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Wednesday, 11 July 1906

Mr FOWLER (Perth) . - I have listened, as I always do, with much attention to the observations of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, but it seems to me that the construction he put upon clause 13 is rather far-fetched. In my opinion that clause merely indicates to the Justice that he is to look to the interests of the workers, amongst others, in the case of any proposition to exclude foreign goods. That is to say, the interests of the workers are to be regarded only in respect to those foreign goods, and not in respect totheir own local conditions. So that, whatever might be done with regard to foreign goods, nothing could be done under that clause which would give the workers any share whatever of the advantages proposed for the manufacturers. I have no doubt that this Bill consists very largely of a series of benevolent propositions couched in such general terms that it is very doubtful if any of them will be found to have very much actual effect. But, admitting that, I say that it is our duty now to put into the Bill some definite provision which will indicate that we believe that the interests of the workers should not be left out of sight in dealing with any proposals to exclude foreign goods. It is all very well to say that the interests of the workers are considered, but I wish to remind honorable members that in some of the industries which this Bill is intended to protect the wages of the workers areanything butsatifactory. and that if actual prohibition of the manufactures of foreign competitors of these industries may beimposed, there is still nothing whatever to indicate how the workers are to receive the slightest advantage therefrom. Although I have circulatedan amendment, to be introduced later in the Bill, with the sameobject as the honorable and learned member for Angas has in view, I am willing that the opinion of the Committee shall be tested on his amendment, the principle being one which I, at least, cannot ignore, and which I am bound to support. I say, further, that if his amendment is in anyway indefinite or defective, it should be the business of the Committee to put it into such a state as will make it most effective for the purpose intended.

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