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Friday, 21 May 1926

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - BROCKMAN - The- honorable senator has been driving a car for a few months only. It is unfortunate that he should condemn the Commonwealth Oil Refineries' spirit- because of his own lack of experience. I have not depended upon my own experience, but I have sought the opinion of others who should know what they are talking about; and they have given me very favorable reports regarding the Commonwealth Oil Refineries' spirit. I say that, not because I wish to indulge in propaganda on behalf of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, but. because I desire to refute the statements made on behalf of the product of foreign corporations. These corporations are not altruistic institutions, but business concerns out to make money for their shareholders, who do not reside in Australia. It is interesting to compare the priee of petrol supplied by these corporations to users in the United States of America and those in Australia. If. to the retail price of petrol in the United States of America, we add all the charges for shipping, handling, insurance, freight, and so on, we should arrive at a price which ought not to exceed the retail price in Australia. Even giving those corporations the benefit of any doubt, figures compiled by a person well competent to do so show that the retail price of petrol in Australia ought to be not greater than1s. 7d. a gallon.

Senator Duncan - The honorable senator's brief has been well prepared.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN -I hold no brief for any company. My only concern is. for the Australian users of petrol. I want to see them in a position to obtain this essential commodity at the cheapest price. I do not blame the foreign companies. They are doing their best to make money for their shareholders; and if they are able to exploit "the people of Australia I do not blame them for taking advantage of the opportunity. Bub I do say that, as the representatives of the people, we should be unworthy of our trust if we took no steps to protect them from exploitation. To prevent such exploitation was one of the reasons for the establishment of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. We should make it perfectly clear to these foreign corporations, as well as to any internal monopolistic concerns, that this Parliament and the people of Australia will not tolerate undue exploitation. When companies with huge capital obtain monopolies the danger of exploitation is always present. I do not care whether the shareholders of these American and Dutch companies reside in Great Britain ox the Continent: they should be told that if they intend to exploit the people of Australia, the whole of the resources of the Commonwealth will be utilized to thwart them.

Senator Duncan - I agree with that.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - That is the policy of the Nationalist party. Senator Needham congratulated the Government on indulging in a socialistic venture. The Nationalist party, as I understand it, stands for private enterprise, but always with the qualification that no private enterprise shall be allowed to establish a monopoly for the purpose of {exploiting the people of Australia. These monopolistic corporations must be controlled. The people of this country are prepared to allow this industry to remain in the hands of private companies, but these overseas corporations must be given clearly to understand that if they will not deal fairly with the people of this country, the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited will be given the opportunity to extend its operations in order to protect the people.

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