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Friday, 14 May 1920

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) . - The greater portion of my constituents are large consumers of kerosene and petrol. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was right in saying that we have reached a new era by reason of the extended use of oil and petrol. I want to be sure that the people of Australia get, not cheap oil, but oil at a fair price, while the people who control the commodity also get a fair profit. Many years ago we were anxious to establish the oil industry in Australia. I can speak feelingly .on the point, because the prospects of doing so looked so fair at one time that I thought I would die a millionaire. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) persuaded me, in a frail moment of mine, to purchase shares in a company formed for the purpose of boring for oil at Roma, in Queensland, and everything in the garden was lovely. At one time, when the Tariff was under consideration, a director of the Standard Oil Company, who was watching our proceedings on behalf of his corporation, raised my hopes very much indeed by telling me that if I had only one-tenth of one share in the company at Roma, and its bore proved a success, which he doubted very much, I would die a very rich man indeed. However, our hopes were not consummated. After spending a lot of money the company had to go into liquidation, and foi my shares in it I was paid 12s.

Mr McWilliams - You were lucky to get that !

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I was, but I cannot say I regret, spending the money, though I do not think we, as a company, got a square deal. By some unforeseen circumstances, at a time when the hopes of everybody concerned were raised very high, the gas took fire, and the heat was so great as to melt some of the casings. After several weeks of blazing, the fire was put out with a 'bonnet, and we resumed boring, only to meet with a serious accident when we had gone down a little further. The whole of the tools were left in the ground, and, after spending the balance of our money in trying to get them out, the company went " bung." The Queensland Government - that is, the Denham Government - came to our assistance, and, satisfied that oil was there, they took the enterprise over and made it a State monopoly. The Government proceeded with the sinking, and are sinking yet, but have had the same ill-sue: cess that we experienced. Drillers had to be brought from America ; and it is most peculiar that trouble started when they got down to where the gas was to be tapped, at 3,500 feet. I may say that 3,500 feet is not the deepest bore in Queensland, for there are water-bores much deeper, sunk by private enterprise.

I am satisfied that there are many districts in Queensland, where there is seepage, and where oil will be found in the near future. My anxiety is for the people of Queensland and for the people of Australia. We are told that this agreement will not interfere with the oil or shale deposits of Australia. I am not an expert, and I do not pro ess to be one, but I have common sense, and when I see a sheep I know that it grows wool on iia back. There are some deposits of kerosene oil in the Moreton electorate, quite near to Brisbane; there must be oil there, for it is coming out of the ground, and practically asking us to dig for it. I have in my hand a telegram from a shale oil company which is doing business in Queensland, the company, I believe, receiving the bonus for the production of oil. This telegram was sent to the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls), but as that gentleman is unavoidably absent, I intend to make use of it for the benefit of honorable members, who may take it for what it is worth. The telegram sounds a note of suspicion, and that is why I am anxious for a . Select Committee. We have been told that the only expert evidence obtainable is from the Standard Oil Company or the Vacuum Oil Company, but if that be so, the evidence will be very tainted indeed.

Mr Mathews - Why should we not have that evidence?

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - One reason for my suspicion is that these companies are the biggest monopoly in the world, and if it was thought we were going to create a competitor, we would not get the information we desire - it would be " giving the show away."

Mr J H Catts - According to the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), this Anglo-PersianCompany may " be in " with those two companies.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) -.- I did not so interpret the speech of the Prime Minister.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - This Anglo-Persian Company was formed to fight the others.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I do not care whether the Anglo-Persian Company is part and parcel of the great monopoly, because, sooner or later, we shall have to fight all monopolies, and we ought to be very careful if there is danger of our creating another. The appointment of a Select Committee could surely do no harm, if it did no good. The telegram to which I refer is from Messrs. John Pell and Company, of Sydney. If men are engaged in an industry, and have expended all their money and energy in developing it, they naturally become anxious when a great company like this is given a practical monopoly, although we are told by . the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) that it is not a monopoly. It is a fact, however, that they are the only people in Australia who would have a refinery, for no one else is to be allowed to erect one. If crude oil is discovered on any of the Pacific Islands or in Papua outside the ramifications of this company, the oil will have to be sent elsewhere to be refined. However, the telegram is as follows: -

