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Wednesday, 11 July 1906

Mr LONSDALE (New England) . - I am against this class of legislation, but if it has to be passed in the interests of the manufacturers, we ought also to protect the workmen. I am prepared to support legislation that will give employes the very best wages. If wealthy manufacturers are to receive advantages by legislation of this kind, it should not be at tnt expense of their men. There is no doubt that this Bill has been introduced for the especial benefit of one or two men in Victoria; and, as has been stated, the. very man in whose interest it was mainly promoted, removed a part of his works from Ballarat to Braybrook, in order to avoid Wages Board conditions. Shortly before last Christmas, an inspired paragraph appeared in the press to, the effect that industries were being so strangled that 130 men, who received, in the aggregate, about £200 a week in wages, had had to be dismissed in Ballarat. We may take it for granted that if the amount paid in wages had been greater, we should nave been told so in that newspaper. It will be seen that 130 men, receiving .£200 a week, means an average wage of about 30s. ; and that is the sort of wage that is paid by a gentleman who is asking to have all competition destroyed. This Committee should not legislate for one or two men.

Mr Hutchison - Is that why honorable members of the Opposition are supporting the Bill ?

Mr LONSDALE - We are not supporting the Bill. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has supported the Bill right through in the interests of wealthy manufacturers, not caring one dump about the working man. We on the Opposition side have opposed the Bill from end to end, but we support the amendment of the honorablemember for Angas because it gives some fair play to the workers. We are not supporting the other parts of the Bill; and the honorable member for Hindmarsh knows that his statement is incorrect. We ought to give no consideration to men whoare making fortunes, unless their employesreceive the fullest pay to which they are entitled. The honorable member for Angas, and the honorable member for Corinella,, both of whom are clear-headed lawyers,, assure us that the amendment will attain the end in view. While I have always held that this class of legislation does not helpthe workers, but, on the other hand, tends to their injury, my sympathies are just asmuch with them as are those of the honorable member for Yarra. That honorable member made a remark about honorable members on this side opposingthe Bill, but I can tell him that I have more sympathy than he has with the toilingmasses, and have done more for them thanhe has.

Mr Tudor - More harm.

Mr LONSDALE - The honorable member for Yarra has raised himself to his present position on the shoulders of the workers, for whom, however, he has never done anything. He takes the stand he does in his own interests, with a desire for his own advancement.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member must not impute motives.

Mr LONSDALE - Then I shall say that the honorable member is looking after the interests of the workers, and that he believes those interests are best served by his being here as their representative. That may be taken "as ironical, or sarcastic, if honorable members please, but it is all I have to say in regard to the honorable member, who boasts so much of his love for the workers. The Attorney-General and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, both accept the principle of the amendment, but they only do so because they see that members of the Labour Party are in favour of it. They had no intention of accepting the amendment until they observed the disposition of the Committee to accord fair play to the workers.

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