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Tuesday, 27 November 1973
Page: 2172

Senator Wright asked the Attorney-General the following question, upon notice:

As the Attorney-General, on 26 September 1973, when speaking on the Constitution Alteration (Incomes) Bill 1973, referred to certain basic standards guaranteed to wage and salary earners outside Commonwealth awards and went on to say that, under this Bill, the Australian Parliament could guarantee basic standards throughout the nation, will he give instances of (a) the basic standards guaranteed by the New South Wales Parliament; and (b) the basic standards referred to which the Australian Parliament could guarantee under the Bill.

Senator Murphy - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(a)   The New South Wales Parliament has guaranteed a number of basic standards, instances of which, with references to relevant legislation, are as follows:

(i)   Determination of basic wage (Industrial Arbitration (Amendment) Act, 1937, which provided for the basic wage to be determined by reference to the basic wage fixed by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration); and adjustment of the basic wage by the Industrial Commission whenever the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission makes a decision, based wholly or partly on economic grounds, to vary rates of wages generally (Industrial Arbitration Act, 1940-1971, s.57);

(ii)   Periodic 'cost-of-living' adjustments to wages (Industrial Arbitration (Basic Wage) Amendment Act 19SS) during period 1955-1964;

(iii)   Equal pay (Industrial Arbitration Act, 1940-1957, as amended by the Industrial Arbitration (Female Rates) Amendments Act 1 958, which provided that, for male and female employees performing work of the same or like nature and of equal value, the Industrial Commission may prescribe in State wages the same basic wage and secondary wage, to be phased in over a period of 4 years ending on 1 January 1963);

(iv)   Payments in respect of annual leave (Annual Holidays Act, 1944-1958, as amended by the Annual Holidays (Amendment) Act, 1964, which provides that annual holiday pay for employees covered by the Act is to be calculated on the basis of the employee's ordinary pay, i.e. as including bonuses, incentive payments, etc );

(v)   Requirement that wages be paid in money only (Truck Act of 1900);

(vi)   Protection of part of wages and salary against garnishee orders (Supreme Court Act, 1973, District Court Act, 1973 and Courts of Petty Sessions (Civil Claims) Act, 1970);

(vii)   Power to the Industrial Commission to declare void in whole or in part, or to vary, any contract, etc., whereby a person performs work in any industry on grounds that the contract, etc., is unfair, or harsh or unconscionable or provides for a total remuneration less than a person performing the work would have received as an employee performing that work (Industrial Arbitration Act, 1940-1968, S.88F).

(b)   Matters such as those mentioned in paragraph (a) could be dealt with under an incomes power, wholly, as to items (i) to (vi), and, at least to the extent to which it concerns rates of pay and related matters, as to item (vii).

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