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Wednesday, 23 October 1974
Page: 1864

Senator GREENWOOD -Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that, notwithstanding the current High Court challenge to the validity of the legislation which establishes the Petroleum and Minerals Authority, the Authority is proposing to expend the sum of $50m in this current year? In all the circumstances is not that expenditure recklessly imprudent? Without seeking any legal opinion from the Attorney-General, I ask: Has he been asked to give or has he given to the Authority advice as to steps which might be taken by the Authority to avoid this sum being totally lost if the Authority should be declared invalid?

Senator MURPHY - Of course I am aware that there is a challenge to the Petroleum and Minerals Authority legislation; but, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is aware, the legislation was passed at the Joint Sitting and assented to. Until some competent court declares it to be invalid it is to be treated as the law of the land. There has been no injunction in respect of the Authority. The Government's duty is to treat the legislation as the law of the land. As to the other matters raised about expenditure, I understand from one of my colleagues that this has been raised already in an estimates committee. If someone wishes to stop the operation of that legislation, it is open to him to see whether he can get an injunction against the operation of the legislation pending any determination by the High Court. Until that is done, the Government quite properly is treating the legislation as being in full force and effect.

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