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Thursday, 4 May 1939

Mr PERKINS (EdenMonaroAssistant Minister) . - The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) has drawn attention to the differential treatment meted out to officers of the Administrator's Department and officers of the general public service residing at Alice Springs. As there appears to be some discrimination I shall refer the matter to the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll). The honorable members for Hunter (Mr. James) and Franklin (Mr. Frost) spoke of the threatened strike of men engaged in building contracts in the Northern Territory, because of an impending reduction of their wages by 16s. 3d. a week. I have made inquiries and have ascertained that the Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department received a telegram to-day stating that the reduction of wages will become effective from Friday next. The reason for this reduction may be that themen havebeen receiving more than the award rate. One condition of contracts let by tender is that the contractor shall pay award rates. Therefore, we may assume that if the wages are to be reduced by 16s. 3d. a week they will still be within the award. The Government has not yet had time to ascertain the facts of the case. The Administrator has been asked for a full explanation of the position and I hope to be in a position to give further information to honorable members to-morrow.

The question of the setting up of an industrial tribunal in the Northern Territory, mentioned by the honorable member for Hunter, will also be referred to the Minister for the Interior.

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