3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Presentation of Address-in-Reply.
– I have to acquaint the Senate that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral has appointed the’ hour of a quarter to three p.m. this day as the time when he will receive, in the Queen’s Hall, the Address-in-Reply to the opening speech. I shall be glad if honorable senators will be ready to accompany me then.
– I have to announce the receipt of the following cablegram from Lord Northcote in reply to the
Address unanimously agreed to by the Senate on the 14th September -
Manilla, 25th September,1908.
President of Senate, Federal Parliament House, Melbourne.
Lady Northcote and I deeply appreciate generous resolutions adopted in both Houses as representing the people of the Commonwealth. We shall never forget Australian kindness, and wish the country every prosperity. Its interests will always be near to our hearts.
– I desire to interrogate the Vice-President of the Executive Council in regard to a question asked last week about the production of the report of a Board appointed by the Minister of Defence. I must explain that as the result of questions asked, and representations made here, theBoard was appointed to inquire into the manufacture of cartridge blanks. I was requested to give notice of the question, but the report was tabled in the other House on that day. I ask Senator Best whether he does not think that it is somewhat discourteous to the Senate that when a question has been raised here, and a senator has asked for a report to be laid upon the table, compliance is not made with his request, and the report is tabled in another place where the question has not been raised?
– I feel quite certain that no discourtesy was intended, and it will be my duty to inquire into the circumstances under which the report was tabled elsewhere. My honorable colleagues are most particular in laying papers on the table of the other House at practically the same time as they are tabled here, unless it should happen that the Senate is not sitting. But where a matter has been specially referred to in the Senate, I am sure that it was owing to an inadvertence that it was anticipated elsewhere in the way suggested by my honorable friend. I shall be only too glad to inquire of my honorable colleague as to the circumstances under which it was done.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will the Government lay upon the table of the Senate the report of the Board of Inquiry appointed to report on the proposed manufacture of cartridge blanks, &c. ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is “Yes.”
– When I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question at the beginning of last week, he asked me to hold it over for a few days. I again askhim without notice, what is the amount of surplus revenue retained from the States during the last two months, and, if any, what amount has been placed to the respective trust accounts?
– I thought that I made it clear that I was desirous that my honorable friend should wait until the Treasurer had delivered his Budget statement. He must be aware that in the circumstances I have indicated, the practice is to extend that courtesy to the Treasurer. He will see that if information in connexion with the Budget could be elicited, by dribs and drabs, immediately prior to its delivery, all interest in the Budget would necessarily fade, and, more than that, it would not be fair to the Minister. If my honorable friend can sec his way to wait, as some other senators have seen fit to do, until the Budget statement is delivered, I am sure that he will get full information on the point. In passing, however, I would remind my honorable friend that the monthly payments to the States practically have little reference to the exact proportions of the revenue to which they are entitled. For instance, a payment may be made this month in excess of the three-fourths share ; it may be made next month below that proportion ; but of course an adjustment takes place at the end of the year. That is the only way in which it can be done.
– Can the Minister give any indication as to when the Budget speech which will contain the information will be delivered?
SenatorBEST. - I asked my honorable colleague, and I should say that it will probably be made within the next fourteen days.
– Arising out of the reply,I ask the Minister if the Senate is not entitled to know what extra amount of revenue would have been paid to the States but for. the Surplus Revenue Act? In other words, Senator Chataway desires to know how much is to be retained under that measure. Surely that has nothing to do with the Budget !
– I have already made my explanation, sir.
– The explanation is a refusal to give the information.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers.: -
Report of Board appointed to report on questionswhich have arisen concerning the manufacture in Australia of brass and cupro-nickel cups required for the making of rifle cartridges, and of silver and bronze blanks for the coinage of tokens.
Papua - The Arms Restriction Ordinance of 1908.
Defence Acts 1903-4 -
Provisional Regulations for the Commonwealth Military Forces - New Regulations 605,606, 607.and 608. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 102.
Military Orders 288-298 of 1908.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following paper: -
Return to Order of the Senate of 24th September, 1908 -
Sessional Committees : Meetings and Attendances of Senators for Session 1907-8.
” ALL-RED “ MAIL ROUTE.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice-
Have any despatches, which have not yet been laid on the table, been received from either the Colonial Office or the Government of Canada on the subject of the proposed “ All-Red “ mail route ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is “ No.”
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is the Government aware that the Lancet,a leading British medical paper, recently drew attention to the danger to health oftelephone callboxes and instruments when not frequently inspected, disinfected, and cleansed? Is the Commonwealth Postal Department giving attention to the subject?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
Although the Postmaster-General’s Department was not aware that attention had been directed to this matter by the Lancet, attention had already been given to the matter and instructions had been issued : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
No interruption occurred on the Port Darwin line in 1907.
On 2nd March, 1908, flood 12 miles south of Charlotte Waters interrupted line from 8.4 p.m. on that date to 11.5 p.m. on 3rd March.
On 4th March temporary repairs were washed away by flood during night and line interrupted from 1 a.m. to 9.30 a.m.
On 6th March Railway and all this Department’s lines were washed sway by a great flood at the Peake. The river ran a mile wide. Communication was restored on 9th March.
There are two lines between Adelaide and Port Darwin - an iron and a copper. These are ample for all requirements, and will, I think, be for years to come.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In view of the statements appearing in some Australian and American papers to the effect that His Majesty King Edward is likely to visit Australia next year, is the Government prepared to say whether or not the matter has yet received the consideration of the Commonwealth Government?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
I regret to say that there appears to be no foundation for the statements.
Presentation of Address-in-Reply.
The President and honorable senators proceeded to the Queen’s Hall to present the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech, and being returned,
– I have to inform the Senate that, accompanied by honorable senators, I this day waited upon His Excellency the Governor-General, and presented to him the Address of the Senate in reply to His Excellency’s speech on the opening of Parliament, which was agreed to on 17th September, when his Excellency was pleased to make the following answer : -
It is with great pleasure that I receive from you the Address adopted by the Senate in reply to the Speech delivered by me on the occasion of the opening of the Third Session of the Third Commonwealth Parliament; and it affords me very great pleasure to notice the expressions of continued loyalty to the Throne and Person of His Majesty the King.
Debate resumed from 24th September (vide page 328), on motion by Senator Best -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– The opportunity afforded honorable senators of looking into the provisions of this Bill, by- the adjournment last week of the debate upon it, has convinced me - as I venture to think it must have convinced every honorable senator - of the wisdom which prompted so large a section of this Chamber to request that adjournment. It appears to me that the measure stands very much in a class by itself. In the first place, it is a highly technical measure, and I, for one, am free to admit that in looking through its provisions I came across terms with which I am not familiar. Seeing that the Bill covers a very wide range, and that it is so highly technical, I assume that it will impose a very heavy responsibility^ upon honorable senators, and demand the utmost care which they can devote to its consideration. There is another reason why the Senate was more than justified in asking for time to study its details. In dealing with a matter like shipping, we have to recollect that we are dealing with something which involves more than merely Australian interests. Any Navigation Bill that we may pass must, incidentally at least, touch both Imperial and foreign interests, and to that extent the decisions at which we arrive will throw a very heavy responsibility upon us. There is another reason why the ‘request for time to study the provisions of this measure was acceded to. We must all recognise that it touches very intimately the great producing interests of Australia. To my mind, much as we may aid by means of a Tariff our manufacturing interests, our producing interests must for many years to come stand out as the great interests of Australia. In turning our attention to shipping, we must always bear in mind that we are legislating, not merely for shipping and seamen, but that we may, if we are wise, lend distinct aid to a great body of producers throughout Australia. If, on the contrary, we seek to hamper shipping, we shall, to that extent, impose a handicap upon those engaged in our primary industries. All these considerations convince me that the little time asked for and granted by the VicePresident of the Executive Council to enable honorable senators to make themselves conversant with the provisions of this Bill, was time’ well spent. I make these remarks because I have noticed - and doubtless other honorable senators have noticed - that there was some little tendency on the part of our journalistic friends’ to jibe at the
Senate because it was not prepared to proceed with this Bill last week. It is very easy to criticise, but I should like to know anybody who would have been prepared to cast a vote upon an important measure embodying more than 400 clauses, and dealing with so many interests, without preparation, unless he were willing to vote in a spirit of utter recklessness.
– Lots of newspaper men would have been prepared to do it.
– It is quite true that this Bill ‘has been the subject - as the Vice-President of the Executive Council reminded us - of very great revision. It has been before a Royal Commission and before the Navigation Conference, and is, I believe, the fourth measure on the subject drafted for submission to this Chamber.
– It has also been before a Cabinet Committee.
– Three Bills have been introduced into this Chamber dealing with navigation, and I believe that a fourth was drafted, but not submitted.. Yet I venture to say that there are certain facts which make the appearance of this measure premature at the present juncture. The very object of the Navigation Conference particularly was to ascertain if it was not possible to arrive at some unanimity upon matters in which Australian and Imperial interests were touched. . Above all, it was desirable that every opportunity should be afforded the negotiating parties to place fully and frankly before each other the objects which they had1 in view, and the objections which they might see to the proposals emanating from the other side. These negotiations are still proceeding, and I say ‘it is eminently desirable that they should have been brought to a termination before we were asked to deal with this Bill. But seeing that these negotiations are still in progress, I am not going to suggest that we should lay this, measure .on one side. But I do suggest - and I ask the concurrence of the Senate to the proposition - that we should have the reply of the Imperial Government to the latest communication sent by the Commonwealth Government, before we allow this Bill to pass finally out of our control. We can at once proceed with the measure and carry it almost to its final1 stages, by which time we may expect to bein possession of the reply to which I havereferred.. But if that reply is not then tohand, I maintain that it will be more in> keeping with the dignity of this Chamber if we allow the Bill to stand over till next session, or until we know what is the last word from the Imperial authorities upon this subject. It appears to me rather curious that the communications from the Imperial authorities, which are dated November of last year, were not replied to by the Commonwealth Government until the 15th June. Seeing that this matter is admitted by all sides to be one of such importance, there are ordinary rules of courtesy with regard ito correspondence which should apply to it ; and we might have assumed that the Government would have sent an earlier reply to the communications received from the. Home authorities. But something like six months were allowed to pass before a ire.ply was sent. When I look at the date, I am rather impelled to ask why it was that on the 15th June the Government awoke to the fact that the obligation was upon them to send a reply. Honorable senators will remember that about the 15th June the Government must have been confronted with the question of what business they were going to place before Parliament ; and it seems to me that only at that stage di3 they wake up to the fact that this matter required further consideration. I venture to say that it was simply because the Government had no other business to present to the Senate that they were led to think of *he Navigation Bill and suddenly to determine to proceed with’ it. I ask honorable senators to bear that in mind. I have already affirmed (hat the Bill is premature; and my explanation of why if is now pre.sented to us is that the Government has no other business for the Senate to go on with. If I am wrong, I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will tell us what other business he has to proceed with.
– No matter what business we placed before the Senate, the honorable -senator would say the same thing.
– My honorable friend, instead of answering my question, submits another one to me.
– I am carrying out my promise by making this the first Bill to be dealt with by the Senate this session.
– The honorable senator speaks of his promise with regard to this Bill. Senator Guthrie will correct me if I am wrong in saying that the Minister gave a promise many months or even years ago to proceed with the measure, but did not do so. It was delayed to enable the correspondence to proceed, and we should not have seen the Bill’ now were it not that -the Government were unable to place any other business before us for our consideration. Let me next deal with that phrase in the last minute from the Imperial Government that the Vice-President of the- Executive Council spoke of as being unfortunate. I rather think that it was. Whatever merits may, underlie the matter in debate, and which are largely of a legal character, I think that the phrase to which reference was made by the honorable senator is hardly one that is usual in diplomatic correspondence, and certainly is not one which should have been used at this stage in a communication between two members of a. great empire. But while my honorable friend was dealing with that part of the question, he talked a great deal about the rights of Australia. I would remind him that rights entail obligations. I fail to see, however, that he had any conception of the fact that if Australia is going to stand upon her purely legal rights in this matter, she must not complain if Great Britain does the same. If we are prepared to ignore altogether the doctrine of mutual interests there must be no complaint here if Great Britain acts in a similar manner. lt must be evident to those who have followed the proceedings of the Conference, and have read the correspondence with Great Britain, that it has been made abundantly clear that the Imperial Government have absolutely no desire to in any way interpose in regard to legislation dealing with Australian! ships and Australian interests. That has been made absolutely clear; and it is- not unreasonable that Great Britain should turn round and say, “ We ask you to extend to us the same consideration we are extending to you. Australians, with self-government, govern yourselves if you please, but do not attempt to govern us.” I shall endeavour to show that in this Bill we have gone a little bit beyond that excellent principle.
– That would have been excellent advice to give to the Board of Trade man.
– Undoubtedly, but I am not aware that the Board of Trade man is attempting to legislate for Australia. We, however, do attempt, in this Bill, to do that which the Board of Trade has never attempted to do. If I amwrong, I shallbe only too pleased to be set right when we get the Bill into Committee. Let me quote resolution 9; and I do so because it gives us a startingpoint in dealing with the Bill, and also with the line adopted by the Government in its communications with the Home authorities. Resolution 9 was adopted by a Conference, which was attended by delegates from Australia and New Zealand, by representatives of the shipping interests at Home, of seamen’s bodies, and of Board of Trade officials. That resolution seems to me to. be so plain that I did not think it possible to give to it anything but one interpretation. It reads as follows : -
That the vessels to which the conditions imposed by the law of Australia or New Zealand are applicable, should be (a) vessels registered in the Colony, while trading therein ; and (b) vessels wherever registered while trading on the coast of the Colony ; that for the purpose of this resolution, a vessel shall be deemed to trade if she takes on board cargo or passengers at any port in the Colony to be carried to and landed or delivered at any port in the Colony.
That resolution seems to me, as I have said, to be abundantly clear. It means that the law which we were to pass was to apply to Australian ships, pure and simple, or to ships doing Australian coastal trade. But I was absolutely surprised, on reading the last despatch sent by the Prime Minister of Australia to find that what he says, in effect, is, that although that resolution was passed unanimously, that Australian law should apply only to Australian ships, it did not mean that at all. The interpretation which Mr. Deakin places upon it is that although the resolution says that the Australian law is to be applicable to Australian ships, it means some other ships as well. Now, my knowledge of the English language is, I admit, limited, but I thought that this resolution had been drafted in such a plain and simple form, that he who runs might read. Yet we find the Government introducing a Bill containing provisions in conflict with the resolution, turning round upon the resolution, and saying that the measure shall apply not only to Australian ships, but to other ships as well.
– Vessels wherever registered.
– Yes, so that when it was decided that the Australian law should apply to Australian ships, we meant it to apply also to foreign ships.
– The resolutions have to be read together.
– There does not seem to be anything that it would be possible to introduce in a subsequent resolution that would modify this resolution. I did not think that any one would venture to say that it was capable of any other construction than that which I have placed upon it. That resolution was not only passed by the Conference, but it also came before our own Royal Commission. The Royal Commission accepted and passed it unanimously. I venture to say that when they did so, they accepted it without any reservation of any kind, and that they had no serious objection to it. That Royal Commission had upon it men well versed in the subject, and familiar with the proceedings at the Conference; and they would have taken exception to this resolution had they seen any objection to it.
– I would ask Senator Guthrie whether what Senator Millen has stated was intended?
– We intended the Australian law to apply to vessels registered in Australia, or wherever registered.
– Wherever registered, if engaged in the coasting trade; but now Mr. Deakin says that the resolution means something more than that. He says, in his last despatch, that it means not only Australian ships on the Australian register, not only ships engaged in the coasting trade, but it also means foreignowned ships not in the coasting trade. I think I have made that clear. In other words, Mr. Deakin says that, although the resolution declares that the Australian law shall be applicable to certain classes of ships, it is to be applicable to all classes.
– Hear, hear.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council now admits that my interpretation of Mr. Deakin ‘s latest utterance is correct.
– That is what the twentytwo resolutions say. They must be read together.
– I never thought that it would be possible for any one in or outside an Australian Government to attach to any resolution to which we have been a consenting party any doubt or hesitation. But in future they will certainly be justified in doing so. Let me show how the Government proceeded to give effect to the resolutions, although the negotiations were assumed to have been carried on with the desire to bring the Imperial and Commonwealth ‘ authorities together. The first Bill which was tabled in the Senate was the measure which the Conference considered, and in respect of which :the resolutions were arrived st. Honorable’ senators may perhaps be astounded when I Hell them that after the Conference had considered Bill No. 1, and arrived at some agreement, the Government deliberately made Bill No. 2 and Bill No. 4 worse, so far as Imperial interests were concerned, than was Bill No. 1. For instance, clause 8 of the Bill, which was submitted to the Conference, provided that that poition of the Bill - Division I. - should apply only to Australian registered ships, or ships engaged in the Australian coastal trade. But what do we find in this Bill? The Government have made that portion of the Bill apply also to British ships. It does seem to me a little curious that when every “delegate went to the Conference, professing -a desire to arrive at uniformity, as far as possible, and resolutions were arrived at on a Bill and made the subject of subsequent negotiations, the Government should immediately turn .round and carry that “Bill farther from uniformity. Let me shaw in one or two particulars where the “present Bill considerably differs from Bill No. 1.
– When’’ the honorable -senator speaks of Bi’l No. 1, I apprehend that he means the Bill which was introduced here in 1904?
– I think that it must have been the Bill of 1904, because the Conference was held in 1906. At any rate, it is the one in respect of which the Imperial authorities invited us to meet them- in Conference.
– And on which there had been a report by the Navigation Commission, which report was also sent to London.
– The Bill was referred to the Conference, and amongst other things it provided that Division I. should apply only to Australian registered ships.
– Yes, and there was also a recommendation from the Navigation Commission.
– Arrived at by a majority of one.
– Which the Conference considered.
– The Navigation Commission made many recommendations, and so did the Navigation Conference, but that does not affect my point. On a Bill which provided that Division I. should apply to only Australian registered ships, the Conference arrived at a resolution that our legislation should be applicable to Australian ships or ships engaged in the coastal trade; and the Government, to show their bona fides in the matter immediately turned roun’d ana extended the operation of a portion of the Bill hitherto limited to our ships to Brit;sh ships, and that, too, after a resolution had been arrived at - to which, by the way, Sir William Lyne was an assenting party - that our law should be limited to our own vessels. By altering Division I. and making it apply to all ships this Bill violates two resolutions arrived at by the Conference. It violates the one to which I have already referred. It also violates resolution 21. which T thought would have had the unanimous support of every man in Australia, and that is that no conditions shall be imposed on British ships mAre onerous than those imposed on foreign ships. Any condition imposes some restraint upon “-he person who i– compelled to observe it. Yet we are imposing the provisions of Division I. on British ships, but not on foreign ships. I ask why that is sought to be done? If it is good and sound, and we have a perfect right, legal and moral, to attempt to impose on British ships conditions which we will assume for the sake of argument are beneficial, surely we have a right to impose them on foreign ships !
– What does resolution 21 deal with?
– It provides that we shall not impose any legislation unfavoably differing between British and foreign seamen. It reads as follows -
That it is desirable that the obligations imposed by Australian or New Zealand law on shipping registered in the United Kingdom should not be more onerous than those imposed on the shipping of any foreign country.
– Nor are they.
– We shall’ see whether that is so or not. The way in which the Government propose to give effect to that is by applying Division I. of the Bill to British ships and not to foreign ships.
– It does not do that.
– Do any of these conditions represent obligations or responsibilities at all ? The answer is that the Government are now negotiating with regard to the carrying of a certificated officer on board a British ship. That, I submit, is an obligation, and by this Bill the Government are attempting to force British ships to observe it, but not foreign ones. That is making an unfavorable difference against the British ship-owner.
– The British Board of Trade have taken no exception to clause 8.
– They have taken exception to clause 35. My honorable friend is right in saying that they did not take exception to clause 8. But they did take exception to one clause in the division which deals with British shipping, and which comes to the same thing.
– They objected to veryfew of them, and in most cases we were able to meet them.
– I am surprised at the Minister’s statement, because, in the correspondence with the Imperial authorities recently tabled here, the Prime Minister is carrying on a contention with regard to one of the clauses which will apply to British ships. Now the Government have made an alteration in the Bill. Clause 23, to which I refer, may be an excellent one, but all I am now attempting to show is that it violates one of the resolutions of the Navigation Conference, wherein our representatives, on our behalf, agreed that we would not impose on British shipowners obligations which were not imposed upon foreign ship-owners. Clause 23 says -
No person shall engage as an officer unless he is duly certificated.
