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Thursday, 7 July 1949

Mr HOLT (Fawkner) .- This bill is a short one and is intended ostensibly to provide for the maintenance of adequate stocks of liquid fuel for the defence of this country. However, because of the time that has elapsed since the leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) made his speech on petrol supplies, and the nature of the answer given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), the scope of the debate has widened very considerably and now extends beyond the compass of this measure. It has developed into a consideration of the petrol problem generally in its relationship to the world problem of international exchange and trade. I trust that I shall not exceed the scope of the bill in the few remarks that I intend to make upon it, but it becomes necessary, in view of the discussion that has already taken place, to give some consideration to the problem of the petrol supplies that aw available to the people of Aus tralia and the bearing which that will have upon the availability of petrol to the community. I think that all members of the Parliament, and, indeed, most members of the public who have followed the press reports of the developments that have taken place in the last few months, will be concerned at the extraordinary decline of the future prospects of world trade. We are talking now in terms of " depression ", " recession " and " slump ". Those words are coming bacl into the press. Even the word " unemployment ", which we thought was merely some ugly memory of the past, is appearing in contemporary literature. We. therefore, ask ourselves what is thi? remarkable change that has taken place in the economic situation in the last few months which has made this a matter of public consideration? I think that if w< look around the world as a whole we shall find that in at least one respect the world condition is unchanged. The world it still clamouring for goods. There are widespread shortages of essential commo dities. The peoples of the world are still short of essential foods, clothing, and other necessaries.

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