4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher), by leave, agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until half-past ten o’clock a.m. to-morrow.
– I lay on the table a return, in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Calare, on 30th August, relating to divisional and assistant returning officers.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Shipping and Commerce -
Statement showing -
Shipping tonnage between ports of United States of America and those of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
Imports from the United States into the Commonwealth and New Zealand,
Exports from the Commonwealth and
New Zealand to the United States of America.
Ordered to be printed.
Electoral - List of Divisional Returning Officers who are not officers of the Public Service : and of Assistant Returning Officers appointed for the referendums held on 26th April, 1912, who were not officers of the Public Service or Public Officers.
Public Service Act - Department of Trade and Customs - Promotion of C. B. Cantwell as Clerk, 4th. Class, Correspondence and Records Branch, Victoria.
– On Wednesday last, the Leader of the Opposition asked me if I would inquire into the authenticity of a reported utterance of Mr. Mitchell, the counsel for the Coal Vend. I have done so, and have already stated in the press that I find that he was misreported. He did not say a “ little “ arrangement, but a “ written “ arrangement. In the circumstances, I have apologized to Mr. Mitchell.
– Has the Minister of External Affairs read in the newspaper the statement that the Premier of Western Australia has extended the State control of the sale of liquor to remote districts? Does not the honorable gentleman think that that is a better way to prevent the evils of drink than to allow the sale of liquor to be conducted by private persons without a licence?
– I have not seen the statement referred to. If the honorable member asks me what I think the best way to prevent the evils of drink, I say to prohibit the sale of drink.
– I wish to ask the Attorney -General if he has read the report of the speech made last evening’ by a member of the Legislative Council of Victoria in regard to the threatened invasion of Australia by the American Meat Trust, in which he declared, among other things, that “ when the Trust got a hold on Australia, £875,000 annually would be the Trust’s charge on the meal tables of poor and rich alike, and, unless the Federal and State Legislatures realized the danger and thwarted the Trust, it would get hold of them.” Seeing that the Legislative Councillor admits the inability of the State Governments to act without the aid of the Federal authority, I wish to know if the Commonwealth Government have, at present, any power to intervene without an alteration of the Constitution? Is it not a fact that the Legislative Councillor who is now denouncing the Trust, and those associated with him, are the real culprits in this matter, owing to their determined efforts last year to defeat the referendum?
– The honorable member has furnished me with a copy of his questions. I have read a report of the speech referred to, and noticed the remarks to which my attention has been drawn. So far as I know the Commonwealth has no power to grapple effectively with this Trust, nor with any combine of a similar character. Who is responsible for the present position is a matter of opinion upon which I shall not express my view.
– Does the honorable gentleman advise that, if the operations of the Beef Trust touch external or InterState commerce, the Commonwealth has no jurisdiction to deal with it?
– So far as I know, the Trust has not gone further than the obtaining or making arrangements to obtain places in Queensland; and, according to Mr. McWhae, approaching private individuals in this country with a view to securing an option over,, or to buying, their businesses. If this be all that has happened, no offence is disclosed ; and if an offence were disclosed, it could only be in relation to the projected establishment of the Trust.
– In other words, it is too soon to take action.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs whether his officers had the emissaries of the American Meat Trust under observation months ago? If so, can he inform us whether the details made public by Mr. McWhae last night are in accordance with facts?
– Some of the officers of the Customs Department have had the men alleged to be connected with the American Meat Trust under observation ; and the information published by Mr. McWhae has been in possession of the Department for some time.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs heard any rumours or received any reports to indicate that the party of Americans who are now inspecting land in the Northern Territory are representatives of the American Meat Trust?
– No; I have not heard it.
Letter-carriers’ Uniforms - Lettercarriers’ Overtime - Cost of Laying Conduits.
– I desire to repeat a question that I asked of the Postmaster-General on 22 nd August last, as follows : -
What is the present position in reference to overtime of letter-carriers in respect of -
– Order ! The honorable member can ask only one question at a time.
– The Minister’s answer on that occasion was that inquiries would be made and I would be informed. I have not heard anything further about the matter, and I wish to ask the Postmaster-General now whether he is able to furnish the information.
– The honorable member’s question was evidently asked during my absence, and has not been brought under my notice since my return. We have taken steps in connexion with the supply of uniforms to see that, where possible, they are available for officers at the beginning of the season. With regard to the other question of overtime, the Deputy Postmaster-General in Sydney has been asked to expedite the arrangement of the returns so that overtime may be paid for where it has been worked by the officers.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
With reference to an official report, read by the Prime Minister on the 8th ultimo (see Hansard, p. 1945), to the effect that conduits had been undergrounded at Caulfield at a cost estimated at1s.10d., but which ultimately worked out by day labour at1s. 6.3d. -
What did this work cover?
What was the depth and what was the width of excavations estimated and completed?
Was the cost of all material, such as redgum, tar, and cable, &c, included in the estimate and in the actual cost of work?
Are values for watchmen, hurdles, lighting, &c, and all the various supervisional charges included - as would be necessary in the case of a contract ?
– The Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Melbourne, has furnished the following information : -
The laying of2,561 feet of four-duct conduits, including theconstruction of ten (10) manholes. 2. (a) Width of trench, 18 inches.
Least depth, 3 ft. 2 in.
Depth - average depth throughout the total length, 3 ft. 5 in.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
If the sugar-growers pay the wages and abide by the conditions as provided by the new regulations in respect of the harvesting of this year’s crop of cane, will they be entitled to the bounty on such cane irrespective of whether such wages and conditions are adhered to in regard to the planting or cultivation of cane to be harvested in 1913 and 1014 within the registered area?
– In the absence of a Commonwealth or State Industrial award, or of a standard arrived at by mutual agreement between representatives of employers and employes in regard to rates of remuneration and other conditions of employment, the present minimum rates apply to all operations, whether in harvesting for the present season or in planting and cultivation for future crops.
Governor-General’s Residences : Government House, Sydney: Moorak House - Electoral Divisions, Queensland : Questions to Members - Rent of Premises by Commonwealth Departments.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if he has seen the statement in to-day’s- Argus that the Premier of New South Wales has declined to lay -on the table of the Legislative Assembly the correspondence relating to the occupation of Government House, Sydney, until he has received the permission of the right honorable gentleman to do so?
– I have communicated with the Premier of New South Wales to -ascertain whether the last word has been said in the matter, and when he desires to place the correspondence on the table of the Legislative Assembly. As soon as I .have received the reply, the papers will be placed on the table of this House, too.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs whether, seeing that he has made such an excellent bargain by the purchase of the Moorak Estate for the Commonwealth, he will at once provide for the sending of proper assistance to Mount Gambier, to keep the homestead in order so that it may be ready to receive the Governor-General, should he require it for a summer residence?
– I think that we have made a splendid bargain by securing the estate, and we shall have to see that the place is well kept up. There is no certainty that the Governor-General will move there, but we shall be glad to accommodate him if he feels inclined to do so.
– I wish to ask the honorable member for Herbert whether he intends to proceed with the proposed amend ment which he has given notice .that he will move to the motion to be moved by the Minister of Home Affairs concerning the electoral divisions in Queensland?
– Am 1 called upon £u answer the honorable member?
– The honorable member for Herbert is not in charge of any business in the House, and in the circumstances the honorable member for Capricornia has no right to ask him the question.
– I rise to a point of order. Standing order 92 states that questions may be put to other members relating to “ any Bill, motion, or’ other public matter connected with the business on the noticepaper, of which such members may have charge.” It appears to me that if the amendment to be proposed by the honorable member for Herbert may not be considered a motion, it certainly may be considered a “ public matter connected with the business on the notice-paper,” and I should like to ask you, sir, whether the amendment which has been placed on the notice-paper in the name of the honorable member for Herbert is not a matter of which he has charge? If it is so, will you state why he should not intimate to me whether he proposes to proceed with the amendment when we arrive at that stage, so that I may make preparations for a speech if necessary?
– Questions may be put to other honorable members, but there is no provision in the Standing Orders to compel an honorable member to whom a question is put to answer it. If. the honorable member does not desire to answer it, he need not do so. I would point out also to the honorable member for Capricornia that it is quite possible that the honorable member for Herbert may not move the proposed amendment of which he has given notice, and in those circumstances he would not be in charge of that business before the House.
– I have no hesitation in answering the honorable member for Capricornia, but I should like, in the first place, to ask the Minister of Home Affairs a question. When does he intend to bring the proposed electoral divisions for Queensland before the House? When I bw that, I shall give the honorable member for Capricornia his answer.
– The scheme will be brought before the House at the earliest possible opportunity.
– When is that?
– Very soon.
– I am now ready to answer the honorable member for Capri - cornia, and I would advise him to be prepared.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs,upon notice -
What amounts are paid annually by the several Departments of the Commonwealth for rent of premises in Melbourne - (a) to the State Government; (J) to private persons?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
I shall be glad to furnish the honorable member with details if he so desires.
Commissioned Officers - Military Uniforms - Liverpool Manoeuvre Area - Military Boot Factory - Military Hats and Caps
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether Senior Cadets entering the Citizen Forces are entitled to sit for examination for a commission without first obtaining promotion to the rank of non-commissioned officer?
– Yes; they are so entitled.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence in this House if I can get an answer to a question I asked some time ago with reference to the price of uniforms-? If the Defence Department cannot give the information, can they not consult a tailor, who could give them some idea of what the answer should be?
– The information will be supplied to the honorable member at the earliest possible moment.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs if any definite understanding has been come to between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales with regard to the resumption of the Liverpool manoeuvre area?’
– There was a bit of a delay some time ago, but I think the delay is nearly over now.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister of Defence state in what part of the Commonwealth the Defence Department intend to establish the factory for manufacturing military boots?
– No decision has yet been arrived at with respect to that matter.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, with regard to the contracts recently let for the manufacture of hats and caps for the Defence Department, whether the prices tendered do not disclose an understanding between the various firms in the Commonwealth to all tender at the same price, and whether the Department, in giving these contracts to Australian firms, have any safeguard against being charged unfair rates by reason of such combination amongst the manufacturers themselves?
– I am not prepared to express an opinion as to what is disclosed by tenderers in different parts of the Commonwealth all putting in the same price for any article required by the Government. I am under the impression that there was some slight difference in the prices tendered: for the supply of military hats.
– About 6d.
– I am not quite sure what the difference was, but there was some slight difference, and the Department acted accordingly.
Motion (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for art. Act to amend the Sugar Bounty Act 1905-10.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Debate resumed from 10th September (vide page 3049), on motion by Mr.. Tudor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.. - Eight years have elapsed since the Navigation Bill was first introduced ; but, although it has occupied the attention of another place for a very long time, it has not previously engaged the consideration of this House. This is a very lengthy measure, and it is not my intention to deal with the whole of its provisions. It seems to me that, in discussing it, honorable members might well divide it into parts, and direct their individual attention to different features of it. The Bill, in my opinion, attempts too much. A wiser plan would have been to excise from it all those provisions which are thought by those competent to express an opinion upon such matters to be beyond the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament. By attempting too much in one measure we often delay the coming into operation of useful and necessary legislation; whereas, if we confined our attention to those matters which were not only urgently required, but which are undoubtedly within our constitutional power, we should be able to obtain at once legislation for which the people might otherwise have to wait for years. That is the position with regard to this measure. It is a pity that there should have been introduced into it constitutional questions which will have to be determined by a reference to the High Court’, and, in some cases, perhaps, to the Privy Council. Their presence may endanger the whole measure; whereas, by omitting them, we would succeed in placing on the statute-book ninetenths of the Bill without any fear as to their constitutionality. We may take it for granted that the Bill will be a prolific source of litigation. Many law-suits will arise in connexion with it, and we may be sure that the High Court will be called upon to consider many of its constitutional aspects. Our power to deal with shipping and navigation, is practically confined to vessels engaged in the coastal trade. The Imperial covering Act of the Constitution provides that our power to legislate in respect of British ships is limited to those whose first port of clearance, and whose port of destination, are within the Commonwealth. In other words, we may deal with vessels engaged in the coastal trade, while vessels arriving in an Australian port remain within our jurisdiction until they get beyond the territorial waters. Our power to pass legislation in respect to trade and commerce extends, as honorable members are aware, to navigation arid shipping ; but. I ta ke it, it does not include power to deal with extra-territorial shipping in opposition to the provisions of the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act. That being so, as we are dealing with ships that come from oversea, touch at our ports, and leave for other parts of the world, one can easily perceive -that there are many clauses in this Bill which are controversial, and may prove to be beyond our powers of legislation. I think also, as has been said by the Minister who introduced the Bill, that, except in regard to constitutional questions, this is essentially a Committee Bill. Much of it is not very controversial, and will meet with general approval. I regret that those parts which are noncontroversial and necessary have not been dealt with before. They might have become part of the law of the land long ago. It is undoubtedly desirable and necessary to consolidate the law with regard to Australian shipping, in the same way as it is desirable to consolidate the law with regard to many other questions which are within our powers. I hope that we shall devote more attention to those matters, because we wish to have one law for the whole country in regard to matters which apply to the whole of Australia. I regret that this Bill tries to do too much, and I should not be at all surprised if the inclusion of difficult constitutional questions delays the passage of the measure still further. I notice that there has been some difference of opinion between the Imperial Government, represented by the Board of Trade, and the Governments of the Commonwealth which have been dealing with this subject for the last, seven or eight years.
– There are fewer points of disagreement now than there were in regard to the Bill fathered by the Government in which the right honorable member held office.
–I regret that wiser counsels have not since prevailed, and that what previous Ministers did not do the present Minister has failed to do. I propose to deal, not with the general scope of the Bill, but with part VI., which relates to the coastal trade. The present Government, and other Governments that have dealt with this matter, appear to have had ai desire to permit ships which do not generally engage in the coastal trade of Australia to carry passengers to and from places which are isolated, and to which there are no other means of transit -than by sea. It is an extraordinary thing ;that, at this period of our history, we should be thinking of placing restrictions upon he means of transit to and from the isolated parts of our country, instead of increasing those facilities. I do not wish to deal with cargo. There are some vessels trading with Australia that do not carry cargo between ports on the Australian coast. For instance, the mail -steamers, and the vessels of the other large shipping companies, do not carry cargo between Melbourne and other ‘eastern ports and Western Australia, and *vice versa. But there are other parts of Australia where both passengers and cargo are carried by oversea ships. The conveniences enjoyed by these ports are small. The facilities are few. Yet we appear to be legislating to make them less, and to put obstacles in the way of people in this country travelling by the means open to them when no other or better means are provided. Threefourths of the coast-line of Australia at the present time is absolutely dependent upon sea transit in respect to passenger traffic, and a good deal more than half the coast-line is altogether dependent on sea transit for goods traffic. Nevertheless, this. Bill appears to put obstacles in the way of the continuance of the few means of transit which exist at present. It is extraordinary to me that it should even enter into our minds to ‘do anything to interfere with facilities which are absolutely necessary in the interests of the people who are being served. I cannot understand it. They must be very “ Little Australians “ indeed - who mistake the “ cackle of their bourg for the murmur of the world “ - who would desire to give fewer facilities to people in Port Darwin and Thursday Island and to those residing along the eastern coast north of Rockhampton, as well as to those residing on the western coast of Australia from Geraldton north to Wyndham and Port Darwin, where there are no means of transit except by sea. Unless oversea ships secure a Crown warrant to enable them to carry cargo and passengers, they will not be able to carry them at all. I think that that is altogether unnecessary and a grave wrong. Pretty well the whole of our Inter-State cargo traffic is carried by our Inter-State shipping, except, perhaps, in regard to ships going to China and Singapore, which may carry some cargo to and from Port Darwin and a few other isolated places. Another extraordinary fact has been referred to by the honorable member for Franklin, who pointed out that, although this great shipping industry employs a large number of persons, and although a great many shipowners are affected, we hear very little in this House about the business which they are carrying on. The ship-owners and the employes are opposed to one another to the extent that all are opposed whose interests are not identical. That is to say, the ship-owners wish to make as much as they possibly can,, and the employes wish to do the same. There must be some antagonism of interest ; and no doubt the “unholy alliance,” of which we have heard so much in recent years, has had practical effect, because we seldom hear of any dispute. The parties are quiescent ; and this would seem to indicate that the public are probably not getting all they ought to get.
– Does the honorable member not like to see peace ?
– Yes ; but not “ peace at any price.” We observe a similar state of affairs amongst honorable members opposite, in regard to what is called the “ Coal Vend “ case. I am not behind the scenes, but I have heard a great- deal about that case; and it does not appear to be a very creditable transaction, inasmuch as there was an agreement and an understanding between the’ shipping companies, the mine owners, and the coal miners that, in return for an increase in. wages, a monopoly was to be granted, and a boycott established against all who* were not in the agreement or understanding.
– The honorable member knows that that is not correct.
– I have heard1 that it was so, and I believe it; I have always understood there was a boycott, and” that the ship-owners made it pretty hot forthose who did not join them, and refused even to sell them coal.
– An agreement be-r tween the ship-owners and the coal miners?1
– What we have heard so often during the last two years is that the agreement was between the shipping company - who were in some cases themine owners - and the mine owners, and also between the mine owners and the miners. The High Court decided that there was a combine which was injurious to the public, and it is notorious that this combine has had the full support of the Labour party in this House.
– The ship-owners donot employ the coal miners.
– The honorable member is not so obtuse as he would’ lead me to suppose. He knows that his party have been supporting the Coal Vend’’ combination for years. In the case with which we are dealing there is- a -monopoly.- of the shipping trade not only in regard to cargo, but in regard to passengers; and, in return for this monopoly, better terms and conditions were given to the employes. I do not blame honorable members opposite for the attitude they take up; but if they were in the “ cold embraces of the tomb “ they could not be more silent. The provisions of the Bill in regard to the coastal passenger trade are altogether premature and unnecessary; the time has not arrived for restrictions in this connexion. What we require are increased facilities for travelling. With our sparse population, scattered settlement, and immense coast-line, it ought not to be left within the power of any Government to place restrictions on travelling to isolated places ; and if this Bill had been liberally drawn, so as to do justice to the requirements of the country, it would not have applied to passenger traffic. The restrictions which the measure imposes are disadvantageous, not only to those who travel, but to the people of the country generally ; and, in any case, they ought not to be applied to passenger traffic to places which have at present no railway communication. Such a policy is neither progressive nor necessary ; and, indeed, in my opinion, is absolutely foolish. I should like to call the Minister’s attention to the proposal in the second proviso to clause 286, which, I think - although I have not consulted any legal authority - may be found to be unconstitutional. The clause in the original Bill in 1904 was abandoned on the ground that it gave preference to Western Australia, which State was exempt until railway communication was established. The intention was good ; but it was subsequently considered that the provision might be held to give preference, and, therefore, to be unconstitutional. The Minister now proposes another way to meet the difficulty; he leaves it optional with the Governor-General to say whether British ships shall, be permitted to carry passengers “between specified ports.” The inclusion of these words will probably destroy the legality of the proviso, because it may be held to give preference to those ports ; and I advise the Minister of Trade and Customs to carefully look into the point. In my opinion, it is opposed to section 99 of the Constitution, which provides that the Commonwealth shall not by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue give preference to one State or any part thereof over another State or any part thereof. My plan always is to take what I can get in the right direction if I cannot get all I desire; and, therefore, I should like this clause to be constitutional. As I have already said, the Inter- State steamers carry practically all the freight on the coast of Australia, with the exception, perhaps, of freight to isolated places on the north and north-west coasts of Australia. They also carry a large proportion of the passenger traffic. In the circumstances, no one can say that in desiring to give increased facilities of transit for passengers I desire to injure our InterState marine in any way. As a matter of fact, I think that if there is one industry in Australia which has flourished during the last fifteen years, it is the mercantile marine industry. It has expanded and progressed by leaps and bounds. We are all pleased to see the industry in such a flourishing condition, and supplying improved means of transit. There are some very fine ships engaged in our coastal trade now, and the industry has done well. There is no reason why we should inconvenience the travelling public in order that it should do better, because it has done quite as well during the last fifteen years as any other industry in Australia. The wages and conditions of the men employed on the ships have vastly improved. I suppose that the wages have doubled during the period mentioned. The conditions and prospects of employes, as well as of shipowners, have been very greatly improved. I find that, during the last year, no less than 46,941 people travelled to and fro by sea between Western Australia and the Eastern States. Of this number, 13,976 travelled by the mail steamers, and 32,965 by the Inter-State steamers. Over two-thirds of the passenger traffic between the Eastern States and Western Australia was carried by the Inter-State steamers. The fares are much cheaper by the Inter-State steamers. I believe that, foi the same kind of passage, the fare from Adelaide to Fremantle by the Peninsula and Oriental and Orient boats is £7, and by the Inter-State vessels it is £4. There has evidently been no competition between the mail steamers and the Inter-State boats in the way of cutting down rates. It should not be forgotten in this connexion that no cargo is carried by the British mail steamers, the number of which is’ limited to one a week each way. I am aware that there are other steamers like those of the White Star line, which call at Albany, going round the Cape, also engaged upon our coast. If this Bill becomes law, and the Government do not authorize steamers of the White Star line to carry passengers, persons from the Eastern States wishing to go to Albany, at which the mail steamers do not call, will be unable to take advantage of the magnificent 13,000-ton steamers of the White Star line going to the very port to which they wish to go. The same thing will apply to large steamers travelling on the Queensland coast and to Port Darwin en route to the East. Passengers may, in the circumstances, be compelled to go to the northern ports in some dug-out, because they will not be allowed to travel in the more convenient and comfortable way by the larger boats.
– Surely the coastal boats are not dug-outs?
– I invite the. honorable member to consult on the question some honorable members who visited Thursday Island the other day. They told us something about them recently, and I understand there are some inferior vessels engaged in the local northern trade. I know that some I have travelled in were very inferior to the magnificent steamers of the White Star, Peninsular and Oriental, and Orient lines.