That may be an excellent rule to enact, but I submit that we are imposing that obligation - and whether it is good or bad, it represents an obligation - upon British shipowners, and not upon foreign ones.
– Only when the agreement is entered into in Australia.
– It could also be made to impose it upon foreign shipowners when an agreement is entered into here.
– Whenever an agreement is entered into here; we have to. make our laws uniform.
– The honorable senator is not stating the case fairly to the Senate.
– Clause 37 provides for that.
– It does nothing of the kind.
– It says that every ship, British or foreign, shall carry the men specified in schedule 2.
– That is for ships registered in Australia.
– And trading in Australia.
– We shall deal with the manning afterwards. What I contend is, that under clause 23, a British shipmaster cannot take into his employment as an officer any person who is not duly certificated, but a foreign ship-master can, because this portion of the Bill does not apply to foreign ships.
– It does, and that is specially stated in clause 37.
– Of course it does.
– If Senator Guthrie’s statement is correct that the officer is included in the crew, then clause 23 is not necessary, and that is the provision to whichthe Board of Trade have- specially drawn> attention. They say that it is most un* fair to British shipping that we should propose to legislate in a certain way for them, and not put foreign ship-owners inthe same position.
– My honorable friendhas to read that provision with, the Merchant Shipping Act, which alters the wholecomplexion of the matter.
– My honorablefriend will pardon me, and I am not without authority in what I am saying, because the Board of Trade have pressed this view upon the Government, and the latter did’ not give to the former the answer whichthey gave to the Senate. The Prime Minister’s answer to the Board was not the assurance which Senator Best has given to the Senate. On the contrary, he said - “ We think it very unfair to allow aBritishowned ship proceeding from ‘Sydney to China to go out with an uncertificated1 officer while we compel an Australian registered ship to carry an officer with a certificate. If we allowed that, the effect would be to transfer the Australian shipto some other register.” The Government did .not deny that it made a difference between the foreigner and the Britisher, but their answer was, “ We want to have equal’ conditions for Australian ships and British ships coming here.” Let me paraphrase theargument, but not the words of the PrimeMinister. If it is manifestly unfair toallow a British ship to go out without acertificated officer, when Ave compel anAustralian ship to carry a certificated officer, it is equally unfair to an Australianship to allow a foreigner to go out without a certificated officer, and it is doubly/ unfair to a British ship. The best answer I can give to Senator Best is the reference Ihave made to the Prime Minister’s answerto the Board of Trade. The latter did not suggest that there was any provision in the Merchant Shipping Act which dragged in the foreign ship. What he said straight out was that in fairness to our local ships we cannot extend this privilege or release from obligation the British ships. But that leaves out of view the fact that by imposing clause 23 on British ships and not on foreign ones, the Government have violated resolution 21 of the Conference, which provided, at any rate, for equal conditions as between British and foreign ships.
– Can we not apply that clause to any ship unless it is registered in Australia?
– The Bill attempts to do that. We have just as much power over a German as over a British ship, with a difference to which I shall refer presently.
– Is the honorable senator quite sure that the Bill attempts to impose on foreign or British ships anything unless the agreement is madein Australia?
– Certainly the provisions of this part of the Bill show that its subject-matter is to apply only to British ships and to their owners, masters, and crews.
– That is what you were asked.
– If I am asked, “ Does clause 23 apply to ships sailing with an agreement made outside Australia?” my answer is that it does, and the proof is that the Board of Trade have drawn attention to that. There are portions of the Bill which deal with a ship no matter where she engages her crew.
– The clause of which the honorable senator complains appears to have been taken from the Merchant Shipping Act.
– My honorable friend must not take the slightest notice of marginal notes. The practice here is to cite in a marginal note some other Act from which, perhaps, the central idea has been borrowed, but the language of the provision has been entirely altered.
– It is very useful.
– I am not complaining of the practice, but asking the honorable senator not to be led into the belief that a similar provision appears in another
Act, and that having worked well in the past in some places it may be assumed that it will work well here. They are merely references to some provision which is designed, perhaps, to carry out the same purpose. Even if Australia is not prepared to give some little preference to Great Britain in this matter, I do ask honorable senators to join with me in saying that no law we pass shall make an invidious and unfair distinction between British and foreign ships to the advantage of the latter. Looking through the measure I ask myself why we should exhibit so tender a feeling for foreign shipping. I do not believe that it is due to any lack of loyalty on the part of the Government. But there must be some reason for it, and I can conceive only of one. We knowthat in the last resort no law is worth the paper on which it is written unless there is a force behind sufficient to give it effect. If we pass laws here which are distasteful to foreign countries, who is to give them effect ? We are aware that there is a power which can give effect to our law against British shipping because, when necessary, the Imperial Courts themselves become part of the machinery for carrying it out. We are to this extent, I think, imposing upon the magnanimity and good nature of the Mother Country. We pass laws affecting her shipping because we feel that she will not resent it, but we hesitate to pass similar laws against German shipping because Kaiser Wilhelm might view the matter in a different light.
– The Imperial Parliament has passed a law extending to foreign ships many of the provisions which previously applied only to British ships.
– Exactly, but Great Britain is in this position, that if her shipping law brought about a conflict she would know that she must shoulder the responsibility. We have to remember, as the Government have clearly remembered by the tender way in which they proposeto deal with foreign shipping, that if we impose harassing conditions upon foreign shipping we shall be creating sources of friction, the result of which no one can foresee.
– I do not think the Government have given proper consideration to the latest British legislation on this subject.
– Have they not ? That is all the honorable senator knows about it.
– I wish it to be made perfectly clear that Australia is in a peculiar position in regard to legislation of this kind. If our legislation affecting foreign interests brought about any conflict, what would happen ? To whom do we look now when an Australian ship receives unfair treatment abroad? What happened only quite recently when a ship belonging, I think, to Burns, Philp, and Company, preferred a claim against the German Government? To whom did we look to secure consideration for that claim ? We did not look to anything which this Parliament might do, or even to anything which might be done by the Seamen’s Union, of which Senator, Guthrie is so able a leader, but to the Imperial authorities. I say that just as. we look to the Imperial Governfent to gi.ve effect to our laws and to secure our interests abroad, so we should consider that there is an obligation upon us not to pass any legislation which we can see is calculated to increase the responsibilities of Great Britain in her relations with foreign countries. I have said that Division I. of this Bill is limited to British ships. If its provisions are good, and we have a moral and legal right to impose them, we should impose therm upon all ships. If that be not considered desirable, and personally I do not think it is, we should revert to the form in which these provisions were originally introduced, and should limit them to Australian ships or ships doing business on the Australian coast.
– Why not also ships that draw up an agreement here and trade to an outside port?
– Yes, I should regard such cases as coming properly within this division of the Bill. What I desire is that the Commonwealth should not go beyond its proper domain as a self-governing community. The privilege of selfgovernment is a very great one indeed, and just as we appreciate that privilege we should be prepared to recognise that other communities have an equal right to govern themselves in their own way. Australia is not quite big enough vet to attempt to govern the world. There is one reason why I refer to this matter perhaps at some length. Australia has a very peculiar interest, especially so far as its shipping is concerned, in trying to live on good terms with everybody. Perhaps our foreign shipping is not to-day a very big factor, but we all hope that it will extend as time goes on. I, for one, look forward to the time when the Australian flag will be seen upon many waters. It is extremely desirable that where we can do so, we should preserve unanimity with the Home authorities asto the law to be imposed. This is not a question affecting merely British interests, but Australian interests as well. I am contending for uniformity in the interests of Austraiian shipping. In this connexion, I cannot do better than read a quotation from, the inaugural address delivered by Mr. Lloyd-George to the Shipping Conference in London. Speaking of Colonial shipping, he said- lt is also to their interest that uniformity should be secured. Colonial shipping is in its infancy ; I do not see why in the future it should not claim its share of the international shipping of the. world, and naturally it is in the interests of Colonial shipping that you should procure now, so far as it is practicable, uniformity in the regulations imposed on the shipping of the world. Some success has been, achieved in securing international uniformity with regard to two or three matters of very great importance, and I am not sure that we arenot on the eve of securing some kind of international uniformity with regard to load-line. The great maritime countries of the world are approximating to the British rule in this respect.
The right honorable gentleman seems to me to have there laid down a sound rule for our guidance, and to have shown that uniformity is to be desired not only in British, interests, but in our own also. If it is annoying to the master of a British ship tohave to conform to certain rules and regulations in London, and when he comes out here to find that he is under some new law,, it must be equally harassing to the master of an. Australian ship when the voyage is. reversed. A master of a ship is sometimes, compelled to depart from his original voyage, and to turn here and there, and it: must be most harassing to him to be confronted with the necessity of observing a?, different set of conditions at every port he visits.
– At present he has tocomply with six different laws in the. six different States of the Commonwealth.
– But my honorablefriend does not think that desirable?
– Whilst the honorable senator’s statement is quite correct I direct his attention to the fact that in . thedifferent States there are not always sixdifferent rules or regulations with regard te the various matters covered by the differentlaws.
– Very nearly.
– There are differences, and it is the object of Federation to> wipe them out, but I am suggesting the desirability, so far as possible, of arriving at legislation uniform with that of Great Britain. There is one advantage which I almost overlooked which appears to have been gained from the delay which has taken place over this measure. It seems to me that the Government are learning, if slowly, the lesson taught by the recent High Court decisions. They are learning that we have to move within a written Constitution, and that it is not desirable for us, merely because we wish to do something, to assume that we are at liberty to do it. The Government should learn the difference between working under a written Constitution and the position in ‘Great Britain, where the only Constitution recognised is the law which is passed by the Imperial Parliament. One of the alterations which we find in this Bill is proposed with the distinct purpose of avoiding conflict with State interests. I congratulate the Government upon that. I hope that the time has gone by when we shall have any more of what I may call “try on” legislation. We have passed certain legislation here which many honorable senators who voted for it admitted frankly was of doubtful constitutionality, but which they were prepared to “ try on.” I hope that the time when such legislation will be submitted has gone by, and that before we are asked to pass any laws it shall be abundantly clear that they are such as’ we are competent to pass. Returning to the Bill, it seems to me that our task would have been very much simplified if the Government had confined themselves to the resolutions approved of unanimously by the Navigation Conference. With regard to those on which no agreement was arrived at, it is a very different matter. Where unanimity had been reached by British representatives, by three gentlemen from Australia - all in political life - and -by representatives from New Zealand, I think the Government would have been well advised if they had followed the decisions arrived at.
– Will the honorable senator point out an- instance in which they have not done so?
– I think I. have done so already.
– I have not heard any mentioned.
– Then I must regret either that my voice is failing or that the honorable senator’s hearing is not as good as it used to be. I have referred him to clause 23, and to the fact that the Government propose the imposition of a law upon Australian and British ships, while at the same time exempting foreign ships from that law. I wish to lay down one or. two propositions as indicative of the way I approached this question. I think it desirable that we should limit our legislation as far as possible to our own shipping, and to what transpires within our own jurisdiction. Next, I say, with regard to our own shipping, that where the matter is unimportant we should adopt the British law for the sake of uniformity. I say, further, that throughout the Navigation Bill we should make it clear whether its provisions, apply to all shipping, or to ships on the Australian register or engaged in the coasting trade, and that, as in the later clauses, where the provisions are confined to classes of ships, we should say clearly to which of them. In going through the Bill, I am in grave doubt - a doubt which is shared by people in the shipping world - as to what classes of ships are intended to be covered by certain of its provisions. It will be admitted that that is not at all desirable.
– I hope the honorable senator will mention some instance to illustrate what he means.
– When I do so, my honorable friend gets away from it.
– I shall not try to get away from anything.
– It will be my duty, in Committee, to .give the Vice-President of the Executive Council several instances. I am glad to have heard his interjection, because I take it as assenting to the position I have laid down, that if there is any vagueness or ambiguity in the Bill, he will join with me in trying to remove it, so that any one may at once see whether a clause in the measure is intended to apply to all shipping, or only to some shipping. The honorable senator asked me to give him an instance, and curiously enough, the next line in my notes reminds me of one. I refer to the question of what constitutes seaworthiness, and to clause 204 of Division VI. This division applies to all ships. In clause 185 it is provided that this part of the Bill shall apply to all ships, British or foreign. Another portion of the Bill provides that the manning scale shall apply only to Australian-registered ships, or ships engaged in the Australian coasting trade.
Then clause 204 provides that a ship shall not go to sea unless due regard has been paid to the number and qualifications of the crew, including officers, and in every other respect fitted to encounter the ordinary perils of the voyage then entered upon. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to say how it is proposed to determine whether a ship is fit to encounter the perils of an ordinary voyage. Is the manning scale and the ship’s equipment to enter into the determinationof the question ? The answer must bethat they are, and then I ask at once, what standard is to be adopted - the Imperial, the Board of Trade, or our own? This peculiar state of affairs might arise unless we make it clear to what ships the various conditions must apply. We have an Australian standard for Australian ships, and the master of a ship coming to an Australian port with a crew held to be under the manning scale might be proceeded against and penalized, whilst another ship alongside of him might be permitted to go to sea with exactly the same class of ship and the same crew. Are we to proceed against the master of the latter ship ? I am asking how clause 204 is to be interpreted, and whether in this particular case it is proposed to determine the question of seaworthiness according to the Australian or the Imperial standard. Honorable senators will agree that these matters cover extremely difficult and complex questions, and deserve all the thought we can give them. It is not at all desirable to assume that because a certain portion of the Bill may be said to apply to one class of ships, there is not a chance that another portion may be quoted to complicate matters.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the manning scale should apply also to foreign ships?
– Certainly not.
– That is the necessary inference.
– It certainly is not. I must apologize to the Vice-President of the Executive Council for having failed to make myself understood, but I thought I was careful to lay it down that I was seeking to limit our legislation to our own affairs. I am merely pointing out that there is an ambiguity in many of these clauses, inasmuch as it is not clear whether they are to apply in their entirety to all shipping, or merely to our own shipping. I am sure that the Vice-President of the Executive Council does not desire complications to arise under the operation of this
Bill. Consequently, instead of being a little resentful of my criticism, I thought he would have been the first to welcome it.
– If the honorable senator will read clause 201, he will find that wherever a certificate of survey has been issued to a vessel corresponding with our own certificate, the Minister allows that vessel an exemption from survey.
– That does not overcome the fact that clause 204 sets out what constitutes “ seaworthiness “ from the stand-point of “ the qualification and number of the crew, including officers.” This portion of the Bill applies to all shipping, Australian and foreign, and, therefore, I ask, “ What is the standard that we are setting up?”
– The Bill.
– It will be passed, I presume.
– Will it be passed in such a form that under clause 204 we can detain a British ship because she is not manned according to the Australian scale? I say that we ought to make it absolutely clear what portions of the. measure will apply to British ships, what portions to foreign ships, and what portions to Australian ships, so as to prevent complications arising subsequently. Everybody will then be. in a position to understand what we intend.
– Clause 185 says that the whole of Part IV. of the Bill shall apply to British and foreign ships.
– The leader of the Opposition thinks that every British and foreign ship must either be permitted to go away unseaworthy, or be manned according to the Australian scale?
– Under clause 204, before a British ship will be allowed to leave our ports she must be manned according to the Australian scale.
– That is the question which I put to the honorable senator, but he evaded it.
– Surely I cannot be said to have waded the point when I brought it under review. What does the Vice-President of the Executive Council consider the meaning of “seaworthy” from the stand-point of the crew?
– The qualifications prescribed in the Bill.
– That is to say, the Australian manning conditions ?
– If that interpretation be right, every British or foreign ship which enters our ports can be held up until she is manned according to the Australian scale.
– Does the Government admit that?
– The Government will not admit anything. But if that be so, the Government are inviting us to violate resolution number 5 of the Navigation Conference, which reads -
That the conditions imposed by Australia or New Zealand law as regards the manning, should only apply to vessels registered in those Colonies or engaged in their coasting trade.
That resolution was also approved by the Navigation Commission appointed by the Commonwealth Government, and it seems to me to provide a plain and simple procedure. We should make our manning scale apply only to Australian ships. But while the Bill under consideration stipulates that the manning scale shall be obligatory only upon Australian ships, under the definition of “seaworthiness.” the Government may refuse to allow any British ship to leave our ports unless she is manned according to the Australian standard. In other words, they will be able to accomplish indirectly what they do not attempt directly. What is the standard of seaworthiness ?
– What is the standard under the Imperial Act?
– The English law covers the number and qualifications of the crew.
– I admit that “ seaworthiness “ covers a hundred and one things. But one of those things relates to the number of the crew of any vessel. Again I ask, “ What standard are we to set up ? “ What portion of this Bill is to apply to British and foreign ships, and what portion to Australian ships? Surely we ought to make its provisions so clear that there can be no doubt as to the class of ships that we intend to be covered by them. If Senator Guthrie’s statement is correct, British ships must be prepared when they enter our ports to put on additional hands to bring the crews up to the Australian standard.
– Or to reduce them.
– Senator Lynch, by interjection, a few minutes ago referred to the clause which deals with the question of survey. To my mind, that is one mat ter upon which we have differentiated ourselves from Great Britain. The Bill provides that in the case of ships five years old or over, a survey shall be made every six months.
– To what clause does the honorable senator refer?
– To clause 201. The law of Great Britain provides for a survey only once every twelve months.
– I do not think that it prescribes any term.
– Only in the case of passenger ships. Cargo vessels can drown as many of the crew as they like.
– I frequently hear remarks of that character, and I am often led to wonder if the persons who are continually harping upon the increasing number of foreigners to be found in the British mercantile marine realize what that increase means. It means that after all the British mercantile marine cannot be such a bad place, seeing that so many foreigners seek employment in it - that they leave their own flag to accept work under the British flag.
– That fact merely shows that work under the British flag is not so bad as work under a foreign flag.
– That is all that I claim it means. It proves that the conditions which obtain in the British mercantile marine are infinitely preferable to those which obtain elsewhere.
– Nobody sells a sheeprun to go to sea.
– No. Persons generally go “broke” upon sheep-runs, and go to sea afterwards. This Bill provides that ships shall be surveyed every six months, whilst the New Zealand law - and New Zealand, I take it, is just as progressive a country as is Australia - stipulates for survey only once in twelve months, which is also the law of England. Apparently we are attempting to create work without any compensating advantage. Can the Government show that it is necessary to provide for the survey of vessels every six months? Of course, I am not speaking of vessels which have been in collision, or which have sustained an accident of any description which might render survey necessary. I am speaking of ships which pass through only the ordinary routine, and I venture to say that in such cases the Government cannot show that a survey is necessary every six months. Before passing from clause 201, I desire to draw attention to the very unsatisfactory method’ that has been adopted in making what I assume is .a concession to the Board of Trade. Clause 201, after stipulating for a survey every six months, goes on to sa’, that the Minister, if satisfied that any British or foreign steam-ship has substantially complied with the requirements of the Bill, may give a certificate which will have the same effect as one given upon survey under this measure. That provision appears to be all right, but such a jumble occurs in succeeding provisions, that it seems as if the Government have been torn between two minds. Clause 201 recognises the validity of Board of Trade certificates, and stipulates that where the Minister has reason to think that anything has happened to render a survey justifiable, he shall have power to 0 der it. Everybody will agree with that clause. But, unfortunately, a later provision appears to contradict it. In one case, the Board of Trade certificate is to stand good, unless the Minister has reason to move in the matter, whilst under another portion of ;.he Bill, the Minister has apparently to take it for granted that something is wrong with that certificate, and has power to grant an exemption from survey. Sub-clause 2 of clause 201 reads -
In cases where the Minister is satisfied, in regard to any British ship not registered in Australia, or any foreign steam-ship, that the requirements of this Act have been substantially complied with, he may -
dispense with any further survey of the steam-ship.
