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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr HARRISON (Wentworth) . - The bill defines a "recognized tradesman" as a person who was employed - prior to the Sth May, 1940, as a tradesman. As the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) pointed out, that was the date upon which the dilution agreement was made', but I want to know what effect this provision will have upon an apprentice who did not complete histraining until 1941, who then became a recognized tradesman in his industry, and later went overseas and served in thi*, armed forces for a period... Such a person cannot have served for the requisite period at his trade, and he was not a. recognized tradesman on the Sth May, 1940. Perhaps the- Minister will say that, he is covered by paragraph b of the difinition of " recognized tradesman ", but 1 should like the position to be clarified.

The point made about the closing of the books of unions to persons over 21 years of age is important, and the practice is a menace to servicemen. I should like to know what action the Minister proposes to take to ensure that the books shall be re-opened. , In the Reestablishment and Employment Bill, there was a clause to compel unions to accept servicemen as members, 'but that power has not been exercised,' despite protests from. honorable members. What will be the position of servicemen who .have fulfilled their indentures and other requirements at a date later than that set down in the agreement? If he be given recognition in the particular trade in which he proposes to engage, what action will the Government take to see that he will get union recognition ? As has been pointed out by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender.)' this bill will enable the unions to exercise a form of industrial, dictatorship. They will be able to refuse membership of their organizations if they so desire. If a union believes that it has sufficient members to cover the absorptive capacity of the industry it will refuse to open its books to newcomers, [f a non-unionist is employed in any shop a union will declare a strike in that particular shop until such time as the nonunionist is discharged. This bill has been represented as a rehabilitation measure; that in itself pre-supposes that the Government intends to give full effect to its promise of full preference to exservicemen. If that be so, the Minister should have no difficulty in saying what action he proposes to' take to safeguard the interests of trained men who do not come within the provisions of the bill, and to state definitely whether, on being recognized as tradesmen, they will have the right to join their appropriate unions. - Mr. ROSEVEAR (Dalley) ' [8.32].- Following the movement of large numbers of people into the engineering trade just after the outbreak of the war, I was appointed a member of the Manpower and Resources Survey Committee which was established by the Menzies Government. In the course of my service on that committee, I had ample opportunity to see the working of the dilution scheme and the benefits it brought to. the war effort. I am amazed, therefore, to' hear criticism voiced by honorable members opposite of the definition of what is known as a " recognized tradesman ". The definition of a " recognized tradesman " in the measure now before us is much broader and more generous than that contained in the original dilution agreement signed by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick

Stewart), and in the second agreement signed by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt).

Mr Holt - I negotiated the agreement in the first place.

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