Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 8 November 1910

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I take some exception to the class of arguments which have 'been addressed to the Committee this evening. I refer to those which raise the supposition that we may pass a clause in a certain way given a certain Ministry, but that if another Ministry were in office we ought to have a different provision. It ought to be incumbent upon the Committee to give its directions so clearly and definitely that any Ministry imbued with common honesty could see at once what provisions it had to carry out.

Senator Rae - I do not suggest that.

Senator Gardiner - I did. Some horses I would ride with a curb and a bridle, but others with only a bridle.

Senator MILLEN - It would be very improper to countenance the theory that a clause might be passed if you had one particular Minister to administer it, but that with another Minister it would be so open to abuse that you would need a different provision. I hardly think that any honorable senators can urge seriously, that we ought to proceed in that way. We ought to shape the clauses without thinking of who is to administer them. I am not at all satisfied with the interpretation which the Minister has placed on paragraph b. If we are going to pay away public money we ought to do so under conditions as nearly equal as possible. As I read the clause, a company in, say, New South Wales might be paying, under a wages board decision, 10s. a day for a certain class of labour, but in Tasmania a company might be paying for similar work 8s. a day, not under a wages board decision, but by the rule of the market.

Senator Pearce - Under this Act?

Senator MILLEN - No.

Senator Long - Let us assume that it is under the rule of a State authority.

Senator MILLEN - There is no State or Commonwealth authority in Tasmania, I understand, therefore we can dispense with paragraph a.

Senator Pearce - That is not the condition of affairs created by the Bill.

Senator MILLEN - No; but the honorable senator must see that the Bill has to operate under the conditions as they exist, and not the ideal conditions which he has in his mind. .

Senator Pearce - This provision applies to the time which has elapsed since ist July.

Senator MILLEN - Yes; and during the currency of the measure.

Senator Pearce - No.

Senator MILLEN - So far as Tasmania is concerned, paragraph a might as well be blotted out of the Bill, as there is neither State nor Commonwealth authority fixing the rate of wages. Consequently we have to pass on to paragraph b,. which provides that in such a case as Tasmania, where there is an absence of any standard, you shall adopt-

Senator Pearce - No; you are not right there.

Senator MILLEN - I am not finished with paragraph b.

Senator Pearce - Your present statement is incorrect. It is not in the absence of any standard, but in the absence of a standard in that particular locality. But presuming that there are standards in other parts of the States and there are none in Tasmania ?

Senator MILLEN - What I was trying to convey was that where in a particular industry the State or Commonwealth tribunal has not set up a standard, the administrators of the Act would look for a standard set up by such a . tribunal in a similar industry, in some other form of mining. But so far as Tasmania is concerned that alternative goes.

Senator Pearce - Therefore, paragraph b will not apply to Tasmania either.

Senator MILLEN - It does not apply to Tasmania, and consequently it does not apply to any State in the Union.

Senator Pearce - Yes, it does.

Senator MILLEN - To what State?

Senator Pearce - In some cases the State industrial awards are limited in their application. In Victoria, for instance, the Wages Boards decisions apply to only the metropolitan area, and in Western Australia the arbitration awards invariably apply to only the area in which the union has made a citation.

Senator MILLEN - I want to get at what I take is in the Minister's mind. 1 strongly object, as I think the Committee will object, to paying public money to two competitors, one of whom is paying a higher rate than the other. It does not appeal to me that that would be fair. If the Minister takes that view I agree with him that paragraph b is harmless.

Senator Rae - It would be infinitely better if, instead of the words " in the same State," you used the words " in other States."

Senator Pearce - You want to recognise the industrial authority in a State.

Senator MILLEN - The Minister and I agree that paragraph b does not apply to Tasmania in any case. I was going to suggest that if . any amendment is to be made that paragraph might be struck out. But the Minister has reminded me of a set of cases which I admit I had overlooked, and that is that in some States the Wages Boards' decisions are partial in their operation. Therefore, it may be necessary, not for Tasmania, but for other States, to maintain paragraph b. But as I read; the clause, Tasmanian cases will have to be met entirely by paragraph c, and in that case I think that the possibility of the inequality to which I have referred - thepayment of the bounty to two competing firms paying different rates - would be entirely obliterated.

Suggest corrections