That appears to me to reverse the procedure for which provision is previously made. In the one case the Board of Trade certificate is to be regarded as good, unless challenged by the Minister; in the other it is assumed to be bad, unless the Minister grants an exemption. It does not appear to me to be necessary that every vessel which enters Australian ports should have to approach the Minister to obtain a certificate of exemption. Let me now turn to another portion of the Bill, which 1 am sure will prove of considerable interest to~ honorable senators. I refer to the provisions which deal with the condition* under which seamen shall work. Without approving of any detail, I venture to say that no portion of this measure will receive such sympathetic treatment as that to which I am alluding. The portions dealing with the health and the sanitary surroundings under which seamen shall move, is entirely in accord with much of the legislation that we have passed dealing with land industries. It represents the trend of modern legislation. The time has gone by when anybody can ask, “ Am I ni)- brother’s keeper”? Seeing that we have enacted reasonable legislation to those engaged in land avocations, we may well extend similar legislation to seamen. Much of this legislation has been defended upon the grounds of humanity, but I claim that it can be defended upon quite other grounds. It seems to me that it has a sound economic basis. If by any law that we pass, we can prolong the lives of our workers, or extend the period of their productive capacity, we, by that law, add to the wealth of the community. For that reason, we can approach with sympathetic hearts any proposals which will insure healthier conditions to those who follow the occupation of sailormen. And there is a special reason why the sailor has claims upon our sympathies. He carries on his occupation free from our observation. Those who work in factories and in other industries ashore are more or less furnished with opportunities for making their condition known, and are open to be observed. We all know something about factories and workshops, and the way in which people are employed in them. But few of us see the sailor at his work, or have opportunities of observing how he lives on board his- ship. And it is because he is so remote from observation, and because of the particular perils of his occupation, that he may make reasonable claims on ‘our sympathies in dealing with these clauses. But in relation to the manning scale laid down in this Bill, I am compelled to join issue with the Government. There is a schedule to the measure which lays down the scale of manning to be observed in Australia. The objection that I take to these clauses is one that was put before the Commission, and has been laid before honorable senators by those entitled to speak with authority on the subject. The objection to anyfixed manning scale is that different vessels require different numbers of men, quite apart from their tonnage. A ship fore and aft rigged requires a different complement »f men, although she may be of the same tonnage, as a ship that is square-rigged; and the same applies to different classes of engines, boilers, and machinery, as well as to firing facilities. AH these things make it impossible to have a hard and fast manning scale. The VicePresident of the Executive Council, when introducing the Bill, said that these objections had been answered by the proposed appointment of a Committee. I venture to think that instead of being answered they have been admitted. The word “admission ; ‘ . seems to me to be better and more applicable to the case. The Government have seen, and admit, the inequalities . which would result from the -adoption of any fixed scale ; and, therefore, they propose to appoint a Committee. But, having gone so far, they seem to have become frightened at their own audacity, and to have stopped there, because they render the Committee practically inoperative. It is to be merely an . advisory Committee. There is absolutely no obligation on the Minister to be guided by its recommendations. The one obligation upon the Minister is that he shall not determine the number of the crew of any particular vessel until he has been advised by the Committee. But, beyond that, the Minister -can do exactly as he pleases. I am bound to point out one serious objection to having :a hard and fast manning scale, and I do so with the view of suggesting an enlargement of the powers of this Committee.
– ls it not better to have the Committee than to have a. hard and fast scale?
– I am pointing out this objection with a view of suggesting that the powers of the Committee should “be strengthened and enlarged. At present there is no obligation upon the Minister to follow the Committee’s advice. He is bound to receive it, but need not be guided “by it.
– He takes the responsibility if he does not.
– My honorable friend has been in Parliament long enough to know what that means. For all practical purposes, the responsibility of the Minister in that sense is not worth a moment’s thought. Either the Committee’s -advice is to be followed, or it is not. What is it to be? Senator Guthrie seems to assume that the Minister is to follow it. If so, there is no reason why the Committee should not be given powers to carry out what it thinks ought to be done irrespective of the Minister. If the Committee is to prevail, what reason is there for bringing the Minister into the matter at all?
– The Committee will not be responsible to any one, but the “Minister will be responsible to Parliament.
– Surely my honorable friend does not mean that. There are, as he knows, ways and means of making the Committee responsible. I venture to say ‘that Parliament will have more control over the Committee than over the Minister, judging from what has transpired since this Parliament has been established. We all know - and there is no need to mince the fact - that, although a Minister may do wrong, party considerations frequently prevent punishment being meted out to him. That is one of the evils of party government; although in saying so much I must add that I do not know of a better form of government. I wish to show one evil which will arise from leaving this manning scale in the Bill. The operation of it will be this : It will cause ships to remove from the Australian register and take refuge upon registers of countries that have not such a scale.
– What would that matter ?
– There are some people who think that nothing matters, and that we can shut in Australia with a wall.
– What does it matter whether ships are registered in Australia or in London?
– My honorable friend surprises me. I did not think that there was a man in Australia who would not welcome a large accession to the number of ships registered in Australia. To my mind, it would be a great thing indeed to have a larger number of ships upon the Australian register. It would- be to some extent a guarantee that they would observe Australian conditions; and that is surely not an unimportant consideration.
– Not necessarily.
– Not necessarily, but these things follow.
– They do .not.
– I am afraid that my honorable friend does not see the tangible advantage arising from what I may call an intangible advertisement. From that point of view alone, it is desirable to have upon the Australian register every ship engaged in the Australian trade. One of the reasons urged by the Government as to why they cannot comply with the conditions of the Board of Trade is that, if they did so. our ships would transfer from our ree-ster to the British. If that is a sound argument to advance with regard to certain provisions in the Bill, it must also be a sound argument to apply to the manning provisions. I am not asking for an inadequate manning scale, but if we have a scale which bears harshly and inequitably upon certain ships, they will undoubtedly leave the Australian register.
– Should we not have a minimum ?
– We need not if we have a Committee in whom we have confidence. Even if we have a minimum scale, we cannot say that we have provided for all possible circumstances and for all the changes that may take place.
– The Committee principle has worked out all right in relation to the arrangements between shipowners and their men.
– That remark brings me to another point. I know that Committees of ship-owners and men always work together well so far as their interests are concerned. But I venture to say that there is a third party to consider, and that is the general public. It must occur occasionally to the general public that the fact that they have to pay is the reason only why our legislation has been called into existence.
– The ordinary person never objects to ships going away undermanned. We have seen that in times of strike in Australia, when ships have been manned by two or three clerks out of an office.
– There is no necessity to raise the question of under-manning. No one has suggested that that should be allowed. But I do not wish to help to pass a law to compel a ship to carry a single man more than is necessary for her working. There is no profit to Australia and none to the seamen in having idle men on board ship. I am trying to devise the best method of ascertaining the necessary complement of every ship. The Bill lays down a standard, and says, “ We do not expect you to work under this scale; you can wipe it off the slate, and we will appoint a Committee to say what is a fair complement for every ship to carry.” But then the Minister comes along and can ignore the complement fixed by the Committee if he likes. It seems to me to be very much better to enlarge the powers and scope of the Committee and to dispense with the Minister altogether. This power of the Minister leads me to another point, and that is the powers conferred by this Bill on the Minister by way of regulation. There is too much legislation by regulation in Com monwealth Acts, and it seems to me that the tendency is to increase the evil. Whether it is caused by those who are responsible for framing Bills being unable tosuggest a remedy, or provisions adequate to the circumstances, I do not know; but I do know that Parliament is becoming less and less responsible for legislation, and isthrowing more and more responsibility upon, the Minister - which really means the permanent heads of Departments. 1 do not know whether honorable senators are consenting parties to the fact that we are shirking our responsibilities and throwing upon other people duties or obligations that rightly belong to us.
– That is a very bad feature of Australian legislation.
– I hope that it is a feature which we shall endeavour to remove from’ this Bill. We can admit at once that there must be some things which are better dealt with by regulation ; but when it comesto fundamental principles I maintain that it is wrong that any party should be called, upon to legislate except that body which was appointed by the Constitution to dothis work. There is another feature of the Bill which strikes me as being particularly wrong. In this measure we are proposing, to invest the Minister with the powers of a Court’. We have on several occasions before given him the powers of a Parliament which will enable him to legislate, but thisis the first time we have given the Minister the powers of a Court.
– Has my honorable friend ever read the Customs Act, or the Customs Acts of the States, which existed for years ?
– I made mv statement with those Acts, in my memory’. I repeat that this is the first time we have given the Minister the power to act as a Court in civil disputes between two individuals. Under the Customs Act, when am importer and the Crown come into conflict, the Minister is intrusted with powers which are necessary to protect the revenues of the Crown. But under this Bill we say that in disputes between individuals for money owing from one to another, the parties need’ not go into Court, but the case can be dealt with by the Minister. I hope that Parliament will never place in the hands of one man, outside the publicity of a Court, powers which should only belong to a Court-
– That power is already exercised by the Superintendent of Mercantile Marine in disputes as to amounts under £5.
– There are powers in this Bill wife regard to deductions from men under which the decision of the Minister is to be final.
– Except for that a sea captain might deduct money from a seaman’s wages. The Bill enables the Minister to disallow such deductions.
– Should the Minister be allowed such powers?
– -ft is a reasonable thing.
– It is unreasonable to allow the Minister to assume the functions of a legal tribunal.
– Then the honorable senator would constitute the captain the final arbiter, unless the seaman went to Court.
– I would not do anything of the kind. Surely our resources are not so limited as that. But why should not the seaman go to a Court the same as any one else ?
– He may not be able to afford to do so.
– Does the farm labourer go to the Minister when he has a dispute with his employer ? The shearer has to get away to his next shed- The Government do not propose that if a man has a dispute with his shearers the Minister shall decide it.
– If the shearer cannot go this week, he can next week.
– No; because he has missed the next shed.
– There are very few sheds that do not take on shearers the whole time.
– If the honorable senator knew as much about the shearing of Australia as I do he would not make that statement. Not only are the sheds not taking men on the whole time, but for months ahead they have their ‘boards picked. I want to deal with another matter. It is not, perhaps, a big one, in view of the state of our own law, but I think that it discloses a hesitancy on the part of the Government to meet- the Imperial authorities, even on unimportant points. With regard to our regulations, the Board of Trade had asked, and the Commission and the Conference had approved of, three months’ notice of any change of regulation being given. One would have thought that that was a reasonable request.- Seeing that a ship might leave London on a round voyage, and on arrival here find herself under a different set of regulations from that which had prevailed on her previous visit, in the circumstances three months is surely not a long notice to give. After the Commission and the Conference had approved of it, one would have thought that the Government would” have readily fallen in with the suggestion. But instead of doing that, their answer was that probably the Board of Trade were not aware of our Statutory Rules Act, which provides for notice to be given. It was not a frank and ready willingness to meet the Imperial Government. It is quite true that we have a law which provides for no less than sixty days’ notice to be given. The difference between that and three months is so slight that one would have thought that the Government, without any hesitancy would have said: “Yes; we will provide in the bill itself that a regulation shall not operate until three months’ notice has been given.” It is a little matter I admit, but J. think that the Government would have acted very much more in . accord with the best traditions of Australia if they had yielded readily to the Imperial authorities on that point. I desire now to say a fewwords about what is bound to be one of the contentious points of the Bill, and that is the coasting trade. I do not dispute for a moment - nobody can - that Australia has an absolute right to determine what ships shall participate in its coasting trade. But the question which arises in my mind is’ how best to exercise the right. It does not follow that because we have a legal right to do something, it is wise and judicious to exercise it. I feel compelled to question the wisdom of the course proposed in the Bill. I have already referred to the great importance to our producers of having ample shipping facilities. It seems to me that every restriction we place upon our ships plying round the coast is in some way or other sure to rebound as a handicap to our producers. It has been said that the attempt to secure the Australian trade to Australian ships and Australian seamen is a natural sequence of the protective policy which has been adopted. I have to admit that when I first heard the argument it rather appealed to me ; it struck me as having something, at any rate, of logic to support it, but after I came to look into the matter, I thought that I could see a full and effective answer. When we were dealing with the Tariff, we certainly imposed a number of duties, but we also left a very large free list. Why did we leave certain items on the free list, and why did many protectionists vote in that direction? They said: “Whilst we have a protectionist policy for Australia, we still think that the benefits which will be incurred by the duty on this industry or that industry will be more than outweighed by the disadvantages on certain other industries.” Similarly it appears to me that any advantage which we might give to the Australian ship - and I think that it will be very small - will be far more than outweighed by the tremendous handicap which will be imposed on Australian traders and producers. Seeing that I have spoken of the advantage to Australian shipping as being small, it may be said that it cannot therefore follow that the handicap on the other classes I refer to will be great, but I think I can show that it will be. First of all, the advantage of securing to Colonial shipping all the trade we can will, I think, be very small indeed. Senator Best said the other day that he had no figures available to show what it was, but I think that it will be small. Therefore, in the remarks I am making, I am not speaking soley of the quantity of trade which maybe deflected, but I have a much more serious matter in my mind. The evidence given before the Navigation Commission, and I think the evidence of our daily experience, shows that there is something very much in the nature of a bond or trust existing among local ship-owners. If that Commission did nothing else, it made it abundantly clear that this combination did exist, and that the effect of its existence was certainly to restrict trade. I think that there is an admission in the Bill that it exists because it makes rebates under certain conditions illegal. If we give to people, or a class of people, a monopoly, it is idle to be surprised if afterwards they take advantage of it. To-day, the shipowners are in a flourishing position. This cannot by any stretch of imagination be called a strangled industry. I suppose that in Australia there is no industry which is reaping a larger profit or doing better. The ship-owners cannot come to us with any ad misericordiam appeal ; they cannot look to us for sympathy : they cannot tell us that unless they get the additional assistance their industry will be closed up. We all know that their business to-day is a sound, flourishing, and expanding one. But they have shown a great tendency to take advantage of any opportunities which are presented to them. The Senate would be ill-advised, would be doing something distinctly detrimental to our producers and traders, if it turned round and placed the ship-owners, who have shown no consideration to the general public, in a position to carry out freely the policy which they have hitherto adopted. It is for that reason that I shall vote against anything which would prevent even the present limited competition. That is in my opinion the only means by which we can hope to put down the monopoly. The Government, I notice, have recently instituted some prosecutions under the latest Anti-Trust Act. I shall say nothing regarding them until a final decision is given. If we confer a privilege or monopoly on ship-owners it seems to me absolutely idle to expect anything else than that they will take advantage of it to the last penny. Apart from that reason the Bill itself, I think, shows the folly of the coastal trade provisions, for it no sooner lays it down that we shall keep our coasting trade to ourselves than it makes two bad breaks and provides means by which that portion of the law can be torn up. The first one, of course, is made in the interests of that much-petted State, Western Australia.
– The honorable senator is getting cynical.
-No. When I think of the special Tariffs and certain other matters I feel that Western Australia cannot complain.
– There is no Capital Site question there.
– No doubt my honorable friends from that State had something much more interesting to them - their railway. Having provided that our coastal trade shall be limited to Australian ships, this portion of the Bill goes on to say that the Governor- General may exempt - (a)British ships carrying mails to or from the Commonwealth under contract with the Government of the Commonwealth ; or
Those two exemptions are rather peculiar. One can understand a power being taken there to provide an exemption for a special class. But the point I wish to emphasize now is that there are two classes of exemptions. Let me paraphrase them in this way - “ The Government may by order declare that the carrying of passengers between ports in Australia by the Orient Steam Navigation Company shall be legal; but when they are carried by the Peninsular and
Oriental Company it shall not be legal.” In the previous Bill there was a distinct exemption made in favour of ships trading from Western Australia to Adelaide. There is no earthly reason why an exception should be made in favour of any State. But the point was raised that the constitutionality of the provision might be challenged, and I assume that it was because of a fear that the challenge would be successful that the wording of this clause has been altered. But I venture to say that this same evil exists, that under the powers of exemption it is possible to give preferential treatment to different States, to extend to one State a consideration denied to another.
– Oh, no.
– Suppose that we do exempt the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s boats, but do not exempt the boats which travel along the Queensland coast, is not a preferential consideration given there? Surely it may be said that Western Australia is given privileges and opportunities which are denied to Queensland ! The reason assigned for making the exception is that Western Australia has not got a railway. Has Tasmania got a railway ?
– We cannot alter nature.
-My honorable friends cannot alter nature, but they can allow the steam-ships which trade to Tasmania the same privileges as they allow to steam-ships which trade between Perth and Adelaide.
– They only go to Tasmania in the apple season. The honorable senator is only concerned about the apple- growers.
– What my honorable friend is concerned about are the opulent mine-owners of Western Australia, who want to travel on the first-class boats.
– The boats go to Tasmania for cargo. We do not ask any ocean liners to carry cargo from Western Australia.
– What my honorable friend says is that it is an excellent, sound, unionist principle that we shall keep our trade in our own ships for our own men, but, for the sake of the comfort of a few Western Australians, we shall “black-leg” on the principle. On the same ground, a man can break the rule of every union ever founded. It is all a matter of expediency, convenience, and comfort. If a man is offered a little additional profit in one case, and he says, “ I will break your union rule,” what is he called? If another man says, “ 1 know that I ought to stand fast by the union, but I can advance my interests in another way,” what is he called? In this particular case my honorable friends propose to do exactly the same thing. They lay down a broad principle, which they say is good, but they say, “ For heaven’s sake, do not apply it to Western Australia.”
– Give us a railway.
– Whether Western Australia has a railway or not, what my honorable friends are practically saying is this: “We believe that this is a good, sound principle, but we shall ‘ black-leg ‘ on it until you give us a railway.” If there is to be any “ black-legging,” I want to see that it goes all round. I want to see that this privilege, if given to Western Australia, is extended to every State which makes use of the big ocean liners. I pass from that now, and would like to say that if there are to be any exemptions at all under the clauses relating to coasting trade - if they are to remain as they are, and I hope they will not - they should be in favour of British ships as against foreign ships. In the case of a certain class of ships engaged in our coasting trade, such as the German boats, which are subsidized on the understanding that they shall not carry away certain of our produce, I think it would not be unfair or unreasonable to deny to them any ad- vantages they might derive from participation in our coasting trade.
– The German boats are not subsidized because they do not carry away our produce.
– I understand that one line of German boats is subsidized, and that the terms of the subsidy are that the boats are not to carry from Australia certain of our primary products.
– They can carry those products from Australia to England, but not to Germany.
– There is a restriction imposed as a condition of the subsidy.
– It seems to me that in circumstances of that kind, where boats are specially subsidized under a condition that they shall not convey Australian produce to German ports, it would not be unfair for us to deny those boats the privilege of participating in our coasting trade. My main point is that if there is to be any exemption under the clauses relating to the coasting trade, it shall be made in favour of British ships.
– And it should be clearly stated in the Bill.
– I was just going to say that I hope that no attempt will be made to discriminate by passing the measure in such a form as to permit of the favouring of one company as against another. Honorable senators know what they desire, and they will consult their own interests if they set it out in the Bill, and will not leave the matter to be dealt with by the Government, to be possibly the subject of some miserable intrigue in a Minister’s office. I have spoken at greater length than I intended, and should, perhaps, apologize for the time I have taken. My only excuse is the tremendous importance of the measure, and the many complex questions with which it deals. I have intimated briefly the points which seem to me of major interest, or which invite criticism. I shall only add that at the Committee stage I shall look for the assistance which those who, like Senator Guthrie, are familiar with the subject can lend. The information which the honorable senator will be in a position to give the Senate will be more readily accepted, and more valuable if submitted - I do not like to use the term - without exaggeration. I was at a loss for a happier word to use, but if the honorable senator will submit his information in a plain and businesslike manner, it will assist honorable senators to solve many questions which, as at present buried in this Bill, are absolutely mysteries to us.
– There is, I am sure, only one feeling in this Chamber as to the importance of this Bill. Every member of the Senate is thoroughly seized with the importance of questions relating to navigation, not only because they refer to Australia, but because the shipping of the Empire is one of the greatest of British assets. It is an industry in which British enterprise shines to very great advantage, and outclasses that of almost all the rest of the world put together. We have hap three different Navigation Bills brought before -us - one in 1904, another last year, and the third this year. As Senator Millen has pointed out, we have had a Navigation
Commission in Australia and a Navigation Conference in London. A considerable number of resolutions were passed at the Conference, and there has been much correspondence with the Board of Trade. I wish to make some little reference to that. Senator Best drew attention to certain phrases that occurred in the correspondence from the Board of Trade, and I quite agree with Senator Millen that the expressions referred to were ill advised. Senator Best spoke of them as the result of “ inadvertence.”
– I said that I hoped they were.
– I have the honorable senator’s exact words here. He said -
I venture to say that the indiscreet phraseology which has been used has not been intentional, but is rather the result of inadvertence.
