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Tuesday, 2 October 1906


Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - I move -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

It will be remembered that in the course of my remarks on the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill, I alluded to the following proviso to the recommendations of the Tariff Commission : -

That if the majority of manufacturers of the machines and the implements made in Australia similar to those upon which additional duties are hereby levied do not, after the expiration of one year from the passing of this Act, pay their workmen engaged in making such machines and implements a fair and reasonable rate of wages, the Governor-General, in pursuance of a joint Address by the Senate and the House of Representatives, affirming that such fair and reasonable wages are not being paid, suspend the collection of such additional duty upon any machine or implement for such time as may be deemed advisable.

If that suggestion were adopted the practical effect would be that when one manufacturer was not paying a fair rate of wages, the whole trade would have to suffer in consequence of his act. A way out of the difficulty was found by inserting in this Bill the following clause: -

Duties of Excise shall, on and from the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seven, be imposed on the dutiable goods specified in the schedule at the rates specified in the said schedule.

The duties of Excise correspond with the duties of Customs which are specified in the other Bill -

Provided that this Act shall not apply to goods manufactured by any person in any part of the Commonwealth under conditions as to the remuneration of labour which -

(a)   are declared by resolution of both Houses of the Parliament to be fair and reasonable; or

(b)   are in accordance with an industrial award under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904; or

(c)   are in accordance with the terms of an industrial agreement filed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904} or

(d)   are in accordance with terms which, in the opinion of the Minister, are fair and reasonable ; or

(e)   are, on an application made for the purpose to the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, declared to be fair and reasonable by him or by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or any person or persons who compose a State Industrial Authority to whom he may refer the matter; or

(f)   in the case of goods manufactured before the thirty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and seven, are either as advantageous to the workers as the standard conditions at the place of manufacture, or are declared by the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or by a Judge of the SupremeCourt of the State in which the goods are manufactured, or by the Minister, to be fair and reasonable.

I think that in that proviso the recommendation of the Commissioners relative to wages has been given effect to. In these matters, of course, the difficulty is to fix what is a fair and reasonable rate of wages; but I believe that under clause 2, if enacted, no injustice would be done either to the manufacturers, on the one hand, or to the workers on the other. If it were found that a manufacturer was not paying a fair rate of wages to his men, then the Excise duties which are specified in the schedule would be levied upon all the machines which he made. I have given a full explanation of the scope of the Bill. It has been very carefully considered, and will, I believe, meet almost every conceivable case.

Debate (on motion by Senator Clemons) adjourned.







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