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Wednesday, 23 October 1912

The PRESIDENT - I ask that the Minister should be allowed to speak without interruption.

Senator Sayers - The Minister is speaking at me, and mentioned my name. I am going to interject when he does so.

The PRESIDENT - The Minister mentioned the name of the honorable senator only when he said that he was addressing his remarks to Senator Sayers because that honorable senator had asked him for the information he was giving.

Senator FINDLEY - The reason I mentioned the name of Senator Sayers is that the honorable senator questioned my authority when I made a certain statement in introducing the Bill.

Senator Sayers - I still question it.

Senator FINDLEY - I have given the names of a number of sugar-growers in Queensland, and I have in my possession dockets of men employed on their plantations. If Senator Sayers requires further proof, he must indeed be a very hard man to convince. The honorable senator objects to the Bill because the Minister of Trade and Customs has drawn up a schedule of wages. The Bill has nothing whatever to do with that. The Minister already possesses that power, and has exercised it. He exercised it, as Senator Symon has said, in August last, long anterior to the introduction of this Bill. If Senators Sayers and Chataway had taken the trouble to read the Bill, and, having read it, to understand it, they would find that their very objections to the Bill are reasons why they should vote for it.

Senator Chataway - The Minister is not doing me justice. I did not say anything like that.

Senator FINDLEY - Senator Chatawaysays that he does not object to a fair wage being paid to those employed in the sugar industry, but to the method adopted by the Minister for securing that. If the honorable senator objects to the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs in prescribing a schedule of wages, he should vote for this Bill, because it is intended to take that power out of the hands of the Minister and vest it in a properly constituted tribunal. If this industry, as Senator Sayers has said, cannot afford to pay what I consider a living wage it is not worthy of serious consideration at the hands of the Senate. But I should be very sorry to repeat such a statement on any platform in Australia. I should be sorry to hear any member of the Senate say that an industry which has enriched thousands of men in


Senator Sayers - And broken thousands also.

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