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Tuesday, 8 November 1910


Senator LONG (Tasmania) .- My object in asking for the reconsideration of clause 6 is for the purpose of moving that paragraph b of sub-clause 2 be struck out. I submit in the first instance that the cost of producing oil from shale is likely to be very much the same in every part of Australia. Consequently, I am anxious that the wages in the shale industry shall not be regulated by the standard in a particular locality in my own State. I have a very intimate knowledge of industrial conditions in Tasmania, and should be sorry indeed if the wages in this industry were regulated bythe standard recognised for similar work in that State.


Senator Pearce - Paragraph b would not apply to Tasmania.


Senator LONG - The oil industry of Tasmania will be located at Latrobe, in the north-western mining division.


Senator Pearce - But paragraph b would not apply in that case, because there is no prescribed standard, State or Federal, applying there.


Senator LONG - If that be so, I have misread the intention of the paragraph ; because I gather from it that wages would be regulated by those paid in other branches of mining in the part of the State where the shale is found. Honorable senators may know that the Mount Bischoff mine, in the north-western division of Tasmania, is the wealthiest mine in the State. It has paid quite £200 per share in dividends. Yet the wages paid there are the lowest in the mining industry in Australia. Senator St. Ledger said just now that good wages always produce good workmen. I should rather say, " A good union always commands good wages." There has never been a union in the locality to which I refer. As a consequence, the Mount Bischoff Company has been in the unenviable position of paying the worst wages in the Australian mining industry. I am particularly anxious, therefore, that the wages in the shale industry shall not be regulated by those paid for similar work in the locality.


Senator Millen - They will not be.


Senator Rae - How many men are employed at Mount Bischoff?


Senator LONG - About 400.


Senator Rae - Yet they have never formed a union.


Senator LONG - It would be a case of " May the Lord have mercy on their souls" if they had tried; and they would be punished, too, by those very gentlemen who talk most about freedom of contract ! I am anxious to leave it entirely in the hands of an authority constituted by the Commonwealth - that is, a Judge of the High Court - to declare what are fair and reasonable wages in the Tasmanian shale industry.


Senator Pearce - That is exactly what will take place under paragraphs a, b, and c.


Senator LONG - I shall be glad if the Minister will explain how that is so.







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