16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. 3, Cunningham) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bilk re ported : -
Entertainments Tax Assessment Bill 1942.
Entertainments Tax Bill 1942.
States Grants (Entertainments Tax Reimbursement) Bill 1942.
– I ask the Minis ter for the interior the following questions : -
In view of the serious action which has been forced upon the South Australian Government in this matter, will the Leader of the Senate say whether the present shortage of coal in South Australia is due to -
– The Government is aware of the stocks of coal held in South Australia. It is also aware that the stops necessary to remedy the situation are entirely matters for the Government of that State. The Commonwealth Government is negotiating with the State Government with a view to coping with the situation.
– Is it a fact that Tas- manian fruit-growers are not receiving supplies of superphosphate this season, whereas fruit-growers in Victoria are receiving 40 per cent. and those in Queensland 75 per cent. of their; 1941 quota? Is it a fact that fruit-growers in South Australia are allowed 1 cwt. of superphosphate to the acre, and can he say what is the basis of that distribution ?
– I shall endeavour to get the information, and hope to be able to supply it to the honorable senator before the Senate adjourns to-day.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development seen a statement in the press that certain classes of foodstuffs which have been made available to consumers in the southern States have not been made available to Queensland, whereas the products of Queensland have been freely made available to consumers in the other States? Will the Minister arrange with the Minister for Supply and Development and the Ministerfor Commerce, to investigate this matter, in order to ensure that there shall be an equitable distribution to all the States of the foodstuffs that are available?
– I shall bring the matter to the notice of my colleagues.
Tea and Sugar
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs make arrangements whereby members of the forces may be able to obtain coupons entitling them to obtain supplies of sugar and tea when home on leave, so that they will not be left without those commodities on such occasions ?
– I shall have immediate inquiries made into the matter raised by the honorable senator.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral noticed that recently the Australian Broadcasting Commission has been most unfair in its comments on political matters and that such comments are largely in the nature of party political propaganda for the Government? Will be see that future reports are fairer to both sides in politics?
– I am not prepared to admit that the reports are unfair as suggested by the honorable senator, nor have I any desire to interfere with such reports, which arc left to the commission. Any political flavour which may be given to reports is not a responsibility of mine.
– In view of the serious falling off in production in the dairying industry, particularly butter, which has now reached a serious stage, can the Minister representing the Minister forCommerce say what steps, if any, the Government intends to take, not only to maintain the present production, but also to increase it, so that adequate supplies shall be available to supply the fighting forces as well as the civilian population, and to enable Australia to fulfil its obligations to the British Government?
SenatorFRASER. - The Government is aware of the serious difficulties associated with the dairying industry, and during the last few weeks steps have been taken to cope with the situation.
– Will the Minister indicate the nature of the steps that have been taken?
SenatorFRASER. - If the honorable member desires full information, I shall obtain a report on the subject, and make it available to him.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say why Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania, is not represented on the Broadcasting Committee?
– It is impracticable for every capital city in the Commonwealth to have a direct representative on the committee.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Exemption of Members of the Armed Forces.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– -The Minister for Civil . Aviation has supplied the following answers : -
– I move -
That the Amendments of National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations, contained in Statutory Rules1942, No. 236, made under the National Security Act 1039-1940. be disallowed.
I propose later to move the following motion which deals with the same subject : -
That the Amendments of National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations, contained in Statutory Rules 1942. No. 263,and Statutory Rules1942. No. 294. made under the National Security Act 1939-1940, be disallowed.
I suggest, therefore, that as the motions are cognate they be considered together.
– There is precedent for the simultaneous debating of cognate matters. The two motions may be debated together, but will be putt separately.
– I remind honorable senators that some time ago I moved the disallowance of Statutory Rule No. 146. Since then, some of the regulations contained in that Statutory Rule have been repealed, whilst others remain unaltered. That motion was defeated in not only this chamber but a similar motion was also defeated in the House of Representatives. During the debate in that chamber the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies urged that the personnel of the Women’s Employment Board be increased from three to five. He made it quite clear that in view of the importance of. the board’s work, the board should be free from all suspicion of political control. His contention, as we contended in this chamber, was that the Government set up a board of three members, two of whom were associated with trade unions, whilst not one member was a bona fide representative of the employers.After agreeing to increase the membership of the board to five, the Minister for Labour and
National Service (Mr. Ward) decided that three members should be persons representative of employees, or closely associated with trade unions, whilst only one would be a bona fide representative of the employers. Despite the importance of maintaining harmony in industry at a time like the present, the attitude of the Minister and the Government obviously invited trouble. The Minister declared that Miss Cashman, who had been organizer of the Printing Industry Employees Union in Victoria for eighteen years, would represent the Government, which was the largest employer of women. Miss Cashman is not a bona fide representative of the employers. At one time she was an employee of a government department.
SenatorCollings. - What department?
– I think it was the Department of Munitions. In order to explain the position which will prevail should the two motions be agreed to, I point out that awards which have already been made by the Womens Employment Board will stand by virtue of Regulation 9 of Statutory Rule 146. In addition, those awards cannot be interfered with by any industrial tribunal, because Regulation 10 of Statutory Rule 146 provides that industrial authorities shall not make awards inconsistent with decisions of the board. Under these regulations the board is empowered to fix wages, hours and conditions of employment of certain women in industry. I object to the board as it is at present constituted, first, because the appointees have been politically biased in favour of the Government, and, consequently, the employers have not been given adequate representation. My second objection to it is that the powers conferred upon it are far too wide. Honorable senators will remember that this inexperienced, unqualified political board has power to override State and Federal arbitration courts and even State laws, and its decision cannot be upset by any of the other existing tribunals.
– Is that new?
– It is not new, so far as this Government is concerned ; but it is extremely dangerous, particularly in war-time. My third objection to the board, and to the powers given to it, is that it is a political set-up designed to sabotage the Australian arbitration system. We know it is a plank of Labour’s policy, brought in under the guise of war emergency, to appease the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and the political supporters of the Labour party.
I propose now to deal in detail with some of the objectionable features. In doing so, I shall be as brief as possible and not attempt to instance the numerous anomalies that have already been created, but try to establish where, in my opinion, the board is wrong in general principle. Sub-regulation 1 of regulation 6 reads as follows: -
Where an employer has, since the second day of March, .1942, employed, is employing, or proposes to employ females on work which is usually performed by males, or work which was, prior to the employment of females, or is, performed by males in the establishment of that employer (or is work which, prior to that employment or proposed employment of females, was not being performed in Australia by any person) the employer shall, unless an application in relation to that employment has already been made, forthwith make application to. the Board for a. decision in accordance with this regulation.
That sub-regulation has been amended several times since the original one was promulgated. A comparison ‘of the provisions of the regulation that now stands reveals the following facts : Under the earlier regulation, a shortage or impending shortage of male labour was a prerequisite to the submission of any matter to the board by an employer. A shortage or impending shortage of male labour is now immaterial under Statutory Rule 294. Under the earlier regulations, the test was whether the work in question “ is customarily performed by males “, giving every employer the right to employ females at award rates, on work customarily performed by females, even though he may not himself have employed them formerly. Under the latest Statutory Rule, which is 294, unless that particular employer has formerly employed females on the work, he must apply to the board to have the rates fixed. This gives rise to a purely arbitrary distinction between the employer who has always employed females, and the employer who now employs them for the first time, even though the work in both cases is identical. That position is ludicrous, and whoever was responsible far drawing up the regulations displayed a very limited knowledge of our arbitration set-up and the problems surrounding this important work. Similarly, in regard to the other aspect, work new to Australian industries, even though it be substantially similar to work formerly done in this country, we have another anomaly. I propose to give one or two examples of anomalies and arbitrary distinctions created by the regulations -
Sub-regulation 5 of regulation 6, establishes what Judge O’Mara designates “ the doctrine of comparative efficiency “. It provides -
The Board shall decide a rate of payment under sub-paragraph (vi) of paragraph (b) of sub-regulation (4.) of this regulation which it considers to be just and proper in all the circumstances and shall, as far as is practicable, assess that rate by reference to the efficiency of females in the performance of the work and any other special factors which may be likely to affect the productivity of their work hi relation to that of males.
Under the earlier regulations, efficiency and productivity were merely factors “ to be taken into account” when fixing the remuneration of females. The board is now practically directed to assess such remuneration by reference to relevant efficiency and productivity. I quote the following extract from a decision given by the board on the 17th July, 1942, upon au application made to it by the Ministry of Munitions-^
The Board’s jurisdiction to fix wages is not at large. Regulation ti, sub-regulations s> («) and 5 (6), indicate the limitations and prescribe the matters to which the Board is to apply its mind when fixing a rate of payment for females. The Board must as far as possible measure the efficiency and productivity of females in relation to males and fix a rate based upon the percentage of such efficiency and productivity to that of males within the lower and upper limits of 60 per cent, and 100 per cent.
That appears to me to be an erroneous view of the board’s functions, but the fact remains that it has decided to act. Economically, it is a mischievous view, for it takes no account of the fact that the basic wage for males is based on the responsibility of a male for the maintenance of a wife and children. If women are paid the same rate as men for the same work, they will be paid at rates out of all proportion to their needs, and out of proportion to the wages received by other women engaged in other occupations which are purely women’s work, but work which is certainly of equal value from the point of view of the community. If the principle of equal pay for equal work be adopted, why not have unequal pay for unequal work? I draw attention to the conflict between the Economic Organization Regulations, promulgated “by the Government in Statutory Rule No. 76 of 1942, the industrial provisions in Part 5 of which impose a legal restraint on people whether they are employees or employers, and peg all wages. It reads -
Subject to this part, an employer shall not pay or offer to pay and an employee shall not accept or seek to accept any remuneration in respect of the employment at a rate different from the rate prescribed by an award, order or determination of an industrial authority or industrial agreement in force in relation to that employment on the 10th day of February, 1942.
The board has already heard and determined rate3 for females and awarded male rates, or near male rates, although an industrial award in that industry prescribes rates for females for that work. No better example can be given than that of the British General Electric Company Proprietary Limited, Clarencestreet, Sydney, in which the board prescribed that two females selling electrical equipment across the counter are to be paid the male rate of £5 lis. a week. The award for warehouse employees, other than softgoods and drug warehouses, has for many years prescribed rates for females doing identical work. The female rate is £3 9s. a week, and, according to law, females doing identical work in other firms are paid the rate prescribed. Clearly there is a conflict between the regulations and government policy. If an employer or an employee is to observe the board’s decisions, then he must act contrary to regulation 15 of the Economic Organization Regulations, because that provides that an employer shall not pay, and an employee shall not accept, more than is laid down in the appropriate award as at the 10th February last.
– These women have different jobs.
– They are doing identical work under the same roof, but are working under different awards.
We all admit that the arbitration courts of Australia have done exceptionally good work under difficult circumstances. They have not always pleased both political parties, but, during the years that they have functioned, the principal political parties have agreed to abide by the arbitration system as we know it in Australia. Up to the present we have not been able to suggest anything better. Those of us who have had an opportunity to watch the work of the arbitration courts, and to consider the judgments and comments of the various judges, must be guided largely by them with regard to intricate industrial disputes. With all due respect to the new board, we must admit that it is inexperienced. The fact that the Commonwealth and State arbitration courts have already given 150 or 200 decisions in New South Wales alone indicates the complexities and difficulties of industrial arbitration. A new political board has been set up by the present Government to displace the present system with regard to the employment of women, and it is not surprising that the position has become chaotic. I refer honorable senators to the following comments by Judge O’Mara in the metal trades award for female employees, delivered on the 17th August, 1942:- “… The latest amendments, if they have the meaning which the Women’s Employment Board must he regarded as having placed upon them, in the Munitions Factories decision, apply to a far wider field, than that of women actually replacing men who have been taken out of industry by the war.
The regulations now require an employer to obtain permission from the board to employ females upon work, upon which their employment 1ms long been authorized by awards of this court, and- they create the possibility of work being permitted in one establishment and the same work being prohibited in another, a.nd of work being under one set of conditions in one establishment and under a different set in another.
There are many people whoso views of a war economy are not. on the lines of Part V. of the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations. The board appears to have taken the view that it is not bound by the Economic Organization Regulations and that it may select any date as the ‘ critical date ‘ for the purposes of applying the regulations. If that is the law then either directly through the .operations of the regulations or indirectly through the trouble which will result from discriminations., the adult male wage may become the universal wage.
If the doctrine of comparative efficiency is to be the vital test, and the economic effect of the decision is to be disregarded, then it is difficult to see why junior females should not have the same principles applied in their case or why junior male workers, apprenticed and unapprenticed, should not be entitled to ask for a fixation of wages on the same basis. The argument in favour of equality of wages irrespective of sex is a strong one if the wages are fixed on a true economic basis and the responsibility for a minimum family wage is transferred from employers to society generally. By adopting a system of universal child endowment we may have progressed far towards a fixation of wages on the basis that the wages should bear a proper relation to the value produced by the employee. Such a fixation would probably result in a higher wage for women and a lower wage for men, but it is a fixation which is unsound, for so long as the responsibility for the minimum family wage has to be borne by the employers.
With all respect, I must say that I find myself in definite disagreement with the opinion of the Minister’s advisers, that the amendments do no more than simplify the procedure of the board and define the jurisdiction of the board more clearly. They impose restrictions on the employment of females where none previously existed, and they require applications to be made where none previously were necessary. They overlook the many safeguards which have been inserted in awards, to reserve certain work for adult male employees, and they direct employers who are required by award to pay the adult male rates to certain females, to apply to the board for a fixation of wages. The application of the regulation is no longer conditional upon the employment of females being because of a shortage or impending shortage of male labour or consistent with the plan of stabilization.”
Some notice must be taken of those comments made by a judge who has had wide experience. I do not propose to describe further the chaos that will be caused or the injustices that will arise if this body continues to function in this manner. As a practical example I cite the case of one industry in which women have been employed for many years. These women are now skilled or semi-skilled, and are working under an arbitration award. Today more women are being taken on to do similar work, and although they are unskilled, inexperienced and work in the same factory, they will be paid a higher rate than the experienced operatives. At a recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) is reported to have said that in his opinion the board had made a wrong decision in one case. In the Adelaide press on the 19th of this month, there appeared a statement by Mr. Hunkin, Deputy Director of Man Power in South Australia, who, despite the fact that hp was appointed by this Government, voiced criticism of the Women’s Employment Board which also was appointed by this Government. He has wide experience in the industrial field, and I think that his comments are worth noting. The press report stated -
Difficulties in providing more labour for hospitals and equally essential services were Vicing aggravated by decisions of the Women’s Employment Board in fixing female rates of pay at or near male rates, the Deputy Director of Man Power (Mr. L. C. Hunkin) said yesterday.
One of the results, Mr. Hunkin pointed out, was that highly skilled nurses were getting less pay than women in comparatively unskilled jobs. Host of the female labour offering was being diverted to munitions works, and 2,500 women could be placed if they were available.
Hospitals and munitions works needed the women, and the board should reconsider whether high wages should be granted to women in non-essential industries.
SenatorCameron. - Munitions industries are not non-essential industries.
– That is so, but this board has paid a higher wage to women engaged in non-essential industries than to women engaged in munitions production. That is the point which was emphasized by Mr. Hunkin and Judge Foster. It shows clearly the anomalies that have arisen, and the discontent which exists between women engaged in these particular industries. I have no desire to make any comment in regard to the judge. In the course of a previous speech I did mention that he was once a Labour candidate, but I wish to make it clear now that I do not cast any reflection upon him in that regard, and perhaps I should not have made that statement. However, I wish to make it quite clear that when he made the following statement during the hearing of a case affecting the leather tanning industry, he was either writing in accordance with instructions, or his appreciation of what he was appointed for is quite clear to me: -
It is clear that the history of the regulations, considered from the beginning, indicated a movement to equate female rates of pay to those of male rates of pay, andwe cannot ignore the history.
In spite of the fact that on the 10th February, the Government declared that wages wore to be pegged in these industries increases are being permitted by the board. I moved for the disallowance of the regulations, because it is obvious that this inexperienced, unqualified, political board, will create chaos, disorder and discontent amongst female employees. Its appointment displays political partisanship of a very low order, and if it be allowed to proceed further, it will interfere with the work of the arbitration courts. Industry is faced with two tribunals fixing female rates on a different formula. This is highly unsatisfactory as between industry and industry, workshop and workshop, but when the wages of employees under the same roof are assessed by both tribunals with a different result it is an industrial absurdity.
