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Thursday, 24 March 1927

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) .- It will, I think, be admitted that the discovery of petroleum in the Commonwealth or the territories under its control would be of greater benefit than would the discovery of important gold mines. I, therefore, welcome the introduction of this measure. It is a great improvement upon the present act, which was a miserable attempt to encourage prospecting for petroleum. When that measure was under discussion I pointed out that the amount provided was insufficient, and that the scope of the bill was too limited. In this measure the Government has gone a great deal further, and is now asking Parliament to increase the amount to be expended from £60,000 to £160,000. There is a further improvement in this measure since it applies to the territories of the Commonwealth, which were not included in the original act. When speaking on that measure I pointed out several directions in which it fell short of what was required. First, that the money set aside was inadequate. Secondly, that the Government should . provide sufficient money and act in conjunction with the State departments in connexion with geological surveys; and thirdly, that the scope of the bill should be extended to the territories under the control of the Commonwealth. I am glad to find thai for once this Government has accepted the advice of the Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber, and has shown that it is not so decadent as we sometimes believe. I congratulate the Government upon increasing the amount, and trust the day is not far distant when petroleum will be obtained in Australia in payable quantities. I support the bill.

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