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Tuesday, 8 November 1910

Senator FRASER (Victoria) . - I gladly support the second reading of this Bill. I am, however, somewhat surprised that the company carrying on business in Australia has not made more headway. I quite realize that it has very powerful opposition to meet. I presume that if the bounty now proposed will not help the company to get out of its difficulties, the Parliament of this country will come to its rescue at some future time, either by imposing a Customs duty, or by granting a bounty. I am rather afraid that this is not a very opportune time for extending operations. At present, it is almost impossible - and I speak with knowledge - to obtain labour for the ordinary industries of the country. I have been in Australia nearly sixty years, engaged in pursuits of all kinds, and I can honestly say that I never knew of such a dearth of suitable labour as there is at present.

Senator Pearce - There is a good stream of labour flowing in.

Senator FRASER - There is, and I think that it will increase. There is plenty of scope for deserving persons, in pretty well all fields of occupation.

Senator Millen - Mr. Batchelor's pamphlet is having its effect.

Senator FRASER - I hope so. It will be all the more difficult for the Commonwealth Oil Corporation to fight against powerful opposition when labour is so hard to get. I am sorry to hear that; no information has been furnished concerning the prospects of the company. Before proposing to spend £50,000, it was surely the duty of the Government to ascertain what the prospects were, so that Parliament and the country might be able to judge whether this money is likely to be wisely spent. If it is going to be wasted, I can only say that we have many other ways of spending money profitably. However, acting upon the information that we already have, I shall gladly support the second reading of the Bill.

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