Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 14 May 1920

Mr SPEAKER (Hon W Elliot Johnson (LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Order! The honorable member for Franklin is (not in order in discussing that matter on this question.

Mr McWILLIAMS - The interjection made by the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton) is quite up to the standard of his intelligence. I shall support the proposal to refer the

Bill to a Select Committee. If a press report is correct an interjection made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) shows distinctly that the right honorable gentleman does not understand the power given to this company. He said that because the Commonwealth had a predominance in voting power it controlled the directors of the company.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - No. The Prime Minister said that the Commonwealth had a controlling number of shareholders.

Mr McWILLIAMS - What does that mean?

Mr Atkinson - It. means a good deal when a question of policy arises.

Mr McWILLIAMS - It means nothing when by this agreement we allow the Anglo-Persian Oil Company four directors to our three. The only power the shareholders will have is in electing their own proportion of directors. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company elects its four and we elect our three.

Mr Atkinson - That is only for the commercial running of the company.

Mr McWILLIAMS - If the commercial aspect is taken out of it there is nothing left in the agreement.

Mr Atkinson - Who could handle the distribution and sales as well as the company could?

Mr McWILLIAMS - That is an entirely different aspect of the question. Let us face the matter clearly. It is proposed to hand over to the AngloPersian Oil Company the control of the directorate. That is to say, we hand over the whole control of the refinery company - the commercial aspect, the only thing that matters one iota to Australia.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - What does the honorable member mean by the commercial aspect ?

Mr McWILLIAMS - What the company will get out of it, and what the Commonwealth will get out of it.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - Does the honorable member contend that the Commonwealth are handing over that aspect to the company?

Mr McWILLIAMS - Yes. We are handing over to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company the sole control of all commercial arrangements, and allowing them 10 per cent. for doing so. I claim that the Government do not understand the agreement.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - Does the honorable member contend that the directorate will control the price of oil in Australia ?

Mr McWILLIAMS - No; but it will control the sale of all oils outside Australia, and if it suits the Anglo-Persian Oil Company it will not seek to discover oil in Papua.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - That is too farfetched.

Mr McWILLIAMS - If my information is correct, namely, that the control of this refinery company is to be exercised by Lord Inchcape, who has been appointed as representative of the British Government, I would point out that he is already the chairman of the big shipping Combine which is crushing the life out of Australia.

Mr Corser - He will have no interest in this except as a director.

Mr McWILLIAMS - Of course, he is only one director of a majority.

Mr Poynton - He is one of the British representatives.

Mr McWILLIAMS - I do not care whom he represents, but it makes me cautious when I see that Lord Inchcape, thechairman of the biggest shipping Combine the world has ever seen, which is charging monstrous freights all over the world, is one of the four men who will command this industry.

Mr Atkinson - But he will be bound by the terms of the agreement

Mr Corser - The oil will not be brought here in his vessels. They belong to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

Mr McWILLIAMS - My information is that practically the whole of the ships running to Australia to-day, except those owned by the Commonwealth, are more or less under the control of the Inchcape Shipping Combine.

It is the duty of every honorable member to place his views before the House on a question such as this. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) has already pointed out that, for nearly three years, the Latrobe Shale Company have been seeking a contract to supply the Naval Board with oil at £4 10s. per ton.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - They have not done anything of the kind.

Mr Atkinson - Yes, they have.

Mr McWILLIAMS - I maintain thatthe honorable member for Wilmot is correct, and that the price asked was £4 10s. per ton. I have spoken to a gentleman who came over to Melbourne as one of a deputation which the honorable member . for Wilmot introduced to the Naval Board when the Minister for the Navy was absent in London.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - But they have seen me since then, and I have not heard of any such price being asked.

Mr Atkinson - They submitted an offer at £4 10s. per ton.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - They did not.

Mr Atkinson - I was there when they made the offer. They are still prepared to submit it.

Suggest corrections