PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2162

DRILLING ON THE BARRIER REEF

Photo of Gorton, John

Gorton, John

Period of Service: 10/01/1968 to 10/03/1971

More information about Gorton, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 15/01/1970

Release Type: Correspondence

Transcript ID: 2162

FOR PRESS P. M. No 8/ 1970
DRILLING ON THE BARRIER REEF
This evening the Prime Minister, Mr John Gorton, sent the
following reply to a telegram received from Ampol Exploration Ltd
" THANK YOU FOR YOUR TELEGRAM OF 13 JANUARY RE DRILLING FOR
OIL ON BARRIER REEF. I HOPE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO PERSUADE JAPEX
TO AGREE WITH YOUR DECISION AND CONGRATULATE YOU ON YOUR
INITIATIVE. IT IS MY HOPE THAT OTHER COMPANIES WHICH HOLD
PROSPECTING LEASES WILL FOLLOW YOUR LEAD PENDING A COMPLETE
INVESTIGATION AND REPORT. IN MY VIEW THE SLIGHTEST DANGER Is
TOO MUCH DANGER.
AS YOU KNOW THE COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT WAS BOUND
TO CONFIRM THE OIL LEASES ISSUED BY THE STATE ON AND NEAR
THE REEF AND IS VIRTUALLY UNABLE TO PREVENT DRILLING ON
THESE LEASES IF THE STATE AGREES TO DRILLING. HOWEVER I
AM PREPARED TO ASK C. S. ILR . 0. TO CHOOSE EXPERTS EITHER FROM
WITHIN THAT ORGANISATION, OR OUTSIDE IT, EITHER FROM
AUSTRALIA OR FROM OVERSEAS, TO INVESTIGATE AND REPORT
PUBLICLY ON THE MATTER. SUCH EXPERTS WOULD BE THE
COMMONWEALTH REPRESENTATIVES ON A JOINT COMMONWEALTH/
STATE INVESTIGATION SHOULD THE STATE GOVERNMENT AGREE TO
SUCH A JOINT BODY. I HAVE SO INFORMED THE QUEENSLAND
PREMIER. YOUR OFFER OF 5, 000 IS APPRECIATED BUT I BELIEVE YOU
WOULD AGREE THAT IT MIGHT BE BETTER IF AN INVESTIGATION WAS
IN NO WAY FINANCED BY AN ORGANISATION CONNECTED WITH OIL.
I DO NOT BELIEVE AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE POSSIBLE DANGERS
OF DRILLINGON THE BARRIER REEF SHOULD BE MIXED UP WITH AN
INVESTIGATION OF THE CROWN OF THORNS STARFISH. THIS PROBLEM
HAS BEEN INVESTIGATED BY SCIENTISTS FROM THE QUEENSLAND
UNIVERSITY AND THE QUEENSLAND DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY
INDUSIRI ES WHO INVESTIGATED THE PROBLEM AT GUAM IN CONJUNCTION
WITH SCIENTISTS FROM USA. A FURTHER MEETING WAS HELD IN
BRISBANE IN AUGUST LAST BETWEEN OFFICERS OF C. S. 1. R 0. AND THE
COMMONWEALTH DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRY AND
QUEENSLAND REPRESENTATIVES.
THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCE HAS ALSO FORMED A COMMITTEE
TO REPORT TO ITS COUNCIL ON THE PROBLEM. SO INVESTIGATION OF
THIS PROBLEM IN THE HOPE OF DISCOVERING EFFECTIVE CONTROL
ME4SURES IS PROCEEDING."
CANBERRA January 1970

Transcript 2162