Regarding Anglo-Persian oil agreement, we regard it as imperative for the protection of the shale-oil resources of this country that the Bill under discussion should be held up pending a complete investigation. The measure, if passed, will automatically close the shale-oil industry of the Commonwealth. Shale is our natural source of oil supply, and if closed we will be dependent on oversea sources. To protect these sources, a Navy and fortifications will have to be maintained for all time. Papua is especially vulnerable. Part of this money could be spent to better advantage in. protecting and developing our natural resources with white labour. In the event of war with Japan or the United States of America, these ' oversea routes cannot be protected, and the whole source of oversea oil supplies for the Commonwealth would be cut off and complete isolation result. It would be criminal to leave the shale-oil industry unprotected, and to place this country in such a position, besides allowing foreign imports to strangle our natural resources. The Scotch shale industry was of vital importance to Great Britain during the late war. Great Britain and United States of America, recognising the necessity of developing their shale resources, are at present giving the question the gravest consideration. Mr. Fell is proceeding to Melbourne, and will interview you. Our information should be of value.

Regarding shale oil, under reasonable circumstances present output can be enormously increased.

This company is in operation) in a big way in New South Wales, but it is not the first company that has worked these deposits, for enormous sums of money have been lost in efforts to develop this industry. This firm, which is specially interested, asks, for delay in order that there may be further investigation. This is not an industry in its infancy, but one that has been tried. The latter part of the telegram' tells us. that the present output of shale oil could be enormously increased, and surely that is a matter into which a Select Committee could inquire. If this Parliament will not protect Australian industries, where are the industries to find protection?

The scheme proposed looks very nice on paper - a scheme to bring crude oil from the Persian Gulf to Fremantle. The gentlemen interested have been busy for some considerable time in the matter. In the West Australian of 3rd October, 1919, the first announcement of the AngloPersian Company appeared, as follows : -

The Anglo-Persian Oil Company Limited's Act 1919 : Power to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company Limited, to erect reservoirs for the storage of oil and supply of same; compulsory use of roads, &c. ; power to lay down pipes, &c, in streets, under railways, and in Government lands, and along wharfs, and exercise other powers.

Notice is hereby given that application is intended to be made to Parliament in the present session for leave to bring in a Bill for effecting all or some of the purposes following, that is to say: -

1.   To empower the Anglo-Persian Oil Company Limited (hereinafter called "the company") upon all or any lands and premises now or hereafter to be acquired by it, or any part thereof respectively, to construct, erect, and maintain a reservoir or reservoirs for the storage . of oil with all necessary engines, plant, machinery, works, buildings, appliances, apparatus, and conveniences for storing and distributing oil within the area comprised in -

(a)   The district of the Fremantle Municipal Council;

(b)   The lands vested in the Fremantle Harbor Trust Commissioners; and

(c)   Such of the lands vested in the Honorable the Minister forRailways on behalf of His Majesty as are comprised in, abut on, adjoin, or are contiguous to the district- - and lands beforementioried, or any of them, or any part or parts thereof respectively.

2.   To empower the company to open, break up and interfere with streets, roads, public places, ways, footpaths, railways, tramways, rivers, bridges, culverts, sewers, drains, pipes, telegraphic and telephonic tubes, wires, and apparatus, and to lay down', set up, maintain, renew, or remove either above or underground pipes, tubes, troughs, inspection chambers and boxes, and other works, matters, and things for conveying oil, water, and materials to or from its reservoirs, situated on Fremantle town lots Nos. 1186 to 1192, 1197 to 1199, 1200, 1207, 1208, 1213 to 1216, and 1224 to 1227 (all inclusive),, or on some parts thereof respectively from or to the Victoria Wharf, or other wharfs of the Fremantle Harbor Trust Commissioners, in, under, and along such wharfs, lands, streets, roads, public places, ways, footpaths, railways, tramways, &c., as aforesaid, situate within the area beforementioned as may be defined on the plans and sections to be deposited as hereinafter mentioned, or as may be provided by. the Bill.

