth and Queensland in 1923-25. Regard was had to, among other things, the affinity of the people of the islands near Papua to the inhabitants of other islands in Torres Strait In the result, no change was made and in 1923 new Letters Patent were issued confirming the Letters Patent of 1878. In 1964-1967 the Commonwealth has had discussions with Queensland concerning the division of offshore petroleum rights and arrangements as between Queensland and the Territory have been agreed upon. These are reflected in the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill which is now before Parliament

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