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Friday, 22 July 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) .- I should like a little light on the item of £800 for the development of oil-fields in Papua. Nothing appears to be provided under Papua for salaries, and I am at a loss to know how the development of the oil-fields is being carried out. I read the last report on the subject carefully, and the only impression I could gather was that the whole of the management might almost be termed illusory. It is impossible to pin things down, or to know what is being done. There . is no doubt that there are prospects of oil in Papua, but the method of development that has -been adopted seems to call for careful examination. I am not satisfied whether this item is to be charged to a separate account, or to go under " Contingencies " in the expenditure on Papua. If £800 will be sufficient for the operations for over two months, I cannot believe that they are really in earnest in their search for oil in Papua.

Senator Wilson - £100 a week should provide for a fair search.

Senator SENIOR - They put down eight or nine bores in Papua in a comparatively short space of time. I admit that the depth is not great, but if the work is continued on that scale, £100 per week will not cover it. I do not think it is sufficient to provide for satisfactory exploration. If it is intended only to conduct a scratch search, we should be told so. This money may be intended for the survey, or for trial bores, or for officers' salaries, or for the repairing of machinery ; but no definite information is given in the Bill.

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