When it became the duty of the Prime Minister to reply to these two despatches, it was open to him to refer to the matter incidentally. Instead of doing so and assuming that the one or two rather unfortunate expressions were the result of inadvertence, the honorable gentleman took a very high tone, and undoubtedly became exceedingly offensive. There is a calculated ofFensiveness about the Prime Minister’s reply which does not add any dignity to Australian despatches. Senators Trenwith and Best laugh at what I say, but let me read the Prime Minister’s exact words -
I desire to call attention to two passages in the documents which accompany the Secretary of State’s despatch, phrased in a manner absolutely without precedent in all the correspondence which has taken place between the Imperial Government and the Government of the Commonwealth.
I say that those words are very offensive. There is a calculated ofFensiveness about them which does not add to the dignity of Australia. In the first of the despatches to which the Prime Minister was replying, there is a distinct recognition of the rights of Australia, and even that Mr. Deakin attempts to throw on one side, as much as to say, “ It is not necessary that you should say that you recognise our rights, because they are embedded in the Constitution you have passed.”
– Is not that true?
– It is quite true, but is ‘it necessary, when one is offered a courtesy, to say, “I do not want your courtesy, because I am entitled to it “ ?’ The whole, thing is a regrettable instance of the inability of the Australian Govern- ment to rise to the true level of Australian nationhood. I direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that up to the present time there remain between fifteen and twenty points in connexion with which the Board of Trade and the Australian Government are not at one. Yet we are proceeding with this Bill. Before we met, it was understood throughout Australia that the Bill was not to be proceeded with, and it ought not to be proceeded with, while so much remains unsettled. Let me point out to honorable senators that there are some clauses, and notably the very important clauses dealing with coastal shipping, which have not yet been submitted to the British Government at all. They are unaware of the revolutionary changes which are proposed in this Bill with respect to the coasting’ trade. Full as the measure is of matters of grave importance, the clauses which deal with the coasting trade of Australia are ot the first consequence. Last week I asked for information under several detailed heads, and the Minister was unable to give me any. The honorable senator did not, in his speech, volunteer any information to show why this revolutionary change for the building up of a monopoly in- our coasting trade was necessary. He did not show that the shipping engaged in our coastal trade was being wiped out, or that the companies engaged in it were not paying dividends. He did not show that over-sea ships were carrying cargo from port to port on our coasts, nor did he give any details as to the number of passengers which, no doubt, they do carry between Australian ports.
– As a matter of fact, Australian shipping has never been in a better position than it is to-day.
– I ‘believe that is true, but the Minister gave the Senate no information and no reason for the revolutionary changes sought to be made. On this question it is very interesting to call to mind an extract from a speech made by Mr. Chamberlain at the Colonial Conference, held in London in 1902. He said, referring to Mr. Seddon -
It is the fact as he stated, incidentally quoting from an American senator, that the American coastwise trade is exclusively reserved for the American shipping, and the coastwise trade is interpreted as trade between America and her Possessions, trade, for instance, between America and Samoa ; and, of course, if we are to adopt a similar principle it would make it impossible for trade between Great Britain, the Colonies of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and the Cape to be carried in .any but British vessels ; now that, of course, was the old principle of the navigation laws ; the navigation laws were repealed, I understand, largely at the instance of the Colonies. I believe it was complaints from the Colonies that competition wasinterfered with by our laws, which was the prime mover in the repeal of that legislation.
It is a very remarkable thing that the British Government, some fifty years ago, should have removed the old navigation laws, very largely at the instigation of the Colonies, and that now certain of the Colonies should seek, on their own account and on their own coasts, to enact a measure of this kind. Tn the Bill brought before us last year it was proposed to specifically exempt certain vessels trading to Australia. But in this Bill the Government . contemplate making a decidedly new departure from that course. It is now intended that these provisions shall be brought into operation only in the case of ships carrying coloured crews. The legislation which is now proposed in regard to our coastal trade, is in direct opposition to all the views held by free-traders. At present, however, I pass by that consideration. I merely wish to draw attention to the fact that it is also very largely antagonistic to the views entertained by protectionists. We know that when the Tariff was under consideration, we decided, again and again, that certain articles should be admitted free, or that very low duties -should be levied upon them, because otherwise, great interests would be seriously affected. Senator Millen has already pointed out that the producing interests of Australia are sogreat, and depend so largely upon the shipping facilities granted to them, that we should do everything in our power to encourage shipping in .our waters, and nothing to discourage it. We cannot impose a burden upon shipping without it reacting upon our producers in the form pf increased’ freights and charges.
– Let us own theships, and then we can.
– The honorable senator says, “ Let us own the ships.” I’ wonder where the money is to come from. Some of the new vessels belonging to the Orient Company will cost as much as ^375,000 each. The aggregate value of the shipping engaged in the Australiantrade is many millions sterling. Even fromthe point of view of protectionists, I argue that it is desirable that we should provide our producers with every facility for getting their produce to the markets of the world. But above the free-trade, and_ the protectionist view, there is the Empire view.
– There is only one free-trader now.
– If a count were made of heads throughout the British Empire, I dare say that we should find more free-traders than protectionists. But I repeat that we have to consider the Empire, and we ought to do nothing which would constitute an offence to the Empire. Let me refer to what occurred in this Chamber last week, when the VicePresident of the Executive Council moved the second reading of this Bill. I extract the tol lowing from the Hansard report -
– Tt will be practically confined to White Star liners.
– It may be so. It will be for the Government of the day to say what order they may make.
– Is it not to be practically confined to vessels with white crews?
– Undoubtedly, so far as one is justified in prophesying, it will practically “be confined to vessels carrying white crews.
– That will shut out the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.
– It may, or may not.
– It certainly would.
– I do not know how far the . Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company are prepared to comply ; but so far as that is concerned, it is quite impossible at this stage to make a statement. Perhaps, when I said that the provision would be confined to white crews, I might have made the exception -to which my honorable friend opposite has referred.
– One Government would -grant the privilege to one set of ships, and another Government to another set.
– Why not give the DOwel -of control immediately to Parliament?
– There is some constitutional difficulty in the matter. First of all, our powers must be considered. We must have regard to whether, bv these means, we can accomplish what we desire.
It is quite clear, therefore, that the Government hold strong views upon this matter, and that the issue of any order which they will be empowered to make under this Bill w;ll be determined by those views. Tn other words, if companies like the Peninsular and Orient, and the Nippon Yusen Kaisha, carry coloured labour on their vessels, they will be excluded from our -coasting trade. That, I contend, would be a grave offence to the Empire spirit. In this connexion, I should like to read -what took place at the Navigation Confer ence, which was held in England. A New Zealand delegate, Mr. Belcher, had moved -
That this Conference is opposed to the employment of Lascars, Coolies, Chinamen, or persons of any other alien race on any vessels owned, registered, or chartered to trade in the Commonwealth or New Zealand.
Sir James Mackay who, at the Conference, spoke on behalf of India, said -
It is unnecessary for me to go into the question of whether Lascars, or European are the better sailors. That has been thoroughly well thrashed out in another Committee, the report nf which, I think, you have before you. But I would strongly urge this Conference not to adopt a resolution which is worded as this resolution is worded. It is a great reflection upon 200 or 300 millions of the King’s subjects, who are just as loyal, just as law-abiding, just as industrious, just as sober, and just as good citizens as we are ourselves. I should like to point out to Mr. Belcher that if this resolution is adopted it would place vessels belonging to Australia under a serious disability. No vessel belonging to Australia, according to what Mr. Belcher said, would be able to go to Calcutta, Singapore, or China except with a European crew.
Sir William Lyne. Go from where?
Sir JAMES MACKAY. From Australia a vessel owned in Australia. He proposed that no vessel owned or registered in Australia or chartered to trade there-
– It might be a British ship.
Sir JAMES MACKAY. Yes.
Sir William Lyne. I do not think under our laws she would be allowed to go away without r. white crew.
Honorable Dugald Thomson. - Oh yes, if she was going out of our waters.
Sir William Lyne. When she leaves the Australian coast, I do not think she would be allowed to go without a white crew - not if we could stop it, at any rate.
Sir JAMES MACKAY. Surely an Australian ship going up to Calcutta, an Australian-owned ship, can sign on a crew in Calcutta, and trade between Calcutta and other places. There is no law to the contrary.
Sir William Lyne. If we could stop it, we would.
Sir JAMES MACKAY. If you did stop it, what I would like to point out is that you would place your own ships under a great disability.
Sir William Lyne. I do not agree there at all’.
Sir JAMES MACKAY You cannot possibly object to an English-registered ship going from Calcutta and trading -regularly between Calcutta and Australia with a Lascar crew.
Sir William Lyne. Yes we can; we can stop them by making them pay treble wages.
Sir JAMES MACKAY. I do not think that is possible.
Sir William Lyne. When they get into our waters we will deal with them.
– The case put is where they are engaged in Calcutta. The contract is not made in your waters.
Sir William Lyne. That very point comes in on the question I asked Mr. Bertram. Cox in reference to Fiji. When they take on a crew to go to Fiji we can deal with them when they leave our waters; and if they make a breach of what we tell them to do, we can deal with them when they come back, and so we can with a vessel going to India.
Sir JAMES MACKAY. It cannot be the intention of the Commonwealth to prevent a vessel belonging to India to take a cargo down to Australia and bring a cargo back to Calcutta.
Sir William Lyne. It is the intention of Australia, if she can, to prevent the employment in our waters of coloured people at all.
Was ever such a monstrous statement made before? The report continues -
Mr. Cox. Wherever engaged ?
Sir William Lyne. Yes, we are dealing with ocean-going ships as well.
– That is a question of international law.
Sir JAMES MACKAY. You will not allow a German ship to come into your waters either?
Sir William Lyne. Oh yes, we do ; this refers to Coolies.
Sir JAMES MACKAY. This says aliens “or persons of any other alien race.”
Sir William Lyne. I do not want to delay this. I have slated exactly what our spirit is.
Honorable Dugald Thomson. - What your spirit is ! You cannot speak for Australia in that respect.
Later on Mr. Cox, a member of the Imperial delegation from the Colonial Office, said that he would read portion of a speech, made by Mr. Chamberlain at the Premiers’ Conference in 1897, dealing with alien immigration. He then quoted the following -
We quite sympathize with the determination of the white inhabitants of these Colonies which are in comparatively close proximity to millions and hundreds of millions of Asiatics, that there shall not be an influx of people alien in civilization, alien in religion, alien in customs, whose influx, moreover, would most seriously interfere with the legitimate rights of the existing labour population. An immigration of this kind must, I quite understand, in the interests of the Colonies, be prevented at all hazards, and we shall not offer any opposition to the proposals intended with that object, but we ask you also to bear in mind the traditions of the Empire which makes no distinction in favour of, or against race or colour ; and to exclude, by reason of their colour, or by reason of their race, all Her Majesty’s Indian subjects, or even all Asiatics would be an act so offensive to those peoples that it would be most painful, I am quite certain, to Her Majesty to have to sanction it. Consider what has been brought to your notice during your visit to this country. The United Kingdom owns as its brightest and greatest dependency that enormous Empire of India, with 300,000,000 of subjects who are as loyal to the Crown as you are vourselves, and among them there are hundreds’ and thousands of men who are every whit as civilized as we are ourselves, who are, if that is anything, better born in the sense that they have older traditions and older families, who are men of wealth, men of cultivation, men of distinguished valour, men who have brought whole armies and placed them at the service of the Queen, and have in times of great difficulty and trouble - such for instance on the occasion of the Indian Mutiny - saved the Empire by their loyalty. I say, you’ who have seen all this, cannot be willing to put. upon those men a slight which I think is absolutely unnecessary for your purpose, and which would be calculated to provoke ill-feeling, discontent, irritation, and would be most unnalatable to the feelings, not only of Her Majesty the Queen, but of all her people.
A little further on the chairman, Mr. Lloyd-George, said -
If you said that no Hindu should be employed in ships on the coasting trade I do not suppose that we could possibly assent to a law (that does, not belong to my Department) expressly framed; in that way, because it is a reflection upon millions of the King’s subjects. But you can do it in ways which are quite as effective.
Sir William Lyne. We have other ways of doing it.
– Yes, I beg you not to ask us to assent to a resolution which goes outside your acknowledged powers, and which will bringits into great trouble in India. They are verysensitive on these points, and, therefore, I think it would be a great misfortune if at an Imperial’ Conference of this kind we pass a resolution’ which will be regarded by them as a great offence. Mr. Belcher’s object has been attained. I was unwilling to rule the matter out because I know it is one of very considerable importance in New’Zealand and in the Commonwealth. But his object has been attained. He has made it perfectly clear that Commonwealth and New Zealand have a perfect right to deal with the matter in so far as their own coasting arrangements are concerned. But I do not think it canbe claimed that we, where you have trade between two countries - I do not care what the countries are, whether it is China, Germany, or India or America,you are able to say, “ We will only allow ships containing our own subjects to trade between these two countries.”
Sir William Lyne. We can do it in one way but not in another.
Honorable W. M. Hughes. - On our own ships of course we can do it ; there is no doubt about that.
-It is a different mafter when yon are legislating with TCgard to shipsregistered in vour own country.
Sir William Lyne. We can do it in any shins, whether our own or not, which are in our coasting trade.
– Yes. But it is so ulterly opposed to all international traditions. We could not do it with repard to Germany nr nnv other countrv, and would not dream of doing it, nor would they dream of doing it with us.
Here is a singular expression, which fell from Mr. Lloyd-George -
And it is Tather hard that the amenities which are preserved between one nation and another should not obtain between different parts of the same Empire.
It is a sad thing “that a British Minister should even think it necessary to have to utter such a sentence. Ultimately, Mr. Belcher withdrew his proposal. He said -
I have listened very carefully to the various opinions expressed with regard to the employment of this class of labour. With a great many of them I entirely disagree. Gentlemen representing the various Departments who have spoken on this matter have pointed out to me many Imperial difficulties which will arise, and, seeing that I am now assured that so far as we are concerned in Australia and New Zealand, we have the power and the right, if we choose to exercise it, of excluding that class of labour, I will now, with the permission of the Conference, withdraw the motion altogether.
I think that those extracts in themselves are very valuable, giving the Senate reason’ to pause in dealing with legislation of this character. It is time, I think, for Australians to denounce indignantly what is being done in regard to the coloured races. It is one thing to pass an exclusion law, to say that the coloured races and the white races shall be kept apart. That is entirely natural and allowable, and I for one feel that it is right. But it is an entirely different thing to take up the ground that some Australians have taken, and that was taken up last week, when it was threatened that if this Bill becomes law those who are our fellow subjects will not be allowed to trade upon our coasts. It is a serious thing to insult the natives of Asia and the hundreds of millions of our fellow subjects there. We have already gone too far in that direction. Honorable senators will not have forgotten that a couple of years ago we had a Bill before us which proposed to give some preference under the Tariff to goods brought from England in ships, provided they were manned by white British subjects. Mr. Asquith, speaking in London on the subject - not being at the time a Minister, as he is to-day - said that under no conceivable circumstances would the people of the United Kingdom consent to receive any preference of the kind from which their fellow subjects in India were rigidly excluded. The Bill was rejected on that very ground. Since then we have passed what vs known as the South African Preference Bill, in which there is a clause distinctly offensive to coloured people. We give a certain preference on sugar grown by white labour. If it is grown by coloured labour no preference is given. Nearly the whole of last session we were engaged upon the revision of the Tariff, and there was a very long list of articles as to which preference was given to goods shipped, not from the British Empire, but from the United
Kingdom, differentiating against the rest of the Empire, including India, and the two or three hundred millions of our coloured fellow subjects there.
– Would the honorable senator throw our people into competition with the 2d. per day men?
– It is not a question of competition with 2d. per day men, but of treating the Empire on one basis. We need not give any preference whatever if we do not like. We have before to-day had reason to pity the misfortunes of coloured peoples who have been shipwrecked and landed on our inhospitable coast. I know that a number of people are continually telling us that we have all sorts of things to fear from the Asiatic, who will, at some future time, do something that will be very dreadful. But what I am anxious about is, that we shall do what is right with regard to them. I am not troubled as to whether, in future, they will endeavour to do wrong to .us; it is much more important that we should do what is right. The Vice-President of the Executive Council poses as a great friend of the Empire. But, in my judgment, there are no people within the Empire who are creating graver dangers for the future than is the Government of Australia at present. They are rather burden builders than Empire builders.
– That is very unkind !
– Let me remind the honorable senator of what he said only last week. He was asked about the correspondence with England in reference to this Bill, and the recommendations that had been accepted. He replied, “ We accept what suits us.”
– Hear, hear.
– Here we have the only supporter which the Government has in the Senate, cheering that statement.
– He is not the only supporter that the Government has in reference to that matter.
– The Minister did not say, “ We accept what we believe to be good and right for the Empire today,” but “What suits us.” They may be called the “ What-suits-us-Party.” In a very forcible passage, Carlyle said, “Injustice repays itself with frightful compound interest.” When he used that expression, he was commenting upon an act of in justice of a personal nature, of which Napoleon had been guilty in Germany ; and
Carlyle said that it would have been better for France and Napoleon if a whole French army had been swept away rather than that this great injustice should have been left to rankle in the minds of the Germans. We have been creating injustice after injustice, which must rankle in the minds of the people of India, and which must, sooner or later, bring about trouble foi the States of Australia. As to this Bill generally, I should like to read some introductory remarks made at the Navigation Conference by Mr. Lloyd-George. He said -
A good many questions have arisen in the working- of the New Zealand Shipping and Seamen’s Act 1904, and there are a good many questions for adjustment which have arisen under the Australian Navigation and Shipping Bill. ] understand that the New Zealand Shipping Act received the Royal Assent on the understanding that it should be considered at this Conference. The provision of these Acts of Parliament and the suggestions contained in the report to the Royal Commission on the Australian Navigation and Shipping Bill have caused some apprehension amongst British ship-owners lest those measures should impose on British ships in Colonial ports restrictions and requirements which might be inconsistent with those which are imposed by Imperial Legislation. These Imperial restrictions are very onerous in their character, and they are increasing in their burden practically from Act of Parliament to Act of Parliament. The burdens imposed upon the ship-owners in this country by Imperial legislation, I think I may claim to be the most onerous in the world, and the fact that British ship-owners- British shipping - has thriven in spite of them, is’ beyond all praise.
I draw particular attention to the reference to the New Zealand Act. Mr. LloydGeorge stated that he understood that the New Zealand Act received the Royal assent on the understanding that it was to be considered at the Conference. Senator Best assumed that because one or two clauses had the support of the New Zealand Act, to which the British Government had assented, therefore, it was to be accepted, and was good for Australia.
– The honorable senator thinks that it should be accepted for New Zealand, but denied to Australia.
– I do not say that, but the honorable senator, I suppose, was not quite cognisant of all the conditions. It is proper to read in connexion with that, a statement by Sir Joseph Ward. He said that the giving of the Royal assent to the Bill had been delayed for two years, and that makes me feel that the assent to this Bill, when passed, may be delayed for a good many more than two years.
– I think it is correct to say that the New Zealand Bill was onlyconsented to conditionally upon its being brought under review at the NavigationConference.
– Yes. I have been pointing out that while ‘ Senator Best relied upon the New Zealand Act to support some of his. statements, Sir Joseph Ward stated that he knew that there were objections to the Bill, and that the giving of the Royal assent had been delayed for two years, but he did not admit that it was given subject to a sort of review of the measure at the Conference. Notwithstanding that there -is the statement by Mr. Lloyd-George, and, I think, it does to. some extent weaken the reliance which Senator Best placed upon the New Zealand Act. Mr. Lloyd-George wound up his speech by saying -
I want you to take into account the difficulties oT our great international mercantile marine.
I think that the Senate, as a whole, will be inclined to do that. I now wish to draw attention to the memorandum submitted by the representatives of the British shipowners to the Conference. It is a very carefully drafted, and very moderately worded, statement of their views and position. As it occupies about four columns of this closely printed document, I think I ought not to read it all, but I recommend honorable senators to examine it carefully, as it contains a good deal of interesting information. Here is a passage which bears a good deal on an interjection made by Senator Guthrie this afternoon with regard to loss of life -
I think that those figures show a wonderful improvement of the position.
The British ship-owners, in submitting these points for the consideration of the Commonwealth, do not wish to minimize the importance of the consideration of safety and comfort onwhich the Royal Commission has laid so much stress, but they, believe that they are justified; in claiming that the British mercantile marine- is at the present time better equipped and better manned than it ever has been.
If British shipping is to maintain its hold upon the sen-borne trade of the world, it is essential that it should be managed on sound business lines. It must show reasonable security for the capital invested, and it must be made to yield a reasonable return on the investment, otherwise the capital will be diverted into safer and more profitable channels. Further, if the disasters which have overtaken the over-sea shipping of the United States are to be avoided, the British ship-owner must be allowed in his business to deal with its constantly-growing and varying requirements free from all unnecessary rules and regulations, the enforcement of which place the British vessels at a disadvantage with their foreign competitors on the high seas.
