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Friday, 27 March 1942

Mr SPENDER (Warringah)

I move -

That the amendments of the National Security (Man Power) Regulations made by Statutory Rules 1942, No. 102, be disallowed.

This is a motion to disallow the regulations made under Statutory Rules 1942, No. 102, which provide for amendments of the National Security (Man Power) Regulations. In order to make clear the objections of the Opposition to this amendment, it. is necessary for me to go back to the main regulations which have been amended. The main regulations are in Statutory Rules 1942, No. 34. and came into force on the 31st January last, and the material regulations are 14, 15 and 16. In the original regulations, it is provided that an employer carrying on a protected undertaking shall not, except with the permission in writing of the Director-General of Man Power or a person authorized by him, terminate, except for serious misconduct, the employment in the undertaking of any person employed therein. The effect of the regulations was to prevent an employer from dismissing any employee except in the case of serious misconduct. I do not challenge in time of war regulations which inhibit the right of an employer to dismiss employees, just as the right of employees to change their employment is inhibited. The serious aspect of this amendment is that, whereas under the original regulations permission was given to the employer to dismiss an employee for serious misconduct, a different code has now been set up to control the right of dismissal by the employer. This is very serious, because it leads to uncertainty as to what cases are covered by the regulations, and it will, moreover, have a serious effect on the efficiency of undertakings directly associated with the production of munitions. It has been my experience, limited though that may be, that if employees are satisfied that the employer cannot dismiss them without invoking the use of complicated machinery, there will always be some who will tend to defy authority, and in that way affect production. The amended regulations provide that the words " except for serious misconduct in paragraph a of sub-regulation 1 of regulation 14 of the original regulation, shall be omitted.

Mr Brennan - What regulation is that?

Mr SPENDER - Regulation 14. The first amendment enacted by Statutory Rule No. 102 provides that an employer carrying on a protected undertaking shall not, except with the permission in writing of the DirectorGeneral of Man Power, terminate the employment of any person in that protected undertaking. The position is that, subject to what I have to say about the new regulation 16a, in regulation 2 of Statutory Rules 1942, No. 102, the employer is prevented from dismissing any employee in a protected undertaking; and that regulation gives to the employer only the right of suspension in certain circumstances. For my part, I consider that it is exceedingly unwise to interfere, except by specific modification, with the common law rights of employer and employee. It seems to me that in this particular case the Government has sought to introduce a new code which, I venture to suggest to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), will inevitably lead to difficulties. My criticism is not a captious one, and I hope that no honorable member will declare that my objection has been based to serve any special interests. The international situation demands. the most effective mobilization of industry, and the most effective methods of giving effect to that principle.

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