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Tuesday, 25 October 1949

Mr GEORGE LAWSON (BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND) - Has the Prime Minister seen an article in last Sunday's Brisbane Mail headed in black type " Defence Petrol Release ", in which it was stated that Ampol had unexpectedly delivered 34,000 gallons of petrol, which it claimed had been released from defence stocks? If that is correct, has the Prime Minister any comment to make upon the statement?

Mr CHIFLEY - No ; I did not see the statement in a Brisbane newspaper, although I read a report in either a Sunday newspaper or in one of the newspapers that was published yesterday to the effect that Ampol was credited with having released additional supplies of petrol. I think it is well to make it clear, since the member has raised the subject of Ampol, which is the friend of the Leader of the Australian Country party-

Mr McEwen - Why pick out this one Australian company to attack?

Mr CHIFLEY - Because my impression is that the Leader of the Australian Country party and. his friends are being fed by this company with incorrect information. I desire to say to the honorable member for Brisbane that the Ampol company has a quota of petrol for delivery in New South Wales only. I understand that it has delivered some petrol in South Australia also, but its total quota for New South Wales is 2.74 per cent, of the total amount of petrol sold in that State. That is to say, its quota is about 2f gallons out of every 100 gallons sold. It is perfectly true that the Ampol company also owns the Alba Petroleum Company of Australia Proprietary Limited which operates in Tasmania and Victoria. In Victoria the Alba company has a quota of 2.29 per cent, of the petrol consumed in that State or about 2£ gallons out of every 100 gallons sold. In Tasmania, the Alba company sells .23 per cent, of the petrol sold in that State, or less than a quarter of a gallon out of every 100 gallons sold there. The combined total of petrol sold in Australia by the Ampol and Alba companies is 5.26 per cent, of the total sold or about 5^ gallons out of every 100 gallons. I think that the matter has been exaggerated. I give credit to those two companies in that they were not guilty of overselling to the same degree as other petrol companies when petrol rationing ended recently, but I consider that their importance in regard to petrol supplies has been exaggerated. The idea that the Ampol and Alba companies, which, after all, provide only 5.26 per cent, of the petrol sold in Australia, could- provide a continuity of petrol supplies sufficient to meet the whole of the community's needs is just ridiculous.

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