– In a democracy, some of us, at any rate, are inclined to be proud of our parliamentary institutions based as they are upon British traditions. That being so I do not deny the right of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) and honorable senators supporting him in this chamber to move for the disallowance of these regulations. It would be wrong if I attempted to dispute that right, but I do call into question, very seriously, the propriety of these repeated motions for the disallowance of regulations. Under normal conditions nobody could take exception to this practice. In an atmosphere of calmness we are able to debate the pros and cons and intricacies of regulations, laws and decisions of arbitration courts, but there is a very different atmosphere in this chamber to-day. However, the Opposition has decided to proceed with this motion, and I shall deal with it. Almost in his last words the Leader of the Opposition said that this “ inexperienced, unqualified, political board will create chaos, disorder and discontent amongst female employees “. I say to the honorable senator in all seriousness, because I want every honorable senator on the opposite side of the chamber to know what is going to happen, that the fate of a great undertaking depends upon the vote on this motion today; that undertaking is the successful prosecution of the war. The most serious attention should be given to this matter, because the disallowance of these regulations will result in a serious disturbance of our war effort. I know what I am talking about. Honorable senators opposite may, if they like, say that it is an inexperienced board, or that it is a political board. Of course it is a political board. Everything done in this Parliament is political ; every regulation passed by it is political, just as is every law passed by a State parliament and every bylaw passed by a municipal council. If, however, the Leader of the Opposition means that this board is a party political body, I say that his statement is false.
– I do say that.
– With all respect, I say that the Leader of the Opposition is aggrieved because, practically for the first time in the history of this country, women have been given representation on a board which decides matters of vital importance to women. Most manmade laws have largely ignored the basic rights of womanhood.
– Had she been appointed as a representative of employees no one would have objected ; but the Government has made her a representative of employers.
– For practically the first time in this country, women have been given the right to say under what laws they shall work, and under what industrial conditions they shall toil. For that reason, the Leader of the Opposition is seriously aggrieved.
– Why, then, give women one representative out of five?
– The grievance of the Opposition is that women have been given even one representative out of five.
– Whom does she represent?
– I do not like the honorable senator’s ideas of chivalry. We are told that the Prime Minister has said that the board has made a wrong decision on some point. I do not know whether the right honorable gentleman said that, nor do I know to what decision he referred, if he did say it. Does the Opposition expect the Government to appoint a board which will never make a mistake ? ‘ Why this new-found affection for arbitration courts on the part of the Leader of the Opposition? His attitude staggers the imagination. I remind him that some years ago, the then leader of a government lost his seat, and his government lost control of the treasury bench, because that government proposed to scrap arbitration. This sudden affection for arbitration courts leaves me astonished - and that is putting it mildly. The Leader of the Opposition ha3 said that the board should be free of political control. What does he mean by that? At the moment, the Labour party is governing the country. It has nineteen Ministers - the same number as constituted the Cabinet when the parties now in opposition formed the government. Each one of those Ministers must be given control of some department, and so there is a Minister in control of the regulations to which reference has been made. Surely it is not a crime that, in the fluctuations of politics, the Minister in charge of a department happens to be a Labour Minister! That state of affairs is inescapable under the existing political set-up in this country. Let us see the kind of board that has been constituted. Let us, free from party political bias, which causes the Opposition to pour forth its spleen whenever it thinks it sees a loophole in anything undertaken by a Labour government, study the constitution of the Women’s Employment Board. The board consists of a chairman; a. special representative of the Commonwealth; a special representative of employers other than the Commonwealth ; two representatives of employees and an additional representative from time to time according to the subject-matter- to be decided; a representative of an employer or of an employer’s organization from time to time as occasion requires ; a representative of an organization of employees. Some of these the Leader of the Opposition did not mention. He spoke of the board as something which had been conceived in iniquity and operated in disgrace. It is nothing of the kind. The idea behind that appointment of an additional representative from time to time is that when highly technical matters in connexion with certain industries are under review, persons specially qualified to assist may be called in by both employers and employees. There is nothing sinister in the set-up of the board, although to those opposed to the Labour party it is a crime that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), who knows his job, should do it. I am not apologizing for him. The Minister is doing his job in Labour’s way; he is standing up for a fair deal for women. Honorable senators opposite can make of that statement what. they like. I say that, while the present Government is in office, it will govern the country in Labour’s way, not the way of the Opposition parties. The gloves are off. Let us review some of the things which the board has done. It has considered applications made by the following bodies: - Australian Paper- Manufacturers Limited, Full Fashioned Hosiery Manufacturer’s Association of Australia, United Licensed Victuallers Association (South Australian Branch), Victorian Railways Commissioners, Sydney County Council, “New South Wales Railways, Asbestos Products Limited, Sydney, and William Brooks and Company, Sydney.
– The regulations force them to como in.
– Of course; but they are satisfied that the board is not what the Leader of the Opposition says it is. They have been convinced that it is an intelligent body, free from political bias, which weighs the evidence and arrives at a decision satisfactory to the board, but not necessarily satisfactory to the Minister controlling the department, or to the Government. Applications have been made to the board by the authorities I have named, and a host of other concerns. None of those undertakings has squealed about decisions of the board. They submitted their claims, and the board, after calling witnesses and hearing evidence, came to its decisions. I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to prove that one complaint has been raised by any applicant concerning a decision of the board. Let us examine some of these decisions. If honorable senators opposite come to the conclusion that the board is performing meritorious and useful functions, I ask them whether the existence of the board is not preferable to the chaos which would result without it. In a majority of cases the board has prescribed a period of probation for employees at. prescribed rates, the period varying according to the nature of the work involved, and the time which must necessarily elapse before “a probationer can become fully competent. When a female employee is shown to be as efficient as a male worker she is paid at the male rate. Do honorable senators opposite intend to declare by their votes on these motions that a woman who has served a period of probation and has proved her capacity to be equal to that of male workers alongside whom she is employed, is not entitled at least to the male rate prescribed in that particular industry? I cannot believe that honorable senators opposite would lay down such a principle. The hours and conditions prescribed for female employees are the same as those prescribed for males in relevant industrial awards on the basis of equal qualifications. Let honorable senators opposite bear in mind that the Government is not asking for any privilege or concessions for these women simply because they are women. All that is demanded under these regulations is that a woman who serves her period of probation and proves that she can do the work as effectively as male3 employed on the same class of work shall be paid at the male rate. Do honorable senators opposite propose to say that simply because she is a woman she is not entitled to the full’ rate? Should they vote on these motions on that basis, the disallowance of these regulations will be on their consciences and not on those of honorable senators on this side. Another decision given by the board concerns Asbestos Products Limited, Sydney. The board stated that it was unanimously of opinion that the employment of women should not be permitted in any of the production operations of the respondent company. However, the board asked the Industrial Welfare Division of the Department of Labour and National Service to undertake an investigation, and to report to it concerning conditions of work at that company’s factory. That decision was not a majority, but a unanimous, decision of the board. The employers’ delegates were a3 satisfied with it as were the employees’ delegates. The question as to whether that particular industry was suitable for the employment of women was properly investigated. I ask honorable senators opposite to remember that in the ensuing months we shall be obliged to employ increasing numbers of women in industry. Women are performing their work splendidly and nobly in the prosecution of our war effort. Let honorable senators opposite walk through any of our war factories where women are employed. They will find that no special privileges are claimed for female employees. At the same time, whatever be the decision of the Senate on these motions, the Government is determined to see that any antagonism against these regulations will not impose any disabilities on these women. The Government is not asking for special privileges for female employees; but it is determined that no disability shall be imposed upon them simply because they are women. As the result of visits of inspection to very many factories in which women are employed, I have .firsthand knowledge of the work they are performing. In some classes of work they have proved themselves superior to men.
– And they are being paid at lower rates.
– Yes. I have it on the word of factory foremen that in some classes of work women possess greater skill. For instance, they are.more skilled in detecting flaws in ammunition of particular types. They also possess greater manipulative ability in intricate processes. We know of many things which women can do at a glance, but at which a man, because he 13 heavier and clumsier, is not so adept. Not the least important objective of tie board is to enable a maximum number of men to be released for war service. Recently, the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) declared that thousands more women will have to be introduced into factories producing war equipment within the next few months if we are to be enabled to carry on the war. I ask honorable senators opposite to ponder on the full significance of that statement. Let them look at the war position, not at distant theatres of combat, but here in Australia. They must realize that slowly, but surely, the enemy is coming nearer to objectives which it was said a few weeks ago he could never reach. Our crying need is not only for men to reinforce our armed forces, but also ito ensure that the men on service are adequately equipped. When honorable senators opposite realize that the primary objective of employing women in industry is to release men for active service, surely they will not go out on to the highways and byways and declare that, whilst the Government requires at least 80,000 more women in factories within the next few months, such women, even though they possess technical ability equal to that of male operatives in similar industries, shall next be paid at the male rate. I cannot ‘believe that honorable senators opposite will do that. In the case concerning Asbestos Products Limited thu board declared that neither the applicant nor the union was anxious that women should be recalled to this work, but both appreciated the grave situation created by the present emergency, and agreed that if men can be released for war work, and women can be found to take their places, such a step should be taken. If honorable senators opposite can substantiate any of the charges which they seek to make on this matter, I ask them not to indulge merely in generalizations. There is a responsible Minister, with his representative in this chamber. All that honorable senators have to do is to come along and say, “ A decision which was given on such and such a date is wrong, and has created a difficulty “, and we .shall have it investigated immediately. I do not believe that one decision will come within that category, once it is probed. If it does, it will not show a criminal act. At the most it may. show that all the facts were not fully known, but I suspect that nothing of that kind will be found. The decisions of the board have mostly been unanimous. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned a particular case in which he said conflict would happen, and recited, as though it were the last word in industrial horror, the probable spectacle of people in the same factory, working on the same job alongside of one another, receiving different rates of pay. That has been going on for years. It did not require this board to create that difficulty. In the leather manufacturing industry in Queensland - and I can. speak only of the State in which I am sure of the facts - men working under a State award on exactly the same work, making the same articles from leather, and working at the same bench, are receiving 16s. a week more than men working under the federal award. It was not necessary to create this “ political, partisan, inexperienced and prejudiced “ board to bring about that condition of affairs, which has been in existence for years, and is one of the things which one of these days we intend to remedy.
– We tried to remedy it once, and the honorable senator’s party opposed it.
– I know, but at that time the Japanese had not come into the war, and were not marching hour by hour nearer to the possibility of invading this country. Australia is not the only country in the world where this scheme has been adopted. In 1918, the British Parliament decided to set up a War Cabinet Committee to inquire into and report on the employment of women in industry. The terms of reference were announced as follows : -
To investigate and report on the relation which should be maintained between the wages of women and men having regard to the interests of both a» well as to the value of their work.
That is all we are asking for, yet 24 years ago the British Parliament decided that it was essential to investigate the problem. It was provided further -
The recommendations should have in view the necessity of output during the war, and the progress and well-being of industry in the future.
That war was the first world war. That is almost the same language that we have used in our terms of reference. The committee was to investigate conditions in industry, and remember that that was nearly a quarter of a century ago. One of the recommendations of the committee as to the principles that should govern the future relations between men’s and women’s wages was this -
That in those trade processes and occupations which the experience of the war has shown to bc suitable for the employment of women, employers and trade unions acting through the recognized channels of negotiation should make possible the introduction of women by agreements which would ensure, in the manner above indicated, that this did not result in the displacement of men by reason of the women’s cheapness to the employer.
That is the whole burden of the Opposition’s complaint this afternoon, that we must not do anything to interfere with the cheapness of women in the interests of their possible employers.
– The Leader of the Opposition never mentioned that.
– It is true that he did not, but there was not one portion of his indictment of the board! which, if we voted to give effect to it, would not result in the employers of Australia being able to exploit these women during the war period. We shall not allow that. The committee set up in Great Britain in the last war also recommended -
That in every case in which the employer maintains that a woman’s work produces less than a man’s, the burden of proof should rest on the employer-
We do not go so far as that. We say, “ There is the woman, we believe that she is capable of this work, but as we have no proof we put her into your factory for a probationary term. When you are satisfied that she can do the work on terms of equality, so far as efficiency is concerned, with your male operatives then you have to pay her male rates”. There is nothing wrong with that. The concluding words in the recommendation are as follows : - who should also have to produce evidence of the lower value of the woman’s work to which the fixed sum to be deducted from the man’s rate for the particular job throughout the whole of the industry should strictly correspond.
It went on to say -
That where the introduction of women follows on bona fide simplification of process or machine, the time rates for the simplified process or simplified machine should bc determined as if this was to be allocated to male labour less skilled than the male labour employed before simplification, and women, if their introduction is agreed to. should only receive less than the unskilled man’s rate if, and to the extent that, their work is of less value.
That was done in the Old Country, yet we hear this afternoon this serious attempt to challenge the righteousness of these regulations. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned one of the women representatives on the board. If ever there was justification for appointing the woman to whom reference has been made, it existed in this case because she represented the greatest employer in this country.
– She was an employee herself, and on the pay-roll.
– Of course she was. The honorable senator knows where she was and what she was doing. The point is that this woman was not going on to the board representing a huckster’s shop or an employer with a couple of hundred hands. She was going on it to represent the biggest employer in Australia, the Munitions Department.
– She went on to the board to represent the Labour party. She was for eighteen yea.rs organizer for the printers’ union, and the honorable senator knows it.
– We are now apparently getting down to the real reason for this repeated motion for the disallowance of the regulations. The honorable senator says that this woman has no rights in the community, however skilled she may be, because she was for eighteen years a Labour organizer. I came into this chamber directly on the conclusion of fourteen years as a Labour organizer in Queensland. I am making no apologies for it and will tolerate no slanderous statement against Miss Cashman merely because honorable senators opposite hate her.
– But the honorable senator is still a Labour agitator.
– If the honorable senator pins that label on me, I shall walk down the street and be proud of it, but he must not slander this woman in my presence. If he does I shall refute it. Such conduct is unworthy of him. It is unworthy of this Parliament and of the British institutions of which we are all proud. The honorable senator made an interesting admission this afternoon that I shall remember and possibly refer to on some future occasion. He said that the decisions of the new board override State and Commonwealth laws. Of course they do, because there are no decisions relating to conditions which have been created by the war. Prior te the appointment of this board, there were no determinations providing for the payment of rates for women equal to those ruling for men when women do work equal to that of men. The war has brought about new conditions in industry, but there are people in the community who still think in terms of the Boer War.
The Leader of the Opposition reminded us that arbitration courts have not always pleased all parties. That is one of the statements made by him this afternoon with which all of us can agree. Of course this board will not always please all parties, but up to the present no decisions have been given by it against which the employers have protested. Most of its decisions have been unanimous. When a board, charged with semi-judicial functions, hears arguments in a calm atmosphere, it may be depended upon to forget political prejudices and judge each case on its merits. I ask honorable senators opposite not to cast their votes idly on this occasion. I strongly urge them to reject the motion for the disallowance of the regulations.
.- The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) stated at the outset that Australians are proud of their parliamentary institutions, and that the action taken by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) would cause them to be less proud of those institutions than they are at present. But I contend that the fact that the Leader of the Opposition is able to move a motion of this’ kind is an indication that we enjoy the freedom which is so dear to us all. Australians have proudly boasted of their parliamentary institutions, and particularly of their industrial arbitration machinery. After many years of controversy, between the opposing political parties, we have evolved industrial machinery for the settlement of disputes which is second to none in the world. A few days ago, J was reading the utterances of one of the Labour leaders in the United States of America, who referred in appreciative terms to the example which Australia had given to the world in this regard. Our industrial arbitration system has done much to improve the lot of the workers, in that it has led to the settlement of many industrial disputes without strikes or lockouts. Our arbitration machinery is of the utmost value to the workers and to industry generally, and I should be very sorry if we returned to the days when hours of labour and wages in industry were the plaything of party politics. Even in the Commonwealth Public Service the employees have a separate arbitration law and a separate arbitrator, so that their wages and conditions are not affected by the advent to power of governments of varying political colours. The Leader of the Senate contended that the motions before us are an attempt to prevent the employment of women in industry. Exactly the opposite is the aase. The Leader of the Senate mentioned the fact that 24 years ago a women’s employment board was set up in Great Britain to govern the employment of women in certain spheres. I remind the Minister, however, that at that time there were no arbitration awards in Great Britain, such as we have here to-day, fixing wages and conditions of women in industry. Therefore, it does not necessarily follow that, because a body of this type was necessary 24 years ago in Great Britain, it is necessary in Australia to-day. What is the position in many of these industries at present? The Leader of the Opposition referred to the fact that operatives, working side by side in certain undertakings, are receiving different rates of wages. In that way grave injustices are being done to women who have been employed in industry for years past, and have attained a high degree of proficiency. It simply means that, in many cases, women who, because of their economic circumstances, have been compelled to earn their living in past years, aTe receiving lower rates of pay to-day than other women - many of them society damsels - who are not compelled to earn their own living, but are merely accepting work in munitions factories for the duration of the war a3 a means of assisting our war effort.
– I trust that the honorable senator is not ridiculing those women who are seeking employment in factories as a war effort.
– Certainly not. I commend them for it; but it is unfair that they should be paid more than experienced women who have been employed in industry for years.
– The women who have been employed in industry for years do not have the right to apply to this board.
– Of course not. They are working under existing awards of the Federal and State arbitration courts.
– And they cannot leave their jobs.
