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Wednesday, 30 July 1930

Senator DALY (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) off the real discussion on this clause, as it might conceivably be if the advice tendered by Senator Guthrie is accepted. I invite honorable senators to read the clause, and then draw their own conelusions. Sub-clause 6 reads -

If the Minister finds that the conditions of employment or rates of wages, or any of them, observed or paid in respect of any labour employed in the production of any flax or linseed upon which bounty is claimed, or in growing flax plants from which such flax and linseed are produced -

(a)   are below the conditions and rates declared, as in' the first sub-section of this section mentioned, to be fair and reasonable; or

(b)   are below the standard conditions and rates prescribed by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or by any other industrial authority of the Commonwealth or a State, the Minister may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable.

So that if the representatives of the employers and employees exhaust the tribunals specifically mentioned the responsibility is to be thrown on the Minister to decide what the minimum wage of the industry shall be.

Senator Sir George Pearce - No. He will withhold the bounty.

Senator DALY - Is that not a distinction without a difference? Of course, he would withhold the bounty. I suggest to honorable senators that whatever our politics may be, we should be honest one with the other. The suggestion that meets with the approval of the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition is that the Minister should have power to withhold the bounty.

Senator Sir George Pearce - If the judge of the Arbitration Court decides that the wage is not a fair one.

Senator DALY - If there is no industrial authority for the purpose, and this Senate does not insert a clause in the bill similar to that suggested, then the Minister will have to decide what is a fair wage in the industry.

Senator Sir George Pearce - No. It will have to be done by a judge of the Arbitration Court.

Senator DALY - I am certain that the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition is not purposely misleading himself. I appeal to honorable senators who have just as good a knowledge of the English language as have I or the

Leader of the Opposition, to read the clause.

Senator Sir George Pearce -Read sub-clause 1 of clause 14.

Senator DALY - It states, "The Minister may make application to the Chief Judge or a judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration ", for a declaration in regard to this matter. What Senator Guthrie said is that whether he makes that declaration or not-

Senator Sir George Pearce - Oh, no.

Senator DALY - If it is admitted that Senator Guthrie's argument applies only if the Minister takes advantage of the sub-clause enabling him to approach the Arbitration Court we are in the position that we debated on the Cotton Bounty Bill that the Government is offering to the Senate the best form of industrial tribunal that it is possible to obtain, one consisting of representatives of the employers and employees in 'this struggling industry, sitting with an independent chairman. That, board will decide the wage irrespective of whether it affects outside industry or not.

Senator Herbert Hays - That is the principle of a wages board.

Senator DALY - Precisely. I desire to keep this discussion within the proper limits.For the reasons that I advanced during the debate on the Cotton Bounty Bill, which had the approval of a majority of the Senate, I suggest that this policy, consistent as it is with the previous measure, should be adopted by the Senate.

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