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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr ROSEVEAR (Dalley) .- I listened in vain for some convincing argument by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) against my submission that the interpretation of the persons who will be acceptable under this scheme is infinitely broader than the agreement which was signed by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) on behalf of the government of the day. The honorable member for Fawkner endeavoured to cloud the issue by mixing the teem " added tradesman " with that of " recognized tradesman ". He would have us believe that at the time the agree- ment was signed, there were classes of people other than the recognized tradesmen and the apprentices who were learning to be recognized tradesmen. Of course, there were not, and the award covering the engineering trades at that 'time specifically precluded any unapprenticed youth or woman from doing anything which could be described as work for journeymen and apprentices. So no confusion can arise regarding the conditions existing at the time this agreement was signed.

I emphasize that the agreement did not contain any 'provision nearly so generous as the provision in this bill. Definitely the agreement provided that in the event of the slackening of work, the whole of it should be monopolized by members of the Amalgamated Engineers Union who were recognized tradesmen and had served their apprenticeship. That meant, in effect, preference to unionists. This bill is not. a measure for the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen except in the sense that in the formulation of the legislation, there is recognition that the engineering industry is expanding, the prospects are good, and there is a likelihood of permanent employment in it. For that reason, the situation is visualized that not only recognized tradesmen, but also dilutees and added tradesmen will have permanent jobs. In addition, there will still be room for ex-servicemen who desire to enter the industry. The honorable member for Fawkner built up a man of straw with the object of knocking it down. He visualized thousands of men entering the industry. Of course, that is foolish. I challenge the honorable member to prove that thousands of servicemen had three years' experience as apprentices in this trade. About six months after the outbreak of World War II., and from that time onward, men who had three years' experience in the trade were not allowed to enlist. Therefore, the situation visualized by the honorable member does not exist. When early in 1940 the agreement was signed between the Government of which he was a member and the union, the necessity for the arrangement Was a clear indication', that the manpower authorities would not allow men to drift out of an industry that .the Government was endeavouring to build up with added tradesmen and dilutees. It would have been utterly foolish for the man-power authorities and the military authorities . to permit thousands of men with three years apprenticeship in the engineering industry to drift into the forces. Six months after the time of which I- speak, in order to encourage greater production, the factories were paying a full journeyman's wages to men who were entering their last year of apprenticeship; I make those statements in order to emphasize the almost desperate position of this industry at the time when the honorable member for Fawkner considered that thousands of men were drifting from it. The conditions about which he spoke could not possibly have existed. The honorable member for Warringah said that he stood four square by the original agreement, entered into by the Government of which he was a member. What did the honorable gentleman mean by that remark? He has not been able to controvert what I have said concerning the definition of "recognized tradesman" in this bill, which is infinitely broader than the definition in the agreement made by the Government of which he was a member.

Mr Spender - I shall deal .with that matter under the relevant clause. Will the honorable member answer the questions that I asked?

Mr ROSEVEAR - I propose to do so. The honorable member asked what would happen in respect' of a tradesman who came to Australia from' overseas. That question is answered in paragraphs a and b of the definition of " recognized tradesman ". The definition provides that a- - " Recognized tradesman " means a person who, in relation to any trade to which this Part applies -

(o)   was employed prior to the eighth day ' of May, One thousand nine hundred and forty as a tradesman.

Mr White - It does not say in Australia.

Mr ROSEVEAR - If it said in Australia there might be something to argue about.

Mr Spender - I do not think that the Minister would give the same reply to my question.

Mr ROSEVEAR - I do not care what reply the Minister. would give. I understand plain English as well as the next man. To be qualified as a " recognized tradesman" a person must have been employed as a tradesman on the 8th May, 1940. That is quite clear. Therefore tradesmen from overseas are ' amply covered. Paragraph b relates to a person who - has qualified or qualifies by service as an apprentice for employment as a tradesman.

It is not stated that the qualification must be gained in Australia., If a trades^ man from Great Britain came to Australia - and I suppose we shall be glad to receive as many artisans from Britain as we can get - he would be qualified under the bill if he were a tradesman on the 8th May, 1940. That disposes of the first question asked by the honorable member. The honorable gentleman's next question concerned men who had been granted a certificate of recognition as a recognized tradesman. The local committees that will be authorized to grant these certificates will consist of two representatives of the union, two representatives of the employers and a repre sentative of the Minister who' will be chairman. Surely it will not be suggested that the employers' representatives will vote for admission to any trade of a man who is an absolute " dud ".

Mr Spender - No one has suggested that.

Mr ROSEVEAR - A person who is granted a certificate by one of these committees will be entitled to recognition -as a tradesman. '

Mr Spender - We all know that.

Mr ROSEVEAR - If the honorable gentleman knew it, why was he so stupid as to ask the question? It is not likely that the representatives of the employers would agree to grant certificates to men regardless of their qualifications. If such men were certificated they would become a burden on industry, and there must be a safeguard against that kind of thing.

Mr Spender - Will the union be under any obligation to accept as a member persons who are granted certificates by these committees?

Mr ROSEVEAR - I take it that these committees will act by general agreement. The representative of the Minister will hold the balance between the two parties, and in the case of disagreement it will rest with him to say whether a man shall be granted a certificate of recognition or not. I understand that the trade unions involved in this matter are heart and soul behind this proposed legislation. I do not visualize, in such circumstances, that when these committees grant a certificate of recognition to a "person there will be any reason why he should not be received into the union. The honorable gentleman, as a matter of fact, has been setting up men of straw in order to knock them down'. If the representative of the Minister reported intolerable action against the spirit of this measure, I have no doubt that the Minister would have power to remove the person causing the trouble. The difficulties forecast by the honorable member for Warringah are not likely to arise, and I cannot for the life of me understand why honorable gentlemen opposite are objecting to the broadening of the definition of men who will be eligible to come within the scheme.

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