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Thursday, 27 October 1949


Mr FADDEN (Darling DownsLeader of the Australian Country party) . - I support the amendment. This clause is most important, because it determines the duration of petrol rationing. Therefore, honorable members must examine the reasons for the introduction of rationing. The Minister for Defence has painted such a gloomy picture of the dollar situation and what he described as our inability to obtain additional supplies of petrol, that the Government should not be able to fix a definite date upon which rationing will expire. The honorable gentleman referred to the Commonwealth's petrol reserves for defence purposes-


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order! This clause does not contain any reference to defence. The right honorable gentleman is endeavouring to reply to statements that were made in the second-reading debate, and he will not be in order in doing so.


Mr FADDEN - I insist that my remarks are strictly relevant to this clause, which provides that petrol rationing shall cease on the 31st August, 1950. The duration of rationing must obviously be conditioned by the availability of supplies of petrol. Is not that basic?


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Yes.


Mr FADDEN - How in the name of goodness can the Government fix the duration of petrol rationing when it has painted such a pessimistic picture of the availability of supplies? Why has the Government selected the 31st August, 1950, as the date on which rationing shall expire? How has the Government been able to assess that day as the safe dateupon which to abolish rationing? I support the amendment because I consider that petrol rationing is unnecessary. The present shortage of liquid fuel is due solely to the Government's bungling-


Mr Fuller - Shame!


Mr FADDEN - Ampol, the little allAustralian company which has been maligned and defamed because it has stood out against the big oil combines and monopolies which the Labour Government pretends to mistrust-


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order ! What has that statement to do with the clause under consideration?


Mr FADDEN - It has a lot to do with the clause.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The Chair asks the right honorable gentleman to relate his remarks to the clause.


Mr FADDEN - If the Chair will give me a chance, I shall do so. Ampol has just announced an offer to all other oil companies in Australia to take part in the importation of 18,500,000 gallons of French petrol.


Mr Harrison - Let the Government laugh that one off.


Mr Dedman - Because Ampol would lose money on the deal.


Mr FADDEN - The managing director of Ampol states that if the hig oil trusts and combines will accept that offer, petrol rationing will not be necessary. The Government has discouraged the attempts by this all-Australian company to relieve the petrol shortage. Ampol has sent telegrams to the big combines in which it has asked them to take their quota of French petrol, and to reply to the offer this evening. The option which Ampol has on French petrol will expire to-night in Paris. How does the Government view that offer? How has it assisted that small Australian company? In view of the offer of French petrol, the introduction of rationing is unnecessary.


Sir Earle Page - And this bill is unnecessary.


Mr FADDEN - Exactly. Therefore, every honorable member can support with confidence the amendment that has been submitted by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) on behalf of the Opposition parties. This Government has bungled and muddled the petrol position. It has accused me of being associated with Ampol. I do not hold one share in that company, and I have no interest in it whatever. But I have an interest in " Australia Unlimited ". This so-called Labour Government, which pretends to mistrust combines and monopolies, has encouraged American and English trusts and has attempted to discourage a small all-Australian company from importing petrol. I invite the Government to accept my challenge, and denounce Ampol for having done what the Commonwealth has neglected to do, which is to look all round the world for non-dollar petrol. Ampol has found petrol and it has a contract, and has offered part of the consignment to other oil companies in Australia. I understand that this afternoon the Minister for Defence referred to me as having violated-


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order ! The right honorable gentleman may not refer to what was said in a second-reading speech in the House. The committee has no knowledge of what occurred in the House.


Mr FADDEN - -There is no need for this bill.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The bill is not being discussed.


Mr FADDEN - Well, there is no need for this clause. Had the Government been as vigilant and enterprising as this Australian company, it would have found petrol, as the company has found it, and there would be no need to introduce a system of rationing to terminate on the 31st August next. Consequently, I support the amendment. We will find the petrol that Australia must have. An Australian company found petrol, but it has been discouraged by the Government.







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