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Wednesday, 6 May 1942

Mr CALWELL - It is due to the failure of this and previous Governments to allow adequate petrol supplies to sawmillers to cart firewood to the nearest railway stations, to the shortage of railway trucks, and to the fact that many skilled workers have been taken unnecessarily from the industry into the Army, although the Army is not in a position to supply them with the necessary equipment with which they may be properly trained.

Mr Rankin - The shortage of coal supplies is a contributing factor.

Mr CALWELL - The coal shortage has accentuated it. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Holloway), the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) and the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) will probably join in my protest because they also represent in this House the poorer class of people who are the worst sufferers as a result of the shortage. I ask the Minister for Commerce and the Minister for Supply and Development, both of whom are at present in the House, to see that appropriate action shall be taken at once so that firewood will be made available where it is most needed. Fuel merchants have informed me that they turn away twelve times as many people as they can supply. The diversion of briquettes from the State Electricity Commission's brown coal mine at Yallourn for war purposes is another contributing factor. The existing deplorable and unfortunate situation would not have arisen had briquettes, mallee roots, and firewood been made available in ample quantities.

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