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Wednesday, 27 May 1942

Mr ROSEVEAR (DALLEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the Minister for the Army seen press reports of statements made by .the chairman of the Commonwealth Council of the Amalgamated Engineers Union and the New South Wales secretary of the union to the effect that thousands of skilled engineers in the armed forces are not being employed as engineers and that, as the result of this wastage of skilled labour, bottle-necks are occurring in munitions production? Are these statements true, and if so, when can we expect some definite action to release these men for munitions work?

Mr FORDE - I have not seen the reports, but I shall read them at the first opportunity. I am not aware that the statements are facts. Negotiations are proceeding continually between the manpower officers and the Adjutant-General in order to ensure that trained men are being employed properly in all of our armed forces. At this time of acute shortage of skilled man-power it is absolutely necessary that the services of tradesmen be used to the best advantage. The Government does not desire such men to be retained in the armed forces unless they are engaged in skilled work. However, I point out that because of the mechanization of the Army, and the complexity of modern warfare, an increasing number of skilled tradesmen is required in the various armed forces. The honorable gentleman's question will be carefully considered and a further answer will be given to him by letter. -

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