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Wednesday, 13 May 1942


Senator CAMERON - The regulations deal with a new situation; they deal with women in war-time industries.


Senator LECKIE - Women have been working in industries for years, and the number so employed is increasing. Actually, the situation is amusing. These Sir Galahads on the government side of the chamber purport to be champions of the women of Australia, but what is the real object of this tribunal? Its only object is to prevent women from working in industry after the war. Honorable senators opposite do not care what wages are paid to women; their only desire is to ensure that women will not displace men after the war is over. It is only within recent years that women have been allowed to work in certain engineering trades and on other similar work, and the demand that is now being made for the payment to women of wages similar to those paid to male employees is not in the interests of the women themselves, but merely to ensure that when male labour is available, no women "will be employed. In most jobs women are subject to certain disabilities, and- other things being equal, employers will always employ men in preference to women. To argue as honorable senators opposite do that a woman who stitches shirts should be paid as much as a man who drives a steam hammer is ridiculous. This apparent display of gallantry by honorable senators opposite is farcical. Women war workers are well aware that as soon as the present shortage of man-power is over the Labour party will do everything in its power to drive them out of industry. Therefore, it is very amusing to hear honorable senators opposite crying aloud to the skies about the injustices that are being done to women.


Senator Collings - The Japanese will be doing something worse than driving them out of industry if they win this war.


Senator LECKIE - The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) raises the same old cry, " There is a war on ". When he finds that his Government has left itself open to criticism for which he can find no answer, he resorts to the same defence. I am heartily sick of that sort of thing, and if that is the only answer that the Leader of the Senate can give to honorable senators on this side of the chamber, it i3 time he gave his job to some one else. No valid reason has been given as to why this tribunal will be any fairer to the women of Australia than are existing tribunals, except that the board is " stacked " in favour of the employees by the " ringing in " of an employee as an employers' representative. However, as I have said, that is quite apart from the regulations themselves. The regulations have been administered unsatisfactorily and they should be disallowed because they are useless, unnecessary, and constitute a deliberate attack upon the authority of our arbitration system. There is not the slightest necessity for this board, and I repeat that its only object is to prevent women from securing a permanent place in industry. I support the motion.







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