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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

The Labour Department

page 21

The Labour Department.

New Zealand was the first Colony to establish a Labour Department with a Minister at its head. In 1891 such a Department was created with 200 branches in various parts of the Colony to compile statistics and to control and direct the movements of labour. By its agency 2,974 persons were provided with employment in 1891, and 3,874 in 1892, about one-third being put to work which the Government had in hand.

It must not be forgotten that the Governments in the Colonies have one common advantage over us in England, inasmuch as: the railways are the property of the State, and although the Labour I Department is strictly debited with the exact cost of transport of each man to find work, it is but robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Labour bureaux have also been established in New South Wales and Victoria. In the former Colony, although the Government made it quite clear that no relief works would be provided in connection with it, the bureau appears to have been successful. Despite I the opposition of those who wished to have it conducted solely on Unionist lines, 11,000 men found employment through it before last July.

In Victoria, on the other hand, relief works were organised in connection with the bureau on a large scale, including a habitation for the Melbourne City Council and a railway which it was not pretended would ever pay its working expenses; yet in March of this year from 6,000 to 7,000 men were on the books waiting for work, many of them willing to accept it at the lowest possible wage. In May the bureau was done away with, having become a magnet to draw all unemployed labour to the capital—a danger which New Zealand by the establishment of numerous branches seems to have escaped.