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Tuesday, 11 May 1920

Sir ROBERT BEST (Kooyong) . - I desire to say at the outset, and before I have stated my objections to the Bill, that 1 am disposed to criticise it with the utmost generosity, because of its objectives. Of these, the first is the establishment of the oil refining industry in Australia, to which it behoves every honorable member to give every encouragement and assistance. The second objective of "the measure is to make Australia selfcontained; and a third objective is to provide a .supply of cheap oil . for our industries and Navy. The Prime Minister did not overstate the case when he said that oil is the spirit and' life of the age. This is indeed an oil age, and every encouragement should be given to proposals directed towards securing a cheap and abundant supply.

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has raised the objection that it is proposed to create a monopoly. He says that the oil refining industry should be established by the Government alone, without any connexion with a private concern. But it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the Government to do that. The highest technical skill is essential, and only individuals of the highest training and experience can undertake the work. Therefore, if oil refining is to be established here, I am prepared to make some sacrifice to- encourage private enterprise, which cannot be expected to enter upon industries here unless given substantial concessions.

Mr Higgs - Is it known approximately how many men would be employed in refining oil in Australia?

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