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Wednesday, 14 October 1964


Senator McCLELLAND (New South Wales) . - I refer to Division No. 330 - Administrative - and take the opportunity to raise a matter that I mentioned when we were discussing the estimates for the Attorney-General's Department and which the Minister suggested I should raise when the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service were before the Committee. I refer to the provision of transcripts of proceedings following notifications under section 28 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

As I pointed out earlier to the Minister, section 28 compels both employer and employee to present themselves before the Arbitration Commission in the event of a stoppage or a threatened stoppage. The pros and cons of the dispute or threatened dispute are then heard by an Arbitration Commissioner. I pointed out that the Commission goes into the facts of the case, on many occasions at great length. Trade union officials, and no doubt the representatives of the employers, have to report to their organisations the result of the proceedings. The cost of the transcripts of proceedings under section 28, as distinct from general transcripts, is quite substantial and of some importance to a large number of organisations.

Again I plead with the Minister to heed my suggestion that the transcript of proceedings under this section should be provided to the parties concerned free of charge. This would be of great benefit both to the employer and employee organisations. I repeat that the compulsive nature of this section of the Act, and the fact that the organisations are compelled to appear before the Commission, is all the more reason why the transcripts should be provided free of charge.

I turn now to item 01 which relates to salaries and allowances as set out on page 184 of the Appropriation Bill. I notice that it is proposed to increase the number of district employment officers and assistant district employment officers from 622 to 663, an increase of 41. I hope this means that more employment offices will be established in our country centres because that is where the younger generation, in particular, is finding great difficulty, especially after school examinations have concluded, in securing employment. Young men who want to take up a trade or go into some professionare forced to move to the city because that trade or profession is not immediately available in the country town. Indeed, if they wish to remain in the country they could well be compelled to accept an avenue of employment that otherwise they might not undertake.

There is also the problem - this is the more serious one - of providing employment for young girls in country centres. Today many girls leave their homes in search of employment and wend their way to the city. Great social and family problems are involved. Because of these employment problems I hope that the creation of an additional 41 positions will mean the appointment of more district employment officers in the country centres of New South Wales.

Has the Department made any provision in the estimates for the establishment of an automation department? This is a matter that concerns the community, particularly as day after day we find automotive procedures and techniques entering Australian industry and processing plants at a rapidly increasing rate. This means either that employees, when they approach the retiring age, are displaced earlier than they had budgeted for, or that employees who have been trained for a particular avocation suddenly find that overnight the job for which they had been trained and equipped as the means of their livelihood, is abolished and they are forced on to the labour market and to accept another kind of occupation.

This is a serious problem and one that concerns the trade union movement of Australia. It has been the subject of conferences time after time. Now is the time - in fact I believe the time has passed - for the Department to give some consideration to the establishment of an automation department or an automotive department - choose whichever title you prefer - to investigate automation and the problems associated with its techniques.

Now let me refer to item 10 which relates to incidental and other expenditure. I direct attention to the advertising of vacant positions. The Commonwealth Employment Service or the Department of Labour and National Service could well take up this matter with various employers who advertise vacancies from time to time. May I refer to the building industry by way of illustration. An advertisement might appear in the Press on a Saturday to the effect that a number of builders' labourers are required for a certain project at a certain place and that those interested are to apply at 7.30 a.m. on the following Monday. I understand that in many instances in response to such advertisements a great number of men line up at a particular project in the hope that they will secure employment. I suggest that a simple way of attempting to overcome the problem would be for the Department to get in touch with employer organisations asking them to request their members to set out in detail the number of positions required to be filled in accordance with such advertisements. This would save a lot of time, travelling and expense, and it would mean greater efficiency all round.

I refer also to Division No. 330, subdivision 2, item 05, which relates to official publications. The amount proposed to be appropriated is £13,400, whereas the expenditure last year was £9,840. There must be some good reason for the proposed increase of 50 per cent, in expenditure and 1 suggest that the Minister might be able to elucidate that particular item for me. 1 support the remarks of my colleague, Senator Cavanagh, in relation to apprenticeship training. In Division No. 330, subdivision 4, item 01, we note that the proposed financial assistance for apprenticeship training this year is to be £140,000, whereas the expenditure last year was £59,730. It is quite obvious that employers have not in the past faced up to their responsibility to train apprentices. I have in my hand a Press clipping relating to a statement made by Mr. Edwards, a former master builder, of Sydney, to the effect that there is no shortage of boys offering for training in the building industry but that employers are not taking them on. In the September 1964 issue of " Automotive Topics ", Mr. Delandro, Chairman of the North Sydney Technical

College Advisory Committee, is reported to have said that many motor trade employers were not taking their full quota' of apprentices and were thus doing a disservice both to the industry and to the public. He pointed out that we in Australia have very little chance of getting more mechanics from overseas as migrants because there is any amount of work for them in other countries. He added that employers had to accept more responsibility than they had accepted in the training of apprentices.

The proposed increase in expenditure under this heading, I suggest, relates to the suggestion put forward earlier this year by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) for the training of adults. As has been pointed out, I think, by my colleague, Senator Cavanagh, the type of scheme noted by the Minister is not acceptable to the Australian Council of Trade Unions and to the trade union movement generally, because it would relegate the apprenticeship system to a position of minor importance, leading eventually to its elimination. The plan formulated is not acceptable either generally or in sections of industry. In short, it could not produce skilled tradesmen. These are all the remarks that I wish to make at this stage in relation to these estimates, and I trust that the Minister will give suitable replies.







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