Ticket, '1 gallon', petrol rationing, ink on paper, printed by Australian Note and Stamp Printer, issued by the Commonwealth of Australia, Australia, 1949
Conditions in Australia during the Second World War necessitated civilian rationing of a number of commodities including: clothing; various foodstuffs such as sugar, butter, meat and tea; as well as tobacco, liquor and petrol. The reasons for this rationing were various. Clothing was rationed due to the serious falling off in imports, increased Service demands and reduced labour for local production of textiles and the making up of garments. The necessity of supplying foodstuffs to the United Kingdom and the Australian and Allied Services saw the rationing of sugar, butter and meat while reduction in imports due to the enemy occupation of Java meant rationing of tea.
However, the first rationing experienced in Australia was in May 1940 when limits were placed on newsprint. Newspaper publishers had to bring out smaller papers and for many years it meant the end of the evening paper.
The first time petrol rationing was enforced in Australia was in October 1940, a little over twelve months after the commencement of the war. Although the cuts were not very drastic, petrol was rationed with privately owned cars being restricted to travelling the equivalent of about 5000 km a year. This measure, however, had little impact on most people's lives until the restrictions were considerably tightened the following year commencing at the beginning of April 1941 when replenishment stocks from overseas supplies became increasingly difficult to procure. 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 1941 until towards the end of 1944. Under the regulations, private motorists received a complicated scheme of coupons which entitled owners to a monthly ration of petrol based on the engine power of each car.
Petrol rationing resulted in a sudden reliance on public transport systems, which were ill-equipped to cope with the pressure. Many car owners gave up their vehicles altogether and garaged them for the duration of the war. Some attached unwieldy, hazardous and heavily polluting gas-producers to their cars or had special racks attached to the roof to accommodate cumbersome gas-filled containers. To relieve the gloom, newspapers sometimes carried optimistic (but unrealized) reports about potential increases in local petrol production. One report, in June 1941, mentioned a motor fuel developed from eucalyptus oil, citing a government-sponsored report it claimed that in some areas eucalyptus plantations could profitably replace sheep raising!
With the improvement in the war situation in 1944, it was found possible, without making any specific amendment to the rationing schedules, to grant claims for additional allowances of petrol to individual cases where circumstances were justified. Even with the end of the War and the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945, there was an atmosphere of anticlimax mixed with the jubilation as the continuation of rationing and postwar shortages tended to sour the sweet taste of victory. The first general increase in the ration scales was made in September 1945, when the allowances to private motorists and primary producers increased by twenty five percent. A similar increase was made a month later to 120 miles of running per month, followed by 270 miles from December 1945 and 240 miles in July 1946. Industrial trouble affecting railway and tramway services in some states, necessitating road haulage, used up further dwindling supplies and saw a continuation of rationing in Australia. Shortages worldwide continued and the increasing fuel costs further deteriorated the situation. Petrol rationing finally came to a conclusion at the end in June 1949.
Petrol rationing tickets or coupons were printed by the Note Printing Branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. By July 1940 denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 44 gallons were envisaged. Later a 100 gallon ticket was added. It was not long before these single-colour tickets were forged and a special overprint was applied in January 1941. It was then decided to introduce an overprint with the wording 'Valid until 31 May 1941'. Colours for the July 1941 series were 1 gallon orange, 2 gallon blue, 5 gallon green, 10 gallon black, 44 gallon brown and 100 gallon red.
Fibre paper was introduced as further protection against forgery in the September 1942 series. Amendments to the words 'Supply and Shipping' in ink and 'vehicle registration' were made in the March 1943 series and from then on the design was changed every 6 months, and overprints were valid for 2 months from the October-November 1944 issue. Colours were standardised from July 1945 as 1 gallon green, 2 gallon light blue, 5 gallon mid green, 10 gallon matador red, 44 gallon light rosemine. Papers were rotated from November 1948 (pink), January 1949 (orange), March 1949 (grey), May 1949 (pink), July 1949 (blue) with colours 1 gallon violet, 2 gallons dark green, 5 gallons matador red, 10 gallons orange and 44 gallons bronze blue.
Rationing was deferred in June 1949 and suspended indefinitely in September 1949 only to re-introduced Australia wide on 14 October 1949 . The result of this was the Series 'A' (November 1949-January 1950) on orange and Series 'B' (from February 1950) on grey. Concerns at this time were expressed in 1949 that fibre paper was readily obtainable or could be dyed to produce forgeries and rationing was subsequently suspended for good.
The petrol ration ticket was used by the donor's husband Prof Frank Mauldon. Professor Mauldon was an Air Raid Warden during the Second World War in Perth WA. Severe petrol rationing both during and after the War saw very few cars on the road. Various individuals received extra coupons, including instructors, Air Raid Wardens or those engaged in essential services.