– The White Star, Peninsula and Oriental, and Orient boats do not go up that way.
– That is so; but the Minister will admit that there are large steamers engaged in those waters’ that are much more comfortable than some of the ordinary coastal boats trading to northern ports. We must consider the convenience of passengers. I should like to hear some defence of this proposal to restrict the existing means of communication by sea. The only defence J can imagine as likely to be put forward is that we should encourage our coastal trade. We shall be encouraging it by giving it all the goods’ traffic and a large proportion of the passenger traffic. Surely those interested in InterState shipping aTe not the only persons to be considered? The travelling public have some right to consideration ; and I submit that they are not getting it in this Bill. If we take any interest in people who live in places without railway com munication, and are doing their best to promote the interests of the Commonwealth in isolated parts, we should not only leave open every existing means of transit to those places, but should encourage better communication with diem. Even if we do that, their means of communication will be comparatively limited. I should like to ask for what reason it is desired by some persons to restrict the means of travelling. It may be said that it is in the interests of the crews of Inter-State vessels. My answer to that is that I believe they receive as high, if not higher, wages than any others engaged in the shipping industry. Their conditions are said to be good, and they are fairly contented and well looked after. If it be said that it is in the interests of ship-owners, my reply is that they are pretty well able to look after themselves. They are generally considered to be wealthy. I believe that they all live in big houses, and are not objects of compassion. Both classes engaged in our Inter-State mercantile marine seem to me io be fairly well off, and to be doing well. Is there any reason why, in order to please them, we should inconvenience the whole of the people who reside on three-fourths of our coast-line, and who have no means of transit other than by sea ? We all know that in 1904 a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into this Bill. The Chairman of that body was die present Attorney-General. The Commission was unanimous in its recommendations. One of those recommendations was that “ pending the connexion of the railway systems of Western Australia and South Australia, British mail steamers carrying passengers between those ports should be exempted from, the proposed reservation.” That was the opinion of those who dealt with this matter. Conditions have not changed since then, except for the better, so far as the ship-owners and their employes are concerned. The only reason why this recommendation did not find a place in the Bill which was introduced in 1907 was that it was then discovered that it was ultra vires of the Constitution. Conse’quently a provision was inserted in its stead, which provided for the granting of an exemption by the Governor-General. Thi* recommendation, of the Commission was open to the objection that it would have offered a preference to one or, at most, two States. I intend to submit an amendment to the clause, the nature of which I. have communicated to the Government. It will, I think, meet the case of those isolated places to which I have referred. It reads -
Provided that the carrying by any ship, ordinarily carrying mails to or from the Commonwealth, of passengers to or from ports in a State, the capital city of which is not connected by railway with the capital city of another State, shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade.
That will meet the position of Western Australia until railway communication is established. When we have railway communication with Fremantle and Port Darwin, it will become inoperative, though it will probably apply to places beyond the sea, such as Hobart and Port Moresby. But if it does, no harm, and much good, will result. I should ‘prefer that no restrictions should be imposed on passengers travelling at any time. But I do not intend to move in that direction, as I fear I should not be able to obtain the support of a majority of honorable members, and T should be sorry, as the result of asking what some might consider as too much, to get nothing. I would not dispense with the power which it is proposed to vest in the Governor-General to grant these exemptions, because I think they will be found to be very necessary. For instance, along the northern coast of Queensland and the Gulf of Carpentaria, and also, in the northern parts, of Western Australia, passengers wish to travel at every opportunity which presents itself. To impose any restrictions whatever upon them would not be in the interests of this country. In dealing with these matters, we must always look on the darkest as well as the brightest side. When we clothe the Executive with power, we may reasonably assume that it will be exercised with discretion. But who can tell that it will be so exercised ? It is true that this Parliament is the arbiter. But this Parliament is not always in session. Consequently, I think that no Government should have power to do by administrative act what might be done by the exercise of legislative power. Therefore, I would urge the Minister to secure the legislative power necessary in this case, reserving to himself the administrative power which is contained in the Bill. When we look round the coast of this country and recognise that industries are being conducted under great disabilities, when we realize how difficult it is for people to get their produce to market, it does seem extraordinary that such a suicidal policy should find a place in a measure of this character - a policy which would prevent persons from taking advantage of every opportunity to travel, instead of providing them with more of those opportunities, whenever possible. I regard such a. provision as a monstrous wrong upon the public. I have no desire to use harsh words, but I think that ignorance and selfishness must be at the bottom of it. Such a proposal would never enter into the mind of any common-sense person unless there were some wonderful pressure at the back of it - a pressure begotten of ignorance and selfishness. Ii seems to me only another evidence of the grip of the Caucus. This Bill and these provisions bear the imprint of the grip of the Caucus.
– Which provisions?
– The provisions which aim at preventing people who reside in the isolated parts of this country, where there is no railway communication, from travelling - the provisions which would prevent residents on three-fourths of our coast-line from travelling without a permit from the Government.
– The honorable member is entirely wrong.
– The honorable member must bring his common sense to bear, and not be a party to doing these extraordinary things. The travelling public of Australia are not here to defend themselves. We are here to protect them. In these isolated places they are not numerous. They are separated from one another, and are not able even to attend at polling places unless they travel long distances. They are as tightly in the grip of the Caucus as Laocoon is represented to have been in the grip of the serpents in the heathen mythology. In those places in Australia where the fullest freedom is necessary to enable persons to travel, the Caucus, like an octopus, in its own selfish interest, spreads out its tentacles to strangle enterprise and progress.
– A lot the honorable member cared about the residents of outoftheway places when he was a member of the Parliament of Western Australia.
– I do not wish to talk to the honorable member. But I know more about the residents of outoftheway places, and have done more forthem, than he has. Exclusiveness and? narrowness will bring on us the contempt of the world, but will never make us a great country. The placing of restrictions on freedom and the giving of preference to a class seem to be the chief aims of the Labour party, and must result in retarding the advancement of Australia. If honorable members inflict upon our people living on three-fourths of our coast-line who have no railway communication the great wrong of still further diminishing their scant means of transit, and reducing the facilities to travel that they now enjoy, they will, I hope, have to answer for their action. No ‘measure which hinders the development of the country can do good, and I am surprised that the provisions relating to passenger transit in connexion with our coastal shipping have found a place in this Bill.
– I shall not detain the House with a repetition of the excellent analyses of this very important measure already placed before us, but in view of the importance of shipping to the -development of Australia, it is impossible to avoid a passing reference to a few of the problems to be faced, and to some provisions of the Bill which, though they may appear of minor concern, are likely to prove, if adopted, extremely vexatious. A Navigation Act must play a great part in conditioning the immediate future of the Commonwealth, and may sensibly affect its distant development. What other country in the world has a seaboard of some 12,000 miles, a distance practically identical with that separating us from the Mother Land? But unless speedy means be taken to people this country, and we realize how much its development depends on our keeping pace with the demands of its commerce, our future is not to be even glanced at without apprehension.
Our commercial fleets will become in time the basis of power in other forms essential to our defence. Everywhere the development of a mercantile marine has proved a substantial basis for the development of sea power. Nevertheless, specialization and the extraordinary developments of machinery and armaments make the. relation between the two less close in modern days than it was in the stirring days when the reputation of the British Navy was established once and for always. But even in modern times there are precedents to warn us of the possible failure of great and wealthy peoples to develop their sea power sufficiently even by special exertion and expenditure.
For more decades than we can count we must .depend on our shipping to connect one part of Australia with another. Even though the construction of a railway to connect the Northern Territory with the eastern, southern, and western parts of the Commonwealth were to advance with lightning-like speed compared with i’.s present rate of progress, the development of that country must for a long time depend upon sea communication. The same thing is true of a great part of Northern Queensland, and of a still greater part of Western Australia. If proper encouragement is to be afforded to those who settle in remote situations in the coastal districts it will be necessary to provide regular communication all round the coast by means of suitable vessels. This is essential, not only to enable our people to maintain themselves under trying conditions, but also to familiarize us with the resources of our territory, 99 per cent, of whose ultimate possibilities are still practically unknown, particularly in regard to mineral development. We may also remain in some uncertainty there as to final development of our pastoral and agricultural interests. The adaptation of new products to our climatic conditions and soils will impose new difficulties. But, throughout, the chief means of communication ‘between one part of this continent and another must be by sea. Unless our naval growth keeps pace with that of our mercantile marine we shall suffer seriously. _ I have glanced hastily through the provisions of the measure to ascertain, so far as my knowledge permits, how far it is likely to assist the great work before us. In many respects it will be possible hereafter to enlarge the scope of the Bill, and desirable to supplement it by proposals including the subsidizing of communications, until the continent, is encircled by lines of vessels giving access to all ports within a reasonable period.
– Why not establish a Commonwealth line of steamers?
– That seems unnecessary. With a Commonwealth line of steamers communication might be more speedily ensured, but there would not be the impetus to local settlement and cultivation which arises owing to the energetic encouragement of traffic introduced with the stimulus to self-interest of those connected with the private shipping companies.
– That is not the experience of Tasmania.
– On that subject I offer no opinion. The conditions in Tasmania are not those of the mainland. I often regret that a map of Australia on a suitable scale is not always displayed in this building. In many debates it would bring us to a sense of our situation, needs, and risks, by a visible reminder of the vastness of the great enterprise which we are essaying. To keep it constantly in the eye is to keep it, to some extent, constantly in the mind. Everything in connexion with Australia to-day should be governed by a constant appreciation of its unutilized possibilities and enormous area. Those considerations should be present with us at all times.
In this Bill there is, in one sense, comparatively little or no connexion between a great number of its clauses. There are individual propositions lo meet individual cases - all necessary, many urgent; but the idea which should underlie the whole measure seems to be that to .which I am endeavouring to call attention - the magnitude of Australia as a whole, and its necessary dependence for some generations to come upon unceasing activities, including sea communication, for its development, quite apart from our trade with the older or newer worlds. To realize Australia as an island continent of enormous size and illimitable possibilities, which must for many years be. developed from the ocean, should enable us to intelligently approach every proposition that the Government can make. Whether it takes the merely theoretical shape of the present measure, or the more definite shape of particular proposals for the cultivation of our unpeopled territories and research through its unknown areas, the principle is the same. Whatever shape it takes, that picture of its expanse would be a constant reminder of the principal duty -which lies upon us to-day as Australians.
I rose as much to refresh honorable members’ minds in that regard as to attempt to deal with some of the different isolated sections of this very important measure. As a whole, it may be made another instrument placed in our hands of the greatest value for the practical exploration, development and future protection of Australia. This will involve a study of the circumstances under which life can be maintained in some degree of comfort and civilization equatorially within sufficiently short distances from the ocean to induce regular communication to grow more and more rapid as development proceeds, knitting up all its various parts with the great centres of the east, south, and southwest
– It seems rather a fitting subject for an expert Board.
– It is a vital issue which will well engage our attention for years to come.
– The safer we make travelling by sea the better it will be for the people of Australia and its development. I take it that that is the object of the Bill.
– We also desire to multiply all the ties that bind us to those of our own blood, and to develop our commerce with the rest of the world. That is a very important issue, which comes within the scope of the measure. But its particular appeal to us is for Australia, and its appeal is to Australians as Australians, with an eye to die future, and some conception of the emergencies of the present.
These general remarks have to be taken with the reminder that, as we feel in this continent -the urgent necessity for utilizing the highways of the sea, we must also remember that, encircled by the ocean, we lie open to all parts of the world and all possible enterprises, friendly or hostile, that may come from them. There is no closing of the paths of the sea by any power we now possess, or are likely to possess for generations to come. Those paths lie open to all the peoples of the earth who possess sea power. It is therefore urgently necessary for us to become thoroughly acquainted with our own coast and its possibilities, in order to settle it, and also to place us in a position both to detect and deal with any attempt to make an illicit entrance into the country, preparing also for any attack of a more serious character should it ever come. Again we are surrounded by great groups of islands, most of them only partially developed, some of them to the north densely populated, many of them insufficiently peopled, but all becoming more tempting than ever to the expanding and aggressive nations of the world. These offer opportunities for becoming .centres of international disturbance. I have no desire to detain the House with even a transient glance at the many outposts towards which we may look with some apprehension. As nothing nan sever Australia from the sea, nothing can sever us from the responsibility of our situation or the demands that it is making upon us. The highway of the sea is free to all, as to us, and we have now an opportunity of expanding our power of utilizing’ it to the best advantage immediately, and for more distant objects also.
This measure has been long ashaping. It has passed through the hands of three or four Administrations, and has been gradually built up to its present shape by criticisms, chiefly from the Board of Trade in the Mother Country. Intercommunications on those subjects have happily led to the settlement of more than three-quarters of the difficulties originally raised. The Bill as we have it now is a developed project. It has grown under criticism, as solutions have been found for a great number of the problems suggested. I think we are able to say, without much if any exaggeration, that to-day, in our care for ships and passengers - perhaps outside Hobson’s Bay - and for the sailor’s life particularly, Australia stands well in the lead. I do not know any other country that offers the advantages that we offer. They are proposed to be substantiated and even increased by this measure. In some regards there will be little criticism of its clauses.
– I think the New Zealand Act of 1907 is the best shipping law in existence.
– Certainly New Zealand has been able, partly on account of her size, to grapple more rapidly and directly with the problem of circumnavigating her coasts by means of excellent shipping, running under the best conditions. I am glad the Minister reminded me of New Zealand’s achievement. For the moment, I was thinking of Australasia practically as one, and offer no apology for doing so, because, although New Zealand may be separated . in government, no country can be nearer to us, and no people more intimately associated with us. New Zealand may fairly claim to have the lead in shipping legislation, and we are following close behind. If this measure is passed, 1 think we shall be fully abreast of her, and therefore entitled to share her lead. That is a very satisfactory characteristic of this measure. It has been readied by slow accretions and amendments.
Turning from that satisfactory aspect, I find in the measure a series of instances in which the British
Board of Trade and Commonwealth Ministers are still at odds regarding particular proposals. Of course, the seamen’s compensation provisions have disappeared,. I presume because of the compulsory insurance of the seamen under another Act.
– The Seamen’s Compensation Act.
– No provision of that kind remains in this measure.
– The subject has already been dealt with.
– Already recommended. The provision prohibiting rebates on freights, which was included in the earlier phases of this measure, has now disappeared. I conclude that this is because it is proposed to grapple with that questionby means of a separate measure. If that is so, I should like to know whether the measure has yet been drafted, or what proposal is likely to be submitted. Attention is required at once to this important question, which will have to be faced. It was raised in the earlier stages of the Bill, but apparently is not yet solved. Another issue arising as to the derivation of the powers which we are to exercise in this measure remains to be dealt with. Are those powers to be governed by the mercantile shipping law of the Mother Country, as I understand the Board of Trade and its legal advisers still claim-
– And to which the honorable member’s Government strongly objected.
– I have been re-reading the correspondence quite recently, and know that is so. Whether the powers that we propose to exercise are to be governed by the Merchant Shipping Act, or are to be derived from the Constitution, is a problem which the Minister knows was not quite settled by the long correspondence in which we were engaged. We were naturally very anxious to base the whole of our authority for this measure upon the Constitution itself, first of all, because we desired to be bound by our Constitution, and by .it alone, and secondly, because its terms were capable of a reading which would have given us an ample endowment for the present in most regards. The Board of Trade, however, still presses for the acceptance of the Merchant Shipping Act as the dominant Imperial measure, under which we should legislate. I questioned the Minister in regard to this during his secondreading speech. While just as anxious as in 1907-8 that the Constitution shall be recognised, I cannot avoid a doubt as to whether it would not be better for us to meet this difficulty by including in our own Bill provisions that could be taken directly from the Merchant Shipping Act requiring no alteration. We should thus have two strings to our bow, providing in advance against any decision by the Courts that our power was limited by the Merchant Shipping Act. The provisions I have in mind would probably meet, on their own merits, with the approbation of the House. Even if we felt fairly confident that our interpretation of the. law was right, and that we were justified in resting only upon the Constitution, I do not know that it would be wise, simply for the purpose of challenge, to risk an adverse judgment from the highest Court of Appeal, when we could meet some, if not all, of our objects, by embodying in this Bill a section of the Merchant Shipping Act.
– Section 736.
– Section 736, and possibly other sections. I merely submit this point for the consideration of the Minister. The House might well consider whether it would lose any of its dignity or impair its power double-banking, so to speak, its security by repealing particular clauses that are likely to be questioned.
– Surely if we have the power to legislate in respect of these matters, it must be under the Constitution, and not under the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act.
– I have always upheld that contention, but the authorities on the other side are such that we cannot pass them by without question. They may not be right. The suggestion I make is only by way of insurance.
– But has it ever been adopted by any State Parliament? I understand that the State Parliaments have always relied, upon their constitutional powers.
– I understand that the New Zealand . Government have done so - that they have taken whatever risk there is in this regard, and have not suffered. Still, I invite the Minister to give the matter further consideration, so that the Government may deliberately make up their minds whether they are running any risk. If they think they are, they should consider whether this would not be a simple way of avoiding it.
Another issue of a somewhat similar character is raised by clause 43, which provides that -
Except as prescribed, a member of the crew of a foreign-going ship (whether British or foreign) shall not be employed in handling cargo or ballast in connexion with the loading or unloading of a ship.
The Board of Trade point out that they have urged against foreign Governments the claims of masters of British vessels to employ their crews in foreign ports in the manner sought to be prohibited under this clause, and that foreign Governments have also supported the claims of their shipping masters to the same freedom. The Board points out, further, that the putting in force of such an enactment might lead to retaliation by foreign countries. As to the further provision in the clause, that -
The regulations shall not allow the employment of the crew of such ship in handling cargo or ballast where a sufficiency of other labour is available,
I assume the intention is that if a vessel visited a port where an industrial dispute happened to be in progress, the regulations would permit of the crew taking part in the work of unloading, if those who ordinarily engaged in that work were not prepared to do so.
– I do not think it, means that.
– I am speaking subject to correction. The point I wish to dwell upon is the undoubted risk we run of invoking retaliation, not only on our. own shipping, but upon the shipping of the Mother Country, by passing a provision of this kind. We should ask ourselves whether it is worth the cost. Could not the object which Ministers have in view be provided for without running this risk? It seems to me that the clause might be so amended as to provide against possible risk of retaliation, whilst at the same time insuring the main object which Ministers have in view. If that be so, the matter is worth careful consideration before we agree to the clause as it stands.
– A British ship’s crew will not be allowed to engage in the work of unloading in a. French port if there is an industrial dispute there.
– The custom has been for the crews of British vessels when necessary to take a share of this work. We have in the Inter-State trade of Australia vessels that carry a certain number of A.B.’s for no other purpose than to load and unload at ports where labour may not be obtainable, or where the provision of labour is too sparse.
– Very few.
– Along the North Queensland coast, and in the South Australian gulfs, they still find it necessary. We have always to remember that it would be the greatest mistake in the world to regard the present coastal demands of Australia upon us in this respect as all that will be made. My preliminary remarks were directed to the value of navigation as a means of developing the yet unsettled portions of Australia. To those portions it may long be necessary for the ships to carry extra A.B’s. to do no other duty than loading and unloading cargo. That will probably be proved right along the coast from Geraldton, around the whole of the north of Australia, and partly down the Queensland coast, for a long time to come. .
– There is an arrangement existing now under which the shipping companies can do that.
– Exactly ; and I am referring to that as one of the practices which we should not curtail.
I do not intend to occupy the time of the House with reference to the possible unconstitutionality of some of the provisions of the Bill. The legal -advisers of the .Government must have reconsidered those matters. But in this case, as in several others, I have noted that there is a distinct possibility of questions being raised as to whether our constitutional powers cover the particular propositions embodied here. Those issues will probably find their way to the Courts in due time, and need not now detain us. Besides, there are quite a number of clauses which must be regarded with some dubiousness, although the Board of Trade, as far as it goes, appears to have been satisfied with respect to most of them.
A living question, and a practical one of importance, relates to the load-line of vessels, particularly those trading with coal from Australia. By way of concession, the winter load-line has been proposed, and is intended to be adopted.
– The North Atlantic winter load-line.
– Yes. The Board of Trade is, however, still persistently calling attention to this restriction, urging considerations which will demand attention from the Minister, and can be considered in Committee. They can be dealt with very much more effectively then if the Minister will take advantage of the suggestions which are now being made to him, and will have each of these points considered by his advisers before they are dealt with by us. If we can obtain some distinctive opinion from the Law Department in regard to these problems, we shall probably be able to cope with them without delay. Otherwise, the Minister must not be surprised if on questions which have been so seriously considered by the Board of Trade and their advisers again and again time is taken up in Committee, which I should be sorry to see occupied, without definite results. If the matters can be brought to a direct issue by the points being thoroughly examined and advised upon before they are raised in Committee, time will be saved.
– We can express our opinion as to the proper load-line, no matter what the Board of Trade authorities say.
– But it is not the general load-line that is in question. It is the load-line for a particular kind of cargo. I could occupy time in giving explanations which we have before us in print ; but all that I desire to urge now is that we save time by having these legal issues probed to the bottom, and disposed of in a definite way, before we deal with the Bill in Committee. The Board of Trade in their last despatch point out that there are strong grounds for believing that this particular provision is beyond our powers altogether. I do not desire to occupy the time of the House now upon an issue of the sort, when there is apparently so much doubt in the minds of very wellinformedpeople. 1 The question of Board of Trade certifi-‘cates is another to which I direct attention. It is dealt with in section 19. In respect of this, too, it is. possible that a modus vivendi can be discovered” which will enable us to avoid the legal difficulties hitherto raised. Attention must also be directed to clause 121 in this relation. It deals with the return which the owner of every ship registered in Australia has to make to the Minister showing the aggregate gross earnings of the previous year of all registered ships. The Minister is not to publish or disclose the information furnished in the return except to. show the percentage variations from year to. year, or in preparing periodical estimates; no person in the Department is to be permitted to see the returns, whilst no owner is to fail to make the return required under the clause. That statement summarizes the provision shortly. I think that Parliament is entitled to have, at all events, the results of an investigation made by responsible people concerning any matters as to which it can be shown to the satisfaction of Parliament that knowledge is necessary to enable us to settle any problems relating to seamen and ships as they arise. But the method of inquiry under this long and cumbrous clause does not appear by any means the best that could be adopted. I should think that it would be possible to obtain even fuller information than is set out here, and in a more direct way, without involving the procedure which it is attempted to authorize under the clause. It has been a matter of great dispute, and I call attention to it now in passing, in order, if possible, to save time in Committee.
