4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In reference to the closing of the match factory in the Yarra electorate, I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if he is aware that the retail price of the Victorian made matches is lower than that of the imported matches. There must be something radically wrong if the factory has had to be closed under those circumstances.
-I have been informed, but have yet to verify the information, that the wholesale and retail prices of imported matches are higher than those of the locally made matches. It is said that the firm which has been making matches here is a member of a combine which carries on business all over the world. I shall endeavour, to ascertain the truth of these statements.
– Will the honorable gentleman have an examination made by an analyst with a view to obtaining a comparison of the qualities of the locally made and imported matches?
– I do not think that an analysis would show any difference between them. .
– What ought to be ascertained is how the locally made matches compare in quality with the imported matches.
– I do not know that that is a question for an analyst ; but I shall have the matter looked into.
– I have here a box of matchesbearing a label on which is printed -
Skating Girl matches. Made in Sweden. Label issued by the London Match Company, St. Mary Axe, London, E.C.
Can the Minister tell the House whether these matches, made in Sweden, get the benefit of a preferential Tariff rate?
– To obtain preference an article has to be made in Great Britain, or at least 25 per cent. of its value has to be created by what is done to it there, and it has to be finished there. I do not think that the matches referred to would obtain a preference.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware that m several of the States there is legislation against the use of wax matches at certain times of the year, particularly in the summer, and that that prohibition is a serious disadvantage to the wax match industry, whether conducted abroad or locally?
– I am aware that there is such legislation. The fact is, however, that it was in the case of wooden matches that the local manufacture first failed. The manufacture of wax matches was continued long after the making of wooden matches had been stopped.
– I wish to know, Mr. Speaker, if you have any power to direct the attention of the authorities of this State to the great inconvenience to which members are put by the dark smoke which drifts into the building when the wind is blowing from a certain quarter?
– The nuisance referred to has existed for some time, and had been complained of before I became Speaker. I have on twooccasions written to the City Council about it. About eighteen months ago I received a reply to the effect that the matter had been referred to the Public Health Department, which had obtained a promise from Messrs. Angliss, whose chimneys are responsible, I believe, for the smoke, that the grievance would be remedied at an early date. However, nothing has been done, and I have “ written a second letter to the Council, to which I have not yet got a reply. The smoke is blistering and destroying the front of the building, and I intend to consult with the President, so that a representation may be -made to the State Government on the subject.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether he is considering, or will consider, the subsidizing of municipalities to the extent to which Commonwealth properties are free from rates? It has been the practice of some of the States to make specific grants to cover municipal rating. Attention has been drawn to the matter several times by the honorable member for Wentworth, who has moved a motion affirming the desirability of doing something of the kind.
– It is not the policy of this Government to contribute to the municipal rates on account of Commonwealth public buildings or property.
– Will the Government take into favorable consideration the reimbursement of municipalities where the Commonwealth, by its. operations, has been the chief instrument in cutting up roads and rendering them almost impassable? If not, will the Prime Minister give the House an opportunity to discuss the whole question of the Commonwealth’s responsibility in this regard?
– Where special damage ‘ is done the Commonwealth has always been ready to repair it ; but the general principle of the Crown not being rateable stands firm. Whether the people who have great Commonwealth buildings placed in their midst may be regarded as unfortunate is not for me to say..
– I wish to ask a question regarding a matter of groat importance to the community. According to this morning’s newspapers, two recent arrivals from Great Britain are inmates of the Melbourne Hospital, suffering from consumption, and I have been informed that in Sydney institutions there are eight or nine consumptives who have recently come to Australia.
Will the Minister endeavour to prevent persons suffering from consumption from coming here? There are persons-
– The honorable member may not make a statement ; he may only ask a question.
– I wish to know whether the Government will take steps to prevent the idea becoming prevalent in Great Britain that Australia is a home for consumptives.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong asked me a similar question yesterday. It is a fact that persons suffering from tuberculosis have recently come to Australia, and negotiations are now proceeding between this Government and the Governments of the States with a view to providing for the examination of intending immigrants in Great Britain, so that persons infected with consumption and -other diseases may be prevented from setting out for this country. When such persons have got here, it is often difficult to send them back, though many have been sent “back.
– Is the Minister aware that persons suffering from tuberculosis are not allowed to enter America, and that the steam-ship companies trading between Great Britain and the United States will not permit such persons to go aboard their vessels ?
– I believe that that is so. I understand that the United States Government maintains health officers at various ports of departure in Great Britain and Europe, by whom emigrants intending to go 4o America are examined. This Government is alive to the need of preventing any but the healthiest persons from coming to Australia. Much as we sympathize with the unfortunates who are diseased, we cannot afford to have them in our midst. It is possible that within the next few months an arrangement will be made for the examination in Great Britain of all intending to emigrate to Australia.
– On three occasions I had charge of shipments of immigrants, but I was not permitted to examine them, except with a view to seeing that they had been vaccinated, and I know that diseased persons who should not have been admitted to this country were able to come here. I ask the Minister, therefore, what power the Agents-General of the States have to cause the examination by medical officers of intending emigrants?
– I understand that from time to time the Department of External Affairs is informed that persons suffering from the loss of a leg or an arm, or otherwise disabled, and likely to be a burden on the State, are coming to Australia, and the Minister is asked whether he will give permission for them to enter the Commonwealth. I do not know what powers the Agents-General have in regard to the acceptance or refusal of immigrants. The final authority is that of the medical officers at “this end ; and when afflicted persons have been refused admission an agitation is immediately got up on their behalf. I know that many such persons have been sent back ; but the Minister of External Affairs will be able to give all the desired information next week if notice is given of the question.
– In view of the fact that many of the residents in the Federal Territory have no Parliamentary representation, would the Government offer any objection to a delegation being heard at the bar of the House in explanation of the grievances under which they labour ?
– The residents of the Federal Territory are not without representation so long as the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is in this House. My suggestion is that if the people abandon the honorable member and come to the bar of the House, they will lose by that course. Seriously, I do not think that the appearance of private people at the bar of Parliament ought to be encouraged.
– But the circumstances are peculiar.
– Such an appearance should be made only on the rarest and most momentous occasions, and I do not think the case referred to by the honorable member affords an instance of the kind. The Government have stated that they will provide, in the next Parliament I hope, for the representation of residents of the Federal Territory ; and, in the meantime, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who has been, and is still for all practical purposes, their representative, may be intrusted with their case in Parliament.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that there is a great and growing discontent in regard to the class of immigrants who are coming here; and will he take some step to obtain reliable information as to the relative numbers of immigrants who are settling on the land, and others who are entering into competition with our workmen as general labourers or artisans ?
– This is a matter which really rests with the Minister of External Affairs. One of the weaknesses of the present system is that, while the Commonwealth may regulate, encourage, or discourage immigration, there is no power to demand from the States where immigrants shall go, or how they shall be employed.
I have no doubt that the information asked for can be supplied. The weakness in the situation arises from the fact that, perhaps, artisans of a particular kind, when they arrive here, cannot obtain employment, and that people, who expect to be settled on the land, find places in the cities instead. It is a matter for inquiry ; but it should be a quiet informative inquiry if it is to be of use, not only in the present, but in the future.
Tasmanian Mail Service - Erection of Telephone Lines - KingstonNarracoorte Telephone - West Devonport Telephone Exchange.
– The other day the Postmaster-General was good enough to promise to lay on the table the correspondence between his Department and the steam-ship companies in respect to the Tasmanian mail service. I should like to know when we may expect that correspondence.
– The correspondence will be laid on the table as soon as it can conveniently be supplied.
Mr. W. ELLIOT JOHNSON (for Mr.
Fuller) asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will he, on an early date, supply the following for the information of honorable members : -
A list of telephone lines which have been erected during the last two years?
A list of those which are in course of erection, and the date on which same were approved ?
A list of those which have been approved, but not yet started, and date of such approval ?
A list of thoseto which residents have contributed which have been approved but not yet erected?
Mr. FISHER (for Mr. Frazer).- Yes ; but it will take some time to prepare the return.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will ascertain the reason of the delay for over six hours in establishing telephonic communication between Kingston and Narracoorte, South Australia, on Sunday, 29th September last, when medical aid was urgently needed? If the fault is with the Department, will the Minister take immediate steps to prevent the possibility of such an occurrence in the future ?
Mr. FISHER (for Mr. Frazer). - I presume the honorable member refers to the incident of Sunday, 22nd September, which has already been the subject of inquiry, and on which the DeputyPostmasterGeneral, Adelaide, reported as follows : -
Re fatality at Kingston, the accident occurred Sunday morning. Telegraph offices are closed1 on Sundays. Kingston tried to raise Naracoorte, and continued efforts for six hours or* chance of getting a reply. Postmaster, Naracoorte, went into office on Sunday afternoon, and about 3 p.m. heard Kingston calling. Answered’ call, took message, but Dr. McMillan was out of town, and did not return till 5 p.m. He reached Kingston at g p.m. Sunday, and man died on Tuesday morning. No blame attached to Department.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Mr. FISHER (for Mr. Frazer).- The answer to the honorable member’s first question is “ Yes.” inquiry with reference to the second question will be made, and a reply forwarded as soon as possible.
– Has the Attorney-General taken into consideration the question raised by the honorable member for Angas some little time ago, and by the honorable member for Cook later on, whether the Commonwealth has power to deal with people of other races; and, if so, whether that power includes the power to deal with the aliens engaged in the sugar industry? Will the Government take into consideration the advisability of introducing legislation to deal with those coloured aliens, and also with a view to the repeal of the Bounty and Excise Acts?
