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Tuesday, 8 November 1910

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I have listened very attentively to the explanation which has been given by the Minister of Defence. His argument, to my mind, is exactly the argument that one would expect to hear from the managing director of the Commonwealth Oil Corporation. My honest opinion is that, if a night-watchman, of whom he appeared to speak rather contemptuously-

Senator Pearce - It is grossly unfair to say that.

Senator RAE - I must say what I think.

Senator Pearce - I am as much concerned about the welfare of nightwatchmen as is the honorable senator.

Senator RAE - Without wishing to be personally offensive to the Minister, or to suggest that he would wittingly do an injustice to a night-watchman-

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator said that I would do so.

Senator RAE - 1 said that the Minister spoke as if a night-watchman were of no account. But I do not wish to quibble over the matter.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator is quibbling all the same.

Senator RAE - I say that the humblest employe of the Commonwealth Oil Corporation is as much entitled to consideration as is the corporation itself.

Senator Pearce - And he will get it under the Bill.

Senator RAE - I do not think so. The Minister's contention that the withholding of a portion of the bounty would be equivalent to the fining of an employer for breach of an industrial award is scarcely a fair one. The bounty will be the gift of the nation. It will be something to which the employer has no inherent right ; and if the Commonwealth Oil Corporation does not treat every one of its employes fairly, it will deserve to forfeit that bounty. The Minister has stated that no statutory rate of wages is operative in Tasmania. But I would point out that we are compelled to establish industrial courts and wages boards only because some employers, who are actuated by motives of greed, refuse to pay fair wages. Any company which is not paying reasonable wages to its employes must be quite aware of the fact. It is absolutely wrong that the proposed bounty should be paid to any company which is sweating a single employe, no matter how humble may be the capacity in which he is employed. I move -

That the word " may," line 28, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " shall."

If the amendment be carried, I shall afterwards move for the omission of the words " whole or anypart of."

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