Then there is the question relating to the periodical six months’ survey, which I understand Ministers are still pressing, although in New Zealand a similar provision has been modified so that a certificate runs for twelve months unless for any reason in a particular case the officers charged with the duty of making the surveys are advised that it should be restricted to six months. That method seems to offer a comparatively simple and judicious way out if it be necessary - and apparently the Board of Trade and its advisers are strongly of opinion that it is necessary - that the ordinary certificate for a wellfound vessel in good condition should run for at least twelve months. If there be any suspicion that the certificates of particular vessels ought not to run so long, the New Zealand expedient offers a happy mode of escape.
– Some States have a six months’ period, and some twelve.
– So I believe. In this particular case it is proposed to make the surveys for six months, whether vessels need it or not; whether, indeed, a vessel is new or not.
– No ; in cases where a ves sel is more than five years old.
– The Minister is quite right; the provision applies only to vessels older than five years. But although nowadays a vessel may be considered a little out of date in ten years, there are cargo coasters which are still doing good work, though very much older than that. There is not the slightest reason for objectingto certificate them from twelve months to twelve months.
Yesterday the honorable member for Franklin, who, I regret to say, is not now present, very warmly denounced the whole principle of the Bill on the plea that it is constructed throughout in the interests of two sets of people solely - those who own ships and those who are paid to navigate them. Under the circumstances, he expressed his resolute antagonism to the measure, because he believes it constitutes those two parties - the employers and the employes - a trust or combine, and, making them masters of the industry, enables them to tax the rest of the community to any extent. These are very serious allegations, which the honorable member may substantiate in Committee by the quotation of actual facts and figures.
But, in the first place, the honorable member made one unhappy slip of the tongue when he spoke of the combination of employers and employes as constituting the “new Protection.” The honorable member consistently spoke of the masters and men together as governing the industry, and described this combination as constituting the new Protection. That is an extraordinary abuse of the term, seeing that the feature of the new Protection is, and has been from the first day of its definition a few years ago, that the people at large are a third party to the bargain, and that this recognition and protection of the interests of the public constitutes the new policy. Previously, the interests of the employers were protected, directly and indirectly, by certain laws, and the interests of the seamen also, to some extent, protected, directly and indirectly, by other laws; but the interests of the public, who used the ships and freighted them, had not been, and could not be, protected by those laws. It is only when the interests of all three parties are taken into consideration together, and adjusted with justice, that we attain the “ new Protection.”
That being clear, it surely rests on the honorable member for Franklin to bring before the House facts disclosing the extent to which the public are being mulcted by combinations of employers and employes in our seafaring undertakings. If the charge that Australia is being bled by the shipping companies, ,er by a shipping combination or trust, has a good foundation - and it is a charge which does not emanate only from the honorable member, but is heard from a variety of sources - it certainly deserves the closest inquiry.
The development of our coastal interests, to which I have endeavoured to direct attention in a very cursory fashion this afternoon, with the grand object of the development of parts of this continent which cannot be otherwise touched or communicated with, is, perhaps, the most important feature of our naval expansion, using that word in the widest sense. Now, our object will absolutely be missed if settlement in and the carriage of goods from those now remote portions of our coast are retarded or prevented by undue charges levied on producers who desire to get their goods to the southern markets, or, it may be, to the markets of purchasing countries abroad. In any and every case, the people of Australia - producers or purchasers - must be protected in this regard. If the honorable member for Franklin possesses the material to support his charge the sooner it is substantiated the better. Then it will be the duty of this House to take it into the most serious consideration. There can be no question of party- no party issue is involved - but the whole of the circumstances should be carefully sifted.
The desire, and, I think, I may say, the determination of the House has been, and I believe is and will be, to develop our seafaring power to the greatest possible extent by making the conditions of employment on ship-board at least comparable with those on shore - by securing to our seafaring population, as on shore, fitting opportunity for the necessary savings, the proper provision for a family, and of retirement at an appropriate age. With that all will concur. We are equally obliged to agree, willing, and, indeed, anxious, to concur, that those who invest their money in the large and expensive vessels of modern times, facing the risks of ocean, which are many, shall be remunerated by that fair return of profit necessary to encourage them to engage in the industry. So far, all parties on all sides are at one ; but there is an essential condition to complete the safeguards. If there is any attempt to use those great appliances of national development merely to minister to private greed by undue profits, the *rade of the country must be restricted, if not crippled or crushed, in consequence. The development of Australia is our all-important obligation as a Parliament ; to that end, in one shape or another, we turn every day, and with it, in one form or another, we deal every week and every month of every session. We must continue so to do. If this continent is to remain white, it must be by proper settlement and development. Now, commercial sea-power is an enormous factor to that end, as I endeavoured to state at some length at the outset.
I return to that point, because this development cannot be brought about without expenditure, without ships, without trained men, or without spirited proprietors who will throw themselves into the task of creating markets for products here, and of creating a traffic which will enable them to provide adequate vessels and earn their fair share of the reward. But if the state of things depicted by the honorable member for Franklin prevails in Australia the sooner we grapple with the incubus the better. We cannot afford any delay in a matter affecting the settlement of those great portions of the country which are at present unpeopled, and relatively unproductive, among which even the Northern Territory coast represents but a comparatively small slice. This is one of the most important measures that has ever come before Parliament. It has ripened during a series of years of close criticism and examination ; and I trust that it will exclude anything even tending to limit, delay, or hamper settlement and development. It should not leave our hands until it is shaped into a positive instrument which will be readily, steadily, and consistently applied to foster our growth and strengthen our hold upon our empty north. Even if this involves considerable levies on the peopled portions of the Commonwealth, there must be no stint, for until the unpeopled portions are settled, there is no safety for this country, even under the flag which protects us.
.- I recognise that this may be properly called a Committee Bill, since it can best be dealt with clause by clause. As one who has travelled a great deal on our coasts during the past forty years, and as one who has suffered shipwreck on the coast and great inconvenience in many ways when travelling by sea, I should like to say that I am entirely in favour of this measure in so far as it proposes to secure greater safety for the travelling public. I am also in favour of it because it provides for better accommodation for the crews and all employed on ships trading in our waters, and particularly for the stewards. I have many times in the past felt exceedingly sorry for the stewards on our Inter-State vessels, because of the hardships which they have had to put up with. The clauses in this Bill providing for better accommodation for seamen, and particularly for stewards, will receive my support. I think that in the past the men engaged on our Inter-State steamers have been exceedingly badly treated. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that improved accommodation for the men will probably involve increased passenger fares and increased charges for the carriage of cargo. Whether that be so or not, we cannot expect to treat the men employed in this industry in the future in the way they have had to put up with in the past. I am very glad that this measure proposes to consider the interests of stewards and others employed on our Inter-State vessels. I should have been pleased if some provision had been proposed on similar lines for improving the accommodation for passengers. The accommodation provided for passengers on some of the steamers by which I have travelled has been anything but good. When we come to the clauses dealing with this matter, perhaps the Minister will consider whether certain air space should not be provided for .passengers as well as for the crews of these vessels. It may be said that the passengers get what they pay for, but they do not get much. I remember when travelling by the old Governor Blackall being stuck in with two other passengers in a cabin in which we had scarcely room to turn round. I dare say that the honorable member for Maranoa recalls similar experiences.
– I do.
– It was often very uncomfortable in the early days to travel up the Queensland coast. I am very pleased to be able to say that the accommodation now provided by Australian companies is of a very much better class than it used to be. There are some splendid steamers now engaged in our coastal trade, and I point to them as an object-lesson showing what the very much maligned capitalists sometimes do with their money. I believe that the ship-owners of Australia have made a little money, but they have spent it almost entirely in increasing the facilities given to the travelling public.
That must be admitted to be a very legitimate way in which to utilize profits, and it should be commended by every member of this House.
– They are quite a body of philanthropists, and are throwing money away every day !
– I think that if the honorable member looks up the dividends paid by Australian shipping companies, and their expenditure, he will find that the bulk of their profits have gone in the purchase of new steamers. The companies are building steamers for use on our coasts now of which we can all be proud. They compare favorably with steamers to be found in any part of the world. I hope that the shipping companies will continue to improve the vessels carrying on their trade. There is one thing about which we need to be very careful, since we are a part of the greatest maritime nation of the world, and that is that we should agree to no provision in this Bill which might seriously interfere with, or cause great injury to, the vast shipping business on which the Empire practically depends, from a defence as well as a commercial point of view. I feel sure that every member of this House is proud of the mercantile marine supremacy of the Old Country. We should see that it is not injured in any way by anything we do. We must study it, because our very safety depends on the maritime supremacy of the Old Land.
– There are too many foreigners in British ships to make us very proud of them.
– I stated, in introducing; the Bill, that since 1907 the number of foreigners in British ships has been decreasing, whilst the number of Britishers has been increasing.
– I am very glad to hear that statement by the Minister. We all wish to see British ships manned by; Britishers. There has been a very voluminous correspondence between the Home authorities and various Governments of the Commonwealth in connexion with this measure. That correspondence deals very fully with every clause of this Bill that is in any way likely to conflict with the great interest which is the paramount interest of the Empire. As the various matters in dispute have been threshed out by theauthorities, and a solution fairly satisfactory has been reached in almost every case,. we need not fear that, from this point of view, any very great difficulty is likely to arise from the passing of the Bill. There is one matter which I should like to have seen better defined. It is dealt with in the second part of clause 286, applying to the oversea steamers which carry our mails. I hope that when the time comes we may be able to carry the amendment which has been suggested by the right honorable member for Swan, so that large centres of population, separated by immense distances from each other and without railway communication, may not be deprived of the advantage of traffic by the mail steamers. We should remember that the companies owning the mail steamers have in the past behaved exceedingly well to the Australian steam-ship companies. They have charged such rates for passengers and cargo that they have scarcely come into competition with the steamers engaged in our coastal trade. I have heard Australian ship-owners admit that the owners of the mail steamers have behaved exceedingly well towards them by charging high fares and freights. Of course, persons who are bad sailors will prefer to enjoy the luxury of travelling, from Fremantle to Adelaide for instance, in one of the big mail steamers to travelling in one of the coastal boats.
– Have not the Australian companies repeatedly taken exception to the trading of the mail steamers?
– No; I think the opinion of the Australian ship-owners is that the proprietors of the oversea vessels have treated them well by charging higher passenger fares, and we know that they take very little cargo at all.
– If they get high fares they can afford to pay high wages, and that is all that we ask them to do.
– I agree with the honorable member in that, but he should remember that these oversea vessels do not trade in Australian waters alone. They trade in other parts of the world, where they have to compete with lines of steamers on which low rates are paid.
– How does the honorable member account for the fact that the Orient Steam Navigation Company can pay high wages, and the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company cannot?
– That involves the consideration of questions which I do not feel inclined to be drawn into at this stage. The honorable member must not overlook the fact that the natives of India employed on some of the oversea vessels are, after all, fellow-subjects of the Empire.
– But the fares on the white manned boats are the same as those which are charged on the coloured-manned vessels.
– Yes; and it is wonderful how well the passengers are catered for. However, I do not wish to be drawn into a consideration of that aspect of the question. The honorable member for Franklin pointed out that if we do not accept the amendment of the honorable member for Swan, what are known as the “ apple trips.” which are so necessary to Tasmanians, will be discontinued. We know that our big oversea vessels periodically visit Hobart, where they load big cargoes of apples for Europe. When I was in Nice, on my way Home to the Coronation, I was very pleased to see in the fruit shop windows, notices announcing that Australian apples would be to hand in a few days. That was very cheerful from an Australian point of view.
– I suppose that one could buy cheaper and better Australian apples there than one could get here ?
– I am not going to discuss the question of dumping. Australian apples are brought there by the big steamers which call at Marseilles. If we enact that our mail steamers shall not call at Tasmania for these consignments of apples, we shall deprive many of our Tasmanian fellow-citizens of their means of livelihood, and we shall seriously interfere with that splendid industry, which we all desire to foster. These trips are run at a very fine margin of profit, and if we prohibit the holding out of inducements to persons to undertake what is known as the “ apple trip “ for the benefit of their health, cargoes of apples will have to pay a very much higher freight than they do at present. Of course, the Government have power by an Order in Council to deal with this point. But I would rather that the position were made perfectly explicit.
– The honorable member is referring to clause 286?
– Yes. Until the ports of the Commonwealth are connected by railway these conditions ought not to apply.
– How can railway communication apply to Tasmania ?
– Of course it cannot. But to such places we might extend an exemption for a term, say, of ten years. We wish our Tasmanian fellow-citizens to get a square deal. A similar remark is applicable to places like Port Darwin and Papua. I do not know if honorable members have really considered what will happen to Papua if this Bill be passed. We know perfectly well that it is a territory under our Government, which is inhabited almost entirely by coloured races, and that its products have to compete with the products of cheap labour elsewhere.. If, by applying Australian restrictions, we force high prices of labour upon the people of Papua, we shall cripple that territory for very many years. We do not wish to create a monopoly there such as existed when Burns, Philp and Company commanded the whole of its trade. I am pleased to see the way in which that company have built up their splendid trade. They are to be commended in every way for the splendid effort they have put forth. But we cannot trust anybody with a monopoly. I would not trust myself with one, and consequently, I would not trust Burns, Philp and Company, notwithstanding that they are a very pushing firm. The white settlers of Papua have already petitioned this Parliament, asking that that territory shall be exempted from these local conditions. I would urge honorable members to give this matter their most earnest consideration. We know that on the 21st November, 191 1, certain resolutions of a most instructive character were carried by the Legislative Council of Papua. They read -
That the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia be informed, through the Minister of External Affairs, that the proviso at the end of section 295 of the Navigation Bill now before the Commonwealth Parliament, will, if passed, be detrimental to the best interests of the Territory for the following reasons : -
Because the trade of Papua being, at present, a comparatively small one with little export trade, we have not sufficient inducement to offer any firm or company to put on a frequent service of large steamers between Australia and Papuan ports only.
Because Papua being on the high road between all the eastern ports of Australia and China, Japan and Singapore, and the Dutch East Indies, we can offer sufficient inducement in the way of passengers and cargo to cause the companies owning the large and fast oversea steamers employed in these trades to send their vessels the slight deviation from their courses that is entailed in calling at our ports.
This insures us at present a fast fort nightly mail and passenger service between Papua and Australia, which we would lose if steamers with coloured crews were debarred from calling at our ports.
That is another important consideration. Before the Dutch line took up this trade, the old service called there only once in six weeks. We wish to see the territory thoroughly developed. If it be not thoroughly developed, a home rule movement will certainly start in Papua, such as we have seen developed in Ireland and other places which are misgoverned from a distance. We shall have the Papuan homerulers making all sorts of threats, and probably carrying them out.
That means that Burns, Philp and Company own a good deal of the distributing trade of Papua, and would be able to charge such prices on their steamers as would effectually cut out other traders.
-They have not done so yet.
– No; but a monopoly is not to be trusted. When Papua was served only by the Burns, Philp steamers, the charge for the carriage of goods from the Territory to Sydney was 50s. a ton; but when the Dutch boats began to call at Port Moresby the freight was reduced to 30s., and is to-day, I believe, only 25s., which means that competition has diminished it by one-half. Were the Burns, Philp Company to again acquire a monopoly, the freight would probably be doubled. The Legislative Council of Papua continues -
We desire also to point out to the Minister that the provisions of clause 289, regarding the wages of crews on the coastal vessels of the Territory, will, if carried, be a very hard blow to the owners of the numerous small vessels that our coastal plantations and stations depend upon to connect them with the larger ports.
I feel sure that the Minister desires the development of Papua, the Northern Territory, and the northern parts of Australia, and I hope,- therefore, that, instead of limiting their facilities of communication, he will accept amendments which will tend to the increase of their trade and productiveness. The honorable member for Franklin has pointed out that the Bill will place at a disadvantage those interested in and employed upon the ketches which trade on the Tasmanian coast and up its rivers, because it will require the employment on board of one or more able-bodied seamen, according to tonnage. At present, these ketches are worked by the owners, their sons and farm labourers, and are used chiefly to convey farm produce to ports like Hobart and Launceston. It would be very difficult to obtain other labour suitable for the service. Men trained on the big ocean-going steamers would not be suitable for this work. The owners of these ketches should not be compelled to obtain the services of able-bodied seamen, who would probably not understand the duties required of them. The men on the big steamers nowadays are not sailors at all in many cases; and it would be a great hardship to displace those now working on the ketches by others not so well suited to the trade. Probably the provision complained of will be round ultra vires. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the Bill is a very important measure, and should be studied from every point of view, so that as few mistakes as possible may be made. The delay of a few months, or even of years, will not be serious if it enables us to secure perfect legislation. Those connected with shipping are not now under any great- disability, because the Arbitration Court has determined the wages and conditions, not only of masters and officers, but also of seamen and all engaged in the coastal trade. With the desire to encourage the creation of a splendid seafaring population which, as the Leader of the Opposition suggested, may furnish material for our defence, should the day ever come to resist the attacks of an enemy, we should do all that we can to make the measure perfect.
.- I feel certain that honorable members will approach the big problems suggested by the Bill with a fair and open mind. That was the attitude of the Royal Commission on navigation of which I was a member towards the important subject which it had to investigate. One of the- difficulties brought under our notice was the extraordinary diversity of Australian legislation regarding navigation. At every port at which we took evidence, the ship-owners, those employed on board ships, and those connected with mercantile pursuits, testified to the need of uniformity. At present, the master coming from abroad finds that at every port he has to acquire new information concerning State law, to enable him to escape the pains and penalties attached to non-compliance with the Acts of our various State Parliaments. It is desirable that directly an oversea captain enters Commonwealth waters he should be able to know what the Federal navigation law is. Those connected with the Inter- State trade are also harassed by the present diversity of laws. Simplicity and uniformity is required by them, too. What is needed is a sort of code from which each man could easily gather his rights, liabilities and duties. In dealing with this measure, we should recognise our indebtedness to the one person above all others who deserves credit. I refer to that very much-esteemed and highly-honoured officer, Dr. Wollaston. It was he who, in the first instance, did what was most difficult - put the Bill in its first draft. He gathered together all the different Statutes, and tried to bring them into uniformity, and so present in its first draft a Bill which would suit Australian conditions and circumstances. The late Mr. Kingston also took a great interest in this matter, but his original instructions were these -
I wish Dr. Wollaston to undertake the drafting of a Commonwealth Merchant Shipping and Navigation Act on lines of the latest Imperial legislation; to include provisions on New Zealand lines for payment of Australian wages by boats trading in Australian waters. I should like print by 1st February, 1903.
He added -
Reports herewith by officers of different States. My idea is that draft should be considered in conference by State officers during this recess, with a view ‘to its being settled for session.
Those reports were obtained, and Dr. Wollaston went on to prepare a draft Bill.
In his evidence before the Navigation Commission, he said -
Mr. Kingston minuted this document that he was “ pleased with the appearance of the work,” and “ did not desire the inclusion of anything which Dr. Wollaston is really against.” The truth is that Mr. Kingston was good enough to leave to me to decide almost entirely for myself what should be put in the Bill. He never intimated to me that he desired the insertion of any particular provision. The whole matter was left to my judgment. I mention these facts only because I believe an attempt has been made in some quarters to show that he was personally responsible for some of the features of the Bill.
The objects which Dr. Wollaston chiefly had in view in drafting the measure were -
After the draft Bill was prepared, it was handed to a conference of State officers, consisting of Captain James Edie, then Superintendent of Navigation, New South Wales; Captain J. Mackay, Port Master and Chairman of the Marine Board of Queensland; Mr. C. W. Maclean, member of the Marine Board, and Engineer in Charge of Ports and Harbors, Victoria; and Mr. Arthur Searcy, President of the Marine Board of South Australia. They reported -
That no enactment by the Federal Parliament in regard to this subject could be considered adequate or satisfactory which did not make complete provision for the following matters : -
the efficient manning of ‘ships in regard to both officers and crew;
safety and comfort of passengers, officers, and seamen ;
thorough and frequent survey and inspection of all classes of vessels in reference to their general efficiency and seaworthiness, especially in regard to equipment as defined in the draft Bill; (d) encouragement to the Australian ship ping trade, and of employment of British subjects on board Australian ships;
prevention of undue competition with Australian vessels.
Those were the basic principles contained in their report, and honorable members will find, if they deal with this measure from a second-reading point of view, that they will deal with it on the lines laid down by those experienced men.
The first thing we have to do in connexion with this Bill is to lay the foundation of our power - to know exactly how far we can legislate withrespect to navigation and shipping. Under section 51 of the Constitution, we have power, subject to the Constitution, to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect’ to “ trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States.” Section98 provides that “ the power of the Parliament to make laws with respect to trade and commerce extends to navigation and shipping, and to railways the property of any State.” In addition, we have power, by paragraph xxxix. of section 51 of the Constitution, to deal with all “ matters incidental to the execution of any power vested by the Constitution in the Parliament or in either House thereof, or in the Government of the Commonwealth, or in the Federal Judicature, or in any Department or officer of the Commonwealth.”
– We have the same power as we have over trade and commerce.
– And that is no power at all.
