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Tuesday, 5 July 1949

Mr FADDEN (Darling DownsLeader of the Australian Country party) . - I desire to take this opportunity to draw attention to a matter which, I consider, cuts across the principle of the effective representation of constituents in this Parliament. I refer to the following statement which was made by the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) last Thursday night: -

The. Leader of the Australian Country party has been bleating all over the country about petrol rationing. He has been complaining ever since I refused permission for the movement of a bus from Melbourne to Queensland for one of his friends.

The facts of the case are as follows: - I was approached by one of my constituents, Mr. Ron Grimley, of Warwick, who asked me to make representations on his behalf in order to obtain from the Liquid Fuel Board sufficient petrol tickets to enable him to bring overland a bus which he had purchased in Melbourne. The bus would have to be run in before it could be used for passenger services, and, accordingly, petrol for that purpose would have to be used after it had arrived at Warwick. On the 8th March, I addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Fuel the following letter: -

Enclosed is a letter received by -me from Mr. Ron T. Grimley, Globe Hotel Building, Warwick, Queensland, who runs a BrisbaneWarwick bus passenger service.

This is the only direct route to Brisbane through Cunningham's Gap and, as I have travelled on the service several times, I can say from my own personal experience that it is of very valuable assistance to the persons in the areas which it services.

You will see from Mr. Grimley's letter that lie has purchased a new thirty-one passenger bus to be delivered to him at Melbourne about the middle of this month.

He desires to accept delivery of the vehicle in. Melbourne and drive it by road for use in Brisbane. He points out that, although the Liquid Fuel Control Board in Brisbane is agreeable to supply him with sufficient petrol, namely 100-120 gallons, the Commonwealth Governmnent is not in favour of allowing delivery by road but wishes him to use the alternative methods of rail or ship.

No doubt you will have some idea of the delays entailed in endeavouring to obtain shipping space to Brisbane as well as the possibility of taking up space which would otherwise be used by essential cargo.

Mr. Grimleypoints out that, even when delivered in Brisbane by ship, the bus will have to be run in and a certain amount of petrol will be required for that purpose.

As the bus is needed urgently for the BrisbaneWarwick run, and also as I know that Mr. Grimley would not put up a case through me unless he was convinced of its justice, 2 should very much appreciate your personal and, if possible, favorable consideration of hil request for a grant of the necessary petrol.

I point out that it was difficult to freight the bus from Melbourne to Warwick byrail, because the railways found the accommodation of so large a vehicle as a 31-passenger bus very awkward and it was difficult to transport it expeditiously by sea because of the priority allotted to more essential goods. The Minister did not reply until the 23rd March, when he wrote me a long letter, as follows : -

I refer again to your letter and enclosure of 8th March in which representations were made on behalf of Mr. R. T. Grimley of the Globe Hotel Building, Warwick, Queensland, who runs a Brisbane-Warwick bus passenger service, and who desires a sufficient allowance of petrol to enable him to drive a new bus from Melbourne to Queensland.

The position is that petrol cannot be madeavailable for interstate movement of new vehicles unless alternative means of transport, such as sea or rail, cannot be obtained within a reasonable time. The fact that these alternatives are more expensive cannot be taken into consideration as the object of the restriction is to save fuel.

Mr. Grimleystates that General MotorsHoldens Limited had previously been permitted to issue sufficient petrol tickets at Fishermen's Bend for overland movement to Brisbane. The facts are that this firm draws ration tickets against an imprest account provided by the Victorian Liquid Fuel Control Board for the delivery of vehicles. At the time the imprest account was established, there was no suggestion of interstate delivery. General Motors bus manufacturing programme was expanded early in 1948 to provide for requirements in all States, and subsequently, the firm provided ration tickets from their imprest account for a few interstate deliveries.

This, however, was done without the knowledge of the Fuel Board, which, in fact, was at the time refusing special allowances to other vehicle builders for similar movement When the matter was brought to the notice of the board, instructions were given to General Motors and other car manufacturers and distributors that issues were not to be made from their imprest accounts for interstate movement without specific authority from the board in each case. Such authority is not given except when alternative transport cannot be arranged.

I am informed that normally shipping space to Brisbane can be obtained within a reasonable time, and I therefore regret that petrol cannot be made available to Mr. Grimley to drive his bus overland. The Queensland Fuel Board will, of course, issue an allowance for the movement from Brisbane to Warwick.

I understand that this decision has already been conveyed to Messrs. E. G. Eager and Son Proprietary Limited, through whom Mr. Grimley placed his order for the bus.

Those are the facts in connexion with the matter to which the Minister has unfairly referred. Things have come to a pretty pass if a member of this House cannot make representations on behalf of his constituents without a responsible Minister unfairly distorting the facts, as was done on this occasion.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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