– As to the first part of the question, I have not looked into the matter very carefully. On the face of it, of course, there is power conferred in subsection xxvi. of section 51 of the Constitution to deal with coloured aliens, but to what extent that power goes I should hesitate to attempt to precisely determine further. No doubt that power was conferred for some purpose, and there is reason to believe that the prohibition against discrimination which extends generally in regard to Commonwealth legislation, is affected by sub-section xxvi. so far as the people of other races are concerned. Whether that sub-section permits us to make laws in regard to industrial matters or to segregate the aliens so far as their occupations are concerned I do not know. This is certainly a new aspect of the question which I shall look into carefully. As to the latter part of the question, it would be premature to say anything until we see exactly what power we have. In regard to the powers we have been acting under, it has not been considered that the action suggested by the honorable member couldbe taken; but, as I say, I shall look into the matter.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral at the same time ascertain whether any action can be taken in regard to, say, the Chinese furniture makers in Melbourne ?
– Speaking generally, whatever powers we may have in regard to people of other races, I take it that they would not include discrimination between one person and another of the same race. That seems to me to be opposed to the principles of justice and of fair play. The Constitution provides that the law should be applied to all alike, without respect to locality, status, or anything else. As I have said, possibly an exception is created by sub- section xxvi. of section 51, but only so far as the people of other races as compared with those of our own are concerned. As to its effect upon Chinese, I would point out that the law, after all, is based on common sense, or what was common sense at the time it was made; otherwise the law is a great reflection on us. Taking into consideration the spirit of the Constitution, sub-section xxvi., in my view, does not permit of the differential treatment of Chinamen in Melbourne and Chinamen anywhere else.
– I should like to know from the Minister of Home Affairs when the papers in connexion with the use of karri sleepers will be placed on the table as promised?
– I was under the impression that all the papers had been laid on the table, but I shall make inquiries.
Report (No. 2) presented by Mr.
Mcwilliams, and read by the Clerk Assistant.
Motion (by Mr. Mcwilliams) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– There is a matter that I should like to mention in the interests of honorable members, the resolution in the report -
That all reports, papers, &c., be referred to the Printing Committee before being printed, excepting those which have been authorized by either the Senate or House of Representatives to be printed.
There are occasions, however, when a Minister lays a paper on the table, and there is no motion made at the moment that it be printed. Again, a Minister may send a paper into a Department, the officers of which know that permission to print it is going to be asked for, though three or four days may elapse before that is done. The fact is that these reports are already in print ; and I take it that the resolution in the report does not mean that the officers shall not be allowed to afford honorable members the opportunity to peruse a document before it has actually been moved that it be printed. I mention this, as I say, to protect honorable members.
– The resolution of the Printing Committee -
That all Ordinances of Papua, the Northern Territory, and the Seat of Government be printed and bound annually in one volume, is one to which I take no exception; butthen we have to consider their second resolution that has been referred to by Mr. Speaker. Every Government must take at times the responsibility of printing and circulating an urgent paper, even if Parliament is not sitting.
– The resolution would not prevent a Minister from doing so.
– The resolution says that all reports, papers, &c., shall be referred to the Committee.
– That means all reports and papers presented to Parliament.
– As I read it, it means that the paper should come here in manuscript, and pass through the hands of the Printing Committee before being printed. If that interpretation can be read into it, it is an impracticable suggestion, and would place the Executive Government of the Commonwealth in a ridiculous position. I ask the mover to allow the elimination of that part of the report for further consideration, or to consent to the report being referred back to the Committee. It would be unwise to attempt to tie up the Government in this matter, and, even if it were done, no Government worthy of their office would comply with the resolution. They would simply continue to get papers printed as required. I might instance the Budgetpapers as a case in point.
– Generally speaking, a strict interpretation of the terms of the resolution would lead to great delay in the circulation of printed papers to members, and thare is a great deal too much delay in that regard already. I should like to see their production hastened considerably. Sometimes we do not get them for weeks after they have been laid on the table, when all the interest has evaporated, and a great deal of their usefulness has gone.
– The Printing Office has something to do with it.
– Then it is time there was an alteration.
– This resolution will make it worse.
– It will lead to greater delay. The Government are acting wisely in reserving to themselves the right to print any document which they think of sufficient public importance. That practice saves time, and ministers to the convenience of members. I rose principally to express the hope that papers will get into honorable members’ hands more promptly than is the case at present.
– On a point of order, I would ask whether this matter should be taken into consideration without due notice ?
– It has always been the custom to take reports of this nature into consideration forthwith.
– The resolution would not occasion the. slightest delay in the printing of any report that is laid on the tableof the House, When a Minister presents a paper to Parliament, he simply moves that it be printed, and it is printed forthwith. The terms of the resolution expressly provide for that.. But there has been a procedure in one Chamber-
– If the honorable member is speaking in reply, he will close the debate.
– The honorable member formally presented the report, and did not speak in doing so. In the circumstances, his speaking now will not close the debate.
– The Printing Committee is now a joint Committee of members of both Chambers. Previously there was a Printing Committee in each House. In one Chamber a procedure had arisen by which the Clerk used simply to hand certain papers on to be printed, and they were printed without reference to that House, the Printing Committee, or Ministers. That procedure was not adopted in: both Houses. The Printing Committeethought it advisable that there should be some body responsible for determining whether the papers should be printed or not. The question of the Budget papers came before the Committee, and it was never intended that the resolution should apply to them. If it is thought that it does cover a case of that sort, I would suggest that the report be returned to the Committee to have the wording altered.
– As I read it, the Government can print nothing except by order of Parliament or by order of the Committee.
– It was never intended to prevent a Minister having any document printed for which he took full and complete responsibility. When a Minister presents a report to Parliament, he moves that it be printed, and it is printed forthwith without any reference to the Printing Committee. We hold, however, that, except those papers printed by the authority of the House or by authority of a Minister, none should be printed before it goes to the Printing Committee for consideration. No officer should have authority to have any paper printed. Unless that view is adopted, it is of no use to have a Printing Committee at all. Printing is now a very expensive item, and if there is to be any supervision over it, definite lines will have to be laid down with regard to the authority to order the printing of documents. Rather than see the resolution deleted, I would ask permission to withdraw the report for further consideration and subsequent presentation.
– Perhaps in the circumstances it would be better to withdraw the report, but I might first make a personal explanation that may help to clear up matters. The honorable member for Franklin spoke of officers getting reports printed. I do not know what has been done in another place, but the only papers that the officers of this House have taken it upon themselves to distribute are those that are already in print. Knowing probably that the Committee would not meet for a fortnight, and that the papers would ultimately be distributed to members, they have had them distributed at once.
– The intention of the resolution is a right one, the desire being to have some control over the printing of papers laid before Parliament. We are constantly asking for the production of papers in this House, and often the only desire is to get a little information needed for purposes of debate. In many cases it is not desired even to circulate the information widely. The Prime Minister’s fear that the resolution, as worded, will interfere with the right of the Executive to print its own papers is unfounded. The Committee, I take it, had no desire to bring about any such result. They have only before them papers that are laid before Parliament, and not departmental papers, and there is nothing in the motion to prevent Ministers carrying out the practice which has hitherto obtained. At the same time it is just as well to have the real object of the resolution clearly expressed.
That the Report be referred back to the Committee for reconsideration.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiries have been instituted, and information will be furnished as soon as possible.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 3rd October, vide page 3852).
Clause 271 (Regulations as to passenger trade).
– I desire to call the attention of the Minister to a doubt as to whether a person who is carried gratuitously on board ship will be a passenger within the meaning of the Act. In this Bill, “passenger” is defined as meaning
Any person other than the master and crew, or the owner, his family or servants, carried on board a ship with the knowledge or consent of the owner, agent, or master thereof.
The definition in the New South Wales Act is similar, but it has been decided that a person carried gratuitously on ship-board is not a passenger within the meaning of that Act. The point arises because there are certain privileges granted to passengers, who are also under certain liabilities. As this case throws some doubt upon the efficacy of the definition, I think it well to call attention to the matter now, in order that the Minister may inquire into the question.
– I shall look into the matter. It is quite possible that shipowners desire to be safeguarded. At one time many persons used to work their passage from one port to another, but I understand that the practice has largely gone by the board owing to the fact that the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, as well as other tribunals, have decided that all persons employed on board ship must receive payment. The question, therefore, is not so important as it might previously have been.
– Some important questions were raised in England regarding the liability of vessels for injury to persons so carried.
– I shall look into the question.
– I hope that the regulations framed under Part V. of the Bill, with which we are now dealing, will embrace some of the points that have been raised during the discussion of previous clauses covering the equipment of vessels and the accommodation of passengers, with a view to preventing the stowage of cargo and other impedimenta on the space set apart for passenger accommodation. Under this clause provision is made for making regulations in regard to “cargo to be carried and the method of stowing cargo.” That is one of the most important points to be considered in connexion with the regulations, and I hope that the Minister, in framing them, will see that a responsible officer - preferably the chief officer - shall be responsible for the stowage of cargo. A responsible officer should be appointed. He should know where every package is stowed, and the proper place in which to stow cargo of various kinds, so that in the event of an accident, due, possibly, to lack of stability on the part of the ship, there may be available a record as to the stowage of cargo, enabling a diagram to be prepared, which would show at a glance whether it was properly or improperly stowed. In that way it would be possible to sheet home to some individual, who should be in charge, the responsibility for any loss of life or property incurred- Under present conditions ho one is responsible. Persons travelling by sea have to trust their lives to more or less incompetent men in charge of the stowage of cargo - shoremen without any knowledge of ship construction, the stability of ships, or where cargo should properly be placed. On British ships the chief officer is responsible for this work. He is supposed to know where every package is stowed, and the examination which he has to undergo includes tests as to his knowledge regarding the proper disposition of cargo. I think, therefore, that in this clause provision should be made for the framing of regulations covering one or two more points. I am prepared to move the addition of two new paragraphs providing for the making of regulations in regard to-
– I do not think those headings would come under the regulations to be framed under this part of the Bill which deals only with passengers.
– The safety of passengers is dependent upon, amongst other things, the proper stowage of cargo. The whole stability of a ship is really dependent upon both of the matters to which I have referred. If the framing of such regulations would not come within this part of the Bill I would suggest that it might be advisable to introduce a new part. I shall be very happy to hand to the Minister a suggestion framed by a well-known navigator who proposes the insertion of the following new division -
Division 5A - Stability Record -
Every ship shall have the following data, mounted and framed, displayed in a conspicuous and always accessible position : -
The position of G, the centre of gravity of the ship when light.
