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Tuesday, 5 June 1928

Mr MARKS (Wentworth) .- I wish to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in the absence of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, a very important matter. It is in connexion with oil prospecting in Papua. The Government is expending a considerable sum of money there, as are also private companies. The signs of oil are very promising at the moment, and if any quantity of oil is discovered it will have to be brought by sea carriage to the mainland, and more especially to Darwin to fill the great tanks there. The last naval survey of those waters was made in about 1840, and as the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) knows, navigation there is practically by dead reckoning. The average depth of water is between 2 and 10 fathoms and there are practically no charts available. Recently the captain of one of the vessels trading on the Papuan coast refused to go inshore to land machinery until the vessel was lightened. I ask the Prime Minister to arrange for a naval sloop to survey those waters in order to make navigation reasonably safe.

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