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Thursday, 27 November 1941

Senator ARTHUR (New SouthWales) .- This is the most vital bill that has been introduced during the present period of the session. In it, the Government proposes to make a donation to the Papuan Apinaipi Petroleum Company. Honorable senators should realize what the major oil companies have done for Australia. The Shell Company of Australia Limited has leased86,000 square miles - 87,000,000 acres - in the south-western portion of Queensland for a period of ten years, with the option of renewal for a further period of five years. In Western Australia another overseas company has been given rights over an area of 134 square miles.

Senator McBride - Who gave those rights ?

Senator ARTHUR - Honorable senators opposite, and Dr. Woolnough, Dr. Ward and Dr. Wade. Dr. Wade left the employ of the Commonwealth to become a servant of the Shell Company of Australia Limited.

Senator Cooper - Did this Parliament give the lease to that company ?

Senator ARTHUR - No.

Senator Allan MacDonald - A Labour government did so.

Senator ARTHUR - Now this Government proposes to give a subsidy for failing to find oil. In the House of Representatives a few years ago, after 5,000 barrels of oil had been obtained in Papua, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), who was then a Minister, refused to disclose the name of the company which had found oil. The Commonwealth is operating at Lakes Entrance to-day on the advice of socalled geologists - book-readers who have no practical knowledge of the oil industry. The Lakes Entrance oil-field is a low pressure field, and the passage of time will prove that it is a seepage area. The Government proposes to sink a shaft with Australian labour, but, according to press reports published to-day, American labour will be used for the remainder of the work. After the shaft has been sunk and a chamber excavated, it seems that imported labour will drill by what is termed " a special process ".

Senator McBride - Is the honorable senator opposed to this measure?

Senator ARTHUR - No, but I want to enlighten honorable senators about things that have been done in connexion with the search for oil in Australia which are of vital importance to this country. This bill proposes to render assistance in a way somewhat similar to the assistance being given at Lakes Entrance, and prob ably American labour will be allowed to sabotage the work, as was the case at Roma, which is another seepage field. I desire to place on record my definite protest against this measure. Although I shall support it, I shall do so only because my mental composition is different from that of honorable senators opposite, who have tried consistently to impede the present Government's war effort. The passage of time will prove that I have told the truth when I have said that the major oil companies are robbing Australia. There is no reason why petrol should be rationed here. The truth is that the search for oil is controlled by company directorates with interests all over the world, and Mr. Walter Teagle, chairman of the Standard Oil Trust, is sitting back in his office in New Jersey directing the affairs of the Commonwealth, both in relation to national economy and its war effort in so far as oil is concerned. We are told that we can have only 12,000,000 or 15,000,000 gallons of petrol annually when four times that quantity should be produced within the country. Oil will be found at Lakes Entrance with a bitumen base and not with a paraffin base. When I die the people of Australia will say that " Old Tom" Arthur told the truth about oil, and that "Harry" Foll sent from Australia the only man who could have discovered oil in Australia. This bill proposes to grant a sum of more than £33,000 of public money to a " gogetting" company. In my opinion the investigation should at least have been carried out by people who know what they are talking about.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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