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Wednesday, 25 February 1942

Mr ROSEVEAR (Dalley) . - I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) what I regard as a flagrant waste of petrol in the unnecessary use of military transport vehicles, and to suggest that action be taken immediately to deal with military authorities who do not seem to have a due appreciation of the meaning of " waste ". Ilive close to an ordnance store, and within a period of five or ten minutes on any day of the week it is usual to see 3-ton lorries travelling to and from the depot each carrying, on an average, not more than 1 cwt. or 2 cwt. That kind of thing is happening throughout the metropolitan area of Sydney. No regard whatever seems to have been paid by the authorities to the need for conserving petrol, nor does any attempt seem to have been made to coordinate the transport services between ordnance stores and the various military camps. I understand that it is the custom for each unit to have its own motor transport, and frequently several trucks may travel from 10 to 20 miles in the same directions carrying only 1 cwt. or 2 cwt. each. That kind of thing is profligate waste. While this is going on, many people in the civil community, who depend upon their trucks for their living, are being utterly ruined because they cannot obtain petrol for essential business purposes. I deeply regretted to-day to hear from the Minister for Supply and Development(Mr. Beasley) that this Government is continuing the petrol rationing policy of the previous Government. When the Minister was sitting in opposition he frequently spoke at great length about the inequality of the petrol rationing system, yet the honorable gentleman is now continuing rationing upon exactly the same principles. Ido not think any honorable gentleman will deny that some people in a small way of business have been practically ruined by their inability to obtain sufficient supplies of petrol. It has. been possible for big firms which run a fleet of lorries to rationalize their delivery services and so maintain their activities, but this is not possible with people in a small way of business, many of whom rely wholly on their trucks for their living. Some of them are still purchasing their vehicles under hire-purchase agreements, and they are finding it impossible to meet their commitments.

Mr Anthony - Does the honorable gentleman say that business people are using their trucks uneconomically ?

Mr ROSEVEAR - They were doing so until recently. I know that until petrol rationing became severe some big business firms would readily have used a 3-ton truck to deliver, say, a pair of women's gloves. That kind of thing is not being done to-day,for the rationalization of the delivery of goods is now in operation to a large degree. It has been stated that persons in difficulty over petrol for delivery purposes may apply to the Liquid Fuel Control Board, but we all know that such applications elicit a stereotyped letter of refusal, the terms of which do not vary under any circumstances. I trust that the Minister for the Army will take immediate steps to put an end to the wasteful use of petrol in the military service, and to call for a report from a reliable and independent source on this subject. I also trust that the Government will do everything possible to effect a more equitable distribution of petrol to civil users for essential purposes. The present basis of rationing should be drastically altered.

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