– Exactly. I claim that the effect of the disallowance of these regulations would be to implement what the Labour party claims to be part of its political platform, namely, compulsory arbitration. If we on this side of the chamber sit by idly and allow an independent partisan board of this kind to govern the conditions of certain women in industry, how much longer will it be before similar bodies are set up, and the whole system of arbitration is set aside, opening the way for a return to the bad old days when political favours determined the hours of work and wages paid to people in industry. There is nO’ reason why awards governing the employment of women in new spheres of activity should not be determined by our arbitration, courts. We ha.ve men in our State and Commonwealth arbitration courts who have had years of experience in determining wages; men who are beyond reproach, who have studied industry, and who are able to sift evidence and give fair decisions. Apparently it is the intention of the Government to cast our arbitration machinery aside, and to allow a board of amateurs to determine the conditions of employment of tens of thousands of women who are entering industry for the first time. I say that, it would be preferable to utilize the services of our arbitration courts. If the Government considers that new applications for hearings would crowd the existing courts unduly there is no reason why the personnel of those courts should not be increased, so that we could continue to have fair and unbiased arbitration machinery to determine the wages and conditions of all workers engaged in industry as has been the custom during the last fifteen or twenty years.
– Does the honorable senator think that the work of our arbitration, courts has been unbiased?
– We have every reason to be proud of the work that has been accomplished by our arbitration tribunals in this country. Generally speaking, the employers have abided loyally by the decisions of the arbitration courts and, with few exceptions, the same can be said of the employees. Having achieved peace in industry as a result of our system of arbitration, it ill becomes a government, in time of national emergency and under the guise of war exigencies, to throw a spanner into the works and set up an organization of this type, which can result only in chaos if it be permitted to continue. The Leader of the Senate made an impassioned appeal in regard to this matter. He said that the Japanese were coming closer to this country and that the disallowance of these regulations would completely jeopardize the war effort. Nothing of the kind will occur: His pleadings were merely “ sob stuff “ and he knows it. because, as has been pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition, the awards that have already been made by this board will continue to operate. ‘ The regulations provide definitely that those awards cannot .be overridden by the court. All we ask is that this pernicious practice of giving to people who are not recognized as being capable of dealing with awards authority to do so be stopped. Let the arbitration machinery which has been set up in this country and which ha3 done so much for industry continue to function. That is the reason why the motions for the disallowance of these regulations have been brought before the Senate.
– In view of the fact that a motion similar to those now before the chamber was moved by an honorable senator opposite only a few months ago and defeated, I expected to hear something new in the course of to-day’s debate. On a previous occasion, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) based his argument on three main points. The first was that the personnel of the board which has been set up under these regulations was weighted in favour of the employees. He used that argument to-day. Secondly, on the former occasion, he argued that the work of the board cut across our arbitration system in an undesirable manner; again he has used that argument. In fact, he based his speech almost entirely upon it. The only argument that he used previously, but omitted to-day, is that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) is incapable of administering the regulations. Apparently he now has a different opinion of the Minister from that which he entertained four months ago. That was one pleasing feature of his speech. After the motion to disallow a similar regulation was defeated in this chamber four months ago, the matter was debated in the House of Representatives. The motion was defeated there also.
– It was a different regulation.
– I admit that. Immediately after the debate in this chamber the Government attempted to meet the wishes of the Opposition’ by introducing amending regulations. To those regulations the Opposition is now objecting; but its arguments to-day are the same as were used four months ago. I ask honorable senators opposite whether it is possible for the Arbitration Court to investigate every case that may arise, and every phase of trade and industry which comes under the control of this board. Have Arbitration Court judges the time to make the investigations necessary to obtain the evidence on which to arrive at proper decisions?
– Two or three more judges could be appointed.
– How many more judges would be necessary to do the job properly? The board to which the Opposition objects has already given decisions in respect of 46 separate cases. In no instance has its decision been disputed.
– What the board can do, a judge could do.
– The honorable senator should make a patient calculation of the number of judges that would be required. I remind him that the metal trade workers tried to get a decision from the court, but it took them approximately twelve months to get a hearing, and a further three months passed before a decision was given. If that delay occurred in respect of each of the 46 cases with which this board has dealt, many years would elapse before the cases were decided. The body to which objection is taken has been dealing with these cases only since the 10th June last.
SenatorSpicer. - One judge dealt with all those cases.
– Yes; with the assistance of a full-time board and advisers who obtained first-hand knowledge of the matters being inquired into. The cases were not held up for many months as has so frequently happened in connexion with cases before the Arbitration Court. The Opposition has also objected to the personnel of the board, but it is not necessary that I should say much on that subject, seeing that it has already been adequately dealt with by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings). The Opposition’s chief objection appears to be the appointment; of a woman to the board. The person appointed represents the Commonwealth Government, which is not only the largest employer of labour in Australia, but also is the largest employer of female labour in the Commonwealth. Surely, in such circumstances, the Opposition will agree that the Commonwealth Government is entitled to representation on the board. If so, whom would it expect the Government to appoint as its representative?
SenatorMcLeay. - A judge.
– The Government has appointed a judge to be the independentchairman of the board. He is not the representative of the Government as an employer. Theonly person more suited to represent the Commonwealth Government on the board would be either the Minister for Supply and Development or the Minister for Munitions, but as it is impossible for cither of them to act in that capacity Miss Cashman has been appointed as a substitute. It may be correct, as the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Foll claimed, that women working in the same industry work under different awards and are paid at different rates. If so, the matter can easily be rectified. The regulations provide that any woman, or organization of women, can apply to the board for an adjustment of rates of pay, or of any anomalies that may exist. If honorable senators had read the regulations they would not have advanced the arguments that have been employed in this debate.
– We did not say that such adjustments could not be made. They are being made.
– They are made whenever an organization applies to the board to bring it into line with others.
SenatorSpicer. - Under which regulation is the board empowered to do that?
– Under Statutory Rules 1942, No. 294. Before honorable senators opposite move for the disallowance of regulations, they should carefully study the relevant regulations. Neither of the honorable senators opposite who have spoken in this debate has indicated the real reasons for their objection to these regulations. The Government which they supported was in office for twelve months, but it made no attempt to provide adequate machinery to deal with the employment of females in war industries.
– Machinery to do so was already existence.
– If that was the case, how does the honorable senator explain that this board has already dealt with 46 applications, and a total of £500,000 is to be paid to female employees by way of back pay? From that fact, it is obvious that, previously, these employees were being sweated. Therefore, adequate machinery to deal with this problem was not in existence when the previous Government was in office. I have no doubt that the main objection of honorable senators opposite to these regulations is based on the fact that they prescribe equal pay for the sexes for equal efficiency. However, the board has power to prescribe different rates of pay for males and females whenever it deems fit. Many anomalies arise in respect of which the board is obliged to hear expert evidence. It obtains that evidence quickly and gives its decisions quickly. Thus, the friction which would arise if women employees were obliged to await decisions of the Arbitration Court, as was the case with the metal workers, is avoided.
– Why not substitute this system entirely for our industrial arbitration system, and do away with arbitration courts altogether?
– The Government simply asks that this system be given a fair trial. It has been operating for four months, and the board has already done a very good job. Honorable senators opposite have not cited a single case in which the board’s decision has caused dissatisfaction among either employers or employees. If the system be given a fair trial and the board is proved to be more effective than the Arbitration Court, it can be implemented on a wider basis. Any vote in this chamber to disallow these regulations may not appear to be of much concern to honorable senators, but such a decision will have serious repercussions outside. In the past, the Arbitration Court has been unable to cope with the volume of claims referred to it. Obviously, therefore, it cannot be expected to deal expeditiously with the problems arising from the introduction of females into industry on the present extensive scale. If the board be abolished, serious dissatisfaction will be caused among this vast army of female employees. The Opposition attempted on a previous occasion to disallow regulations dealing with the subject. Subsequently, those regulations were amended. Honorable senators opposite now seek to disallow the amended regulations. I repeat that if this board be abolished, and these female employees are obliged to have recourse to the Arbitration Court, the court will not be able to decide scores of applications for at least two generations. The board is working efficiently. Therefore, honorable senators opposite should suggest an improvement upon this machinery. I fail to comprehend the reason for their attack upon Miss Cashman, who has been appointed by the Government as one of the employers’ representatives on the board. Nothing can be said against her character. Are honorable senators opposite afraid that she may be too sympathetic towards her sex ? It is clear that they have not divulged their real reason for their opposition to this woman. To-day, she represents on this board an employer who employs the greatest army of female employees in the history of the Commonwealth. She is rendering yeoman service in that capacity. The other employers’ representative is Mr. Johnson, who was chosen by the Chamber of Manufactures. The board also consists of two representatives of the employees, and an independent - a judge - as chairman. It would be hard to imagine a better balanced body, or one better equipped to deal with the various matters which will come under its consideration. Further, in the case of special industries, the board is empowered to co-opt the services of an additional representative of employers and an additional representative of employees.
– Two hours having elapsed since the meeting of the Senate, Standing Order No. 127 requires that the debate be interrupted.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That the consideration of Orders of the Day be postponed until after the disposal of business of the Senate, Notices of Motions Nos. 1 and 2.
– The board was eventually balanced by those additional delegates or representatives being appointed, to meet the wishes of the Opposition. Since a motion for the disallowance of a similar regulation four months ago was moved the right to approve of two extra delegates has been removed from the Minister and given to the chairman of the board. As honorable senators opposite have not brought forward additional facts, I fail to see that they have any justification for moving the disallowance of these regulations. At their last attempt they were defeated, not only here but also in the House of Representatives, and since that time the regulations have been amended to meet their wishes. When they persist it is apparent that they do not wish to see peace in industry in Australia. They know perfectly well that, if they carried the motion to-day, there would be no machinery in operation to meet the cases now awaiting hearing, and that friction would immediately commence throughout the industrial organizations of Australia. Once friction developed there would follow immediate stoppages of work, and industry would cease to produce the armaments and munitions that women are to-day producing for the soldiers who are fighting the enemy who is knocking at the door. If the members of the Opposition wished to co-operate with the Government in the successful prosecution of the war they would withdrew the motion and allow industry to work in peace, as it has been doing during the last four months. If they persist with the motion, they are definitely out to interrupt Australia’s war effort, and in that case they are definitely out to assist the enemy instead of cooperating with the Government.
– Similar regulations were previously brought before the Senate with a view to their disallowance, and the Government on that occasion listened to the appeal of the Opposition for some revision. That revision has been made by the Government, and the tribunal has gone on working with, I suggest, some satisfaction-
– To whom?
– To the community at large. No member of the Opposition dares to suggest that the place of women in industry is the same to-day as it was one, two or three years ago. They are an integral part of the war effort, whichever party may be in power, and the necessity for their work is daily becoming greater. The man-power of this country cannot supply the demands made on it by the late Government or this Government. The increasing number of women necessary in industry makes it imperative that some tribunal to regulate their working conditions should be established, seeing that they are mainly going to replace males, a position which will become accentuated as industries develop. That being so, some tribunal is necessary. Senators Foll and McLeay have emphasized the argument that we are supplanting the arbitration law. I remind them that I personally, when in Opposition, strongly supported the National Security Bill. I said to the then Government, “ You want the powers “. The National Security Regulations under discussion at the moment would necessarily and properly override any arbitration awards covering this particular subject, but I challenge honorable senators opposite to contradict me when I say that no arbitration court, State or Federal, has examined this subject. They have not studied it, and so, when the Opposition say that we are supplementing arbitration, they are suggesting a premise which is unsound.
– The Full Arbitration Court was studying it, but the Government stopped it so that this board could be appointed.
– This board has been in operation for four months. I have as close a knowledge of the practical side of arbitration work as any man in this chamber, and I say that that phase of industrialism has at all events in this country - which is the only country I know - grown as the direct result of our war effort. If these regulations are disallowed, what will the effect be? Honorable senators opposite try to minimize the position by saying that things will go on in the same way. They will not. It was never believed that we would live to see the day when women would go into men’s occupations as they are doing now. The Arbitration Court awards gave women 54 per cent, only of the male rate. That is one of the shocking weaknesses of the arbitration system. I have in my possession, although not here at the moment, some data compiled by a clergyman in South Australia. He took a number of single men and single women and compiled a list of their dependants, showing conclusively and clearly that although the women earned only 54 per cent, of the single male rate, they were actually supporting 24 per cent, more dependants. Yet people say that the Arbitration Court has given to this country everything that is needed. I say that it has been an excellent policeman and has done a great deal for the trade union movement, largely on the organization side, and also generally from the aspect of wages. We have now reached the stage when a second application is made to this chamber for a disallowance of these regulations. Surely honorable senators opposite, who when in power were given two years wholehearted support by this party on every war measure, are not going to spoil everything by persisting with this motion? Senator Spicer knows that if these regulations are disallowed they will be brought down again, with resultant confusion to the big section of industrial workers who are vitally concerned.
– The honorable senator knows that the Government cannot do that.
– A lawyer is helpless unless he has the book. i. happen on this occasion to have the book. Section 49 of the Acts Interpretation Act refers to the disallowance of regulations in these terms -
Where, in pursuance of the last preceding section, either House of thu Parliament disallows any regulation, or any regulation is deemed to have been disallowed, no regulation, being the same in substance as the regulation so disallowed, or deemed to have been disallowed, shall bc made within six months after the date of the disallowance, unless -
If the motion before the Senate were agreed to, the position would be ludicrous. In what respect are the employers in Australia placed in a worse position to-day by the appointment of this board ? If women do highly skilled work which prior to the war was always performed by men, it is not unfair to say that they should receive at least up to 90 per cent. of the rates awarded to males. The defeat of these regulations would delay the solution of one of the most difficult problems that has arisen in the industrial life of this country. As the war progresses, woman-power will be increasingly brought into use in order to supplant man-power. Every ex-Minister realizes that my statements are correct.
– Why should not the interests of women in industry beleft to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court?
– That court is already fully occupied, andI consider that the employment of women can best be dealt with under the plan adopted by the Government. I believe that eventually Australia will evolve a form of industrial arbitration free from legal atmosphere. Such a system would,I think, prove more effective than that now in operation. There is nothing extraordinary in the fact that the National Security Regulations relatingto the employment, of women override the Economic War Organization Regulations. In Melbourne, women are now employed in place ofmen on the Melbourne tramways. They are paid the male rate of wages, and no objection has been taken by the trade union to their employment. The union does not desire to see women employed in industry, but it realizes that many of the men who were formerly employed are now in the fighting services, and that the transport system must be maintained. The establishment of a Womens Employment Board under Statutory Rule No. 236 of 1942 was necessary, because, in my opinion, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court was not the best body to investigate an absolutely new proposal such as the granting to women of equal pay to that received by men when they do equal work. , Under State and Commonwealth awards, women have been given a certain position in industry, and the court has awarded to them almost similar conditions to those enjoyed bymen, but new conditions have arisen as a result of the war.
Under regulation 3 of Statutory Rules 1942, No. 236, provision is made for application to the board for permission to employ females. I sec nothing wrong about that. There should be consultation between the employers and the employees’ organizations, because of the necessity for women to take the place of men in the present crisis. Regulation 4 provides for a review of the existing rate of payment for females. I have already said that, with few exceptions, the rate for females is now about one-half of the rate for males. The basic wage is not a fair indication of the cost of living. The trade unions, whether militant or otherwise, are not prepared to accept a wage determined as a result of a sum in arithmetic worked out by the statisticians employed by the government of the day. There are about 100 oranges in a case, and the grower receives about 19s. a case, but when in Sydney recently I was charged 3d. each for such oranges. That is a racket. Yet the people are urged to buy more fruit in order to keep their children healthy. I had occasion recently to confer with thu Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) about the price of meat I had three visitors in my home recently and the steak which we had for tea cost 2s. 3d. per lb. The Minister for Commerce and Senator Gibson, could tell honorable senators the price that was probably paid to the producer of that meat. I do not admit the equity of the basic wage figures which fix such a small proportion of the male rate for female employees. However, the position has altered, and we have now reached the stage when it is imperative that we have more women in industry. They are doing a wonderful job for this nation.
– Then why penalize them under these regulations ?
– Surely, the honorable senator has read enough about the matter to know that the object of these regulations is to give women a tribunal by moan.s of which they can obtain immediate rectification of their grievances. They are designed specifically to cover women who, go into industry unskilled, and eventually become skilled operatives. While learning, they are paid 60 per cent, of the male rate, and when efficient they are paid 90 per cent, of the male rate. The point that honorable senators opposite apparently fail to understand is that in future the big driving force in the factories of this country will be the young women and middle-aged women. That must be so for the very obvious reason that it i;: impossible for us to supply sufficient men for our fighting forces and our industrial services as well. More and more, we shall be compelled to absorb women into our factories. Women cannot bo dealt with under our existing arbitration machinery because their employment raises a new question which has never been handled by our arbitration courts, State or Commonwealth.
– The matter was being dealt with by the full Arbitration Court, but this Government stopped proceedings so that this board could be appointed.