– It is a conveyance of power in very wide terms. The usual rule, as laid down by the Courts for the interpretation of these enumerated powers which are granted to us, is as follows -
Therefore, our power to deal with navigation and shipping is to be construed broadly, and in the widest sense. In fact, as Chief Justice Marshall laid down in McCulloch v. Maryland -
The powers of government are limited, and its limits are not to be transcended, but the sound construction of the Constitution must allow to the National Legislature that discretion with respect to the means by which the powers are to be carried into execution which will enable that body to perform the high duties assigned to it in the manner most beneficial to the people. Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the Constitution, andall means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, are Constitutional.
The High Court very properly pays a great deal of respect to Chief Justice Marshall, who was undoubtedly one of the greatest lawyers that ever adorned any Court in the world.
– He is too great for the High Court, though.
– The High Court tas very properly paid to him. all the deference and respect which is due to the high reputation he has acquired among all those interested in legal science. There is a further power, which I will deal with a little more fully presently. Section 5 of the covering Act of the Constitution says -
This Act, and all laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution, shall be binding . . . and the laws of the Commonwealth shall be in force on all British ships, the Queen’s ships of war excepted, whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth.
There is a further section, which at one time was thought to extend our powers with respect to navigation and shipping, but which, according to the interpretation of the Court, does not do so. That is section 76, which gives power to the Parliament to make laws conferring original jurisdiction on the High Court “ in any matter of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction.” I have indicated, then, the extent of our powers. While we have these powers there are certain possible limitations which we have to consider, and with which I propose to deal in a general way. Briefly stated, there are three suggested limitations to our plenary power to deal with navigation and shipping.
The first is the territorial limit, the second arises from Imperial action, and the third is the limitation arising from the Intra-State or reserved powers of the States. Dealing with the first of these, it has been pointed out by the High Court that we can legislate only within the limits of our own territory. The Chief Justice of the High Court, in giving judgment in The Merchant Service Guild of Australasia v. Archibald Currie Gr Co., 5 C.L.R., p. 743, said -
Of course, the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Courts and the operation of the Commonwealth laws extend only to places within the Commonwealth, except in so far as a larger jurisdiction or operation is given to them bv law.
Mr. Justice O’Connor, in the same case, said, in referring’ to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court -
The jurisdiction of that Court, as of in V other Court, must of course be confined within the territorial limits over which the laws, of the Commonwealth extend, and it is conceded that apart from the provisions of section V. of the covering sections of the Constitution, those laws can have no operation beyond the 3 miles sea limit around Commonwealth territory.
Whilst we have this general territorial limitation, yet, by virtue of judgments given by the Privy Council and the High Court of Australia, we have power to extend our legislation in certain cases even beyond the 3-mile territorial limit. That is to say, the Courts have held that from the very nature of certain powers that we possess, we must have power to pass legislation enabling action to be taken, and the laws of t.:,.e Commonwealth to operate outside our own territory. By way of illustration, let me refer to a case which came before the Privy Council - the Attorney-General of Canada v. Cain and Gillula - and which was followed by the High Court of Australia in Robtelmes v. Brennan, 4 C.L.R., p. 395, in which it was held that inasmuch as there is power to exclude certain persons from Australia, and deport them, there must of necessity go with that power the right to legislate to deport, and to take those persons even beyond the 3-mile territory limit. A number of our powers are such that in their very nature they carry with them, if they are to be properly exercised, the power to pass legislation that will operate outside the limits of our own area. We have, for instance, the power given under paragraph x. of section 51 of the Constitution to make laws with respect to “ fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits,” the power under paragraph vn. of section 51, to legislate in respect to “ lighthouses, lightships, beacons, and buoys,” and the power under paragraph xxx. to legislate in regard to “ the relations of the Commonwealth with the islands of the Pacific.” We also have power to legislate in respect of external affairs, emigration and immigration, the influx of criminals, and several other matters, and we must recognise that in connexion with them the Commonwealth is entitled to legislate and probably authorize action beyond the confines and limits of its own territory.
The next limitation may possibly arise from Imperial legislation, and in con-“ nexion with it there is a difficult question of construction. The Commonwealth has contended, and the force of the contention is to some extent admitted, that the power of this Parliament to legislate with respect to navigation and shipping is independent of the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, and was derived from section 51 of the Constitution. That view has been admitted to some extent by a recent writer, Mr. A. Berriedale Keich, who, at page 1192 of a book just published by him. -entitled Responsible Government, in the Dominions, in a passage dealing with Mr. Garran’s opinion, which opinion is an appendix to the Report of the Royal Commission, writes -
The Law Department of the Commonwealth was of opinion, in the first place, that the power to legislate for peace, order, and good government was wide enough to sanction in the case of ships extra-territorial jurisdiction, but of more importance was the argument that the Commonwealth possessed power with respect to navigation and shipping independent of the Act of 1894, and this view has been accepted by the Commonwealth Government, which laid it down that the power to legislate as to shipping rested on sections 51 (1) and 98 of the Constitution. It is clear that this contention is so far correct that the power to legislate does not rest on sections 735, 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894.
– Who says that?
- Mr. Berriedale Keith, of the Colonial Office. He is a leading authority.
– He is speaking from the point of view of Westminster.
– But he admits here that our power rests on our own Constitution. He goes on to say -
That Act affects the mode of exercising the power, and the legislative authority depends on the Constitution Act of the Legislature. The real question at issue is how far these sections affect legislation by the Dominions.
That is the question at issue. If Imperial legislation were out of the way that would without any doubt be a very wide power. Dealing with the coastal trade and the power to legislate under the Imperial Act, he writes -
It may be indeed doubtful as a matter of history whether in giving in 1869 to Colonial Parliaments the power to regulate the coasting trade it was meant to do more than confer upon the Parliaments the right of opening or closing that trade to such vessels as they thought fit; but the Act must be read, not with regard to the original intention of the clause, but to the effect of the wording, and the power to regulate the coasting trade, as given in the Act of 1894 (section 736), is so widely expressed that it seems clear it must extend to repealing provisions of the Imperial Act, which would otherwise be inconsistent with the. local legislation. If this were not the case, the power to regulate the coasting trade, which has been conceded by the Imperial Government as belonging to the Parliaments of the Dominions, would become little more than meaningless.
The question that has been raised is the extent to which the Merchant Shipping Act affects our power to deal with shipping, and particularly the extent to which sections 735, 736, and 264 apply, and those important questions are still in a state of uncertainty. Differing views prevail with regard to it, and the ultimate decision must rest with some tribunal. Several honorable members have already dealt with this phase of the subject, and I do not propose to traverse the ground that has already been so well covered by them.
The third limitation of our power is a very important one, and arises from the power reserved to the States to legislate with respect to navigation and shipping. Before I deal with that point, however, I wish to refer, incidentally, to the additional power that we have to deal extraterritorially - that is to say, outside our own limits - with British ships by virtue of covering clause 5 of the Constitution. The judgment by Mr. Justice O’ConnorMerchant Service Guild v. A. Currie cr Co., 5 C.L.R., p. 737 - sets out what area that power covers. The application of the section was stated by the Chief Justice to be this -
The terms first “ port of clearance “ and “ port of destination “ are terms well known in shipping law. Every ship before starting on a voyage must obtain a clearance. The first port of clearance is the port where she first gets her clearance on beginning a voyage. The port of destination obviously means the end of that voyage. So that the Act applies only to cases where the beginning and end of the voyage are both in the Commonwealth.
Mr. Justice O’Connor points out in his judgment that if a British vessel leaves a port in Australia, which is her first port of clearance, and makes a voyage round the Pacific Islands and to Indian ports, coming back to Australia again, so that her port of destination is also in Australia, Australian laws apply to her during the whole time. That ship is like a bit of Australia floating about. Our laws apply to her just as if she were actually a part of Australia. That gives a very wide and extensive power.
When, however, we come to deal with the trade and commerce power, and ils relation to State action, there are undoubted limitations placed upon us. That is made clear by the judgment in the case of the owners of the s.s. Kalibia v. Wilson, 11 C.L.R., p. 687, where the Court laid it down clearly that the power to deal with shipping under section 98 does not extend the trade and commerce provision of the Constitution. The trade and commerce power is limited to trade and commerce with other countries and amongst the States, and consequently the navigation power is similarly limited. The Chief Justice says -
It is not now open to argument in this Court that the power to make laws with respect to trade and commerce with other countries and among the States (Constitution, section 51 (1), does not authorize the Parliament to legislate with respect to the internal trade of a State. It is not, and cannot be, contended that section 98 of the Constitution, which declares that the power in question extends to navigation and shipping, enlarges the ambit of the power, or does anything more than explain the meaning of the words “trade and commerce” as applied to matters within that ambit.
Mr. Justice O’Connor also said ;
Section98 of the Constitution, which declares that the power of Parliament with respect to trade and commerce extends to navigation and shipping, is plainly explanatory of the trade and commerce powers. It does not, as has been contended, extend them indefinitely with respect to navigation and shipping.
So that the limitation imposed is this : that this Parliament has power to deal with Inter-State and foreign shipping in the same way as it has power to legislate in respect to trade and commerce. But we have to ask ourselves what is the nature of the power Parliament possesses over InterState and foreign navigation? What is the extent to which it can legislate, and to what extent, if any, can the States legislate upon the same subject-matter ? If we take the interpretation placed upon the Federal trade and commerce power in the United States, it would appear that, as regards navigation and shipping, we can really divide the power to legislate into two classes. There are certain powers possessed by this Parliament which are absolutely exclusive, affecting matters as to which it alone can legislate. But there is also a residue of power which is concurrent, and concerning which both the Commonwealth and the States have jurisdiction to legislate. I will make a quotation from a judgment in the most recent case dealing with that aspect of the question so far as regards the division of the commerce power itself into two parts. In the case of Cardwell v. The General Bridge Company, cited in Thayer’s Cases, p. 2009, it was laid down -
These cases illustrate the general doctrine now full recognised, that the commercial power of Congress is exclusive of State authority only when the subjects upon which it is exercised are national in their character, and admit and require uniformity of regulations affecting alike all the States; and that when the subjects within that power are local in their nature or operation, or constitute mere aids to commerce, the States may provide for their regulation and management until Congress intervenes and supersedes their action.
The commerce power in the United States is held to include shipping. The same rule with respect to the division of the commerce power into subjects which are exclusive and concurrent, has been laid down in the case of Bowman v. The R. R. Company -
The doctrine now firmly established is that where the subject upon which Congress can act under its commercial power is local in its nature, a sphere of operation such as harbor, pilotage, or improvement of harbors, the establishment of beacons and buoys to guide vessels in and out of port, the construction of bridges over navigable rivers, the erection of wharfs, piers, and docks and the like, which can be properly regulated only by special provisions adapted to their localities, the State can act until Congress interferes and supersedes its authority ; but when the subject is national in its character and admits and requires uniformity of regulation, affecting alike all the States, such as transportation between the States, including the importation of goods from one State to another, Congress can alone act upon it and provide the needed regulations. The absence of any law of Congress on the subject is equivalent to its declaration that commerce in that matter shall be free.
Therefore, our navigation power seems to be, in part, exclusive, and in part, concurrent. Where the action taken is national, the States cannot exercise even a concurrent power. But when you come to deal with matters which are local, such as pilotage into a harbor, harbor improvements, keeping a river open for navigation, and so forth, there is concurrent power, and a State can legislate until the Commonwealth chooses to exercise its superior power and supersedes State legislation. That seems to me to be the dividing line between the two jurisdictions. For instance, in regard to navigable rivers, the American authorities point out clearly that the power vested in Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the States, includes the control of the navigable rivers of the United States as far as may be necessary to insure their free navigation ; and by the navigable waters of the United States are meant such as are navigable in fact, and which by themselves or by their connexion with other waters form a continuous channel for commerce with foreign countries or amongst the Slates (Thayer’s Cases, p. 2009). That is the view clearly laid down. One of the authorities refers, for instance, to the East River, which is such a navigable stream.It enters the harbor of New York and connects it with Long Island Sound; and therefore, whatever may be necessary to preserve navigation thereon, Congress has power to do in order to prevent interference with or obstruction of such navigation. In regard to port regulations, according to one decision, Gloucester Ferry v. Pennsylvania (Thayer’s Cases, p. 2016) -
The only interference of the State with the landing and receiving of passengers and freight, which is permissible, is confined to such measures as will prevent confusion among the vessels, and collision between them, insure their safety and convenience, and facilitate the discharge or receipt of their passengers and freight which fall under the general head of port regulations.
There is also the question arising’ with respect to our ferries, and, so far as New South Wales is concerned, this is very important. The question is, to what extent has the Commonwealth power to legislate with regard to ferries; and considerable evidence was given before the Navigation Commission as to the manning, safety, and equipment generally of the New South Wales ferries. In Hare’s American Constitutional Law, p. 458, it is laid down -
The authority to establish and regulate ferries is not included in the power of the Federal Government to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the States, has always been exercised by the States, and is undoubtedly a part of the immense mass of undelegated powers reserved to the States.
In one case, Chilvers v. the People -
A ferry was accurately defined as a public highway or thoroughfare across a stream of water by boat instead of by bridge ; and it was held that the fee exacted by a State or city for the grant of such a privilege is but the price paid for the grant of a franchise or public right conferred on an individual.
The author continues -
Ferries across a river or channel which divides two or more States are, nevertheless, a means of Inter-State commerce which may be regulated by Congress, and cannot be subjected to any State tax or regulation that will operate us a charge or restriction on the intercourse among the States, which, agreeably to Constitution, must be untrammelled by any laws that are not imposed by Congress.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we cannot make laws to regulate the rule of the road?
– I am not saying to. Undoubtedly we have the power of legislation over navigable rivers, so far as they are used in connexion with Inter-State trade and commerce.
– But what as to the ferries ?
– According to the American authorities that power is apparently reserved to the States jurisdiction unless they are Inter-State in action. An important question arises in the case of New South Wales, where Inter-State boats are coming into port and great numbers of State boats are trading from one place to another in the State.’ Under such circumstances there may be a conflicting jurisdiction, though, as a matter of public convenience alone, the Commonwealth ought to be supreme.
– I submit that there can be no conflict of jurisdiction in regard to the rule of the road; we are to say under what conditions a State boat shall go on the sea highway.
– The Commonwealth certainly has all the power over ports to keep the ocean highway open, and to regulate the traffic, so that Inter-State trade may be properly carried on. We can only know by experience where the concurrent powers of the State comes in. I should be glad to see such an interpretation as would make the trade and commerce powers of the Commonwealth as wide as possible; but we have to be guided by the decisions of the Courts.
– What are our powers with regard to vessels exclusively engaged in State trade, and using the ocean highway ?
– It seems to me that if we give a strict interpretation to the judgment in the Kalibia case and excluding the application of the coastal trade provisions of the Imperial Act, those vessels are excluded from Federal jurisdiction. This is a big subject, and I should not like to give anything ‘like a final opinion upon any issue raised in this speech, merely contenting myself with pointing out the difficulties and probable contentions. There are three points to be considered under the Bill in question - first, the Inter-State trade over which it seems clear we have full power ; then the limited coastal trade with regard to which there is considerable doubt ; and, thirdly, the river and bay trade, our powers in regard to which are also open to question.
– Supposing that under a State law a State ship was allowed to go without lights on the ocean highway ; are we to allow that?
– It is not a question of whether we are to allow it, but whether we have power to deal with such a matter. It was thought that the Admiralty power might be used to assist us; but, in view of the decision of the High Court, that power does extend the legislative shipping power. It is hard to find out how much the America:: decisions are based on the commercial power, and how much on the Admiralty power. Under the Admiralty power Parliament may legislate in certain cases with respect to vessels which are purely within the State, and this is a power possessed by the Congress in the United States, but not by us. I cannot do better than put the American view, by quoting a passage from Hare’s American Constitutional Law, vol. 2, page1010, dealing with the question of maritime and Admiralty jurisdiction -
The case may seemingly be summed up as follows : - A ship is potentially an instrument of Inter-State and foreign commerce, whether she is or is not actually so employed, and as such subject to the jurisdiction of the General Government. Highways are under the control of the States when on land, but they may be regulated by Congress, or through the Admiralty, when they consist of the navigable waters of the United States. Regard must be had, in determining whether a suit can or cannot be maintained in the Admiralty, to the locality where, and the nature of the tort or contract out of which the controversy arose; and if these give jurisdiction, it is immaterial that the voyage lay between ports in the same State.
So far, therefore, as the Admiralty power is concerned, it does give jurisdiction over the navigable rivers, although the vessel may not be engaged in Inter- State trade and commerce -
In the case of the Commerce it was contended that the proceeding must fail, because the collision occurred on the Hudson River within the body of the county, and it did not appear that either of the vessels was engaged in foreign commerce, or commerce among the several States; but the Court held that the judicial power conferred by the Constitution in all cases of Admiralty and maritime jurisdiction might be exercised over every vessel trading on the navigable waters of the United States.
– Our Court has not followed that decision.
– That is so. When we look at American authorities and textbooks, and endeavour to find out how far our power extends, the cases-
– Do not help us at all.
– They help us considerably, but we have to ask ourselves whether the decision is based on the commercial power or on the Admiralty power. If it is based on the commercial power, as a great number are, it is a great help to us, but it is of no assistance if basedon the Admiralty power.
– It is an extremely difficult thing to precisely limit the Admiralty power, because, when a Government exercises powers of its own, there are not the same limitations.
– The honorable gentleman refers to the passing of an Act of Parliament, a Statute of Congress; still the subjectmatters are pretty clear and distinct. Mr. Justice Isaacs said -
An attempt was made by Mr. Armstrong to support the legislation under the phrase “ Admiralty and maritime jurisdiction,” in section 76 of the Constitution. The American Courts have found, in a somewhat similar provision in the United States Constitution, a very large power, and judging by the observation of Fuller, C.J., in Lebigh Valley Railroad Co. v. Pennsylvania, the doctrine appears now to have become settled law. Our circumstances, however, are not the same ; we are not confronted with the necessity of implying the power from the scanty words used, and I see no justification for applying the same rule of construction to our own Constitution. Section 76 relates solely to original judicial jurisdiction, and enables Parliament to confer it on the High Court. Whatever is incidental to that” it likewise has power to enact (section 51 xxxxlx.). But beyond that it cannot go. The interpretation and enforcement of Admiralty and maritime law as it is found to exist is one thing; the alteration of that law is quite another.
So that the source of increased jurisdiction under our power of legislation is taken away from us by virtue of these decisions.
– There go the American decisions !
– Not all, but a portion of them. In the United States they can, of course, make laws with respect to the cases mentioned by the Attorney-General, dealing with what takes place on the high seas because the United States is a sovereign power. Being a sovereign power and independent nation, the United States is entitled to pass laws with respect to their subjects throughout the world, and with respect to their ships in any part of the world, which ships are extra-territorially parts of the United States.
– There is the power with respect to harbors and navigable rivers.
– Quite true; but that does not give us the power to legislate unless under the Constitution we have that power.
– To some extent it does.
– To some extent, yes. But I was giving the case of legislation on the high seas beyond the territorial limits.
– There is no doubt about that.
– That is the matter to which I was referring. I do not wish to follow this up more fully, and mention these matters now to assist us when we get into Committee. We have to remember that in dealing ‘with this huge Bill, every clause of it must come within our powers, and we must test the clauses by the doctrines I have stated. Dealing with the policy of the Bill, which, of course, is of most importance to us, I may say that, generally speaking, it has my support. The Navigation Commission, at considerable trouble, travelled over this continent to secure evidence with the object of framing a Navigation Bill which, on the whole, would be acceptable to this Parliament. It was interesting to us to find, when our first progress reports were presented, that our recommendations found favour across the sea. Although some were adversely criticised at the time, they have received the approval of the authorities since, and that has been a great encouragement to us. We took evidence from every class in the community, and invited every interest likely to be affected by a Navigation Bill to come before us. It is gratifying to know that the great majority of the recommendations in our report have, in the main, been adopted in the provisions of this Bill. I shall deal at this stage with only one or two points. Our first object in proposing legislation on the subject was to so improve the conditions of those engaged in the shipping industry as to encourage Australians to take to the seafaring life. We considered the evidence, not as partisans, but impartially and judicially, and we came to the conclusion that, as put before us, the conditions existing in the industry at the time required great improvement. We found that unless the existing conditions were greatly improved they would be a deterrent rather than an encouragement to Australia’s sons to take to a seafaring life. We felt that it was necessary to make recommendations for the improvement of the conditions on vessels engaged in our waters. In making these recommendations we had to have regard to the nature of the subject with which we were dealing. We were dealing with ships which, of necessity, could not be compared with dwellings upon land. They are restricted instruments of commerce, moulded and formed for specific purposes ; but on these aids and instrumentalities of commerce human beings are asked to work. We tried to reconcile the desire to give improved conditions to seamen with a desire to avoid imposing on ship-owners such restrictions as might make it impossible for them to carry on their business. The problem before us was a difficult one. We found that there should be an improvement in the air space allowed to those who had to sleep on board ship. I do not need to refer to specific instances, but we found that there should be considerable improvements made in the sleeping quarters of seamen. We learned that in many instances the sleeping quarters provided for seamen were utterly unfit for human habitation, and that in some cases absolutely no ventilation was provided. We also found that, in some instances where the ship-owners had tried to provide ventilation in the quarters allotted to seamen, the men actually stuffed clothing into the air shafts, and so militated against the provision made for their comfort. I am sorry to say that in one or two instances where improved conditions were provided on oversea ships, and in the case of one vessel in particular which we examined, where most excellent provision was made for sleeping and mess-room accommodation, one or two vandals amongst the seamen did not appreciate what was done for them, and sought to disfigure the quarters provided. I am glad to say these were exceptions, and, of course, it would not be fair to blame the whole of the seamen for the acts of particular individuals. My own opinion is that if we can improve the environment of seamen we shall ultimately find that they will be just as careful as are people on land of the good things provided for them. We found that, in some cases, bath-room provision was non-existent, that no provision was made for the supply of hot water and other ordinary conveniences. We felt that these things were a serious blot upon our shipping. We found, further, that, as regards oversea boats, there was great need for improvement in the dietary scale provided. To ask men to go to sea, and to fail to provide proper food for them, is simply cruelty. In many instances we had no fault to find with the quality of the food supplied ; but the food was spoilt by the men who were employed to cook it. Therefore, we recommended, not merely the adoption of an adequate scale of provisions, but the granting of certificates to cooks. We considered fully the conditions under which the seamen worked, and the wages paid to them. In short, we did what we could to protect them in every possible way. Seeing that improved conditions had been adopted from year to year in respect of men engaged on shore, we thought it only fair to extend, as far as practicable, similar conditions to those engaged on the sea. We further considered matters relating to the comfort of passengers, the seaworthiness of ships, and we did not overlook the important question of providing an adequate supply of life-saving appliances. These points, however, can better be discussed in detail in Committee. There was a difference of opinion amongst members of the Commission upon the question of the encouragement of Australian shipping. My own view is that as Australia is an island continent, and as we must have trade relations with other parts of the world, it is essential that we should offer inducements to the youth of our country to adopt the sea as a calling, so as to provide our shipping community. In other words, we should encourage the growth of an Australian mercantile marine. The more our products can be carried to other parts of the world in Australian or British vessels, the better it will be for us. Therefore, throughout our deliberations, we kept in view the Imperial as well as the Australian aspect of this question. We felt that as we are isolated in the Pacific, it was essential that we should encourage the growth of the mercantile marine as an aid to that naval power which we are bound ultimately to exercise. It is true that many of our recommendations may require reconsideration. We have no desire to retard the development of any part of Australia, and if there be any provision in the Bill the operation of which would prove harsh to Papua or the Northern Territory, or any other portion of the Commonwealth, I hope that in Committee we shall approach it with an open mind. The general aim and purport of the Bill should really be embodied in the four points stated, namely : to encourage Australians -to go to sea, to secure safe ships for the carriage of our goods, to provide reasonable conditions of living so that the calling of the sea may be rendered more attractive, and to build up an Australian mercantile marine whilst keeping our eyes on the Imperial aspect of this matter and doing nothing to hamper Imperial relations and Imperial trade.