A table of heights of the transverse metacentre at every foot of draught between “light” and “loaded.”
Any ship engaging in any trade involving the loading of whole cargoes or ore, metal, coal, wheat, or other homogeneous cargoes, shall be provided with and displav in an accessible position curves of stability for such whole cargoes, with bunkers and tanks in both full and spent conditions, showing how to avoid the dangers of both insufficient and excessive stability.
Copies of these documents to be filed at the port of registry. Not toapply to vessels except under 223.
The owner or master of every ship shall place upon record the metacentric height of his ship both for the moment of departure and for the moment of arrival at her destination, or at any port that may be required by the Customs, or Navigation Department’s official, under the same conditions and in the same manner as described in 227, for recording the load-line.
Penalties to be similar to those under 229 and 230.
The regulations may make provision -
for determining maxima and minima of metacentric height for different seasons and different types of ships ;
as to the issue of certificates of approval of metacentric height ;
for requiring entries to be made on every change of metacentric height in the official log-book, and requiring the delivery of copies of such entries.
The conditions of this Act to apply equally to all ships trading to or from Australia.
Clearance to be refused for non-compliance.
The urgency of some measure of legal control, or at least of compulsory registration in the official log of the amount of the “G.M.”- or metacentric height of a ship- “the height of the. transverse metacentre above the centre of gravity “ - should scarcely require emphasis to anybody who has lived in Australia during the last four years. At least three notable losses of passenger steamers with all hands have occurred, where the suspicion has been more or less freely voiced that the stability of the ships lost was questionable. With compulsory registration of the.”G.M.” of the ships at the time of sailing and by precalculated at arrival at destination, either the disasters would have been foreseen and avoided, or else the shipping companies would have been able to clear themselves definitely from blame of neglect to insure seaworthiness, which at present they have no means of doing.
This memorandum has been prepared by one of the most experienced navigators sailing out of an Australian port. He is in charge of a large passenger steamer, and I think that his observations are well worthy of the consideration of the Government in connexion with this measure. He points out that the transverse metacentre depends on the immersed portion of the ship, and is that point of a line connecting the centre of the keel with the centre of the ‘midship beam, which is always vertically over the centre of buoyancy. It varies with the draft of water, as the immersed part of the ship varies with the draft. It varies only with the draft of water, quite independent of the arrangement of weights within the ship, and can therefore be calculated once and for all by the builders when a ship is new, or by any expert marine architect for any ship, providing that her dimensions are accurately known, and should then be supplied to the captain in the form of a. small table of the greatest simplicity. In this connexion I would draw attention to an apparatus that I have had the advantage of inspecting, and. with which at least one ship coming to this port is supplied.
– I understand that several vessels are supplied with the same apparatus.
– I should be glad if its use were made general. I saw it in the chart room of the steamer Argyleshire.
– The honorable member directed my attention to it, but unfortunately I was unable to go down and see it.
– I hope that the Minister will avail himself of the first opportunity to inspect the apparatus. It should be a part of the compulsory equipment of passenger vessels and large cargo ships. By means of this apparatus the stability of a ship can be ascertained at any moment. It is a most ingenious contrivance. There is attached to it a carefully compiled scale and a series of weights representing tons, hundreds of tons, thousands of tons of cargo, as the case may be. It shows at once the effect of the displacement of cargo on any part of a ship upon the ship’s draft and stability. It is called Ralston’s patent stability indicator.
– I understand that the latest Inter- State steamer, the Warilda, is equipped with it.
– I should like the Minister to examine the apparatus, with a view to deciding whether it would not be desirable to compel vessels to carry some such instrument, and to keep a record in the chart room which would show at all times the condition of the vessel in respect of her cargo, and enable her officers to know exactly how to load her. The adoption of some such apparatus would decrease the risk of capsizing. If the Minister will consider the advisability of inserting a short provision dealing with matters affecting stability, I shall be glad to hand to him the suggestions which have been forwarded to me by a most experienced captain who has had charge of some of the finest vessels that have come to Australia.
– The honorable member for Lang has spoken to me privately about this matter, but it is not one that we can consider at this stage. As to requiring a statement about the stowage of cargo before a vessel leaves port, that is under consideration, and the advisability of framing a regulation on the subject has been before the Attorney-General and myself. Such a record is not furnished in any other part of the world, but that, of course, is no reason why we should not insist upon it.
– It would be very useful when enquiries had to be made.
– Yes, but, as the honorable member said, ship’s officers do not always know how the cargo is stowed.
– The chief officer should be made responsible.
– With regard to free passengers, or dead-heads, our definition is based on that in the Merchant Shipping Act, and such persons are counted as passengers. This is necessary to prevent evasion of the provisions relating to lifesaving appliances.
.- I wish to know if it is possible to provide by regulation, or in some other way, for the insurance of the lives of crews. The shipping companies protect themselves from loss by insuring their ships, and the cargoes are also insured, so that when a wreck takes place the only losers are the sailors or their wives and families. The time has arrived when the shipping companies should be compelled to insure the lives of their employes. The cost distributed over the cargo would be very small ; but it would be a great boon to those depending on sailors to have this provision made for them. Legal members of the Committee will know how the matter could best be dealt with. I do not know that there is such a provision in the law of any other country, but what I suggest would not cause any hardship to the shipping companies, and would greatly benefit the wives and families of seamen.
Mr.Groom. - The Seamen’s Compensation Act makes the necessary provision.
– There have been several wrecks on the New South Wales coast, and the wives and families of those who perished have not been able to get compensation, though I understand that compensation is given to the dependents of British seamen.
– What the honorable member suggests is covered by the Seamen’s Compensation Act, and recently, at the request of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I furnished a return of the payments made under that Act.
– The Seamen’s Compensation Act, which is based on the Workmen’s Compensation Act of Great Britain, goes as far as legislation of this kind has gone or can go, but it provides that compensation is not to be paid under it if it has already been paid under some other Act, the principle being that there shall! not be double compensation.
.- Under this Act if a vessel is unseaworthy an action for damages would lie. When a ship is lost, compensation to the dependents of the seamen is provided for by the Seamen’sCompensation Act. It may be that some State legislation is necessary to provide compensation for accidents for which our legislation cannot provide. New South Wales may have a supplementary Act. A few years ago there was no such Act.
– The Queensland Act extends to seamen.
– I think that only Inter-State trade is covered by the Seamen’s Compensation Act, and that if a boat were lowered from a vessel on a voyage while that vessel was within the waters of any State, theHigh Court would decide that any accident that happened was not incurred in InterState trade, and, therefore, could not be compensated for under the Act.
– The amending Act of last year covers that.
– This discussion is entirely out of order, having no reference to the clause.
Mr. W. ELLIOT JOHNSON (Lang> [11.45]. - I desire to move an amendment to add the following paragraphs to theclause -
What is meant by the metacentre is the limiting position of the point of intersection between the vertical line passing through the centre of gravity of a floating body when in equilibrium, and the vertical line drawn through the centre of buoyancy when the body is slightly displaced - the shifting centre as it is called. To insure stable equilibrium this point must be above the centre of gravity.I desire this amendment because I am deeply sensible of its extreme importance, and the extreme gravity of the position which arisesthrough neglect in this and kindred matters. Ships are allowed to go to sea in a haphazard way, with no one responsible for the cargo, which may be so disposed as to be an absolute source of danger, though, apparently, so far as the Plimsoll mark goes, the vessel is properly loaded-
In a later part of the Bill I hope the Minister will make provision to deal generally with the question of the stability of ships, and for keeping a proper record of the metacentric height and other cognate matters relating to stability. All I ask at present is that this should be made the subject of regulation, and I assure the Minister that my only desire is to assist this legislation in every way I can, because I realize the great importance of provisions of the kind.
– No doubt the question is one of great importance, but I hardly think that the amendment is necessary or proper; it is not necessary if the thing is to be done by regulation, and it is not proper if the honorable member desires the thing certainly done. The honorable member has furnished the Committee with some very important and interesting information about the metacentre and its relation to navigation; and I think we all now know why we get so frightfully ill at sea. The amendment, however, either goes too far or not far enough, and in neither case does it do what the honorable member desires. If what he proposes to do is by means of regulation, the amendment is unnecessary.
– I suggest a new clause, but still the Minister should have power to make regulations.
– This clause applies to passenger ships only, and, as we are legislating for all ships, equal , regard should be paid to the crews.
– My amendment does not exclude that.
– I may say, shortly, that, in my opinion, regulations may be made under the clause as it stands to deal with the matter so far as passenger ships are concerned. All the same, we ought not to rely on regulations, if the matter, as seems on the face of it, is so important. However, it has altogether escaped the attention of the greatest maritime nations of the world, so far as legislation is concerned. It is true that ships are built with a view to the maintenance of and with due regard to this principle, but, at the same time, it has not been embodied in legislation. The matter has been discussed between the Minister of Trade and Customs, the experts, and myself ; and it is in contemplation to make such amendment, if it should appear that power is not given to make regulations, to enable that to be done for all ships. I have read carefully what Captain Simpson has to say, and it has made a profound impression on me. I hope the honorable member for Lang will accept my assurance that I shall have the matter looked into with a view to an amendment which will enable all ships to be dealt with.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 272 to 279 agreed to.
Clause 280 (Taking passage for lunatic, or sending lunatic on board).
.- I do not know that it is quite germane to the clause, but my attention has been called to the fact that there has been a large increase is ticket “ scalping,” and some of the shipping companies think that there ought to be some provision to prevent the sale of return tickets. I understand that the shipping companies themselves will return the price of an unused ticket, less 10 per cent, so that the passengers appear to have very fair treatment in this respect. Perhaps the Minister will consider the matter.
