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Friday, 29 April 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I venture to say,, if honorable senators think it strange that I should say a word or two on behalf of the employers, it is equally strange to hear Senator Duncan speaking on behalf of the employees. * But when he has been here a little longer, he will realize that, after all, there is a strong strain of Conservatism in my nature. I am never in a great hurry to interfere with those customs and institutions which have been established in this country and been found good. Senator Duncan prides himself that he speaks as the champion of the employees: I may point out that he directed my attention to this clause,, and showed how it was possible for an employer to dispense with the. services of his employee without anything being done; but that if he dispensed with the services of an apprentice, he might be punished.

Senator Pearce - Other employees are provided for under section 134 of the Act.

Senator GARDINER - I nm very glad to hear that. But why are we dealing' with apprentices in this clause, if in some other portion of the Act the position of other employees is safeguarded? The question of employment., I take it, should, be dealt with in one section.

Senator Pearce - I must qualify what I have said. Section 134 penalizes aa employer for not re-engaging an employee after his period of military training; hut it does not, as in this clause, compel re-engagement.

Senator GARDINER - Is there protection in that section of the Act for a boy who is not articled?

Senator Pearce - If an employer discharges him because he is called upon to do military duty, yes.

Senator Foster - But they can get over the difficulty in some other way.

Senator Pearce - There have been several convictions.

Senator GARDINER - It will be easy for an employer to adopt other means if there is a penalty for the discharge of an employee because he attends to his military duties.

Senator Pearce - That defence has been put up in other cases, and yet we have a substantial number of convictions.

Senator GARDINER - I am glad such is the case. I should be glad, also, if it could be provided that some of those penalties could be directed into the pockets of the people who suffered, because, after all, it is not much satisfaction to a man who has been discharged because he has been called upon to do military training, to find that his former employer has been penalized to the extent of 5s. or £50, or imprisoned for twenty-four hours or until the rising of the Court.

Senator Pearce - That is provided for in the Act. The Court may, if it thinks the circumstances warrant, order some portion, or the whole of, the penalty to be paid to the employee who has been discharged.

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