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Friday, 21 November 1941

Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne PortsMinister for Social Services) (Minister for Health) . - I support the contention of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) regarding the proposed establishment of military technical training schools. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) intends to hear the arguments advanced on this matter from both sides, and, perhaps, after having done bo, he will be able to come to a decision. The suggestion of the Southern Command and of the Board of Business Administration that a military technical training school should be established at Broadmeadows appears to me to be ridiculous. In my opinion, such a technical training school should be close to big engineering works. One difficulty already experienced at the Broadmeadows camp is the lack of accommodation, and, as a result, men in the Ordnance Department have been requested by the Army to sleep at night at their own homes instead of at the camp. Recently, I had trouble in getting a bus service from the camp to the Broadmeadows station for the transport of the men. The advantages of a site like Fisherman's Bend for the proposed school over that proposed at Broadmeadows are manifold. Heavy materials for industry are brought up the Yarra river to the various workshops and double handling is avoided. [ understand that it is cheaper to carry material from Newcastle to Fisherman's Bend than it is to carry the same material from Newcastle to Sydney, or even a few miles out of Newcastle, if the material has to be handled twice. The Armoured Division of the Australian Imperial Force is to be established at Fisherman's Bend, and equipment for that division will be assembled there. The aircraft factories are at Fisherman's Bend, and, when the aeronautical engineering laboratory of the university was established, Fisherman's Bend was chosen for the site, because of the necessity for the laboratory to be in close proximity to the aircraft factories. Is it not as necessary that a military technical training school also should be in close proximity to works where the trainees will be engaged and to the Armoured Division into which many of the trainees will probably be drafted? Another reason why Fisherman's Bend, or some similar locality, should be selected rather than Broadmeadows is the fact that when peace rules again the school will be used as an ordinary technical training school. It would be useless for such purposes if it were established at Broadmeadows, because few would be willing to travel the long distances involved in reaching it, especially for night classes.

The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) is not alone in knowing that difficulties exist in the manufacture of munitions owing to the continued activities of private employers in enticing skilled workers from munitions factories. A year ago, as a member of the Manpower and Resources Survey Committee, [ endeavoured to persuade that committee bo report to the then government that it was necessary that a system of priorities be introduced in order to ensure that raw materials required in the munitions industry would not go to private industry. I suggested a rationing scheme, but the majority of the committee failed to support me. If private employers have not materials with which to carry on they will not have the inducement to entice men from the munitions industry. The only alternative is one which I do not like, and that is the conscription of labour. The friction that would be caused by interference with private industry by the rationing of materials would not be so great as the discord that would be brought about by industrial conscription, hut either one or the other is necessary if we are to do as we all want to do, namely, achieve the greatest possible war effort. Had rationing been instituted a year ago, first gradually, but with increasing intensification, the process would have, been almost imperceptible and would not have caused the dislocation of industry which must result now. I know that what I am saying will be unpopular. Indeed, in my own electorate there are many private employers who would be affected if the Government decided that their copper and brass rods, and steel and iron, and whatever they need would be either not available or available only in reduced quantities. The displaced labour would return to the munitions factories from where the honorable member for Fawkner says that skilled men are now running. There will be no other place for them to go. I can well understand the view of private manufacturers. Their interests lie in the maintenance of their industries, but they must not be allowed to maintain them at the expense of the war effort. I have made a suggestion to the Minister, to which I think he will agree, that a conference should be called immediately of representatives of the branches of industry engaged in this work. For instance, the honorable member for Fawkner read a statement made by the secretary of the Arms and Munitions Workers Union. A large number of females are engaged in this work. One reason for this trouble is the fact that, originally, we tried to work employees on shifts of twelve or fourteen hours a day over a long period. That method was unwise, and I consistently opposed it. Certainly, individual workers may be able to work round the clock, as I myself have done, but only over a short period. That system cannot be continued for any considerable time. Originally, we put the men on shifts of ten, twelve and fourteen hours, but eventually they .became physically and mentally over-tired, with the result that their volume of output and standard of accuracy declined. In addition the men lost vitality, and each day they were less eager for work than they were on the preceding day. According to all of the experts on the matter the only way in which an economic output can be maintained is by employing men on reasonable shifts. That is what the captains of industry strive to do in order to maintain their costs at a uniform rate. They let their men knock off before they become fatigued in order that they will be able to resume duty on the following day as fit and as fresh as they commenced duty on the preceding day. Every one knew that the system of working twelve-hour shifts would break down. Most of us, however, hoped that the war would finish first. I was asked to work out a roster whereby the greatest utilization could be made of certain machines which were scarce. I was asked to show how these machines could be worked for 24 hours. I replied that we should risk the destruction of the machine rather than the health of the men. For instance, if the normal life of a machine be 25 years we could be prepared to work it out in five years. We drew up a roster on that basis and now work those machines for 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and every man engaged on them works eight hours a day, except crib time, which has to be excluded, for six days a week. Each of those men has one day off a week, although not necessarily the same day each week.

Mr Holt - Is one shift of twelve hours worked?

Mr HOLLOWAY - No. We have added one-seventh of the number of men normally required. That is how we have overcome that problem. However, as I have said, sufficient machines and men were not available in the early stages. In the meantime we have obtained more men and more machines. I believe that if this system were instituted in every munitions factory, whether it be run by the Government or by private enterprise, ve should achieve the ideal. All of the machines in *very factory would be oper ated constantly, seven days a week, but individual operators would work only on eight-hour shifts for six days a week. Thus the work would he done properly, and the men would last much longer than the machines. The trouble to-day is that some of the men do not want to continue to work shifts of twelve hours. They have said, in effect, "No more overtime". Other men are struggling on in order to earn the overtime. The reason why that system broke down was that men were induced, by private enterprise, to leave government factories. That difficulty will only be overcome by the institution of uniform shifts in all munitions factories, whether they be controlled by the Government or by private enterprise. In that way we shall remove the inducements which are now held out to government employees to transfer to private factories. I believe that there is only one view to take of this problem. We must anticipate that the war will last for at least ten years. With that idea in mind we must build up our output, so that we shall attain our greatest rate of production and greatest volume of reserves of arms and munitions when the " cease fire " signal is given. We must not think of the danger of having a surplus left on our hands. Secondly, we must gradually ration the raw materials required for the manufacture of munitions, making exceptions only in proved cases of hardship. All we shall seek to do in such a scheme of rationing will be to secure the greatest possible proportion of available supplies of raw materials for the manufacture of munitions.

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