– Proceedings were stopped for the simple reason that on this board the employees had representation, and the employers had representation. But honorable senators opposite were not satisfied, and they moved for the disallowance of the regulations. We then went back on our tracks and provided for new representation. The Leader of the Opposition said very unwisely, that this board was a political board. I say that it happens to be a board set up by the Government of this country, which at the moment is a Labour government. I have no wish to say anything out of place about judges, but I point out that from 1916 until a few years ago. the party to which honorable senators opposite belong made all appointments to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. It has been alleged by some people - no doubt I have said it myself - that some of these appointments have been political, but every party which holds the reins of government is a political party, and therefore the same allegation can be made in connexion with any such appointments. However, I claim that in the chairman of this board we have as able, fearless and as fair a man as can be found in any jurisdiction in this country. As Senator Aylett has pointed out, the work of this board has proceeded satisfactorily for a number of months, and is still proceeding smoothly. If the employers are not satisfied with their representation, then that is a matter for consideration by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward). Normally, women do not hold up jobs, but in the present crisis, the nation demands that there must be peace in industry. Unfortunately, throughout the ages women have been shamefully victimized in various avenues of employment. To-day, in many spheres of activity they are equal to men. In conclusion, I emphasize that if these regulations be disallowed the machinery will be thrown out of gear. In any case, they could be re-introduced immediately and we would have this debate all over again, despite the fact that more urgent business associated with our war effort demands our attention. I say, in all sincerity, that I yield place to no one in this chamber so far as support for a 100 per cent, war effort is concerned, and I believe that I have done as much as any other honorable senator in this regard. I have a considerable knowledge of industrial matters, and I have not made one antagonistic speech since the war started. No doubt some honorable senators have in mind the personal unpopularity of the Minister for Labour and National Service among certain sections of the press; but that alleged unpopularity is a charge which can be levelled against certain Ministers in any government, and it usually happens that certain individuals are marked men in the eyes of the press. I contend that, in the present Minister for Labour and National Service, we have a man of considerable capacity, who is doing his best to accelerate the production of war equipment. I remind honorable senators of his work on the coal-fields, which I claim, despite any contradiction or criticism, was an epic. To-day the mines are operating, although unfortunately we have not the shipping or railway capacity to transport coal to the various centres in which it is urgently needed. I say, therefore, that honorable senators opposite should put their personal views in regard to the Minister for Labour and National Service out of their minds. Those who have been Ministers will know the responsibility that is associated with ministerial office, and realize that, when the occasion demands, strong action must be taken. Such action was taken in this country. The Opposition was dissatisfied with the result, and we listened to their pleadings and altered the system. We say now, do not disallow these regulations, because such action would be against the best interests of Australia generally.
.- The question that is before the Senate this afternoon is not the problem as to what wages should be paid to women who are performing jobs formerly done by men. I emphasize that this is a very difficult question in some cases., and, because it is so difficult, it is very important that the body which is charged with the responsibility of deciding it should be impartial. The action of the Government in appointing this board is a mere pretence of impartiality. I say that deliberately. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) would have us believe that this body of five persons was appointed as the result of a suggestion from this side of the chamber.
– No. The Government accepted certain suggestions from the other side and amended the regulations.
– That is what I said. However, we shall not argue about the form of words. In relation to both this board and the previous board, the complaint from this side is, and always has been, that the Government did not provide the same representation for employers as for employees. That is the simple issue. Senator Keane spoke of a body which has a presiding chairman at the head of the table and representatives of employers on one side and of employees on the other side.
– That is what we have in this board.
– That is not the kind of tribunal which the Ministry has appointed. The Ministry has said that it will have a board consisting of a judge, who sits at the head of the table, and three representatives of employees sitting on one side of the table, and one representative of the employers sitting on the other side. We are asked to accept such a body as a bona fide attempt by a so-called responsible Minister of the Crown to provide an efficient and impartial tribunal to deal with important questions. Why the Government should go through the pretence of providing equal representation for employers and employees, I do not know. I certainly should have more respect for the Ministry if it .came into the open and said, “We shall have only one representative of employers on the board, but there shall be three representatives of employees “.
– Has not the Arbitration Court always been loaded against the employees ?
– The Arbitration Court has been composed of men capable of exercising their impartial judgment on the questions submitted to them. Moreover, they have given impartial judgments. The present Ministry is not even prepared to leave these questions to be decided by Judge Foster, after consideration of the views of employers and employees, equally represented. The Government is afraid that Judge Foster might come to an impartial decision which agreed with the views put forward by the representatives of the employers. In that event, if there were two representatives of employers on the board, the judge, with them, would constitute a majority of the board., and would be in a position to give a majority decision in favour of the employers. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) wants to guard against that. Even should the judge agree with the case put forward on behalf of the employers, with the board as now constituted he, together with the representative of the employers, would not constitute a majority of the board ; and so in every case the views of the representatives of employees must determine what the judgment of the board shall be. With his characteristic zeal for running away from questions, the Leader of the Senate raised entirely irrelevant issues, and said that the Opposition objected to the appointment of a woman to this board. Let me say definitely that I have no objection whatever to Miss Cashman being a member of this board.
– Nor has any one else.
– The Leader of the Opposition has.
– I do, however, strongly object to the Government making the pretence that Miss Cashman is a proper representative of employer interests. If the Leader of the Senate believes that Miss Cashman has overriding claims to appointment to this board, can he explain why the trade unions of this country did not appoint her to represent the employees? Had she been appointed as their representative, I have no doubt that she would have represented them very well, indeed. I emphasize, however, that the great trade unionmovement has none of the Minister’s zeal for the appointment of women to boards such as this one. The trade union movement would keep such positions the exclusive prerogative of males from the Trades Hall, notwithstanding that this body has to deal with matters affecting women employees in industry. The Trades Hall Council says, in effect, “ No women on boards. “We want to see that only the point of view of male employees will be represented.”
SenatorCollings. - The Trades Hall Council has said nothing of the kind.
– There was available for service on this board a woman whom the Minister has told us was well fitted to serve on it because of her experience and knowledge of the questions to be decided. It cannot be denied that there are no interests that she could represent better than those of the employees; but when it came to selecting representatives of the employees, the Trades Hall did not select Miss Cashman. The only way in which she could secure a position on the board was that the Government, playing with the idea of having a woman representative on the board, should appoint her as a representative of employers, although she really represents the employees. Such conduct on the part of a government, particularly one which is exercising war-time powers vested in it for a special purpose, is reprehensible. Instead of the Opposition being criticized for raising this matter in the Senate, I say that we on this side would be failing in our duty as representatives of the people if we did not call attention to and, if possible, defeat this dictatorial action on the part of the Ministry. As to the constitution of the board, about which we have heard so much. I can only say that, when it became a matter of increasing the membership of the board from three to five, the Minister for Labour and National Service had one of his periodical brainwaves. I say deliberately that it was his duty to ensure that all interests concerned were properly and equitably represented on. a board of this kind. But the Minister did not approach the matter in that way. The essence of the suggestion that the personnel of the board should be increased from three to five was that as two of the existing three members were employees’ representatives, the two additional representatives proposed should represent the employers’. That was what the suggestion really meant. But the Minister said, “I’ll trick them. I have a dodge which will get around that. We will put two employers’ representatives on the board. After all is said and done, is not the Commonwealth Government the biggest employer of female labour? We will appoint Miss Cashman as one of the employers’ representatives “. That was just a dodge.
SenatorClothier. - Does not the honorable senator trust Miss Cashman?
– I have already said that I trusther as a representative of the employees. However, when one is looking for a representative of the employers - and after all they are entitled to be represented - one does not appoint an employee in that capacity, but some one who is an employer, or has acted as a manager. When one wishes to choose a proper representative of the employer interests one picks a person who has been the manager of some department, or has had experience in conducting a business from the employer’s point of view, or some one whom the employers themselves select. The Government owes a duty to the taxpayers in this matter. It might think that it represents only the Trades Hall Council, but it is dealing with the welfare of the public and the taxpayers, and is disbursing public money. The Government is supposed to be the servant of the people. If it exercises its functions properly as the servant of the people, it will ensure that all interests are fairly and equitably represented on this board. However, because it prefers to be the servant of the Trades Hall Council, I am not surprised that it should appoint a board which is completely loaded against the employers.
Another matter with which I wish to deal is the jurisdiction of the board. This goes to the root, of the matter. We have whatwe call the arbitration system. It is nonsense to suggest that matters of this kind could not be determined by the Arbitration Court orbodies constituted within the Arbitration Court system.
– After months, or even years, of delay.
– Not necessarily. Even a board of this character could have been created within the existing arbitration system. My complaint on that score is that these regulations not only provide that the awards of the board shall override decisions of the Arbitration Court, but also prevent the Arbitration Court from functioning in relation to matters, dealt with by the board. No obstacle whatever exists to the appointment, within the existing arbitration system, even of a board of this type, the awards of which would then be subject to overhaul and control by judges of the Arbitration Court, and which itself would have regard to the principles which have been applied over the years by the Arbitration Court in the fixation . of wages, hours and conditions of employment in this country. If one wishes to approach this matter fairly, one cannot properly disregard the fact that wages for men and women have not been determined solely by reference to the value of work done. It is a plank of the Labour party’s platform - and the principle has been followed in this country for years - that wages be fixed upon the basis of the needs of a man having regard to his obligation to support a family.
– That is the minimum wage.
– Yes ; but it is the standard from which these things proceed. The standard is not the value of work done, but the obligations which the employee has to fulfil as a citizen of this country looked at from the point of view of his family responsibilities. This afternoon the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) simply tossed overboard all Labour’s principles in this matter.
– He advocated payment on the basis of piecework.
-Yes. He stated in effect - and it is the first time that I have heard a supporter of the Labour party say so - that it is now a plank of the platform of the Labour party that, in fixing the wages of married men, no regard should be paid to the fact that he has to keep a wife and family.
SenatorCollings. - I made no such statement, and, as the honorable senator’s remarks are distasteful to me, I ask that they be withdrawn.
– My remarks are not offensive to any one. If the honorable senator will indicate the words to which he takes exception, I shall consider his request.
– The honorable senator said that I stated that, in the fixation of the wages of a married man, no regard whatever should be paid to the fact that he is obliged to keep a wife and children.
– As those words are not personally offensive, I cannot ask that they be withdrawn.
– Perhaps I can put the Leader of the Senate at ease by saying that I did not intend to suggest that he used those words. What I meant was that the whole import of his speech was that the needs of a man have nothing to do with the matter at all.
SenatorCollings. - I accept the honorable senator’s apology, although I did not say that either.
– The honorable senator indicated quite clearly that the only matter to be considered is determining what proportion of the male wage a female should receive is the value of her work.
– In other words he says, “ in fixing the female’s wages, the only factor to be taken into account is the value of her work. If it is equal to that of the work done by the male, then she must receive the same wage as the male”. The male receives a wage which is measured by reference, not to the value of his work, but to family responsibilities. The Minister cannot have it both ways. That principle has been recognized in this country for years.
– What about the single man ?
– His wage is looked at from the point of view that some day he is going to be a married man. At any rate that is the fiction. It may be laughable, but I have never heard the Labour party object to it. Until this afternoon I believed that it was a major plank in the Labour party’s platform, that
Labour did not believe in the idea that the value of a man’s work should just be measured up, and that he should be paid what he was worth. Labour members say, “ No, we will not have that “, or at least that is what they used to say. They have told the Arbitration Court time after time : “ It is no use employers saying that they cannot afford to pay these wages, they must pay them ; if an industry cannot afford to pay a wage sufficient to keep a man, his wife and children in decent comfort then it should not be in existence at all “.
SenatorCollings. - There is nothing wrong with that.
– If that is right, the Minister cannot have it both ways. He cannot then say that in the case of the ascertainment of the proper wage to be paid to women the sole question to be considered is the value of a woman’s work as compared with the value of a man’s work, and if they happen to be the same she is therefore to be paid the same. Those two things will not go together. If we measure what is paid to women solely by reference to the value of the work done, then presumably we must apply the same principle to men. The result of that, as has been pointed out. in Judge O’Mara’s judgment, would be perhaps to bring about an increase in women’s rates, but certainly a reduction in men’s rates. That is one approach to this problem. The other approach is that we should have regard to the fact that at any rate men’s wages should not be fixed merely by reference to the value of their production, but regard should be had also to their obligations to their families. That is all left out of account in these regulations, which have been deliberately framed in order to ensure that this body, appointed to deal with what we all knowis a difficult problem, should not be able to look at the whole field, but must restrict its vision to the simple problem of what has been described by Judge O’Mara as the comparative efficiency of women as against men. Any one who approached this problem fairly, and endeavoured to create an unbiased instrument to carry out the difficult task of settling it, would ensure that that body was competent to look at the whole issue, and to see it in its proper perspective in relation to the methods by which wages are fixed in this country.
– The regulations do not limit the scope of its inquiry.
– They do, and, as I understand it, Judge Foster has clearly indicated in his judgments that the tribunal is limited to the consideration of comparative efficiency.
– That is it.
– Well, that is a limitation, so far as I know. The Government has not said to the board : “ You go and fix the wages for women, having regard to all the circumstances.”
– It does not say that they shall not.
– That is what the regulations provide -
The board shall decide a rate of payment under sub-paragraph 6 of paragraph (6) of sub-regulation 4 of this regulation which it considers just and proper in all the circumstances and shall-
This is mandatory - as far as practicable assess that rate by reference to the efficiency of females in the performance of the work, and any other special factors which may be likely to affect the productivity of their work in relation to that of males.
That 13 a perfectly clear statement that the matter to which the board has to have regard in determining women’s wages is the comparative efficiency of females as compared with males.
– After examining all the fact3 and circumstances.
– Yes, it is all there. It is a nice lot of words. I am interested to hear what the Leader of the Senate has to say on this question of legal interpretation, but if there is any dispute as between the Minister and Judge Foster I prefer the judge’s opinion, which is that these questions of which we have been speaking, including the fact that the male basic wage is fixed not by reference merely to productivity but has regard to family responsibilities, are all outside the scope of the board, and that the one thing it has to consider is the relative efficiency of the male work as compared with the female work.
I object also to these regulations because they take away the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. If this had been a matter of urgency, there is no reason at all why, if the Government desired, another judge should not have been appointed on the Arbitration Court bench to deal with it. One honorable senator said, “ But, look, they have dealt with 46 cases”. Who has dealt with 46 cases? Has Judge Foster? He sat on those 46 cases, and has taken part in the consideration of the evidence and in their determination, but what he could do as a member of the board I should have thought he could do as a member of the Arbitration Court.
– The honorable senator knows the difference between the procedure laid down for the board and the Arbitration Court.
– There is no reason, as I said before, having regard to the present powers of the Government, why it should not have appointed within the arbitration system a board, say, of three members, comprising a judge and two referees, one an employer and one an employee. That of course would have been fair, but the Government does not like and does not understand fairness. Still, it could have been done. It could have dealt with 46 cases as quickly as the board has done.
– The Commonwealth court had been dealing with the matter.
– Yes, but the Government did not wish the court to deal with it. Unfortunately, the Labour party is displaying all the characteristics of a totalitarian party. Once upon a time it understood an appeal to justice, but now I am afraid that its enthusiasm in that direction has waned. It does not come into the open and say that the sole matter with which it is concerned is the putting of these regulations into operation in order to make sure that the policy of the Trades Hall Council becomes law. That might be a little too blatant, so it reaches the same result by indirect methods. It appears to follow the forms of democracy, but make3 sure that this tribunal is not independent. It does not provide for the fair determination of the issue, but it ensures that its policy will become effective. It is desirable that we should not forget that, after all, Hitler got into power in Germany by paying lip-service to the formula of democracy; but, when be obtained power, he was prepared to destroy the democratic system. I see some proof that the Labour party is proceeding along similar lines. It is so imbued with the desire to see that the policy preached at trades hallsbecomes law that it is willing to sweep everything aside in order to gain its end. On reading the regulations, people might think that they were fair;but, on looking into them, it can be seen that they are designed to bring about a result that will merely give effect to the policy of the trade unions.
– That is rubbish !
– I invite the Minister to give one explanation as to why the Government is not prepared to refer the question of the wages of female employees to a tribunal consisting of a judge, two representatives of the employers, and two representatives of the employees. The plain fact is that the board consists of a judge, three representatives of the employees and one representative of the employers. I regard Miss Cashman as an employee. Cam honorable senators opposite satisfy me that Mr. Essington Lewis would be a suitable representative of the trade unions on a wages board ?
– Why select Mr. Lewis ?
– He is a fair representative of the employers, but by no stretch of the imagination would I have the audacity to suggest that he would be a proper person toput on a board as a representative of the trade unions. This board is just as bad as, or worse than, the board appointed under earlier regulations which were attacked by the Opposition. The question is not whether the decisions of the board have been good or bad. This is a biased board, which was deliberately appointed for the purpose of being a biased body, in that there is not equal representation on it of employers and employees. It is almost indecent that Ministers should continue the pretence in this chamber that Miss Cashman is a bona fide representative of the em ployers.
SenatorLarge. -She was selected because of her ability.
– She was not selected by the Employers Federation.
