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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr McEWEN (Indi) .- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has spoken twice on this clause and so is not able to speak again, but he put his case at considerable length and in words of almost one syllable, before he could induce the honorable member for- Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) to descend from his elevated position to the floor of the chamber to put his construction upon paragraph a of the definition of " recognized tradesmen " and to explain what he thought of the entitlement of British ex-servicemen to recognition. The point could have been resolved easily and in a few words by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway). Even now the Minister could say, by interjection,, whether in his opinion, British ex-servicemen come within the ambit of the scheme. I should be glad to hear him express himself.

Mr Holloway - When the honorable gentleman resumes his 'seat I shall try to answer two or three questions that have been raised.

Mr McEWEN (INDI, VICTORIA) - This question could be answered by a simple " Yes " or "No". The British ex-serviceman is in or out. It is extraordinary to me that so many speeches should be needed to extract a simple explanation from the Minister. I do not know what authority the honorable member for Dalley has to interpret the clause, but it is significant that the Minister has refrained from giving an explanation. We shall wait with interest to hear whether the Minister confirms or disavows the- explanation given by the honorable member for Dalley, who used an incredible number of words in endeavouring to evade the real issue that is being raised. I frankly confess that I know more about live-stock than about the technicalities of trade unionism. I have never known a horse more difficult to get into a crush, nor a heifer more difficult to get into a bail, than the honorable member for Dalley has been to get into the ring to deal with this issue, which, after all, is so simple that it should not require either eloquence or a great deal of talk to determine. We wish to know whether the certificate of recognition as a tradesman that will be granted to individuals by these committees will carry with it entitlement to membership of the appropriate trade union, or whether it will be just another " scrap of paper ". There is no mystery, about the issue. The honorable member for Dalley jigged about like a tap-dancer in endeavouring to avoid dealing with that issue. Will the Minister tell us plainly whether these certificates will entitle the holders to trade union membership, for unless they do, they will be worthless, for they will not enable a man to get a job. If that is the position a certificate will be a sham. I ask for an answer to two. simple questions: Is the interpretation put on the definition by the honorable member for. Dalley the true one, and will the men who are granted certificates by these committees be entitled to union membership?

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