– - I listened with admiration to the honorable member for Darling Downs, particularly when he was dealing with the local aspect of this question. I suppose that I admired him most when I agreed with him least, although I admit that towards the close of his address, when he emphasized the necessity of encouraging the building up of a mercantile marine in Australia, I was in entire accord with him. I wish to preserve to our Australian ship-owners the Australian trade, and that of our dependencies. To my mind, that is one of the principal objects which this Bill can achieve. I know that the observations which I am about to make may lay me open to the charge that I wish to encourage the Shipping Ring or Combine. At the outset, therefore, I wish to say that if the electors of the Commonwealth choose to give us the power, we can legislate to prevent any undue influence on the part of an Australian shipping ring or combine to the detriment of the community ; but we can never deal effectually with foreign shipping rings which may trade with us.
– The honorable member will have a big contract if he undertakes to suppress the Shipping Ring.
– There is nothing too big for us to undertake if we earnestly desire to tackle it. The honorable member for Franklin attacked the Shipping _ Ring, notwithstanding that his utterances in this House conclusively prove that he has no desire to curb its operations, except in so far as they affect’ his own constituency. That is scarcely a fair attitude to take up.
– I do not think that is a fair statement to make.
– My reason for making it is that the Opposition, by their attitude upon the floor of this Chamber, have shown that they are generally adverse to certain litigation which is at present in progress. I may be wrong, but, if so, it is my misfortune, and not my fault. The honorable member for Darling Downs specially mentioned that in the past our seamen have not been properly looked after - that the conveniences provided for them on ships have not been adequate, and that their food and wages conditions have not received the attention which they deserve. He urged that if we are to encourage the Australian youth to follow the sea as an occupation, we shall have to make maritime life more attractive than it has hitherto been. Now, if we attempt by legislation to improve the conditions of our seamen, we must undoubedly levy a charge upon those who have invested their money in the shipping industry. If we insist that they shall pay certain rates of wages, and observe certain conditions, we shall be unfair in subjecting them to competition with British and foreign companies who, by their freedom from the restrictions which we have imposed on our own shipping, will be able to compete with advantage for our coastal trade. My desire is to preserve the coastal trade of Australia, and that between the mainland and the dependencies of the Commonwealth, to Australian shipping companies. What we have now to consider is how this can be done. There are limitations on our power to legislate concerning navigation. A Navigation Bill is a measure which must be sent to the Old Country to receive the Royal assent. While no doubt the Imperial Government wishes to leave Australia as free as possible, if it thought that the provisions of our Bill would act harshly on British shipping companies, it would be likely to say, “ You cannot pass this legislation.” If that is said, it will be a thing to be deplored. During the last two decades little or nothing has been heard in Australia about severance from the Empire. I do not wish to hear it talked of, because we are better as we are; but, although a part of the Empire, we have our own lives to lead, and our own civilization to establish, and we hope to create and maintain here a higher standard of living than obtains in the Old Country.
– That will be recognised in time.
– I believe that it will. It would ill-become the British Government to veto any measure that we might pass for improving the condition of our seamen, and I’ hope that that will not be done. But having placed on the shipping companies of Australia restrictions involving increased expense in the conduct of their operations, it is our duty, if only to insure the livelihood of those employed by them, to protect them from the competition of shipping from abroad which is not under similar restrictions. The United States of America, and almost every other country, keeps its coastal trade for its own shipping. So desirous is the United States Government of assisting its own shipping that it proposes to allow its shipping to pass through -the. Panama Canal free of dues, except where that shipping is under the control of railway companies likely to use it to maintain their hold on the traffic business of the country. The people of America have been fighting against trust control for many generations, and, therefore, while they desire to give an advantage to their own shipping by allowing it to pass free through the Panama
Canal, they wish to place a restriction on trust-controlled shipping, even though it be American. Of course, British ship-owners are opposed to this legislation. Personally, I have no opinion to offer regarding its international aspect, because, although I have seen a copy of the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty, I admit that legal training is necessary to understand its meaning. Indeed, there is a controversy about it by experts which is likely to prove difficult of settlement. The point I wish to make is that Australians have an equal right with Americans to legislate for the benefit of their own shipping, and against whatever combine may be, or may come into existence, here. I deny that in supporting this Bill I am supporting shipping rings or combines. My desire is to keep the shipping business of Australia in the hands of Australians. We are providing that the ships engaged in our coastal trade shall be seaworthy, properly manned and officered, and provided with all suitable accommodation for passengers and crew. And we should preserve the trade of our ship-owners against the encroachment of foreign shipping, which might compete against them here. I have already taken into consideration the fact that we might have to legislate, if we have power to do so, against certain honorable understandings, arrangements, or combines amongst’ the shipping companies themselves. To my mind, what I have indicated is one of the principal things to which this Act ought to apply, and I hope that when it leaves this Chamber it will be effective in that regard. We are. told by a representative of Tasmania that, if certain provisions are agreed to, they will work ill to that State. The honorable member for Franklin said that if, for instance, a man desires to send 500 tons of fruit from Tasmania to Brisbane it has to be transhipped at Sydney. I fail to see where a foreign ship could help him in that direction. Even if it is a fact that transhipping has to be done, I know people living in South Melbourne who have to go into Melbourne in order to reach Port Melbourne, while other people living in another part of South Melbourne can take a tram straight to Port Melbourne. It is simply a question of locality. I do not want any legislation to operate harshly against Tasmania, but the people of that State will find that, if they are at a disadvantage in getting produce from Tasmania to Queensland, the same sort of thing happens all over Australia in one way or another. They, therefore, may not be worse off than are other parts of Australia.
– Would you not like to make them better off?
– I do not think that interjection expresses a national spirit.
– Is it a national spirit to desire to make them worse off?
– No, but I said they would not be worse off than the rest of Australia.
– I meant that they should be made better off than they are now.
– The right honorable member for Swan and other members from Western Australia, including those on this side, are strongly desirous of obtaining for the people of Western Australia all sorts of conveniences, irrespective of what 511 affects that policy may have on the rest ~>i Australia. They are very anxious to hang on to any little conveniences they may have already.
– We say there will not be any ill effects for the rest of Australia.
– Here is where we come into the question.
– Have you no pity for those poor fellows who are sea-sick?
– I do not think there are many better seagoing boats in the world than the Inter-State boats trading to Western Australia, and I have been on a few of them. I went to Western Australia by one, and came back by another, and I never had better trips, even on mail steamers.
– Have you had a rough trip on a coaster with horses and cattle on board ?
– That sort of thing may happen, but the point I am making is that it is better for the people of Australia to consider the adoption of some method which is beneficial to Australia as a whole. It would be better to meet these cases either by a Government subsidy, or by Government-owned vessels, than it would be to legislate to allow foreign ships to come in and give the conveniences that certain people desire. Every little country township likes to have as good a train service as it can get, even if many trains go through its station empty. It wishes also to have a first-class mail service, even though the mail may come in on many oc casions with only one or two letters, or even with none. It is the same with Tasmania and Western Australia, and, perhaps, with other parts of the Commonwealth. They are desirous of getting as good shipping accommodation at as short intervals’ as possible, and no one can condemn them for that desire. Of course, I may be charged as a Victorian representative with endeavouring to get too much for my own State, but what I am seeking to bring about will be just as beneficial to the people of Western Australia, the shipowners of that State, and the shipping employes who live in that State, as it will be to the people of Victoria. What I am after is the best interests of Australia, and, rather than allow foreign ships, with their poorly-paid crews and, perhaps, badly regulated shipping conditions, to come here and undercut Australian shipping companies and Australian sailors, it would be better for the Government to maintain a service themselves. I cannot, of course, say whether we can provide for that in this Bill. I believe that if the railway to Western Australia, were finished it would do away with a number of the objections from that State.
– That would not affect Broome, Thursday Island, or the Northern Territory.
– No; but it would suit the more thickly-populated places, and, as the people there are human, I do not think they would howl very much on that particular point. This would leave only those living north of Geraldton to declaim against any legislation which was designed to have the effect that I desire to bring about. Then there is the question of the Northern Territory shipping. I want to see all shipping around our coast carried on by Australian vessels, manned by white labour. The Northern Territory trade today is carried on under shipping conditions which are not what I would desire, but they convenience the Northern Territory. What I have said about the Western Australian trade applies there also. If it is necessary in the interests of the people of Australia and Australian trade to do so, the Government will have to consider the advisableness of subsidizing white-manned ships, or running ships themselves to those places for the convenience of the inhabitants. The same position again applies to Papua. We know that the people of that Possession are up in arms. They say that if what we desire is carried into effect they will have only a six-weekly service instead of the present three-weekly service. The peculiar thing about this agitation is that, while it purports to come from the whole of Papua, Port Moresby is the only place which gains from the tri-weekly service. The rest of Papua is not interested in it. The ships in that service do not go to Samarai or other commercial centres in Papua, so that the Bill cannot really have the effect upon Papua, as a whole, that some people would have us believe. At present the Australian Government subsidize a sixweekly main service to Papua. The company have to comply with certain conditions. Their crews must receive certain rates of pay ; they are not permitted to charge more than a certain amount for the carriage of goods, and -they have to observe certain time-limits with respect to the delivery of mails. If in the interests of Australia as a whole it is necessary to pass legislation which may have the effect of putting a stop to the foreign shipping trade between Papua and the mainland, if will not cost much to duplicate the present subsidized mail service. Instead of a six-weekly service we could have a three-weekly service, and an Australian shipping company could be subsidized to provide such a service, with much advantage to Papua. I have heard a great deal said as to the effect which this Bill will have upon the Dutch steamers now calling at Port Moresby on their way to and from- the East. As a matter of fact, however, those vessels will be compelled in any event to call at Papua, since rice, which is largely consumed by the natives, is their principal cargo. If, in order to carry out our desire to preserve the whole of our trade for Australian shipping, it is found necessary to duplicate the present subsidized mail service between the mainland and Papua, I do not think that any objection will be taken to that course. This question will have to be threshed out in Committee. I believe that many honorable members on both sides of the House are prepared to give due consideration to Australian trade, and as the honorable member for Darling Downs has said, I think Ave all wish to encourage on the part of Australians a more general desire to earn their living in the mercantile marine. The nation that is without a good mercantile marine occupies a very poor position. My desire is that the mercantile marine of Australia shall be manned and officered by Australians under Australian conditions. I hope that due consideration will be given to the points I have raised, and that in dealing with this Bill we shall have regard to the interests, not of any one part of the Commonwealth, but of Australia as a whole. The interests of the whole Commonwealth must be considered, even if it be necessary to increase the subsidized services between certain ports, or to run a line of Commonwealth-owned steamers in order to give those residing in certain parts of Australia the facilities they require.
Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 7.45 p.m.
.- We may congratulate ourselves upon the introduction of this measure. I listened to the Minister of Trade and Customs with a great deal of pleasure, and judging from, the tone of his speech, I feel there is a very good chance, as this is a non-party question, of turning out a piece of legislation which will not only be a credit to ourselves, but would be creditable to any other Legislature in the Empire. Perhaps it was time the Bill did come before us; but, on the other hand, there may not have been any undue delay in dealing with it, for we must remember that a measure affecting so many interests, which are so wide and conflicting in their character, cannot be passed hurriedly. If we consider the history of navigation legislation elsewhere - in Great Britain, for instance - we find that during the past fifty years or so the navigation laws have been continually altered; until in 1894 a point was reached when it was necessary to consolidate the various Acts. Since then Great Britain has gone on amending the law in various ways. Had this Bill been introduced seven or eight years ago, we should have had to tinker with it continually. When a Navigation Bill was first brought before the Commonwealth Parliament, the Ministry of the day were evidently struck with the great difficulties in their path. They simply introduced the Bill, and did nothing else. Subsequently, a Navigation Commission was appointed to inquire into the subject, and a conference of representatives of all parts of the Empire was held in London. After that the Bill was solemnly introduced into this Parliament. The Senate has passed it in its present form, and this House is about to do very much the same. 1 quite agree with the objects of the Bill. I hope to see built up in Australia a strong mercantile marine. We have an immense coast-line and a considerable number of ports. If Australia, progresses at anything like the rate that she ought to progress, it is probable that we shall have many more ports along our coasts. We ought to be able to build up a very large trade, indeed; and it should be our endeavour to reserve our coastal trade, as far as we reasonably can, to ships registered and owned in Australia. In addition to that, the Bill aims at making seafaring life more attractive to the people of our race. That is a very important consideration, because we must remember that the British race owes its great predominance in the world to-day in no small measure to the mercantile marine of the Mother Country. Our future will depend largely upon the prosperity of that branch of trade and commerce. When we realize how much we owe to our mercantile marine, it behoves us to remember the obligation upon us of making the work of those engaged on our ships as attractive as possible. There was in recent years a singular decline in the number of British persons following a seafaring life. In 1906 legislation was introduced in Great Britain with .the object of bettering the condition of the sailor and bringing his standard of life up to the standard of the worker on land. I am sure that that measure has had a beneficial effect. The number of British seamen has since that time been increasing. In this Bill we are striving to achieve the same object, although, of course, we are acting on a more liberal scale than has been adopted elsewhere hitherto. But while we are trying to make the lot of the sailor happier and more comfortable, and while it is quite right, in my opinion, that the. sailor should receive adequate treatment and remuneration - because he has had a hard life in the past, and has not been treated in anything like the way he should have been - we must at the same time recognise that there is a slight danger in this policy. In endeavouring 10 make the conditions of those who follow a seafaring life more .comfortable, we may, . unless we are careful, make freights so excessive, owing to the space taken up for seamen’s quarters and other causes, that the Australian producer may be hit more heavily than is wise in the general interests of the community. Further than that, we may impose upon our ship-owners too severe a burden. My belief is that while we should do all we can to make the life of the sailor attractive and comfortable, and to give him as high wages as ought to be paid in a country like Australia, still we must always bear in mind the obligation of not overdoing this business. We must have regard to other interests upon which the general prosperity of the community greatly depends. Otherwise we may do more harm than good, not only to the public, but to the sailor himself ; because, if the shipping industry does not thrive, much employment may not be offering. The Minister adopted a very temperate and fair tone when introducing this non-party measure ; and in Committee I am sure the honorable gentleman will listen to reason, and, with the good grasp he has of all the facts, will endeavour to place on the statute-book sensible legislation that will do credit to himself and the .House. Our desire is to improve the sailor’s lot by providing, him with better accommodation, more air space, hot and cold baths, a more acceptable dietary scale, and other conveniences, and I am glad to see that the Minister has not failed to provide against crimping, shanghai-ing, and other practices which have been too common. The sailor of to-day is, I dare say, as shrewd as most people, but it would appear that he is still a very easy prey to unscrupulous people in more than one port, even in Australia; while, if our reading as boys is anywhere near the truth, he has been the subject of such practices for many years past in the Old World. The evidence given before the Navigation Commission, at Newcastle, disclosed a very serious state of affairs; arid it is gratifying to see that the Bill proposes to deal with such evils in something like a firm and decisive manner. At the same time I cannot help thinking that many of the clauses may prove to be, not only unconstitutional,- but repugnant to the Merchant Shipping Act of Great Britain. That is an Imperial Act applying to all parts of the British Dominions; and it is probable that the Royal assent may be withheld if we persist in some of the provisions. However, I hope that wise counsels will prevail ; we are all striving to one end, and we may hope that in Committee many pitfalls will be avoided. So far as this Bill applies to Intra-State shipping, I think it will be found to be unconstitutional. The Kalibia case decided. that we could not regulate Intra- State trade - that section 98 of the Constitution does not increase the ambit of section 51, but is merely explanatory. In that case the Court ruled out the argument that section 76 of the Constitution gives us an
Admiralty jurisdiction on an analogy with that claimed and exercised by the Supreme Court of the United States ; and further, it was held that the Commonwealth Act then under review was invalid, because the unconstitutional sections were inseparable from the rest of the measure. I hope that in Committee, when we are nearing the line of constitutionality, we shall be very careful, and that, if we do take risks, they will be the smallest possible. No doubt, a difficult task lies before us ; but honorable members on the front Opposition bench have shown again and again that the solving of legal problems is to them like shelling peas, and no doubt with their assistance the Government will be able to avoid the worst.
– We are not going to spoil the Bill for fear of any unconstitutionality.
– I presume that, in saying “ we,” the honorable member is talking for his party.
– I am speaking of the House.
– I, too, hope that we shall not spoil the Bill ; but if we insert any palpably unconstitutional clauses, which may be found inseparable from the measure as a whole, we shall take the royal road to rendering it abortive. Should that be so, and a case arise during recess, the parties will have to wait until Parliament again meets before redress can be had ; and it is to be hoped that all these difficulties will be borne in mind. We have to con.sider Imperial conditions, and also the conditions prevailing in New Zealand, not to mention the danger of offending those interested in foreign shipping. The Board of Trade seems to be very anxious that we should not go too far in certain directions. For instance, in the matter of surveys, it appears that we propose to go much further than is gone at Home under the Merchant Shipping Act, and the Board of Trade is afraid that ir we insist on two surveys a year we may provoke”” foreign retaliation. For instance, if we offend persons interested in German shipping, that country may take retaliatory action which will penalize not only Australian shipping, but the whole of the shipping of the British Empire. This is a very serious phase of the subject which we have to consider. If British shipping should be materially injured because we choose to be a little headstrong, and to push a point a little further than is wise, the consequences may be very serious indeed. Speaking from memory, I believe that British shipping represents 34 per cent, of the total shipping of the world, and comparatively little of it is Australian shipping. It would be very unreasonable for us, as a partner of the great British Empire, to take any action which would have the result of injuring British shipping. It should be one of our chief aims in dealing with such a measure as this, to bring about uniformity of legislation as affecting, at least, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. That aim cannot be regarded as purely idealistic, because any one who considers the history df the Empire for the last thirty years must admit tEat there has been during that period a vast swing of the pendulum towards a sane Imperialism. Efforts have been made to bring all legislation likely to have more than local effect into line with the legislation generally adopted by the rest of the Empire. It is wise for us to follow such a course in the interests of our own material welfare, and as partners in the great co-partnership of ‘the British Empire. I hope that if in Committee any amendments in this direction are suggested, the Government will make themselves acquainted with all the facts of the case, and will hesitate to refuse to accept such amendments if By doing so they may avoid striking a blow at British shipping. The Board of Trade object that the provision for two surveys in each year may- be repugnant to British ship-owners, since it is not in accordance with the Merchant Shipping Act, and because if we wish to detain a ship we can always do so if we have reason to believe that she Is unseaworthy. They argue, and it seems to me with some force, that one survey a year, and this reserve power of detention, should be sufficient to meet all requirements, and we should be careful to avoid any excuse for retaliation upon the whole of British shipping, in order merely to meet some purely Australian view of navigation. The great aim we should have is to build up a large and solid mercantile marine in Australia.
– What does the honorable member think about a Commonwealth line of steam-ships?
– I am not thinking about it at all at present. There is nothing in the Bill providing for the establishment of a State or Commonwealth line of steamships. When such a proposition is definitely submitted by the other side, I shall very probably think about it, and may express an opinion upon it. The part of this Bill which will appeal most strongly to Australians is that dealing with our coastal trade, and in this connexion the Government propose some drastic legislation. I hope it will be found possible in Committee to provide for some exceptions to the general principle.
– What is the general principle ?
