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Wednesday, 3 May 1939
Page: 85

Mr James s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Was a statement made on behalf of the Government in 1937 that " the Government contemplates further steps for increasing the local supply of liquid fuel. It proposes, in conjunction with the State governments, to encourage the principal gas companies throughout Australia to extract benzol from coal gas. It is believed that we can produce an additional 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 gallons of high grade spirit by this means. The proposal has the further advantage of involving the use of 50,000 to 100,000 tons more coal, and this will provide more employment in the coal area" ?

2.   Does the Government propose to take any steps in the matter ?

3.   Does the Government propose to assist the Victorian Government to establish an industry for the extraction of oil from brown coal?

4.   Does the Government propose to take any action to establish an industry in Australia for the extraction of oil from coal in the coalfields of New South Wales?

Mr Menzies - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   Yes.

2.   The question of the production of benzol from town gas was recently investigated, together with other matters, by the Commonwealth Standing Committee on Liquid Fuels. The report of the committee in this regard is now to hand, and is receiving the consideration of the Government.

3.   The scheme which was recently submitted to the Government of Victoria by the AgentGeneral for Victoria in London for the extraction of petrol from brown coal at Yallourn has been brought to the notice of the Commonwealth Government, and is now being investigated by the Commonwealth Standing Committee on Liquid Fuels. It is expected that the report of the committee will be available at an early date.

4.   The whole question of the production of oil from coal has been investigated by various authorities over the past few years, including Sir David Rivett and the Commonwealth Hydrogenation Committee, but the information furnished by these authorities indicated that the costs of production were so high that the Government would not be justified in encouraging the development of the industry. The Commonwealth Hydrogenation Committee has, however, been asked to obtain the latest information in. the matter, and to furnish its views on the subject.

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