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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4273

Mr Snedden asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(1)   Has legislation been drafted to give effect to the Government's pre-election pledge to introduce a Freedom of Information Bill.

(2)   If so, has the legislation been considered by the Government.

(3)   If not, when is it anticipated that the legislation will be ready. i(4) When does the Government intend to introduce such legislation into Parliament.

Mr Whitlam - The answer to the right honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   to (4) The Interdepartmental Committee on Freedom of Information Legislation which the Government established last January (Hansard, 24 October 1973, page 2665), is continuing its work. It is expected to complete this very shortly. As soon as its report is ready and the Government has had an opportunity to consider it, legislation will be prepared and introduced. Owing to pressure of Parliamentary business of which the right honourable gentleman is aware, it is now not expected that it will be possible to introduce the legislation until the Autumn sittings.

Glen Davis-Newnes Area: Shale Potentialities

Mr Connor - On 13 November 1973, Mr Luchetti asked a question without notice about fuel resources. I said I would have further inquiries made as to the shale potentialities of the Glen Davis-Newnes area. I am advised that:

The question of production of oil from shale in the Glen Davis-Newnes area would rest upon the establishment of a commercially significant level of reserves of shale which could be won at an economic cost. The question of retorting techniques is of little significance until such reserves are established.

Production at Glen Davis ceased in 1952 becauseof the thin seams of shale and the high cost of mining. At that time it was costing approximately 52 cents per gallon to produce motor spirit at the plant, which was not operating at design capacity because of the inability of the mine to provide shale in sufficient quantity.

Retorting techniques at Glen Davis operated at a high level of efficiency and provided some of the best yields of oil from shale ever achieved on a commercial basis. This is because of the high quality of Glen Davis oil shale, some seams of which are reputed to be the highest known grade in the world. However, these seams are thin and diffuse, with a maximum thickness of about 50 inches. This is in contrast to seams of between 500 and 1,000 feet thick in the U.S.A., which are the subject of current investigation in that country.

I also said I would have appropriate tests made and this I will do when the economic prospects for production of oil from shale at Glen Davis appear more favourable. My Department is in close touch with developments in the state of the art.

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