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Wednesday, 29 June 1938


Mr MARTENS (Herbert) .- I know something of the conditions that apply to the employment of native labour by pearlers in North Australia. Very stringent regulations are in operation there to protect the coloured workers. I sincerely trust that the Government will take all possible care to ensure that the native workers engaged in the construction of this road will be fully protected. I understand that their rate of pay is approximately 10s. amonth, plus the provision of certain clothes and health services, including medical supervision. Contractors are all too ready to squeeze the last ounce of energy out of the workers, whether they be white or black. There is need, therefore, that the workers' interests shall be fully protected. The purpose of this bill is to guarantee a loan on behalf of the administration of New Guinea. That seems to me to be a proper course to take. The Labour party in the Mandated Territory is anxious that this road should be built and we should afford the project every assistance. I trust, however, that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hughes) will give us an assurance that all practicable steps will be taken to protect the interests of the men who will be engaged on this arduous undertaking.







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