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Thursday, 11 July 1946


Mr HUGHES (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - When the Reestab.lishment and'. Employment Act was before the House honorable members were given to understand that preference in employment would be accorded to ex-servicemen. Whatever the precise, meaning, range and effect of the sections purporting to confer preference in that act may be - and nobody seems to know - this clause may take away from ex-servicemen the rights provided for them in the act. I do not believe for a moment that that is the intention of the Minister. However, such an interpretation could be placed on this clause, and I consider that it should be clarified in order to place the position beyond doubt. When we deal with the Tradesmen's Eights Regulation Bill we shall find that it provides that an employer may engage only a recognized tradesman to engage in a trade job. Nothing is said about the employee being an ex-serviceman or anything else. In effect, this provides for preference to trade unionists, not to soldiers. I do not object to preference to unionists, but I do object to it being brought in by a side- entrance, as it were. Honorable members understood that preference in employment to ex-servicemen was tobe general, and that the Crown was to be bound by the Re-establishment and Employment Act. But if the interpretation of the act given by a lower court is upheld, the Crown is not bound by the provisions of the act. The Overseas Telecommunications Commission will represent the Crown, and, according to, one magistrate's. decision, it will not be bound to accord preference to ex-servicemen. The Minister should make the position quite clear.







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