SenatorCollings. - The regulations provide that the employers’ organization has to be consulted, and the Government did that.
– We were told that the Minister asked whether the Employers Federation would make a nomination and that a certain person had been nominated. That was so much “ eyewash “. Although the Minister consulted the employers, he was not at all interested in what they had to say. Although he had their nomination, he said : “ I shall not appoint that person. He might put the employers’ point of view. We must see that the employers’ representative is a person who is peculiarly competent to consider matters from the employees’ point of view. We shall, therefore, appoint Miss Cashman to represent the employers.” That action was a reflection on the Minister responsible for it. One speaker said that the Minister concerned in this matter was a responsible Minister. All that I can say is that he does not display his responsibility by carrying on in that way. The whole thing appears to me to be a device to create, under the cover of National Security Regulations, a body which is loaded, and it is because I object to the use of the powers conferred upon Ministers under the National Security Act in this way that I shall support the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Senator Spicer has given us a display of the art of juggling words, with the object of covering up an obviously bad case which cannot be justified on its merits. He has made great use of the word impartial - we must have an impartial judge ; we must have an impartial board. I have yet to meet an impartial judge. If there be such a person, probably he is to be found in a cemetery, and even then I should not be quite certain about him. The point is that no man can be impartial, relatively speaking, without honestly confessing that he is partial. When we are asked by Senator Spicer to believe that we can have an impartial judge, we are asked to believe the impossible. Judges are selected because of the skill displayed by them in conducting cases. They are sworn to judge in accordance with the laws that are laid down, and it is the duty of the Government to lay down those laws. “What is the case against Miss Cashman? In a subtle, suave and plausible way we are induced to ‘believe that Miss Cashman is a corrupt person and that she will not act according to the law. That is the only construction that can be placed upon the alleged reasoning of Senator Spicer. Miss Cashman is sworn to act in accordance with the law. just as honorable senators are sworn, as members of this chamber, toact in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. All through Senator Spicer’s alleged reasoning and specious pleading, there is the implication that Miss Cashman is so corrupt that she cannot be relied upon to act in accordance with the laws that are laid down by theGovernment.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to8 p.m.
– The only construction that can be placed on Senator Spicer’s remarks in relation to Miss Cashman is that she is a person who cannot be trusted to comply with the oath that she has taken because of her party political bias in favour of the Labour party. Because of his legal training I expected that the honorable senator would have attempted to submit some evidence in support of his statement, but he presented no facts to us in support of the views which he expressed. Surely, he does not expect us to accept as facts what is only hearsay and assumption. The honorable senator could not prove that Miss Cashman is biased. On the contrary, all the available evidence goes to show clearly that she is not only a capable woman but also most conscientious. That is the opinion of employers and employees alike. Yet the honorable senator, probably because some one has whispered in his ear that Miss Cashman is biased, expects the Senate to agree that she is, in fact, biased. The honorable senator did not even present one authoritative statement, let alone a fact or a record, which could be accepted as evidence to show that the lady is other than most estimable in every respect. Yet he talks of “ impartiality “ and of “ being above suspicion “. A government which was foolish enough to be influenced by such statements would be unworthy to hold office. I go farther, and say that if honorable senators opposite are influenced by such statements, they are not worthy to occupy the positions which they hold in this Parliament. Since the suspension of the sitting I have made some inquiries about Miss Cashman, as I do not know her personally, and so far as I know, I have never met her. I discovered not only that she is held in high esteem by the present Government, but also that she held a high place in the esteem of previous governments. Indeed, I was informed on reliable authority that during the regime of the Menzies Government Miss Cashman was appointed as an inspector on the staff of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department on the 19th August. 1940.
– But not as a representative of employers.
– Any police magistrate would order the honorable senator out of the court if he attempted to plead along the lines that he has adopted in this chamber to-day. If he conducts cases before the courts as he has conducted his case here I, a mere neophyte in legal matters, predict that he will lose every case with costs against him and his client. Miss Cashman is said to be biased because she was associated with a trade union, but would the honorable senator say that the Right Honorable “William Morris Hughes is biased, and therefore unworthy to hold a position of trust, because he has been a trade union organizer, and has occupied the position of president of the Waterside Workers Federation? The right honorable gentleman, who has caused a great deal of trouble in this country and, in fact, is still doing so, is respected by Senator Spicer as the leader of the political party to which he belongs, whereas Miss Cashman must necessarily be biased and unworthy of trust because she has been associated with a trade union! So much for the honorable senator’s specious pleading and his talk of “ impartiality “ and of “ being above suspicion “. He spoke also of the totalitarian policy of the Trades Hall Council, and insinuated that Miss Cashman would be influenced by it. Recently the honorable senator pointed out that I had said that Labour’s policy in relation to finance was opposed to loans for war purposes and preference for a system of direct taxation. He said that Labour had departed from that policy. That is so. Labour has departed from its policy all along the line. It departed from its policy in relation to war loans, because it regarded the winning of the war as the major problem confronting Australia. It was prepared to sacrifice its policy in that direction rather than take any risk with the enemy.
– The war was in progress when the honorable senator made the statement to which I referred.
– Yes, but Japan became a belligerent. Again, when the Labour party agreed to the dilution of labour it departed from an important plank of its platform, because the dilution of labour means that the average wage paid to workers in an industry for a particular kind of work is reduced. When semi-skilled labour is accepted in a technical industry it has the effect of de-skilling all labour in that industry with the result that the average wage is reduced. One of the strongest unions in Australia - the Amalgamated Engineering Union - led the way in the dilution of labour, because it was determined that the production of war equipment should be increased to the maximum. Labour departed from its policy when it caused men from various centres in the southern parts of Australia to be sent, north to work under the auspices of the Allied Works Council - when, in fact, it accepted industrial conscription.
– It also extended the hours of labour.
– Labour departed from its policy when it allowed the private control of war-time industries. It did so when it delegated powers to State governments which have legislated in opposition to Labour’s policy. All along the line Labour has departed from its policy. When Senator Spicer says that MissCashman is pledged to give effect to the policy of the Trades Hall Council he is saying something which is not true. There is, however, something in the honorable senator’s argument that we are tending towards a totalitarian policy. We know that when Labour de parts from its policy, as it has done in many directions, it strengthens the position of privately controlled monopolies in our midst. We know how men in business in a small way in both primary and secondary production are being forced out of trade by big business. Fascism is the political superstructure raised by big business on their economic foundation. The honorable senator knows that Labour has departed from its policy because of the urgent need to get things done in the interests of the war effort, but still he is not satisfied. In fact, he sneers at the Government for doing so. It is clear, as the Leader of the Senate has pointed out, that honorable senators opposite are not so interested in the successful prosecution of the war as they would have us believe. Notwithstanding that the board to which slighting reference has been made has reached decisions in respect of 46 separate cases which have come before it, there has notbeen one protest, so far as I know, from any of the parties concerned. The board has demonstrated by its performances that it is not biased. From experience, we know that employers would protest from the housetops if they were given the slightest pretext for complaint concerning the treatment they received from a tribunal of this kind. They have not made a single complaint. Therefore, the board is not loaded against them as the Leader of the Opposition contends. Without any mandate from the employers he claims that the board will bring about chaos. In the course of the greatest war the world has known, when social and industrial life has been completely upset, and the Government has stepped into the breach by providing this tribunal to deal expeditiously with these problems, we are told that the Government and the board are biased. Honorable senators opposite have not given a single instance to show that a decision of the board has caused any dissatisfaction, quite apart from chaos. The fact is that the board has dealt with all the problems referred to it on a workable basis. It has established order out of chaos. The Leader of the Opposition contended that all matters with which the board has been set up to deal could, and should, be referred to the Arbitration Court, or to some other existing tribunal. In the name of the previous Government, the Minister in charge at the time, without consulting any deliberative tribunal like the Arbitration Court, agreed to the payment of a war loading to a certain section of workers. On that occasion, no suggestion was made that the matter should be referred to thu Arbitration Court in order to decide whether the war loading should be paid. The Leader of the Opposition, who was then a Minister, did not have one word to say in criticism of that action. What have we done in comparison with that action? When Japan entered the war, negotiations had been going on for some weeks for the employment of women in the aircraft industry. When the matter was brought to my notice, I, realizing the desperate position confronting the country, gave instructions immediately that women be employed in that industry Addressing the aircraft commissioners, I said, in effect, “ We shall not fix the rate of wages to be paid to these women. We are not a wage-fixing tribunal.” TI wages of those employees were fixed at. the rates which were then being paid to female employees of the Munitions Dfpartment, and which were provided for in sn award. On that occasion, I could quite easily have relied upon the precedent established by the previous Government and given instructions as to what rates should be paid to those employees, without reference to any tribunal, or any awards. I did not do that. Last Tuesday week, the Aircraft Advisory Committee decided to extend the workshops of the ‘Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited, and asked for permission to make provision for the convenience of women workers in those extensions. To-day, I gave approval for the employment of women at those works under conditions similar to those applying t< female employees already engaged in the Beaufort division. Senator Spicer has asked us to view all of the circumstances. We should view them as a whole. When we strip the speeches of honorable senators opposite of all trimmings and specious reasoning and pleading, we see that the real object of these motions is to protect the interests of wealthy taxpayers at the expense of female employees. Senator Gibson shakes his head; but he knows, as all of us do, that to the degree that we keep wages down, we help wealthy taxpayers to escape their just contributions to the war effort. That is what this proposition means. Honorable senators opposite contend that the Government is endeavouring by backdoor methods to apply the principle of equal pay for the sexes. Generally speaking, as honorable senators on this side have pointed out, these women are equally as efficient as male employees. Senator Spicer had much to say about the principle of fixing wages in accordance with the value of work done. To-day the wageearners are not paid on that basis; and the Arbitration Court has never assessed wages on it. At one time, the Arbitration Court’ in Western Australia, which consisted of a representative of the employers, a representative of the employees and a judge, assessed wages on the basis of the capacity of an industry to pay. Subsequently, that system was changed, in order to provide that wages be fixed not on the basis of the value of work done, but, as Senator Spicer has said, in accordance with the least a worker required to live and rear children to replace him in industry. That wage became known as the basic wage. If the workers were paid on the basis of the values they create, very little indeed would be left for the employers, because all profit in excess of the actual costs of production consisting of the minimum wage, overhead charges and depreciation, represent, for all practical purposes, unpaid wages. If that principle were applied, an employer would receive no more than the values he himself on an. average was capable of creating. When dealing with women employees, however, honora.ble senators opposite speak about values. They make a complete volte face, and say, in effect, that women must create values equal to those created by men. Men are not paid according to the value of work done, but unless a woman produces value equal to that created by .a man, she must accept lower wages. That is the law of the jungle, and not the law of a civilized society. It does not represent equity and justice. Honorable senators opposite use those terms merely as figures of speech. Senator Spicer’s idea of justice is that the wages of women should be reduced to the lowest possible level. It is well known, as the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) has pointed out, that women do not resist exploitation and robbery through the medium of wage-fixing tribunals to the same degree as do men. The reason for that is that none of our schools teach women anything about economics. Even at our universities, they are not taught anything that would give to them an intelligent idea of what they are entitled to as workers. Women, like men, when they are ignorant, are easily imposed upon and misled. That is one reason why to-day the weakest of women are forced to the lowest level of society by the tyranny of man-made laws, and the avarice of the interests represented by honorable senators opposite. Yet, all this is done in the name of justice and democracy. How eloquent and altruistic honorable senators opposite appear when they pose a>s champions of women in industry! In our big cities, as is the case in every country, women are forced to the lowest possible level by conditions which prevent them from earning an honest living.
– Surely, the Minister does not believe that.
– If the honorable senator used his head a little more, and not merely in order to keep his collar on, he would know that what I am saying is true; and he would perceive the proof of my statement wherever he went. To-day, when we are in the throes of the greatest war in the world’s history, and the position of this country was never more desperate, the Government is met with obstruction of this kind. This ‘Government has done more than any other Government in the history of this country for the effective defence of Australia. When it assumed office, it found the cupboard bare. No fighting equipment or munitions were available. Everything had been sent overseas. We are changing our industrial customs all along the line, for instance, we have adopted dilution of labour. What will happen after the war? As soon as we survive and succeed, as we are all unani mous in hoping that we shall, the legal members on the other side of the chamber will plead before the Arbitration Court that the work in question is not skilled. They will say to the court : “ It is true that we paid a man so much a week before the war, but during the war we fabricated these things. Where we previously required skilled men. to turn out all sorts of fittings, such as valves, we can now do the work on semi-automatic machines with the labour of unskilled women, and therefore these men are not entitled to anything more than labourers’ wages.” The workers, particularly those who are skilled, know the risks they will then run, and how the women’s work will be used against them. Work which was skilled, and classed and paid for as such, the judges will be told is no longer skilled, because of the ingenuity, patriotism, capacity for sustained effort, and concentrated purpose of men and women during the war. When conditions become normal, Senator Spicer and other representatives of the legal fraternity will argue in that fashion before these impartial judges. We are told that in one factory, where nosecaps for shells are made, there are rows of semiautomatic machines, about sixteen to each row; five or six are worked by men and the rest by women. Work now done on semi-automatic machines was a few years ago done by skilled men. It can now be done by women with little or no training, and honorable senators opposite will argue that, because it is unskilled work, those who do it are entitled only to labourers’ pay.
The Leader of the Opposition and Senator Spicer said that the Arbitration Court had done good work, and that the judges were impartial. Judge O’Mara’s name was mentioned, but a report published in yesterday’s press stated that Judge O’Mara had said that the wages paid by the Commonwealth Government were lavish. Here, again, the judge is in the same category as Senator Spicer, in that he is prepared to give a decision ex parte according to his own views. We cannot have very much confidence in judges who do that. The Arbitration Court works according to the provisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is not a free agent, as has been implied during this debate. The act does not provide that the judges shall be privileged to award what wages they think fit; but, as the Minister for Trade and Customs has pointed out, they are committed to a policy by which wages are awarded in accordance with the cost of living. I may be reminded of the existence of margins for skill, but that is only a question of making a virtue of necessity. If skilled men were more plentiful than unskilled, they would receive a lower wage than the unskilled. It is all a matter of supply and, demand, of whether a worker is indispensable or dispensable, and just to the extent that he is indispensable employers must have his labour and skill at their disposal, and the court and employers are prepared to concede something more to him as a reward for his skill. It is no reward at all. It is simply a case, as I said before, of the court making a virtue of a necessity. It costs more to educate a tradesman than to educate a labourer or semiskilled worker. Because the cost of educating a semi-skilled labourer is less, he receives less, and the less he is prepared to accept the less he gets. That is how the court operates. Skilled toolmakers to-day are at a premium, and employers are prepared to pay them much more than they would in other circumstances. In 1938 I had the temerity, in my innocence and want of knowledge of the atmosphere of this august institution, to suggest that each and every one of the thousands of young men and women in the city of Melbourne should .be taught a trade and educated to become a useful worker and citizen. I was asked, in effect, where the money was to come from. I was told that it could, not be done. To-day we are doing it. We are paying our women and men to learn to work in the interests of the nation. We are doing now what the government of those days, refused to do, and it would, not be done now were it not for the war. The exigencies of the war are forcing employers to do it, whether they like it or not.
– The same thing happened at the time of the depression, but the other way round. The Labour Government was forced then to lower wages.
– At the time of the depression the Labour Government was forced by the honorable senator and others who formed a majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives to agree to a bankers’ policy.- For all practical purposes one section combined and conspired to starve hundreds of thousands of workers down to the very bread-line, and would be keeping them there now but for the war. When we returned, after the elections, the first question we raised was that of unemployment. We implored honorable senators opposite, using every argument of which we were capable, to allow the State to step in and find employment wherever private enterprise would not give it. We might as well have pleaded to wooden gods. They were callous and indifferent. They did not care a damn, what became of the workers. It is only now that the war has come and honorable senators’ skins and property are in danger that they are tolerating what we are doing. It is necessary to remind them of these things, because of what they are attempting to do this evening in moving for the disallowance of these regulations is to revert as far as possible to the policy that existed before the w,ar, whereby profits came before human lives, and happiness, and the decent conditions that are necessary to build up the resistance of the nation to the enemy.
I conclude by repeating that if these motions are stripped of all their wordy trimmings - all the solicitude for the Arbitration Court, all the desire to be so just and altruistic and impartial and above reproach, and to pose and postulate before the multitude as the incorruptible people - we discover a desire to reduce wages to the lowest level possible at the expense of the men who are working in industry, and in order to save the wealthy from taxation.
