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Wednesday, 2 November 1921

Senator FOSTER (Tasmania) .- I wish to make a few remarks, particularly in reply to Senator de Largie, who suggested that I desired that Australia should lead the world in this particular matter. The fact is that the world is leading Australia, and we are very much behind. The people who are leading the world in this matter at the present time are the Germans and Scandinavians. It is not a question of proving whether what I have suggested can be done, because it has been, and is being, proved in almost every shipbuilding yard in other parts of the world.

Senator de Largie - Where do they get their oil supplies?

Senator FOSTER - At present, they obtain them largely at Aden, where the Anglo-Persian Oil Company has installed some of the biggest oil containers in the world, and where the oil is pumped from the wharf into the vessels.

Senator de Largie - The oil supply is not at Aden.

Senator FOSTER - No ; it comes from wells in Mesopotamia, aud other wells that were the subject of considerable trouble in the finalization of the PeaceTreaty.

Senator de Largie - I should say that supplies obtainable at Aden are merely for British-owned vessels. . I do not think that the Germans or Scandinavians would get much oil there.

Senator FOSTER - I am not prepared to discuss that. Although I have no love for the Germans, I am not inclined to believe that they are fitting ships with oil engines without knowing where they canget oil. Senator de Largie asked me to make some comparison between the use of steam coal and of oil fuel as a commercial proposition.

When my time had expired, I was about to read a communication on this subject which I received from Mr. Glyde, the manager of the State Shipping Service at Fremantle. He deals with the matter in these terms -

The saving in fuel cost is more or less according to the cost of oil or coal. On this coast we are asked to pay ?3 a ton for Kew South Wales coal delivered in hunkers; whereas oil fuel is ?6 5s. per ton ex tanks at Fremantle, and if the vessel is running near the oil supply the oil can be purchased for ?4 per ton at Borneo and ?5 at Singapore. In the case of the Kangaroo, with a dead-weight capacity of 6,700 tons, the quantity of oil fuel used per steaming day is an average of 6| tons at a sea-speed of approximately 10 knots; whereas a similar vessel, using coal under boilers, would require 40 tons of fuel per day for all engines. This gives, say, ?40 per day for oil fuel, against ?120 per day for coal.

There is the commercial proposition as it appears in Western Australia. Mr. Glyde is fair enough to say -

If a vessel can bunker at a coaling port, say, Newcastle, and obtain coal at ?1 5s. per ton, the saving in cost of fuel is not so apparent, being only ?10 per day greater for the coal user.

Mr. Glyde,in his report, refers also to the saving in labour in the use of oil engines; arid writing as a man managing a steam-ship line, using one of the oil-driven boats, he makes the following very significant statement: -

Whereas a coal-fired vessel requires 800 tonsof fuel for a 5,000-mile run, a similar vessel with internal-combustion engines would require about 150 tons of fuel, thus giving the latter an increased cargo capacity of 650 tons. This, put into money, say, with a cargo of wheat to England at ?3 per ton freight, would mean, assuming the vessels each bunkered at South Africa on the way, that the internalcombustion driven vessel would be able to pay for fuel for the whole run out of the extra freight that it could carry.

Mr. Glydequotes another significant statement ;

In one of the English shipping papers recently was the report of the annual meetingof an English shipping company, wherein the chairman was reported to have said that, totest the efficiency of the internal-combustion engine vessel, the company had a vessel built similar in design, size, dic, to steam vessels: in their fleet, but engined with internalcombustion engines, and had run her for twelve, months in the same trade against the steam, vessels, with the result that the net return of the former was 66 per cent, greater for the; twelve months than the steam-driven vessel.

I say that figures like that are astounding. It is scarcely to be wondered that people do not pay much attention to them, because they cannot believe that they are correct.

Senator deLargie dealt with the matter of shale oil, which should be given far more attention by the Commonwealth Government. The present bounty of 2d. per gallon is trifling for the development of the shale oil industry. A company was endeavouring to carry on the industry for some years in Tasmania, and suffered many reverses. Recently it sold out to another company that is hoping to do big things. They are putting in a 7-mile pipe to the wharf at Devonport, where they propose to erect a large container. Senator de Largie also expressed a doubt as to whether America was interested in this problem. On this point the Motor Ship for July last stated that a paper had been read recently on the subject before the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, 'and that the figures quoted show that while coal-driven steamships earned a profit of 10 per cent, on the investment, the motor-driven ship earned a profit of 16.65 per cent, after allowing for the extra expenditure in the equipment of vessels with internalcombustion engines. I cannot attempt to dogmatize on this subject as if I were a mechanical expert. I can only repeat that I was so astounded at the figures in favour of motor-driven vessels that I felt it my duty to bring the matter before the Senate. I hope - in fact, I am confident - that if the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) gives effect to his promise and submits this question to the technical experts of the Department, we shall have a favorable reply from them; and that if the policy of the Government regarding motor ships depends on that reply, we shall have this class of ship in the very near future. I desire to,withdraw my motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

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