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Wednesday, 24 October 1984
Page: 2404

(Question No. 1168)

Senator Reid asked the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 3 October 1984:

(1) Can the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs explain why the Australian Capital Territory Apprenticeship Board has suddenly decided to force catering establishments to operate within a strict interpretation of the previously liberally interpreted provisions of the specific awards for the employment of apprentice cooks.

(2) Does this now mean that establishments employing only 1 or 2 cooks can no longer employ an apprentice cook.

(3) Will establishments employing over 3 cooks-e.g., 3 to 30 cooks-be able only to employ 1 apprentice cook, until that apprentice has completed 2 1/2 years' apprenticeship (when it may be possible, but only with the Board's approval, for that establishment to then employ a second apprentice cook).

(4) Does the projected forecast suggest that this means that at most an intake of only 15 apprentice cooks will be allowed in the Australian Capital Territory every third year-and none at all in the intervening years.

(5) Will the Minister take steps to correct this situation which shows disregard for the future of many young people with an inclination towards becoming professional cooks; if not, why not.

Senator Ryan —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) Three awards covering the employment of apprentice cooks state that 'one apprentice cook may be employed in each kitchen where three or more cooks are employed'. The Apprenticeship Board, in accordance with the wishes of the catering industry, has been interpreting the awards to mean that one apprentice may be employed for each three cooks.

The Board believes that the awards need to be changed to reflect this interpretation. Because the Board is not a party to the awards, it cannot take formal action to seek to vary them, but it has for some time been actively encouraging employers and their respective associations to take this step. In the absence of any progress, the Board decided it could not apply indefinitely its current interpretation and advised the appropriate industry groups and union accordingly.

Since this decision was announced, the Board has been advised that the Motel Association of the Australian Capital Territory has commenced action to seek a variation in its award. The Confederation of ACT Industry will, on behalf of individual employer members in the industry, also be making an application for variation.

Apprentices already in the system will not be affected by the Board's decision, and it is hoped that the necessary variations to the awards will be completed before the 1985 apprenticeship intake occurs.

(2) to (4) Yes, unless the award is varied, except that as previously mentioned , apprentices already employed will not be affected.

(5) As mentioned in the answer to Question (1), action to have the awards raised is now in progress. This is the most effective way of protecting the future of young people intending to make careers as cooks.