.- It has been interesting to listen to the exuberant fustian of the honorable senator who has just sat down. His speech was so full of erroneous statements, forced poses, and exalted exhibitions of exaggerated gesture, that I am almost inclined to believe that he thought he was impressing his opinions upon some one. He made two remarkable statements. One was that, when the present Government came into power, Australia was absolutely defenceless and without munitions. The fact is that up to the present time this Government has not made one gun, aeroplane or munition of war that was not all planned before it ever came into power. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), within a fortnight of his accession to office, bore out all that I have just said. Another remarkable statement made by the honorable senator was that Labour had departed from its policy all along the line, and he repeated it with great verve and emphasis. Has Labour a policy? If so, what is it? It has departed from its policy all along the line, on. the word of its most vociferous champion. Is its policy only one of forming boards and committees which will give preordained decisions? Honorable senators opposite arc what I call masters of transition. They shift their ground all the time. Minister.? assume things never thought of by members of the Opposition. They put up a gallant defence of Miss Cashman, who was not attacked at all. Had she been an employees’ representative on the board, not a word would have been said about her. As no member of the Senate has attacked the judge, lie is presumably impartial. Prom nil I hear, Miss Cashman is a capable woman, but she is an employees’ representative.
The Leader of the Senate questioned the propriety of motions to disallow regulations, although one of the chief privileges of a member of this Parliament is to submit such motions. The Minister knows that, under normal conditions, bills are considered in detail and frequently /amended, but regulations are drawn up by Ministers and promulgated without parliamentary discussion. The only opportunity which a member of the Opposition has to alter the effect of regulations is to move for their disallowance. The Leader of the Senate, apparently, considers that regulations of this kind are sacrosanct, because they have been drawn up by a Labour government, but I differ from him. What necessity was there for the appointment of this board at all? Two months prior to its appointment, the full Arbitration Court was sitting for the purpose of making general rules with regard to the employment of women in industries throughout the Commonwealth. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), through counsel, approached the court and asked it to postpone its sittings for a month. At the end of the month the court was requested to postpone its investigations for another month, and, as the request had come from the Attorney-General, the court agreed.
– Why was that request made?
– Because, before the end of the second month, the Government had set up the board, and cut the ground beneath the feet of the court. The Government now has the effrontery to say that the appointment of the board was necessary, because of delays in the Arbitration Court. If the people generally, could be made aware of the facts of the matter, they would know what value to place upon the claim by the Government that delay in the court was responsible for the appointment of this board.
The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) stated that women were doing good work as employees on the tramcars in Melbourne, and were receiving male rates of pay. That is quite true. They were paid male rates because the trade union concerned decreed, first, that if they were not given the same wages as men they could not be employed at all. The union stated, secondly, that women could be employed to take the place of men who had enlisted, and, thirdly, that they should give up their jobs on the trams as soon as the men returned from the front. I am probably the only member of this chamber who has had experience of the work done by women in factories, and I am quite prepared to admit that in certain circumstances women do as good work as, and even better work than, men can do. The cries that chivalry should be shown with regard to the employment of women, and that honorable senators opposite desire women to be paid the same wages as men leave me cold. Did chivalry prevent women from joining trade unions at all until recently? Was any woman permitted to join a craft union in Australia ?
– Thousands of them were.
– Was any woman allowed to be trained as an apprentice in an engineering shop?
– When the “dilutees “ wanted to get into a trade union in Sydney, they were prevented from doing so by the unions themselves. No woman is employed in the heavy industries. They can do small ammunition work, sewing, inspection and other jobs as well as, and probably better than, men can do them; but, when the war is over, the male unionists will see that no women take the place of men.
I draw attention to the opening remarks of the Leader of the Senate which blended pathos with an appeal to chivalr and a pseudo-patriotism. He issued the grave warning to honorable senators on this side that, if these regulations were disallowed, dreadful things might happen, and we might as well give up all hope of winning the war. The dire effects of daring to question the wisdom of regulations drawn up by a Labour government were too dreadful to contemplate. I am surprised that the Minister tried to suggest that so much is at stake, because an effort is being made by the Opposition to upset a board which is unhealthy, unbalanced, unfair and unnecessary. This tribunal was set up to give pre-arranged decisions regarding the employment of women in industries. That is not the way to get fair play. There is a general feeling against any government that employs unfair tactics.
– Senator Leckie contributed one point to the debate that is worth noting, although he made a grievous error in saying that no women are members of craft unions. I am a member of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and I can inform the honorable senator that among its members are women. The union has decided by vote to admit women munitions workers to membership.
– When was that decision reached?
-Within the last five weeks. I have been impressed by the lip service associated with the statement by members of the Opposition that boards should be free from bias. I have never heard a more biased exposition of a case than that given to-day by Senator Spicer.
– The honorable senator should take Senator Spicer as a model.
– I prefer to take him for my text. I have expressed my opinion of the legal fraternity before in this chamber. Thank goodness, I have been trained in a profession in which, with my own hands and by my own skill, I can produce something useful to the community. I have never been a word spinner, but I do not think that I have ever heard Senator Spicer make such a poor case. It was he who after the debate had been in progress for an hour and a half, “ spilled the beans “ when he referred directly to the appointment of Miss Cashman. He had nothing to say against that woman, except the manner of her appointment. I happen to know Miss Cashman, and I should have been very strong in my condemnation had any attempt been made to cast aspersions upon her integrity. She is highly intelligent, and highly skilled, and is as capable of giving an impartial judgment as any honorable senator opposite - probably more capable than Senator Spicer who has been declaiming so loudly this afternoon about the need for impartial boards. What is this all about?
– The honorable senator is quite right. I do not think that there is much in it at all. It is a typical contribution by the Opposition to our war effort. I sympathize with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) because it is his responsibility to “ pull the chestnuts from the fire “ for honorable senators opposite. He must realize, as other honorable senators realize, that ultimately he is for the “ axe “, and that eventually somebody else will take his place. My sympathy goes out to any one who has to do a dirty job in preparation for some one else. When honorable senators opposite speak of biased boards do they consider for one moment that boards or arbitration courts have ever been unbiased? Is it possible for any one to sit in judgment without bias? I say that it is not humanly possible. A man, when he enters a conference room, hangs up his hat and his brains as well, because that is the only way in which he could become unbiased. Every one has preconceived ideas. He may to some degree be able to control those ideas, but I am sure that he would need more control than has been displayed (by honorable senators opposite today, to eliminate that bias and give an impartial judgment. Honorable senators opposite have no more right to say that Miss Cashman is incapable of delivering an unbiased judgment, than I have to say that a judge of the High Court Bench is biased. I am just as jealous of the good name of the people of my own class as Senator Spicer is of the good name of those individuals who sit in the Law Institute, cheek by jowl with himself. I intend to fight just as strongly on behalf of my own people as he fights on behalf of those with whom he consorts - I think that is the right word to use in this case. No doubt, Senator Spicer is held very highly in the estimation of the Law Institute. He never misses an opportunity in this chamber to ventilate some cause which will offer additional avenues of employment to the legal profession. When Senator Foll was advocating an enlargement of our Arbitration Court machinery in preference to the appointment of boards such as the one now under discussion, Senator Spicer interjected, as I expected he would, “ Appoint more judges “. No doubt, he will receive commendation from the powers that be in legal circles for making that suggestion. Much has been said in the course of this debate about the making of sacrifices and the dilution of labour. The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) said that powerful trade union organizations such as that to which I belong had made sacrifices by accepting dilution of labour. Not only has my union agreed to the employment of women on jobs which formerly were done exclusively by men, but also it has agreed to accept women as members. I do not see the same spirit of sacrifice displayed by the
Law Institute. That organization has jealously guarded its privileges. The view of its mem’bers is apparently, “ After us, the deluge ; to hell with the nation. You must not appoint a board to do work which we claim to be the rightful prerogative of the Arbitration Court “. I am sorry that Senator Spicer was unable to present a better case. Let us examine the circumstances of Miss Cashman’s appointment to this board. Nominations for the positions of employers’ and employees’ representatives on the board were called on the 27th March, and the closing date for nominations was fixed at the 11th April - fifteen days later. It has been claimed that two weeks was not long enough to allow the employers to select a suitable representative; but in these days of rapid transit wireless telegraphy, the telegraph and telephone, that is a ridiculous statement. There was ample time for the employers at least to communicate with the Government and ask for an extension; but they did not deign to reply until the 13th April - two days after nominations had closed. In that reply they claimed that it was not proper to allow them such a short interval in which to select a representative. As a matter of fact they did get together, and no doubt did not like the setting-up of this board. Probably, they considered that the appointment of such a board raised a legal question, and it took them a long time to decide that they would not “ play ball “ with the Government. That is what happened. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) being a man of action, and requiring a representative of the employers on the board, properly - I use that word advisedly - selected a person with a knowledge of arbitration proceedings, who was at that time engaged in the munitions industry as the representative of the Government. After all, the Government is the largest employer of female labour in Australia so that the appointment of Miss Cashman as an employers’ representative was quite justified. Therefore, it is not right to say as Senator Spicer and other honorable senators opposite have said, that the board is biased inasmuch as there are three employees’ representatives and only one employers’ representative on it.
Miss Cashman was appointed as an employers’ representative and she would not have been appointed if the employers had selected’ their nominee within the prescribed time.
– The Minister had the employers’ nomination to hand when he appointed Miss Cashman.
– Nominations closed on the 11th April. The Minister did not receive the employers’ reply until the 13th April. They missed their opportunity and then squealed. “When I look back over my experiences as a trade union advocate - never a paid one - I cannot help wondering how much we suffered by not raising a squeal because of the bias that was shown to us. As I have said, never in the history of our arbitration system until now has a court been set up without bias against the workers. Yet we have accepted the awards made by the arbitration tribunals, peacefully as Senator Foll said; but it was a peace dictated by economic pressure. That was the reason for our quiet acquiescence in the past. We did not raise a squeal, but on the first occasion when the employers think that a board is loaded against them, they raise this unholy howl about bias. The whole thing is ridiculous in the extreme. The Leader of the Opposition drew attention to injustices which he claimed would arise in industry by virtue of the fact that employers who had employed women in their factories for years would be in competition with other employers who brought women into the industry at the new rates, which are higher than those prescribed by the Arbitration Court. The point is that until now the employer who employs women for the first time at the new rates fixed by this board - 90 per cent, of the male rate after a period of training - has been working under a handicap as compared with the employer who has taken advantage of cheap labour all along. Senator McLeay also said that competition would be engendered among the women who are now engaged in the lower-paid jobs, for the better-paid positions. That argument obviously defeats the previous one, because the women who were working on lower rates of pay would obviously rush the employer who was paying higher wages, so that the position would adjust itself. Senator Spicer took the argument further by quoting a statement made by J udge O’Mara. I quote from the board’s report -
The evidence shows that these females as a whole are not as productive as males. In some cases, and not a few, they equal if not excel males in efficiency or productivity and sometimes in both. Women are not as physically strong as men and there is always cither by act of Parliament or in awards and determinations a limitation fixed upon the weights that females may be permitted to lift. These limitations are made not only to accommodate her lesser physical strength but also for paramount health reasons. This involves where women replace men, and weights are to’ be lifted beyond her capacity the employment of a male to assist a group of women or an increase in the number of females, so that the weights may be jointly lifted or the adoption of other methods.
And, in addition, the evidence has revealed that females absent themselves from work much more frequently than males to the very great embarrassment of the manager of industry. Many reasons and explanations are given for this but the board, apart from noticing them, is not concerned to further investigate them.
That is the only argument which I shall accept in justification of lowering wages when women are employed in work generally done by men. In this case, it has been determined that females shall be paid 90 per cent, of the male rate. I believe in equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex, and only in the circumstances mentioned am I prepared to agree that women should be paid less than men for the same job. I have seen women doing some engineering jobs with greater deftness and skill than the same jobs can be performed by men. Women have an adaptability and lightness of touch, especially in matters of fine, adjustment, which is not generally possessed by men. The result is that in some classes of work, women are more efficient than men.
Senator Foll was wrong in sayang that there is no industrial’ machinery in the Old Country. There- always has been machinery there for the settlement of disputes. Although there are no arbitration courts there, they have had conciliatory machinery in operation. In Great Britain, there is not one award for- the whole kingdom; there may be variations of conditions of employment and rates of pay for the same class of work in different parts of the country. When a dispute threatens, representatives of employers and employees meet in conference and endeavour to come to an agreement. It is, as I have said, more a system of conciliation than anything else, but it is wrong to say that there is no machinery for the settlement of disputes.
– The representation on both sides is equal.
– There is also an unbiased chairman. I have said before, and I say again now, that under the system of arbitration in operation in Australia the workers get as much as the judge realizes they are strong enough to enforce. The evidence that the judge wants is not that submitted by legal luminaries, but evidence as to the strength of the union in relation to the industry. If, for instance, he is informed that the applicant union represents 95 per cent, of the workers in the industry, the workers will get 90 per cent, of what they ask; but if the union is only 40 per cent, representative of the employees in the industry concerned, they will get a relatively lower award. That is a fact, and yet honorable senators opposite talk about .bias! If I could have a case settled by persons like Miss Cashman who have had experience on both sides of industry, I should be prepared to say, “ To Hell with your unbiased judges ! “
– When was Miss Cashman an employer?
– An employer may not always be represented by a solicitor. Some other person who is acquainted with the circumstances, and understands the facts, may act for him. Miss Cashman is in that category; the Government chose her as its agent because it knew that she understood industrial matters. Probably no other member of the board has a better understanding of Arbitration Court ‘matters and of trade union aspirations, conditions of employment, and so on, than Miss Cashman has. I regard her as an excellent representative.
– Of the Trades Hall Council.
– If honorable senators opposite are dissatisfied, why did they not get the people on whose behalf they are acting to-day to answer the memorandum inviting nominations of representatives by a certain date? I say to them, “ You have missed the bus, boys, and it is no use squealing ; you must take it. You should have sent in your nominations by the closing date.” Had nominations been submitted in time, there would have been no justification for the appointment of a substitute. I realize that it is useless to continue this debate because “unbiased” honorable senators opposite have come here already prejudiced, and with their minds made up. They have determined to make another contribution to the war effort by casting an unbiased vote. Regardless of the strength of our case no words from honorable senators on this side will divert them from the course which they are determined to follow. I shall not say more at this stage -because whenever I hear a lawyer expounding his case, I am reminded of the old saying, “ When your neighbour quotes scripture, count your sheep “. The ponderous legal arguments and demeanour of Senator Spicer do not impress me greatly, because I have had some experience of words being given meanings other than those usually associated with them. I could say a great deal more, but I know how honorable senators opposite will cast their votes. I have spoken because I regard it as my duty to do what I can to reveal the specious nature of the arguments of members of the Opposition when they are attacking industrialists.
.- The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) implored honorable senators not to act provocatively in regard to the matter now before the Senate; but only by the means adopted to-day can the Opposition take action in regard to the hundreds of regulations which are being promulgated. It is the duty of those of us who see defects in what has been done, and realize that an attack is being made on our arbitration system, not only to voice our opinions, but also to move for the disallowance of regulations, particularly when, as in this case, they are provocative. Listening to Senator Large, I learned that the Government justifies its action on the ground that the nomination of a representative of the employers was two days late. Because of failure to comply strictly with certain legal requirements, the Government appointed to this tribunal a woman against whom I have nothing whatever to say. In fact, it is admitted by honorable senators on both sides that she is a woman of considerable ability. Her name appeals to me as that of a person capable of dealing with economic problems. The fact remains, however, that she was definitely associated with some trade union of which I have no particular knowledge.
– Was not Judge DrakeBrockman associated with the Employers Federation ?
