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Tuesday, 18 May 1920


Mr PROWSE (Swan) .- We know that Australia is lamentably short of oil, and that it is all-important that we should be in the way of securing cheap supplies in order to increase our production, primary and secondary. This agreement provides a means of securing oil fuel more cheaply, and it should certainly stimulate efforts to discover oil in Australia. If a monopoly were to be given to the Anglo-Persian Company I would endeavour to secure the insertion in the Bill of clauses calculated to frustrate such a purpose. But the satisfactory fact is that, under the terms of the Bill as it stands, the company's interests will be acquirable by the Commonwealth within fifteen years. I trust that this House will specifically define in the Bill the duties of the two independent persons who are to be called upon to fix a valuation. The factor of goodwill in relation to this matter should be considered now, and in cold blood. I know that in Western Australia the neglect to make definite that point in the drawing up of an agreement with a certain company cost the city of Perth over £240,000. I hope the Commonwealth will never be called upon to pay anything for goodwill; and that, indeed, nothing but the question of actual value will be taken into consideration. Now is the time to safeguard the position. I feel that a House comprising, as it does', seventy-five honorable members representative of every part of Australia, should be capable of saying whether this agreement is in accordance with the wishes of the people without calling for the appointment of a Select Committee. It would be dangerous to try to secure expert evidence in Australia upon the oil question. I certainly was not helped in that direction by a certain telegram which I received to-day. I have not had too much sympathy - and neither have the people of Australia, generally - from these people who are concerned 'in the supply of Australia's oil requirements. The House is indebted to the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) for his able contribution to the debate. The honorable member correctly expressed the feeling that if any alterations in the agreement were necessary they could be effected during the Committee stage of this Bill.







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