Australian Bureau of Statistics
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 1944-45
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/01/1945
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(i) Reasons for Rationing. It was apparent in 1942 that with abnormal war conditions involving decrease in imports, reduction in labour available for local production of textiles and manufacture of garments, and increased Service demands, supplies would not be sufficient to meet the civilian demand at normal rates of consumption. Clothing rationing was therefore considered to be the only practicable course to provide for equitable distribution of reduced supplies.
(ii) Assessment of Ration. Reviews were made of the stock position of main classes of materials and garments and of the likely rate of future supplies, but the available information was in many respects incomplete. The past average annual replacement rates per man, woman and child in respect of the main types of garments were also determined as far as practicable. The average replacement rates were then reviewed in the light of what was considered to be the minimum replacement rates practicable. In determining the latter, it was considered on the approximate information available that, broadly, men could afford to suffer a reduction on pre-war rate of consumption of slightly less than half, women one-third, children one-fifth (subject to supplementary issues for out-size children), while purchases for infants should remain at pre-war levels. Even on the basis of such minimum requirements it was found that the over-all annual consumption would be in excess of estimated supplies. It was determined, however, that the initial scale should be based on essential minimum requirements and that everything possible should be done to obtain suppIies to this level by endeavouring to stimulate more efficient local production and to obtain imports from the United Kingdom, United States of America, India, etc. The Services co-operated by temporarily reducing their requirements for certain classes of goods.
(iii) Basis of Scale. Rationing procedure and clothing scales already operating in the United Kingdom and other countries were closely examined and the general organisation of the United Kingdom was largely followed. In determining coupon ratings, the four main sections of the community, i.e., men. women, children 5-15 years and infants were considered separately, and in the determination of ratings for individual garments the factors of their life, utility, amount of material required for manufacture, and the likely supply position were taken into consideration. A Clothing Scale suitable to Australian rcquirements was thus evolved. To compensate for the additional wear on clothing by persons engaged in industry, lower coupon ratings were fixed for certain types of working garments. Except for minor exceptions of lower ratings for cheap frocks and shoes and for damaged and imperfect goods, no differentiation has been made in coupon ratings on account of price and quality.
Rationing of clothing by coupons was introduced on 15th June, 1942, and extended to wearing apparel, headwear, footwear, handknitting wool and piece goods. The coupon ratings on the more important articles and average consumption rates are shown later.
(iv) Alteration to Scale. Alterations in the original coupon scale have been made from time to time to correct anomalies, and as the supply position of certain articles has deteriorated or improved. The following were the main alterations:-
(a) Household Drapery. In June, 1943, household drapery and furnishings were added to the list of coupon goods, etc., mainly on account of the increasing shortage of cotton materials, manchester, etc., and as a means of stiffening the clothing scale generally.
In view of the improved local supply position, substantial reductions in coupon ratings were made in June and July, 1945 on woollen garments, knitted underwear, hosiery and woollen piece goods, the reduction on the latter being designed to stimulate home dressmaking and so relieve the shortage in making-up labour.
(b) Revised Scale, 15th November, 1945. In November, 1945, a forward review indicated a continued shortage in the overseas cotton and rayon supply position for 1946 and into 1947, while the local supply position of woollen textiles and knitted goods generally showed improvement, largely consequent upon the diversion of production from service to civilian requirements. A general revision of the Clothing Coupon Scale was made as from 15th November, 1945, involving the following:-
(v) Clothing Coupon Scale. The following tables set out the annual replacement rate estimated by the Commission, the coupon ratings and the average annual coupon consumption on main articles of clothing for men and women under-
A. The scale operating prior to June, 1945;
B. The scale operating as from 15th November, 1945.
Figures for minor articles such as handkerchiefs, gloves, ties, etc., which were rationed prior to June 1945, are not included.
Petrol rationing was first enforced in Australia in October, 1940, a little more than twelve months after the commencement of the 1939-45 War. No very drastic cuts in consumption were made for some time, but, commencing in April, 1941, when the replenishment of stocks from overseas supply sources was becoming increasingly difficult and uncertain, progressive reductions in the monthly allowances to civilian users were made, the basic ration being finally reduced to the equivalent of only 800 miles of running per annum. The period of severest rationing lasted from late in 1941 until towards the end of 1944, non-military consumption during these three years or thereabouts being at a rate not very much in excess of one-third of the estimated pre-war rate of 30 million gallons per month.
