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Friday, 9 September 1949

Mr CHIFLEY - It must be remembered that the importation of petrol is entirely in the hands of private companies. The ramifications of those companies are very extensive. The Australian Government is concerned only with the dollar content of petrol that is brought into this country and does not make inquiries about the sources from which it is obtained. If a company applies for a licence to import petrol, the Government, in considering the application, is guided by what the petrol will cost in terms of dollars. The British Treasury has to meet the deficit between our dollar earnings and our dollar expenditure. I have already stated clearly to the press that if the purchase price and the cost of transport of petrol that comes as part of an ordinary transaction from countries behind what is known as the Iron Curtain can be met in sterling, we are prepared to issue the necessary import licences. We make a careful survey of all offers of goods from behind the Iron Curtain, because we consider that in many instances they are made for political reasons. We have been told that there is a shortage of petrol in countries behind the Iron Curtain, and that may or may not be true. If a company discovers that it can import sterling petrol, by which I mean petrol the cost and carriage of which can be paid for entirely in sterling, the Australian Government will issue the necessary import licences.

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