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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr HOLT (Fawkner) .- During my second-reading speech I stated that at the committee stage I would move a number of amendments to this clause. The purpose of the clause is to constitute a central committee in respect ofthe engineering trades. This committee is to be the pattern of similar committees to be appointed in respect of other trades affectedby the bill. The committees are to consist of five members, two of whom shall be representative of employers, and two of the employees, whilst the repre sentative of the Minister shall be the chairman. I desire that one representative of the employees and one representative of the employers shall be a member of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia. I therefore move -

That, after sub-clause (1.), the following new sub-clause be inserted: - (1a..) One of the representatives specified in paragraph (b), and one of the representatives specified in paragraph (c), of the last preceding sub-section shall be a member of the Returned Sailors. Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia."

I had intended originally to move that . the representatives of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia should be additional to those already provided for, but it has been suggested that the committee would be overloaded if two additional members were appointed to it. As my prime purpose is to ensure that two members shall be men who have been on war service, and I can achieve that end by- the amendment that 1 have moved, I do not propose to proceed with my earlier suggestion. There should be no difficulty whatever in the employees in engineering tradesnominating as one of their two representatives a person with war service, for, literally, tens of thousands of them were in the forces in either a trade or combatant capacity. Likewise, it should not be difficult for the employers to nominate as one of. their two representatives a person who has been on service. I stress the need for direct representation of ex-servicemen on these committees. My reading of the bill before to-day's debate and my judgement of the views that have been voiced by honorable gentlemen in the course of our discussion fortify my view that the rights of exservicemen should be protected by means of direct representation on the committees. The Minister has said that the proposals in the bill are the result of agreement between the organizations representative of employers and employees. I question whether that is a correct statement because the emplayers' organizations have brought to my notice certain provisions of the bill to which they are opposed. They object, for example, to the exclusionfromtheschemeofmembersof the services, who- had no trade experience during their war service, but had experience prior to the war. These men should be entitled to apply for certificates as probationary or trainee tradesmen.

Mr Holloway - The central . committee has always dealt with these matters.

Mr HOLT - In any case the OPPO:sition regards the measure as giving insufficient protection to ex-servicemen and for this reason I press very strongly for direct representation of ex-servicemen on the committees .that are to be appointed. ' Obviously the provisions of the bill must be given a generous interpretation. I said earlier that the period for qualification was too limited.. I believe that if ex-servicemen know that they will have direct representation in both the employer and employee sections they will be much more satisfied than they otherwise will be. We must consider" this subject in a realistic and humane way. It can hardly be "denied that ex-servicemen are likely to receive more consideration from former colleagues who know what the applicants who will appear before the committees have been through in their war service. Despite the earlier remarks of the Minister I hope that he will accept my amendment.

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