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Friday, 16 September 1949

Mr DEDMAN (CORIO, VICTORIA) (Minister for Defence) - I was present at theconference of Commonwealth and StateMinisters, held in Canberra last, month when this matter was discussed. In view of what transpired at that conference, and of subsequent events, I think that it is true to say that all States except Victoria are agreeable to refer power tothe Commonwealth to re-introduce petrol rationing. The Queensland Government has already indicated its willingness todo so.

Mr Spender - The Minister has stated previously that the Commonwealth already has that power.

Mr DEDMAN - Whilst that may be so, the position in Victoria is rather confused. As honorable members arc aware, although a Liberal government . is in power in Victoria, the Australian Country party is in Opposition, and a very' bitter factional fight between the Liberal and Australian Country parties in that State is taking place. According to press statements that I have read, -whilst the Premier of Victoria favours the referring of power to the Commonwealth, some of his Ministers, including Mr. Warner, Minister for Housing, are opposed to that being done. Because Victoria is not agreeable to refer power to the Commonwealth, it is impossible for the Commonwealth to re-introduce petrol rationing throughout Australia. Recently essential users of petrol at Tenterfield in New South Wales were unable to obtain supplies. I am afraid that that will happen in various parts of Australia unless the Commonwealth is enabled to deal effectively with this matter. However, that cannot he done until Victoria falls into line with the other States.

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