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Wednesday, 7 August 1946


Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) . - The remarks of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) are scarcely worth replying to, and 1 would not belittle myself by replying to most of them. I rose to answer certain statements of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) about who shall be ' recognized as tradesmen. I have the greatest admiration for the Amalgamated Engineering Union. It ranks with the Australian Workers Union amongst the Australian trades unions and it did an excellent job in the war. It did negotiate an agreement for the dilution of its membership with trainee tradesmen, and it must be' recognized that it has" certain rights in the protection of the livelihood of its members who have given many years to learning their trade. That is not disputed by us. "What we do claim is that, although the agreement was entered into with the union in May, 1940, lots of things have happened since then. After that many young men were taken forcibly from their various vocations and flung into the armed forces and other tasks when the Labour Government introduced conscription, both military and industrial. We not only entered into an agreement with the Amalgamated Engineering Union. We also gave, an undertaking to the men in the forces that if they returned they would be given the opportunity in this country to make a decent living. Because we believe that Australia is under an obligation to them we propose that the definitions in this clause should be widened to include more ex-servicemen. I pay tribute to the Minister for Labour and 'National Service for being one of the most .helpful Ministers that we have had handling a bill in this chamber during the Labour regime. He is always courteous and desirous of giving real information instead of handing out abuse. I, therefore, hope that he will give more mature consideration than is usually given to constructive amendments offered from this side.


Mr Ward - Will the honorable member accept the Minister's decision?


Mr ANTHONY - I will accept whatever decision is given by the electorate on the 2Sth September. The decision "then given will be the decision in this matter. The Minister was candid. He said that paragraph a of the definition of " recognized tradesman " meant that a tradesman coming to Australia from the United Kingdom could be classed as recognized tradesmen under this legislation. He evaded further questions as to the other countries who.°e tradesmen coming to Australia could hope to be recognized for the purposes of this legislation, but there was no need for him to evade the questions. He. was perfectly right when he said that a person with the. necessary qualifications coming from the United Kingdom to Australia would come within the definition, and he would have been equally right if he had said that people with similar qualifications coming to Australia from other countries would also come within the definition, because the authority that will issue certificates of recognition will be the local committees. They will be appointed at the will of the Minister and will be removable at his will. It follows that they will have to accept his directions. Whoever is the Minister will be able to direct that artisans from the United Kingdom or any other country migrating to Australia shall be recognized as tradesmen if their trade is covered by this measure. I would not have it otherwise, because I hope and bebelieve that many skilled men of all kinds will be coming to this country from Great Britain and other European countries that were so badly battered during the war. ' I do not wish to go into the matter of immigration at this stage, but I do know that it is necessary that there should be latitude for the admission to trades in this country of persons who have learned their trades in the countries of the old world.


Mr BRYSON - They will be absorbed into the unions in the same way as immigrants were in the past.


Mr ANTHONY - I am glad to hear that statement, but honorable members on this side of the chamber would be more heartened if they knew for a fact that that would be so. Many exservicemen, who have a higher- degree of preference than foreigners, are debarred from entering certain trades or joining certain unions. Doubtless, the Minister is perfectly sincere when he states that he. believes that the Amalgamated Engineering Union will accept skilled men once they receive their certificates, but the bill does not contain an assurance that that will be so. An ex-serviceman may undergo training for a period, and then discover that the books of the union have been closed. Despite the remark of the honorable member .for Bourke- (Mr. Bryson) that it 'might lead to nonunionists seeking employment, we are sufficiently realistic and practical in this matter to know that no man will be able ' to obtain employment in the engineering trade unless he belongs to the union.

A considerable number of exservicemen come within the definition mentioned by the honorable member for Fawkner. They were tradesmen or had been partly trained in the engineering trade prior to their enlistment or call-up for military service. Many of them did not join technical units- in which they could pursue their trade, and, therefore, they will be disqualified under this clause.


Mr Bryson - As a matter of fact, they do not exist.


Mr ANTHONY - The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) speaks with a much more authoritative voice in this chamber than does the honorable member for Bourke, and he suggested that if the gates were opened, the time might come when there would be too many tradesmen in the industry. Therefore, he emphasized the necessity to restrict the numbers of men entering it.


Mr Holloway - A. man who worked at the trade before he enlisted would be re-established in it at the point where he left off.


Mr ANTHONY - Not necessarily. I have a personal knowledge of a few men who were employed in certain branches of engineering. They had not completed their training when they enlisted. They entered, not a technical unit in which they could pursue their trade, but an infantry battalion. If they had entered a technical 'unit in- which they could have continued their trade, they would have been qualified to register.


Mr Ward - There are no such cases.


Mr ANTHONY - The Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia has compiled a list of these men, giving their names, units, services rendered, and previous experience. Actually, the number of these men is considerable. If it were not, the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley this evening would not have been necessary. But he expressed concern at the possibility of too many people being trained in the industry. In my opinion, the Government should accept the amendment.







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