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Tuesday, 20 October 1964


Senator GORTON (Victoria) (Minister for Works) .- We have had tonight a discussion that has been almost philosophical, hanging largely on one item in the Estimates - assistance to apprentices. There seems to be considerable difference of opinion as to what is the situation in the apprenticeship world. The first point I think I should make - indeed, Senator Benn made this point for me - is that apprenticeship training is primarily a matter for the States, except insofar as the Commonwealth is concerned in the Territories or in its own instrumentalities. Apprenticeship training is primarily in the field of State responsibility. Senator Cavanagh told us that the employers were not doing the job they should have done, and were not training people. Senator Ormonde told us that, in Sydney, it took three-quarters of an hour for apprentices in a procession to march past a given point. He had the impression that there were quite a number of apprentices but thought that they were largely apprentices in big firms such as Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., and Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. and such Government undertakings as the New South Wales Railways Department. Senator Murphy told us that big firms, particularly one of the number that Senator Ormonde mentioned, did not train apprentices, so there seems to be quite a considerable difference of opinion as to which firms do or do not train apprentices.


Senator Murphy - One of the other firms he mentioned.


Senator GORTON - The New South Wales Railways Department perhaps?


Senator Murphy - No, one of the other firms.


Senator GORTON - Whichever firm it was, I am not specifically interested in the argument between the two honorable senators. At least, there is a difference of opinion between them. Senator Ormonde mentioned one big firm that he said trained a lot of apprentices and Senator Murphy said that it did not. I will leave it to the honorable senators to argue with one another on the matter. The point is that under Division No. 330, which has given rise this discussion, and the appropriation for which is increased this year as Senator Benn pointed out to us, some action is being taken to assist the training of apprentices. The reason for the increase this year over last year in this portion of the estimates is, among other things, the payment of £3 a week to help and reimburse employers in relation to every apprentice they take on over and above their normal intake between the years J 958 to 1962. This intake has now reached the stage where there are some 500 apprentices for whom that sum of money is being paid each week as a subvention to the employers. This is something along similar lines, but not the same lines, to the suggestion made by Senator Ormonde that the Commonwealth Government should give a taxation concession to employers who take on apprentices in this way. A great number of the firms - I cannot tell the Committee how many - are small employers with, perhaps two, three or four apprentices working for them. Another reason for the increase in the expenditure in this provision relating to apprentices is the increased percentage in the living away from home allowance which is paid to apprentices attending special courses such as electrical and engineering courses. This living away from home allowance is paid to country apprentices who are engaged in another country area, not a city area. The payment is made in an endeavour to persuade apprentices to stay in the country while they receive their training. If they had to go to a city for their training they would be unlikely to return to the country. Their services are needed in the country.

I do not propose in this debate on the estimates of the Department of Labour and National Service to go into the general matters raised by Senator Cavanagh; nor do I intend to go into the general matters raised in regard to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court and the questions of whether it is acting properly and it is being approached properly. These matters were raised by Senator Murphy.


Senator Murphy - I did not suggest that the Court was not acting properly.


Senator GORTON - The honorable senator's remarks indicated to me that he had great objections to the imposition of fines for contempt of court or alleged contempt of court.


Senator Murphy - No, to the legislative system which leads to the fines.


Senator GORTON - I understand that these fines are imposed by .the Court.


Senator Murphy - I referred to the legislative system which leads to these fines.


Senator GORTON - Correct me if I am wrong, but I understand that these fines are imposed by the Court?


Senator Murphy - Of course.


Senator GORTON - The Court decides, before it imposes any fine, whether the person or persons on whom it imposes the fine are in contempt of it?


Senator Murphy - Of course.


Senator GORTON - The honorable senator objected to that. Therefore, I suggested that he did object to the action of the Court.


Senator Murphy - No, the system, not the Court.


Senator GORTON - The honorable senator objects to both? He objects to the system and he also objects to the Court?


Senator Murphy - No, the legislative system.


Senator GORTON - He thinks the legislative system is bad, but it is all right for the Court to impose the fine. Is that what 1 am led to believe?


Senator Murphy - You know as well as 1 do that I would not criticise the Court here; nor would I be permitted to do so.


Senator GORTON - I am afraid I do not know what you know. So, it is no good you saying that I know as well as you do. But if you tell me that you do not like the legislative system but that you do not object to the Court imposing the fines, I understand what you say. I do not propose to go into the matters on these estimates which have been discussed in general during the evening. I move -

That the question be now put.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Proposed expenditure noted.

Proposed expenditure - Post Discharge Re-Settlement Training, £1,000 - noted.







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