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Wednesday, 11 December 1974
Page: 3401

Senator DURACK (Western Australia)

In sub-clause (2), leave out 'Minister of State for Minerals and Energy, by or on behalf of or in co-operation with Australia or an authority of Australia and', insert, Governor-General '.

We are quite satisified with the scheme of this Bill in relation to the authority, in the first place, to mine in a national park. This is clearly provided by the requirement that this can be carried on only in accordance with a plan of management relating to that park. Provision is made in the Bill in the subsequent clauses for such plans of management. The important aspect about the provision of plans of management is that they require the approval of both Houses of the Parliament in the sense that either House of the Parliament may disallow such a plan of management. The scheme of the Bill does require the approval of the Parliament for any mining to take place in a national park. So, in that regard, we are quite satisfied with this arrangement which is entirely in accordance with our policy that the Parliament should control mining in national parks.

However, once mining is permitted by Parliament in a national park, resulting from a plan of management being provided for that national park and Parliament not disallowing it, it seems that sub-clause (2) of clause 10 would require that the actual approval of such mining operations first of all would have to be given by the Minister for Minerals and Energy and furthermore that the mining must be mining by or on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. It would seem that the effect of this sub-clause is to require that any mining which is carried on in a national park should first of all be mining by some public authority, presumably the Petroleum and Minerals Authority. Dr Cass made it quite clear in the debate in the House of Representatives that any mining in a national park would have to be mining carried on by a public authority or by the Government itself, and that that was part of the policy of the Government.

Senator Wheeldon - Not quite. In cooperation with the Commonwealth Government. It is not quite the same thing.

Senator DURACK - Dr Cassmade it quite clear, however one may interpret the words, that that was the intention of them. In the Opposition's view, if it is the will of the Government that mining should be carried on in a national park and if Parliament approves of mining being carried on in a national park, such mining could just as well- in fact preferably- be carried on by a private mining company as by the Government. If we were in government, naturally it would be our policy to permit, on such terms as were laid down, the mining -

Senator Mulvihill - And they would be looser terms, too.

Senator DURACK -The whole question of control is to be determined by Parliament and by the Government. All we are saying is that once those conditions are established it is quite unreasonable to require that the mining be carried on by the Government or by a governmental authority. It would be our policy to permit and to encourage such mining to be carried on by an ordinary private mining enterprise.

Furthermore, we believe that it should not be simply a matter for the discretion of the Minister for Minerals and Energy to say what are the conditions of the mining; in other words, to lay down his own mining code for an operation. We say that that should be done at least by the Governor-General; in other words, it should be done on the authority of Cabinet and it should not be in the sole discretion of the Minister for Minerals and Energy. That is the object of our amendment. It has a twofold object: Firstly, of permitting the mining to be carried on by a private mining company, not confining it to the Government or a public authority on its behalf; and, secondly, of requiring that the mining code, so to speak, that would apply to the mining would not be in the absolute discretion of the Minister but would be determined by the Cabinet of the day which would take that responsibility.

In the opinion of the Opposition, if a national park was located within the boundaries of a State- there may well be a Commonwealth national park created in a State- and the Commonwealth Government permitted mining to take place in such a national park, the proper mining laws to apply would be the laws of the State, in the same way as this Parliament applied State laws to Commonwealth places a few years ago when the High Court held that State laws did not apply of their own force.

Senator Webster - There is nothing in the amendment to require that.

Senator DURACK - There is nothing in the amendment to require that. I am simply stating that that will be the policy of the Opposition when we are in government and when we will be operating such a power as this. The amendment is designed to ensure that any mining that is carried on will not be carried on at the sole discretion of the Minister for Minerals and Energy, and also to ensure that private mining can be permitted and will not be so confined as this clause requires.

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