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Thursday, 30 April 1936

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [3.1]. - by leave - After a thorough review of all sources of production and of technical reports bearing upon flow oil, shale oil and oil from coal, the Government has decided to make available a sum of £250,000 for advances by way of loans to approved companies or persons on a £1 for £1 basis, for the purpose of drilling operations in connexion with the search for flow oil in Australia. This fund will be administered by a sub-committee of Cabinet, consisting of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Archdale Parkhill), the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson), and the Minister in charge of Development (Senator A. J. McLachlan). The sub-committee of Cabinet will, in turn, bo advisedby a technical committee consisting of Dr. W. G. Woolnough, Commonwealth Geological Adviser; Dr. L. Keith Ward, Director of Mines of South Australia; and Dr. Arthur Wade. Dr. Woolnough will act as executive officer.

The Government is determined to investigate every means of giving to Australia some independence in oil supplies. To that end it will obtain definite information concerning the possibilities of well oil production in Australia and New Guinea. If the result is negative, it will at least serve to obviate the further expenditure of large sums of money in the search for oil. If, on the other hand, oil is found, it will add immeasurably to the prosperity of Australia and will supply an essential defence requirement.

Information in the possession of the Government indicates that the prospects of finding well oil in commercial quantities in Australia and New Guinea are now rated more favorably than had hitherto been the case.

It is necessary again to emphasize that the moneys, which it is proposed to provide, will be for the purpose of drilling for oil, and not for preliminary geological surveys. While it is recognized that geological surveys are pre-requisites to drilling, it is felt that a good deal of this work has already been done and that the immediate need is to drill favorable areas. It is recognized, also, that the major expenditure associated with the search for oil is in connexion with drilling.

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