Rules and regulations are necessary to secure the safety of life and property at sea, but it is essential in dealing with a world-wide trade, that all such rules and regulations shall be not only reasonable in themselves, but also that they shall fix standards applicable to all ports and on all seas.
The ship-owners, as such, are not interested in questions of constitutional law, and they have no desire to conduct their business through the Law Courts. Therefore, in this memorandum, they have not attempted to deal with legal difficulties. They have assumed that it is the desire of all parties to the Conference to enable British ships, without distinction of register, to trade on fair and equitable terms in all British possessions.
In the interests of British shipping there should be : -
It is obvious that British ship-owners cannot carry on their business, or can only carry it on under grave disabilities if they have to comply with different and possibly conflicting requirements in every part of the Empire, and to pass in every British possession surveys in order to establish their compliance.
The position, even for liners regularly trading on a route between two parts of the Empire, would, at best, be harassing, whilst for last passenger steamers sailing on fixed dates which leave no margin of unemployed time, it would be impossible, except at the prohibitive cost of running additional steamers.
Liners constitute but a small proportion of British shipping. The larger proportion has no fixed route. Such ships on leaving the country of their register have frequently no programme beyond the first stage. Their owners cannot, therefore, provide for compliance with divergent standards when they are ignorant of the ports which their ships will visit.
Vessels engaged in the general carrying trade of the world, must of necessity be prepared, if they are to be worked to the best advantage, to accept employment wherever offered. This ability to go anywhere and accept all employment offering has, in the opinion of British ship-owners, been one of the most important factors in building up the British mercantile marine, and, by avoiding voyages in ballast, cheapening the cost of sea carriage.
I have read about one-fourth of the memorandum, and I ask honorable senators who desire to study and understand this very important question to take an early opportunity of reading the whole of it. Let me now draw attention to the annual meeting of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of the United Kingdom, which was held in London in April last. Their view is entirely distinct from that put forward by Senator Best to-day. He would have us to believe that the Bill, as it has been amended and submitted to us, is entirely in agreement with the resolutions of the Navigation Conference, but the Associated Chambers of Commerce of the United Kingdom do not think so. At their annual meeting, the following motion was moved by Colonel Coffey, of Liverpool -
That in the opinion of this Association legislation in Australia and other Colonies of the Empire affecting British ships owned in the United Kingdom should not, except as regards the coastal trade of the Colony, impose upon such ships any restrictions beyond those imposed upon them by the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act.
That seems to be reasonable. I shall content myself with reading one extract from the speech which Colonel Goffey delivered in support of the motion. After referring to the Conference, he said -
Following that Conference, a Bill was introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament last September, entitled a Bill for an Act relating to Navigation and Shipping, but he had no hesitation in saying that its terms practically ignored all that was agreed upon at the Con- ference.
The motion, I may say, was carried unanimously. Honorable senators would do well to bear carefully in mind the vast powers which are conferred by this measure on the Ministry of the day. For many years I have been saying that “ Government by regulation has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.” Instead of that, we have brought before us a Bill which increases government by regulation to an extent which was not dreamed of years ago. Even those very vital and serious provisions relating to the coasting trade are to be dealt with by the Minister. It is well to warn honorable senators that they must not be misled by the marginal references in the Bill.. It does not follow because we see the letters “ M.S. A. “ - an abbreviation for Merchant Shipping Act - placed in the margin, that a clause is in agreement with a provision of that Act. It is. only a slight reference to it. The interpretation clause contains two pages of definitions, and instead of these being arranged alphabetically, they are arranged in the loosest way possible, so that it is the easiest thing in the world for any one not to find a reference which he may require. The matter of desertion will have to be very carefully dealt with by the Senate. If, when the mail steamers come out here, some of their men choose to desert, and they are not to be liable to arrest for forty-eight hours afterwards, the vessels may be placed in a very awkward position, as the owners are under a penalty to perform their voyages to schedule time. If we permit men to leave the steamers, and have no power of speedy arrest, it is quite clear that the owners of the vessels may be put to great trouble. I think we should do well to alter the clause dealing with this matter, and at any rate to permit the power of arrest within twentyfour hours.
– The clause referred to is a very stringent one, because it gives the Superintendent power to prosecute after the ship has left port.
– With regard to the extended meaning of coastal trade, we know that under the United States law it covers the Philippines and the Sandwich Islands. But it is not many weeks since I saw a cable message to the effect that a Bill was to be brought in to remove the Philippines and the Sandwich Islands from the operation of the coastal laws of America. Every one will admit that that is a step in the right direction, and therefore the existing interpretation of coastal trade under the American Act ought not to be accepted by us as any encouragement to adopt a similar interpretation. I might extend my remarks on this Bill in many directions, and when in Committee I shall deal pretty fully with various aspects of it. I support very strongly Senator Millen’s request that we should retain possession of the Bill until the despatch arrives from the Home Government, which, a few weeks ago we were informed by cable, had been sent. I feel that to some extent we are guilty of discourtesy in discussing the matter even as we are now doing before the arrival of this despatch. Certainly the very least we can do is to retain the measure in the Senate until the despatch arrives, that it may be permitted to influence our final judgment as far as possible.
– There is evidently a conspiracy of silence on the other side. Surely something may be said in defence of this Bill.
– We have heard no criticism of it.
– There has been very damaging criticism of the measure, but we have heard no defence of it.
– We shall hear some damaging criticism now, no doubt.
– I am afraid there is not much to be added after Senator Millen has dealt with the measure. I express my deep regret, first of all, that the Government did not see fit to accept the invitation of the Right Honorable Alfred Lyttelton some years ago to enter into a Conference with a view to mutual legislation in the matter of navigation and shipping. Apparently Mr. Deakin did not answer the invitation at all until he had consulted with the late Mr. Seddon. At the time, Mr. Seddon had put forward his own Bill, and naturally did not wish to give it up. However, New Zealand and Australia were ultimately represented at a Conference, but Mr. Deakin’s principle of Australia for the Australians stood in the way all through, and as a result we now have a Bill submitted which in many respects is diametrically opposed to the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, and it must not be overlooked that the Merchant Shipping Act of 1904 has been greatly improved. A measure which is not definite cannot be a. satisfactory measure, and if everything is to be left to regulations or to be “as prescribed,” it cannot be said that our legislation is- definite. For that reason I hold that this is not a satisfactory Bill. There is too much dependence upon the Minister all through. Under clause 279 the GovernorGeneral may declare certain vessels British ships, and free from the coastal regulations, and under the next clause, as pointed out by Senator Millen, he may exempt certain other ships. That is very indefinite. Where is die policy of Parliament in so important a matter, if the Minister is given power to do this and that in dealing with questions of policy? It is one of the great blots on this Bill that under it the Minister is enabled to do pretty well as he likes. One clause provides for a Committee of experts, who are to judge as to this, that and the other, but the advantage of that provision is nullified bv another, saving that the Minister is not required to appoint such a
Committee, and need not carry out its recommendations should such a Committee be appointed. Where is the policy of Parliament expressed in such an indefinite provision ? It is a great blot upon this measure that so much should be left to be prescribed by regulation. If this method of prescribing everything is to be adopted, I should like very much to see provision made for the appointment of a Board or Committee, and if there are difficulties in the way of the appointment of a Board, I should rather that we adopted the practice of Canada in establishing a Department of Marine for the Commonwealth. In Canada it is provided that the Marine Department shall have a Deputy Minister of Marine appointed as supreme executive head of the Department, and the administration of the following matters is placed under the control of the Department -
It will be seen that in Canada there is a Government Department administering practically the whole of the business of the Mercantile Marine. There a Department which may be assumed to be an expert Department deals with all matters which arise from day to day in connexion with navigation.
– We shall have that here, too.
– Here we are to be ruled by the Minister, who in all probability will not be an expert. I do not believe that clause 417, which given control over seamen’s homes, is constitutional. I should like to know whether the Government intend to defend it. I nuestion whether we have anv right to go into Victoria or New South Wales, and say that this or that seaman’s home is not properly managed, and that until it is the sailor shall not live in it. However, that is a matter with which we can deal in Committee. I propose now to refer to the crew as prescribed by clauses 37 and 38, and I am glad that Senator Guthrie is present.
– I was hoping to hear the honorable senator.
– Senator Guthrie is quite satisfied with the crew asdefined in the coastal trade of Australia at the present time, because I find his name signed as for and on behalf of the P’ederated Seamen’s Union of Australia to an agreement with the Australasian Steamship Owners Federation.
– Is that the agreement commonly known as “Guthrie’s scale”?
– No doubt it is. The agreement to which I refer isabout a year old. In that agreement I find that the honorable senator assented to the following proposition -
A representative of the Federation and a representative of the Union shall meet and decide if any dispute should arise as to the manning of any vessel which arrived on the Australian, coast for the first time within six months immediately preceding the date of the agreement or of any vessel coming on the Australian coast for the first time after the date of this agreement.
In the event of their failing to arrive at a decision a Committee consisting of three representatives from the Federation and three from the Union shall meet and decide such dispute. It being clearly understood that, pending negotiations and the decision of this committee, such vessels will be manned under owners’ schedule.
I do not know whether the honorable senator is prepared to set aside that agreement, and accept another manning scale, affecting: the number of seamen, firemen, and greasers to be employed on coasting steamers. But there is no doubt that this agreement does not provide for the crew referred to in the second schedule of this Bill.
– Then so much the worse for the second schedule.
– Possiblv. I quite approve of the appointment of a Committee of experts to adjudicate upon the manning scale for ships, but it should be recognised that one Committee could not deal with the whole of Australia, because the conditions are verv different in different States. We must have local Committees comprised of local experts, as it is impossible to have a uniform manning scale applicable to the whole of Australia. The Navigation Commission went into that matter very carefully, and the minority on that
Commission, which was only in a minority of one, had this to say on the subject -
We recognise that the safety of ships was dependent among other things upon the crew which should not only be qualified by training and experience but adequate in numbers to discharge without being overtaxed the work in meeting the ordinary emergencies of a .voyage. In the evidence given before us we fail to find complaint of undermanning or overwork of a general character ; indeed with regard to the larger proportion of the employes their number in each vessel has been accepted as fairly satisfactory by their own representatives and by those of the employers.
They wound up by saying -
We cannot approve of a system showing such fluctuating results, and prefer that a committee representing the employers and employes and the Department which can take into consideration the structure. mechanism, and other matters which affect the requirements of a vessel, should decide the crew she shall carry. Such committee can also decide much better than any fixed formula the crew that should be temporarily carried before experience, of the vessel has provided data for a final decision.
It is very clear from the evidence before us that the requirements of a ship frequently vary. A vessel does not require the same crew each day - the same number of stokers and trimmers. Her rate of speed varies. She may be voyaging to England very quickly or she may be returning from that country very slowly. These considerations cause her requirements to vary from time to time. ,
– But the provision in regard to the consumption of coal will cover her varied requirements.
– The pro. vision relating to coal consumption is quite opposed to the section of the New Zealand Act, which is certainly liberal enough. All the evidence, I contend, goes to show that a manning scale cannot be equitablyadopted. As a result an expert witness proposed that a Committee should be appointed to adjudicate upon the requirements of each ship. Senator Millen has dealt with so many of the weak points of the Bill - and no reply has been vouchsafed - that I do not intend to reiterate his arguments. There is only one other matter with which I propose to deal, and it has reference to vessels employed upon our rivers and bays. The Bill requires these small vessels - vessels probably about 15 tons - to keep a log and to carry a certificated master. That, I contend, will inflict a decided hardship upon their owners. Quite a number of these vessels are engaged in carrying wood down the Huon
River, from Hobart. Are we going to insist that they shall keep a log and carry a certificated master, notwithstanding that they make their journeys backwards and forwards every second day? The idea is a monstrous one.
– They are the kind of craft which most frequently come to grief.
– As a matter of fact, very often they do not get out of sight of land. Their masters have a knowledge of their own business which qualifies them to safely navigate these vessels, and that should be sufficient. In Committee I shall endeavour to secure an alteration of the provision relating to these craft. In conclusion, I desire to say a word or two upon the clause dealing with desertion. The Bill provides that the absence of a seaman without leave for forty-eight hours shall constitute desertion. How is the captain of a vessel to know whether a seaman intends to desert or not within forty-eight hours? In Committee I shall move for the excision of the objectionable words, “after forty -eight hours.” If we do’ not provide for the return of deserters to their ships we shall have the free immigration of paupers to this country.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that we should do anything to the captain who compels his seamen to desert ?
– We ought to give the captain the assistance of the police. It ought not to be necessary for him to go before a magistrate and say, “ I saw a deserter from my ship going up Mount Wellington the other day, and I want you to help me to find him.”
– The Bill provides that the Crown shall prosecute deserters and that it shall pay the cost of the prosecution. What more does the honorable senator want?
– When a sailor gets his wages he usually goes away up country.
– More frequently he goes away without his wages.
– I wish that the honorable senator would prove his statement.
– As a rule, when he receives his wages, the sailor desires to have a spell upon shore. To my mind, we are being asked to legislate in the dark, and. to leave it to a Minister who is not an expert, and who is susceptible to all sorts of influences, to administer the Act. That, I think, is not in the best interests of the Commonwealth.
– Apparently, some members of the Opposition think that the debate upon the second reading of this Bill should be an extended one. Personally, I regard the measure as one the provisions of which should be threshed out in Committee, and it is for that reason that so many members of the Labour Party have refrained from discussing it. I agree with much that was said by Senator Millen regarding the difficulties which surround a Bill of this character. The fact that its provisions will be applicable to other than Australian vessels makes it a very difficult Bill to handle. But every precaution has been taken to obtain the fullest information regarding the position that we occupy, both from the stand-point of the Imperial connexion, and also from that of State rights. I can quite understand some difference of opinion arising in respect of the clauses which deal with British and foreign shipping. But we must bear in mind that a Royal Commission has exhaustively inquired into this question, and that subsequently its work was reviewed by an Imperial Conference which met in London, and upon which all the maritime t sections of the community were well represented.
– The difficulty is that the Government have not followed the unanimous decision of those two bodies.
– I question whether it would be possible for any Government to make a Bill of this magnitude harmonious in every respect. But we know that no pains have been spared to obtain all the information that is available upon this comprehensive subject. It now remains for this Parliament to do what it thinks best. I quite recognise that the Imperial Government, when they meet us in a representative sense, have every right fo put their views before us. But, having done that, I hold that the Commonwealth Government were justified in. resenting any communication emanating from an official Department of the British Government of a similar character to that which has been the subject of comment during this debate. After all the inquiries we have made into this question, I contend that the manner in -which a Board of Trade official comes into the picture is very reprehensible, and that the Prime Minister would have failed’ in his duty to the Commonwealth if he had’ not replied in the spirited manner in which, he did. What is the principal objection that has been urged to the Bill during the course of this debate? The leader of theOpposition seized upon one point of that correspondence, but left its cardinal features severely alone. I can quite understand the people of the United Kingdomresenting the imposition of any restrictionsupon British vessels by this portion of the. Empire. We know that for many years- - notwithstanding the popular clamour for an amendment of the Merchant Shipping Act - they successfully resisted all attempts to provide for the survey and inspection of foreign ships. Recently, however, they were obliged to give way upon these points, partly as the result of popular clamour,, and partly because of the unfair competition to which British ships were subjected.. If it had not been for that unfair competition, I very much question whether any alteration would have been made in the Merchant Shipping Act of the United” Kingdom. But, having amended that Act in regard to the load-line, &c, they were obliged to listen to -representations which have been made from time to time by parliamentary Committees and various other bodies. I quite admit that inspection is hateful to the employers in any industry, and especially to ship-owners.
– Factory owners objected to inspection at first.
– Inspection in* every line of industry has been resisted.
– Inspection in this case entails cost to the owners, ‘and all that they ask for is that the cost shall not be multiplied unnecessarily.
– To a large extent, we shall have to be guided by our officials in the administration of this measure, and’ I have yet to learn that Australian officials are inclined to inflict unreasonable conditions upon those with whom they come in contact.
– We do not propose to leave the officials any discretion.
– When the Bill was first brought before the Senate objections of this kind were made by a gentleman who is held in great respect for his opinions on legal and constitutional questions. I refer to the ex-leader of the Opposition, Senator Symon. He objected to certain clauses in the Bill because they were directed at foreign shipping. It was not a question of placing British shipping under any undue disadvantage. He was arguing that we had not the power to inspect foreign-registered ships.
– But Senator Symon admitted, in answer to an interjection of mine, that there was one class of ships that we could interfere with.
– He was verycontradictory in his speech, and notwithstanding his habitual acuteness, did not seem to be quite sure of his ground. I have re-read his speech recently to refresh my memory, and notice tha he contradicts himself severaj times on this very point.
– It is a very difficult question.
– But if we avoid questions because they are difficult, we shall never have a satisfactory law. We require to exercise some control over foreign shipping entering or leaving our ports in an unseaworthy state. I admit that there is a certain amount of ambiguity in the clauses of this Bill dealing with the subject. I am not satisfied that the provisions are based on sound principles. But they are founded to a large extent on the Merchant Shipping Act of Great Britain, and we cannot go very far wrong in following that piece of legislation, because shipowners are largely represented in the House of Commons, and their interests are likely to be well looked after by members of Parliament there. I have before mea copy of the latest Merchant Shipping Act of Great Britain, passed in 1906. I think that the report of our own Royal Commission exercised a considerable amount of influence on the Imperial Parliament when the Act was passed. I have been looking up the English Hansard reports, andfind that our Royal Commission’s report was referred to on several occasions. Several members of the House of Commons spoke very highly of it, especially the representatives of the sailors in England, who have been good enough to admit that our report did much to secure for the men engaged in the mercantile marine tetter legislation for improving their condition, and so forth. Regarding the detention of ships that may be unseaworthy, section 2 of the amending Act reads as follows -
Section four hundred and sixty-two of the principal Act (which relates-to the detention of foreign ships) -
Shall apply in the case of a ship which is unsafe by reason of the defective condition of her hull, equipments, or machinery, and accordingly that sec tion shall be construed as if the words “ by reason of the defective condition of her hull, equipments, or machinery, or “ were inserted before the words “ by reason of overloading or improper loading”; and
shall apply with respect to any foreign ships being at any port in the United Kingdom whether those ships take on board any cargo at that port or not.
The latter part of the section was put in to remedy a very grave defect in the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894. There was a power of inspection. But only those foreign ships were inspected which shipped cargo or passengers within a port of the King’s Dominions, or that were going to a port of the King’s Dominions. The amending Act gave power to inspect for the purpose of finding out whether a ship was seaworthy or not, no matter whether her cargo or passengers were shipped in any port of the King’s Dominions. That is to say, to-day the Merchant Shipping Act of Great Britain gives power to inspect any foreign ship. Formerly a foreign ship could enter any British port, and no matter how unseaworthy she might be, or how unsafely she might be loaded, she could not be inspected or interfered with if she came from a foreign port. That legislation had this effect. When many British vessels became inadequate to meet the requirements of the British Act they were registered as foreign ships, and the result was that a ship formerly on the British register could be entered on a foreign register, and could sail from a British port, provided she did not ship cargo or passengers from that port ; and she could continue in the foreign trade, and continue to be loaded unsafely without interference. As I have said, I quite agree with Senator Millen, that there is a certain amount of afnbiguity about clause 204, to which he drew attention. I admit that there is a slight difference between it and the British section which I have read. But I think it will be admitted that power should be taken under this Bill to apply the same provisionsas to inspection as are contained in the British Merchant Shipping Act, and that we should exercise control over ships leaving our control, at least to that extent. I quite agree that the manning basis of deciding whether a ship is seaworthy or not may have a conflicting effect upon the workinsr of this measure. But we have to bear in mind that whilst the Bill provides a manning basis, the matter is left very much to the committee. I agree with Senator Macfarlane and Senator Guthrie that this is an admirable arrangement, because ships differ so much in construction that it is utterly impossible to lay down any rule that can be applied to every imaginable vessel. What might be a fair manning basis for one ship might be altogether unfair for another.
– Is it not fixed by schedule ?
– A basis must be laid down. Of course, a certain number of officers have to be carried, according to the tonnage of the ship. As far as the stokehold and the engine-room are concerned, the basis is determined on the consumption of coal.