With the improvement in the war situation in 1944, it was found possible, without making any specific amendment of the rationing schedules, to do something in the direction of granting claims for additional allowances of petrol in individual cases where circumstances appeared to justify this course and to relax to some extent the very heavy pressure which had been applied during the critical years of the war to enforce the use of producer gas units.
The first general increase in the ration scale was made in September, 1945, following the Japanese surrender, the allowances to private motorists and primary producers being increased by 25 per cent. A further all-round increase of 25 per cent. to all classes of users was made a month later, bringing the private motorist's allowance to 120 miles of running per month.
As essential users of motor spirit were already receiving practically their full requirements, such further liberalizing of the monthly allowances as became possible in the post-war period was mainly for the benefit of private motorists. By successive stages the monthly allowance for this class increased from 120 miles of running per month as at the end of 1945, to 270 miles as from December, 1946. An increase from 120 miles to 180 miles per month had been brought into effect as from February, 1946, with a further increase to 240 miles as from July, 1946. At the same time the rations of holders of private-plus-business licences and others of a like character were increased to an extent sufficient to avoid any anomaly as between such classes and the purely private motorist.
There was, perhaps, a good deal of justification for the popular expectation, following the cessation of hostilities in August, 1945, that, once the inevitable settling-down period had passed, and the supply lines had been restored to something approaching the pre-war normal, the end of petrol rationing would be in sight. Many factors, some of them unforeseen at the time and others entirely beyond Australian control or capacity to influence, conspired to postpone the date when war-time controls affecting petrol could be entirely removed; Government action in this matter was accordingly directed to the further easing of restrictions and removal of anomalies and to ensuring that the supplies made available from overseas were distributed equitably and to the best advantage. Amongst other things, it was possible, with the ending of the war in Europe, to cease to enforce the use of producer gas units, with the result that, by the end of 1946, producer gas, which had played so valuable a part in reducing the civilian demand on imported motor spirit in the more difficult days, had practically ceased to be used as a substitute for liquid fuels.
Viewed on a world basis, i.e., sterling and dollar sources, the supply of petroleum products was, in general, sufficient in relation to world demands to have enabled petrol rationing to be lifted at the end of 1945, had this been the only consideration to be taken into account. The sterling-area production of motor spirit and the availability of sterling tankers were, however, not sufficient at that time to meet the unrationed demands of the sterling area, and imports into that area of large supplies of dollar-area oil in dollar tankers would have been necessary to enable restrictions on consumption to be completely removed.
The whole question of petrol rationing and supplies was reviewed by the Government from time to time between the end of 1945 and May, 1947. Partly because of industrial troubles which seriously affected railway and tramway services in some of the States in the latter part of 1946 and in the earlier months of 1947 (necessitating at times the transport by road of great quantities of goods normally carried by the railways and the authorization of special issues of petrol to a large number of road users), the monthly consumption of motor spirit rose to between 31 million gallons and 34 million gallons on several occasions between September, 1946, and March, 1947. This led to a decision by the Commonwealth Government, in March, 1947, after reviewing the supply position with the Government of the United Kingdom, to continue petrol rationing for an indefinite period and to administer the rationing plan somewhat more rigidly than had been the case for some time past. In reaching this decision, the Government was influenced, as on earliler occasions when the question had been under consideration, by the fact that, although Australia was still receiving almost the whole of its petrol supplies from the sterling area around the Persian Gulf, because the shortest tanker haul was thereby involved, production in that region was not sufficient to meet the demands of the whole sterling area, the effect of which was that the United Kingdom was under the necessity to draw its supplies largely from dollar sources-on the tanker short-haul principle. Larger allocations to Australia from the Persian Gulf to meet the steadily increasing consumption in Australia would necessarily have compelled Great Britain herself to draw more heavily on dollar supplies of petrol, thus aggravating the seriously deteriorating dollar-funds position. In the light of these facts and of the desire of the Government of the United Kingdom to have Australia's continued co-operation in this respect, the Commonwealth Government had no alternative but to maintain and tighten up the rationing system for the time being, especially in view of the need that still existed to charter a large number of American tankers each month (requiring payment of freight in dollars) for the carriage of sterling petrol. A further factor taken into account was that world prices of petrol were increasing, thus adding to the drain on the dollar funds needed to pay for that portion of the Empire's petrol requirements which had to be drawn from the dollar area. The need to conserve dollars became more acute during the latter part of 1947, with the result that an average overall reduction of approximately ten per cent. in the petrol consumption of all users operated from 1st October, 1947, followed by a further reduction of ten per cent. from 1st January, 1948. The current position is that essential transport is now, generally speaking, receiving most of its requirements of petrol, although the private motorist is still receiving less than his pre-war usage.
