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Wednesday, 17 May 1939


Mr BLAIN (Northern Territory) . - I wish briefly to bring to the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) two questions arising out of conditions at Darwin. As the right honorable gentleman knows, there is, at present, a strike in Darwin. The basic wage in Canberra is £4 13s. 3d., and in Darwin it is only 6d. more, or £4 13s. 9d. I feel sure that the right honorable gentleman will realize that these figures disclose a lack of justice in the fixation of the basic rate at Darwin. I have asked the Minister for the Interior particularly, and also the Prime Minister, if he would arrange to send the chairman of the Industrial Board in Canberra, Mr. Hill, to inquire into wage conditions at Darwin. Mr. Hill presided over the body which fixed the basic wage rate for Canberra and the Commonwealth territory at Jervis Bay. I ask that the ambit of his charter should be widened to fix wage rates in all of the three territories under the control of the Commonwealth. I feel sure that the right honorable gentleman realizes that the amenities of life and climatic conditions at Darwin differ widely from those in the capital city.

Up to date no housing scheme has been provided at Darwin for workmen not employed by the Government. I feel sure that the reason why the Department of the Interior has not introduced a housing scheme there comparable to those that exist in New South Wales and Queensland, is simply because it has too much work to do. As was pointed out by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby) who has had long experience as a minister, the trouble is that the Works Department is not sectionalized. In Darwin the need is for sectionalization rather than centralization. I have no doubt that the Department of the Interior has been so much engrossed with other matters that it has almost forgotten Darwin. I appeal to the Prime Minister to see if it is not possible to utilize the services of the Commonwealth Bank to frame a workers' homes policy for the housing of newcomers to Darwin without delay.







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