– Are there not laboursaving appliances in some ships?
– Undoubtedly. There is no industry in which, there have been so many changes as in shipping. Every day we see something new, either for the purpose of enabling ships to travel faster or for labour-saving. Therefore, a basis of manning that might suit one class of ship would be utterly unfit for another. The appointment of a committee representing all the interests involved is the best method of settling such points.
– The committee should be paramount.
– They should have responsibilities, otherwise there would be no use in appointing them. To appoint a committee, and give it no power would be a very foolish proceeding. There may, however, be a difference of opinion as to the extent of the power conferred. I have given some attention to this point, and must admit that I have not made up my mind as to how far we should go in conferring power upon the committee. But a certain amount of power must be given if the committee is to do work of any value whatever. Regarding some of the other objections that have been urged by Sir Walter Howell, I would point out that the Board of Trade officials have not fully acquainted themselves with the Australian position. Otherwise they would not in such an unqualified manner condemn some of the clauses in this Bill, of which they have shown disapproval.
– They merely point out objections.
– I am quite satisfied that had those officials been better seized of the facts, and the reason for the insertion of the clauses in the Bill, they would not have condemned them so strongly, or at all. If there is one of Sir Walter Howell’s points which is stronger than another, it is his condemnation of the clauses relating to advances. On the surface one would be inclined to think that there could be no serious objection to advancing a certain amount of money to a sailor shipping in Australia for a foreign voyage. One would think that a harmless procedure of that kind could be carried out without evil effects to any one concerned. But, as a matter of fact, there is nothing so much needed in our navigation law as the regulation of advance notes given to sailors at ports which are generally looked, upon as foreign ports in the trading sense. It has been stated by Senator St. Ledger that if we could show that captains of ships act unfairly to their seamen, and assist in causing their desertion, he would be prepared to help us. I think that I shall be able to quote sufficient evidence to secure his support of the clauses so far as they apply to the crimping operations which were revealed to the Commission at Newcastle. I believe that if the industrial history of Australia was searched, no page would be found so black as that which deals with this subject. In Newcastle, a state of affairs was revealed to us which it shocked us to think was possible in such a country as Australia, notwithstanding its industrial laws, and which should have been remedied years ago. It has existed so long that apparently those who are living on the traffic have lost all sense of shame, and do not fear the consequences which should follow the commission of such actions.
– The punishment has not been severe enough.
– There has been no punishment. On the contrary, there has been rather a premium offered for the continuation of the traffic. It has been not only encouraged, but also extended to classes whom one would not expect to be guilty of such wrong-doing. We had proof that at Newcastle captains entered into an arrangement with ‘ crimpers to take and supply men at so much per head. The crimpers arranged their business in such a way that the blood money went into the pockets of the crimpers and the captains. We had that evidence from witnesses whom I think no One would question or doubt.
– Did the Commission get any evidence as to the extent of the desertions at Newcastle?
– Is there any record of desertions kept?
– I do not remember whether or not a record is kept; but I believe that I am correct in saying that the number of desertions is greater at Newcastle than perhaps at all the other ports put together.
– How can the honorable senator show that if, as he says, no record of desertions is kept?
– The fact was so notorious that I did not think it was necessary to ask if a record was kept. I do not say that there is no record, because I do not know, but desertion was so. common there that nobody seemed to be surprised to learn that it was carried out in a wholesale fashion.
– Were not the shipowners cognisant of what was going on ?
– I do not think that, as a rule, the ship-owners knew very much about the matter.
– Do they let captains take the wages of sailors?
– I do not think that ship-owners generally would be parties to the robbing of seamen. I believe that it is a matter between the crimpers and the captains of foreign ships.
– Has not a captain to report as to any wages which have been forfeited? How can he put the money in his pocket without the owner knowing what he has done?
-I do not know whether the honorable senator, since his visit to England, has become so unsophisticated as ‘to believe that the reports of masters of foreign ships cannot be fixed up to get over that little difficulty. We know that arrangements have beenmade between a sailor and the captain which were perfectly illegal so far as the latter was concerned. It must be remembered that ships have to lie in Newcastle for some months. I have known ships to be lying there for nine months waiting for orders. Whilst a ship is at the port a seaman’s wages are running on, and it may be of interest to the captain, who may be a part-owner of the ship, to get rid of a man. He can save money in that way if he knows that his ship is likely to be at the port for say six months. But where that was not necessary, and a seaman had an inducement to remain on the ship because he had two years’ wages due to him, the captain made the position so warm that the poor fellow was very glad to clear out, and, asregards the wages, it was an easy matter for the captain to fix up a report for his owner.
– What about the receipt for the wages, which he is supposed to payin the presence of the Superintendent?
– In this Bill we want to provide that every transaction shall be carried out in the presence of the Shipping Master and the Superintendent. But that is not the case at the present time.
– It is supposed to be.
– Only in case of discharge.
– The arrangement can be fixed up on board the ship. It is not necessary in every instance to take the men to the Shipping Office. It is owing to that laxity that this traffic at Newcastle has been allowed to exist for so long a period. In support of the statements I have made, I propose to quote from the evidence of Mr. McVane, Sub-Inspector of Police at Newcastle, whose words I think will carry some weight with honorable senators, especially when they hear that he has occupied a responsible position at the port for a great many years, and exhibited a thorough grasp of the subject before the Commission - 20363. Do you mean to say that the captain of the ship and the boarding-master equally reap something out of it? - Yes. 20364. Out of the advance note, or something; else? - Out of the advance note and something else. 20365. The captain pays so much for supplying the men? - Yes. i understand he pays £x a head to the boarding-master to supply them, and then the boarding-master divides that £x with the captain afterwards. I presume the captain tells his owners on the other side that men were so scarce in Newcastle that he had to pay this money to get the ship away. 20366. Is that a general practice at this port? -Ielieve it is ; but it is very difficult to prove, because the captain is liable as well as the boarding-master. 20372. Why do seamen desert? - Sometimes, I suppose, they are induced to desert by these crimps, and sometimes things are made so miserable for them on board that they probably arc glad to get away. 20379. As far as the captain is concerned he shares in the supply money? - Yes, and often, no doubt, in the wages due to the deserting seamen.
There is no modification or qualification of those words.
– How did he know that ?
– What is the use of the honorable senator asking that question?
– In a previous sentence he said that he presumed something, and that is not evidence. He only believes that it occurred.
– If the honorable senator is going to question the evidence which I am reading, I shall be surprised.
– Oh no, I quite admit that sailors suffer a great deal of wrong, but what the honorable senator is reading is not evidence.
– It was given on oath by a witness who occupied a responsible position, and, who, being accustomed to weigh his words would not makea charge of that kind unless he had good ground.
– A little before that he said that he presumed that the captain did something.
– The honorable senator could scarcely expect a subinspector of police at Newcastle to produce proof of something which was done on the other side of the world. Let me now quote a member of the class who live on unfortunate seamen, and one who,a pparently. had lost all sense of shame. We had a boardinghouse-keeper underexamination for a verv long time. As his evidence is voluminous, I only propose to quote sufficient to give an idea of the practices of the traffic. Andrew Wafer boardinghousekeeper at Newcastle, said -
Any person can supply seamen in Newcastle, publicans or any one else. There are men here who have no house of any kind.
In Newcastle there are certain keepers of low hotels and boardinghouses who live on nothing but this traffic. In that port there a re crimpers who have not even a boardinghouse, let alone a hotel. Some of them have not a house of any kind, but they are engaged in the business, and, apparently, are doing very well. Let me point out their modus operandi. They pick up a seaman, put him in the Salvation Army Home, pay a fee of threepence to the home, take him out next morning, find a ship for “him, and bundle him off to sea. The blood money, of course, is divided between the captain and the crimper. That is an every day occurrence at the port.
– What power would the crimper have over the sailor next day ?
– If the honorable senator were familiar with the port of Newcastle, he would know that many of theseunfortunate sailors are foreigners, who are unable to speak much English, and without even threepence to pay for accommodation at the Salvation Army Home. When a man has fallen so low as that he is ready to clear out at any price. I am referring to. the work of engaging seamen, and to the practice under which a captain enters into m agreement with a crimp to pay £1 per head for seamen supplied. It is said that the blood money, as it is called, is divided between the two. A witness said -
If men from British ships were paid off in British ports it would do away with very much of this crimping.
Sir Walter Howell seems to think, and I believe it is the prevailing opinion in the Old Country, that to pay off seamen in any other port than a home port is to encourage desertion. Witnesses whom we examined at Newcastle were of a contrary opinion. They seemed to think that if seamen on British vessels were paid a certain amount of their wages in British ports there would be less desertion than there is at the present time. Here is the opinion of a boardinghousekeeper named Edward Watson -
Ships come here and may be here for a couple of months. Their seamen may have£10 coming to them in wages, but the captain gets rid of them by giving them£1 and their discharge, and keeps the £9 for himself. There is less desertion from foreign ships than from British ships. The foreigner gets a percentage of his wages when he leaves at a port; the Britisher gets little or none, except at the will of the captain. There are more desertions from British ships here than f rom any other.
That is the evidence of a man who speaks with a full knowledge of the trade. I might quote from many other witnesses, but I should especially like to quote some evidence given by Dr. Doyle, of Newcastle a gentleman whom I know personally, and who is recognised to be one of the whitest men in that port.
– He is a brother of Sir Conan Doyle, the novelist.
– I was not aware of that, although I have known him for some time. Dr. Doyle has been resident in Newcastle for many years ; he was a surgeon at sea, and understands sea life. I regard his evidence as very valuable.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I quote the following evidence given by Dr. Doyle -
Seamen coming to this port are entirely at the mercy of the captain, and no matter how much is due to them in wages they are not allowed to go on shore and buy goods at any shop or where they wish. They must get an order from the captain. All kinds of tradesmen send touts on board the ships, from the laundress to the doctor, and the seaman must go to the shopkeeper or professional man that the captain arranges with, and the consequence is that the seaman does not get a fair deal. There ought to be appointed at a port like this a Protector of Seamen, whose duly it would be to inquire and make provision for paying off the men.
In view of the fact that the Board of Trade has made a request to us to permit the continuation of advance notes, I direct special attention to this evidence given by Dr. Doyle -
I think the whole incentive to crimping is to bc laid to the charge of the advance note.
In other words, if we took the profit, in this trade out of it the traffic would soon cease. That is certainly the opinion 1 formed from the evidence we heard at Newcastle. Several other witnesses were examined there whose views should carry weight, amongst them Mr. Hannell, who was shipping master at Newcastle for a very long time, and Mr. Goding, Consul for the United States of America at that port. As a very large number of American boats call in there he is familiar with the trade of the port, and knows something of the traffic in crimping. He mentioned, amongst other things, that he knew of men who had been charged £I by boardinghousekeepers for staying ten minutes in their houses. He said - lt is a matter of frequent occurrence for men to bc shanghaied and taken to ships apparently lo go to one port when they were bound for another.
– What is the meaning of *’ shanghaied ?”
– The taking of men on board a ship when they are under the influence of drink, and cannot understand where they are going to, and scarcely realize that they are again on board, until the ship has got to sea. This witness mentioned the way in which sailors were robbed of their wages, and referred to a case in which twelve men, w-ho had ,£40 due to them, received only £2 each. The witnesses examined at Newcastle were representative of all sections of the community, and there was a remarkable unanimity in their condemnation of the crimping traffic carried on in that port. I see no way of abolishing the traffic if the advance note system is continued, because, until it is rendered unprofitable, it will bo continued. I hope that the Senate will make short shrift’ of this matter, and will agree to the provision dealing with it as it stands in the Bill. I must express my astonishment that clause 99 should find a place in any Bill introduced in such a Parliament as this. If an appropriate marginal note for the clause were to be adopted, I should suggest a very different one from that which is now attached to it. The marginal note in the Bill is “ Assaults on crews,” and the clause provides that -
The master or an officer of a ship who without lawful justification assaults any person belonging to the ship shall be guilty of an offence.
If ever there was an invitation to do something, which we might have expected an attempt would be made to prevent, it is contained in this clause.
– What is “ lawful justification?”
– It is a wonderful term, as used in a clause of this kind, and, I think, a more appropriate marginal note for the clause would .be, “ Do not nail his ears to the pump,” or something of that kind. This is a .measure dealing with one of the most difficult callings in which to prevent assault. When a ship is at sea, far away from the restraint of recognised authorities, we should be very jealous of the power we place in the hands of any officer having control of men. I regard this clause as an invitation to a brutal captain, or pugilistically inclined officer, to practice upon those under him.
– The words of the New Zealand Act are the same, with the exception of the words, “ without lawful justification.”
– The omission makes all the difference.
– Legally, it does not make any difference. .
– I am not prepared to argue the legality of the matter with Senator Dobson, but, in my opinion, the clause, as it stands, is an invitation to an officer, if he should think fit, to flog any man under him, and his olea, when charged with an offence, “would be that he had received “ lawful justification.”
– He would have to prove that he had received “ lawful justification.”
– The best way to deal with such a clause is to wipe it out altogether. We should take no risks in such a matter. To leave it in the Bill is to invite almost any kind of disorder on board ship. If we are going to agree to a clause of that kind, let us also embody in the Bill a provision which will have the effect of putting the seamen upon a similar footing. Let us provide that a fireman must not without “ lawful justification “ assault an officer with a shovel. If’ the master or other officer of a vessel is to be a law unto himself, let all parties start upon a fair basis, but do not let us give to an officer a privilege which we refuse to extend to a seaman.
– The New Zealand law provides that if the master or mate “ wilfully assaults “ a seaman, he shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment.
– He could not be guilt’ of an assault if his act was not “ wilful.” There is not much in the contention either one way or the other.
– I contend that the clause, in the form in which it stood in the original Bill, was ample to meet all requirements. I hope that we shall strike out the new provision, which has probably been suggested by the Board of Trade.
– The Board suggested the qualification.
– It is quite worthy of that body. I now desire to direct attention to that portion of the measure which relates to the accommodation which must be provided for seamen. The first Bill dealing with this subject made far from satisfactory provision in this connexion. Under it the accommodation upon vessels might have been fit for human beings, or it might have been the reverse. We all recognise that upon modem vessels there is much to admire. When we step aboard an up-to-date passenger steamer we almost feel that we are in a palatial hotel. ‘ The cabins are roomy and well ventilated, the saloons are luxurious in the extreme, and there are usually splendid promenade decks. In “short, from the stand-point of the passengers, everything necessary has been provided. But if we chose to examine the accommodation set apart for the seamen in the forecastle, we should probably find that a very different condition of things prevailed. A man who is compelled to do laborious work in the stokehold has frequently to live in a dirty cabin which’ is more fit for a dog than for a human being. Under the original Bill the space allotted to each seaman was the miserable allowance of 72 cubic feet. I am pleased to notice that this measure provides for 120 cubic feet.
– It provides for 120 cubic feet and for baths and mess rooms.
– They are essentials in a modern steam-ship. Where the great majority of our mercantile vessels consisted of sailing ships, of course, 72 cubic feet afforded a greater degree of comfort to the, average seaman than it doestoday. A sailor working amongst the rigging or on deck all day does not knock off in the dirty state which characterizes the man in the stokehold. The latter, who is invariably begrimed with smoke and dust, should certainly be afforded the means of observing ordinary rules of cleanliness.
– All modern ships now provide more than 72 cubic feet of space per man.
– Only since the Act of 1906 was passed. The Navigation. Commission received complaints in reference to the accommodation provided in the British mercantile marine from all and sundry. If in the future our seamen are provided with the accommodation that is contemplated under this Bill, they will, be able to conform to the laws of decency and cleanliness much better than they have been able to do hitherto. There is another aspect of this question to which I desire to direct attention. Any person who has visited the stokehold of a steamer must have realized the high temperature which invariably obtains there. Very often the heat is so overpowering that it is impossible for a man to do a decent day’s work. But in a ship which is well ventilated - and I am pleased to say that we have some such vessels on the Australian coast, notably the turbine steamer Loongana - the firemen are able to do a much better day’s work. Upon the Loongana mechanical contrivances have been adopted for the ventilation of the stokehold. These contrivances can be installed at comparatively small cost. No great outlay is necessary to generate the requisite electricity with which to drive fansfor the purpose of extracting the hot air from the stokeholds of vessels. It is time that we insisted upon the installation of these mechanical contrivances, and I am quite sure that ship-owners themselves would no* regret the step, because they would be more than compensated for the extra expenditure to which they would te subjected. This reform is more necessary in Australia than it is elsewhere. We all recognise that in the colder climates, the stokeholds of vessels are not as warm as they are in our warmer latitudes, where, at the best of times, the heat is very trying to the stokers. If we decide to base our manning scale upon the coal consumption of vessels, we certainly ought to differentiate in favour of the warmer latitudes as against the more temperate regions. Another question to which I wish to draw attention has reference to our wharf labourers. As a class, these men have been more neglected from a legislative standpoint than has any other section of the workers. Further, no class of workmen is subjected to keener competition, and particularly is this the case at big ports such as Melbourne and Sydney. Every individual who is unemployed appears to think that he has a right to enter into competition with those who make labouring upon our wharfs their regular calling. Some discrimination ought, I think, to be made in favour of the latter. As a matter of fact, most of the accidents which occur in the loading and unloading of vessels is due to the employment of novices. The accident funds of some trade unions are kept depleted by. the casualties which occur through the employment of men who are unfamiliar with this class of work. .
– Is that matter within the scope of this Bill ?
– I think so. Certain portions of the Bill deal with the handling of cargo and its proper stowage. If it be right that we should legislate in regard to the proper stowage of cargo, it is equally our duty to see that that cargo is handled in such a way as not to endanger fife. Upon the mines of New South Wales, and more particularly the coal mines, the accident funds are financed by a royalty system which obviates the necessity for taxing the miners to provide for their wounded comrades.-
– That circumstance does not touch the question of incompetency.
– But it provides a remedy when an accident does occur. The Navigation Commission took a deal of evidence from wharf labourers who urged that something should be done in this direction with a view to relieving them from the heavy financial strain to which they are now subjected. They argue that the industry should provide for the workmen who are injured in it.
– The union, not the owners, selects the men.
– Unfortunately, that is not so. If it were, I should have no complaint to make. The unions have no say in the selection of the men. They may have a say as to who shall become members of unions, but that is quite different. The proposal that I have mentioned is so eminently fair to all concerned that I trust it will be supported. The Commonwealth and the ship-owners, as well as the men, should, in equity, contribute towards bear: ing this burden, which ought not to be placed entirely upon the workers. I have one other remark to make, and it is in regard to live stock that is carried on passenger vessels engaged in the coastal trade. When travelling between Western Australia and the eastern States I have noticed the deplorable condition of steerage passengers in this regard. Often there is no room for them to walk about on account of the live stock carried on deck. This is not only a source of danger, but, from the point of view of health and comfort, an evil that should be remedied or controlled.
– Substituting pigs for cattle, the same state of affairs exists on the south coast of New South Wales.
– I have observed women suffering from sea-sickness, who, when they came on deck to get a little fresh air, had to squat or sit about in proximity to cattle, sp that their sickness was aggravated. I can mention a case in point. The Arawatta, a well-known steamer on the northern run, came into collision with another vessel. Owing to the number of cattle carried on deck, the sailors had the greatest possible difficulty in getting to the boats. This created quite a panic, and it looked as if things were going to be very dangerous indeed. It required a great effort to control the people, but, at length, the panic was calmed down, and something like order was restored. We ought to try to remedy that state of things, and to make regulations so that cattle may not be allowed to get in the way of passengers or of the sailors engaged in working a ship.. I have a few amendments to propose when the Bill gets into Committee, and I hope that my fellow senators will recognise the justification for them, and will give to them that support which is essential if they aTe to be placed on the statute-book.
– I am pleased that this Bill has at length been placed before us for consideration. It has been looked for by seamen with a great deal of anxiety for a very long time. Although it was not dealt with last session, I think that there was good reason for going slow with a measure that will undoubtedly have far-reaching results. A large number of people and a few journals are always ready to take advantage of an opportunity of scoffing at the Commonwealth when it is found that our legislation is declared invalid, or when our efforts to legislate do not find their way to the statute-book. I do not wish to see the Commonwealth Parliament passing legislation which is ‘ afterwards successfully challenged, nor do I desire to see our efforts expended upon legislative proposals which do not become law. Although, therefore, this Bill has been sadly wanted, still the utmost caution is warranted in’ order that we may pass a measure that will not only confer the advantages which are anticipated, but will endure as a piece of legislative work. Owing to the character of the Bill, it is one which can be more conveniently handled in Committee. It will require; careful dissection at that stage. Consequently, discussion on the motion for the second reading is to Some extent superfluous. I notice the absence from the Bill of a clause empowering the Commonwealth to take into its service ships engaged in the coasting traffic in times of emergency.
