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Thursday, 21 May 1936

Senator ABBOTT (New South Wales) . - I desire to refer briefly to the foreshadowed activities of the Commonwealth Government in stimulating the search for oil in Australia. It is recognized that the position is serious; a cable message in to-day's press supplied an additional reason why a stimulus should be given to the search for oil, not only in Australia, but also throughout the British Empire. In view of the threatened shortage of supplies in Sarawak, it is more than ever clear that a successful outcome of the efforts of the Government will be of incalculable advantage to the British Empire. That shortage may be of vital importance, in relation to the Singapore Naval Base and the defence of the Pacific. If Australia can supply some of the oil requirements for defence and other purposes, it will render immense assistance to the Mother country, and indeed, to the British Empire. I commend the Government for approaching this matter, with due recognition of its real importance, and to some extent overlooking the more economic features of oil production in relation to its commercial aspect in world affairs. Recently, I asked the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) a question in connexion with the value of the shale oil field at Murrurundi which, I have reason to believe, is of real importance, and in relation to which the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) and I will probably, at an early date, approach the Government. For the information of honorable senators I desire to foreshadow some of the reasons that we propose to advance to the Government in support of our contention that the field at Murrurundi which, at one time, was worked by the British Australian Oil Company, should be thoroughly explored. Perhaps I shall have the sympathy of Senator Leckie in view of his remarks this morning, because my feelings in regard to my native place at Murrurundi are akin to the sentiments that he expressed about' Mernda. In the Upper Hunter district there is a shale deposit known as the Teemi Field. When it was being operated, I represented my district in Urn legislature of New South Wales. Owing to industrial troubles and lack of capital the company, which had successfully produced commercial petrol and marketed it in Australia, was obliged to cease its activities. This property lay in the hands of the liquidator for some considerable time; but, subsequently it was purchased, I have been informed, by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. The Government should pay particular heed to that fact. Gradually the whole of the works were dismantled. A remarkable aerial tramway, which brought shale from the mine to the retorts at Murrurundi, had been constructed. It also has been removed; possibly it was not an economical proposition. The assets of the company included a large depot at Hamilton, Newcastle, where crude oil was refined; this too, has passed into the hands of new owners. To-day all of the retorts have been removed and in their place stand the containers of the Shell Company. What the arrangement was in connexion with the removal of that plant, I do not know; perhaps it is not of vital importance to my remarks. Nor am I certain of the identity of the interests which control the lease, but if it is not being properly exploited it i» open to the Government of New South Wales, in co-operation with the administration, to take steps to develop the field. I urge upon the Minister ihe necessity for paying particular attention to this deposit. The answer which he gave to my question was not an adequate one, but I realize that it was supplied to him departmentally and was not of his own framing. It simply stated -

When Messrs. Crichton and Conacher, Scottish shale oil experts, visited New South Wales during- February, 1935, they inspected Newnes, Marangaroo, Wollar, and Baerami deposits, hut technical officers of the Mines

Department of New South Wales, who accompanied them during their tour of inspection, didnot consider the Murrurundi field to be of sufficient importance to justify examination.

In contrast to that answer, when I was a member of the legislature of New South Wales, the Minister for Mines assured me that just before the mine closed the company had found what was then considered to be a most valuable shale deposit for commercial oil.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.

Senator ABBOTT - There is ample material for the purpose of the inquiry in theNew South Wales Mines Department. Some years ago, in the State Parliament, the then Minister for Mines furnished to me a considerable amount of information relating to shale deposits in New South Wales.

Honorable senators will have noticed that this morning I obtained the discharge from the business paper of my motion in favour of the creation of an international thought exchange. I adopted that course because, under the Standing Orders, it is not competent to anticipate the discussion of a motion which appears on the business paper, and that would have precluded me from discussing it on the first reading of this bill. The discharge of the motion gives me the opportunity which I desired to deal further with this important subject. Another reason for my action was that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has asked honorable senators to refrain from discussing the position of the League of Nations during this difficult time through which the world is passing. In anything which I may say this afternoon I do not propose to offend in that direction. The terms of my original motion indicated that, at that time, I did not desire the Government to be primarily responsible for the steps necessary to give effect to it. All I asked was that the Senate should express its opinion, which would be submitted to His Excellency the Governor-General for transmission to His Majesty's Government in Great Britain. I knew, of course, that in due time, the Senate's expression of opinion would be returned for the opinion of the Commonwealth Government as His Majesty's Australian advisers. But this matter is of much wider significance. It affects not only the British Empire, but the whole world, and I believe that such an expression of opinion would be welcomed by the British Government. The motion, in its original form, read -

That to encourage the breaking down of barriers and in the interests of mutual understandingand peace among the nations of the world, and to enable the founding of an international public opinion and literature -

(1)   It is imperative thata means of international thought exchange be established by a common language agreed upon in conference of the nations, such language to be compulsorily taught in their respective primary and secondary schools.

(2)   For this purpose this Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia urges that the nations be invited by His Most Gracious Majesty the King to send their representatives to a world convention.

(3)   That this resolution be conveyed to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral for submission to His Majesty with the humble prayer of this Senate that action be taken accordingly.