– That also might have been a bad appointment, but it has nothing to do with this case. Two wrongs do not make a right. Nor does his appointment answer the charge that the Government deliberately acted provocatively because it was suggested in another place by a former Prime Minister that five persons should be appointed to the board. Because a certain nomination paper was received two days late, the axe fell, and an important section of industry was denied justice. Far from the action of the Opposition in bringing this matter forward being provocative, it is the action of the Government in making the appointment which can be so described. Does the Government think that we on this side will allow this sort of thing to be done without raising a protest? In making this appointment the Government must have been looking for trouble, yet the Leader of the Senate says the Government does not wish to do anything provocative. We, on this side, regard the Government’s action as provocative and a departure from the principles of true trade unionism. If we are to maintain the principles of democracy and of arbitration in industrial matters, we must eschew these hole-and-corner tactics. Persons with definite party associations should not be appointed to adjudicate in industrial matters. Had the Government not attempted to interfere with the arbitration system which has been in operation for some years within the framework of the act, there would have been no move for the disallowance of these regulations. The Government could have accomplished its purpose in other ways, but it chose to commit a flagrant breach of the act, and in the circumstances the Opposition would not be doing its duty if it allowed the regulations to pass without protest. During the course of the debate one honorable senator said that some years ago a government was defeated because it attempted to scrap arbitration. That charge is as false to-day as when it was first made, but it served its purpose ft. it enabled those who repeated it to win the election. In these regulations, the Government is doing the very thing of which it accused that government: It is undermining our arbitration system. No honorable senator opposite realizes more than the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) the importance of maintaining that structure. No other honorable senator has had so close an association with industrial arbitration. He knows that the Government could achieve its purpose in another way. This is the action of a gentleman whose main desire is to provoke and arouse opponents at a time when we should be as united as possible in order to be able to face the grave danger to which the Leader of the Senate has referred. Even now, the Government should withdraw these regulations, and constitute a similar tribunal within the existing arbitration system. Honorable senators on this side do not oppose the employment of women in industry. I have always advocated the principle . of equal pay for equal services, regardless of sex. But that principle rests upon the broader principle of payment on the basis of piece-work. Some unions have adopted the latter principle, and, incidentally, I point out that it has been embodied in the new Russian Constitution. I can see no reason why we cannot adopt that principle in industry generally. Certainly, the Arbitration Court to-day does not fix the remuneration of male workers on that basis; nevertheless, that basis is fundamentally sound. I have seen females working in our aircraft factories. They are doing wonderful work, and are deserving of recognition. They are entitled to whatever remuneration the country can afford to pay to them. But this is not the proper method to adopt in order to do justice to those employees. Employers cannot he expected to have confidence in this hoard. I make no reflection upon the members of the board. Judging from this debate, Miss Cashman’s industrial experience has been confined to experience as a union organizer. Having regard to the points I have just made, I am astounded that any one could expect employers to have confidence in this tribunal. I deplore more than any one else the fact that the Opposition is obliged now and again to take action of this kind. We have no desire to reduce the rates of wages now paid to female employees, or to threaten any of their rights. I welcome the statement made by Senator Large that the union of which he is a member decided some months ago to admit women as members. As I said earlier, I have seen many women working in our war factories. They quickly adapt themselves to the work, and require only training. They are handling automatic machines with amazing skill. However, their efficiency is beside the issue. Unhesitatingly, we pay tribute to their skill; and we should ensure that they receive adequate remuneration. At the same time, we object to the Government seeking to achieve that end by this means, [u these regulations the Government has given a lead to the tribunal in the matter of remuneration, because the regulations prescribe that female employees shall receive not less than 60 per cent, of the rate paid to males for similar work. I believe that some of the rates paid to females are as high as 90 per cent, of the male rates. I shall vote for the disallowance of these regulations. It is the least that we can do in order to protect the more important system of arbitration which we have built up. Regulations of this kind will undermine the edifice of arbitration. We should be endeavouring to create greater confidence in arbitration. These regulations are a deliberate affront to employers, and to all who wish to place the relations between employers and employees on a workable basis.
– I support the remarks made by Senator Large. I notice that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) is leaving the chamber. I can best describe him as the “ Minister for Disallowances “. I realize that we have no hope of converting him or Senator McBride. We have no hope of changing Senator Spicer’s point of view. It would be easier to sell snowballs in hell than to try to convert Senator Leckie, who is a hard-headed manufacturer. For a time we had hopes of converting Senator Cooper: He is inclined to listen to reason; but I am afraid that other honorable senators opposite are beyond redemption. Regardless of the merits of any case we may put up, they are determined to vote against us. I have had a long experience, both as a member and official, in unions in Great Britain, the United States of America and Australia. I remember only too well the great difficulties which the unions experienced in trying to convince employers of the justice of their claims. Unfortunately, the same spirit of antagonism on the part of employers prevails to some degree to-day. I remind Senator Foll that under regulation 9 of Statutory Rules 1942, No. 294 the Womens Employment Board has been appointed only for the duration of the war. That regulation also confines the application of these regulations to certain women. That should be sufficient to prove that the Government has no intention of undermining the existing arbitration system. It is olear evidence of the Government’s intention to use the board as a temporary expedient for the purpose of meeting the exigencies created by war conditions. This system is not designed to threaten the existing arbitration system. The board is rendering a wonderful service. Should these regulations be disallowed, considerable industrial trouble will be caused. Honorable senators should bear that fact in mind. However, they prefer to pour political vitriol over our heads. I ask them to examine fairly the reasons for the appointment of the hoard. Since the 10th June, 1942, 114 applications have been lodged. Of this number the board has dealt with 30, whilst 45 are awaiting determination and the remainder are awaiting hearing.
The board has dealt with the employment of women in the following callings : -
Railway clerical attendants, baby carriage upholsterers and fabricators, waste paper sorting and baling, barmaids, cash register mechanics, car cleaners, office cleaners, clerks, electrical wiring, male operators in confectionery trade, storemen, packers, die cutting, machine operators, motor drivers, motor lorry drivers, tram conductors, guillotine operators, :fully fashioned hosiery machine operators, leather ironing machining, leather hand dressing, leather hand trimming, lift operators, operators in linoleum manufacture, messengers, leather measuring machining, meter readers, meter testers, paper finishing operators, porters, process workers, salesmen, sausage makers, sausage linkers, wholesale warehouse employees, spray hands, suede brushing, railway ticket checkers, railway ticket collectors, tracers, wool classers.
The board has permitted the employment of women in all but sixteen of the above callings at rates of pay lower than the male rates. It is now preparing its decisions in about 25 applications dealing with the metal trade, thirteen Commonwealth Public Service applications, and other miscellaneous industries.
I applaud honorable senators who object to constant interference on the part of the Opposition with the Government’s war work. It is competent for Opposition members to bring matters of this kind before the Parliament for the purpose of endeavouring to chance the point of view of the Government. To that degree I commend the Leader of the Opposition. However, I protest strongly against the action of the Opposition on this occasion in forcing a vote on a matter of this kind. The disallowance of these regulations will interfere unduly with the Government’s work and will not assist in the prosecution of the war. I know that several honorable senators opposite strongly disapprove of the activities of the Leader of the Opposition in this respect. I am always pleased to listen to the clear analysis invariably offered by Senator Spicer on any subject to which he addresses himself. He is always interesting. However, he claims that the board is only making a pretence of impartiality. In view of the fact that not one single protest has been voiced by employers against any decisions of the board, it cannot reasonably be claimed that the board is partial. If that were not the case, we should have had protests from every employers’ association in Australia. As no protest has been received from employers in respect of any decision by the board, even Senator Leckie must conclude that the action of the Leader of the Opposition in moving for the disallowance of these regulations is merely political manoeuvring on the part of that honorable senator. The regulations in Statutory Rules. 1942, No. 236, which the Opposition seeks to disallow, deal with the constitution of the board. I do not know any member of the board nor did I know until to-night the name of the chairman. I now know that he is Judge Foster, who is regarded by every one as a man o-f intelligence and impartiality. The board consists of the chairman and one special representative of the Commonwealth, which is the largest employer of all, one special representative of the employers other than the Commonwealth and two special representatives of the employees, with, in addition, two members to be appointed from time to time according to the subject-matter to be dealt with by the board, one representing an employer or employers’ organization and the other an employees’ organization. To my mind that is an eminently fair provision, on which the Government is to be complimented. I compliment the Opposition on the appointment of special representatives, for which I understand it is responsible. It is most desirable that a board dealing with a question affecting the interests of employers and employees, should have the assistance of men closely associated with the industry under discussion. Honorable senators opposite now say that the board is overloaded, but to my mind it is one of the best boards appointed. During my long association with the Labour movement, the tribunals before which the workers have had to appear have been almost invariably loaded against them, but in this instance we have a really fair board, with which employers and workers are satisfied.
– Every one is satisfied except the “Minister for Disallowance “.
– Yes, and the bloc from South Australia. The Opposition has objected to the appointment of Miss Cashman. If the Commonwealth employs the great majority of the workers involved’ in these matters, whoever represents the Commonwealth must be an employers’ representative. Honorable senators opposite are unanimous in saying that they have nothing against Miss Cashman, and that so far as they are concerned she is utterly impartial and will carry out her duties properly. If she is an employers’ representative then the employers have two representatives on the board. It cannot be argued that one who is representing the greatest employer of all is not an employers’ representative.
– Their own Government appointed her as an inspector.
– Yes, I was surprised and pleased to learn that she had the confidence of honorable senators opposite. I can point to a parallel in Queensland, the most important State in Australia, where Labour has been in power, with the exception of about three years, since 1915. Time and time again employees have approach the court in that State. The last basic wage judgment was delivered before representatives of the employers, and employees, and a representative of the Labour government had to put the Government’s case as an employer. I cannot see anything wrong with the constitution of the board. It is one of the fairest ever appointed, yet our friends opposite are so impartial and unbiased that they take every opportunity to try to disallow the regulations, instead of acting in concert with the Government to maintain peace in industry and allow the workers to carry on their avocations without constant recriminations and strikes. When listening to the arguments of Senator Spicer, it occurred to me that it was a splendid thing for any man to have the training of a lawyer. It enables ‘him to view a subject from all angles. J£ the honorable senator were on this side I am sure that he would make out a splendid case for the board. The training that a lawyer gets in his early days gives him such power over words that he can almost convince himself. The honorable senator was not concerned with the question of wages, so much as with the. constitution of the board and the danger of undermining our arbitration system. ‘That is laughable, because I remember how bitterly honorable senators opposite fought against the workers’ efforts to establish arbitration. The honorable senator spoke of what Judge O’Mara calls the doctrine of comparative efficiency. He said that we were running contrary to our own conception of the proper way to settle industrial disputes and arrange industrial relationships, because, those on this side of the chamber favour equal pay for both sexes. He told the Senate that the basic wage is firmly based, not on what a man produces and the value of his work, but on the fact that he has a wife and two or three children to support. Admittedly that phrase has been used, by arbitration court judges, but times are changing. Our friends opposite have also recognized the change that is taking place, because they introduced into this Parliament legislation for which I commend them. Some time ago they brought in a measure providing for child endowment, realizing that the wage fixed as sufficient to keep a man and wife and two children in frugal comfort was not a fair one.
It has always been an axiom in the union movement that temporary work should be paid for at a higher rate than regular work. Our friends opposite admit quite frankly that this is only temporary work, because when the war is over thousands of girls now employed in industry will have to make way for returned soldiers. Therefore Senator Spicer’s argument that we have altered our ground is not justified. A wage sufficient to keep a man, his wife and two children has no relation to the particular war-time fact that this is a special case, where the Government is doing everything possible to bring women temporarily into industry. The women should be paid at a high rate because of the temporary nature of their work. That destroys Senator Spicer’s argument, which he put so ably in order to justify his antagonism to these regulations. During my experience as an organizer and member of the executive of a union, we have on a number of occasions put to the court the case for our workers. In certain departments covered by my union women were paid the full rates paid to men. Any female member of the Shop Assistants Union who serves groceries behind a counter is paid the male rates of wage. Any woman in a drapery establishment who does the work of a shop assistant in the manchester department receives the same wage as a male assistant, and it is right that when a woman is employed in a munitions factory on precision work she should receive the same wage as a man. But this board gives women not less than 60 per cent, and in some cases up to 90 per cent, of the male rates. The industrial board in Queensland has recognized that women should receive increased pay, and a gradual increase of the rates paid to females has been made. The latest basic wage award in that State increased that percentage by a point or two. I consider that the Womens Employment Board is doing excellent service, and that the Opposition has done a grave disservice to the community in seeking to disallow the regulations, and bring chaos into the industries dealt with by the board.
– I listened carefully to the speeches delivered by three Ministers, who are three of the most eloquent senators on the ‘Government side of the chamber, but I have yet to hear a satisfactory reason as to the necessity for setting up this board. [ have definite views as to why the Government adopted this course in connexion with rates of wage to be paid to female workers during the waT. Some time ago, the Government ingeniously set up an Industrial Relations Council, to examine extraordinary cases that arose in the various industries owing to war conditions. I believe that that council broke down on the subject of female rates in war industry. That matter was raised before a meeting of the council, and the chairman so frankly expressed his views on it that representatives who held different views realized the futility of the council, and decided that no good purpose could be served by continuing a body set up by the Government to do something which Ministers themselves were not prepared to do. Sneering refer ence has been made to the action of a previous government, which, without reference to a tribunal, but as a matter of Government decision, gave war loadings to certain industries. I have no apology to offer for what was done then. The Government of that day did not appoint a tribunal as a smoke screen, so that it could do what it had not the courage to do in the open. Consequently, we may be forgiven if we say that this board was not set up because the existing tribunals could not deal with the matter of the wages of women in industry. The board was not established because it was more competent than the tribunals already operating. It has been said that it was set up because existing tribunals could not deal with the matters in dispute with sufficient expedition, but it was not stated by any Minister that the delay caused by the Government’s decision in taking out of the hands of the full Arbitration Court this very matter was greater than the time that would be taken up by that court in arriving at a formula to deal with it. There is a vital difference between cases presented by the trade unions which require full consideration of the whole field of activity to decide rates of wages and conditions that have to be dealt with before the court is prepared to make an award. No Minister will suggest that that kind of consideration has been given to any one of these cases upon which the board has given its decision.
– It has in every case.
– Not in one instance has this board even attempted to go into the matter in the way the Arbitration Court has always investigated matters referred to- it. It would be foolish to suggest that the judge and the members of this board are so capable and energetic that they could cover the ground traversed by 46 decisions in a manner comparable with that of the Arbitration Court. Therefore, my firm conviction is that this board was not appointed because the Arbitration Court was incapable of doing the work expeditiously, but because this court has definite views as to the rates which should be paid to females in industry. I do not quibble with the Government on that score, because I am not concerned with the rates that should apply to women engaged in war industries. If normal channels were used the Opposition would have no objection whatever, but the Government lays down principles which do not actuate the Arbitration Court in these matters - principles under which this board is bound to operate, and which are entirely dissimilar from those on which the Arbitration Courts consider cases and make decisions. This tribunal was hamstrung by the regulations under which it was appointed, because it has only a limited field in which to operate. What I have said cannot be better confirmed than by quoting a statement made by the chairman of this board, in the course of the hearing of the tanners’ case in Melbourne on the 13th August last. Speaking in reply to the counsel for the Master Tanners’ Association, he said -
The words “ just profit “ are intended obviously to cover this special case - a case where there is no male rate of pay. By the way, there is no such thing as justice or propriety in this jurisdiction. This Court is not a court of law; it is a legislative body, so far as I can see.
In other words, this tribunal was not set up to consider matters according to their intrinsic merits, but its purpose is, in effect, to carry out the wishes of the Government. I have complete contempt for a government which holds strongly, and is supported by honorable senators who hold strongly, that certain things should be done, but has not the courage to do the things which it has said are only fair and equitable. This Government, which has abundance of sympathy with the women who are being brought into industry, appears to be completely callous regarding the position of individuals who have previously been engaged in industry, and employed in occupations similar and sometimes identical with those regarding which this board will adjudicate. If the Arbitration Court does not do justice to the applications before it, why does not the Government amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and promulgate regulations directing the court in the same way as it is directing this tribunal.
– Would the honorable senator support such action?
– No, because I do not hold the view that even-handed justice is not meted out under the present arbitration system. I do not subscribe to that view, therefore I do not see the need that has been stressed by honorable senators opposite. The Leader of the Senate started his lecture to us by saying that this board was appointed to bring about smooth working and peace in industry, but surely he knew better than that. He has had long experience in industrial matters, and I put it to him that more industrial strife is caused by differing rates of pay for employees engaged in the same industry, than by any other anomaly. Yet, here we have a tribunal which is creating anomalies and differences greater than any that have existed in the history of our arbitration system. It is the common sneer of honorable senators opposite that we on this side of the chamber support the employers who, it is claimed, are completely callous in their attitude to the welfare of their employees. I have heard honorable senators opposite use almost those very words. The common accusation is that inequalities and injustices are perpetrated because of the greed of the employers. That is rather interesting because the decisions made by this board apply not only to private employers, but also to government instrumentalities. The distinctions which are being created in the rates of pay of employees of various instrumentalities are calculated to cause more industrial strife than has ever been caused in the history of this country. One of the instrumentalities which come within the jurisdiction of this board is the Sydney County Council. Nobody can suggest that that body, upon which the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) has served for a long term, is out to exploit its employees. The position is that employees of that instrumentality were working under Arbitration Court awards, and as far as I know they were working peacefully. Then, because certain females were brought in to replace men who had gone to munitions undertakings or joined the fighting forces, this board made decisions which threw completely out of balance the whole of the rates paid by that organization. We find that in accordance “with a decision of the board, a female cleaner performing menial duties in the mess room, receives £5 a week under an order of the board, The cleaner is assisting an attendant who has been with the council for fifteen years and whose wages, in accordance with the relevant arbitration award, are £3 18s, a week. That is the sort of thing that the Leader of the Senate would have us believe is conducive to peace in industry. I cite another case in refutation of assertions that have been made continuously in the course of this debate by honorable senators opposite that this board takes into consideration the efficiency of a new female employee, compared with that of a male employee, and bases its rates accordingly. It might interest honorable senators to know that the South Australian railways - another State instrumentality - comes within the jurisdiction of this board. Before the board was set up a number of females were employed in the South Australian railways service, some of them replacing men who had gone to other jobs or joined the fighting forces. So far as I am aware there was no trouble with the rates that applied to those employees, but the astounding fact is that this board, which allegedly considers carefully these matters and gives unprejudiced and unbiased decisions, considered this question in relation to females employed on the delivery vans in the South Australian railways. Prior to the advent of the female employees, one man handled a light delivery van and the goods that it contained. However, the commissioner or the traffic manager, or whatever official was responsible for making the change, realized that no woman could be expected to do what an ablebodied man was doing. Consequently, he employed two women on each of these vans. It cannot be suggested that these two women would do as much as two men. As a. matter of fact, probably they would do about the same as one man. Yet the decision of this board was that each woman should receive the male rate. I am informed that, owing to this outrageous decision, girls are no longer employed on that job. I cite that case to show the consideration these matters are given by the board, and the kind of result that we may expect from such decisions.