A more detailed account of the operation of petrol rationing up to February, 1946, appears in Official Year Book No. 36, pp. 160-3.
(a) Scale "B" allows for a slight increase in the replacement rate for thise articles remaining in the scale from 15th November 1945. (b) C.F. = Coupon free. (c) Equivalent to 56 coupons for 13 1/2 months (15th November, 1945 to 31st December, 1946).
The main piece goods ratings prior to June, 1945 and since November, 1945 are as follows; ratings for household drapery approximate the rating for the piece goods content of such articles.
(vi) Special Clothing Coupon Issues. In addition to the general civilian ration, special clothing coupon issues are made to various groups, the principal supplementary issues being to service personnel, expectant mothers, outsize children, employees in industries which are particularly severe on clothing, discharged service personnel, and for household linen requirements by persons setting up home, boarding establishments, etc.
(vii) Period of Currency of Coupons. In the first two years of clothing rationing, coupons expired on the date of the next annual issue of clothing coupons. This was found, however, to precipitate a mild buying rush at the close of the ration year. Consequently, the currency of the second half (B) of the 1944-45 clothing coupon issue and of special coupons was extended from June, 1945 (the date of the next issue) to November, 1945.
(viii) Coupon Trade Control. Coupons collected from customers are used by retailers to cover replenishment of stocks from their suppliers. Transfer of coupons is simplified by the issue through trading banks of clothing coupon vouchers in denominations of 100,500 and 5,000 coupons in exchange for coupons surrendered by retailers to the banks. Coupons and vouchers pass back through the trade until they reach a registered trader. Registered traders include wholesalers and importers of piece goods and makers-up of clothing, footwear, etc. These registered traders furnish monthly returns setting out quantities of goods sold together with the coupons collected; in addition details as to piece goods imported are shown.
To simplify trade operations and to overcome the difficulty of the difference between coupon ratings of made-up garments and of their piece goods content, registered makers-up are allowed to purchase their piece goods requirements by quotation of their registration numbers instead of transferring coupons. They collect and surrender coupons, however, with their returns in respect of the made-up garments sold.
(ix) Statistics of Stock Position. The sunminarizing of registered traders' returns furnishes information as to total imports of piece goods and as to total made-up garments, piece goods, etc., made available for consumption. Periodical censuses of stocks are also obtained from registered traders. This summarized information together with the estimated forward supply position furnishes a valuable guide as to whether rationing should be tightened or eased on particular lines.
(x) Exports. The export of rationed goods is controlled by arrangement with the Department of Trade and Customs and other Departments. Programmes are prepared of minimum requirements by Pacific Islands dependent upon Australia for supplies and also in respect of export by Red Cross and similar organizations, and exports in these directions are normally limited to such programmes. Other applications for export are dealt with in the light of the supply position of the particular goods and the needs of the country or individual concerned.
(i) Dates of Introduction and of Amendments. For the reasons indicated in para. 1 (i) above, rationing of certain foodstuffs was introduced from the following dates. Dates of the main variations in the ration are also shown.
(ii) Coupon Rationing. After examination of the systems of rationing operating in other countries, it was considered that coupon rationing was preferable to a system of consumer registration, since it allows consumers to purchase from any retailer and also provides a comparatively simple control of traders' replenishment of stocks by means of the passage of coupons to their suppliers. Food coupons are provided in the general Food Ration Book issued each year.
(iii) Differential Rationing for Children. In 1944 and 1945 different coloured ration books were issued for children 5-9 years and under 5 years to allow for differential rationing, eg, children under 9 receive no tea ration and only half the adult meat ration, while children under 5 participated in the Egg Priority Scheme.
(iv) Special Food Coupons. These coupons are issued in certain cases, i.e., to servicemen on leave, invalids, etc. Residents in specified remote areas are allowed 50 per cent. more than the normal ration of tea and sugar, and tea and sugar coupons surrendered in those areas carry an increased value.
The main issues of special food coupons are to expectant mothers who receive extra butter to maintain their ration at 8 oz. per week, and to invalids suffering from certain diseases who receive extra butter and meat.
No special food ration issue has been made to workers in heavy industry in view of the opinion of the Commonwealth Nutrition Committee that the normal ration is adequate for nutrition purposes for workers in general. Workers in isolated areas where alternative foods are not readily available, however, are granted a half meat ration extra.
