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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Mr RYAN (Flinders) .-I desire to draw the attention of the Government to the need for rationing, or in some way controlling the use of power kerosene. I specify power kerosene because there is no reason why any restrictions should be placed upon kerosene used for fuel or lighting. Some time ago, I brought this matter before the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley), and he then said that he saw no reason why action should be taken. Since then, the situation has changed for the worse. There is no doubt that the use of power kerosene is being abused. I have been told that a mixture of one part of benzol to three parts of kerosene makes a good fuel for an ordinary car, whilst a mixture of one part of petrol to two parts of kerosene is also quite effective. Of course, such practices are illegal, but they are extremely difficult to detect. We know that the importation of fuel for power purposes is difficult at the present time because of the shortage of shipping, and it is just as difficult to import kerosene as it is to import petrol. Both fuels are carried in the same kind of containers and in the same kind of ships. I suggest, first, that the Government might consider rationing the use of power kerosene. If it will not do that, I make an alternative suggestion that should appeal particularly to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde). According to my information, the production of kerosene in the country of origin presents certain difficulties. It is easier to produce petrol than to divert the plant to the production of kerosene. Australia, relatively, and to some extent, absolutely, uses more kerosene than is used in any other country. I suggest that the Government might consider substituting the use of petrol for power kerosene, which is now mostly employed in primary production. The advantage from a defence point of view would be that, instead of having in the country large quantities of kerosene which is of no use for the propulsion of military trucks or tanks, we should have an additional quantity of petrol for use in an emergency. Of course, unless something were done about it, the primary producer would be called upon to pay more for the petrol than he now pays for kerosene. Therefore, I suggest that, if the Government thought my suggestion a good one, it might make up the difference to the primary producer by way of a subsidy, and the cost could be regarded as a contribution to national safety because it would ensure increased reserves of petrol in Australia.

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