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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - Senator Guthrie's remarks would have been very interesting and appropriate on the second reading of the Bill; but I fail to see that they have any bearing on this amendment limiting the conditions which are to be prescribed when a person who holds no certificate seeks an initial certificate. Senator Guthrie wandered away to deal with the hard fate of a man who, having one certificate, wants to get a certificate of a higher grade. We are not dealing with that class of man at present. His interests are covered by another clause. I believe that last night w'e gave to him all the consideration which he could reasonably expect, in smoothing his path to the second class, and afterwards to the first class. Senator Lynch has raised an entirely different point, and that is practically the position of a lad who is seeking for the first time to enter the profession of engineering. He may be leaving a school or a shop ; he may have been at sea for a little time, but he goes for the first time to the authorities and says, " I wish to present myself for examination in order that I may obtain an initial certificate." The whole point is whether or not we ought to adopt the amendment, and so proclaim to the world that we attach no value to the systematic training of our tradesmen. Of late years, in Australia, there has been a general lament that many employers have not thoroughly taught their lads and younger hands, but have turned them . on to the market as half-finished workmen. The difficulty of obtaining thoroughly-trained mechanics and workmen has been a general complaint on the part of many leading trade unionists and employers. If we adopt the amendment, we shall say that we do not believe that there is any advantage in having a boy thoroughly trained to his work. I do not think that we ought to adopt that standard. The Minister has indicated the character of the examination which will.. have to be passed by a person who desires to get a certificate. To my mind, it is ridiculously liberal. I could find, throughout the bush, dozens of men who could . pass it. I undertake to pass it myself, if that is all that is necessary to enable a man to obtain a third class certificate. If the examination is to rest at that, it is ridiculously incomplete.

Senator Pearce - As a test of his knowledge of engineering?

Senator MILLEN - It needs to be supplemented. Senator Guthrie read some regulations showing that a candidate is- required to prove that he possesses a general knowledge of the parts of an engine. As regards the use of tools. I venture to say that any person with a limited experience could soon demonstrate that he possesses the necessary skill. I am not out of sympathy with what Senator Lynch desires. I am quite willing to smooth the path of any one who, by energy and ability, seeks to rise. But there are certain steps which, in the public interest, and in the interest of the service itself, ought to be taken in regular order.

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