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Wednesday, 19 September 1973
Page: 1280

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) - I respect the statement of opinion given to us by the former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). At the same time, the Australian Country Party has a view which relates more to our general concept of the way in which we see the future of the Australian Commonwealth, we are concerned as a Party that there should be meaningful co-operation between the States and the Australian Government. We do not believe that this Labor Government has contributed either directly or indirectly towards initiatives to resolve areas of difficulty. As a Minister who has been responsible in several areas affected by this legislation I believe that there has been reasonable progress towards the development of a regime which gives both fields of legislative responsibility an opportunity to express their several points of view towards the better interests of Australians.

We need, first of all, in any measure before this place to think not of whether we are responsible at a federal, a State or a local government level, but of those whom we represent. As far as I and the members of my Party are concerned we oppose at this stage all the sections of this Bill because we do not think that it is possible for the declaration of sovereignty and the resolution of who is particularly responsible to be solved by a decision of the courts. The High Court of Australia in the wisdom and the judicious determinations of those who preside there certainly will determine who is ultimately responsible but they will not resolve the administrative difficulties of who, how and when, in the practical sense, for example, is going to maintain control of those inner territorial waters up to the 3-mile limit. They do not cover the difficulties of providing the administration of a minerals regime. They do not provide the sort of meaningful co-operation which I think came out of the off-shore oil legislation that came through this Parliament and the regime that was negotiated between the Commonwealth and the States.

I see that there are a number of areas where further negotiations are necessary. I do not believe that either the Australian Labor Government nor the States have tried to enter into negotiations since the Bill was last before this Parliament. I would see that it is necessary that both sides attempt more than they have done to come to a resolution on the areas of difference. The resolution here is presented only by a laying down of the law in the manner in which the Australian Labor Government seeks it. I do not believe that to be the answer to the problem. I certainly am concerned at the problems which the Queensland Government and other State governments see in relation to their own territorial waters - as far as Queensland is concerned, the Great Barrier Reef and the islands to the north-east of Australia.

Mr Jacobi - How do you resolve them?

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