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Thursday, 29 May 1930

Senator DALY (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - Sub-clause 1 gives the court power to make a declaration as to what are fair wages and conditions. It does not confer on an employee the right to claim those wages and conditions, but it gives the Minister power to refuse the bounty unless the declaration is obeyed with respect to the limited class referred to in sub-clause 4, that is, the manufacturers of fortified wines on which the bounty is claimed.

Senator McLachlan - Sub-section 6 makes the position clear.

Senator DALY - Yes.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia) [10.8]. - I do not accept the contention of Senator Greene. This bounty is to be payable on the export of fortfied wine, and it is to be paid to the manufacturer who exports it. The bill provides that the grower of the grapes shall receive for them the price that the Minister thinks fair and reasonable. To that extent the grower is an employee of the manufacturer of the wine.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - He is a participator in the bounty.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - No. The grape grower does not get the bounty as in the case of the sugar-grower. The wage of the grower is the price he gets for his grapes, because he is not a wage-earner in the same sense as the man whose wages are fixed by the Arbitration Court. I point out that there is another class whose wages are to be fair and reasonable, that is the manufacturer of fortified spirit. Will Senator Greene say that he, too, falls within the same category as the grower?

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Of course, he does.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE. There is no stipulation in the bill that he should receive a fair price for his fortified spirit; but he has to certify that the wages paid in the manufacture of that spirit are fair and reasonable. I certainly urge the committee to accept my amendment. If the vicious principle contained in the clause is accepted, it will no doubt be embodied in every measure of a similar nature.

SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [10.11]. - It seems to me that, in proposing his amendment, Senator Pearce has been blind to a previous clause. Clause 11 provides that the grape-grower shall receive a fair and reasonable price for his grapes. Consequently, the proposed labour conditions are not confined to the exporter of wine. First of all, the grapegrower is to have a fair and reasonable price, and those who manufacture fortified spirit are to be similarly safeguarded. Sub-clause 1 of clause 11 provides -

Nobounty shall be payable unlessthe Minister is satisfied that -

(a)   the grower of any grapes used in the production of the wine, or in the production of the fortifying spirit contained in the wine, in respect of which bounty is claimed, has received or will receive a price or an amount for those grapes which in the opinion of the Minister is a reasonable price or amount; and

(b)   the distiller of any fortifying spirit contained in the wine, in respect of which bounty has been claimed, has received or will receive a price for that spirit which in the opinion of the Minister is a reasonable price, and that no arrangement or understanding affecting the price of the spirit has been or will be made or entered into between the buyer and the seller or by any one on behalf of either of them by way of discount, rebate, compensation or in any manner whatever other than as fully shown in the contract for the sale of the spirit.

That preserves the pecuniary rights of all concerned in the production of wine,or the spirit used in the fortification of wine, other than the labourer. If it is wrong to make the provision which Senator Pearce is seeking to eliminate, he should have the bill recommitted to enable him to move an amendment to clause 11. If every other party to the production of wine for export is to be protected, why should the wage-earners, if any are employed, be denied similar protection ? Where the work is carried on by members of a grower's family, there will be no reason for interference on the part of the Minister, or for any declaration by a judge. Only in cases where sweating conditions were alleged to obtain would the Minister be likely to intervene. No government would go out of its way to look for trouble by trying to dictate what wages should be paid unless there was a reasonable complaint from a section of the workers that they were being subjected to sweating conditions.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Each State has its own industrial court.

SenatorRAE- In Queensland, and in New South Wales, rural workers have recently been deprived of the opportunity to go to the State arbitration courts for the settlement of their claims.

Senator O'Halloran - In South Australia they are also precluded from approaching the court.

SenatorRAE- The New South Wales Government is threatening to skittle all legislation that protects the workers, and I suppose that the other States will not be far behind in following the example of New South Wales. It would, therefore, be a flagrant injustice to deprive the rural workers of anopportunity possessed by all other parties to the production of wine to seek the protection of some tribunal against those who would try to compel them to work under sweating conditions.

Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Sir George Pearce's amendment) - put.

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