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Tuesday, 8 November 1910

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I trust that the Minister will not object to a slight amendment of this clause. The objection to it urged by Senator Russell on the second reading of the Bill must be obvious. It provides various ways in which the Minister may ascertain that the wages and conditions of employment in the industry are fair and just, but after enumerating them it states that the Minister " may " withhold the wholeor any part of the bounty payable. It seems to me that as the clause covers every possible way in which the rates and conditions may be ascertained to be fair and just, if it is shown that they are not it should not be left to the Minister to say whether he will pay the whole or any part of the bounty. Whilst I believe that the members of the present Government would in such circumstances withhold the bounty, we have no guarantee that there may not come a time when another Government-

Senator Pearce - In three years?

Senator RAE - One never knows ; and if Ministers intend to strictly observe the conditions laid down in this Bill, they can have no objection to making this provision positive instead of permissive. If they do not intend to pay the bounty unless the conditions are fair and just, they can have no possible objection to say so in plain language.

Senator Pearce - There is a reason for the permissive power. Very great hardship might be inflicted if it were not permissive. Suppose there were 2,000 employés, that of these 1,999 werepaid a proper rate of wages, and one 3d. per day under that rate. According to the honorable senator, the Minister should have no option but to withhold the whole of the bounty.

Senator RAE - I do not say that at all, and with all respect to the Minister I think that his illustration is very far-fetched.

Senator Millen - Will the honorable senator permit me to direct his attention to the fact that provision is made that the Minister may withhold "the whole or any part " of the bounty?

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator desires that the Minister should withhold the whole of the bounty.

Senator RAE - -Yes ; I should like the Minister to be compelled to withhold the whole of the bounty if the conditions prescribed are not complied with.

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