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Tuesday, 18 May 1920

Mr BAMFORD (HERBERT, QUEENSLAND) - Dr. Wade was in Papua for, I think, six or seven years.

Mr MATHEWS - I did not understand that he had been there so long. If he is the scientist he is supposed to be, he ought at this stage to be able to give us that information.

Mr Bamford - He is a very eminent geologist.

Mr MATHEWS - Then by this time he should be able to express a definite opinion as to the probability of the production of oil in Papua. If he cannot do so, he is not the man who is wanted. I shall not approve of the Anglo-Persian Company having any control whatever of those appointed to investigate the possibilities of Papua for the production of oil. If we could appoint some one outside to go into the matter I would be quite satisfied, because under this agreement the Anglo-Persian Oil Company's crude oil will be used until we are in a position to refine our own crude supplies, drawn either from the mainland of Australia or from the Territories. I wish to help the Government in the production of oil in Australia, but if that cannot be brought about at once I want to assist in the matter of securing refineries here. However, we should have all the evidence concerning the suitability of the product and the economic possibilities of refining in Australia before we bind ourselves hand and foot for fifteen years. We know Lord Inchcape as a gentleman who is in business for the " quids " he can get out of it; and even though he represents the Imperial Government that should not entirely disarm this Government. Indeed, the Imperial authorities were indiscreet in placing upon the directorate as one of their representatives a gentleman having such interests, and we would be indiscreet, also, if we were to accept Lord Inchcape in the character of a guardian of our interests, seeing that at the same time he is doing his utmost to break up another Australian enterprise, namely, our shipping. A Select Committee should particularly inquire into three things - into Lord Inchcape's association with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company; into the matter of the inferiority of their crude oil ; and with respect to who shall fix a fair and reasonable price. We are entitled to, and should see that we secure all that information, despite the ridiculous criticisms of the Prime Minister.

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