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Thursday, 17 September 1942

Mr WARD (East Sydney) (Minister for Labour and National Service) . - by leave - On the11th September, the honorable member for Richmond asked mea quest ion relative to the call-up of men for service with the Allied Works Council.

The Allied Works Council was established by Statutory RuleNo. 88 of 1942. It is provided that these regulations shall be administered by the Minister for the Interior, and that there shall be appointed a Director-General of Allied Works who shall have such powersand functions as are specified in the regulations. In an amendment to the regulations dated the 14th April, 1942, provision was made for the establishment of a Civil Constructional Corps, for the purpose of carrying out works for the Allied Works Council. The Civil Constructional Corps was to consist of persons who volunteered andwere directed to serve in it by the director-general or by any person authorized by him to act under the regulations. This wag made clear by the Prime Minister in a statement that he made to this House when he said, " The director-general or any person authorized by him to act under the regulations may direct men who are not performing fulltime war service, in the defence forces or employed in a protected undertaking or industry to serve in the corps ". No authority is given under any regulations to any other person to direct any citizen to serve with the Allied Works Council.

Under the Man Power Regulations, the man-power authorities are charged with the responsibility of compiling a national register of all persons in the Commonwealth of sixteen years of age and over. Under this provision, information was secured concerning the full name of the person registering, the private and business address, the employment upon which engaged, and other classes of work capable of being performed. There is no other complete register of labour in the Commonwealth, and whatever Commonwealth department required this information could procure it only from the existing National Register which, as I have said, is in the keeping of the Department of Labour and National Service. I, therefore, directed the Director-General of Man Power to make accessible to the Allied Works Council information contained in it. The National Register is not kept at any one central point, but is divided in accordance with military districts. The Allied Works Council determines the district from which the call-up shall be made. Then the National Service Office in such district furnishes a replica of the National Register with the deletion of - (a) men employed in protected industries or protected undertakings; and (b) members of the Defence Forces performing continuous full-time service. From the information so supplied, the Allied Works Council selects and takes steps to call up the men required. The practice has been that at the time of the call-up an officer of the Man Power Department shall be present so thata further check may be made of the men selected by the Allied Works Council in order to ensure, as far as possible, that men will not be taken from essential industries.I am not aware of the method of selection adopted, or of the subsequent action taken by the Allied Works Council. The man-power authorities merely indicate to the Allied Works Council the men who arenot available, but have nothing whatever to do with applications for exemption from such service on the ground of hardship.

Under the Man Power Regulations, men called up for service with the Army may ask for a hearing by a magistrateof any application that is made for exemption on the ground of hardship to themselves or their dependants; but there is not a similar provision under the Allied Works regulations. Although magistrates have been appointed to inquire into such applications, under the regulations there is no obligation on the Allied Works Council to accept their findings; but the Minister for the Interior has stated that such findings are to be regarded as final. Nor is there any provision in the Allied Works regulations for a medical examination in order to ascertain the degree of fitness of those selected. These questions, in the past, have been determined by the officers of the Allied Works Council, who were appointed to their .present positions under the authority of the DirectorGeneral of Allied Works, and the Department of Labour and- National Service plays no part in their selection. Therefore, I repeat that it is very clearly set out in the Allied Works regulations that these are to be administered by the Minister for the Interior; consequently I am in no way responsible for such activities. Further, this position is clearly understood by Mr. Theodore, the DirectorGeneral of Allied Works, and by his aide, Mr. Packer. The statements published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. which these gentlemen control, are deliberately misleading, and are designed to embarrass the Government, particularly myself as Minister for Labour and National Service. Both these gentlemen may rest assured that I would welcome the opportunity to make desired changes in this organization.

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