3.   To empower the company to acquire compulsorily, or by agreement, easements in respect of the lands adjoining or contiguous to the property to he acquired by the company.

4.   To vary or extinguish all or any rights andprivileges inconsistent with, or which would or might interfere with the objects of the intended Bill, and to confer other rights and privileges.

And notice is hereby further given that on or before the 11th day of October, 1919, duplicate plans and sections showing the lines, situa tions and levels of the intended works, with a book of reference of such plans, -and a copy of this notice, as published in the Government Gazette, will be deposited for public inspection with the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly; and that on or before the 18th day of October, 1019, a copy of so much of the said plans, sections, and book of reference as relates to the area comprised in the district of the Fremantle Municipal Council, in which any of the intended works will be made, together with a copy of this notice as published in the Government Gazette, will be deposited with the Clerk of the said Fremantle Municipal Council.

Copies of the intended Bill will be deposited in the office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, on or before the 11th day of November, 1919.

Dated this 2nd day of October, 1919.

Mr Burchell - What do you think is the meaning of all that ?

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I take it that the company is to exercise greater rights in putting up this reservoir than the Western Australian Government itself could exercise. The Commonwealth Government could not do what these people are asking the Western Australian Government to permit them to do, and what the State Government is prepared to grant.

Mr Burchell - The company cannot exercise those rights unless the Western Australian Government give them the power. . What is all the argument about?

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - The AngloPersian Company " owns the earth " so far as Persia is concerned', and it wants to " own the earth ". in Western Australia, which is part and parcel of the Commonwealth.

Mr Burchell - Does the honorable member know what all this is designed for ? It is to enable the port of Fremantle to be equipped for giving oil supplies to any oil-driven vessels. " Mr. JAMES PAGE.- Is that all? I am very much obliged for the information; but why should not the matter have been put in plain English, simply saying that what is required is provision so that ships may take oil back after bringing it over here?

Mr Burchell - That is twisting.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - Not at all. The clauses setting forth the desired powers seem to annoy honorable members opposite.

Mr Bowden - Those are the ordinary clauses.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - Under these clauses the Anglo-Persian Oil Company could acquire compulsorily the property of the Standard Oil Company. I am told that it would not do that. But the agreement empowers the company to do it. I do not wish any monopoly to have a footing in this country, unless it he a Government monopoly, and I am not an advocate for the standard Oil Company, the Vacuum Oil Company, or any other. But when I have approached the Shell Oil Company, that is the British Imperial Company, in the interests of my constituents, they have done what they could. Only a fortnight ago I went to the Government for help, and was told that they were powerless to assist me, having no oil in reserve. I then, in fear and trembling, approached this great British Imperial Oil Company, but I came away in a very different state of mind. They promised to do all that they could to assist the men out in the back parts of Queensland! to get petrol to drive their pumps and engines and do other industrial work. They depleted their reserves in Brisbane and hurried down a boat from Singapore, to do this.

Mr Tudor - They kept their supplies for industrial use, and stopped joyriding.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - Yes. I did not make application for assistance to any particular town or place; I asked' for help for the pastoral, agricultural, and viticultural interests of Queensland, which needed oil for industrial purposes.

Mr Corser - Oil was not made available in my district.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - Perhaps the honorable member did not go the right way to get it. If you want anything, you must hustle and bustle.

Mr Poynton - Is the honorable member speaking of something that occurred before the Bill was introduced ?