– Would not that be better dealt with in the Defence Bill?
– In a measure dealing particularly with shipping, I expected to find a clause empowering the Commonwealth Government to seize any ships engaged in the coastal trade for use as auxiliary cruisers in time of war.
– I think that the honorable senator will find a section in the Defence Act empowering the Government to commandeer anything in an emergency.
– I hope that that is so, because it is only proper that the Commonwealth should have power to avail itself of ships engaged in the coasting trade if we are ever placed in so unfortunate a position as to require for naval purposes the services of our mercantile marine. I do not suppose that the Vice-President of the Executive Council win claim that this is a perfect measure. It has been collected from many sources. The New Zealand Act, the British Merchant Shipping Act, and the Acts of the several States have been drawn upon largely, with the object of making this a workable measure. We have many interests to consider. We have to consider the interests of foreign ships trading with the Commonwealth, and of British ships, which do the bulk of our trade with foreign countries, as well as the local vessels that are continually on our. coast. These conflicting interests have to be minutely analyzed, and at the same time we have to bring forth a measure that will preserve a balance of equity between the varying interests. It is natural that a Bill collected from’ so many sources should not be perfect from, its inception ; and I must confess that my study of it leads- me to think that it cam be considerably improved. Senator Millen made pointed reference to the nonobservance of resolution 9, passed by the Imperial Conference. But I think that if he reads the correspondence on the subject, together with the reports, he will find that the Conference came to a unanimous decision with reference to ships employed: on our coasting trade and ships registered in Australia being entirely subject to the law of the Commonwealth.
– That was a resolution of which I approved.
– But the honorable senator found fault with the Government.
– For saying that the resolution meant something else.
– Mr. Deakin takes, the resolution as it stands. It sets forth clearly that ships registered in Australia, and ships engaged in our coasting trade, should be absolutely subject to Commonwealth law. Furthermore, in denning the coasting trade, the Conference, which was composed of representatives of shipowners in Great Britain, agreed that foreign-going ships, if they engaged in our coasting trade, carrying passengers from port to port, should be subject to our law. There was no murmuring against that resolution.
– The objection comes in when Mr. Deakin says that the resolution, which was limited to Australian coasting vessels, should be made applicable to others.
– It appears to me that resolution 9 is carried out as reasonably as possible in this Bill. The meaning of the resolution is plain. Tt approves of the Commonwealth legislating for ships re- gistered in Australia, and also for ships engaged temporarily in the coasting trade - such as the vessels of the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient companies.
– Does the honorable senator think that the resolution covers foreign-going ships not engaged in the coasting trade ?
– I do not think so.
– Mr. Deakin says that it does.
– Clause 37 of the Bill is exclusively confined to the manning of ships registered in Australia and engaged in our coasting trade. It does not say that our manning scale shall apply to foreigners. It is the honorable senator who has put that interpretation upon the Bill. He also took exception to clause 23. He said that it, too, was at variance with the intention of the Navigation Conference, and I interjected that it might have been taken from the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894.
– I did not take any exception to the clause, but merely wanted to know to what vessels it would apply.
– The honorable senator quoted the clause specially, and said that its appearance in the Bill did not reconcile itself with the intention of the Navigation Conference. I suggested that it might have been taken from the Imperial Statute. Now, section 92 of the Imperial Statute happens to be identical with the clause of which the honorable senator complains. It provides -
I f any person -
– To what ships does that section apply?
– To every British foreign-going ship, and every British homertrade passenger ship.
– That is to say, the Imperial Parliament legislated for their own
– The very clause to which the honorable senator took exception has been taken bodily from the Imperial Act, and what was good enough for the Imperial authorities ought to be good enough for the Commonwealth.
– I did not take any exception to the clause. The Imperial Parliament legislated for their own ships, but in clause 23 of this Bill the Government are seeking to legislate for those ships.
– The honorable senator also referred to the seaworthiness of ships, and was rather inquisitive as to what standard would be applied. According to my reading of the Bill, it is rather difficult to understand what standard can be applied, but I am sure the honorable senator will not contend that the Commonwealth authorities should allow any ship to depart which is not properly manned. Is he prepared to take up that attitude?
– No ; but what is “ properly manned “ ?
– In the schedule there is a minimum scale laid down for the manning of ships, and one with which I am not by any means in accord. But my point is that, while the honorable senator objects to the appearance of clause 23 in the Bill-
– I do not.
-I am sorry to think that the impression was left not only on my mind, but also that of other honorable senators, that the honorable senator actually complained of the appearance of the clause in the Bill.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Seeing that the honorable senator would not allow any foreign or British ship to leave our ports without our superintendents being satisfied that they carried an adequate number of men, I want to know what his attitude is, or why he finds an objection to this clause, which provides for the very thing which he desires?
– I found no objection to the clause. What I wanted to know and asked was what standard the honorable senator would apply in determining whether a ship was properly manned, and I got the answer that he would apply to all ships, British and foreign, the Australian standard.
– That remains to be determined in Committee and I hope that it will be clearly provided that no ship shall be allowed to leave an Australian port unless she has an adequate number of men to man her on her voyage.
– If she has a Board of Trade certificate, what would the honorable senator do?
-In that case I should do what is provided for in the Bill, and that is, accept the Board’s certificate as long as the Minister was satisfied that therewas no necessity for a survey, and in doing so we should be following the example which is set by the Imperial authorities, because they subject foreign ships to the same inspection, and the same overhaul as their own ships. That is very clearly set forth in the correspondence.
– If they are satisfied with the manning, why should we be dissatisfied ?
– They give no certificate as to manning.
– A Board of Trade certificate is issued to home-trade ‘passenger or immigrant boats, but so far as cargo ships are concerned there is no such certificate issued at all.
– For a survey there is.
– There is no Board of Trade certificate, so far as British cargo boats are concerned.
– Any ship carrying less than twelve passengers does not require a surveyor’s certificate.
– A lot of talk has been indulged in about the need for the Australian people to extend every consideration, within reason, to the shipping interests of the Old Country. I am not inclined to place the shipping interests of the Old Country before the shipping interests of the Commonwealth. Considering how the former have treated the Australian people, I believe that they are deserving of very little consideration at our hands. Up to the present time they have done very much better out of the people of Australia than the latter have done out of them.
– That is a great mistake.
– Has it not been mutual ?
– I do not think so. I am supported by a very weighty authority, in the opinion that the people of Australia .have contributed much more than their fair share towards the dividends of British ship-owners. It is our duty first of all to look after our own ship-owners and our own seamen.
– And if at the same time the honorable senator could incidentally hamper the British ship-owners, he would do so willingly.
– No. I shall not allow the honorable senator to put such words into my mouth. In view of their past treatment of the people of Australia I am’ not prepared to give any extra consideration to the British ship-owners.
– In what way have they treated the people of Australia badly?
– For the last twenty years we have been paying to the British ship-owners for the carriage of our merchandise no less than £l a ton more than, we should have paid.
– Is that simply a statement, or can the honorable senator prove it?
– It is not a statement; it is taken from an address which, was delivered to the Melbourne ‘Chamberof Commerce - a reputable body I presume,and one which in every way commends, itself, to honorable senators opposite. I believe that they regard whatever comes from that august body as nothing; short of Gospel. I propose to quote apassage from the inaugural address of the late Hon. Robert Reid to the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce. His namewill be a guarantee that anything he states, in this connexion is the truth, and nothingbut the’ truth. Referring to the treatment of Australian people by British, shipowners during the last twenty years, hesaid -
At the present time the contract prices for the carriage of butter and’ ment are far beyond’ those which would yield a handsome profit tothe Shipping Union ; and it may be necessary for the merchants to combine with the Government, and pass over these combinations by mutual1 agreement, and, by calling for tenders for aperiod of years, secure certain rates both for outward and inward cargoes. This course has been adopted for many years by the Calcutta and Bombay Indian native merchants for all’ goods shipped from Liverpool and Manchester, and average about 21s. 6d’. per ton. Whiletwenty years ago it was considered by shipowners that 27s. 6d’. was a fair thing from Great Britain to Australia, since the Conferenceor combination of brokers, who simply limit thenumber of ships placed on the berth, they haveby a cunning system of rebates, maintained a freight rate which has averaged 47s. 6d. for thepast twenty years.
Speaking as a man of experience, he said’ that for the last twenty years the peopleof Australia had been paying 20s. a tonmore than they should’ have been paying to British ship-owners. What has beenhappening on the other side of the case?” The expenses of ship-owners have not been increasing. In the minority report of theNavigation Commission it is set forth very 4 plainly that for the last fifty or sixty year’sthe cost of manning and’ working the shipshas been gradually decreasing. They report that according to Board of Tradereturns the number of men per 100 tons– required to man steam-ships was as follows : - 7.69 in 1854, 6.47 in i860, 4.35 in 1870, 2.95 in 1880, 2.73 in 1890, and 2.27 in 1909. It is very clearly shown that for the last twenty or thirty years the reduction in the cost of working steamships has been marked.
– No, that relates to only one branch of the cost - to the manning. There are other costs, but the honorable senator will not see them.
– What a flimsy pretext for the honorable senator to put forward. These figures cover one of the principal items in the running of a maritime carrying trade. It is clearly shown that according to Board of Trade returns from 1870 to 1900, the cost of running steam-ships has decreased by a shade less than 100 per cent., whereas on the other side of the account the cost of carrying the goods to Australia during that period has actually increased by 20s. a ton.
– Had wages gone up in that time?
– My present concern is to show that the cost of running vessels has been decreased by over 95 per cent., whereas, according to the report by Mr. Reid, the freight on goods from England to this country has been increased by 20s. per ton during the same period. So that when we are considering the claims of the shipping interest in the Old Country, I say that, in view of the way in which those engaged in the industry have treated the Australian people in the past, they are not entitled to any more consideration than is compatible with the preservation of our own interests.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the Orient Steam Navigation Company has not for ten years paid more than 2J per cent. ?
– Will Senator Puisford say how much the company carried forward to capital in that time?
– Practically nothing.
– Do the honorable senator’s figures include engineers?
– Senator Millen also took exception to clause 279, which confers power on the Governor-General to exempt ships engaged in our coasting trade. Of course, the honorable senator’s argument was directed to show that in this matter Western Australia was entitled to no special consideration. I confess that I should much .prefer to be in a position to make no request to this Parliament for special consideration for the State from which I come, but I believe that the exceptional’ position which that State occupies is such as to warrant the Federal Parliament extending to her some reasonable treatment. While Senator Millen strove to minimize the claims put forward on behalf of Western Australia, I think he did not give due consideration to the serious influence which the Shipping Combine is able to exercise upon the progress of that State.
– What is Western Australia asking for?
– It is claimed that, isolated as Western Australia is, without railway communication with the other States, and having to depend for communication with them upon a steamer leaving every week, or at even longer intervals, it is only fair that this outlying portion of the Commonwealth should be given some concession which would put her upon the same plane as States that are linked together by railway systems.
– Would the honorable senator put the steamers of the BritishIndia line on the same footing?
– In Western Australia we have to depend for communication with the eastern States upon the Shipping Combine, and how are they behaving towards us ?
– How are they behaving to the whole of the States? They are not treating Western Australia one bit worse than New South Wales. Does the honorable senator desire that they should have a monopoly on the coast of New South Wales, and should be compelled to face competition in trading wife Western Australia ?
– Surely Senator Millen must recognise that the railway systems of the eastern States operate as a healthy corrective upon the depredations of the Shipping Combine ? I admit that I have used a strong word, but it is not stronger than the occasion warrants.
– All the ships on the coast are not in the Combine.
– How many are outside?
– The ships of the Melbourne Steam-ship Company are outside.
– I believe that the eastern States derive much more benefit from the trading of the Melbourne Steamship Company than does Western Australia. Senator Millen has said that other States of the Commonwealth are subjected by the Shipping Combine to the same kind of treatment that Western Australia suffers from. I meet that argument by saying that 01 the eastern side of the Continent there is a network of railways which mav be taken advantage of to keep the Shipping Combine within reasonable bounds.
– Not a bit of it.
– I propose to quote some figures to show that there is more than a bit of it.
– I hope thev will differ from the figyres which the honorable senator has just given us.
– Senator Gray means that the honorable senator should not quote the figures of the Chambers of Commerce, because he does not trust them.
– The figures I propose to quote have not been obtained from the Chambers of Commerce, but they are authentic, and they show that the railways linking together the eastern States operate as an appreciable corrective in keeping the Shipping Combine within reasonable bounds, and in compelling them to quote freights on the eastern side of the Continent which they would not quote if they had not those railways to compete against. I propose to quote figures supplied by the head of an important engineering firm in Melbourne to show that railway freights compare most favorably with freights charged by the Shipping Combine. I submit these figures to enforce my contention that, so far as Western Australia is concerned, there is no serious competition to be faced by the Shipping Combine, and that to that extent the people of that State are handicapped.
– Does the honorable senator believe that there is effective competition in the eastern States?
– I do.
– Then how is it that the local Combine has secured such a hold in the eastern States, and is as strong on the eastern coast as on the western?
– I believe that reasonable competition with the Shipping Combine in the eastern States is afforded by the railway systems by which those States are linked together. Some time ago the manager of the. Austral Otis Company, an important engineering firm in Melbourne, received -an order from the Broken Hill mine to supply fifty concentrating tables. He found on inquiry that they would weigh 35 cwt. each. After he received the order, as a prudent business man, he inquired into the best and cheapest means to land the tables at Broken Hill. He found that the shipping companies operating on the coast wanted£10 per table for taking them from Melbourne to Port Pirie, or £500 for transporting the fifty tables.
– What did the honorable senlator say that they weighed?
– Thirty-five cwt. each.
– And the shipping companies wanted £10 for taking 35 cwt. from Melbourne to Port Pirie. Surely there is some mistake?
– These figures may open the honorable senator’s eyes to what we have to suffer in the West.
– There is not much sign of competition in that rate of freight.
– The manager of the company considered the freight quoted rather over the mark, and he then inquired what it would cost to transport those concentrating tables from Melbourne to Broken Hill by rail. He found that it would cost £12 8s. 4d. To complete the comparison, it is necessary to give the freight on one of these tables from Port Pirie to Broken Hill. That would have been £6 6s. 2d., which would have made the total freight by steamer to Port Pirie and by railway to Broken Hill £16 6s. 2d.
– What is the mileage in each case?
– I am not concerned with the mileage.
– The mileage is everything.
– The mileage was not everything; but it was everything to the manager of the engineering firm to discover the cheapest means of landing his concentrating tables at Broken Hill.
– I understand that the figures indicate that it was cheaper to take these goods by rail from Melbourne to Broken Hill than by sea to Port Pirie and thence by rail to Broken Hill.
– That is so. The difference in cost was about £4 per table, or. a difference of£200 in a contract for the transport of the fifty tables. It will be seen from the experience of this Melbourne manufacturer that the people of Western. Australia are in a very awkward position, in being almost entirely dependent upon the steamers of the Combine for their communication with the eastern States. We have no railway communication with the east to compete with the Shipping Combine, and I have shown that railway communication in the case to which I have referred made a difference of something like £4 in the freight on concentrating tables from Melbourne to Broken Hill.
– What the honorable senator’s figures have proved is that the competition of the railways was not sufficient to bring the shipping charge down, because the shipping charge was higher than the railway charge.
– There are none so blind as those who will not see. I have given figures which can be verified at any time, and, on the carriage of these tables to Broken Hill, there was a saving of £4. per table by transporting them over the socialistic railway lines as compared with the freight which would have had to be paid if they had been taken by the Combine steamers to Port Pirie, and thence by rail to Broken Hill.
– Does the honorable senator say that they could be transported to Western Australia as cheaply if the transcontinental line were built?
– I am trying only to show that people in the eastern States of the Commonwealth have an advantage which is not possessed by Western Australia, and which that State can never hope to have until the railway connecting it with the eastern States is built. In the circumstances, I believe that the people ot Western Australia are entitled to expect that this Parliament will agree to pass clause 279, because without it they would be handicapped as against the people of the eastern States.
– The same concession should be extended to all the States if it is extended to Western Australia.
– I should like to see some amendment of the Bill in connexion with the qualification of officers. It makes provision for first-class engineers and marine engine-drivers. According to my reading of the measure, a third-class engineer might sometimes be called upon to work side by side with, or to relieve, a marine engine-driver, and it is not likely to be conducive to discipline, or to raise the status of the marine engineer’s calling, that any such officer as a marine enginedriver should be provided for in the Bill. It is provided, also, that an A.B. must be qualified by three years’ service, and a term of service is fixed for apprentices; but the Bill makes no mention of the qualifications required for a marine enginedriver or a third-class engineer. That is left to regulation. I object to that very much, because if it is necessary to provide in the Bill the term of service of an A.B., it is equally necessary that the qualifications required for officers in the engineering department, whether third-class engineers or marine engine-drivers, should be set forth in the Bill. The provision conferring power on the Governor-General to exempt foreign ships from obtaining licences in the coastal trade is, in my opinion, a most objectionable one. Clause 289 empowers the Ministry pf the day to exempt any foreign ship which may be trading upon our coast from the necessity of taking out a licence. Now that wehave made up our minds to protect our shipping from unfair competition it would be most unwise to vest any Ministry with such a power. When the Bill reaches the Committee stage it will need to be recast with a view to providing that foreign ships, trading between the Commonwealth, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, and other portions of the South Sea Islands shall conform to the same conditions as Australian ships.
– Would the honorable senator regard trade with those places as “coastal trade”?
– I certainly would.
– But the Pacific is open to the shipping of the world.
– If my honorable friends were the owners of ships trading to the places I have mentioned they would consider that they were very badly treated if any tramp vessel were permitted to engage in the same trade without being obliged to comply with similar conditions. The clause as it stands is not a, fair one. The Bill’ contains nothing to prevent a foreign ship from coming here and entering into the trade between the Commonwealth and Fiji’, New Caledonia and the South Sea Islands-
– Does the honorable, senator want that trade?
– I certainly do.
– The honorable senator’s votes upon the Tariff did not suggest it.
– The Tariff, I am happy to say, has been disposed of. The best way of regaining our hold upon the trade with the South Sea Islands is by giving shipowners engaged in that trade a fair chance by compelling their competitors to observe similar conditions to those which they themselves are called upon to observe. To that end I suggest the insertion in the Bill of some words which will provide that vessels engaging in any trade in which Australian ships are engaged shall observe similar conditions. In the absence of such a provision foreign ships will be at liberty to engage in that trade and to pay their crews only £3 or £4. per. month, or any other scale that they may choose to adopt. That would be a most inequitable condition of things. I regret that the provisions of the Bill, so far as accommodation is concerned, are not to apply to existing ships. Clause 135 sets out that if ships built prior to the passing of this measure are found to be in an insanitary condition, the Minister shall see that they are forthwith placed in a sanitary condition. But in respect of these vessels no provision is made for the accommodation of the crews. A large number of these ships are engaged off our coast, some of which are comparatively new. In my opinion they should be called upon to provide adequate accommodation for their crews so long as it is possible to carry out the necessary alterations and the Minister does not think that the undertaking would be impossible or impracticable. It is conceivable that in some ships the increased accommodation could not be provided without the work pressing harshly upon their owners. But I wish to see the Ministry empowered to compel ship-owners to provide the accommodation contemplated in this Bill when such is possible to be done.
– That is practically what the clause means. It provides that if the ship is insanitary it shall be made sanitary.
– I am speaking upon this point subject to correction. The manning scale does not give me complete satisfaction. To any person with a knowledge of the construction of ships’ boilers, engines, &c, it is quite plain that to fix 3J tons of coal as the unit which is to determine the number of hands that shall be carried in a steamer’s stokehold, would1, in some cases, be altogether misleading. At present the Bill provides that a coal consumption of 3 J tons shall be regarded as the unit of measurement. Under such a provision the men employed upon some ships on which no trimmers are carried would have a decided advantage over those engaged upon vessels on which trimmers are carried. Take the case of -a steamer which carries six firemen - two for each watch - and three trimmers, or nine all told. The consumption of coal upon such a vessel would be about 31J tons, and the six firemen would each be called on to work 5J tons.
– Would not the Committee which is to be appointed decide questions of that kind ?
