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Tuesday, 25 November 1930

SenatorBARNES- On the 13th November Senator Sampson asked the following questions, upon notice -

1.   Has the Government considered the advisability of fuelling the Royal Australian Navy with fuel oil obtained from Tasmanianoil shale? 2.. If not, will the Government take immediate steps to examine the desirability and. feasibility of so doing?

3.   What quantity of oil fuel was used By the Royal Australian Navy during the year 1929-30?

4.   Whence was it obtained, and what was the price paid per gallon or ton?

5.   Is it a fact that an excellent grade of fuel oil is now being obtained at Latrobe, Tasmania, from oil shale on a practical and commercial basis?

6.   If so, has this oil been tested by the Department of Defence?

7.   If not, why not; and will the Government have tests' carried out ?

I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator as follows: -

1.   The Defence Department keeps in close touch with developments in connexion with the production of oil fuel and petrol in Australia, and the latest departmental information, dated 16th September, 1930, regarding the Latrobe installation in Tasmania indicates that a comparatively small quantity of crude oil is being produced there at present.

2.   See reply to No. 1.

3.   Approximately 17,000 tons.

4.   Three hundred and fourteen tons, of Persian origin, supplied by the Commonwealth Oil Refineries, Victoria, at a cost of 70s. per ton. The balance was Borneo oil fuel, obtained under the departmental contracts at a cost of65s. per ton. 5.Recent reports claim that a high-grade oil is being produced at Latrobe. It is believed that the activities of the company concerned are being concentrated upon the production of a suitable motor spirit for com mercial use, The small output of residual oil fuel involved is obviously too limited to interest the Defence Department from a supply aspect at the present time. It is not known whether it is being produced on a successful commercial basis.

6.   See reply to No. 5.

7.   The department is prepared to have tests of the residual oil fuel carried out when the scale of production warrants this course.

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