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Friday, 22 May 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - I agree with the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), that the production of oil in Australia is of supreme importance to this country, and I agree, also, that it is proper for us to devote money to the encouragement of the search for flow oil. During recent months I took the trouble to collect a mass of information dealing with the production of flow oil, oil from coal, and oil from shale; but, owing to the rush that is now taking place - a reprehensible practice that has regularly characterized the concluding stage of each session in recent years - I do not propose to deliver, at this juncture, the speech I have prepared. I have always deprecated, and do so again - on this occasion, the end-of-the-session rush,, because in such circumstances the Senatecannot give proper attention to the business before it.. I see no reason why we should not meet again next week, and give to this bill the thorough examination which its importance demands. I know that, if I attempted to make the speech which I had hoped to make on this measure, I should have a very impatient audience, and would be doing something of which the majority of honorable senators would not approve, because they want to get away. I make this statement in order to let the people, who sent me here, know that I, for one, believe in earning my salary as a senator. The second-reading speech just delivered by the Minister sounds very innocent; but things are not what they appear to be on the surface. Tremendous amounts of money have been spent in the past in investigating the possibilities of oil production in Australia, and now the value of all our research will go into the hands of private enterprise, and this industry, which should be Australia's greatest asset, not only in times of peace, but also in times of war, will, like many other industries, be allowed to fall under the control of people who have no soul or patriotism, and have but one god - profit. I do not intend to say any more at this juncture. The Opposition will support the bill, because it believes that money expended in the search for flow oil will be well spent. But there are numerous facets to this proposition; in the circumstances I have mentioned, however, these will not be satisfactorily examined.

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