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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3052

Mr HODGES (PETRIE, QUEENSLAND) -Can the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs advise the House of the pattern of apprenticeship intakes since the Government implemented the Commonwealth Rebate for Apprentice Full-time Training Scheme in 1977? Have State governments given sufficient support to the Scheme? Is the level of intake adequate to meet anticipated demand from major industrial developments currently proceeding and from those proposed in the next decade?

Mr VINER (STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs) - I can give the honourable gentleman the information he requires concerning apprenticeship intakes, particularly since the introduction of the Commonwealth Rebate for Apprentice Full-time Training program- a special scheme of financial assistance to employers to take on apprentices. Since the introduction of the CRAFT program at the beginning of 1977 apprenticeship intakes have been consistently over 41,000 in each of the subsequent years, compared with approximately 36,000 in the years prior to the introduction of the CRAFT program. That is an increase of 14 per cent. Since 1977 about $74m has been provided by the Commonwealth in financial assistance to employers. So it can be seen very clearly that since the introduction of the CRAFT program, along with other economic factors that have been involved, the CRAFT program has supported an increase in the number of apprentices taken on each year.

That is, of course, very important at this time when we are facing a tremendous demand for qualified tradesmen for the massive project development that will get under way in the 1980s. Nevertheless, the Metal Trades Industry Association of Australia has estimated that a further 3,000 tradesmen above normal requirements will be needed to cope with the demand from that kind of development. The 3,000 will not be able to be provided during that period from the normal intakes of qualifying apprentices in Australia. That makes it abundantly clear that industry, unions and the Commonwealth need to embark upon special programs, to use special ways, to see that the apprenticeship needs of Australia are satisfied.

The honourable gentleman, I am sure, will be interested in the position in New South Wales.

Since the introduction of the CRAFT program in 1977, apprenticeship intakes in New South Wales have increased from an average of around 12,000 in the years prior to 1 977 to an average of over 16,000. That is an increase of over 33 per cent. I am sure the honourable member for Sydney, who was seeking to interject, will be very interested to know of that increase. My great regret is that recently the New South Wales Premier sought to attack the Commonwealth for failing to take initiatives. But I think the figures I have mentioned and the financial support that has been given through the CRAFT program show that the Premier was quite wrong in his attack.

I conclude on this note: It was much to my regret and much to the regret of my predecessor, the Minister for Industrial Relations, that from the time of his first approach to the New South Wales Government in 1978 it took two years for that Government to respond positively at the beginning of this year to the overtures made by the Commonwealth to provide financial assistance in meeting the needs of industry in New South Wales. It was not until early 1980, when I initiated further discussions through my officers, that the New South Wales Government responded. I hope that now the New South Wales Government will respond positively to these initiatives. I have every reason to believe that Mr Wran did not know what he was talking about when he made his speech. Had he made further inquiries through his departments, he would have found out the truth of the matter.

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