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Wednesday, 11 July 1906

Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) (Minister of Trade and Customs) . - I do not think that it would be possible to work the amendment. Before we could take any action, the Comptroller- General would have to ascertain whether the industry was one - the majority of the workers in which throughout the Commonwealth a Commonwealth law, or a State law or State laws, for fixing the remuneration of labour by award of a Court of Arbitration, an Industrial Agreement, or a Board, applies or apply -

If the honorable and learned member can show that the amendment could be given effect to without delay and without injury to importers, I should be very much enlightened.

Mr Watson - I understand the amendment to refer to the majority of the workers throughout the Commonwealth, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General or a Justice. It leaves it to the opinion of one or other of the authorities to say whether a fair wage is paid.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Yes, it says- or, in which the remuneration of labour of the majority of the workers throughout the Commonwealth, in the opinion of the ComptrollerGeneral, and on reference to a Justice under section 15, or a Justice, is, or, but for the alleged unfair competition, would be, fair.

I cannot follow the amendment in that sense. Moreover, if it were left to the Comptroller-General to say what is fair, a very grave responsibility would be placed upon his shoulders. But the main objection I have to the amendment is that, in my opinion, we could not very well give effect to it without considerable delay. The objection which was raised by honorable members opposite to delay in trade in the ordinary sense would, I think, be very much emphasized if this amendment were accepted. I certainly cannot accept it unless it is shown very much more clearly to my mind that it could be worked. I do not think it could.

Mr Glynn - Let the Minister get his law officer to make the amendment more perfect in its wording, and I shall be with him.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The amendment is very much involved. I can only state the effect which I think it would have. At the present time, I cannot see that it would have any other effect than to cause delay and place upon the ComptrollerGeneral a responsibility which I think should not rest upon his shoulders.

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