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Thursday, 21 May 1942

Mr WARD (EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Labour and National Service) -I, too, wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has said that I deliberately misstated his submission to Cabinet as Minister for Labour and National Service, and that he now has no objection to my quoting' that submission.

Mr Holt - Quote the full submission. Do not merely take passages from it.

Mr.WARD. - If the honorable member wishes to waste the time of the House by quoting a lot of irrelevant matter, he may do so.

Mr Holt - I cannot expect the honorable gentleman to quote it fairly.

Mr WARD - I shall quote only sufficient to indicate that I had every justification for saying that the honorable member was of the opinion that in no circumstances should women receive equal wages with men. On the first page of the submission that he made to his Cabinet, he made the following statement: -

The claim should be considered, therefore, in the light of the following practical considerations : - .

(a)   Whether the granting of the claim in regard to the forces is likely to be used as an argument in favour of equal pay for equal work in industry where there arc special economic considerations to be taken into account;

(b)   the financial cost to the Government of paying equal rates; and

(c)   the question as to whether the work performed by women, lor which equal pay is asked, is really equal to the work performed by men.

With regard to {a), even if single men's rates for women were approved (which I do not suggest) it would be wise for the Government not to admit that it had adopted the principle of equal pay for equal work.

Concluding his submissions to Cabinet, the honorable member said -

It may also help to divert the activities of women's, organizations interested in this question from misguided but embarrassing propaganda in favour of equal pay for equal work.

I leave it to honorable members to decide whether or not those sentences prove my point, that never at any time has the honorable member claimed that women should receive equal wages with men for equal work.

Mr HOLT - Will the Minister for Munitions state what percentage of the male base rates is being paid to females at present engaged in government aircraft factories, and what percentage of the rates paid to males in the Navy is being paid to females in the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service ?

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