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Tuesday, 6 December 1938


Mr CURTIN (Fremantle) .-I move -

That the following new clause be inserted: - "21a. - (1.) The Minister may make application to the Chief Judge, or a Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or to any Commonwealth authority established for the purpose of determining rates of wages and conditions of employment, for a declaration as to what rates of wages and conditions of employment are fair and reasonable for labour employed in the production of paper or in the growing, felling and carting of timber from which paper has been produced. (2.) Every person who claims the bounty payable under thisAct shall, in making such claims, furnish to the Minister such evidence as the Minister requires as to the rates of wages paid, and the conditions of employment observed, in respect of any labour employed in the production of paper and in the growing, foiling and carting of timber from which paper has been produced. (3.) If the Minister finds that the rates of wages or conditions of employment, or any of them, paid or observed in respect of any labour employed in the production of paper upon which bounty is claimed or in the growing, felling and carting of timber from which paper has been produced -

(a)   are below the rates and conditions declared, in pursuance of sub-section (1.) of this section, to be fair and reasonable ; or

(b)   are below the standard rates and conditions prescribed by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or by any other industrial authority of the Commonwealth or a State, the Minister may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable. (4.) If-

(a)   the Chief Judge, or a Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration has not declared, in accordance with subsection (1.) of this section, what rates of wages and conditions of employment are fair and reasonable for labour employed in the production of paper or in the growing, felling and carting of timber from which paper has been produced: and

(b)   there are not in force, in the locality where the paper is produced or the timber is grown, any standard rates andconditions relating to the labour employed in the production of paper or the growing, felling and carting of timber from which paper has been produced, prescribed by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration or by any industrial authority of a State, or contained inan industrial agreement registered under any law of the Commonwealth or a State, the Minister may appoint an authority or authorities for determining, for the purposes of this section, rates of wages and conditions of employment which are fair and reasonable for labour employed in the production of paper or the growing,felling and carting of timber from which paper has been produced, and any authority so appointed shall be deemed to be a. Commonweal th authority within the meaning of sub-section (1.) of this section. (5.) An authority appointed by the Minister under the last preceding sub-section shall consist of a representative of employersengaged in the production of paper or the growing, felling and the carting of timber from which paper has been produced, a representative of employees engaged in such production, growing, felling and carting, and a person who shall act as Chairman and who shall be appointed by the Minister on the joint nomination of the representatives of employers and employees:

Provided that, if the representatives of employers and employees fail to make a joint nomination of a Chairman within twenty days after being called upon by the Minister so to do, the Governor-General may appoint a person to act as. Chairman."

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) gave notice of his intention to move for the insertion of this proposed new clause. Our purpose, of course, is to protect the interests of the workers in the industry.When a previous bill of this description was under notice last week, the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) expressed doubt as to the constitutionality of a clause of this character, which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition wished to be inserted in that measure, and undertook to consider whether a bill could not be drafted to provide for the general application to all bounty legislation of provisions such as are embodied in my amendment. I question the wisdom of making a general rule of this kind for, in connexion with some industries, serious administrative difficulties might arise. I frankly confess that had such a provision been inserted in the Wheat Industry Assistance Bill, which was before us last week, the administrative problems might have been almost insuperable. For this reason such provisions may be more appropriately considered in relation to the specific industries in respect of which it is desired to provide bounties from time to time. I feel sure that the purpose of the Opposition, that new industries shall he obliged to conform to the general standard of wages and conditions in Australia, would be endorsed by the great mass of our people. A general standard may be said to be a little below the best, and a bit above the worst, conditions that may be found. We think it is of cardinal importance that new industries shall be established on sound lines, particularly in relation to the workers. In the newsprinting paper industry a number of technicians will doubtlessly be employed as well as many other workers, and the Government should insist upon the observance of Australian standards in respect of wages and general working conditions. The constitutional issue is not likely to be raised. Only the company concerned would be likely to raise it, and I very much doubt whether it would do so having regard to what has already happened. In any case, as the Government is providing a bounty for the industry, it is entitled to request, as a condition, that Australian conditions shall be observed. We have provided that other conditions shall be enforced in this industry. For example, the company is required to use not less than 60 per cent. of Australian material in the manufacture of its pulp. That is quite a proper stipulation. The Opposition is favorable to the establishment of these new industries because they contribute to the welfare of the country, but it -thinks it only fitting that the rights of the workers shall be safeguarded. Concerns which receive bounties from the Government should be forced to pay decent wages and observe decentworking conditions. If it should be necessary for the Government to exert any pressure to ensure that this is done, it should be able to insist upon it. I repeat that we should make sure, right at the inception of new industries of this description, that proper conditions will be provided for the workers. Wage rates and conditions of labour should approximate to the general standards of the country.







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