Big things in the sea

Published Date: 12 Oct 2023


Can the states and the Northern Territory assert taxing rights over things in the trackless wilderness of the sea? First, we must understand in detail what is happening at sea. Developments are huge, in scale and ambition. Engineering and human ingenuity is meeting a hostile, unexplored vastness. Second, we confront international rules about the sea, and Australia’s claims under them. Third, we track this back to our federal compromise, since the states are not recognised on the international stage. We ask whether problems can be solved by state agreements, given the uncertainties of state and territory rights. We find such agreements wanting. So the states and the NT have accepted the challenge offered to them in about 1980, and are tentatively reasserting legislative rights. We map how far they have gone, and highlight the potential.


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