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Thursday, 4 October 1906

Senator DOBSON (Tasmania) . - I regret that the Minister will not consent to an adjournment of the debate, because I feel sure that honorable senators are not able, under the circumstances, to devote that attention to the business which it deserves. Without doubt, we are faced with the most important question ever placed before the Senate, from the point of view of the Constitution, and of States rights. Of course, if the Minister of Defence, chooses to rival a Minister in another place, and endeavour to " bullock " this Bill through, we must see the matter out.

Senator Playford - There has been a fair opportunity for discussion.

Senator DOBSON - I have some notes on the question before us, but I am anxious first to say something in reply to the remarks of ' Senators Pearce and Findley. The latter gentleman seemed to imply that some honorable senators on this side - he did not seem to know which - were opposed to workmen getting a fairshare of the benefits of protective duties. If we protect industries, it is not solely for the benefit of the factory owner, but in order that good wages may be paid, and the benefitsfairly distributed. But. in regard to giving the workers a fair share of the benefits, I think a majority of honorable senators are on the wrong tack. While I do not dissent from it, I say that the method is wrong. What is the meaning of our factories legislation - our Wages Boards and our Arbitration Courts? Are they to be put aside? Should we not rather set to work to make our industrial legislation as perfect as we can, in order that the workers may obtain fair treatment ?

Senator O'Keefe - The honorable senator is not in favour of compulsory arbitration.

Senator DOBSON - I am, under certain circumstances. But what are we to think of honorable senators who, having devoted years to the creation of tribunals to do justice between employers and employes, are prepared to set aside all that they have done by substituting an unconstitutional provision in an Excise Bill ? According to Mr. Ord's report, the forty Wages Boards in Victoria are giving satisfaction, and everything is going on smoothly. In New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia there are Arbitration Courts for the settlement of industrial disputes, and, although similar bodies do not exist in Queensland and Tasmania, I know that in the latter State the workers are fairly content, and that we rarely hear of a strike, except on the mining fields.

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