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Thursday, 24 March 1927

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - Senator Abbott referred to the impression that was abroad that the Anglo-Persian Oil Company is not desirous of discovering oil in Australia. I do not hold a brief for that company. I admit that at one time I thought there was some justification for the rumour; but I was a member of the Committee of Public Accounts, which conducted a very exhaustive inquiry into the charge, in the course of which it visited Popo, advertising in advance its intention to do so, and inviting any one who so desired to appear before it, and give evidence to support the charge. No such evidence was given. That inquiry convinced me that there was not the slightest justification for assuming that the company was not desirous of discovering oil in either Australia or its territories. I had every opportunity, with other members of the committee, to see the whole of the operations that were being carried on in Papua. I came into contact with all of the officials who were acting on behalf of both the Commonwealth Government and the company. Every man was carrying out faithfully -and well the duty that had been entrusted to him - that of endeavouring to discover oil. It has been stated that drills disappeared in certain bores. That is unavoidable. The bore at Popo was abandoned because expert advice was to the effect that it should be sunk in a different position. Any one who has witnessed boring operations must realize the enormous difficulties that are encountered when a drill drops. In justice to the company, I repeat the statement that no evidence was given to the committee in support of the charges made against it.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Bill read a third time.

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