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Tuesday, 10 October 1972
Page: 2241

Mr IRWIN (MITCHELL, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of Press reports in this morning's newspapers of the communique issued in Djakarta by the Minister and the Indonesian Minister for Mines, will the Minister say whether Australian petroleum exploration areas have been greatly affected?

Mr Jacobi - I raise a point or order. Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to question No. 6214 on the notice paper in my name dealing with the question of the negotiations between the Australian Government and Indonesia in this area.

Mr Buchanan - It is out of date.

Mr Jacobi - Never mind about its being out of date. My question should have been answered.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. He has made the point of order. The question placed on the notice paper by the honourable member for Hawker covers many other matters and was placed on the notice paper on 10th October. These negotiations took place only yesterday. I rule that the question is in order.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The answer to the last part of the question by the honourable member for Mitchell is that the permits have not been substantially affected. I will seek leave - I hope some time later today - to make a statement and to table the agreement which has been arrived at with Indonesia. Therefore I will not expand on the position now beyond saying that I think it is agreed on all hands in Djakarta that the negotiations by the delegation for Australia have been brilliantly conducted. Originally the Indonesians sought a median line between Timor and Australia. Australia was arguing for the depths of the deep trough about 50 miles off Timor. The line which has been arrived at is about 60 miles off Timor. We will have on our side of the boundary waters 200 to 300 miles distant from Australia. This, however, results in a small fraction being taken off the area in which Woodside Burmah has an exploration permit, and perhaps a very small fraction will be taken from Arco Aquitaine. Arrangements have been made, as honourable members will see in the agreement, for protection in respect of those. But I emphasise that the boundary arrived at is at all points beyond the 200 metres depth line and is therefore in relatively deep water. At one point the depth is 600 metres. The areas conceded are not valuable areas, even small as they are. I think some give and take was required. There is an old saying that good fences make good neighbours, and I think that in international affairs good boundaries make good neighbours. The Indonesians are satisfied with the line; we are satisfied with it, and I believe it will hold as an historic boundary between our 2 countries.

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