– It is that every ship engaging in the Australian coastal trade shall comply with our conditions as to the number of officers and men, rate of pay, colour of crews, and other conditions set forth in the Bill. I point out that these may have a somewhat detrimental effect on the development of some Territories under the control of the Commonwealth. They may injuriously affect Papua, the Northern Territory, and our trade with some islands of the Pacific, which it would be of advantage to us to foster. We have good warrant for strict legislation affecting our coastal trade. We find that the United States have so hedged round their coastal trade as to practically confine it to American ships. ‘ That may have been a wise course for the United States to adopt, because they are an independent nation. We are, however, only part of ran Empire, and must consider many matters which need not concern the people of the United States. The Government in this Bill propose to follow somewhat on the lines adopted in the United States, and I do not seriously object to that. Not only does the United States treat her own shipping favorably in her coastal trade, but Russia, France, and other countries do the same with respect to their ships, and Canada practically restricts her coastal trade to British ships. To illustrate one of the difficulties with which we are faced, I mention the fact that many people travelling from Western Australia to the eastern States avail themselves of the right to travel by the mail steamers. “The boats of the Peninsular and Oriental Company carry coloured crews, and under this Bill, if a Peninsular and Oriental Company’s boat picks up passengers or cargo at Fremantle for transport to another Australian port, she will be held to be engaged in the Australian coastal trade, and will have to comply with our coasting trade conditions. It is not at all likely that the Peninsular and Oriental Company will revolutionize their system of running and manning their boats in order to continue to secure the little trade they do in
Australian waters. I think that in the circumstances we should permit our people to continue to make use of the mail steamers, at all events until the Western Australian railway is completed. That seems to me to be a concession we might make. It would not entrench to any extent on the general principle, as we should be practically preserving our coastal trade intact. We should be treating the Peninsular and Oriental Company favorably, and in doing so secure a convenience for the travelling public of Australia. These provisions affecting the coastal trade will probably have a very much more serious effect upon such places as Papua, which Australia desires shall be highly developed. If we insist on them we shall place Papua under a decided disadvantage. There are not a great many Australians going to that Territory. It is not sufficiently attractive, apparently, to induce any rush of white settlers. I think that we should look after the interests of our people in such remote places, if anything, more carefully than those of people in our midst. We should not forget that Papua is a Territory of the Commonwealth, and should be treated fairly. I hold in my hand a clipping from the Papuan Times, which sets out that there is a shipping company trading to that Territory - I refer to Bums, Philp and Company - which receives a subsidy from the Commonwealth of .£3,000 per annum.
– They carry white crews ontheir vessels.
– They employ white labour. There are three other steam-ship lines which do not carry white crews, but which find it convenient and profitable recall at Papua, and which supply the inhabitants with rice and food stuffs. As a result of all these services, we find that Papua enjoys a fortnightly mail. If we enact that all vessels trading with this outlying Territory must carry white crews, we shall either have to subsidize them very heavily or they will go out of the trade, and the Territory will thus be deprived of facilities which it now enjoys. If we wish to create traffic, we can do so only by providing proper facilities to encourage it. If we want an object lesson of how such facilities foster passenger and other traffic, we have merely to look at the history of the Loongana, which trades between Melbourne and Launceston. We know that, as the result of the facilities offered by that vessel, thousands of persons from the mainland are induced to seek the salubrious climate of Tasmania during the summer months.
– The passenger trade in that case has increased by reason of people leaving Tasmania for the mainland.
– The honorable member’s statement is absolutely incorrect. The big increase in the traffic is caused by the number of persons who leave Australia during the summer months. I repeat that we shall do Papua an immense injury if we deprive it of the shipping services which it at present enjoys.
– Does the honorable member prefer the Dutch line of steamers to the Australian line?
– I do not; but I fear that if we place an embargo on the vessels which call there now, they will withdraw from the trade, and no other steamers will be substituted for them. In my opinion, we are pressing this particular point further than we ought to do, as business men. We can easily exempt Papua from the provision to which I am alluding, much more easily than we can exempt a State, because in the latter case we may be doing something which is unconstitutional. We have been told that the trade with Papua during the past three or four years has increased by leaps and bounds, and in this connexion two places are mentioned, namely, . Samarai and Port Moresby. The trade with the latter has increased wonderfully, butthe trade with the former has practically remained stationary. Unless we are extremely careful, it seems to me that we shall hit the trade with Papua very hard.
– Does the honorable member think that the fact that one place is the seat of government, and that consequently a large sum of money is expended there, accounts for its increase of trade ?
– I do not. The writer of this article knows what he is talking about. I should be very sorry to see the people who have gone there hit hard by any of our legislation. The Kalibia case would prevent us from hitting trade which is purely of a State character, but under this Bill we may do a serious injury to Papua, which is merely a Territory of the Commonwealth. There, the White Australia question is a very different one from what it is here. In Papua there are hundreds of blacks to every white inhabitant. Consequently, the White Australia proposition does not come in there. We should be careful to extend to that Territory the most sympathetic treatment, and if we are not sufficiently business men to overcome a little difficulty such as that with which we are confronted, I do not know what we are fit for.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– I would suggest that to the clause dealing with this matter we should add the words “ except the Territory of Papua.”
– We should allow all the trade to go to the foreigner?
– The difficulty in dealing with my honorable friends opposite is that they are such “ whole-hoggers.” They never seem to know where they can compromise. If we are going to ram a principle home on every occasion, if we are never going to compromise, how can we expect others to compromise?
– The honorable member would like to shut out Burns, Philp and Company.
– I would not. But my honorable friends opposite profess to be opposed to monopolies. Yet they would shut out every other steam-ship company which trades to Papua for the purpose of allowing Burns, Philp and Company to enjoy a monopoly. We shall doubtless be told that this is business. It is not business.We have no right to hand over the Papuans body and soul to one company, and to give that company a monopoly. Competition tends to bring down freights. On this subject, let me quote the Papuan Times -
A little over two years ago, before the advent of the Dutch line, the freights locally were 50s. per ton, but since the inauguration of competition a marvellous difference has taken place. First of all, the freights dropped to one-half - 25s. per ton - and at present stand at 30s. per ton. At Samarai, where, as we have already mentioned, there is little or no competition, the rate stands at 50s. per ton still.
– Does the honorable member know the reason why ?
– I am sure that the honorable member for South Sydney does not. Those on the spot know more than he does.
– I have been to New Guinea.
– For about a fortnight, and, like the globe-trotter who writes a book about Australia after travelling through it for a week or two, the honorable member assumes to know all about Papua. I should like to be told how far he has penetrated into the wilds of that country, and how much he knows about its trade and activities.
– Has the honorable member ever been there?
– No; but I am giving the opinions of those who live there, and who know what they are talking about.
– Ex parte statements.
– I give them for what they are worth. We might very well bend the rigid principles of the Bill a little to assist those who have gone to this outlying Territory to seek their fortunes, and are living in a climate such as would not be pleasing to those accustomed to the conditions of the temperate parts of Australia. If we hamper the trade of Papua, we shall do the Territory a vast injury, and shall call in question our right to be intrusted with its control.
– The writer of the article from which the honorable member is quoting has never been to Samarai.
– Is what he says incorrect? Do honorable members dispute the truth of the statements?
– I should be glad to hear the honorable member make good his position. We do not know, and I do not think any one can tell us, exactly what powers of legislation we have in regard to navigation. The Imperial Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, according- to some persons, would override any enactment repugnant to it. Our Constitution, however, is an Imperial Act, which became law some years after the Merchant Shipping Act was passed. The Merchant Shipping Act empowers British Possessions to pass certain legislation, and to make laws regulating their coastal trade. If Australia cannot be held to be a British Possession within the meaning of that Act, we may be taken, I suppose, to have the right to legislate in respect of navigation under our Constitution. But there is no certainty as to the exact nature of our powers. The honorable member for Angas will not express himself definitely on the point, and he has quoted a leading authority, Mr. Keith, as taking a similar -standi. This fact is a reason for doing all we can to secure uniformity in the laws governing shipping throughout the Empire. Let us try to make our legislation meet the views of the Board of Trade, and fit in with the legislation of New Zealand. That would be a wise and statesmanlike course. As we deal with the Bill in Committee, our diffi culties will become more apparent, but if we can secure the uniformity I speak of the position will -be made much clearer. We cannot interfere with Intra- State shipping, and, therefore, many of the clausesof the Bill are unconstitutional. Otherswill have to be considered very carefully, because of the objections raised by the Board- of Trade. Altogether, we have a stupendous task, but, seeing that this is a non-party measure, I feel certain that theresult of our efforts will be an Act which, will give satisfaction to our people and docredit to us. The State Parliaments havepower to pass laws relating to shipping, which the Commonwealth law would not. override, and the passing of such lawsmight make the working of our legislation, very difficult. Therefore, we cannot betoo careful in our attempts to ascertain theIimits of our powers, and to understand, the difficulties with which we are faced. In my State we have been in the habit of chartering boats to carry apples to theOld Country. They come down, as a. rule, from Sydney, and bring a great many people from that city to Tasmania. I think I may say that the bulk of thosevisitors would not make the trip if they had not those fine vessels to travel in. The coastal trade of Australia providesvery bad travelling accommodation between. Hobart and Sydney, and the ship-owners donot try to induce people to travel betweenthose places by running decent vessels. Are we going to prevent all those NewSouth Wales people from travelling south, in what is, perhaps, the most trying timeof the year in their own State? Shall wetake up that dog-in-the-manger attitude,, and at the same time- penalize the Tasmanian producers by making them pay more in freight for the carriage of their goods to London. It is certain that, if the vessels do not carry those passengers, theft eights will be raised.
– What is it you really want?’
– I want a littlesympathetic treatment for Tasmania when the House is dealing with fhisvery drastic coastal trade provision, and I hope we shall get it. It might be possible for the House, in itswisdom, to insert a clause permitting the mail boats or other boats to carry thosepassengers to Tasmanian ports without being brought under the provisions relatingto coastal trade. If the Peninsular andOriental Steam Navigation Company’s. boats are to be brought under those provisions for a little trade of that sort, I take it that it will simply mean putting them clean out of the running, so far as the Australian coastal carrying trade is concerned. If good coastal shipping facilities were offered in those particular places, I should have nothing to say against the proposal, but when you are not hitting the main bulk of your trade, what is the objection to making a slight exception, so long as we have the constitutional power to do it? Parliament ought to jump at the chance of providing facilities for the people of Australia, when by so doing it is not contravening to any extent the principle upon which it is supposed to act.
– Your ambition seems to be simply apples. That is all you can think about.
– I am not holding a brief for any section of the community. My request seems to me to be a very reasonable one. It may suit the members of the Labour party to take up a very dictatorial attitude, and play to the gallery in this matter, but I thought that we were dealing in a non-party spirit with this measure, the most colossal that has ever come before this Parliament. I thought we were going to try to approach it as so many statesmen, and not as so many mere party men. I am sorry that our friends opposite forget that in this instance there is no need to dread the party whip. It is not being held over them in any way on this occasion, but 1 suppose they are so used to coercion and to fetters that when they are free they do not realize it. I hope that when we reach the clauses in Committee we shall show a little common sense, and extend a little consideration to all the interests that are at stake. While we do our duty to the sailor, the man who takes his life in his hands, and goes to sea, and treat him as liberally as possible in every way consistent with maintaining the great mercantile industry that we are trying to build up, 1 trust that we shall also think of the ship-owners where it is wise to do so, and altogether produce by our joint efforts a measure that will not only prove beneficial to Australia, but also a credit to this Parliament.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [8.43I. - I confess I approach a subject of this sort with the greatest possible diffidence. I. am a bit of a land-lubber myself, and have not devoted to these marine matters as much consideration as perhaps I should have. As I conceive it, this Bill is certainly one of the most important, if not the most important, pieces of legislation that this Parliament has so far attempted, and small wonder that we approach it with diffidence, seeing that it took so many years to get through another Chamber before it reached this House at all. It is, I think, largely a Com.mittee Bill, except that it involves some of those big constitutional questions which might very well be treated in principle at this stage. I do not pretend to deal with that aspect of it, even if I were capable. It is a very knotty and thorny subject as to how far our navigation power extends. That matter may be left to the lawyers and to the High Court.
– It is a pity it cannot be left to Parliament instead of the High Court to decide.
– It is perhaps a pity. For instance, the honorable member for East Sydney and myself would be infinitely more competent than the High Court to deal with a knotty point of law. He and I could fix the laws for the world without the interference of any High Court. It is a pity, because it would mean so much for this Bill, that there could not have been some reference of these constitutional matters to the High Court before we had finally passed it.
– Why did not your Government do it? They had this Bill before them.
– The present Government purported to pass in 19 10 an Act which was to get over a lot of these troubles. It seems to me, however, that that Act does not touch a difficulty of this kind. It empowers the GovernorGeneralto refer to the High Court for hearing and determination any question of law “as to die validity of an Act or enactment of the Parliament.” This is not yet an Act of the Parliament, and, therefore, I take it, cannot be submitted to the High Court. It is to be regretted that a question of this kind cannot be referred to the Court. It seems to me that half the provisions of this Bill are of doubtful constitutionality, but we are sailing along, and, to use an expression heard in this House a number of times in connexion with other Bills, “ simply chancing it.” I am not quite sure whether the Government in this respect are not following a very roundabout way to get precisely where they desire to go.
– The Government of which the honorable member was a member, did the same with the Seamen’s Compensation Bill. They “ chanced it,” and found out that they were wrong.
– I thought that we had now in office a reform Government, that was going to do away with all the. old things that took place in the careers of previous Administrations.
It seems to me that there are three principal considerations in connexion with a Bill of this kind. First of all we have the seamen, then we have the question of our oversea relations, and finally we have the producers of Australia. I amvery much afraid that, in the framing of this Bill, the consumer and producer, whose very existence depends upon the multiplication of shipping facilities, have been given the, least consideration of all. As to the seaman, it is too late in the day for any one to begin to patronise him. He has established his right in the Courts of the civilized world to reasonable and equitable treatment, and I do not think that this Parliament will give him anything less than full justice in connexion with this measure. In all matters relating to his health, safety, and reasonable comfort while afloat, everything that we can do ought to. be done to lighten the hard lot which is his under even the best circumstances. In relation to everything that concerns his wages, his food supply, his method of living on board ship, his sleeping accommodation, and the airspace provided, he ought to be treated well.
This is a very knotty problem in other parts of the world, as well as here. The ugly fact is looking out at us every day that the British seaman is on the decline. Britishers are not taking to the water as they used to- do. Apart from the surroundings of life on board ship, there are many reasons for this. I am inclined to think that the verv much better conditions ashore todav have a great deal to do with the disinclination to go to sea. In the old days, when things on shore were very bad, a man went to sea because sea life was more attractive. To-day shore work in Australia and in the Old Country is more attractive than it used to be twenty- five or thirty years ago, and that has much to do with the paucity of the numbers that now go down to the sea in ships in connexion with our own Empire. Altogether it is a very serious problem. When one thinks of the disturbed condition of the world just now, and of all that is meant by the pre parations that are going on in every part of the globe for a display of force at some point in the world’s battle-ground, one sees the necessity of trying to foster our mercantile marine, and to encourage our people in every possible way to go to sea. We can do that, it seems to me, only by making sea life a great deal more attractive than it is to-day. Therefore, as this Bill relates to seamen, it is entitled to the fullest and most sympathetic consideration, and will, I believe, receive it from every member of the House.
We come now to the question of our oversea relations in general, and here the producer incidentally comes in. We have to consider what we are going to do in regard to shipping facilities and the London markets, which are vital in every respect to Australia. While we desire to do everything to build up our coastal trade, and to give our Shipping Federation the measure of justice that is its due, we ought, at the same time, to remember the oversea setting to the whole question. We should remember that the Shipping Federation of Australia is a very powerful body, and that, to a very great extent, it can take care of itself. I hope, therefore, that we shall not be led into any false position, and that we shall do nothing in connexion with this Bill that would give it an absolute monopoly of the shipping trade of Australia.
– The Bill does give it a monopoly.
– I am afraid that it does tend in that way. We ought to do justice to the seamen, and to determinethe wages and conditions that shall operate in connexion with our coastal trade; but,, on the other hand, we ought to avoid building up in Australia a great shipping monopoly. Whether that is being done positively at present I do not pretend to know. Noone seems to know in any responsible way whether or not we have here any monopoly. Questions are constantly being put to theAttorneyGeneral, who is supposed to have a very keen scent for a monopoly, and hehas been telling us, day after day lately, that he does not know whether this so-called” combination is a monopoly, or whether it isdoing any harm. He was asked to-day about the Meat Combine, but could give us no information, save that it had - done no damage, and had brought about no* trouble. We are told that the Minister of Trade and Customs has his . detectivesshadowing the men who are connected;’ with the Trust, and of that I make no complaint. The moment we see these trusts getting a foothold in Australia, we ought to be quick to try to clip their wings.
– What’ the AttorneyGeneral said was that he had no power to do anything.
– He said more than that. He said he was not aware of the facts alleged ; that he could not find out that any trouble had occurred. That is really a greater perplexity to him than want of power, if he would be candid enough to say so. There is a lack of facts to work upon. The circumstance that the facts are not so plentiful as rumour would have us believe is the best of all indications that the trusts have not reached the same pitch here as in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, they have to be watched; and amongst those that ought to be watched is the Shipping Federation of Australia. The shipping companies have increased their fares and freights. I do not say that they have done so very lately, but for some years past matters have been on the up grade.
– Fares and freights have been increased quite recently in Tasmania.
– I know that for some time the seamen and their officers have been engaged with the Shipping Federation in a nice little thing of their own. It is pretty much like the Coal Vend in Newcastle. They get together and shake up the conditions as to wages, and all the rest of it. Our capitalists have got quite expert at these arrangements.
– Is it not a fact that the last time the seamen’s wages were raised they were fixed by Mr. Justice Higgins at a compulsory conference?
– That may be so.
– That does not show that the seamen and the ship-owners fixed them up together.
– I am speaking of a time anterior to that, when wages were put up. I have no complaint to make about their increase, but immediately there followed increases of freights and fares on all boats. I say that the capitalists of Australia are getting quite expert in that kind of thing. They are getting quite as much out of the Arbitration Court as they did before out of their legitimate operations.
– Hear, hear ! They pass it on.
– There is no doubt about it. They pass it on. A vicious cycle is being set up. Therefore, we need to keep our eyes open in considering a Bill of this kind, that we set up no monopolies while we prescribe a plane of civilization such as the seamen and all others engaged in this occupation ought to attain to at this time of day. Coming to the Bill itself, it seems to me that the definition clause has not received sufficient care in the way.it is drawn. For instance, there is a definition of “vessel,” which means - .
Any ship, boat, or any other description of vessel used for any purpose on the sea or in navigation.
Apparently, that definition would cover a rowing-boat in an arm or inlet of a river.It would affect a great number of people, some of them in my own constituency, who have their own little rowing-boats, in which they bring fruit down from their orchards and place it on the steamer at the mouth of the river.
– They would need an engineer.
– They would need an able-bodied seaman to do halfanhour’s work per day. Is not that ridiculous ?
– I think this definition was in the Bill introduced by the Government to which the honorable member belonged.
– I do not care whose Bill it was in. That does not make it less ridiculous. It is carrying things to an absurd extreme. If anything would bring this Bill into disfavour it is an absurd proposal of this kind. Therefore I hope that, notwithstanding the scrutiny which the measure has received in another Chamber, we shall be able to eliminate some of the provisions which have got into it. The whole question of our Intra-State trade is raised. For instance, there are other provisions in the measure which affect ferry-boats in a peculiar way. There is a ferry with which the honorable member for Dalley is well acquainted. Those boats ply over a very small space. They are never more than five or ten minutes from land ; but they will be required under this Bill to carry another mate.
– I do not think so; if the honorable member looks further into the Bill, he will find that it is not so.
– I am told by an excellent authority that the definition will- require that these ferry-boats must carry a mate and an engineer.
– They carry an engineer now.
– I mean an engineer capable of effecting serious repairs. That seems absurd when there are engineering shops within sight of the ferry-boats the whole time. Where is the necessity of imposing all these conditions on our ferry traffic ?
– Boats that carry passengers ought to be made safe.
– Would a ferryboat which does not travel more than a distance of 500 or 600 yards be made safer by carrying a mate and engineer?
– She might be.
– The honorable member “ might “ make a sensible interjection, but he rarely does.
– It depends upon the length of time a man has to work, does it not? If an engineer worked sixteen hours a day, the boat might not be very safe for the public.
– That has nothing to do with this matter at all. The men on these boats work eight hours per day. I admit at once that if they worked sixteen hours it would not be safe, because no man ought to work such long hours on a ferry-boat, or any other vehicle conveying passengers.
– The honorable member is in error in saying that such boats will be affected in the manner described. The schedule to the Bill provides that any river oar bay boat up to 200 horse-power running under 20 miles need carry only one engineer.
– They are not required to carry trained engineers now. Some of the men on them have never been to sea, and have not qualified as mates. They have been all their lives on these boats. What need is there to provide that a man who has served an apprenticeship Ofl an ocean-going ship shall be required to serve on these little boats ? Why compel them to carry an additional mate who has had ocean-going experience? There is no purpose in it at all that I can see. Then, this Bill, seems to- give preference to the foreigner. Part II. relates to superintendents, officers, the supply of seamen and apprentices, the rating- of the seamen, discipline, health, accommodation and so forth ; and it is provided that it shall apply only to British ships and to’ their owners, masters and crews. If that is not giving the foreigner a preference over the Britisher, I should like to know what is. I am quite aware of the reason, which is that we may not legislate as affecting foreign vessels and equipment. This means that the foreign vessels may have a lower standard than our own vessels, in regard to which the conditions are made more severe than at present. That does not appear to me to be right in any way, but how we are to get over the difficulty I do not pretend to know, seeing that we here come square up with the worldwide ramifications of our ocean-going trade. While we may regulate our own conditions, and, by agreement, regulate the conditions obtaining in the Empire as is deemed fit by the collective wisdom engaged in the Conferences from time to time, we may not, at the same time, undertake to run the whole world, though I am afraid that very often we think that we are capable of doing so. The anomaly is of the gravest possible kind; and I hope we may be able to find some way, if we cannot give our comrades from oversea reciprocity or preference of treatment, of meeting the position. There are other provisions that will have to be considered in Committee. There is a series of clauses with regard to the survey of ships, and we are setting up two or three kinds of surveyors, though whether that be necessary I do not pretend to know at present. It seems to me, however, that we are unnecessarily multiplying specialists. Heretofore it has been the rule, I believe, for one surveyor to take over the whole survey of a vessel.
