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Friday, 23 September 1949


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! The Prime Minister is entitled to be heard in silence.


Mr Turnbull - What I ami asking is in respect of the amount diverted-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honorable member has asked a question, and he should await the reply.


Mr CHIFLEY - The honorable member asked a question and must take what is coming to him in this matter. A few days ago, I discussed the petrol tax with the members of the executive of the Local Government Association, and those gentlemen did not advocate a reduction of the petrol tax. What they did advocate was that an increased amount should be made available for expenditure on roads.


Mr Holt - That was before the devaluation of the currency.


Mr CHIFLEY - That is perfectly true. At that time, the representatives of the local governing bodies were not aware of the devaluation proposals. I pointed out to them that in two financial years, an amount of £40,000,000 had been available for expenditure on roads. I do not say that, in some instances, difficulty has not arisen owing to the shortage of road-making machinery, but I remind the House that some road-making plant may be obtained from the United Kingdom and the easy currency areas. The United States of America is not the only country that is able to provide roadmaking machinery. Whatever the reasons may be, all the money that was made available was not expended and this year, an amount of £25,000,000 is available for roads. The amount by which the price of petrol may be increased cannot be determined at the moment. The position will become clear only when the oil companies disclose their accounts. Some of the statements made' in this House about the dollar content of petrol have been completely inaccurate, and the companies themselves have had to admit that the Government's figures have been correct. However, we shall not be able to determine the matter until the figures are available. No consideration has yet been given to reducing the petrol tax as the result of any increase of the price of petrol. That matter will be dealt with when it arises.







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