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Friday, 29 April 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - The remarks I made just now m connexion with this clause were really in support of protection for the master and apprentice against the military system. We have had cadet training in Australia for a number of years, and the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) admits that there have been a number of convictions.

SenatorPearce. - No. I said we had prosecuted under section 134, which does hot deal with apprentices.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The penalty in the existing Act is £50.

Senator Pearce - The penalty under section 134 is £100.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have an explanatory measure before me which, under the heading of "Resumption by Apprentices of Service under Articles," reads -

Section 40b of the principal Act, as proposed to be amended by clause 15 of the Bill, will read as follows. . . . Penalty £50.

Then there is an amendment, and a new sub-clause, with another penalty of £50.

Senator Pearce - The section under which we obtain convictions is No. 134 of the principal Act, where the penalty is £100.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That will not affect my argument, which is that if there is a monetary penalty in connexion with this, and no other, it is more likely to protect the employer's apprentice than if we had a sentence of imprisonment up to six months. It must not be overlooked that not only cadets are affected, but men who go on military service for a period of years. I believe that, as the months roll on, the Minister will find it more and more apparent that our Defence Acts and military methods will very largely have to go into the melting pot. If a sentence of six months' imprisonment is added to the penalty, it would give greater power to the military authorities to deal with an apprentice in whatever form they like, because his interests will not always . be considered. To carry the argument to its extreme, a Force could be sent to Thursday Island, Rabaul, or any other of the Possessions under the Commonwealth control, and kept there on military service for twelve months, or even two years. In such a case, those serving would be considered to be on service, and the military authorities would allow both the employers' interests, and, in certain circumstances, the apprentices' interests, to go hang.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator means in times of peace.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - These penalties apply to apprentices serving in the Australian Military Forces.

Senator Pearce - We could not send apprentices to Thursday Island for two years in time of peace.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Perhaps not. But I repeat that I do not wish to see extreme penalties imposed on either side.

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