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Friday, 17 July 1931

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) (Prime Minister) . - The clause, as it left this chamber, reads as follows: -

The last two preceding sections shall not apply to officers and employees to whom this section applies, and the salaries of such officers and employees shall be subject to reduction as follow:-

(ii)   where the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration has made an award prescribing the rates of pay, salary or wages payable to any class of employee specified in the award and that or any other award of that court provides for reductions in rates of pay, salary or wages based upon the indexnumbers, and for a further reduction in rates of pay, salary or wages at the rate of ten per centum per annum, thesalary of any employee of that class to whom the award is applicable shall be adjusted in accordance with the provisions of the award, and no further reduction of the salary of the employee shall be effected under this act except to such extent, if any, as the Minister, upon the receipt of a recommendationof the committee, directs.

It is proposed that the following words shall then be inserted : -

Provided that the salary of an adult male employee or of a married male employee who is not an adult shall not be reduced under this sub-paragraph below the equivalent of one hundred and eighty-two pounds per annum unless the Minister so directs.

The effect of the provision is to give the Minister a discretion so that, notwithstanding anything that the court may determine, the wages of these employees may not fall below £182 per annum. The need for this "discretionary power is due to the fact that some existing awards have already fallen below £182 per annum.

Mr Curtin - Is it the intention of the Government to continue to pay these lower rates?

Mr SCULLIN - We do not propose in this measure to increase or decrease any awards. Some employees of the Commonwealth are working under outside awards which are at present below £182 per annum. This is so in the metal trades, for instance. If the clause were left as it is the Government would be compelled to take notice of any new awards of less than £182 per annum given by the court. It is desired, however, that no more Commonwealth employees shall be obliged to work for less than £182 per annum. The clause will be vastly improved if honorable members will accept the amendment.

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