– With the honorable member for Angas, I think that the subject mentioned is not germane to the clause. As a rule, a person who engages in ticket scalping is by no means a lunatic, but usually one of the smartest of men. By this Bill we have tried to protect passengers as far as possible, and for the first time the question is raised whether there should be a clause to protect the companies against unauthorized persons selling return half tickets. Of course, the interests of the passengers must be safeguarded in view of the possibility that, if we inserted a clause of the kind, the companies would refuse to pay anything on the return of a ticket.
– I merely raised the point; I doubt the expediency of such a clause.
– I shall have the matter considered.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 281 agreed to.
Clause 282 -
No person shall -
Amendment (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to - That after the word “ board “ the following words be inserted: - “and after having the amount of his fare (if he has paid it) returned or’ tendered to him.”
.- I have here a rough draft of an amendment which the Minister might consider. The clause begins, “ No person shall,” and then we might add, as paragraph h, the following :-
Not being duly authorized by the steam-ship company issuing the ticket, sell, or offer to sell, any free pass, ticket, or return half of a ticket, or use, or attempt to use, a transferred free pass or ticket, or return half of a ticket, or use a free pass or ticket, or return half of a ticket the time for using which has expired.
An amendment of that sort would be effective if the Minister decides to do anything, but I do not intend at present to move it.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 283 agreed to.
Clause 284 -
This Part of this Act shall, except where otherwise expressed, apply to all ships, whether British or foreign.
.- This is the first clause of Part VI., dealing with the coasting trade, and would, I think, be the best place on which to discuss the whole question.
.- If there is any question of excluding foreign ships from the coasting trade, it will have to be raised on this clause. There are not very many foreign vessels connected with our coasting trade; but if we are going to include British oversea ships in the provisions of this part of the Bill, I cannot see why we should not include foreign vessels also. The trouble arises in connexion with treaty engagements, some of which have to be respected under the terms of the Merchant Shipping Act. The Merchant Shipping Act of 1854, if not also the one of 1894, provided that in regulating the coasting trade we had to pay regard to certain treaties then in force.
– Let us discuss the whole question on clauses 286 and 287, which might conveniently be taken together.
– That would give ample opportunity for discussion. I simply call attention to the fact that if any question arises as regards foreign vessels, now is the time to deal with it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 285 -
This Part …. shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation…..
Provided that the next following section shall come into operation on the date fixed for the commencement of this Act.
– I move -
That the proviso be left out.
– What will be the effect?
– I candidly admit that I am not quite sure, as the progress we have made with the Bill has been greater than I anticipated. I know it is proposed to re-cast the whole of the next clause.
.- We have already made an amendment in the first or second clause of the Bill which, I think, dispenses with the necessity for this proviso.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as’ amended, agreed to.
Clause 286 -
A ship shall be deemed to engage in the coasting trade if she takes on board passengers or cargo at any port in Australia, or any Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, to be carried to, and landed or delivered at, any other port in Australia or in any such Territory.
Provided that the carrying of passengers who hold through tickets to or from a port beyond Australia, or of cargo consigned on a through bill of lading to or from a port beyond Australia, or of mails, shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade :
Provided further that the Governor-General may by order declare that the carrying of passengers between specified ports in Australia by British ships, shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade.
– I move -
That all the words down to and inclusive of “ Provided further that “ be left out.
It is intended subsequently to move the insertion, in place of the words omitted, of the following words -
A ship shall be deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade, within the meaning of this Act, if she takes on board passengers or cargo at any port in a State, or a Territory which is part of the Commonwealth, to be carried to, and landed or delivered at, any other port in the same State or Territory or in any other State or other such Territory : “ Provided that a ship shall not be deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade by reason of the fact that she carries - “ (a) passengers who hold through tickets to or from a port beyond Australia and the Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth; or ” (b) cargo consigned on a through bill of lading to or from a port beyond Australia and those Territories; or ” (c) mails between any ports in Australia or in any of those Territories.”
I propose later on to move that the words “ within the meaning of this part of this Act “ be added to the clause.
– I should like the Minister to state how it is proposed to define the word “ port.” The determination of what is a coasting boat and what is a river and bay boat will depend upon the definition of that word. If “ port “ is to include any little landing jetty at which a boat calls to discharge a few boxes of butter, or to pick up a few bags of maize, or a few boxes of apples, it will cover perhaps all our boats. If, however, itis defined as meaning, as it is generally understood to mean, a place of export and import, where wharf labourers are employed, and so forth, we shall have a much wider definition than might otherwise be given. We ought to know what is the intention of the Minister as to the definition of the word “ port.”
– The effect of the amendment proposed by the Government upon the coasting trade and the clauses dealing with it may be briefly explained. In the first place, it is provided that Part VI. shall apply to all ships, whether British or foreign, and that it shall come into operation on a day to be fixed by proclamation. Then, in proposed new clause1a, which gives the scope of the Bill as a whole, and must, of course, include Part VI., it is provided that - 1a. - (1.) This Act shall not apply in relation to any Australian-trade ship, limited coast-trade ship, or river and bay ship, or her master or crew, unless the ship -
Paragraph 2 of the proposed new clause is. as it were, an expression of our recognition that the Constitution, plus any Imperial statutes, limitsour powers. Applying that clause to the proposal in front of us. we find that this part of the Bill is to apply to British ships and foreign ships, to Australian-trade ships and coasting-trade ships when and as long as they are engaged in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States; or are on the high seas, or are in waters which are used by ships engaged in trade or commerce with other countries, or among the States, or are in the territorial waters of any territory which is part of the Commonwealth.
The honorable member has brought forward a matter which in its relation to the particular vessels that he has in mind is not very important; but since, in its application generally, it is important, the Committee may be invited at once to address itself to it. He desires to know whether this clause will apply to vessels plying exclusively within inland waters, and I shall’ dispose of this point because the honorable member has asked for information in regard to it. Whether it is advisable that it should or should not apply to such vessels is another matter ; but I think that, in regard to the rule of the road, the carrying of lights, and such like matters as must arise, and are likely to interfere with navigation as a whole, and the safety of shipping generally, our power must be asserted, and this Bill asserts it. To what extent it ought to and will exercise that power must depend on particular circumstances. I know what the honorable member has in mind, and to the general question of whether as a. fact generally the provisions will apply to such boats as he has in his mind, which, I gather, are what are termed river and bay boats, I would answer, subject to what I have stated before, “ No.”
I come now to the far more important point raised by the honorable member for Angas in regard to the question of treaties. The position of the Commonwealth in regard to treaties was for some time, and still is, very complicated. We are bound, of course, by any treaties into which Great Britain has entered, and which were assented to by the States, or any of them. We are bound, of course, by treaties which any one of the States assented to. It is by no means easy to discover what those treaties are; but so far as we have been able to ascertain, the countries with which we had treaties were Austria, Egypt, Greece, Honduras. Mexico, Muscat, Paraguay, Roumania, and Salvador. Between 1905 and 1911 we gave notice of withdrawalfrom the treaties with all these countries save Salvador, which seems to have been overlooked. Every country save Austria accepted our withdrawal, so that the present position is that we are bound by treaties with Austria and Salvador. The situation, however, is not quite so simple as it would appear to be by reason of the almost negligible quantity of shipping trading to Australia under the flags of these two countries. There is, I understand, trading with Australia a subsidized line of steamers from an Austrian port flying the Austrian flag. Of Salvador I know nothing, but from what I can gather, the position, so far as that country is concerned, is unimportant. But the matter does not aid here. Under the maritime laws of Austria or of Salvador, as of almost any other country, it is relatively easy for any ship to register under the national flag of either country. is, therefore, very clear that, if we admit the ships of one country to trade under a treaty, we practically have opened the gate to ships of any nation that choose to register under the flag of that particular country, and to come here under her flag. Such a practice is quite common.. As we all know, it is done every day. It is very well known, for example, that the International Shipping Combine, which took over the fleets of the Leyland White Star and other lines, run them under the British flag, although they are financed by American money.
– Would that apply, seeing that there is a saving clause to treaty provisions ? You could not extend the scope of the saving clause.
– That may be so. I confess I do not know what provisions are required by a vessel registered under the Austrian or Salvador flag. I put the matter before the Committee for what it is worth.
If the Austrian law is anything like the British law it would be comparatively easy for any British vessel to register under it, and if these provisions are to be anything more than a mere name some means will have to be found whereby all ships shall be treated alike, regardless of whether or not we have treaties with the countries whose flags they fly. For the very real danger to our own coasting trade arising out of the possibilities I have just indicated does not stand alone. There is another position still more serious, which compels attention. I mean the danger of differential treatment. Nothing is more provocative of international trouble, and, with a great maritime nation like Great Britain, no thing is more calculated to provoke reprisals than differential treatment. Where all are treated alike none can complain, but where favoritism is shown all have a right to complain. The position in regard to the Panama Canal is an instance in point. When the United States of America treats all nations alike, when she makes no difference between her own shipping and that of other countries, no one has a right to complain no matter what the conditions may be, but where she shows nepotism there is a right to protest. We have to consider not only our own interests but those of Great Britain, and if we were to attempt to exclude Austria, against her treaty rights, we should find, first of all, that we could not. I am perfectly sure that Great Britain would not, for a moment, stand by us in any attempt of the kind. We are face to face with that position; and, on the other hand, we are confronted with the other and even more serious one arising out of differential treatment. We have to treat all nations alike, and yet protect our own coastal shipping. This brings us to the crux of the problem.
The principle that has actuated successive Governments in regard to this measure has now to be looked at. That principle is the reservation of the coasting trade of Australia for Australian shipping, but the trouble is to apply it in view of the many and great difficulties that surround us. I am not going to argue at all in favour of a principle that has found general acceptation. “ The industries of Australia for the people of Australia “ has been the accepted policy since the inception of Federation, and the shipping industry must not be treated differently from any other. But the situation bristles with difficulties. This continent has 8,000 miles of coast line, and our scanty population is flung out all round it, so conveniences of transport are of vital moment to us. We have, therefore, to consider how far our policy can be applied without materially interfering with our commerce and the convenience of our travelling public, disregarding treaty rights or attempting a policy of differentia] treatment towards the various maritime nations. Regard must be paid to the rights which have been acquired by certain nations under treaties, and to the consequences which may flow from them which I have indicated. All these considerations being kept in view, it is contended that the policy of protecting
Australian shipping is effectively recognised, while the rights* of other nations to equal treatment under our maritime laws is not overlooked, in the clauses as we propose to amend them.
