Sunday History Photo / Au

Submitted: Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 08:37
ThreadID: 89458 Views:4418 Replies:4 FollowUps:5
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On 9 September 1939, the National Security Act became law. The Act enabled the Australian Government to invoke compulsory clauses of the Defence Act and to control areas that it was not able to control under the existing Constitution. New laws and regulations were required to help win the war and they affected many areas of the day-to-day life of ordinary Australians lives.
Men and women were ‘manpowered’ (ordered) into essential industries with many women entering the work force taking on jobs previously only available to men. For the first time women were recruited into the three armed services in non-medical auxiliary roles. Despite their importance in the war effort, female salaries were far lower than those of their male counterparts. Although many of their jobs disappeared at the end of the war, the new freedoms many women had experienced during the war years exposed them to wider and more varied employment opportunities. This increase in wartime production meant that Australia experienced almost full employment during the war years.
Civilians, as well as the troops both at home and overseas, needed to be fed. New rationing regulations were imposed on Australian men, women and children in order to cope with the huge demands placed on both agricultural producers and manufacturers. Petrol rationing was introduced in 1940 and, in 1942, Prime Minister John Curtin introduced personal identity cards and ration books for clothing and food.

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The new rationing regulations included food items such as meat, tea, butter and sugar as well as clothing and footwear. Prices were pegged and daylight saving and shorter holiday periods were introduced to boost production hours. Power blackouts and ‘brownouts’, standard wartime air raid precautions in cities and coastal areas, also saved precious resources.
The Australian Government also introduced a National Savings Campaign to raise the enormous sums of money necessary to fund the war. Intensive publicity campaigns encouraged Australians to donate to the new war loans funds and to participate in whatever work they could do to assist the war effort. Advertisements and articles in newspapers and magazines and government-sponsored radio programs all reinforced and encouraged the new wartime lifestyle but it was the rationing of so many consumer goods that really forced Australians to practise thriftiness in their everyday lives
Australians were never as short of food nor rationed as heavily as civilians in the United Kingdom. Rationing was enforced by the use of coupons and was limited to clothing, tea, sugar, butter, and meat. From time to time, eggs and milk were also rationed under a system of priority for vulnerable groups during periods of shortage.
Rationing was administered by the Rationing Commission. The basis for policing food rationing was through the surrender of coupons before rationed goods could be supplied. This had to occur between traders as well as consumers. Coupons were passed back from consumers to retailers, from retailers to wholesalers, and in many cases from wholesalers to producers, who were requested to return them to the commission.

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Breaches of rationing regulations were punishable under the general provisions of National Security Regulations by fines of to £100 or up to six-months imprisonment. Responding to the complaint that these penalties were inadequate, the government passed the Black Marketing Act at the end of 1942. This Act was for more serious cases and could carry a minimum penalty of £1,000.

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Reply By: Member - MUZBRY(Vic) - Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 09:02

Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 09:02
Gday Doug
I remember my dad buying petrol in the 40s with coupons at the garage between the bridges in Tamworth. The garage man only had one arm . Funny the things you remember as a child.

When did rationing stop Doug?

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Follow Up By: Member - Stanley D - Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 13:43

Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 13:43
Dear Muzbry
With regard to the cessation of rationing in Australia. Rationing ceased between 1947 and 1950 thereabouts. It depended on the goods required. e.g.: Clothing lasted from 1942 to 1948: Tea- 1 lb per 5 weeks; 1942 to 1950: Butter- 1 lb per 2 weeks; 1942 to 1950: Meat- 2 lbs per week; 1944 to 1948: Sugar- 2 lbs per 2 weeks; 1942 to 1947:
I grew up, in the early 50's, in South Gippsland and we grew most of our vegetables and we had the chooks. Yes, I remember that a chicken dinner was very special, only when Grandfather killed a young rooster, when there were too many from the hatchings!
The following is the address of a fascinating site to visit with regards to this subject.

regards, Stanley
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 14:09

Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 14:09
Petrol rationing ended 8 February 1950. Don't know about the others. Certain foods were taken of the market completely. I can remember being sent down the store with 1/3 for 1 lb of rice when word went round that rice was back on the market.

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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 14:10

Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 14:10
Forgot the link

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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 10:01

Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 10:01
Thanks Doug, another very relevant and interesting article. Although rationing ceased when I was quite young the habits that it formed lasted a long time, and probably still influence those of us who were young back then.

I can remember my mum used to buy disposal parachutes that were then carefully unpicked (I helped!) and the material made into working shirts for the men. Most of our clothes were home-made, fabrics were re-used and clothes patched and mended. Growing veges, fruit and poultry was standard. The poultry was for eggs and having poultry meat (it wasn't called chicken then) was a rare treat reserved for Christmas, Easter and maybe birthdays.

People put a lot of effort into growing or making their basic needs and consequently looked after things and didnt waste anything. I still hate waste.

Its funny how 2 generations later the pendulum is slowly swinging back to home grown veges and sewing - although these days not so much out of necessity. But the skills from that time might still come in handy...


J and V
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Follow Up By: raincloud - Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 11:07

Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 11:07
i happen to have a dozen or so consecutively numbered sheets of 1/2 meat ration coupons. don't know if they're worth anything. todays meat prices I'd probably only get one sausage with the lot of them!
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Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderers - Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 12:30

Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 12:30
I went to my local butchers when I was 17 and asked for pound of sausages
After he wrapped them, I asked, How do you cook them?
Like fish, he says.

Following week I asked for 80lbs of sausages
The butcher looked puzzled, why so many?

I said by the time you 'gut' them, there ain't much left.

OK, I know I know, its Sunday not Friday

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Reply By: Member - blackbird1937 - Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 16:04

Sunday, Oct 09, 2011 at 16:04
Hello , I was told by my father that , Robert Menzies apparently said if he won the election the fuel rationing would be discontinued , he won the election . I was not interested in politics or fuel rationing at that time as I would have only been 10 or 11 years old .
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Reply By: Ray - Monday, Oct 10, 2011 at 09:46

Monday, Oct 10, 2011 at 09:46
I was a youngon in the UK during WWII petrol was almost unattainable for the average person so a lot of vehicles ran on coal gas or charcoal gas. Food was severely rationed BUT it was proven that we were a lot fitter than people today.
Bicycles were the main mode of transport but getting batteries for the lights was a problem. We used to warm up the batteries on the stove and get an extra half hour of life out of them. ( must add that it is illegal to ride a bike at night without lights fitted and working)
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