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Friday, 29 April 1921

Senator SENIOR (South. Australia) . - Senator Gardiner said that excessive penalties would be detrimental to the apprentices; but he must not overlook the fact that the provision we are now inserting is in addition to what is already in the principal Act. The honorable senator will see that this provision is designed to protect an apprentice against a. master who desired to take advantage of his compulsory absence. An apprentice is bound to his employer under articles which provide that the service shall be continuous. On the return of an apprentice from war service, an employer may say, " These articles provide that your service shall be continuous, and as you have violated them by going away, your apprenticeship cannot be continued." If a youth goes abroad to serve his country, the Government have provided that he cannot be punished, and, therefore, a penalty of £50 can be imposed on an employer who treats an apprentice unfairly. Senator Gardiner was advocat ing the interests of the employer, and he could not understand why Senator Duncan was supporting the apprentice. The honorable senator has lost sight of the fact that it is the employer who would be involved, and that we are trying to protect the apprentice against an unjust employer.

SenatorGardiner. - I did not have an opportunity of fully stating my case, and I resumed my seat to assist the Minister. If the honorable senator attacks me I must reply.

Senator SENIOR - On the question of penalties, Senator Gardiner said that if we make them too severe we are likely to defeat the intentions of the Act; but directly after that he said that we were only protecting the apprentice, and not the. youth who is not an apprentice. In that plea he would wax eloquent, and say, "You are only protecting one class." My answer to that is that it is quite true. In one case we have clear evidence that a lad was engaged in an employer's service, but in the other we have no clear evidence that it would be continuous. Senator Gardiner objected to the penalty because he thought it would protect the employer. The employer undertakes to keep a lad in his employ for a certain period, and when he returns he may endeavour to break the arrangement, in which case the Government have power to impose a penalty of £50.

Senator Gardiner - Does the honorable senator think that that is a fair penalty? If an employer attempts to spoil a man's life?

Senator SENIOR - That is the maximum. Senator Gardiner objected to imprisonment for six months, and he now says that the punishment is not sufficiently heavy. .

Senator Gardiner - I was objecting to the penalty for offences that seem trivial.

Senator SENIOR - The honorable senator is now. convinced that his previous statement was unjustified.

Senator Gardiner - I had not finished what I had to say.

Senator SENIOR - He now admits that the penalty should be greater. In view of the discussion, I think we can anticipate the honorable senator's support, because he now believes that we should not do anything unjust to a man who is doing what is right.

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