A great deal has been made of the allegations by honorable senators on this side of the chamber, not only that this board was unnecessary, but also that its very set-up was obviously weighted against the employers. Much has been said also about the desirability of having a women’s representative on the board. We have no objection to that at all. Our only objection is that Miss Cashman is not there to represent women. Nominally, she is there to represent the employers. The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) said, in effect, that no judge ever gives impartial decisions.
– The Minister did not say that.
– I have no desire to misrepresent the Minister for Aircraft Production, but that was my understanding of what he said.
– He said that every one had a natural bias, but that some people could be impartial.
– I did not place that interpretation on what the honorable senator said, and I certainly did not place it upon what Senator Large said, because he stated emphatically that every body was biased. Yet, in the face of these statements, we are asked to believe that this woman is the only person without prejudice or bias.
– We did not say that. We claim that she is impartial.
– I am not questioning the impartiality of members of the board, but I do question their authority to represent the sections of the community which are supposed to have representation on that board.
– Does not the honorable senator think that Miss Cashman is doing a good job?
– I have no idea what kind of a job she is doing, but I claim that she is much more qualified to put the point of view of the employees than that of the employers. What we want is some one who can satisfy the employers that their point of view is being represented adequately. So far, I have seen no evidence suggesting that that is the case. Obviously, the appointments to this board have been made for the purpose of weighting it against the employers and in favour of the employees. I have yet to learn why the board was necessary at all; I have yet to learn that the arbitration courts could not expeditiously, impartially, and competently decide these matters. Therefore, I shall certainly vote for the disallowance of these regulations.
– Three fundamental issues arise in this debate: The first is the claim that has been made by the Opposition that Miss Cashman is the employees’ representative; the second is the assessing of the value of female services compared with male services, and the third, and most important, is the dislocation that will be created in in- . dustry, and the setback which our war effort will receive, if this motion be carried.. In his contribution to the debate,. Senator Spicer painted an interesting picture. He said that there would be three representatives of employees on one side of the table, and one representative of employers on the other side, with a judge sitting at the head of the table. If it be correct that every person who at any time has been associated with a trade union must be classed a3 a representative of the employees, the honorable gentleman might have gone to the extreme and put the four representatives on the one side of the table, leaving no one to represent the employers, because in 1904 Mr. Johnson, who is classed as a representative of the employers, was on the management committee of the Boot Trades Union. In that year, he was appointed a delegate to the Trades and Labour Council, and in the following year he was appointed secretary of that union, in which position he remained until 1921. Mr. Johnson has been connected with the trade union movement longer than Miss Cashman has been. The main objection of the Opposition to Miss Cashman’s appointment is that she -has been associated with a trade union, and therefore should be classed as a representative of the employees. Mr Johnson’s selection by the employers as their representative indicates that they are not greatly concerned because a man has had experience as a member of a trade union. Another interesting fact is that, although Miss ‘Cashman was appointed by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), she was selected by the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin). Senator Spicer also said that Miss Cashman, was one of two who were appointed.
– I thought that the honorable senator said so. Another point raised by Senator Spicer was that, if female labour were engaged in industry it would lower the standard of male wages. Indeed, the honorable senator almost shed some crocodile tears at the thought that the standard for males employed in industry might be lowered. There was an agreement between the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and industry generally which applied to the Postal Department. Under that agreement it was agreed that women should be employed in the Postal Department in order that men may be released for war service. At present the postal authorities are awaiting an award as to the payments to be made to females employed in that department. It is clear, therefore, that not only the munitions industry but also other industries, as well as government departments, will be affected by the decision.
– -Can this board override the decision of the Public Service Board?
– Yes, with the consent of the unions. Evidence has already been given in connexion with the matter. The Opposition has a responsibility in this matter, for should there be chaos and unrest in industry, we cannot maintain the present output of munitions . and equipment generally, much less increase it. The board has already given decisions in 46 cases, and no complaint has been received regarding them.
– Nonsense !
– .Complaints regarding the decisions of the board should be made to the Government which appointed the tribunal, but no such complaints have come to hand. Had complaints been received, they would have been investigated, and if justified, they would have been rectified.
The Opposition continually states that it is out to give 100 per cent. assistance to the Governmentin its war effort, but we had evidence last night that letters had been written to Opposition members of this Parliament asking them to bring before their leader ways in which they could discredit the Government and thus retard the war effort.
– The letter did not say that.
– Not in those words. Only by accident one of the letters came into the hands of a member of the Labour party.
– The letter did not say what the Minister says it did.
– I shall produce the letter.
– There is no need to do that, as I have one with me. The Minister has not correctly interpreted the letter.
– It is time that the Opposition came out in its true colours and said that it would no longer offer assistance to the Government, but would impede its war effort. Should these motions be carried, that would be the result. I warn the Opposition that should its move for the disallowance of these regulations be successful, other regulations will be promulgated, and they may provide for women in industry being paid at the same rates as men until such time as the Government can obtain access to the Arbitration Court. The Government cannot have production held up because of efforts to create industrial unrest. The greatest possible output is necessary if this war is to be won.
Motion (by Senator James McLachlan) put -
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the Amendments of National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations, contained in Statutory Rules 1942, No. 236, made under the National Security Act 1939-1940, be disallowed.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senatorthe Hon. J. Cunningham.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) put -
That the Amendments of National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations, contained in Statutory Rules 1942, No. 263, and Statutory Rules 1942, No. 294, made under the National Security Act 1939-1940, be disallowed.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Collings) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow at 2.30 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I promised to obtain an answer to the question asked by Senator Lamp this afternoon with respect to the Government’s plan for the rationing of superphosphate. The Minister for Commerce has now supplied the following answers : -
At its meeting on lst-2nd June, 1942, the Australian Agricultural Council unanimously agreed that the following plan shouldbe adopted for the rationing of superphosphate in 1942-43:-
From 1st July, . 1942, sales of superphosphate in all Stales would be under the control of departments of agriculture. No superphosphate can be sold without the authority of the Department of Agriculture.
Certain crops would be given priority, and growers would be enabled to purchase the quantities considered necessary for the production of these crops which included potatoes, vegetables, vegetable seeds, blue peas, navy beans, berry fruits, flax, cotton and tobacco.
Crops other than the priority crops listed above are not entitled to full rations. The precise quantity of superphosphate to be allotted to growers of other crops is a matter for determination by the Department of Agriculture in each State.
– I take this opportunity to reply to the comments made last week by Senator Sampson on certain remarks which I made in relation to a speech by Senator Brand. I know of no one who has questioned the merit of Senator Brand’s military record in the last war. Indeed, in my speech on the budget, I paid a tribute to the work which he rendered as a military leader in the interests of this country. I reiterate that tribute; and I have nothing but praise for the services which SenatorSampson himself rendered as a military officer in the last war. When Senator Sampson rose to make his comments, he expressed regret that I was not present in the chamber. Just as I arose a moment ago, the honorable senator walked out of the chamber. Apparently the honorable senator cannot face the facts. He declared that I insulted Senator Brand. Even if my remarks could be interpreted as an insult, they are nothing compared with the insults which have been hurled at honorable senators on this side by members of the Opposition. I desire to correct the impression which Senator Brand, apparently, gathered from my remarks. When speaking on the budget, he said that there were at least half a dozen in the Government who should be in uniform doing a war job. and that if he were as young as they were he would be ashamed that he was not in uniform. His speech appears in Hansard of the 11th September in this way : -
In the Commonwealth Parliament there are half a dozen members who should be in uniform doing real war work. If I were as young as they are I should feel ashamed of escaping service on account of statutory parliamentary exemption.
On the motion for adjournment last Thursday, Senator Brand made this statement -
During the budget debate last night Senator Aylett made some uncomplimentary remarks about me. He was prompted to do so by the statement that I made in the chamber last week that at least half a dozen members of this Parliament, not members of the Government, should be in uniform and doing a real war job.
In one statement Senator Brand said that there were half a dozen members of the Parliament. The actual words he used in the Senate were “ in the Government “, but he has apologized for that slip, and I accept that apology. The statementappears as “half a dozen men in Parliament”. His statement as it appears in the report of the debate is that he said “half a dozen members of this Parliament, not in the Government “. As Senator Brand asked why I was not in the last war, my reply is that that is not any of Senator Brand’s business. I gave the reasons why I am not in this war when I was speaking on the budget. I said that I was doing more valuable work in the job that I am doing now than I could be doing if I were in the Army. Senator Brand may disagree with me, but I fail to see how the honorable senator, representing another State, and with his time occupied in other parts of Australia, can be the judge of what I am doing in my State. I agree with all that Senator Brand has said about how the electors voted for him at the last election, but that can be said of several honorable senators in this chamber, not omitting myself. There are a few other remarks made by Senator Brand to which I wish to refer. One is that he said that I asked during the budget debate what war work he was doing. If any honorable senator will take the trouble to read the speech I made on the budget, he will no.t find any reference to what Senator Brand is doing in the war effort. That is his business. I take it that he is doing a good job in the work which he .is able to undertake. I did not ask what he is doing and I am not going to allow anybody to question the value of what I am doing when he is not in full possession of the facts. At the same time, I am very doubtful, with all due respect to Senator Brand, whether his constitution would enable him to follow me when I am in my own State.
– I would keep up with the honorable senator.
– I doubt it, because the honorable senator would have to move much more quickly than any of us do in this chamber.
– It was not fair to refer to Senator Brand as a worn-out old general.
– It was just as fair to refer to Senator Brand in that manner as it was for Senator Brand to refer in the manner he did to those on this side of the chamber. Honorable senators must realize that we were elected by the people to do a job, and if anybody reflects upon members of this Parliament, I will reply that honorable senators opposite cannot omit an ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Robert Gordon Menzies. They cannot exclude many members of their own party, but I am not saying that they should be in uniform. They were elected to serve the people. An ex-Prime Minister valued the youth of this Parliament to such an extent that he pulled one of his own colleagues out of the Army to take over a portfolio when quite a number of other members in this chamber and in the House of Representatives were available. If they were as capable of doing the job as the young man referred to, why did their leader pull him out of the Army to do the work required? I suppose he believed that the honorable member was the most capable man to do that particular job. An ex-Prime Minister wanted the best men in the positions where they could do the best work for the war effort. Probably that is why he pulled the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) out of the Army. Every man, if he is going to play his part, must do so where he can be of the greatest use in the successful prosecution of the war. I remind honorable senators that, if all the men in this Parliament -who could do war work were put into uniform, there would not be many left. What sort of government could be formed if all the young and middle-aged were taken out of this and the other House? Nobody knows better than I know, and than they themselves know, the state this country and its defences were in when this Government took office. ‘ Nobody knows better than they do the state of Great Britain when the late Mr. Chamberlain, who was a very old man, was Prime Minister. Nobody knows better than honorable senators opposite the plight of France under General Petain who, too, is an old man. Probably, if the whole of the middle-aged class and those who retain initiative and strength and the mental capacity to stand up to it, were taken out of both Houses of this Parliament, the country would he left in much the same state as France is in to-day. I accept Senator Brand’s apology. I ask the honorable senator to credit the elected representatives of the people with sufficient intelligence to judge where they can best serve this country. If honorable senators will do that, I can give them the assurance that no one on this side of the chamber will let them down, and I am most hopeful that those on their own side will support them.
.- I do not know why Senator Aylett should ve-open this subject. I had in my mind only one member of this chamber and about five members of the House of Representatives. I repeat that they should be in uniform and doing a man’s work. When I go round the country people say, “ First root the fellows out of Parliament, get the able-bodied men out of there first and then you will get them out in other directions “.
– What are we elected for?
– There is a good man from this chamber doing a job now in the Middle East, and his interests are being looked after by his colleagues. That could he done in other cases. I did not apologize to Senator Aylett. The morning after I mentioned this matter in my speech on the budget, Senator Fraser said to me, “ Aylett is very annoyed with you”. I said, “Why i3 that ? “ He said, “ Suggesting that he should be in uniform “. I said, “ He is too old “. That shows that he was not in my mind at all, as I told him to-day that as he attacked me and talked about second childhood, it is he who should apologize to me. There is 30 years difference between my age and his. He talia about running- up and down the hills of Tasmania. He has a “hide” to talk like that.
– I am doing the job I came here to do.
– The best thing would be to expunge it all.
– The whole of Senator Aylett’s speech was in the Burnie Advocate last week.
– Yes, his speech as recorded in Hansard is in the Advocate and I am going to see that what I said about Senator Aylett is also published.
– I have frequently pointed out to the Senate that wars are not fought with money. Last Sunday I attended St. Stephen’s Forum, held at the schoolroom, where Mr. H. D. Black, Lecturer in Economics at the Sydney University, who is also, I believe, Economic Adviser to the New South Wales Government, made the following remarks regarding the use of money in the war: -
Money was not necessary to win the war. As an economist, he found propaganda urging people to invest in war savings certificates very misleading. The propaganda was prepared by people under the delusion that money would win the war. The man. woman and material power of Australia would prevail whether or not money was made available voluntarily or involuntarily. It had never been made clear that the taking of money from the bank for investment in war savings did anything physically to affect the war. In England, people were asked either to put their money in war loans or leave it in the bank. He had heard the Federal Treasurer appeal to the people many times to save money by buying war savings certificates, but he had only once heard him include a request to put their money into a savings account. The inadequacy of the salary of the fighting man compared with that of the civilian needed attention. The difference in the earnings of civilians and people in the Services might he a potent factor in civil unity after the war. The difference between the two incomes was too wide in a country where the order was the survival of the fittest. The austerity campaign was more important to morale than to economics of the war effort. Austerity was the name for a policy which had not been clearly thought out.
The newspaper report states also that at the end of Mr. Black’s lecture, Senator E. Darcey, of Tasmania, said that he was impressed by Mr. Black’s statement that what was physically possible was financially possible. I added -
I have heard announcements on radio stations to the effect that if you don’t invest in war savings certificates the war effort will be held up. The cost of floating one £35,000,000 war loan was £134,678, just to ask people to buy war bonds. I agree that it is not necesasry to have money to fight this war. The only things that count are men and material.
I have been advocating that for four years, and now I am supported by the Professor of Economics of the Sydney University. I am afraid that he is only coming around with the wind, which is all blowing my way now, and he is taking the first opportunity to be in with the crowd. The figures I gave about the cost of raising war loans were obtained by me from the Treasurer. Of an amount of £134,000, the banks take about £33,000. Last week one honorable senator said that to listen to me gave him the horrors. Honorable senators who do not wish to hear my remarks can always retire to the billiard room or the refreshment rooms. It seems to me that those honorable senators who retire from the chamber when I rise to speak do not wish to hear the truth. The trouble is that the people have been fighting with one hand behind their back. Mr. Lloyd George said that, after the last war, England would be a place fit for heroes to live in, and he would have made it so, were it not for the fact that the banks called up overdrafts and brought about a depression. The result was that for 20 years England was a place for paupers. The following message was issued by Mr. Lloyd George, in September, 1919: -
Millions of gallant young men have fought for the New World. Hundreds of thousands died to establish it. If we fail to honour the promise given to them we dishonour ourselves.
What does a new world mean? Whatwas the old world like? It was a world where toil for myriads of honest workers, menand women, purchased nothing better than squalor, penury, anxiety and wretchedness - aworld scarred by slums and disgraced by sweating, where unemployment through the vicissitudes of industry brought despair to multitudes of humble homes; a world where, side by side with want, there was waste of the inexhaustable riches of the earth, partly through ignorance and want of forethought, partly through entrenched selfishness.
If we renew the lease of that world we shall betray the heroic dead. We shall be guilty of the basest perfidy that ever blackened a people’s fame.
It should be the sublime duty of all, without thought of partisanship, to help in building up the New World, where labour shall have its just reward and indolence alone shall suffer want.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 383.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 33 of 1942 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 388.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Alexandria, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Alexandria, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Ballarat, Victoria-For Defence purposes.
Cammeray, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Mangalore, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of -
Clothing (Footwear), (Male Outerwear), (Woven Underwear ) .
Cocoa Beans and Products.
Manufacture of Fur Garments.
Prohibited Places (2).
Prohibiting work on land (7).
Taking possession of land,&c. (234).
Use of land (11).
National Security (Maritime Industry)
Regulations - Orders - Nos. 3 to 17.
National Security (War-time Banking Control) Regulations - Orders - Publication of balance-sheets and profit and loss accounts.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, Nos. 366,367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 377, 378, 379, 380, 381, 384, 385, 386, 389, 390, 391, 392, 393, 394.
Senate adjourned at 11.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 September 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1942/19420923_senate_16_172/>.