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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1555


Senator MCKIERNAN(5.29) —Like Senator Harradine and Senator Robert Ray I would like to congratulate the Australian Trade Union Training Authority on the excellent year it has just completed. In 1983-84, 11,879 trade unionists attended 601 courses in 62 cities and towns across Australia. The figures represent an increase of 24 per cent in training activity expressed in student training days within TUTA over the previous year. The figures fulfil the second stage of TUTA's growth which was based on a national survey in 1980-81. The report contains many other interesting statistics, one of which I would like to highlight. In training courses contact was made with officials and members of 194 unions. This number represents the majority of unions in this country. It is noted that every union of significance had members participate in TUTA courses during the last year.

I note with some pride and draw the Senate's attention to the fact that the union of which I am a member-the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union; it keeps changing its name-was the most active individual participating union in the TUTA program. The AMWU participation expressed in student training days was 2,423.5 days. Only one other union, the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association, passed the 2,000 days mark. The active participation of the metal workers is of note because the union, as well as being supportive of the TUTA program, also runs its own internal union education program. The metal workers program does not compete with the TUTA program. Rather, it seeks to complement the work of TUTA by seeking to ensure that its members know and understand the democratic procedures by which that union functions.

The concept of trade union training is relatively new to Australia. It is only just over ten years since the legislation establishing the Trade Union Training Authority was enacted. It would be fair to say that at first there was some suspicion about the concept. That suspicion came from a number of areas across the spectrum of the trade union movement, from employer groups and, indeed, from the then Opposition, even though the legislation did get bipartisan support in the Parliament at the time of its introduction. It was subjected to an inquiry in 1977 out of which it fared very well. It has been subjected to many other inquiries by employers and individual unions on its performance since then. I think the report presented today is an indication of the acceptance that TUTA has gained in the community.

One area I mention very briefly is that of paid study leave. Such is the acceptance of TUTA that the concept of paid study leave for people attending union training courses has been extended, but it does not cover every member of the working population today. Hopefully, that will change in the very near future.