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Thursday, 27 March 1941

The PRESIDENT - Senator Deinhas explained what he said.

Senator CUNNINGHAM - It seems to me that Senator Dein does not know what he said. The position is that quite recently the Arbitration Court wrongly, I believe, saw fit not to proceed with the fixing of the basic wage. Whatever the court might have learned about the Government's intention to introduce a scheme of child endowment, it had no right to postpone its decision. There is no relation between the basic wage and child endowment. The purpose of child endowment is to assist workers who have families, whereas the basic wage is the rate which the court determines is a fair return for services. That return is fixed irrespective of whether a man is married or single. How could the court be expected to discriminate between married men and single men performing the same class of work ? /Single men have as much right as married men to seek a fair return when they sell their labour. Has any honorable senator ever heard of a single man receiving too much in return for the services he has rendered ? The employers invariably make the minimum wage fixed by the court the maximum wage paid in their industries. I am reminded of the remarks of the honorable senator concerning agitators. The whole of the responsibility in connexion with industrial disputes is placed on the workers by the honorable senator, but agitators are not always found on the side of the workers. They are also on the employers' side, agitating for the employers to combine for the purpose of skimping the wage fund which should be available. The subject of the fixation of the basic wage has never been properly dealt with by any government or by the Arbitration Court. Going back to the Higgins award of 1907, the judge was not in a position to lay down a proper basis for determining the minimum wage. He did not have the whole of the necessary information. He may also have held the view of Judge Beeby that it was not the purpose of the court to go into the real basis of the matter, but that the court merely had to use the scrap material at its disposal. Some future government will have to take this matter up and make the necessary investigation.

I rose to say a few words on behalf of single men. They are a real asset to the Commonwealth at present, and, equally with married men, they render great service to the nation.

Senator E B Johnston - Often they have dependants.

Senator CUNNINGHAM - Yes, and, of course, they are the potential fathers of the future citizens of the Commonwealth. Thrifty young single men are desirous of making provision for the future. If they were placed on a lower wage level than that of married men, their future would not be bright-

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