At the suggestion of the Leader of the Senate I agreed to alter it to the form in which it appeared on the noticepaper this morning. The main point is that the invitation should go forward with the approval of the British Government. It is immaterial whether it should be extended to the governments of other countries through the League of Nations, or whether it should be issued in the name of His Majesty's Government. If, as I firmly believe, honorable senators are sincere in . their desire to forward this proposal, the cause of world peace will, undoubtedly, be advanced. As honorable senators realize; changes in world affairs of the deepest significance have taken place since I placed my motion on the notice-paper of the Senate some months ago. It is possible that the Government would, quite rightly, . have hesitated to take the action suggested in the motion in its original form ; but the real essence of the proposal is contained in paragraphs 1 and 2 which invite an expression of opinion in favour of the suggested international conference. I therefore intend, when Parliament reassembles after the approaching recess, to restore the motion to the notice-paper either in its original form or in some simpler language which may, perhaps, be more acceptable to the Government and honorable senators. Shorn of all trimmings, the motion which I introduced some months ago affirmed the desirability of an international conference to be attended by the educational experts of all countries, whose function would be to examine the suggested languages, and recommend the adoption of one for the interchange of thought among the peoples of the world. I am not so much interested in .he particular language to be chosen - whether it be basic English, Esperanto, Chocktaw or Sanscrit. My concern is that, after careful examination of the proposal, the nations should bind themselves to adopt one particular vehicle of thought for universal use. Similar proposals have already been accepted internationally, as witness the conventions relating to patents and postal administration. Standardized laws relating to these subjects are operating quite successfully, and the same results would follow the adoption of an international language if the nations would agree to have it compulsorily taught in all their schools. It would be immaterial whether or not the League of Nations accepted t lie approved language, or whether it retained French and English for the purposes of its deliberations. The important thing to remember is that once there was agreement among all nations to use a particular language, in from ten to twenty years a considerable proportion of the world's population would be exchanging ideas in a language -understood by all when the wireless receivers were turned on, and we should then have the growth of an informed international public opinion. There would also be the development of an international literature, flowing in a common groove, all of which, I suggest, would make for world peace.

Senator Arkins - H. G. Wells contends that basic English is the language of the future.

Senator ABBOTT - flow futile it is to discuss what language should be chosen !

Senator Arkins - Wells is a man of wide learning and experience.

Senator ABBOTT - So, no doubt, is the honorable senator. My concern is that at the international conference, which I have suggested should be held, one language should be selected for universal use. I admit that English would have a strong claim for selection, because at least 500,000,000 people throughout the world speak it in some form, and already English is compulsorily taught in the schools of many foreign countries. 1 firmly believe that the adoption of my proposal would be the first step along the pathway to peace. I do not suggest, of course, that world peace is to be achieved by the waving of a magic wand. The establishment of peace among the nations must be a gradual process; but I believe that the adoption of a particular language for universal use would be a definite start. Many notable public men in other countries share this belief. Koki Hiroto, the new Prime Minister of Japan, declared not long ago that the greatest underlying cause of war was the misunderstanding, mistrust and suspicion existing _ between the peoples of different countries, due to the difficulty of exchanging ideas on national aspirations. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the opinion expressed by a gentleman who is competent to speak on radio development, not only in Australia, but also in other countries. I refer to Mr. E. T. Fisk, who is recognized as one of the three greatest authorities. Marconi comes first, and either a gentleman in the United States of America or Mr. Fisk is undoubtedly entitled to the second place. Whatever qualifications may be possessed by the others, one "is safe in saying that Mr. Fisk is one of -the greatest living authorities on radio matters. On the 5th May, Mr. Fisk, when interviewed by the Sydney press, stated -

The time waa approaching when it would he possible for one individual to address at least 150,000,000 people simultaneously in their homes in all parts of the world. The enormous potentialities of this development were not fully realized. One of the greatest possibilities was that mutual understanding among the people of the earth would come more readily by this means than by any other, and that, ultimately, same way would be found of broadcasting in a common language which would bc simultaneously understood by all listeners.

That is the considered opinion of Mr. Fisk. On the same date he wrote to me as follows: -

I certainly think it is desirable that everything possible should be done to institute and establish an international language for thu purpose of world-wide broadcasting. 1 out convinced that the day is approaching when broadcasting stations of world-wide range will lie listened to simultaneously by millions nf people in different parts of the world.

After dealing with another subject, he said -

Australia was among the (pioneers of worldwide broadcasting on short-waves, and, in recent years, many of the leading countries have developed this system.

A few years ago we would have been regarded as fools had we suggested that the means of communication which now exist would be in such universal use. The letter continued -

With short-wave receiving sets, it is possible in Australia to listen to broadcasts from Great Britain, Germany, France, Holland, Poland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Russia, Siberia, Dutch Bast Indies, India, Japan, United States of America, and other countries. Many of those, world-wide stations already broadcast news and propoganda in English and in other language*!. He went, on to state -

The rapid expansion of world-wide broadcasting which is now taking place, opens up possibilities of incalculable importance to the human race.

If expansion of broadcasting opens up possibilities of incalculable importance to the human race, surely the subject of an international thought exchange demands the immediate attention of the Seriate. In these circumstances, I claim the support and sympathy of the members of this Parliament and of the people of Australia. I hope that this Parliament will take the lead in establishing the means of interchange of thought by moans of an international language, and that it will .have the .support of public opinion.

Mr. Fiskcontinued

Thu greatest among these possibilities is that of propagating and fostering mutual understanding. Radio science and engineering have provided the means for much promulgation, but it is the work of other authorities to ultimately eliminate the remaining barrier by establishing the language which will be simultaneously understood by the many millions of people who will ultimately be able to listen in their own homes to broadcasting stations of world-wide range radiating from every country in the world.

For some time I have been delivering public lectures on my proposal, and have always found enthusiastic approval and support of it. As Mr. Fisk points out, science has provided the means, but it is for bodies such as the Senate, to make it possible for science to take full advantage of the means which are now available.

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