An amendment which the Minister is to move is the omission of the word “ foreign “ from clause 287, so that the clause may read -
No ship shall engage in the coastal trade unless she is licensed so to do.
As the clause stands it would exclude Austrian and Salvador shipping whose rights are safeguarded by treaty, but, as amended, it treats all shipping alike, whether registered in Australia, Great Britain, or in any other country. No shipping will be permitted to engage in the Australian coastal trade without a licence issued subject to the provisions of this measure. The form of the licence will be determined by regulation. This amendment gets rid of the difficulties created by treaty rights and international obligations. The principle underlying international law that all nations have equal rights, subject to each other’s municipal laws and territorial powers, is fully recognised.
Subject to the provisions of clause 286, any vessel which picks up passengers or cargo at any port in the Commonwealth for conveyance to any other port in the Commonwealth will be deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade, and must obtain a licence. In order to obtain a licence, there must be paid on board these vessels the rates of wages in force on board Australian ships, either as the result of agreements between employers and employes obtaining general acceptance, or as the awards of competent Courts or other tribunals having jurisdiction, and there must be compliance with other conditions similarly arrived at. This is a perfectly fair provision. All vessels will be treated alike, our own ships are protected against unfair competition, and everything is done to meet the convenience of persons living in outlying parts of the Commonwealth who “have infrequent communication, and whose facilities for transport ought not to be diminished. The protective policy to which I have referred, adopted by Mr. Kingston in drafting the first Bill, has been recognised by each succeeding Government. It has gone through the fiery furnace of criticism and discussion and emerged unscathed. It was before the Royal Commission of Navigation, it was discussed at the Merchant Shiping Conference, and no exception was taken to it, provided that British ships ought not to be asked to do any. more than other ships, to which we agreed.
However much we may desire to leave the shipping industry unhampered, and free to all, we cannot escape the position created by the policy of this Parliament, this Government, and this party. We have imposed conditions on Australian shipowners, compelling them to pay rates of wages substantially twice as large as the highest paid on the best class of vessels registered out of Australia, and five or six times as large as those paid on coloured labour ships trading to the Commonwealth, and from one part of the Commonwealth to another. As we compel our shipping to pay these rates of wages, and to observe other conditions which are onerous, we ought to protect them as we protect our manufacturers ashore from the competition of rivals which are not similarly handicapped. It may be urged that the issuing of licences will be a complicated and lengthy business. I do not think so. In any case it is not a serious objection. More licences are issued for the management of hotels and for other businesses than will have to be issued under the Bill. At present every ship has to get a clearance before leaving port, and be furnished with other papers, and the obtaining of a licence would be a mere formal matter, on compliance with the conditions laid down. This, then, is the policy of the Government in regard to this most important matter, and I venture to assert it is a sound, fair, and equitable one. So far as the Government is aware, there is no other way in which treaty rights and obligations can be respected, international complications avoided, and the shipping interests of Australia duly protected against unfair competition.
.- I am glad that the Attorney-General has referred to the matter of treaty rights, because, although only a few countries had treaty rights preserved in the first Merchant Shipping Act of 1854, remonstrance might be made by other countries were they refused privileges granted to rivals. The rights preserved by the first Merchant Shipping Act were limited to those created by treaties in existence at the time the Act was passed. Other treaties entered into since the Act of 1854 was passed - its provisions were repeated in the Act of 1894 - would not impose any limitation on our power of legislation in respect to our coast trade. As a matter of law, our power to regulate the coast trade of Australia is limited only by certain treaties, but as a matter of policy it may be limited by all treaties with countries affected by its exercise. The Attorney-General remarked that the scope of the old treaties may be extended to other countries by allowing the vessels of those countries to register under the laws of the countries with which the treaties were made, but I do not think that that would enable foreign shipping to get outside the provisions of our legislation. Those treaties must be read in the sense that only existing rights are preserved; and surely it would be a violation of the principles of international law and ethics if a country could extend an exemption to other countries simply by allowing them to register. What section 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1904 does is to preserve whatever treaty rights the ships then registered enjoyed.
– I have not seen the treaty, which would be quite independent of the Act.
– Yes ; and the reason I refer to international law is that I think the scope of that provision, as it relates to treaties, would be regarded as a saving section merely. The Imperial Government would have the right of remonstrance against any country which abused the privilege preserved by that Act. by extending registration to other countries. A sensible interpretation is to be given; and that would exclude additions to the exemptions such as, by an abuse of treaty right,- a nation might give. But apart “from that, there are wider questions that have always affected me. The coasting trade presents, no doubt, a very difficult problem. We must maintain ss. standard of wages here ; and if British vessels come and. take up a la’rge portion of the trade that legitimately ought to belong to local vessels, we cannot have that standard of living we hope to develop. It would be well, therefore, if the Minister could give some information as to the extent of the competition in cargo and passengers, first by ocean-going British vessels, and, secondly, by foreign vessels. In 1903, when the question of the coasting trade arose in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, Sir
Malcolm McEacharn gave us some figures, which, I think, showed thai there was practically no such competition in regard to cargo.
– The Royal Commission took some evidence on that point, and it showed that, in regard to cargo, the- competition was not great, but that in regard to passengers it was considerable.
- Sir Malcolm McEacharn showed that there was practically no coastal cargo carried by those oversea vessels - that, if I remember rightly, out of a total tonnage of some millions only about 25,000 tons were taken on board in a certain year between Fremantle and eastern ports. We may, therefore, I think, leave cargo out of account, though we ought to know to what extent there is competition for passengers. As pointed out by either the honorable member for Kooyong or myself, our local vessels have very large responsibilities. The vessels, under what is known as the Commonwealth Steam-ship Owners’ Association, number 133, with a gross tonnage of 287,000 tons. The wages, including; overtime, paid amount to ,£562,000 a year, so that it will be seen we have a pretty large industry to consider. The outlay for stores, which indicates that there are important dependent industries, is. £417,000. while for docking, repairing, and so forth, there is paid ,£353,000. These are all facts that we have to bear in mind, and we ought to know the number of passengers that have been carried from. Fremantle recently on oversea vessels.
– There is no record kept of the cargo carried, and it would take some time to obtain the information in regard to the passengers; however, I shall endeavour to obtain it next week.
– Apart from our desireto preserve the existing coast-trade so far as we legitimately can for local vessels, and apart from the point of view of Imperial interests, which we must never forget, there arises the question of the effect” of these limitations on the public As was. stated in the recent Vend case - though I do not say I adopt the principle- the public comprises, not only producers, which, in this case, are the ship-owners, but alsothe consumers ; and under a sort of quasimonopoly fares and freights might rise. If, by imposing limitations’ on foreign and’ British vessels coming from beyond Australia, we raise freights and fares, we may. while preserving the legitimate interests of one part of the public, cause serious detriment to another. I am very largely impressed with the fact that we have in Australia excellent shipping accommodation. The Inter- State ships are, I believe, very fine, and, perhaps, some honorable members may be able to give us an idea of the comparative rates charged to passengers. In making such a comparison one has to remember that the first class passengers on a local line may come into competition with the second class passengers by the Peninsular and Oriental or Orient line.
– At one time the rates on the mail steamers were double the local rates.
– A comparison was made in 1903 or 1904, but I would not risk mentioning the rates then, because, in matters of this kind, we ought to be quite uptodate. It is only within the last year or two that almost every person engaged on or about Australian vessels has been brought within the scope of an industrial agreement or award. Officers, engineers, the men employed on the wharfs, and others, are all under some industrial determination which prescribes pretty good rates of wages, or under some award which incidentally affects the ship-owners. In any comparison, therefore, as to freight or fares, we have to bear in mind the necessity for raising them created by the increased obligations of the ship-owners. Then, from the point of view of Imperial interests, I have always advocated that ocean-going British vessels ought not to be too much hampered so long as they do not substantially compete with local vessels. Sir Robert Griffin, President of the Board of Trade, who is a very strong Free Trader, and a great authority on all matters connected with Imperial trade, declared, either in giving evidence or in some memorandum, that, in his opinion, _ the coasting trade of the British dominions, and even the coasting trade of the United Kingdom, where foreigners competed only to the extent of 9 or 10 per cent., ought to be preserved for British vessels. That is a statement by a competent authority who is not likely to give a prejudiced account. I do not think that the competition by foreigners is very much, but we cannot grant them privileges that we deny to British vessels. About ten years ago I know tha.t the foreign competition was slight, being confined mainly to Norwegian vessels, for instance, which did a particular class of trade that was not carried on by our own vessels However, I do not propose to deal with that matter now. The British Government have not persisted in their opposition to the provisions in this part of the Act. They did raise objection in the beginning, but they finally acquiesced in the inevitable by simply not voting. A statement to that effect, I remember, was made in the House of Commons by Mr. Lloyd-George. But we are introducing more distinction. The AttorneyGeneral has mentioned that by omitting from clause 287 the word “ foreign “ we are, practically, in some respects, treating all ships alike. I cannot see how that makes any difference, or how it helps us much, for instance, in connexion with treaty obligations. Treaty obligations cannot be touched by the law, and in regard to licences, the importance is not in the statement that all vessels must be licensed, but in the extent to which we refuse licences to some vessels.
– The honorable member would not deny that we could prevent any private trading at all on the coast - that there could be a Government monopoly, for instance?
– I would not say that.
– Does the honorable member deny that we have the same rights in regard to water carriage as we have in regard to land carriage?
