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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr HARRISON (Wentworth) . - I support the amendment. We have travelled a. good distance from the arguments in the committee at an earlier stage on the rights of trade, unionists. This whole scheme, has been designed, according to the Minister, to protect the interests of ex-servicemen, but there is every reason, in my opinion, for granting direct representation to servicemen on the committees. I remind, the Minister that in New Zealand regional1 committees have been established to assist in placing ex-servicemen in employment and these committees give every consideration to the men who appear before them. In a sense, the committees that are to be established under the bill will act as regional committees. We should take every possible step to ensure that sympathetic consideration will be given to applicants for certificates as probationary tradesmen. The definition in this connexion reads: - " Probationary tradesman " means an adult member of the forces whose employment as a probationary tradesman in a trade to which this Part applies has been authorized by a local committee.

Obviously sympathetic consideration must be given to applicants for certificates. Representatives of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia, who know what servicemen have been called upon to go through in the course of five or six years of war service, will understand the problems of the situation. In 1944 a committee consisting of .Dr. Coombs, Dr. Curtin, Professor Mills and a representative of the Apprenticeship Council of Victoria authorized the taking of a census last year to ascertain the wishes of servicemen in regard to post-war occupations! I do not know how many servicemen were invited to submit answers to the questions, or how many indicated a preference for the engineering trade, or other trades specified in this bill; but it is obvious that many men will apply for certificates from these local committees as probationary tradesmen. It must be manifest to all honorable members from our discussions that no preference whatever is being afforded to ex-servicemen in this measure. The theme of the bill is "preference to unionists ", and it will be necessary to take the greatest care in administering the measure in order to avoid discord and dislocation in industry. I ask the Minister, when considering the matter, to . bear in mind that committees appointed under other rehabilitation and repatriation legislation have on them representatives of ex-servicemen. The Minister has said that this is a rehabilitation measure. If it will affect- the lives and callings of ex-servicemen, surely they should have representatives on the committees that are appointed under it! It is pertinent to point out that the committees that will determine the registration of recognized tradesmen and will issue certificates, must have' on them representatives of the unions and the employers. Therefore, another section of workers that is to be affected also should be represented on them. The interjection of the Minister that still other sections are. likely to be. aflfected, begs the question. I concede his point. Doubtless, he has sought to convey the impression, that those sections, too,, might seek to have the right to be represented on the committees. I point out to him,, however, that exservicemen are in a special category. Many of them have served their country for five or six years* Therefore, they are entitled to consideration additional to that given to any other section of the community. I have much pleasure in supporting the. amendment.

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