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - Yes. I went to the company on two other occasions when there was a shortage of petrol out west, and each time the company did its best for me. I would remind honorable members that the House of Commons passed a resolution of thanks to the British Imperial Oil Company for what it did during tie war. It supplied 80 per cent, of the products that make up T.N.T., as is stated in a booklet issued by the company, on the cover of which is printed " The Shell that hit Germany the hardest." I advise honorable members to read that publication to see what the company has done for the Empire. I know of nothing that it has done detrimental to the interests of Australia.

Mr Fleming - You will admit that the price of petrol in Australia is tremendously high.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - The only countries in which it is lower are those in which oil is produced. Petrol costs more in South Africa and in some of the States of South America than it costs in Australia.

Mr Poynton - But not more than it costs in Great Britain, where it is not produced .

Mr Corser - Is the honorable member supporting a monopoly?

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - That is an amusing interjection to come from a member representing the sugar districts of Queensland, who is the greatest advocate of Australia's greatest monopoly, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.

Mr Corser - Would not the honorable member rather support an Australian monopoly than an American one?

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I do not support any monopoly. Let those flag-wagging patriots, of which the honorable member is one, listen to this: -

During the critical year of 1915, " Shell's " Porti shead Distillery produced approximately 80 per cent, of Britain's total output of toluol, the basic ingredient of the high explosive T.N.T. (tri-nitro-toluol), so extensively used for shells, bombs, and mines.

Addressing the Institute of Petroleum Technologists, at their annual dinner some months after the armistice, Sir Frederick W. Black, K.C.B., referred to the " Shell " group as having given us that valuable product toluol, from Borneo petroleum, without which we could not have defeated the enemy.

Under the agreement companies other than the Anglo-Persian Oil Company will be prevented from trading in Australia. The agreement says -

That the Refinery company shall not enter into or be in any way concerned in or a party to or act in concert with any commercial Trust or Combine, but shall always be and remain an independent British business.

The firm of Walkers Limited, in Queensland, can make any machinery that it may be asked for. Nearly all the intricate machinery used in the sugar mills of Northern Queensland was made in its' works, and against open competition the firm has gained a contract for supplying the South Australian and Commonwealth Governments with locomotives, which are some of the finest to be seen anywhere.

Why should we not require the AngloAustralian Persian Oil Company to use Australian machinery? But the . agreement says: -

That other things being equal, the Refinery Company shall give preference to goods manufactured in the Commonwealth when purchasing machinery, plant, and supplies.

I think that the Refinery Company should, under allcircumstances, give preference to goods manufactured in Australia. Then, again, it is stipulated that the Anglo-Persian Oil Company shall have full commercial and technical control. Where does the Commonwealth come in under that arrangement?

Mr Corser - It is a partner with the company.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I would not like to enter into such a partnership. The clause respecting freights should be explained. "Current rates" 'are to be charged. The other night the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) gave us a dissertation on. the Bill which was one of the finest I have heard in this chamber. He convinced me that there are certain matters in the agreement which should be rectified. For instance, no. one can say what are the current rates of freight between Australia and this port in the Persian Gulf from which crude oil is to be brought, because there are no vessels trading regularly between the two places, and no back loading.

Mr Corser - " Current rates " means the rates at which shipping could be got.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - But there would be no competition.

Mr Corser - American vessels would be ready to compete.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - -It is the transport of crude oil that I am speaking about, and I remind the honorable member that the Anglo-Persian Oil Company have their own boats for this purpose.

Mr Bell - Under the agreement we could employ the vessels of other companies if they offered cheaper freights.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I have my doubts about that, and I should very much like to have a clear definition of what is meant by " current rates." On the question of dumping I may say that personally I should like to see the dumping of oil and petrol in Australia start to-morrow, because it would benefit our people if they were able to secure cheaper petrol and kerosene, since the prices- which have to be paid at present in Australia for both these commodities are exorbitant.

