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Wednesday, 8 September 1920

Mr McGRATH (Ballarat) .- I move -

That the following words be added to subclause (1): - " Provided that he shall not determine on any rate of wage which is less than the basic wage as ascertained by the Basic Wage . Commission or other body duly constituted for the purpose of fixing a basic wage."

I do not propose to take up much time in presenting my amendment, because I think there should be no opposition to it, either by the Minister (Mr. Groom) or honorable members on the other side. Parliament appointed the Inter-State Commission to ascertain what is the basic wage in the Commonwealth, and we shall probably get a report from that body shortly. If Ministers wish to dissipate an idea that the Arbitrator will do them an injustice, this amendment will be accepted, because then members of the Public Service will have some assurance of a fair and square deal. Moreover, they will have the assurance that the Ministry are sincere in bringing forward this proposal to supersede the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I may also point out that the Commission was appointed by the present Government, and they will be only deceiving the great body of wage-earners, especially members of the Public Service, if they do not intend to give effect to its recommendation. My amendment is a safeguard, and I hope it will be accepted. This will mean merely the adoption of the recommendation of a Commission which the Government themselves appointed, and it will guarantee to the public servants that they will get a fair deal from the Government and from the Arbitrator. Personally, I cannot conceive of the Arbitrator, whoever he may be, awarding less than the basic wage recommended by the Commission. At any rate, to insure that that shall not be done, I submit the amendment.

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