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Thursday, 24 March 1927

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) . - Some time ago I listened with considerable interest to a speech by Senator Pearce in which he quoted extensively from the report of Dr. Wade. I regret that, so far, all the efforts which have been made to discover oil in payable quantities, either in Australia or in the territories under its control, have been fruitless. Although I consider that the Government should render assistance to those companies which are prepared to prospect for oil, it is right in refusing to subscribe public money to assist companies which have decided to bore in localities concerning which an unfavorable or no report has been made by the expert engaged by the Government to advise it. It is useless to engage an expert geologist, and then to disregard his advice. Dr. Jensen may be a competent man, but the Government must be guided in these matters by its own expert adviser. Dr. Wade is in the front rank of his profession, and should his opinion conflict with that of other geologists, the Government can do no other than follow his advice. Senator Glasgow, whom I congratulate on his appointment as Minister for Defence, said that a number of bores had been sunk to a considerable depth, but had not reached the strata in which it was expected that oil would be found. I am at a loss to understand why those bores were not sunk to a greater depth. Surely it would be easier to sink them still further than to proceed again from the surface. The Minister did not inform us of the distance between the three bores which he mentioned. One can understand that the discontinuance of work at those bores has given rise to the rumours to which Senator Abbott referred. Considerable sums of money have been expended in the search for oil in Australia, Papua, and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, but, so far, without result. It is generally admitted that in Borneo, Sumatra, and Java, there are oil deposits which, as yet, have not been exploited to any great exteut. Australia is dependent on Persia and the United States of America for her oil supplies. I support the Government's proposal to make available an additional sum of money to assist in the search for oil, but I disagree with Senator Abbott that financial assistance should bc given to those companies which have sunk bores in localities not recommended by the Government's expert adviser. It is not sufficient to say that those companies are prepared to invest their capital on the advice of their own geologists. We all know that gold-seekers and those who search for oil are confirmed optimists. It is well that they are; but a Government must regard its revenue as a sacred trust. In order to prevent, as far as possible, the waste of public money in the search for oil, the Government obtained the services of the best man avail able. Dr. Wade reported on variousareas, and the Government is doing right in following his advice. It is possiblethat, in regions concerning which he has reported unfavorably, oil may be found, and vice versa; but the Government can. do no other than heed his advice. I trust that it will adhere to that principle, and not allow public money to be expended in areas concerning which Dr. Wade has reported unfavorably.

SenatorREID (Queensland) [12.13].- Because of the increasing use of motor transport, the discovery of oil in Australia would be welcomed by all. Much has been said regarding the necessity for following the advice of the expert whose services were obtained by the Government to report on various localities in which it was thought oil might be found; but the experts are not always right. The Queensland Government at one time engaged an expert to advise it as to the best sites at which to sink bores for water. Acting on his advice, the Government concluded that it would be useless to sink bores in certain areas; but, in spite of the expert advice, private individuals sank bores in those areas, and obtained excellent water. In theRoma district of Queensland, where petroleum gas has been found in large quantities, prospecting for oil has continued] for some time, but, so far, no oil in payable quantities has been discovered there. The companies operating in that district have been unfortunate in that several mishaps have occurred in connexion with the boring machinery. Senator Abbott said there was an impression abroad that certain vested interests did not desire that oil should bc discovered in Australia, Papua, or the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. Those interested in boring operations in the Roma district are firmly convinced that American influences were responsible for the difficulties encountered there. On two occasions the bore casing became choked with tools that had been dropped.

Senator Graham - Is it a fact that one bore was blown up with dynamite?

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