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Friday, 20 November 1936

SenatorCOLLINGS asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that the Prime Minister stilted on the 4th November in answer to the question - " What have the geologists (of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited) done so far ", that, " for obvious reasons it would not be in the public interests to disclose this information "?

2.   Is it a fact that when Sir John Cadinan wag in Sydney, prior to the arrival of geologists in the employ of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, he announced that a committee of eminent scientists would act as an advisory committee to the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited?

3.   Is it a fact that this Committee of eminent scientists consists of Professor Skeats (Professor of Geology of Melbourne University), Professor Payne (Emeritus Professor of Engineering, of Melbourne University, and a Director of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited), Dr. Keith Ward (Director of Mines, South Australia), and Dr. W. G. Woolnough (Commonwealth Geological Adviser) ?

4.   Is it a fact that Dr.W. G. Woolnough and Dr. Keith Ward arc members of the Technical Committee advising the Commonwealth Government on the administration of the Petroleum Oil Search Act 1936?

5.   Is it a fact that all Companies applying for advances under the Petroleum Oil Search Act 1936 have to submit to the members of the Federal Technical Committee complete geological reports on the areas on which it is proposed to sink test bores! 6.If so, is such information given to members of the Technical Advisory Committee used by those members in their capacity as a " Committee of Eminent Scientists " advising the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited?

7.   Is any guarantee of secrecy given to the companieswho are compelled to submit their confidential reports to the Federal Technical Committee ?

8.   If the answer to No.7 is in the negative, is this thereason why it would not be in the public interest to disclose what the geologists of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited engaged in the search for oil in Australia have doneso far?


Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - The answers to the honorable senator's questions are as follows: -

1.   The Prime Minister made available advice which had been furnished by the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited to the effect that it would not be in the public interest to disclose the information referred to. The company has since advised that the work on which it is engaged consists of both ground and aerial surveys in potentially petroliferous areas as well as the collection and examination of data and all the necessary preliminaries to test drilling.

2.   Yes.

3.   Yes.

4.   Yes.

5.   The conditions under which advances may be made provide that each applicationto the Minister for an advance shall be accompanied by a complete geological report on the area in which it is proposed to sink the test bore.Each application, together with accompanying data, is submitted to the Oil Advisory Committee for consideration and recommendation.

6.   No. 7-8. No guarantee of secrecy is given. The data supplied by applicants is, however, regarded as strictly confidential.







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