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Friday, 29 April 1921

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - After the fine appeal by my honorable friend, Senator Gardiner, on behalf of the employing classes, I should like to- say a word or two for the employed, for the apprentice, who, to my mind, is more worthy of consideration in a matter of this sort than anybody ' else. Senator Pratten and Senator Gardiner have both missed the point. The clause proposes to establish a penalty for the employers who refuse to engage or reestablish in their work an apprentice who has bet- n called away to do 'military training. The position is perfectly clear. An apprentice, by the law of the land, is required to do certain military training or war service ; he may bc away -a week or- two, or longer, and in th:s clause we are providing that when his period of military service is completed he shall, at least, be assured re-engagement by hk employer. This, I submit, is entirely in the interest of the apprentice. We do not want it to go forth that this Senate has so little real concern for the interests of apprentices, and other employees, as to make no effort to protect them in such circumstances. We want to take away from the employer the right to refuse reengagement to any employee who may be taken away temporarily from his employment to do military training. It is refreshing to hear Senator Gardiner speaking on behalf of the employer. As a rule, the employer is well able to look after himself. He has at his disposal other means of getting rid of an apprentice whose services are not satisfactory. The articles of apprenticeship contain provisions to this end. We want to be sure that the interests of no apprentice shall be sacrificed by reason of any Act of Parliament compelling him to do certain military training whether he likes it or not. I hope the clause will be allowed to stand.

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