Mr Corser - Dumping would wipe out any local industry, and we should then have to pay the piper.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - What would be the difference between dumping by other companies and by the Anglo-Persian Company? The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) is a red-hot patriot. He is willing that the AngloPersian Company should be given a monopoly in the supply of petrol and kerosene required in Australia. He does not mind dumping by that company at the expense of those engaged in the production of oil in the Commonwealth. He has nothing to say about, possibly, thousands of men engaged in the industry in New South Wales being put out of employment. The telegram I have read shows clearly what might happen in the matter of dumping by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, but all the honorable member is concerned about is to prevent the introduction into Australia from overseas of cheap oil and petrol supplied by other companies.

I ask honorable members to say whether they consider that under paragraph c of clause 14 of the agreement a fair proposal is submitted? It provides. -that -

In order to insure the full success and development of the oil refining industry in Australia, the Commonwealth will, so long as the prices charged by the Refinery Company for products of refining are considered by the Commonwealth fair and reasonable -

(c)   Cause to be introduced into the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and supported as a Government measure, a Bill providing for the imposition of Customs duties on crude mineral oil whenever, in. its opinion, such action is necessary or advisable to prevent unfair competition with the products of crude oil refined in Australia by the Refinery Company.

Mr Atkinson - This Parliament will have a say in that matter.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - They will have little say in Tasmania, and the honorable member in supporting this proposal will be cutting his own State's throat.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - He will be doing nothing of the kind.

Mr Corser - The dumping the honorable member would like to see would cut the Tasmanian industry out.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) has dumping on the brain. The people about whom the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) is concerned have been nibbling at this bait for years. Dumping would not do them much harm, and has r.ot done them any harm so far.

Mr Atkinson - Yes, it has.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - The honorable member is afraid that if the agreement is not ratified the Standard Oil Company and the Vacuum Oil Company are going to kill the one little ewe lamb of the oil industry in Tasmania. The competition of the Tasmanian company would be to the companies to which I have referred like a fly kicking a horse.

Mr Atkinson - The management of the Tasmanian concern evidently think differently from, the honorable member.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - The honorable member's hopes for the Tasmanian industry are very high.

Mr Atkinson - They complain of the influence already exerted against them.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - Of course, because they must give some reason for not going on with their proposal. The Standard Oil Company would think nothing of the Tasmanian concern. I suppose we could buy up the whole lot for about ten "quid.".

Mr Bowden - If the honorable member will read clause 14 of the agreement again he will see that the legislation referred to is to be passed only if in the opinion of the Commonwealth Parliament it is necessary. If there is dumping we should have the power to deal with it.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I remind the honorable member that the clause referred to provides that the Bill is to be introduced as a Government measureno matter what Government may be in power at the time any demand is made to give effect to clause 14 of the agreement. My honorable friends opposite are not going to stop where they are for ever and ever. They will have to get out, and that perhaps much sooner than they expect. Directly we on this side replace them we shall be confronted with the AngloPersian Oil Company demanding that we shall give them a monopoly of the supply of oil in Australia.

Mr Bell - Only if the Government at the time think that would be a proper thing to do:

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I do not think that it would be fair. The clause provides that in the circumstances stated the Commonwealth shall - cause to be introduced into the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and supported as a Government measure, a Bill providing for the imposition of Customs duties on crude mineral oil whenever, in its opinion, such action is necessary -

Mr SPEAKER - Order! A discussion of the clauses of the agreement in detail is not in order.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I required to refer to the clause to complete my argument. All that I am concerned about is that people engaged in promoting the production of oil in Australia, no matter in what State, shall ibe protected, and that the consumers shall obtain the oil and petrol they require at a fair price, giving a fair profit to the vendors. It is said that competition is the life of trade.

Mr Corser - It would be impossible to establish any new industry in Australia on that principle.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - By way of answer to the honorable member, I would ask him: How did the great business of Walkers Limited get a start in Maryborough, Queensland?