– I do not for a moment say that we could even prevent private trading in the case of land carriage, but, as the Attorney-General himself has said to-day, one cannot give extempore opinions on every point. It may be that section 92 of the Constitution, which provides that, after the passing of uniform Customs and Excise, trade and commerce and intercourse among the States must be absolutely free, would preclude us from making such a limitation as suggested.
– Could we not insist, for instance, that all vessels on the coast should have green funnels?
-That would be a very proper provision.
– Or that they should all have twin screws.
– Or even that; but preventing private carriers is a. different matter. This opens up the question whether we could by political arrangements, which are not allowed in America on the decisions, put a limitation on the freedom of intercourse prescribed by section 92 - in other words, whether we could deny the right of private trading when creating a monopoly.
Sitting suspended from i to 2.30 p.m.
– Whether we are treating all ships alike depends not so much on whether we declare that clause 287 applies to all ships by striking out “ foreign,” as on whether we differentiate or put them in a position of equality in respect of the subsequent granting of the licence. It seems to make very little difference whether we put them1 in or not, except for the mere appearance of the thing, because some countries are protected by their treaties, and as regards them we cannot differentiate, whilst whether we differentiate against the others will depend on whether we grant them licences on the same conditions or not, or interfere with any agreements as regards reciprocity into which the Imperial Government may have entered. According to the Imperial Customs Consolidation Act 1853, the vessels of any country that does not reciprocate, as regards the coasting trade, with the United Kingdom or with British Possessions, may be excluded by Order in Council from the trade of the empire. That is, the Customs Act of 1853 gives power by Order in Council to confine the coasting trade with any part of the British Dominions or of the United Kingdom to British vessels or vessels on the colonial registry only. Although that has been a provision of the Imperial Customs Act since that date, I do not think it has ever been put in force against any country. On the contrary, I believe that the Imperial Government has been extending reciprocal rights whenever it gets an opportunity.’ It has been the policy of the Imperial Government not to exclude vessels from the coasting trade of the Dominions, and the reason is apparent. I have not the figures with me, but I believe it can be shown that very nearly half the carrying trade of the world is British, and that the bulk of the carrying trade of foreign countries is British. When the question of preference generally, including preference to shipping, was being discussed in connexion with Mr. Chamberlain’s speech of 1903, it was admitted by the Times that if shipping preferences were granted it might be a benefit to 32 per cent, of British shipping, but would undoubtedly injure 47 per cent., and might at that time have little -or no effect upon T4 per cent. The number of British vessels entering foreign ports is many times greater than the number of vessels of all countriesentering British ports. It, therefore, appears to be to the interests of the Imperial Government that there should be reciprocal arrangements with various shipping countries, and that we should do nothing that would seem to lead or might incite to retaliation against British shipping. At the end of a series of special articles’ on this matter,, the Times said that “ if foreign governments desire to retaliate by hitting at our great shipping industry it must be confessed that it offers a noble target.” We must consider the interests of the United Kingdom, even from a purely commercial point of view. Last year or the year before last about ^38,000,000 worth of our exports were taken by the United Kingdom. The tonnage of the United Kingdom is about 11,585,000, while that of the rest of the British Dominions is only 1,762,000. Thus about 86 per cent, of the tonnage belongs to the United Kingdom, and it is the United Kingdom that, as regards foreign countries, is chiefly interested. On the question, of reciprocity, we ought also to bear in mind the fact that many countries, Germany, Holland, Denmark, and Portugal for instance, throw open the coasting trade to ships of every country alike, whether on reciprocal terms or not, and that about 83 per cent, of the trade of those countries is carried on by their own vessels. It, therefore, did not require any exclusive arrangement of this sort to secure their coasting trade to those countries. If by our policy we to any extent induced retaliation in the carrying trade against Britishinterests, it would have a very serious effect on the continuance of the supremacy of the British Navy. Now, as regards differentiation, there is in clause 286 a proviso giving the Governor-General power to declare that the carrying of passengers by British ships between Australian ports shall not be deemed to be engaging in the coasting trade. We are there making a difference against foreigners, and I hope the Government will, before the debate concludes, give us figures to show to what extent the passenger trade - the only one of any moment - between the ports of Australia is affected by the competition of foreign vessels and vessels registered in the United’ Kingdom.
Mr. ARCHIBALD (Hindmarsh [2.37] - The clauses in this part are the most important in the whole Bill, and unless we can practically maintain their integrity I doubt whether we shall get very much out of the Bill in the direction in which we are anxious to go. The question at issue is really the old question of Protection and Free Trade. Australia rightly or wrongly has declared herself in favour of Protection. That being admitted as the policy of the country, it is not unreasonable to extend it to our shipping. There is nothing original about this. Our American cousins have long claimed that their coasting trade shall be in their own hands, and I think the same is true of Germany. The honorable member for Angas referred to certain countries in the north of Europe which open their coasting trade to all nations. Those are not Powers of the first class in Europe, and there is no doubt that the effect of their policy has been remarkable. Honorable members will notice in any of our ports that the vessels of countries which have opened their coasting trade to the world are wandering all over the world and taking cargo at freights which are simply ridiculous in comparison with British freights. In fact, almost their whole fleet consists of old British sailing ships which have been displaced by steam. Their standard of comfort and wages is also very low, and apparently they have been ousted from their own coasting trade by the policy of their Governments, and so forced to wander over the seas of the world. It appears to me that a nation that fails to conserve its own coasting trade, unless it happens to be a formidable Power like Great Britain, is practically inviting its own ruin as a shipping Power. In this matter we are only claiming the right to do what the Americans and the first-rate Powers of Europe have done. I think this House and the country will realize more and more every year that the more we create friendly relations with our American cousins the better it will be for us, because America and Australia are both pacific Powers. In saying that I am not seeking to diminish in any way the cordial feeling which should exist between us and our British brothers. At the same time, we must look after our own interests, although, of course, we need not do it in a way that is offensive to the Mother Country. It is too late in the day for any one seriously to deny the right of a country to its own coasting trade. That being so, what objections are now raised to this proposal ? The honorable and learned member for Angas says that
British interests may be endangered. I am afraid there will be a certain amount of what we may call “friendly friction “ between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Mother Country.
– The honorable member might as well say “ friendly hatred “ !
– I refuse tb contemplate the possibility of any hatred between Australia and the Mother Country, or between any English-speaking peoples.
– Then what do you mean by “friendly friction”?
– In this matter there are undoubtedly two diametrically opposed policies. That of the Commonwealth is protective; that of the Mother Country is Free Trade, and is likely to remain so in spite of the eloquence of Chamberlain and all his satellites, because her carrying trade brings her in ^£90,000,000 a year, and I am satisfied that her mercantile and shipping interests are strong enough to keep her policy what it is to-day. In all probability the Royal assent to this Bill will be withheld for a year or two. I anticipate that it will be found that the Bill contains provisions that are contrary to the views of the Board of Tra de, and that the Board will use their influence with the Government to try to bring us into line with them. I respectfully say, however, that this Parliament should be very firm in its policy with regard to this matter. With the integrity of this policy we are all bound up. Either the standard of comfort which Australia has. fixed, or that which America or Great Britain has fixed, is to rule. I contend that the standard of comfort in Great Britain is not going to hold in Australia. There is no need to discuss that question, for it is really settled. While .1 trust that this point will not be placed in an offensive way before, the Mother Country, it must ever be maintained by us, and there are many in England who will be glad if we do maintain it. Why is it that in certain circles in Great Britain the Commonwealth is not popular?A country which has set up a high standardof living and has declared for high wagescould scarcely be popular in a country with a lower standard of living and low wages. Those whose interests are bound up withlow wages in the Old Country are not likely to say much in our favour. It would indeed be ridiculous, to expect us to bepopular in those circles. But that fact should not materially influence us in dealing with this matter. We have to regard it from the stand-point of Australia and the protection of our shipping. The movement that has been growing up in Australia to increase the standard of efficiency and comfort in our maritime service cannot be maintained unless our ship-owners are protected to a certain extent against their British competitors. One can well. understand the opposition of leading .ship-owners in the Old Country to this Bill. At a certain time of the year there is a great rush of passengers by the mail steamers for Great Britain, and the passenger lists are rapidly filled. It is then very difficult to secure a passage by one of the oversea mail steamers to Western Australia; but during the English winter the oversea mail steamers are quite prepared to pick up all the trade they can secure along our coast. During the busy season with the oversea steamers, the Australian mercantile marine deal with our Inter-State trade, but in the slack season the British mail steamers are willing to secure it if they can. If the British mail steamers had to observe Australian conditions and pay Australian wages, I do not think that the local shipowners would object very much to their competition. But since the Australian shipping companies have recognised our standard of living, they need to be protected. The effect of this competition on the part of the mail boats during the. slack season in the passenger traffic for Great Britain must be, eventually, to cause some of the best steamers trading between the east coast of Australia and Fremantle to be laid up.
– Has anything of that kind so far occurred?
– No, but there will be a tendency in that direction unless we are prepared to guarantee local shipping the protection which it has a right to expect. British shipping companies are not philanthropic institutions ; they are run by shrewd business men, and if they can make a pound or two on the Australian coast they are not above earning it: We as a Parliament ought not to be scared by any cry as to the treaty rights of Great - Britain. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. It is time for us to meet these suggested difficulties when they actually arise. As a matter of fact, they may never occur. No doubt, in accordance with the usual policy of the British Government, we shall have a number of memoranda in regard to certain parts of this measure. We shall receive them through the Board of Trade, and they will be prepared by the legal advisers of the Board. But the British Government, when it finds itself in a difficult position, does not concern itself very much about legal opinions. An English Labour member .told me when I was at Home last year that when he approached the Prime Minister of Great Britain in regard to a certain matter-, and received from him a promise that it would be attended to, he asked, “ But what about the House of Commons?” “Oh,” said the Prime Minister, “ do not trouble about Parliament; it exists only to talk, whereas the Government exists to work.” There can be no doubt of the truth of that remark. I think that the views to which the honorable member for Angas has given expression are entitled to careful consideration. We are all much indebted to him for the forcible way he has put before us his opinions concerning this question. I would remind the Committee, however, that we ought not to be scared by bogies.. When the British Government realize that a succession of Governments of the Commonwealth have determined that the policy embodied in this Bill shall be the policy of Australia, they will treat us as they have treated all their oversea dominions. They will probably say in the end, “ Very well, if you are strongly of this opinion, by all means have your opinion, and we shall make the best we can of the matter.” It will be necessary, however, for us to be firm, yet respectful. Nothing is to be gained by taking up an offensive attitude; but I think we may well assume a firm and dignified attitude in regard to this matter. If we do so, in the end all will be well. There may be differences of opinion amongst honorable members in regard to Free Trade and Protection, but these, after all, are now mere questions for academic discussion. I told some of my friends in the Old Country last year that if I were living in England I should be a Free Trader, but as I lived in Australia I was a Protectionist. A man’s fiscal opinions depend very largely upon the part of the world in which he resides.
