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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne PortsMinister for Labour and National Service) .- Clause 10 deals with definitions. These are exactly the same as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) helped to draft when the dilution scheme was first brought into existence. The only difference between the proposal now before the committee and that for which the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) was responsible, in the evolving of which the honorable member for Fawkner played a prominent part, is that, by mutual agreement between employees and employers, other training facilities are being provided for ex-servicemen. Therefore, the very thing which the objectors, want to have done is being done. This addition was volunteered by union representatives and employers when they discussed in conference the discontinuance of the dilution scheme. The question asked repeatedly is: Who will come under the definition of " recognized tradesman " ? Recognized tradesman means any person who was employed as a tradesman prior to the Sth May, 1940, when the dilution scheme was first brought into existence; any person who has qualified or who qualifies by service - as an apprentice for employment as' a tradesman; and any person who has completed his course of training as a trainee tradesman, as well as those men who broke their apprenticeship to serve in the forces overseas, ex-servicemen who are probationary tradesmen, and recognized tradesmen from Great Britain.

Mr Spender - Does it also include any tradesmen from Malta, the United States of America, or any other country?

Mr HOLLOWAY - I would not go that far.

Mr Spender - Why not?

Mr HOLLOWAY - The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) appears to consider that there is something sinister in this proposal because trade unions are associated with it. That is the very feature of it which provides a safeguard. The five skilled trades affected are part and parcel of the scheme. The engineering trades have already accepted as members, and admitted to employment, recognized tradesmen who have been discharged from the British Navy, and they will admit as many ex-servicemen from overseas as can show by the tickets that they hold that they are engineers, fitters or turners. The Amalgamated Society of Engineers has branches everywhere in the British Empire. It is one organization. The honorable member for Fawkner knows that as well as I do. Some members of it are continually travelling and working in different parts of the British Commonwealth. Naval tradesmen have been recognized as tradesmen under this scheme, and are working in engineering trades, in Australia. Others who follow them also will be recognized as tradesmen. It is expected that the scheme' will terminate within three years. Within six, eight or twelve months, probationary tradesmen will become recognized tradesmen, and those whose apprenticeship was broken will be in a similar category in less than three years.

Mr White - But they cannot be employed now as recognized tradesmen.

Mr HOLLOWAY - How could- they be, if they are not tradesmen? I do not think that the honorable member for Balaclava has a grip of the matter. An ex-serviceman who has given good service overseas may have obtained a smattering of engineering knowledge iri the Royal Australian Air Force. The honorable member says that these men got their training' in one of the ]' services, but are now in a worse position than recognized tradesmen under the act. As a matter of fact, such men are themselves aware that they are not fully trained tradesmen, and we want to train them fully. They will go into " the scheme as trainees, and after two or three years they will be classified as recognized tradesmen. In the meantime, they will receive the wages of recognized tradesmen, the Government making up the difference between that wage and the wage that they are, for the time being, qualified to receive. How can there be anything harmful to servicemen in that ? The honorable member for Balaclava said that he can almost visualize the approach of another depression, and that if that should happen the ex-servicemen will get a very bad deal. As a matter of fact, this scheme is necessary in order to protect the servicemen if there should be a depression. Of course, no one really believes that' there will be a depression, provided the country is run by a decent 'government like the present one. However, if there came a depression, the first persons to bo put off will be the dilutees. They will have to make way for recognized tradesmen, including ex-servicemen.

Mr. Anthony.Can dilutees become recognized tradesmen by undergoing training?


Mr Spender - But they are _ in the jobs now.

Mr HOLLOWAY - It is true that the dilutees are already in the trades, but when tradesmen re-enter the trades in greater numbers, the dilutees will probably go back to the positions of process workers. I helped to draw up this scheme, because I followed the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). Senator McBride wanted the tool-makers to break up the work and to up-grade fitters and turners so that they would be able to do some of the work of tool-makers. We wanted 7,000 tool-makers for 1940-41, but there were only between 500 and 600 in the whole of Australia. I remember that the board room where we met was strewn with hundreds of precision tools which were needed for the making of munitions. We were shown blanks from which the precision tools would eventually be made. We asked how much could he cut off the time devoted to the work by the actual precision workers, and eventually the time was broken down and down until only the special precision part of the job was left to the tool-makers.

I have satisfied the honorable member' for Balaclava that ex-servicemen willqualify very soon as recognized tradesmen. Then he retorts that that is no good* to him unless the unions will accept exservicemen as members. The answer is-' that the engineering, unions have never yet closed their books against any one.

Mr White - What about the tally clerks ?

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