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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - The setting up of this board is a direct challenge to the present conciliation and arbitration tribunals. Even if it were necessary to have another tribunal, so that disputes might be dealt with more expeditiously than at present, the proposed body would not be sufficiently representative of the various sections of the community. Surely, there should be at least one direct representative of the employers, and not two representatives of the employees. In special circumstances an employers' representa tive could be called in, but the tribunal would be loaded against the employers.

Senator Cameron - Why did not the employers nominate a representative within the prescribed time?


Senator Large - They were two days late.

Senator JAMESMcLACHLAN.Nothing of the kind. Nominations were invited on the 27th March, and they closed on the 11th April. But 'between those dates an application was made to the Minister, pointing out that the period was insufficient to enable a nomination by the employers' organizations in Australia to be obtained. A request was then made for an extension of time to enable the employers to nominate a representative.

Senator Large - That was asked for on the 13th April.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No. A request was made between the 27th March and the 11th April. If the trade unions had asked for a similar consideration, and the Opposition had been in power, I am sure that their request would have been granted. A nomination was made by the employers and it was completely ignored. One would tie correct in saying that practically the only consideration shown to the employers' organizations throughout Australia was that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) intimated that he had appointed a woman to represent the employers. To get a parallel to this action, one would have to go back to April, 1917, when Kerensky took charge of affairs in Russia and imprisoned the Czar and members of his family. In the following November, Lenin took the job on and murdered the lot of them. The Minister for Labour and National Service set up this board to do something which he was not prepared to do himself. His idea was that the board should take complete control of the fixation of women's wages ; but he was not. prepared to come out into the open and say that. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) put up the worst argument I have heard since I entered politics. He made the charge that all of the appointments made by the previous Government were biased.

Senator Collings - He did not say that.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - He said that he could give any number of cases of biased appointments made by previous Governments. That was the basis of his argument. He practically admitted that the appointments to this board were biased in favour of this Government, and were made in retaliation against the policy which he alleged was the policy of previous Governments. His argument was futile and feeble. Even if it be admitted that appointments made by previous Governments were biased - and I certainly do not agree that that was the case - it would be no reason why this Government should make biased appointments. Honorable senators on this side realize that during the war great numbers of women must take the place of men in industry, and we are anxious to see that justice is done to them. We do not agree, however, that women should be barred from the Arbitration Court. That is the effect of these regulations. In future all matters affecting employment of women will be dealt with exclusively by this board, which has power to grant wages to women not only equal to male rates, but also in excess of male rates.

Senator Lamp - It is time that women had a "fair go". They have been exploited for centuries.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - They should be given fair treatment, but they can secure such treatment from the Arbitration Court.

Senator Lamp - No; previous governments have always appointed capitalists to the Arbitration Court Bench.


That is another instance of the bias of honorable senators opposite in this matter. However, if they take that view, I can see nothing to prevent them from making new appointments to the Arbitration Court. It is quite unnecessary to set up a new tribunal.

Senator Large - Is the honorable senator advocating the policy of " spoils to the victor " ?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If I were, I should be doing exactly what the Minister for Trade and Customs did when speaking to this motion. I strongly oppose these regulations. The appointment of this board is totally unnecessary. I fear that the power which has been vested in it will be implemented to the detriment of the nation as a whole.

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