– One surveyor cannot do it.
– I do not suggest that the one surveyor has done the work himself, but he has taken responsibility for the ship, and whenever he has required specialists he has always obtained and paid them. The Bill provides that there shall be a shipwright surveyor, a boiler and iron hull surveyor, and an engineer surveyor; and where this is going to end I do not know. At any rate, we are making a fine lot of billets for some people, and, altogether, we are interfering with a calling which has been carried on for all time past, so far as I know, without any great trouble. It is provided that these specialists shall have certificates of com petency; and that raises the question whether certificates of service shall be given to the surveyors at present, employed. This,
I think, ought to be done wherever a man has proved- his competency by years of experience. It is done in every other walk of life ; for instance, when a Mining Bill is introduced requiring mining managers to possess certificates dependent on examination, it is tine rule to grant certificates of service to men who have been doing the work and have proved their competency in a practical way for a long time past. There is one aspect of the Bill which appeals to me very strongly. While we ought to take every precaution to see that our shipping is carried on under excellent conditions, and while we encourage the shipping industry in every reasonable way, we ought not, by means of this Bill, to set up conditions that must inevitably tend to monopoly in any shape or form. That is our great problem in connexion with the Bill. ; and it has been mentioned briefly in connexion with Papua. There our own boats are subsidized to provide a monthly service, and incidental shipping gives altogether a weekly service. Amongst the companies concerned there is a Dutch company, and there are several others. If we require them to subscribe to our Australian conditions in every respect, the net result will be to drive all that competition away, and Papua will not be as well served as she is now. That is one of the difficulties which we must squarely face.
– We are very poor Australians if we have to depend on foreigners to carry our products.
– I am afraid that we have to pay the foreigner every day to carry our produce. If it were not for the fact that the foreigner is carrying our products, and being paid for it, half the Newcastle mines would have to close down to-morrow. The honorable member for East Sydney cannot have considered the matter. If it were not that it pays the foreigner to carry our butter, wool, and meat to London, Australia would be a very poor place to live in. We are dependent, upon the foreigner in a way in which I think no other country in the world is.
– He is dependent upon us also.
– It is a mutual dependence ; let us put it in that. way. But it is a dependence which we cannot rule out.
We were told during the debate, by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, in his practical speech, which was a valuable contribution to the discussion of this matter, that because the United States and Germany have monopolized their coasting trade we should do the same. We have been told that Russia, France, and nearly every other civilized country, have done the same thing. But are their circumstances quite the same as ours ? The other countries referred to are close to the shipping of the world, and can help themselves in a way we are unable to do, and must continue to be unable to do for a very long time to come.
– We should make a start anyhow.
– Yes, we should. All I am suggesting is that we should not run our heads against a stone wall, and should not pay more for our whistle than we are compelled to pay. I admit that we should make a start, and 1 desire to do the best I can to encourage our coastal shipping, but I do not wish to deprive the producers of this country of any of the facilities they now have, and I do not want to create a monopoly in shipping in Australia. I am afraid that our experience teaches us that so long as the worker can secure good conditions he sometimes sets up a monopoly. I am not sure that he is to blame for that, but if we, who are supposed to represent all sections of the community, permit it, we shall be to blame. It is an obligation upon us while doing justice to one section of the community to see that we do not do an injustice to another. Let me point out how this might easily be the case.
Under this Bill no boat of any kind is to be allowed to ply between one Australian port and another unless it subscribes to our Australian conditions. Even vessels whose ultimate destination is another part of the world must come under those conditions should they trade between one Australian port and another. This means that our producers may be deprived of an opportunity to secure cheap freights for produce, which they -will be unable to dispose of unless they can secure freight for it at reasonably cheap rates. This applies also, to trade with the islands of the Pacific… Unless freights to those islands are reason-, ably cheap, our trade with them must fall* off considerably. If once it gets into the hands of a monopoly, or is confined ta one or two companies, the existing competition will be eliminated, and the old economic law will have sway. When competition ends then monopoly begins.
I agree that, on the other hand, it is very hard that our coastal shipowners should have to subscribe to these better and higher standards, and at the same time compete with boats that ae not required to subscribe to those standards. We must not forget, however, that our coastal boats are subsidized already. It seems to me that whatever disadvantage our ship-owners may be at through having to subscribe to these higher conditions, we should do better to look at the whole matter from another point of view rather than eliminate the competition of vessels which now provide facilities for our trade with the islands, which must be <iven a set-back if that competition ceases ;o exist. There are many difficulties which we shall have to face when we come to the consideration of this Bill in Committee. Here we are, thousands of miles from our oversea markets, at a great disadvantage as compared with Canada in this respect. Although Canada is so much closer to the markets of the world, she has not gone as far as is proposed in this Bill to secure a monopoly for her own coastal shipping. I understand that Canada gives British shipping a preference over the foreigner. It is not proposed in this Bill that we should do so. It is proposed that we should treat Great Britain just as we treat foreigners. We shall require in Committee to very seriously consider whether we should shut out the shipping of Great Britain from the little incidental trade which British oversea ships do between our ports. Great Britain gives us the right to compete on her coast in any way we can. Of course, we are unable to take advantage of that right as yet, but the privilege is ours if we desired to avail ourselves of it.
– I am afraid that the difficulty is that British treaty obligations preclude Great Britain from accepting any preference within her own Dominions.
– That can hardly be so. because Canada gives preference to British shipping at the present time.
– The Board of Trade refused our offer of preference in 1906.
– It did so on a constitutional point.
– We should recollect all that British shipping means for us, and all that the Navy of Great Britain has meant, and means for us to-day. Put it on what ground honorable members please, and it still seems to be anomalous that we should seek to exclude British oversea ships from the little trade that they do now between our ports, when we remember that but for the Navy with which Great Britain has supplied us so far, we should not be able to do any shipping on our own account at all. If we put it on the low ground of hospitality alone, having in view these considerations, it seems to me that at least it is a defective hospitality that we should exclude all British ships from trading, no matter in how small a way, along our coast. When it comes to business, when it comes to shipping, we are asked to say that we will treat Great Britain just as we will treat any foreign part of the world. I do not think very much of that invitation. . I believe that every honorable member would give Great Britain preference if he could see his way to do it. That is the feeling, I am sure, which is in the breast of every honorable member.
– It is because we cannot see our way to do it that we do not do it.
– Where is the insuperable difficulty? It does not concern the seamen. Their conditions are to be guaranteed to them by the Courts of this country. Therefore it can concern only the Shipping Federation and the British vessels. I do not think anybody can say that the competition of those vessels has prevented our Shipping Federation from doing very well. I believe they are making dividends at the present time, notwithstanding that competition; and for all it means to them we might, I think, make this small concession to British boats.
– Some of the British lines of vessels are paying 50 and 60 per cent, dividends. _ The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company are paying 50 per cent., according to a cable message published the other day.
– Does the honorable member know what the Shipping Federation here are paying ? I believe they are doing very well, and I do not believe that the little competition to which they are subjected by the mail steamers- interferes with their dividends very much.
– We propose to extend a helping hand to the British seamen, not to the British ship-owner.
– I shall be very glad to hear any scheme of that sort propounded, and to carefully consider it. But just how the honorable member can work out such a scheme without excluding British vessels I do not know. If he can suggest any way by which matters may go on as they are now, whilst at the same time helping the British seamen, 1 shall be very glad to consider it. I always wish to see that anybody who does our business does it under the best possible conditions, but I do not desire to decrease in any degree the reasonable facilities and fair competition which are vital to our producing interests. This proposal is a vital one to our producers, and if we destroy the little shipping competition that exists around our coast at the present time, it will inflict disaster upon them. I. do not intend to weary honorable members. This is a Bill which can better be dealt with in Committee, and I hope we shall approach its consideration without any prejudice or predilection, seeking only to do the best that we can to foster the seamanship of Australia, and to develop what has been calledthe sea- sense of our people, with a view to fitting them to face the responsibilities which are ahead, and which become increasingly important as the menace of the world grows darker and deeper day by day. As I see things, we seem to be approaching a crisis of some sort in connexion with the armaments of the world.
– What bunkum ; the honorable member has a nightmare on that question.
– I hope the honorable member will allow me to have my nightmare. If the honorable member does not see trouble ahead he must be a great optimist. I am afraid that I cannot imitate his optimism when I see what is going on all over the world - not in one part, but in every part of it.
– The honorable member sees only one side of the picture.
– I suppose my honorable friend sees the other side. I see only one side, but he sees two. There is an affectation of superiority. I believe that I see the side which is seen by most reasonable men who try to look out on the international situation. They see nations building war vessels, and spending every penny they can in a sheer struggle to prepare for the critical time which seems to “be coming. Just now the Balkans appear to be the storm-centre, and nobody can tell - certainly my honorable friend cannot - what will happen there in the near future.
– Nor can the honorable member.
– I do not pretend to do so. But when there is trouble ahead, common sense ought to teach us to look after ourselves a little.
– The other nations will have trouble enough to look after themselves.
– I suppose that my honorable friend will be quite content until some foe is here to dispute possession with him. Then he will wake up and find out his mistake. I wish to express my opinion that the condition of the world was never more in a state of menace than it is at the present moment.
– It was never more secure.
– We never needed to develop the sea instinct of our people more than we do to-day. Ours is an island continent, and our men must go to sea if they are to successfully defend it. At some time or other we shall have to assert our right to this country if we are to remain here to establish and preserve our standards of civilization against all comers. The sooner our people cultivate a liking foi the sea, and the more we develop our mercantile marine, the better will it be for the peace and stability of the Commonwealth, and the more united and strong will be our councils when we come to discuss terms of peace either oversea or in Australia. The strong nation to-day is the nation whose voice counts for most in the councils of the world.
– Beat the drum.
– I do not need to beat a drum, and I am surprised that honorable members who are voting £5, 500,000 for defence should pour ridicule on it in this way.
– What has that to do with the boats on Sydney Harbor?
– A great deal, directly and indirectly.
– I thought that the honorable member was going to refer to the Dreadnought.
– I am speaking, not of Dreadnoughts, but of the merchant ships that carry our wool, wheat, butter, and other products to other parts of the world, and so help us to shape our destinies, and live in peace, as I Hope we shall always do. But I hope also that we shall always be prepared to dispute the right of others to this continent, and to resist all attempts to pull down the civilization that we have been at such pains to build up.
.- The honorable member for Parramatta said that the Bill is one for Committee rather than for discussion at the secondreading stage, but before we can deal in Committee with a measure of such colossal magnitude we must debate its general principles, in order to arrive at an understanding of the correlation of its provisions. Not having any special knowledge of navigation, I am under an obligation to those who have addressed us in regard to the details of the measure, and have thus facilitated the general comprehension of its leading provisions. The Bill is the outcome of prolonged inquiry, investigation, and report, and the result of a series of legal drafts by eminent men. I hope that it will, when passed, represent the final opinions of the experts of the House, legal and shipping. My intention is to approach the consideration of the measure in a favorable spirit, and to assist to make it as workable as possible. I do not view it adversely. There may be many difficulties and problems associated with it needing investigation at the Committee stage, but we are entitled to give ourselves the benefit of any doubt regarding our powers to legislate in this matter, leaving it to the Law Courts to decide doubtful points of constitutionality or jurisdiction. There can hardly be any uncertainty as to our general power to legislate in respect to most, if not all, the provisions of the Bill. I do not feel disposed to take a limited and narrow view of our powers, because the definition of them in the Constitution is strongly reenforced by the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act, which has been described as a measure containing provisions amounting to supplementary charters of selfgovernment for British Possessions. We are not restricted to the powers contained within the four corners of our Constitution, and if we feel any uncertainty about any of the clauses of the Bill, we can appeal to this other Imperial Act. But I draw the attention of the Attorney-General to the fact that if in respect of some of these clauses he relies upon the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act as supplementary to the Constitution, there should appear in the Bill a clause reserving; them for the signification of “His Majesty’sassent. Section 736 of the Imperial. Shipping Act provides that the Legislatureof a British Possession may, by any Act or Ordinance, regulate its coasting trader subject to conditions, one of which is that such a measure shall contain a suspending clause providing that it shall not come intooperation until His Majesty’s pleasure therein has been publicly signified in the Possession, and another is that all British ships, including those of any other British’ Possession, shall be treated in exactly the same manner as the ships of the Possession passing the law. Therefore, if we wish to rely upon the supplementary power contained in the Merchant Shipping Act, we should have in the Bill a clause showing that we rely on it. I am disposed tothink that the power given by the Merchant Shipping Act to control the coasting trade is much wider than our constitutional power to deal with Inter-State trade, and the Attorney-General will act wisely in considering the best way of drafting a clause to take advantage of it. We ought not to run any risks, but we should not, I think, be prejudiced by relying on the Merchant Shipping Act in addition to the Constitution. The power given to us by section- 51 of the Constitution is confined to the regulation of trade and commerce between the States, while section 98 says that the- tra.de and commerce power shall be deemed to refer to and include shipping and navigation.
– That does not enlarge the power given by section 51.
– No. The wordsof section 98 have been held in a recent decision to be merely words of interpretation, and our power has been taken tobe confined to legislation in regard toshipping and navigation Inter-State.
– In the Kalibia case.
– Yes. Our constitutional power relates merely to InterStatematters - that is, to trade and commerce beginning in one State and extending toanother. Probably in respect to navigation the Federal power would extend from, the beginning to the end of a voyage, and anywhere that a ship could float on watersaffected by the tide.
– How far does the honorable member think that the Merchant Shipping Act enlarges our powers under section 51 ?
– It may to a certain extent enlarge our power extra - territorially. It may also not restrict us to voyages beginning in one State and ending in another. It may confer power to legislate regarding voyages between different ports in one State. I think the expression “ coasting trade,” covers, not only Inter-State, but Intra-State, trade. Of course, it all depends upon the meaning of the term “ British Possessions “ in the Imperial Act.
– Was not that the Statute which conferred that power upon the several States of Australia?
– Did not the Constitution divide that power?
– It” was originally intended to limit it to the various States, but the fundamental idea of a “ British Possession “ within the meaning of the Merchant Shipping Act is a Possession where there is a Central Legislature and others of a subordinate or local character. I think there has been an actual decision under the Fugitive Offenders Act that the term “ British Possession “ is not merely applicable to a State, but would be capable of being extended to the Commonwealth of Australia. I have, therefore, no reasonable doubt that the power given to a British Possession to legislate concerning its coastal trade extends to the Commonwealth of Australia, and that gives us, I contend, greater power territorially and greater power extraterritorially. When I say territorially, I mean along the coast, from port to port, from place to place, and also on the high seas wherever it may be necessary for the ships to go in order to travel from port to port.
– Then the honorable member thinks that Act gives us power that we did not obtain under the Constitution?
– I think so. It is a wider power. I do not think it is restricted to the 3-mile limit.
– Nor by the Inter-State provision ?
– Nor by the InterState provision. It is a wide power, and we ought not to hesitate to endeavour to utilize it as far as we reasonably can in the exercise of our legislative functions, if we think its utilization will be for the benefit of the people of the country and the development of our coasting trade, and our Australian mercantile marine. The only point to which I wish to draw atten tion is the necessity of reserving any clauses of that kind for the signification of the Royal assent. In the recent case regarding the Seamen’s Compensation Act, it was “suggested that the provisions in dispute might be justified on the ground that they were an exercise of the power conferred upon the Commonwealth to deal with coasting trade, but that Act had not been reserved, and, consequently, did not comply with the conditions necessary to bring it within the meaning of the Merchant Shipping Act.
– If one section of the Merchant Shipping Act can extend our power, then, surely, another section of the same Act can curtail it?
– The Imperial Merchant Shipping Act can take away what it gives, but it does not take away our control over the coastal shipping trade, which is one of our constitutional functions, any more than it would take away any other of our constitutional powers. ‘ That Act is one of those things that we have inherited, and may be regarded as a supplementary charter to our self-government in Australia. All we have to do is to comply with the condition of reservation in order to bring our legislation on the matter within the ambit ofthat Imperial authority. There are many debatable provisions in this Bill. On . the other hand, it contains many wise, judicious, and humane provisions. I recognise that one of the fundamental objects of this legislation is to promote and encourage Australian shipping, and to secure for it certain privileges, particularly in connexion with the coasting trade in and around the Australian continent. I think the ship-owners who have invested such vast sums of money in their great enterprises are entitled to some consideration, and that indiscriminate competition ought not to be allowed in all cases. There ought to be certain reasonable compliance with, and approximation to, Australian conditions by competitors. On the other hand, in aiming at the development of our Australian shipping trade, the encourage- ment of Australian ship-owners, and the protection of the rights of Australian seamen, we ought not to forget that, as an island continent, we have vast and important trading and commercial relationships, not only with Great Britain, but with many foreign nations. Whilst jealously preserving our coastal trade within certain limits, we ought not to take up an unnecessarily hostile, aggressive, or offensive attitude towards foreign nations, and particularly the great ships that come to us from the Mother Country. If we can differentiate in their favour to any reasonable, moderate extent, without seriously impairing our Australian shipping, we ought, I think, to do so. Again, we ought not to be unnecessarily harsh or severe upon our Australian shipping, because, according to representations which have already been made and protests that have been entered against some of the clauses of the Bill, it would appear that some of the requirements in the way of accommodation are unnecessary and expensive, and will be very irksome. It is also contended that some of the labour requirements upon some of the high-class ships would be quite unnecessary in their application to ships of a smaller type engaged in what may be called local territorial waters, as compared with high sea voyages. Attention has already been drawn to the comprehensive manner in which some of the labour conditions and requirements of the Bill would affect certain of the local shipping, say, in some of the ports of Tasmania. I need not go over ground which was traversed by the honorable member for Kooyong in his very able and comprehensive speech, in which he referred to one clause that purports practically to override the power reserved to the British Board of Trade to grant certificates and determine the conditions under which the holders of British certificates should be liable to forfeit them. There is in the Bill another provision relating to inspections and surveys - which are too many and frequent - which is open to challenge and criticism even from an Australian stand-point, and when we come to it it certainly ought to be fully discussed, and grounds shown for its retention. On the whole, I welcome this monumental Bill, and think that, after it has been properly reviewed by the House, it will be a fine addition to Federal legislation. I should like to support the plea made by the right honorable member for Swan with reference to the terms and conditions underwhich the oversea mail steamers might be allowed to continue to carry passengers between Fremantle and the eastern States. No doubt, the carrying of passengers from port to port, and between the States, is part of the coasting trade, and the Commonwealth would be at liberty to regulate the terms and conditions under which over- sea steamers, including those carrying the mails, should engage in that trade, and participate in the carriage of passengers. It would be quite within the competence of the Parliament to prevent any of the oversea steamers, British or otherwise, from engaging in the coasting trade unless they paid their seamen the rates of wages current in Australia at the time the voyage was completed. Something might be said in favour of doing that. It might be urged that these oversea steamers, in carrying passengers from port to port and State to State, engage in competition with the local marine. On the other hand, we ought to recognise that the people of Australia generally are under great obligations to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and the Orient Steam Navigation Company, for their wonderful pluck and enterprise in providing splendid fleets for the conveyance of mails, produce and passengers to and from the Old Country. Within the last few years, more particularly, there has been a tremendous improvement in the accommodation provided by these British oversea ships. Those who have travelled in them lately cannot but speak gratefully and proudly of these triumphs of British seamanship. It is true that these companies are out for profit, but it would be a very great hardship to make the conditions so severe that they would not be able to carry passengers between, say, Fremantle and Melbourne, unless they complied with all the wages conditions imposed by the Bill. For the present, at all events, and until the completion of the transcontinental railway, we should except these royal mail steamers from the stringency of the labour conditions of the Bill. In the Bill as it stands, power is given to the Governor-General to make an exception by declaring that the carrying of passengers between specified ports in Australia, shall not be deemed as engaging in the coasting trade.
– That refers only to British ships.
– Quite so. That is an attempt to make an exception in the direction I am advocating. I do not know whether the Governor-General, as advised by the present Ministry, would be disposed to exercise that power. It is a power so important that it ought not to be left merely to Ministerial discretion. If the exception is to be made, it ought to be made by, Statute. I would be disposed to support the amendment outlined by the right honor-‘ able member for Swan, to the effect that the1 carrying in British mail steamers of passengers from and to any State whose capital city is not connected by railway with any other State, shall not be considered as coasting trade. I do not see anything in a proposal of that kind that could be deemed to come within the constitutional prohibition against the granting of a preference to one part of the Commonwealth as against another. It is purely a regulation of part of the coasting trade - an exception to general legislation. The people of Western Australia, as well as those of the Eastern States, who are in the habit of journeying from east to west, and vice versa, are interested in this matter; and I think that a large number of travellers in both directions would like to have the option of being able to make the trip in either an Inter-State or oversea steamer. I make no reflection upon the Inter-State steamers generally. I have travelled in them as well as in the oversea steamers, and must speak highly of both. I have found travelling in the Inter-State steamers very convenient and pleasant; but at the same time there are people who would like to have reserved to them the option of travelling on our great mail steamers. It might be convenient for them to do so, and to deprive them of that privilege would be to deny them a very important facility. This proposal could not damage to any great extent the trade prospects or enterprise of Inter-State companies ; and I think that, as we are under a great obligation to these oversea steamers, particularly in regard to the carriage of passengers, produce and mails, we might, for the time being, concede the proposed exception.
– Is it going to be such a handicap on the British companies? Will they not be able to comply with our conditions ?