Mr Corser - It had Protection through the Customs.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - Until Federation was accomplished--

Mr Corser - Walkers Limited had Protection before that.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - The business of Walkers Limited was, before Federation, a comparatively poor and dwindling one.

Mr Corser - No; all the machinery for the Gympie mines was supplied by Walkers Limited.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I am aware that the bulk of the mining and sugar machinery used in Queensland was made in the Maryborough factory of Walkers Limited, and I know also that their locally-manufactured article is, in Northern Queensland, to-day standing the test of use very much better than similar machinery imported from abroad.

I ask honorable members to amend the Bill in such a way as to provide that it shall be imperative that all machinery required for the proposed refinery shall be made in Australia. In a letter which I received from the manager of Walkers

Limited, he says that Australian workmen oan do anything that any other workmen in the world can do, and they can do it as well,- if not better.

Mr Bell - And as cheaply?

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - Yes, and as cheaply.

Mr Fenton - Even if it were a little dearer we should not mind.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - That is so. Even if we required to pay a little more, it would be better for us to employ our own people.

Mr Corser - We shall have Australian monopolies yet.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I would give a monopoly to any Australian company as against the outside world, particularly a company developing the iron industry. I have for many years had a great admira- tion for Walkers Limited, of Maryborough, and I would advise honorable members who may pay a visit to Queens-, land to look through the workshops of that company.

Mr Atkinson - If the honorable member were to visit Tasmania, he would also have a great admiration for that country.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - It might be better for the honorable member to prevent me from going to Tasmania. It would be possible to lose the whole State of Tasmania in Bowen Downs station, in central Queensland, which is only one station in the electorate I represent. I agree that the shale deposits of Tasmania should be protected, even though they are small.

Mr Atkinson - They are not small.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I do not think that .the Government have anything to fear from the appointment of the proposed Select Committee. Its inquiry would satisfy the mind of many people that the proposal is fair and above-board. There are some ugly rumours afloat regarding this company.

Mr Jackson - There are some ugly rumours about the Standard Oil Company.

Mr JAMES PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - Some ugly statements are made about the gentleman who represents the Imperial Government on the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. We know" that he is fighting our Commonwealth ships to-day. I do not blame the Imperial Government for putting Lord

Inchcape on the directorate of the AngloPersian Oil Company, because I regard him as one of the keenest and smartest business men in the world. If the Imperial Government desired that their- interests should be protected, they would be fools not to put him on the directorate of the company if they could secure his services. When the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) reminds me that there are ugly rumours about the Standard Oil Company, I reply that there are some very ugly rumours about the Shipping Combine, in which Lord Inchcape is interested, and that its action is possibly more detrimental to Tasmania than to any other State of the Commonwealth.

My one desire is that oil should be discovered in Australia, which would make us independent of any foreign country or company. I am anxious that the consumer should be able to obtain a cheap and reliable article, and the vendor get a fair profit from its. sale. I hope that the Government, even at the eleventh hour, will consent to the appointment of the Select Committee. It would give satisfaction, to many honorable members who are not unfavorable to the agreement, and it would certainly give satisfaction to the people outside.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I wish to make a personal explanation. There were some contradictions uttered across the chamber a little while ago, when the honorable member for Franklin was speaking.

Mr Tudor - I rise to a point of order. Is it possible for an honorable member to make a personal explanation when ho has not made a speech on the question before the Chair? As interjections are disorderly, is it possible for an honorable member to make a personal explanation in reply to an interjection?

