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Tuesday, 20 October 1964

Senator ORMONDE (New South Wales) .- I shall try to be out of character and bring the debate back to the subject matter. I refer to Division No. 330. On Labour Day in Sydney we had a march of apprentices which took about three-quarters of an hour to pass a given point. When ] saw that procession I thought the apprenticeship position was completely healthy. It was interesting to note the employers to whom they were apprenticed. Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. had a group, Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. had a group, civil aviation had a group, the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. had a group, and the New South Wales Railways Department had a group. I think it is generally true to say that most of the apprentices were in big organisations. The Broken Hill Co. has no apprenticeship problem at all. A boy who is apprenticed there sees security for himself. There is a superannuation scheme and he is built into the organisation, lt has its own technical colleges. If the Broken Hill Co. has an apprenticeship problem, it is nothing like the problem that exists outside.

This brings me to the point that boys living in certain areas are more interested in being apprentices than are boys in other areas. For instance, if industry were decentralised all over New South Wales or all over Australia, I think there would be plenty of apprentices in the various towns. But there is no industry in towns throughout Australia and therefore there is no apprenticeship and no trained men are coming on, as Senator Morris said. Senator Cavanagh, I think, was speaking of the building industry and other similar types of scattered industries. He gave us his expert views. We are very fortunate to have here a man such as he, who is trained in these problems, and we are very fortunate to have Senator Benn put the case as he sees it from the public service point of view. These honorable senators made very well informed speeches. Generally speaking, big and established interests such as B.H.P., Qantas and Commonwealth Engineering (N.S.W.) Pty. Ltd., which can offer a boy some prestige, have no problem, but the whole scheme has collapsed in the building trade. Only the other day the Director of Labour and Industry in Sydney, Mr. Kearney, directed attention to the thieving of apprentices by one employer from another. That sort of thing is going on in the building industry. Building contractors need not have apprentices and it is a catch as catch can type of industry. That is where the real trouble is occurring. Apprentices are not coming on in that industry.

I want to conclude on this note: We cannot have organisations like B.H.P. and Qantas everywhere in which boys have a pride in their work and are looking to ยป future for themselves. We cannot have only big organisations where boys are prepared temporarily to make sacrifices to get into the big money jobs later and qualify as engineers. So some attempt has to be made to interest the smaller sections of industry in their apprenticeship obligations. I do not know whether the Government has considered a scheme which I have thought about and have read about as something in operation in other parts of the world. It raises this question: Could some provision be made for a tax concession for employers who are prepared to accept their obligations with apprenticeships?

With the development of automation and mass production even in building construction, there is a tendency for employers to run away from their responsibilities in this regard. That has been proved tonight as I think most honorable senators will agree. 1 suggest that the Government consider giving some financial compensation to smaller industries where employers might find the employment of apprentices an expense that they cannot bear. If they had a tax incentive to employ their quota of apprentices, the Government might have more success than it is having in solving this problem.

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