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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 4284

Mr NICHOLLS (BONYTHON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Housing and Construction. Having regard to the large direct labour force his Department employs, will the Minister inform the House the extent to which this force and the resources of his Department are used in the training of apprentices?

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Department of Housing and Construction has the largest construction force in Australia. That construction force was also the largest in Australia when it was part of the then Department of Works. There has always been a sense of responsibility demonstrated by these departments in regard to the employment of apprentices and I understand that more than 480 apprentices are employed by the Department of Housing and Construction at present. The apprenticeship intake for 1974 will be about 250 new apprentices. This will represent an increase of more than 100 over the intake figure for 1973. The Department feels very strongly about the responsibility it has to set an example. It is important that the example which I have mentioned in terms of the intake figures for next year should be taken notice of and regarded by industry as an example which might be emulated. Australia could well be heading for a crisis if we do not take significant steps to expand our construction force. The Minister for Labour has taken significant steps to provide new incentives to employers to encourage them to increase their intake of apprentices. I certainly will not go into the details today, but I understand the incentives amount to as much as $16 a week in some cases. Details of these incentives are available from the Minister for Labour and his Department. As the Minister for Housing and Construction I feel very strongly about the need to make 1974 a very significant year for the building up of our tradesman force in Australia. I hope that the example set by my Department will be faithfully followed by the leaders of the construction industry.

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