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Thursday, 6 October 1927

Senator OGDEN (Tasmania) . - The treatment of oil shale is a rather important subject. I read very carefully the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee, and I believe that if the Government should' attempt to do anything of the nature recommended by the committee it will be confronted with a very large order. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent in New South Wales and Tasmania. There are two companies operating in the latter State, one of which is this month giving a demonstration of its process of extracting the oil. I remind the Minister and honorable senators that the correct commercial process for the extraction of oil from shale has not yet been discovered.

Senator Kingsmill - It is different on every field.

Senator OGDEN - Neither in New South Wales nor in Tasmania has the most suitable commercial process been discovered. Another difficulty is that the land belongs to the State. No doubt the Commonwealth could resume it in a time of crisis; but it cannot reserve these areas without compensating the companies for the large amount of money which they have spent. The Government should assist those who are endeavouring to discover a successful process, even if in the future the oil may be required for defence and other purposes. The oil shale is practically useless until a proper commercial process is discovered. What will be the use of conserving such supplies if in a few years a superior motor spirit is discovered? It is unwise to recommend conserving supplies for future use. The position is quite different in America, where motor spirit can be bought for ls. to ls. Id. a gallon, whereas it is approximately 2s. a gallon in, say, Melbourne and Sydney. It is an easy matter for America to conserve her* supplies of oil shale. The Bronder process is being tried out iri Tasmania, and it is hoped that it will be a success. Experiments are being made with another process, at Southern Cross, and those associated with the undertaking say that the product will be able to successfully compete with motor spirit now in use.

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