– Then the honorable member is a “ Freetectionist “ ?
– I am a Protectionist in Australia, and I think that the view to which I have just given expression is that held by many public men. A good many statesmen who guide the destinies of various nations have no fixed fiscal faith. Their fiscal opinions are subservient to that which the interests of their country demand, and depend also upon the characteristics of the country in which they reside. Coming to the competition of the German mail boats, I do not think it is a matter about which we ought to seriously trouble ourselves. I am willing to admit that a difficulty will arise if we attempt in any way to interfere, in the matter of licences, with steamers flying the German flag.
– How did the Americans manage?
– In many respects the position of the United States of America is different from our own. We have heard a great deal about the subsidies that are paid by the German Government to the German mail ships trading to Australia; but I was told on good authority only a week or two ago that they received no subsidy in the sense in which we understand the term. They are not subsidized as our mail steamers are. The German mails to Australia are paid for on the poundage rates as mere dead weight. I received this information from a gentleman who wrote to the directors of the company at Hamburg.
– The Navigation Commission, at page 28 of their report, set forth the subsidies that are paid to various foreign vessels including those of Germany and France.
– Be that as it may, there should be no difficulty in regard to the- matter of licences.
– The Navigation Commission reported that the vessels of the NorddeutscherLloyd Company were paid ;£i 19,000 a year for carrying the mails to Australia.
– That was in 1905. Much may have happened since then.
– Has there been any discontinuance of that subsidy?
– My authority obtained his information from head-quarters. We have either to take up a firm attitude on this question, or to be prepared to allow our coasting trade to be flooded by the competition from other countries - to open our coasting trade indiscriminately to all nations. The effect would be that our English brothers would secure the bulk of the trade. I do not think that the statement that British ships do a very large proportion of the coasting trade of other countries is altogether correct. It is true, for instance, that many large tramp steamers - the bulk of them sailing from ports on the north-east coast of England, call at various ports on the American coast. They take cargo for two or three ports on the American coast, but they do not pick up any cargo there. Having discharged their consignments of British cargo at American ports, they secure a charter wherever they can, or return straight away to Great Britain. And so with British vessels calling at other foreign ports. The vessels of certain companies sailing out of the leading ports of England, drop cargo along the Australian coast, but no one would think of interfering with them, because, so long as they confine themselves to that particular branch of the trade, they cannot be said to be engaging in the coasting trade of Australia. But 3’ou cannot call that coasting trade. A ship is engaged in the coasting trade when she picks up passengers and cargo at ports along the coast, and conveys them to other ports on the coast. We must stand by these provisions if we intend to preserve the standard of comfort that we have prescribed for those engaged on Australian vessels.
– I found difficulty in following the honorable member for Hindmarsh after listening to the Attorney-General. The latter thinks that there should be no differentiation in regard to foreign vessels, that all shipping must be put on the same basis, and that regard must be paid to the Imperial position of Great Britain, and the value to her of the British carrying trade. We are told by the Attorney-General that an)’ action of ours creating differential treatment and tending to excite foreign hostility would react on the British carrying trade, and through the diminution of the British mercantile marine affect the British Navy ; and would, therefore, be detrimental to Australian interests. But the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who commenced by admitting the importance of her carrying trade to the Mother Country, but told us that we must pay no attention to what British statesmen say, nor to memo-, rials they present to us, but must consider the situation solely in the light of our local interests !
The Attorney-General said that the only way in which, under this Bill, we could treat foreign and British companies alike would be to exclude all foreign and British shipping from participation in the Australian coasting trade unless it subscribed to Australian conditions. But there are other ways in which- we may deal with the matter. The mail steamer companies confine their business to the conveyance of passengers, and use a particular type of vessel. We could exempt that type of vessel and the kind of trade in which they are engaged without exciting the sensibilities of any nation. Passengers do not travel on the mail steamers between Fremantle and Adelaide because the rates are lower than those charged on the Australian steamers. The mail steamer rates are higher than the Australian steamer rates, and yet the mail steamers are availed of, because they offer facilities and comforts which are not offered by the other steamers, and of which a certain percentage of the travelling public wish to avail themselves.
– The mail steamers charge less proportionately for the journey between Melbourne and Fremantle than for that between Melbourne and Colombo.
– I do not know that they do; we have had no information on the point. There has been an attempt to give this discussion the aspect of a fiscal controversy.
– At the present time the mail steamers do not carry a ton of cargo from one Australian port to another.
– I understand that they refuse to carry cargo from one Australian port to another. It cannot be said that they decline this cargo because they cannot compete with the Australian lines, because you can send a ton of merchandise from London to Genoa for less than you are charged for sending the same weight from Sydney to Melbourne. The mail steamer companies have deliberately declined coast cargo trade to avoid the appearance of competing with the Australian companies, and for the same reason they charge higher passenger rates than the Australian companies charge. How then can the question have a fiscal aspect? Is it suggested that the Australian coastal shipping is a languishing industry, that the competition of the mail steamers for passengers at higher rates affects it detrimentally? Is it not a fact that the Australian shipping ring is buying larger steamers, and giving a better service?
– Because of the policy we advocate.
– Rubbish ! The Australian shipping ring - the Australian companies have an arrangement between themselves - is doing well without the protection that is alleged to be necessary to it. It is increasing the number of its ships, and building larger vessels.
– The Australian companies pay their men fair and reasonable wages.
– They pay their shareholders fair and reasonable profits; and they do this without any protection. If they are given protection, they will be asked to pay still higher rates of wages, and will ask consignees to pay still higher freights and passengers to pay still higher fares; so that the public will have to bear the burden.’ It must be remembered, too, that many persons travel for the sake of their health, and most health travellers use the mail steamers. Are you going to prevent our citizens who are willing to pay higher fares for the privilege from travelling in the best steamers on our coast?
– The mail steamer companies will be at liberty to continue in the coastal trade if they pay fair and reasonable rates of wages.
– If they alter the whole of their wages scale from the moment their vessels arrive at Fremantle, and this for the sake of a few passengers ! Are they likely to revolutionize their services to act as philanthropists towards a section of the Australian public for which this Parliament apparently has no regard ? It is ridiculous to pretend that the Bill will’ not absolutely prevent the mail steamers from carrying passengers on the coast.
– The honorable member is championing coloured labour.
– Under this Bill, a vessel owned in China or Japan, and manned with coloured labour, is to be allowed to trade on the coast if her crew is paid Australian rates., Honorable members would allow such a venture to take money away from the Australian Commonwealth, but would prevent a British steamer manned with a white crew from doing so. This is obviously not a fiscal question, but a labour question. Let us by all means seek to build up our mercantile marine; but that will not be interfered with by the mail steamers carrying passengers on. our coast at higher rates than those charged by the Australian steamers. If the mail steamers are allowed to continue to carry passengers, Western Australia will continue to be well served, and no injustice will be done to the travelling public of that State or of Tasmania. Persons travelling between the mainland eastern States are not affected, because they can use the train services ; but to get to Perth or Hobart one must take the steamer.
– In the winter time the larger steamers do not call at Hobart.
– Exactly ; and if the honorable member looks at the passenger statistics for Tasmania, he will find that the main traffic to Hobart is in the summer months, when the apple boats are calling there. Consequently, to prevent these vessels from carrying passengers would be to largely decrease the tourist traffic of Hobart.
– It would damage the little island.
– It would practically wipe out her tourist traffic. Formerly all the travellers had to go by the Oonah.
– The New Zealand steamers will not be available.
– That is so, because a Union Company’s steamer could not engage in the Australian coastal trade unless she observed one set of conditions while in Australian waters and another while in New Zealand waters.
It must be remembered that we subsidize the mail steamers to carry our letters, and the amount of the subsidy is largely determined by the value of the business that can be done by the steamers in the course of their voyages. If they are prevented from carrying passengers on our coasts - even at higherrates than are charged by the Australian lines - they will ask for a higher subsidy for the carriage of mails, and demand higher rates for the conveyance of produce. It is of no use to make flamboyant speeches about Protection and Free Trade, and admit that if you were in a Free Trade constituency you would vote Free Trade, but in a Protectionist constituency must vote Protection.
– I did not make any statement of that kind.
– The honorable member said that if he were in Great Britain he would vote Free Trade, and that in Australia he votes Protection. The policy of Great Britain being Free Trade, the Labour politician there has to be a Free Trader, just as here he finds he has to be a Protectionist in most cases.
The honorable member would change hisfiscal coat according to the latitude in which he found himself. This matter has nothing.to do with the fiscal question, but concernspurely the interests and convenience of the Australian travelling public. If we studythat, and the interests of Western Australia and Tasmania in particular, we shall allow the mail steamer companies to continue to carry passengers as they do now, without competing with the local companies.
.- I desire to ask the Attorney-General whether proposed section 5s, which provides that a boat shall be deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade if she takes on passengers or cargo at any port in the State, “or a territory which is part of the Commonwealth,” will apply to Papua. Is Papua a portion of the Commonwealth?
– There ought to be a definite pronouncement on this point, because there is apenalty of£500 attached to this clause, and, when cases are before the Court, we sometimes hear the learned Justices refer to the intention of Parliament.
