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Tuesday, 5 October 1971
Page: 1838

Mr COLLARD (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it correct that under the proposed rural reconstruction employment training scheme a farm worker cannot qualify unless immediately prior to dismissal he was employed by a farmer who is himself eligible for assistance? If so, will the Minister say why a farm worker's eligibility should be tied to that of his employer, particularly if the worker is dismissed purely because the farmer decides to run the property without help? Is it also correct that irrespective of experience with other farmers, a farm worker to qualify must have at least 12 months continuous service with the employer who actually dismisses him? Does the son of a farmer require only 6 months service to qualify? Will the Minister say why there should be such differentation, and will he also tell us why domestics are excluded entirely?

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - The honourable gentleman asked me a series of detailed questions

Mr James - Are you going to shirk answering them?

Mr LYNCH -. . . and if it were not for the mumblings on the other side of the House-

Mr James - That is a reflection on the honourable member.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member for Hunter will restrain himself.

Mr LYNCH - If it had not been for the mumblings on the other side of the Chamber I would have heard the detailed questions he posed to me. But basically, as I recall-

Mr Collard - I will repeat the question.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! Did the Minister not hear the question? Does he want it repeated?

Mr LYNCH - Yes. (Mr Collard having repeated his question) -

Mr LYNCH - I thank the honourable gentleman for repeating the question to the House. The answer to the question which he asks is as follows: Firstly, yes, it is true that a farm hand will qualify under the rural retraining programme only if he has been in the employ of an eligible farmer for a period of 12 months before the date of application. Secondly, I do not interpret the present provisions of the programme as representing any degree of discrimination between rural workers either as between rural workers not themselves farmers, relatives of farmers or domestics who do not qualify under the scheme. The domestics will be catered for under other training programmes which I mentioned in the statement which I brought before the House. I presume that the honourable member is referring to female domestics. He would be aware that, as I made very clear in the House, they come under the women's retraining programme and are fully entitled to the facilities afforded by that programme. In the Government's view there has been no such discrimination as the honourable gentleman implies.

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