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Tuesday, 15 May 1973
Page: 2129

Mr LUCOCK (Lyne) - I do not intend to delay the House or the passage of this Bill for very long. As the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) pointed out, the purpose of this legislation is to ratify an agreement which has already been made by the previous Government and which is to be finalised by the present Government. I want to stress the complex nature of these agreements which I believe will raise 2 questions which possibly will be debated to far greater length when we are discussing other legislation that is to come before this Parliament. I would emphasise the remarks made by the honourable member for Parramatta when he said that there was a need when considering this legislation to have an appreciation of the rights of the States. I think that is something that we should give serious consideration to even in legislation such as we have before us.

The ratification of the agreements will put a seal on discussions which were held over quite a considerable period of time. An illustration perhaps of the complexities of the situation as far as offshore oil and various other matters concerning the sea are concerned is the present position in which the United Kingdom and Iceland find themselves. Icelandic flishermen claim a certain area which they say should be reserved and over which they should have fishing rights and the United Kingdom fishermen say that under an international agreement the waters claimed by Iceland as belonging to that country are international waters. When this argument was first brought forward everybody felt that it would be a minor matter which could be solved very easily. But the situation has developed into a serious international question. Although it has nothing to do with this Parliament, I hope that wise and sane counselling will prevail in this matter. It is a matter that affects not only the people of Iceland and the United Kingdom but also all agreements on international waters.

Although, as has been mentioned by the honourable member for Parramatta, the Opposition does not oppose this Bill, I think that those matters should be given very serious consideration by the Government. This is also a matter of concern to the States and the Territory of Papua New Guinea, especially as the granting of independence to Papua New Guinea is now being given earnest consideration. Those things go to make up a problem that, as I have said, is complex in all its aspects. I agree with the statement by the honourable member for Parramatta that this agreement should be ratified as speedily as possible. I congratulate the honourable member for Parramatta, who was one of the main negotiators of the agreement, and the present Government for the work they have done in relation to this matter. As it is, I hope that some of the facts that we have learned from the negotiation of this agreement will be put to use in the negotiation of further agreements and in later discussions along these lines.

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