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Thursday, 26 March 1942

Senator AMOUR (New South Wales) . - I should like to move an amendment to this regulation, but on the ground that in its present form it does not go far enough. I should like to make it applicable to all females employed in any industry. I have had the pleasure of visiting many factories now engaged in war production in various States. I have seen women at work in those factories. In South Australia, I saw women working turret lathes just as competently as men. They were doing the same work as men. but they received only £3 5s. a week, whereas men simply performing labouring work around their machines were receiving £5 a week. Does the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) think that that is fair? Female doctors and lawyers charge the same fees as males in the same professions.

Senator McBride - There is a proper tribunal to assess the rates of pay for women.

Senator AMOUR - We have not the time to refer this matter to tribunals. Our immediate difficulty is to obtain, sufficient skilled employees for war factories. If we cannot obtain males, we must obtain females for that work. In the last war, many women were employed in war factories at a lower rate than males engaged on similar work. Those women were exploited. Many employers to-day are only too ready to exclude men, and increase the number of -female employees, in order to lower their costs of production and to increase their profits. For this reason, I should like to see these regulations applied to females in all industry with the object of prescribing equal pay for the sexes in respect of similar work. I should he happy to leave the responsibility for the administration of such regulations to the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron), lie is doing an excellent job. He has shown himself to be more competent in his department than any of his predecessors. I have no doubt that he is just as anxious as any one else for the success of our war effort. He knows exactly the labour requirements of the aircraft industry at the present juncture. He may be obliged to introduce a number of women into other industries associated with the production of aircraft. I f women capable of doing this work are available, whether it be skilled or ordinary labouring work, and they are put to these tasks, they are entitled to receive the same remuneration as males. Honorable senators who declare that the Ministor is not a fit person to administer these regulations lack sincerity. Those who have visited our war factories realize that women employed in those factories are doing their work as efficiently as men. I have been informed by managers of various factories that the women are doing a better job than males. Consequently, I should like to see the principle of equal pay to the sexes for equal work adhered to in all of our war industries. We pride ourselves upon our democratic fair play. If that be so, it is difficult to understand why honorable senators opposite quibble over these regulations. I deplore the venomous attack made upon the Minister for Aircraft Production by the Leader of the Opposition. The honorable senator dislikes the Minister personally. He has said so .repeatedly in this chamber, and at every opportunity he endeavours to discredit the Minister. Indeed, he has gone so far as to say that the Minister is disloyal. I am confident that the Minister for Aircraft Production has carried out his duties in the best interests of this country, and has done a job at least equal to that done by any other person, and probably better than that done hy his predecessor. .

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