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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) . - The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) shows that he is bankrupt of ideas when he has to distort statements made by honorable members in reference' to another clause. He referred to1 a statement which I allegedly made, but I repudiate his charges against me, and the matter can be determined by reference to Ilansard. The honorable member said that I had advocated the repudiation of the agreement with engineering unions because circumstances have changed since 1940. That is false, in that it is a distortion of what I said. If the Minister had followed the debate throughout instead of walking into the chamber and catching the- last few words, he would have known that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) ki defending the Government's action, had claimed, that not only was the original agreement being honoured, but' also that its scope had been extended to cover certain persons not mentioned in the agreement. Circumstances had altered since 1940, and there was now every justification

Mr Ward - On a point of order: What relation have the remarks of the honorable member to the amendment?

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member is replying to statements made by the Minister.

Mr ANTHONY - The Minister has distorted what I said, and now is trying to throttle attempts to make the truth known. There has not been the slightest suggestion that the agreement should be departed from, but we advocate that it should, be widened to include certain classes of ex-servicemen. As a matter of fact, it has already been widened in many respects. 1 support the amendment of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) that at least two ex-servicemen should be . members of the central committee. This committee ' is the' only body to which servicemen can look for assistance. As for their admission to a union;- that is complete 'y in the . hands of the union. The central committee cannot dictate to a union what it shall do after the trainee has completed his course. We have tried to ensure that once a trainee has become qualified he shall be admitted to an appropriate union, but we have been unsuccessful in this. Only by appointing an ex-serviceman to the central committee can the general body of ex-servicemen be assured that their interests will be protected. Several measures, including the Rehabilitation and Employment Act, have been passed by the Parliament, and they profess to give a measure of preference to ex-servicemen and women, but those provisions have not been put into force. The clause provides that there shall be on the central committee a representative of the Government who shall be chairman. Thus, the Labour party for the moment is to have the selection of the person who will have a deciding voice on the committee. I cannot see why the Government should object to one df the other representatives on the board being an ex-serviceman.

Mr Holloway - The Government has nonobjection.

Mr ANTHONY - But it is not stipulated in the bill.

Mr Holloway - We cannot, interfere with the rights of people to elect their own representatives.

Mr ANTHONY -More than 750,000 persons enlisted in the services during the war out of a population of a little over' 7,000,000. Therefore, on the law of averages, we ought to get one or two servicemen on the committee. However, servicemen will be at a disadvantage in obtaining nomination because they have- not yet had time to establish themselves in their trades, or to come to the front in those organizations from which representatives will be selected. Therefore, during the first, few years that this legislation will operate the persons chosen are "not likely to include a big proportion of ex-servicemen. Moreover, as the Minister has said that this legislation may not be needed after three years, it would appear that ex-servicemen will receive little .consideration under it.

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