-Trading between Austalia and Papua is not coasting trade within the meaning of this Bill.
.- The terms “ any territory which is part of the Commonwealth “ are ambiguous. They may mean that the Bill does apply to the boats to which the honorable member for Herbert referred.
– Papua is not part of the Commonwealth.
– If all that is meant by “ the Commonwealth “ is the Continent of Australia, the fact ought to be made perfectly clear, but it is very doubtful as it stands at present.
.- I hope that the Committee will take a broad view, and insert a clause that will show statesmanship worthy of the National Parliament. The history of Australian shipping is a remarkably creditable one. An exceedingly large coasting trade has been built up under the conditions which have hitherto prevailed; and, withour large coast line, and so many ports capable of development, and with something like a proper system of immigration, this trade ought to be pretty well assured. The Bill introduces the principle of reserving as much of the coasting trade as possible to Australian-owned and Australian-registered ships, but we should not press that principle to such a degree as to injure the whole public of Australia. If we endeavour to impose limitations on the splendid boats sent here by English, German, French, and other companies, we shall do more harm than good. It is, in my opinion, going to a silly extreme to debar such vessels from taking on a few passengers. The present arrangements show a friendly spirit, and a desire to see those splendid vessels in our waters; and I cannot conceive how Australian shipping companies or Australian sailors are in any way benefited by this petty game of “ dog in the manger.” I am surprised that honorable members from the great city of Sydney, which has been built up largely on the fine shipping services which have plied there for so many years, should take such a short-sighted view.
– Have those services built up the trade of the north-west coast of Tasmania?
– What has that to do with the question? It is quite right that we should do all we can to foster and help the Australian coastal trade; but we should not carry a principle to the extent of removing what has proved a great stimulus to our own shipping companies to keep up to date. Every day better boats are being ordered for Australia, and I believe that one of 8,000 tons is shortly to be undertaken.
– A boat of about that tonnage came out the other day for the Australian trade.
– Every order that goes Home shows an increase in tonnage and all the latest improvements. The trade carried on by these foreign vessels between Western Australia and the eastern States consists of the carriage of a few passengers, who have to pay more for their tickets than they do on the coastal boats, although the latter give a fair return on the capital invested. A little while ago Huddart, Parker, and Company put some shares on the market, and they were over applied for in a perfect rush by investors. Our coastal trade is on a very sound footing, and it should be maintained ; but we should not make the silly mistake of depriving the foreign boats of the right of carrying passengers. For instance, people are now en abled, by means of the mail boats, to leave the trying summer -climate of Sydney and enjoy the salubrious climate of Hobart and other parts of Tasmania. It would be all very well if the local shipping companies provided decent vessels for the Tasmanian trade, but they do not, as the honorable member for Denison knows. The foreign vessels carry our produce to the other side of the world, and add much to the prosperity of Tasmania; and yet the honorable member would1 inflict a heavy tax on the producers in his own States. The apple-growers of Tasmania are certainly amongst the most deserving of workers. They have built up an industry under the greatest difficulty without any State aid, and can now boast of fine, clean orchards; but they had to run the gauntlet of wharfingers, commission agents, and others who have come between them and the people who buy the fruit. Nothing can be gained by imposing the limitations proposed on the foreign shipping; and if we cannot show a little more business ability in a matter of this kind we are not fit to be here. It is easy enough to be dogmatic and arbitrary, but most difficult to meet a problem fairly and squarely and evolve a working proposition. One of the objects of this Bill should be to bring our legislation into line with that of the Empire as a whole; and if we show no inclination to compromise we shall not only be hitting our own people, but doing an injustice to all the British dominions.
– Does the honorable member include coloured crews?
– We have to try to work in conjunction with the rest of the shipping of the Empire, so far as that is feasible.
– Does the honorable member’s White Australia policy end with the land and not extend to the water ?
– Certainly not. I am arguing that we can safely allow a slight deviation from the hard and fast principle laid down in the coasting trade provisions by permitting Peninsular and Oriental and foreign boats to call at certain ports, for the little coasting trade they do in the shape of carrying passengers does not in any way hurt our local marine service. Their calling is to our advantage in every way. The Bill will hit the apple-growers of Tasmania, who are worthy of every consideration, very hard, and for no good.
The Australian coastal companies do not provide any decent service between Sydney and Hobart, and it would be a very shortsighted and unpatriotic action to shut out other companies. If we cannot get over a little difficulty like this by passing an amendment similar to that foreshadowed by the right honorable member for Swan, we do not deserve- the name of a National Parliament. I hope the Committee will act in an impartial spirit in this matter, because we are dealing with a non-party measure. If we approach the problem in that spirit, I am satisfied that we shall give satisfaction to all concerned, in the persons of sailors, ship-owners, and producers.
– If 1 thought that the passing of the clause would interfere one iota with the growing tourist traffic of Tasmania, I should certainly vote against it; but I am convinced thai it will not interfere with the tourist traffic at all. Not a great number of people travel to Tasmania by the boats referred to. Those who do come by them are generally the very wealthy, who want luxurious travelling, and there may be a section of others who desire to say that they have travelled on one of the mailboats. I believe that with the splendid mercantile fleet that has been built up by our Australia companies, they will be able to cater in the future, as they have done in the past, for our growing Australian traffic. We hear honorable members on the other side continually proclaiming their patriotism ; but as soon as a little £ s.d. is concerned, they say it does not matter where the ship comes from, by what crew she is manned, or what wages she pays, but that so long as she will carry passengers along our coast she ought to be allowed to do so in competition with our own ships. What will the constituents of the honorable member for Wilmot, on the North- West Coast, say when he tells them that he voted to allow ships to carry cargo and passengers on the Australian coast, which, if they got the bulk of the trade, would crush out of existence those vessels which have helped to build up the NorthWest Const of Tasmania? I want to encourage the Australian ship-owners to give us the service we require. If they will not, we, as a party, are, I think, strong enough to insist on their doing so. I believe the day is not fur distant when they will recognise the requirements of Tasmania, and improve the communication between it and the main land. I hope they will keep a little in advance of the traffic, as other shipping companies in the Old World have done; but the amendment of the right honorable member for Swan would give the Peninsular and Oriental and other companies power to undercut our Australian-owned ships, and drive them out of the trade. Our ships cannot pay the wages upon which the waterside workers and sailors are insisting - and those are only fair and reasonable wages - and, at the same time, compete with outside vessels that pay low wages. We simply want to protect our Australian companies against unfair competition. I cannot understand why any body of men should object to enable our companies to get bigger and better ships built. I am proud to say that every one of our Australian vessels is manned by white crews. Unfortunately, many ships flying the English flag are manned by foreigners. Their owners will take Chinese, or men of any other nationality, so long as they are cheap. It is a great disadvantage for any -country to man her mercantile marine with foreigners. When the German Emperor was asked, on one occasion, why Germany insisted on German boats being manned by Germans, he replied, “ They are being trained in our mercantile marine; some day they may be useful in another place.” It would be a good thing for Great Britain if she had a mercantile marine of British sailors available for drafting into the Navy when required. The Australian companies are now getting out boats of about 9,000 tons register, and this means that they will give the public better travelling facilities. After travelling between England and Ireland, and England and France, I can say that there is not a boat in those services equal to the Loongana, the splendid vessel that travels between Melbourne and Launceston. If we can get a few more boats of that kind, surely it is worth while encouraging the companies to bring them along ? . To pass the amendment of the honorable member for Swan would mean that those boats would simply pass out of existence. The waterside workers’ wages and the sailors’ wages have been raised only recently.
– How long ago?
– Since the present Government came into power. Everything has happened for the benefit of the workers of Australia since that event. Nothing was done for the rank and file, and very little for the people, until the Labour party came into power. I am anxious to see our Australian mercantile marine built up .under fair conditions. ‘ All this measure does is simply to ask British and foreign vessels who want to carry passengers in our coasting trade to pay the same wages and comply with the same conditions as Australian ships do. Pressure is being brought to bear on me from Tasmania to vote against this part of the Bill. One municipality in my electorate passed unanimously a resolution instructing me to vote in a certain direction in favour of amending the Bill, and advised me accordingly ; but, for reasons already mentioned, I cannot change my opinion. One member of the municipal council, to whom I spoke about the matter, said he was not present at the meeting when the resolution was carried, and he knew nothing about it. The money-owners, the’ rank Tories, who know no patriotism and no country, are anxious to see the honorable member for Swan’s amendment carried. If I thought that the clause would in any way restrict trade in Tasmania, I should be prepared to vote against it. In other words, if I believed that it would have the efFect of preventing the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company’s steamers and other like vessels coming into competition fairly with our own shipping I should vote against it. I am confident, however, that it will not have that effect. It places each and every ship on the same footing, and that is all for which any true Australian could wish.
Sitting suspended from 3.50 to 4.0 p.m.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I regret to say that another place has not yet concluded its consideration of the Maternity Allowance Bill, so that the suspension of the sitting was fruitless. The first business on Tuesday will be a Supply Bill, covering three months’ Supply, on the basis of the old Estimates. We desire to secure Supply to cover the remainder of the session, so as to avoid the necessity for the introduction of another “Bill. Having disposed of that measure, we shall proceed with the consideration of the re-distribution schemes for Western Australia and Queensland.
– Not the New South Wales scheme?
– The scheme has not yet been exhibited for the time required by the Act. If time permits, the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill will thereafter engage the attention of honorable members until the luncheon adjournment on Thursday, when the consideration of the Navigation Bill will be resumed. Honorable members are to be congratulated on the work which they have done this week in connexion with that measure.
– Will the re-distribution scheme relating to Queensland be taken before that relating to Western Australia?
– Yes, if that will best suit the convenience of honorable members. It is a matter of indifference to the Government which is taken first, because I understand that their consideration will occupy only a few hours. On Thursday we shall proceed with the Navigation Bill, and, if possible, complete our consideration of it without interruption. I think it advisable that that course should be adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 October 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121004_reps_4_66/>.