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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - Senator Lynch's amendment, if adopted, will impose a distinct bar upon the man who has become qualified by being indentured to the engineering trade. Why should we say that a man who has sacrificed time in order to learn that trade shall be subject to a disability? The idea of the Government is that there shall be two methods of securing a third-class engineer's certificate. In the case of a man who has sacrificed time and money to learn the engineering trade we will dispense with an examination so far as engineering knowledge is concerned. But if he has not served a term of apprenticeship to that trade we shall subject him to an elementary examination of a practical character. I am in a position to indicate, roughly, what that examination will be. He will have to be able to weld a piece of bar or round iron, to file a key way, or fit a key, to screw a bolt and cap a nut, and also to turn a pin or a small shaft. That is the examination which the Government have in draft in the form of a regulation under this provision. Senator Lynch may say that the Ministry are not in earnest.

Senator Lynch - I do not say anything of the kind. The Minister may say that.

Senator PEARCE - I can assure the honorable senator that that is the examination which the Government contemplate adopting. In New Zealand they have adopted this alternative method. Senator Lynch entirely loses sight of the fact that we are arranging in this Bill, not merely for promotion from third engineer to chief engineer, but for a gradation by means of certificates from the position of a trimmer to that of chief engineer. If the honorable senator will look at clause 39, he will find that it provides for certificates for seamen, and reads -

No seaman shall be rated -

(a)   as " greaser " who has not served six months as fireman at sea; or

(b)   as " fireman " who has not served six months as a trimmer or fireman at sea.

Provided that persons rated as firemen or greasers before the commencement of this Act shall continue to be entitled to be so rated.

After a man has become -a fireman, provided he can show that he is qualified, he will be entitled to apply for a certificate as third engineer.

Senator Guthrie - How would he go from third to second engineer?

Senator PEARCE - By examination. It has been generally admitted that under the proviso to this clause, . once a man becomes a third engineer he will, subject to regulations to be framed, be enabled to go right on. Senator Lynch's amendment really proposes a prohibition, and casts a slur upon what ought to be regarded as a very desirable qualification. It might reasonably be admitted that it would be an advantage to an engineer to have served an apprenticeship as such. Why should we discourage indentures or refuse to recognise an apprenticeship as a qualification? The Government propose by regulation, in the way I have indicated, to secure that a person who has no certificate of indenture or apprenticeship to present shall be possessed of a certain amount of engineering knowledge.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - What do the Government purpose doing in the case of marine engine-drivers in Victoria who hold a certificate equivalent to that of a thirdclass engineer in the other States?

Senator PEARCE - The marine enginedrivers of Victoria are recognised and provided for in this Bill. They will be eligible to apply for a Commonwealth third-class engineer's certificate.

Senator Guthrie - They have already as good a certificate.

Senator PEARCE - No j they have not a Commonwealth third-class engineer's certificate.

Senator Millen - In any case, clause 21 secures all existing rights. Under that clause no man can be deprived of any right he possesses at the present time.

Senator PEARCE - That is so. The marine engine-drivers referred to by Senator E. J. Russell will be placed in no worse position than that they at present occupy under this Bill, but will be given an opportunity to obtain a Commonwealth third-class engineer's certificate.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Will they be placed on the same level as the thirdclass engineers in the other States, which is really their qualification now ?

Senator PEARCE - This Bill will neither raise nor lower their existing qualifications, but it will be possible for them under the proviso to this clause to obtain a third-class engineer's certificate for the Commonwealth, which will be a better certificate than they hold at present. I trust that Senator Lynch will not press his amendment. I have given him an assurance as to what the Government propose to do. I remind the honorable senator that if carried his amendment would take the matter no further, whilst it would impose a. limitation which would not otherwise be imposed. The honorable senator proposes that indentures of apprenticeship shall not be imperatively required, but it would be open to the Government by regulation, even though his amendment were carried, to require a thousand and one other things. They might require proof of four years' shop experience, which would be the equivalent of a certificate of apprenticeship. I appeal to Senator Lynch to trust the Government in the matter, now that he has their assurance that they will do what is right.

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