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Wednesday, 17 May 1939

Mr MENZIES (Kooyong) (Prime Minister) . - The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has raised two matters relatedto each other. The first is the matter of alleged sweating in the clothing trades. This matter came under my notice when I was AttorneyGeneral, and I had the benefit of a consultation with the honorable member, and with the secretary of the Clothing Trades Employees Union. Recently, I asked the Industrial Registrar for an urgent report, not only on the problemas a problem, but also regarding the statutory means of rectifying the trouble. I have a feeling that a short amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act might confer on the court the power to deal with the matter. It is one that concerns my colleague, the Attorney-General and Minister for Industry (Mr. Hughes), and I shall talk to him about it, but if it is found that a short amendment will ease the position, and that it can fairly be made, I shall endeavour to see that it is presented to Parliament at any early date, possibly during these sittings.

As to the general problem referred to by the honorable member, it will be necessary for me to confer with my colleague regarding it; but if it is desired that I, as Prime Minister, should preside at a conference in Melbourne of the kind he has suggested, I shall be glad to do so. I shall let him know what date within the next fortnight such a conferencecan take place.

The industrial matters referred to by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) are within the jurisdiction of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Poll), who has had some discussion with me about them, but it has been difficult to get sufficient time to go into them thoroughly. I shall again take it up with him, and see what can be done.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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