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Thursday, 17 May 1973
Page: 2346

Mr McKenzie (Diamond Valley) - The honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) and I are both new members of this Parliament. It came as rather a surprise to me to hear him refer to the remarks of the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) in the terms that he used. If both of us can do as well for the people of Australia and the people of the electorates we represent as the honourable member for Macquarie has done, I think that we will have served this Parliament and this country well.

One would think, from listening to the debate, that it was a question of Queensland against the rest. This is a national Parliament and we ought to be thinking about this issue in a national way. We are delegates and representatives of the Australian people elected to speak on their behalf in the national interest and not in the interests of the States. That is the important thing. It is the most important thing contained in this Bill. It is not a question of centralism at all; it is a question of whether the Australian people should be able to assert their sovereignty over the waters around our coast. Some years ago the Victorian Government made what I believe to be a grave mistake as far as the petroleum resources off the coast were concerned.

Mr Jacobi - That is an understatement.

Mr McKenzie (Diamond Valley) - It is an understatement. In Canada the national Government controlled the leases in that country and many hundreds of millions of dollars came to the Government of Canada through the proper sale of leases for petroleum exploration. This sort of money did not come to the State of Victoria. We see the sorry situation where schools, hospitals, roads and public transport generally go without sufficient funds because the interests were sold out partly to overseas interests. Let us see that this sort of thing never happens again. We owe loyalty to this country; not to particular States. I am amazed at the attitude of some of the members of this Parliament who try to make this a question only of State rights. In this country we certainly need co-operation between the States, but we need to think of ourselves, first and foremost, as Australians. The States lost their opportunity to participate in the councils of, as it was then, the British Empire in 1902 when they did not even deign to attend.

I think that the Parliament agreed some years ago that this Bill was urgent and that it ought to be introduced. The time has now come. Having regard to the remarks that have been made, particularly those of the honourable member for Darling Downs, when the Bill comes to a vote it will be interesting to see how honourable members will vote on this issue as members of a national Parliament concerned with the national interest. Why should we not pass a Bill which will give the people of Australia, for the first time in our history since Federation, absolute and complete control over these assets which are of such great importance to the Australian people? We need to protect our environment and to conserve our national resources. This Bill will do. this. It is about time that we stopped talking about State interests and started to talk about the interests of the country to which we all belong - Australia.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The time allotted for all stages of the Bill has expired.

Question put:

That the. words proposed to be omitted (Mr N. H. Bowen's amendment) stand part of the question.

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