– I do not wish to go into a comparison of the wages paid; but I believe it is admitted that the seamen employed on oversea steamers whose place of registration is in the United Kingdom, are not paid as well as are those employed on Australian vessels. There can he no doubt as to that. Those engaged in the Australian trade are paid very good wages, as determined by a legally constituted tribunal ; and there can be no doubt that they are fairly entitled to receive those wages. 1 f , however, we impose the same conditions upon all these oversea steamers, we shall shut them out. I can hardly think that the clause in question was inserted in the Bill for that purpose; but it will have that effect, and will place serious obstacles in the way of the carriage of Inter-State passengers. I venture to hope that when we reach the clause, honorable members will be disposed to consider favorably the proposed exception. Then, again, our attention has already been drawn to the hardships which might follow the application of the whole of these provisions to some of our Federal Territories such as Papua and Thursday Island. The Northern Territory trade might also suffer disabilities if these restrictions upon oversea steamers were imposed. They might prevent many foreign ships calling at Thursday Island and Papua, as well as the Northern Territory. Seeing that these Territories are so far removed from the Seat of Government; seeing also that the whole of the fleets engaged in our Inter-State trade cannot, as they are at present established and equipped, comply with all the shipping requirements of Papua, the Northern Territory, and the islands in the north, we should impose a serious disability upon the struggling civilization of those distant portions of our Australian Possessions if we insisted upon applying to them the severe conditions that we insist upon applying to the coasting trade in the central regions of population. I therefore hope that the Attorney-General, who is a valuable authority in a matter of this kind, as well as his colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, will take these points into consideration, and grant concessions. We, as an Opposition party, have nothing to gain by making these suggestions. We put them forward in the interests of trade and commerce, and of people who say that they will suffer serious disabilities if the parts of the country where they live are isolated from shipping facilities by the imposition of conditions with which vessels will not be able to comply. I advise the Attorney-General to make a note of that suggestion. If he wishes to make clear a number of the clauses of the Bill, he will insert a reservation clause providing that certain groups of clauses shall be reserved for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure; so that, hereafter, it may not be said that we have not relied on our Imperial Act giving us control over the shipping trade, and that we have mixed up our powers one with another, so that we cannot distinguish between parts of the Bill based upon theexercise of coasting trade powers, and those parts which depend on the Constitution. In other words, we ought to sever and distinguish, reserving the parts which are based upon the control of the coasting trade from those which are based upon our constitutional control over Inter-State shipping and navigation. I believe that, if that were done, it would be found that the constitutional power is fairly effective. But in doubtful cases we shall have to rely on the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act. I do not see why we should wish to extend Federal control over navigation and shipping to the waters of any State above the action of the ‘tide. I do not see why we should endeavour to include in our Navigation Bill control over ports and harbors, small inlets and internal rivers and bays beyond the reach of tidal waters. That is one of the branches of navigation the control of which might very well be left to local authorities. Why should the Federal authority want to control the navigation of the River Yarra?
– The River Yarra is tidal up to the Johnston-street bridge.
– At any rate, there are many things of the kind which the Federal Government ought not to insist on controlling. We certainly should not extend our jurisdiction beyond the action of the tide. That would give us ample power to control Inter-State snipping and navigation. In common with other honorable members on this side of the House, I shall be willing to help to secure the passing of this Bill at an early date. I desire to make it as workable and satisfactory as possible, in the interests, not only of shipping companies, but of seamen, officers, and others engaged in the shipping trade, as well as in the interest’s of Australia generally.
– I propose to address myself in particular to the general consideration of this Bill, and -to leave any detailed examination of its contents until we reach the Committee stage ; but one is bound, in dealing with a measure of this comprehensive character, to make a remark or two at the present stage. One of the main things that we have to consider, first of all, is the maintenance of our standard - a standard of which Australia may well be proud - of conditions prevailing upon the coastal shipping of Australia. Another consideration equally vital to this Bill is that, when all is said and done, merchant snipping is the basis of seapower, and the basis of whatever sea-power Australia is ever likely to possess is the merchant shipping and the Navy of the Mother
Country, under whose protection we have lived so long, and in co-operation with whom alone we can hope to continue as a white Dominion in these southern seas. I cannot help thinking that we ought to endeavour to meet the treaty difficulties of the Mother Country, as well as other difficulties that present themselves, in order to deal with British shipping, not only in a generous way, but in a way which takes a reasonable and broad view of our own necessities, based upon the predominance of the British mercantile marine, in order to secure that whatever we in this Parliament do shall not detrimentally affect the great British mercantile enterprise which has given Australia birth, and which alone can keep us permanently in being as a British Dominion. The suggestion was made by the honorable member for Dalley, in the course of the remarks of the last speaker, that if British ship-owners wished to enjoy our trade they should meet Australian conditions, and pay Australian wages. But when one goes a little more deeply into the matter, one finds that a small wage paid on a British ship - leaving apart, for the moment, the question of other conditions - in view of the fact that the cost of living in the ports at which British seamen call is lower than the cost of living in Australia, makes the slightly lower wage on British ships nearly as high, in respect of purchasing power, as the wage paid in the Australian mercantile marine.
– Does the honorable member contend that there is only a slight difference ?
– I do not know what it is.
– It is as two is to one.
– If that is the honorable member’s argument, why make a fuss about it? Why should not British shipowners engaged in our trade pay our wages and observe our conditions?
– That is all very, well ; if one is more concerned in viewing a measure of this kind as an opportunity for the clap:trap that is effective upon the public platform than with the wise consideration which so comprehensive a measure merits, one can understand the honorable member’s observation. I am not going into details, but I will suggest to the honorable member that wages are only valuable for what they will buy ; and in a country where the cost of living is comparatively high, you must have an equivalent increase in your wages to give equivalent results to the labourer. This element must be taken into consideration by honorable members before they jump to any such foolish conclusions as has been jumped to by the honorable member for Dalley in his interjection during the speech of the honorable member for Bendigo. There are one or two other points in this connexion that are worthy of attention. In the first place, the passenger, service carried on by the mail companies is of considerable importance to a large number of the Australian travelling public, and particularly to the travelling public of Western Australia and Tasmania. Those British companies are subsidized by us and the Mother Country for carrying our mails; and if we make- it more difficult for them to supplement their business by indulging in the small way they do at present in the coastal trade, so far as passengers are concerned, it will mean that, when we renew our mail contract, we shall have to pay a higher price. These are considerations to which one must pay some attention in a measure of this character.
– There is another answer to that.
– A State line of steamers ?
– If the companies become too strong.
– No doubt on a State line of steamers we should all have free passes, and, from that point of view, I should be delighted personally to see such a line established. I have before me, however, a few examples of the disorganization which can come to the simplest Government Department, disorganization only too eloquently drawn attention to by the honorable member himself in regard to the Postal Department ; and I cannot see much hope of a State-owned line of steamers being a complete success either to those concerned in it or to those served by it. The Government might consider very earnestly the question- of exempting mail steamers, so far as the carriage of passengers is concerned, from Western Australia and Tasmania. As to compelling the mail companies to alter their conditions of employment, the whole way from Gravesend to Brisbane, in order to be allowed to carry on a small measure of our coastal traffic, it is somewhat absurd. In the first place, the conditions of the living of the men on the ships cannot be varied throughout the voyage. The companies cannot suddenly alter their scale and conditions when they reach the Australian coast-line, but must do it throughout or not at all; and, in my humble judgment, it would not be worth their while to do it throughout the journey in order to be allowed to carry a few passengers from Western Australia to Adelaide, and from Hobart to Melbourne on the round trip from Sydney.
– Would the honorable member differentiate between white and black labour on these vessels?
– Personally, I should be inclined to do so ; but I am merely suggesting that the needs of the travelling public in these States are worthy of our consideration at the present juncture, and I suggest that the Government take this matter seriously into consideration, so that in the Committee stage they may have some scheme ready to unfold.
As to Papua, I quite see that the competition of the Dutch company is a. valuable one to the Papuan residents. It has, I believe, to a considerable extent, though not nearly to such an extent as has been alleged, reduced freights, which at present are some 5s. per ton under themaximum chargeable under the postal contract of- Burns, Philp and Company, toPort Moresby.
– The competition hasprevented an increase.
– It may have prevented an increase from 30s. to 35s. What I wish to point out, however, is that, if we exempt the Dutch company, we at once open the door to diplomatic pressure from every other country which desires to trade on our coasts. If we exempt the Dutch company, what answer have we to give to a German company which desires to trade on the southern portions of our coast- line? Since the Dutch company carries on vvitbJ black labour, how could we, under such circumstances, object to the companies of other nations trading under any conditionsthey chose? If we desire to exclude all shipping except that conducted under our own conditions, my opinion is that we must present a bold front, and treat all foreigners on the same basis ; for if we start making exceptions in the case of one foreigner we may find a more powerful foreigner coming along with what appears to him an equally good case, and we are at once plunged into a sea of difficulties.
– The Dutch boats, after touching at Papua, trade along the Australian coast.
– To what extent they do so I do not know, but such trading is not of such value to Australia as it is to the Papuan Dependency. I think those vessels trade to Brisbane, and, possibly, from Brisbane to Sydney.
– One of the lines comes right to Melbourne.
– The vessels may come down the coast, but I do not know that they do any appreciable trade except from Papua to Sydney. The fact remains that if we once make an exception “we shall have German and French pressure brought to bear; and this shows us at once that there are two sides to the question. Unless we wish to open the door to pressure from other countries, which have more weight behind them, we shall have to be very careful in what we are doing in regard to Papua.
– Would it not be all the better if more ships went there?
– Quite so; and if the Government think fit they might, in justice to the residents of Papua, who are so isolated, give encouragement to some other vessels than those of Burns, Philp and Company. All I am pointing out now is that the argument that applies to Papua from the point of view of the Dutch company applies equally strongly to any Japanese company that cares to call at Papua in the future; and we may find the whole bulwarks which we are now endeavouring to set up torn down through making one exception in the undoubted interests of a few settlers in Papua.
– The exception wouldbe confined to trade between Papua and Australia.
– Exactly, but we shall immediately be faced with the appeal from foreign peoples that, since the doctrine of Australian conditions for the Australian coastal trade is not to apply all round, it must not apply to them, and we are in a sea of trouble at once.
– That, in “one act,” answers the whole of the arguments on !he other side !
– I do not care if it does. This is not a party question.
– There is no differentiation if that is done.
– Not from our standpoint, but the foreigner might take a different view.
– He could not.
– The foreigner could complain of unfair treatment, and justly so.
– I think so. If we are dealing with foreign peoples, and we mean to give our own people some degree of protection, we must put all foreigners on exactly the same basis. In view of the fact that our main competitor for the mercantile supremacy of the southern Pacific lies, undoubtedly, in the enterprise and ability of the Japanese people, there is serious ground for thought in the suggestion I have placed before honorable members.
I do not propose to speak at greater length upon this measure. I hope lhat in Committee the most friendly consideration will be given to any proposal to prevent any ‘penalizing of British shipping, because, undoubtedly, British shipping is not foreign shipping in any sense of the term. I hope that when we enter upon the detailed discussion of the measure we shall do so with a view to better the conditions of those engaged in the shipping industry, to make travelling by sea more safe for the travelling public, and that we shall try to keep out of our minds anythought of the fact that in a few months hence we shall be seeking the suffrages of the electors. A measure of such vast proportions, and of so complex a nature, should be treated from an entirely nonparty and unbiased point of view. We should try to arrive at the best results for those employed in the industry and those directing it, for the travelling public, and for the producers of Australia, who must make use of the ships for which we are now legislating.
I wish to say, in conclusion, that I hope that the Government will not jeopardize the lasting success of the measure as a whole by weaving through its texture provisions which may afterwards be declared to.be unconstitutional. As I am not a lawyer, I express no opinion on these very vexed questions, but I do trust that the Government will avail themselves of the best advice they can secure to insure that the work which we are now engaged upon shall, when it emerges complete from this Parliament, be able to stand constitutional criticism in the High Court, and consequently be allowed to remain upon the Australian statute-book’.
.- This Bill was before the Senate for a very long time, and in view of the criticism of the measure offered in another place and here, I think it is a pity that the Judiciary Act of 19 10, which the Government passed themselves, was not framed in such a way as to meet such a position as has arisen in connexion with this Bill from a constitutional point of view. We have had opinions definitely expressed that when many of the provisions of this Bill come to be interpreted by the High Court they will certainly be found to be unconstitutional. It is a pity in the circumstances that (he measure to which I have referred was not framed in such a way as to admit of this Bill being submitted to the High Court, with a view to ascertaining whether it is within the range of the Constitution rr not.
– Does the honorable member mean that prior to the passing of the Bill it should be submitted for the judgment of the High Court?
– It would save a great deal of time if it were. The measure to which I have referred was specially passed by the present Government to meet difficulties of .this sort, and was to be applicable to Acts regarding which it was desirable to obtain the opinion of the High Court. I refer honorable members to the following section -
Whenever the Governor-General refers to the High Court for hearing and determination any question of law as to the validity of any Act or enactment of the Parliament, ,the High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter.
– The Parliament must pass the Act before it can be submitted to the High Court.
– I am well aware of the knowledge of constitutional matters possessed by the honorable member for East Sydney.’ Time after time he has told us that the provisions under consideration in this House would be found to be unconstitutional.
– The honorable member was very often right, too.
– I say that I do not propose for a moment to argue a constitutional point with the honorable member for East Sydney. I should be very much better satisfied, and it would be in the interests of legislation by this Parliament, if matters of this sort were referred to the High Court, to secure a determination as to whether the provisions proposed were constitutional, before we spent the time of the country in debating at great length, and deciding upon provisions to our own satis faction, which might afterwards be declared to be unconstitutional by the High Court.
– This is the highest Court in Australia.
– Whilst it may be the highest Court for determining legislation, the honorable member is aware that after we have passed legislation we have to defer to the decision of the High Court, which was specially brought into existence to determine the law under the Constitution. The honorable member for Gwydir must know that time after time the High Court has decided that legislation which we passed was of an unconstitutional character.
– I admit that, when the honorable member speaks of legislation which “ we “ passed.
– I do not know whether the honorable member is attempting to draw a distinction between legislation passed by the parties on different sides of the House, but the fact remains that legislation passed by this Parliament has, when brought under the notice of the High Court, been determined to be unconstitutional. We have had opinions expressed by men well versed in constitutional matters, including the honorable member for East Sydney, whose opinion on such matters cannot be lightly passed by, that there are many provisions in this Bill which, if they came to be decided upon by the High Court, would be declared to be unconstitutional. In the circumstances, I repeat that it is a pity that the Government were unable to frame the Act which they passed themselves so that we might have had .the questions of law involved in these provisions submitted to the High Court. I understand’ that in the Dominion of Canada this course is frequently followed. There, before legislation, the validity of which is doubtful, is introduced into Parliament, a case is submitted to the High Court, with a view to testing its constitutionality. In that way the time of the Legislature is saved. It would be well if we copied the example of Canada in this connexion. Honorable members could not possibly be called upon to deal with a more important Bill than that which is now before us. It ought to be our aim to see that those who are engaged in our mercantile trade - our seamen - are treated as well as they possibly can be treated, having in view the other interests which are involved. We know that in years gone by the conditions under which seamen laboured in the mercantile marine of the Old Country were not. such as they ought to have been. Up till twenty-five or thirty years ago the Imperial mercantile service was anything but attractive. The fact that British seamen were being displaced by foreigners was rather a significant one.
– There are more Britishers in the service to-day than there were. The number of Britishers is increasing, whilst that of foreigners is decreasing.
– That is owing to the improved conditions which have been introduced during recent years. It is of the utmost importance to the defence of the Empire generally, and of Australia particularly, that we should have as many Britishers in our mercantile marine as we can possibly secure. Then, if an invasion of our shores should be attempted, or if the Empire should be threatened, we shall have trained seamen ready to defend it. Consequently, I will support any proposal to make the conditions of sea life as attractive as possible. It is our duty to do this, provided that we give due consideration to the other large interests which are involved. In a. measure of this kind we ought to recognise that our utmost efforts should be directed towards helping our primary producers - those who are engaged in agricultural, pastoral’, dairying, and fruit-growing pursuits. It appears to me that in this Bill our producing interests have not received that consideration to which they are entitled, in view of their great importance to the Commonwealth.
– How long is the honorable member going to speak?
– I have a great manynotes upon this Bill.
– But, according to the honorable member for Parramatta, this is a Bill for consideration in Committee.
– It is certainly a nonparty measure. At the same time, we are entitled to express our opinions upon it, with a view to making it as perfect a measure as possible.
– All the supporters of the Minister have left the chamber.
– Order !
– Then I think we ought to have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– It has been contended that if the Bill passes it will assist the Shipping Combine about which so much has been said in this Chamber, and which is stated to be hurtful to the interests of the people, especially in some of the States. We had a very strong speech on this subject from the honorable member for Franklin. It would appear that the Bill, instead of reducing the strength of the Combine, will help it to maintain its position, and to carry on its business to the detriment of the public interest. Every effort should be made to prevent that Some of the provisions relating to the coastal trade and ferry services seem to me ridiculous. According to the honorable member for Parramatta, the definition of “ vessel “ embraces the boats which are used by fruit-growers in the Parramatta district to convey their produce to the Sydney market. If so, it will be a very serious matter for these fruitgrowers. I should like to know whether the Minister intends the Bill to have that effect. One of the last things that Parliament should do is to apply stringent legislation to persons in a small way of business, especially when that is absolutely unnecessary. I hope, therefore, that any provisions which are likely to be harassing will be amended or removed from the* Bill. The Shipping Combine does not stand by itself, but is closely associated with the Coalowners’ Combine, which, again, is connected with an association of miners. Members representing coal-mining districts have from time to time referred to the operations of the Coal Vend as beneficial, not only to colliery proprietors, but also to those engaged in coal-mining. We know that they have resulted in the placing of a good deal of money to the credit of the colliery owners, and the paying of increased wages to the coal-miners. Those engaged in the business of mining for coal take their lives in their hands whenever they enter a pit, and deserve every penny they get, besides being entitled to the fullest consideration of Parliament.
– There is no combination between the miners and the shipowners, and never has been.
– There was an arrangement between the men employed in the northern coal-fields of New South Wales and the colliery proprietors-
– The honorable member is getting away from the question before the Chair.
– Only by way of reply to an interjection. I have said that the
Shipping Combine is associated with a combination of coal-owners, and with a’ combination of coal-miners. We know that certain persons have been prevented from getting coal because of an understanding that’ it should be carried only in the vessels belonging to the Shipping Combine. The Coal Vend was established to enable the prices of coal, and the rates for hewing it, to be fixed ; but if the Bill assists a monopoly which is harmful to the interests of those who have to travel by sea, or wish to have goods transported from one port to another, it is our duty to amend it to prevent it from having that effect, and I hope that in Committee that will be done. It is provided that there shall be a periodic survey of vessels, but power is given to the Minister to extend the interval between such surveys. I do not think that that is advisable. Ship-owners should not have to come to the Minister to get this period extended. Before they could do so, they would have to employ a surveyor, and to make, out a case they would have to submit his report; and from all over the Commonwealth, from Cape York to Western Australia, paid representatives would have to be employed by those who could not appear themselves, to present petitions to the Minister. It is the same old thing that happens with most of the legislation introduced’ into this House regarding industrial affairs. It is merely playing into the hands of the lawyers all over the country. It will mean the employment of a lawyer, or other agent, at the expense of the steam-ship owner to make the necessary representations to the Minister, with a view to having the survey put off for another six months, at the sweet will of the Minister.
Mr.Tudor.-It happens to be your own clause.
– I have never had anything to do with this Bill.
– You were a member of a Ministry ‘that adopted the’ Bill.
– I know; but Ministers have sufficient to do in connexion with their own Departments, and while we agree to the general principles of Bills submitted to Cabinet by our colleagues, we cannot possibly make ourselves familiar with their details. Even if the clause was included in our own Bill, I do not agree with it. It will be harassing to steam-ship owners, and I hope there are no honorable members in this chamber who wish to pass harassing legislation. I am sure the Minister of
Trade and Customs does not. It is provided that all steam-ships that are more than five years old from the date of their ‘ registration shall be surveyed once in six months. I have been closely connected with a family that has been running a steamer for close on thirty years in an important trade in New South Wales, and! can say that there is not the slightest . necessity in regard to a steam-ship of that character, or others which are equally well and faithfully built, for a survey every six months. Steamers which have to be surveyed are taken to Mort’s, or some other dock in Sydney, and the unfortunate owner is absolutely at the mercy of the dock proprietors. Bills of costs are submitted to steam-ship owners compared with which lawyers’ bills of costs are trifling.
– It has to he paid whether the steamer goes in every six or every twelve months;
– Once every twelve months is quite sufficient. If the honorable member or others can point to any striking examples of the necessity for’ a survey every six months-
– I can. I know of cases where steamers- with plates 3/16th of an inch thick, and rotten frames, have been carrying passengers. That is on a twelve months’ survey.
– I am speaking of lines of steamers running up and down the south coast of New South Wales. I have been familiar with these for thirty-five years, and am confident that there has never been a single ‘ instance in connexion with them to show the necessity’ for a six-months’ survey. We ought, of course, to be careful that none of our steamers is allowed to go to sea in anything like an unseaworthy condition, but the experience of the people of New. South Wales does not bear out the contention that surveys every six months are necessary in order to keep steamers in that condition.
– The New South Wales law provided for a six-months’ survey for many years, and it was only extended to twelve months to bring it into line with the Victorian law.
– I must continue to diffet from the honorable member as to the necessity for a six-months’ survey. I agree that this is not a party measure, and can be best dealt with in Committee. As there ‘ is a strong possibility that some of its provisions will help the Shipping Combine, I hope the Minister will pay attention to the criticisms which have been offered in that regard, and ask the Committee either to eliminate or alter those clauses, with a view to prevent anything of that character occurring.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and considered in Committee pro forma.
House adjourned st 11.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 September 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120911_reps_4_66/>.