Extra sugar for jam making is made available from time to time by allocation of additional coupons from the general ration book.
(v) Cafe Meals Not Rationed. While restrictions have been placed on the overall quotas of rationed food supplies made available to cafes, etc., it has not been considered necessary to evolve a system of coupon surrender for cafe meals. In the ease of residential establishments, however, guests remaining over six nights are required to surrender food coupons to the proprietor. Requirements for the supply of meals to casual guests are covered by the issue of food permits.
(vi) Food Permits. Food requirements for catering and industrial purposes are controlled by the issue of food coupon permits which are assessed on a scale providing for a reduction below pre-rationing consumption.
(vii) Ration Reductions. In consequence of drought conditions and the necessity to maintain all available supplies to the United Kingdom, it was necessary to reduce the butter ration to 6 oz. per week in June, 1944, and the meat ration by 8 3/4 per cent. In February, 1945 and by a further I2 1/2 per cent. in May, 1945. Reductions in quotas for catering and industrial purposes were similarly made on these and other occasions. The reduction in the butter ration was effected by making three coupons each of 1/2 lb. available every four weeks and the 12 1/2 per cent. cut in the meat ration by making only seven coupons instead of eight available every four weeks.
(viii) Meat Coupon Scale. The various classes of meat and cuts are divided into six groups, the ration for each group varying according to the cut and bone and fat content. Under the January, 1944 scale the quantity of rationed meat per adult averaged 2 1/4 lb. per week, children under 9 years receiving half this ration. The present reduced scale for adults averages 1.84 lb. per week.
(ix) Unrationed Goods. Sausages, edible offals, canned meats, poultry, rabbits, fish, bacon and ham are not rationed.
(x) Unrationed Areas. Meat rationing does not operate in outlying areas and meat coupons are not issued to residents in such areas. The greater part of the area of Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, and a small part of New South Wales is thus exempted. Approximately 137,000 persons only are resident in such areas.
(xi) Trade Coupon Control. Replenishment of stocks by retailers is effected by the passing of coupons to their suppliers. Wholesalers of rationed foodstuffs (and also retail butchers who slaughter meat) are registered with the Commission and furnish periodical returns of their deliveries of coupon goods surrendering therewith the coupon values collected. In the case of meat a special Wholesale Meat Scale operates. To facilitate coupon transactions butchers may convert coupons received by them into vouchers of varying denominations (100, 500, 1,000 and 5,000 coupons), 3 per cent. discount being allowed to cover shop shrinkage and spoilage.
(xii) Production. The various Departments responsible for control of production, etc., have been indicated in para. 1 (iv) above. The Rationing Commission is responsible for the equitable dlistribution of available supplies.
(xiii) Egg Priority. To ensure that vulnerable groups, e.g., expectant and nursing mothers, young children and invalids, receive adequate supplies of eggs, a system of Egg Priority supplies operated during the months February to July, 1945. Registration with a particular supplier was effected by lodgment of a registration slip from the Pre-Natal Ration Book and from those of children up to 5 years and of special registration slips issued on application to invalids of certain classes. Retailers issued Score Cards to their registered customers on which each week's purchases were recorded. Supplies to meet at least priority requirements were arranged by State Egg Controllers.
(xiv) Other Foodstuffs. A measure of indirect consumer rationing operated in some districts in respect of other foodstuffs, e.g., milk, etc. Such systems were not,
however, subject to coupon control and were not operated by the Rationing Commission.
(xv) Savings. In the following table the reduced civilian consumption resulting from the rationing of the commodities indicated is illustrated by comparison of consumption figures for pre-rationing and rationing periods.
(b) Includes bacon and ham, canned meat and offal.
4. Control of New Businesses.-Restrictions on new businesses dealing in rationed goods have been necessary to avoid uneconomic use of man-power, etc., and to guard against increase in coupon-free consumption of rationed goods. With the easing of the man-power position, restrictions on the opening of new
businesses involving merely the sale of goods against coupons have been largely relaxed.
In the case of businesses involving coupon-free consumption or use of rationed goods, e.g., cafes, etc., it is necessary to continue restrictions. Special consideration is given to cases of ex-service personnel desiring to rehabilitate themselves in their normal class of business.
5. General Enforcement of Rationing.-Rationing has had the general support of the public and traders, the latter co-operating well in the operation of rationing controls. Prosecutions have been made in eases of flagrant breaches of rationing regulations, but generally rationing machinery has functioned effectively and smoothly.
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This page last updated 22 November 2012