– Yes. I am merely pointing out the inequity which would obtain under the Bill as between a ship which carries trimmers and one which does not. The provision scale is one which, I hope, will not bc adopted by this Chamber/ I know of no better means of creating a disturbance in the maritime industry than the enforcement of that scale. It is by no means an adequate one, and if put into operation will certainly result, in serious disturbance upon our coast. In order to show the difference between the scale which is regarded as the minimum under this Bill, and that which obtains under the American Act, I would invite the attention of honorable senators to a few leading items. The scale embodied in this Bill provides for the supply of 3 lbs. of fresh bread per man weekly. That cannot by any stretch of imagination be regarded as a reasonable allowance.
– But it must be considered in conjunction with the biscuits provided.
– Exactly. Those biscuits are usually so hard that one would ‘ require to soak them in water for a couple of days to render them edible. The quantity of soft bread for which provision is made under the American Act is lj lbs.daily. In other words, the American sailor receives 10J lbs. of soft bread weekly as against 3 lbs. for which provision is made under this Bill. In the matter of salt meat, the .measure provides that each seaman shall receive 3 lbs. weekly, as against 3^ lbs., the quantity prescribed by the American schedule. This Bill also makes provision for the supply of 6 lbs. of potatoes per man weekly, as against 7 lbs. under the American Act ; of, 4 ozs. of coffee, as against 5^ ozs. under the American Act ; and of 5 ozs. of dried fruits, as against 9 ozs. under the American Act. The American schedule further sets out that whilst in port 1½ lbs. of fresh meat shall be supplied to each member of the crew in lieu of canned meat, and that fresh fruit and vegetables shall also be supplied. I have never heard of fresh fruit being supplied to seamen on the Australian coast, but I contend that wherever the opportunity offers, ships entering our ports should supply their crews with fresh fruit and ‘ vegetables. I have much pleasure in supporting the Bill in its present crude form, and 1 hope that when it finally passes both Houses of the Parliament it will be the means of conferring much happiness upon the men engaged in our maritime trade, and of rectifying a long-standing wrong.
– I am sorry that some members of the Navigation Commission have not addressed the Senate at length upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill in order that we might have obtained some light and leading in respect of it. The measure is altogether too important for me to allow it to pass without making a few observations. It is an enormous Bill of 417 clauses. It- is not only of interest to Australia, but is of quite as much interest to other countries in all parts of the world. It is a fundamental measure, touching vital interests in a great many ways. It affects many classes - the seamen, the owners, the producers, and those who “ go down to the sea in ships.” The passage of the Bill will probably make 01 mar our future to a considerable extent. It will not, I trust, be looked at from one point of view. The whole of the interests affected by the measure should receive fair consideration. If the Bill concerned ourselves only it would be a very simple one to deal with. But it touches our relations with almost every country with which we trade, and ft affects crucially our relations with the Mother Country, the” greatest maritime nation on the earth. The measure is so large and comprehensive, and so full of great possibilities, that it is difficult for one who is not versed in the technicalities of the subject to deal with it effectively. I feel some diffidence in touching it at all at this stage. But I wish m to make a few remarks on questions which have not been hitherto dealt with. I venture to. express the hope that the discussion of the measure will not be, as previously, a time-wasting effort. The Navigation Bill has been before us for four or five years. I do not say that time has been lost, because we have derived more light on the subject, and have had the benefit of a larger experience to guide us. But I trust that we shall now be able to pass the Bill into law. I have some misgivings on the subject, because I fail to see how a measure of this size and importance can be passed during the present short session. It seems to me to be impossible. But at any rate we can make progress with it, and probably get it ready for another House to take up next session. While, as I have said, we need to consider the whole of the interests involved, I wish to insure that the interests of the travelling and producing public shall be considered. It seems to me that those interests have not in the previous part of the debate received that prominence which they deserve. We have here a great land, which some day, perhaps, will be a maritime country. But we are young yet, and if we wish to develop Australia as quickly as possible, our aim at present must be not to endeavour to develop a great carrying trade upon the seas, but to increase, the production of our land. We cannot do that successfully, however, without the use of maritime resources to a very great extent. We require means of communication with people outside. We need extended markets for our products. We shall make no progress unless we can do something in the direction of securing cheap freights for our producers and cheap passages for the travelling public. I have not heard the interests of the producers mentioned in the course of the debate. They have been entirely ignored, or treated as a negligible quantity. One would think that they were scarcely worthy of consideration. Yet they are the people who have to find freight for all the ships with which we are dealing in this Bill. The producers and the travelling public are those who find work for the seamen and profit for the shipowners, yet they seem to be very little considered. Any Bill that limits the possibilities of developing our travelling and carrying trade will impose a heavy handicap on sellers in this country and on buyers abroad. Therefore we must be very careful as to the provisions that are inserted. It is plain that we can do as we like in regard to many of the provisions of the Bill. We have within our coastal limits probably plenary powers. But, looking at the whole of the interests involved, I ask whether we shall be wise in pushing those powers to the fullest point to which we might push them. As the leader of the Opposition pointed out to-day, if we are going to exercise our full legal rights without regard to the interests of other countries - foreign nations as well as the Mother Country - they will push their legal rights to the utmost limit also, and then our position will be worse than before. We must not forget that we are part and parcel of the great British Empire. I am sorry to see the anti-British feeling that is abroad. I was surprised at the remarks of the last speaker, who said that British’ ship-owners had derived more advantage from Australia than Australia had derived from them. He nol only condemned British ship-owners, but local ship-owners in still stronger terms. I do not think that the allegation that British ship-owners have acted unfairly by Australia is justified. We owe a great deal to such lines is the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and the Orient Steamship Company, which have been running for so many years, and have been carrying our goods and passengers at not unreasonable rates. More recently we have had the White Star line carrying goods and passengers at low rates. I do not consider that the animadversions passed upon British ship-owners are justified. The merrantile marine is the greatest industry in the British Empire, and Great Britain owns half the mercantile shippers in the world. Her foreign trade is enormous. If it came to be a question of whether Great Britain would have to sacrifice her foreign trade, it would suit her very much better to drop the Australian trade and stick to that with the foreigner. The position is that Great Britain can do without the trade of this country, but we cannot very well do without that of Great Britain. Last year the British entrances and clearances were 250,000,000 tons. The total foreign, British, inter-Imperial trade was not 5,000,000 tons. By our legislation, we may cause Imperial trouble, and, therefore, before we place upon the statute-book a measure that will tend in that direction, we ought to consider seriously the consequences that may ensue. Some very pregnant remarks were made by Mr. Lloyd George at the Imperial Conference in regard to the trade of Great Britain and the proposed legislation of this country. These were his words -
Owing to the vastness of our mercantile marine in every part of the world the tonnage exposed to possible reprisals or to increased competition through subsidies and in other ways would be many times as great. It is evident that (i country so situated must necessarily look upon proposals such as that made by Australia in a very different light from that in which they may appear to the point of view of Australia, whose foreign-going shipping is relatively very small. As I have already said, we have half the merchant shipping of the world. Looking at the entrances and clearances of ships of various nationalities in British and foreign ports, I take first of all the United States of America, which is one of the countries which, would be hit by this resolution, and I note that over 25,000,000 tons of British shipping entered and cleared in 1905 in the United States ports, while less than one and a half million tons of American vessels entered and cleared in our ports. There were 15,500,000 of British shipping in French ports compared with 3,000,000 tons of French shipping in United Kingdom ports. Take Russia. The British shin’s in Russian ports- came to 8? - million tons; the Russian ships in British ports came to i? million tons. There were nearly 12,000,000 tons of British shipping in Italian ports compared with less than 950,000 tons of Italian shipping in the United Kingdom ports. Even in the case of Germany the British shipping at German ports is in excess of German shipping at British ports - io? million tons as against 8$ million tons - but of this million tons of German shipping 4 million tons were simply in ballast, while of the io? million tons of British shipping, 3 million tons were in ballast ; so that, as far as cargoes were concerned, we were in the proportion of five to three. These figures have only to be mentioned for us to see at once how vulnerable our merchant shipping is. This is not said to disparage the value of the suggestions for the encouragement of British shipping, but to illustrate the special difficulties of our position as compared with that of the Colonies. There are methods by which the Colonies, or some of them, could give a very direct impetus to British shipping if they desired to do so - if for instance they were to relax some of their restrictions upon British ships which desire to enter into the coasting business in Australia more especially. As a matter of fact, in the last few years those conditions have been made very onerous; so onerous that they will drive British ships out of the Australian, trade altogether.
Mr. Deakin. You are not speaking about what has been done in Australia, because we have no law yet.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE. I beg your pardon ; I mean what is proposed to be done, because Sir William Lyne, at the Navigation Conference, said he proposed some extraordinarily stringent regulations. He read them out, and I am sure the effect will be to drive British shinning almost entirely out. of the Australian trade.
Mr. Deakin. They were to provide for equality in wages and conditions of employment.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE. Yes. but not merely that; they involved structural alteration of British ships. They would be prohibited.
Mr. Deakin. Better accommodation for the men ?
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE. Well, we have done that ourselves, and are in advance of every country in the world in. that respect. If you superimpose absolutely fresh conditions in Austraia the result will be that our own conditions will be quite nugatory, and ships which can enter and do trade in every other part of the world except Russia and the United States of America will not be allowed to enter the Australian coastwise trade. In fact, Australia will hit us harder than even France in that respect. If Australia wants to help British shipping, far and away the most effective way would be to treat us a little more generously in the matter of merchant shipping legislation. I am bound to say that, because the resolution comes from Australia.
I read a great portion of the report of the Navigation Conference, over which Mr. Lloyd George presided with a dignity, a fairness, and a consideration for the representatives from this country which, I think, was beyond all praise - a consideration which, sometimes, was rather sorely tried. I do not like the anti-British feeling which is springing up here. I am satisfied that it is not general, and will not be supported by the people of this country. I trust that we shall not see the cloven foot too much in connexion with this Bill, because I feel sure that the great body of the people of this country do not approve of any exhibition of anti-British feeling, and will in the end resent it. At the Conference the attitude of the Australian delegates was, in many respects, scarcely what it ought to have been. Mr. Hughes was, on the whole, fair ; Mr. Dugald Thomson was fair, as he always is, but Sir William Lyne seemed to try to bullock things through there, just as he does in this Parliament ; in fact, he went so far that the chairman had to administer to him a very dignified, but polite, rebuke. In closing one sitting, Mr. Lloyd George said -
I should like to say one or two words, more especially with reference to what fell from Sir “William Lyne. I recognise the desire of the Australian delegates to meet us as far as they possibly can, but I am sure Sir William does not wish to suggest that the Imperial Parliament has not been exceedingly anxious to do its best for the accommodation and the comfort and the health of the seamen, in its legislation.
Sir William Lyne. I think they have had that feeling ; but I don’t think they Have gone as far as they could.
– They have gone pretty far. Allow me to point out that the British Imperial Parliament has been the pioneer of the world in the protection of the life and in the improvement of the conditions of seamen, and in the load-line regulations. We were the first to initiate leeislation ; we were the first with regard to life-saving appliances; we were first with regard to seaworthy ships; and we have been first with regard to food scales, and I am not sure we have not been in advance of Australia. Australia is discussing a food scale. So that on the whole we are dealing with what is, after all, a very enormous interest in this country. I want the Australian delegates to remember that when we pass a law affecting shipping we are passing a law which affects the biggest interest in this country, and we have to move a huge body, and it is a much more difficult matter for us, apart from the principle, to propose retrospective legislation. We have about 11,000,000 tons of British shipping already constructed under the old conditions. That is a very gigantic interest, and I want Sir William just to bear that in mind. We are moving very steadily, and we have moved in advance of Australia in one or two particulars; in fact, we have shown Sir William the way.
Sir William Lyne. I dispute that.
– And I congratulate him upon following the admirable example we have set him, and I am very glad to see that with the enthusiasm of a convert he has rather exceeded the lesson which we have given him. But I want him to bear in mind that the lesson is ours. We are the pioneers in this matter. We do consider the health of the seamen, and I am glad to say on the, whole the ship-owners, have assisted us in this particular. Theyhave not resisted the Bill of last year, although it imposed enormous obligations; they have not challenged it. That on the whole is very creditable. Therefore I want to put that in as a note from the old country, if Sir William does, not mind.
I think that these words are worthy of our consideration, and that the Old Country is also worthy of our consideration in dealing with this Bill. With regard to our coastwise trade, I took occasion to inquire what it really amounts to, and to ascertain how much of it is being done in our own vessels, and how much in other vessels. I asked the Government Statist, Mr. Knibbs, to tell me the number and tonnage of vessels belonging to the United Kingdom which traded annually to the Australian Commonwealth, and to furnish the same information relating to British Possessions, keeping New Zealand separate, and to foreign countries. His reply is as follows -
As regards the volume of produce of all kinds taken from the Commonwealth by United Kingdom vessels, I asked Mr. Knibbs to state how much was taken to the United Kingdom, and how much to other countries, and to supply similar information with reference to the produce taken away by foreign vessels. His reply is as follows -
The records of the Department of Trade and Customs do not show the value of the cargoes carried by vessels of different nationalities. On the basis of shipping tonnage which cleared the Commonwealth, " with cargo," the results for 1907 would be approximately as follows : -
Concerning the volume of our export trade I requested Mr. Knibbs to furnish me with the figures relating to the United Kingdom, other British possessions, and foreign countries. His reply is as follows -
In reply to my inquiry for information as regards the number and tonnage of InterState vessels, with the number of men employed in them, Mr. Knibbs furnished the following reply -
The number and tonnage of Inter-State vessels cannot be given in full, but the particulars of vessels registered with the Australian Steamship Owners’ Federation on the 31st December, 1007, were as follows : -
In reply to other questions, he informed me that the value of the coastwise InterState trade is estimated to be about £33,000,000 for 1907, and that the number of coastwise Inter-State passengers during that year was, approximately, 210,000. I asked Mr. Knibbs to tell me if the figures were available, though I doubted if they would be, the coastwise trade done by United Kingdom vessels, and foreign vessels, and he replied that no record of the Inter-State trade carried by vessels of particular nationalitiesis made. I also asked Mr. Knibbs to give the number of passengers carried in coastwise tra.de by United Kingdom vessels and’ foreign vessels, and he furnished the following reply -
No compilation has hitherto been made of the number of Inter-State passengers carried byvessels of different nationalities, I have, however, examined the returns for July last, with the following result : -
Distributing the passengers carried during 1907 on this basis, the results would be approximately as follows : -
From the figures I have quoted it will be seen that the Inter-State trade done by foreign vessels is very small. It is so small as to be scarcely worth while to cause any friction, or to precipitate any trouble, with the Old Land by interfering with it. The trade done by British vessels is also very small in comparison with the volume of the Inter-State trade. In these circumstances, is it wise to deal with either foreign or British ships, so as to create complications? As Mr. Lloyd George stated, the enormous trade of . Great Britain compels a very slow movement, but during the last year or two the conditions havebeen liberalized to a’. very great extent. I shall reserve any reference to details until we get into Committee on the Bill. When the Government of Great Britain, with her enormous trade, in comparison with our small trade, invited us to send, delegates to talk things over with them, it was a great step to take, and a courteous thing to do. It showed how desirous they were to elicit the facts, to get at our minds, and to treat us with every possible consideration. We must be careful about the provisions we pass in this Bill. As Senator Best stated yesterday, the British Government have the right to hang up this Bill as they hung up the New Zealand Bill. They displayed a fair spirit towards the New Zealand Bill. They hung it up for a while, but ultimately they assented to it, and, as Sir Joseph Ward insisted, without any proviso or promise regarding a reconsideration afterwards. I have no doubt that the Home Government will treat us fairly. Our Bill goes beyond the New Zealand measure to a very considerable extent.
– Will the honorable Senator point out any particular in which it does?
– In -Committee, I shall show that it goes beyond the New Zealand measure in a good many particulars. We should be extremely careful in what we do, because the persons who will be hit will be our own producers - the men to whom we are looking to develop this country. We must depend upon money coming here from outside to build up Australia, and we should be very careful not to take any steps which would be likely to hamper our primary producers. We should not forget that they must carry on their business ,in competition with the world, and that they are removed from
European centres, which provide the best markets, by a greater distance than are the producers of any other country. We must be very careful of the way in which our legislation is likely to affect them. It seems to me that we are a little inclined to dare legislation of - a certain character in this country because we have the Motherland at our back. If we stood entirely by ourselves we should not pass some of the legislation which we place on our statute-book. We pass it only because we have the Old Country at our back, and yet some of us are only too ready to slap the Old Country in the face when an opportunity offers.
– The honorable senator is a fine type of a self-reliant Australian.
– Nonsense. What has that to do with it? The honorable senator is a fine type of a Britisher when he never has a good word to say for the Old Land.
– The honorable senator is not a representative Australian, anyway.
– Nor is Senator Needham. I might mention another point on which Senator Lynch touched to some extent. If we restrict competition from outside in the shipping industry, we shall only increase the local monopoly of which the honorable senator so bitterly complained. The great improvement which has taken place in our coastal shipping of late years has been due to the improvement in the shipping coming from outside. Local shipping has had to make some effort to keep pace with it. If the enterprise of those interested in foreign shipping visiting Australia had not operated as a whip to the back of local effort, we should not have the comfort and convenience afforded to-day by the ships of local companies engaged in our coasting trade, and, if the outside competition did not exist, the freights, of which Senator Lynch complained,, would be increased. We should not forget that it is the competition of outside shipping that keeps our local ship-owners up to the mark. Whilst I am as strongly in favour of a White Australia as any one can be, I hold that we should be very careful about attempting to secure a> white ocean. We ought to remember that at the present time’ there is great tension amongst some of the coloured races who own King Edward as
Sovereign,and, while keeping Australia white - andI give way to no man in my desire to do that - we should refrain from doing anything which would be likely to cause trouble outside our. own country whilst the tension to’ which I have referred continues. We must study the interests of our great primary industries and the position of the Empire, and we should not permit ourselves to be led. away by socialistic leaders, whose regard is not for the Empire or for the solid future of this country, but for the whims of the passing moment. Although it ‘is not apparent on the surface, we should never forget that these movements in industrial and shipping matters are all part of a great attempt to drive us on to the nationalization of the shipping and other industries. I remind honorable senators that in the division which was taken on the motion submitted in another place by Mr. Thomas for the establishment of a Commonwealth line of mail steamers to conduct the oversea mail service, only members of the Labour Party voted for the motion, whilst every other member of the House of Representatives voted against it. This shows how careful we should be of the trend in Commonwealth legislation to which I have referred.
– That is what Mr. Robert Reid advocated as the cure for the shipping ring.
– I should like to know all the facts. Without a knowledge of the whole of the circumstances we are not in a position to judge to the full effect the utterances attributed to Mr. Reid. On the proposals to be found in this Bill for bettering the position of seamen, I trust that the Senate will be found to be unanimous. The very interesting speech which we heard from Senator de Largie should convince every member of the Senate that the introduction of this Bill is justified by the provisions for the improvement of the conditions under which seamen have to carry on their work, if on no other ground. On these matters, I hope that we shall be a unanimous Senate. We should recognise that the more we improve a man’s environment, the more likely we are to effect improvement in the man himself. We were afforded a lesson in this direction by the recent visit of the American Fleet in the character of the seamen and of the surroundings in which they were called upon to perform their duties. I have travelled in American ships, and I have found that if you elevate the surroundings of a seaman you will elevate the seaman himself. You increase his selfrespect, because you give him an inducement to improve himself in accordance with his improved environment.
– That is a good socialistic doctrine.
– There is nothing of Socialism in that, I hope. It is a doctrine of common humanity. Of course, with some honorable senators every good thing is a form of Socialism. But, whether this doctrine be socialistic or not, I trust we shall be found unanimous in every effort to improve the conditions of our seamen. I agree with what has been said as to the _ necessity for improved accommodation for seamen, but I think with Senator Lynch that we should deal reasonably with the case of ships whose construction renders difficult compliance with the requirements for improved accommodation. . We should strive to pass a reasonable Act. We should not ignore any of the great interests which are sure to be affected by such a measure, because once it is passed it is likely to be many years before it will be amended. I trust that its consideration will not be hurried, that every clause will be given the attention which its importance demands, and that, acting conscientiously, we shall pass a measure which will be in the forefront of the navigation laws of the world, will be fair to our own people, to the British Empire, andgenerally to a.ll with whom we have to trade.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at9.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 September 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080930_senate_3_47/>.