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Thursday, 19 November 1936

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) . - Like my leader, I support the bill, but members of the Opposition have to take certain circumstances into consideration. "When Senator Payne was speaking on the previous measure, I asked what rate of wage is paid in Czechoslovakia. Senator Collings has. explained that in Belgium the rate is 6d. an hour as compared with ls. 2d. an hour in England and 2s. an hour in Australia. We have to take these facts into consideration in entering into a treaty with foreign countries, although Belgium and Czechoslovakia are good customers of Australia. We should be foolish if we did not go as far as possible to meet the wishes of our good customer countries. The representatives of the Labour party in this chamber intend to see that the workers get a fair deal when trade agreements are under consideration. As the Australian glass manufacturing industry is highly protected, neither my colleagues nor I would sit down quietly if any injustice to the workers had been suggested. For the last 25 or 30 years I have supported the protection of secondary industries in Australia. The Labour party's policy, known as New Protection, is designed to assure fair wages and conditions to the workers, and fair prices for manufactured goods to the consumers. It is not the desire of the Labour party that any industry shall be permitted to operate on a huge margin of profit. Sooner than permit that to continue Labour would attempt to nationalize the industry or, to curb its activities in some other way to keep its profits within reasonable limits. I mention these considerations in consequence of certain interjections made to-night by some honorable senators. An examination of the rates of wages in Czechoslovakia and certain other central European countries would, undoubtedly, reveal that the Australian rates are very much higher, and so we should remember that " those who live in Bohemia should not throw stones ". The Labour party will support this bill because it alfords certain advantages to a good customer country. To the extent that that can be done without sacrificing the interests of the Australian workers, the Labour party is prepared to do it.

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