Mr SPEAKER - I did not understand that the Minister for the Navy desired to make a personal explanation in reply to an interjection, but with regard to a certain statement made in a speech by the honorable member for Franklin, in which the honorable member who desires to make a personal explanation was misrepresented. In that case he is certainly in order. He would, in any case, have the right to speak on the motion.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I shall not occupy more than two minutes. I am not in the habit of bandying irresponsible statements about the chamber in the way that the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) accused me of doing just now. For that reason, I wish to tell the House the facts about the proposal from Tasmania with regard to the supply of shale oil. The price is as stated by the honorable member for Franklin, but he told the House only half the facts. The offer of the company is to supply oil for 90s. per ton, plus the bounty of 45s. per ton, which brings the price up to the figure stated by me, namely, 135s. per ton. The payment of the oil bounty will run out at about the same time as the proposed contract was to begin. The proposal of the Tasmanian company, therefore, means that we should enter into a fresh undertaking to offer a bounty of 45s. per ton for ten years for the production of oil to supplement the price of 90s. per ton at which they are prepared to supply oil. It was specifically provided that, failing the renewal of the bounty, the price was to be 135s. for ten years.

Mr McWilliams - Let the Minister state all the facts. Is that not an extension of the existing bounty that is asked for?

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I am saying that it is.

Mr McWilliams - Then the Tasmanian people are not asking for anything that the Commonwealth is not giving now.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I have said so. I have said that the oil bounty will cease to be payable at about the time when operations under the contract provided for in the Bill are supposed to begin, and the Tasmanian proposal is, therefore, that the oil bounty shall be renewed for ten years. This would bring the total price of the Tasmanian oil up to the figure I stated - 135s. per ton.

Mr McWilliams - We are paying 195s. now.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - We are paying now on oils we secure for ourselves £5 0s. 5d. per ton.

Mr Tudor - The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) spoke of a price of 190s. per ton.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I hope the honorable member will listen to what I have to say. Both statements are correct. For oil we are compelled to obtain outside our contracts, we are paying £9 10s. per ton.: I hope that is clear enough. I shall have something to say about these things -a little later on. I am concerned now only as to. the correctness of statements made regarding the offer from Tasmania. It can do the Tasmanian people no good to have the facts incorrectly stated. I wish to guard myself against any statement I make in connexion with these matters being construed as unfriendly to the Tasmanian project. I have shown my friendliness to Tasmania during a period of nineteen years in this House. I think that the Tasmanian project is worth looking into on its merits, but it cannot assist its consideration, to state only half the facts. I repeat that the fact is that the price proposed by the company is 135s. per ton for oil supplied into tanks, which the Commonwealth Government are asked to erect on the coast of Tasmania, for the' purpose of receiving the oil.

Sitting suspended from 1.5 to 2.15 p.m.

Mr Atkinson - I desire to make a personal explanation. I interjected in answer to the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook)-

Mr SPEAKER (Hon W Elliot Johnson - Order! I cannot allow the honorable member to make a personal explanation with respect to an interjection which, in itself, was disorderly, and in view of the fact that the explanation in reference to the original matter itself was not in order, either-

Mr Atkinson - I just wish to explain my remark to the Minister.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honorable member should be familiar with the fact that he cannot make a personal explanation except in relation to some matter in whichhe has been, or has deemed himself to . have been, misrepresented in the course ' of debate in this Chamber, or to clarify some statement not previously made clear in the course of his speech.

Mr Kerby - I desire also to make a personal explanation. According to this morning's press, referring to a question which I asked yesterday, it would appear that expressions were employed in this Chamber to the effect that I was guilty of dirty electioneering tactics. I desire to say that I was not out electioneering, but that if that had been my purpose I could have availed myself of the opportunity yesterday afternoon.'

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I am afraid the honorable member also is not in order.

Mr Kerby - It is a matter of urgency, and-

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member is not in order in interrupting the Speaker. I point out that he is seeking to make a personal explanation in circumstances which the Standing Orders do. not permit.

Mr Kerby - Yes, sir; but these interjections

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member has frequently heard me complain that interjections are disorderly, and that they should neither be made nor taken notice of. 1 repeat, for his benefit, that a personal explanation can only relate to a matter in which an honorable member has been misrepresented in the course of debate in this House. I suggest to the honorable member that he will be in order, at the adjournment stage, in referring to the subject which he has in mind. He will then be able to deal with the matter in a regular way.

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