3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Papua. - Report by the Hon. Staniforth Smith, Commissioner for Lands, &c, on the Progress of the Territory, dated and- September,1908.
Census and Statistics Act 1905. -
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia for the month of July, 1908. - Bulletin No. 19.
Shipping and Oversea Migration of the Commonwealth of Australia for the Year 1907.
Federal Capital Sites - Report of E. M. de Burgh, Acting Chief Engineer for Rivers, Water Supply, and Drainage, New South Wales, on the gauging of the Cotter and Mowambah Rivers, dated 18th September, 1908.
Surplus Revenue Act.
– I have-received an intimation from Senator Chataway that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency, namely, “The failure of the Government to supply upon question information relating to the amount of surplus revenue retained from the States during July and August, and the disposal thereof.’”’
Four honorable senators having risen in theirplaces,
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 4 p.m. to-morrow.
I have no desire to take up the time of the Senate unnecessarily in discussing this matter. I have questioned the Vice-President of the Executive Council more than once,and the main point on which I desired information was as to how much money, if any, had been retained from the States during July and August under the Surplus Revenue Act. In his reply he very courteously asked me to postpone the inquiry until after the Treasurer had delivered his Budget Statement in the House of Representatives.
– That cannot alter the figures, surely?
– Just so. If my limited experience teaches me anything, in his Budget speech the Treasurer will deal with the history of last year to the 30th. June, and with general principles and Estimates for the current year. But an inquiry as to how much money, if any, has been retained by the Commonwealth from the States during July and August appears to me to involve purely a matter of fact, not a matter of principle or policy. If the Minister could assure me that it involves a matter of policy, then his answer would apparently be a satisfactory one. But I should have to he convinced first that it does involve a matter of policy before I could accept that evasive reply. There is another reason why the Minister should reply to the inquiry. The State Treasurers - and I can speak with knowledge of one Treasurer - have been trying to ascertain what their position is likely to be. They have put practically the same question to the Government as I have; but they cannot get a reply. When they are endeavouring to frame their Estimates for the year they naturally want all the information they can get. They cannot ask, any more than I can seek, that the Government should disclose their policy before the propertime. But their inquiries relate to pure questions of fact.Presumably the Treasury books are written up to date’. I asked what certain balances in the books were, and the Minister replied, “ That is a matter For the Budget speech, and when it is delivered honorable senators will be able to get the information which they are now seeking.” I am not singular in this respect. Senator Needham asked a similar question the other day and received a similar reply. I submit that it isnot our business to wait upon the other place until we can get replies to questions on matters offact. We are en- titled to know at any time what funds the Government have in hand, and how they are invested, or where they are, though not necessarily to know what the Government propose to do at some future time. What I am asking is simply that the Government shall tell us what they have done during July and August in connexion with particular moneys. I have taken this method of drawing the attention of Ministers to the fact that they are not treating the members of the Senate with due courtesy when they refuse to reply to questions relating to matters of fact. If the VicePresident of the Executive Council can assure me that no money has been kept back from the States, it would have been a very simple thing for him to have said so. I know that he cannot tell me what trust funds the money has been put to, becauseI notice that, according to the Surplus Revenue Act, it cannot be placed to trust funds until it has been appropriated by Parliament. If any money has been held back it is only reasonable that we should be informed of the fact when a definite question is put to the Government. If they have kept back no money, why does not the Minister say so, and have done with the matter ? I urge very strongly that the Senate should, by its vote, express an opinion that when any honorable senators - I do not care on which side they sit - nsk questions which involve matters of fact they should get a courteous, and the earliest possible, reply which the Minister is capable of giving.
– I do not think my honorable friend was quite fair when he suggested that the Government were endeavouring to keep back from the Senate information on questions of fact. I repeat what I said here before, that on no occasion have I been a party to withholding from the Senate any information or any figures or particulars of any kind that were immediately available. But as the Budget speech is soon to be delivered, I have a right to ask my honorable friend to extend the acknowledged courtesy of Parliament to the Treasurer, and not seek to get him to disclose his Budget by dribs and drabs. Senator Needham, when he asked a question upon the same subject, acknowledged the claim I then made, and did not further press his question. Let me point out what would necessarily follow if I gave the information sought for by my honorable friend Senator Chataway. Every member of the Senate could not only ask a further question in connexion with Budget matters, but might ask twenty or more questions with regard to them, and endeavour to elicit information in reference to other matters that the Treasurer was working out for the purpose of his Budget. The Budget is a statement that is looked forward to by members of Parliament, and which has to be, and is, comprehensive. Any information required or any doubt which exists in connexion with any matter in the Budget, may be the subject of subsequent inquiry,and information is of course always readily granted. For instance, if my honorable friend had asked his question after the delivery of the Budget, I should have said, “ Certainly ; he is entitled to get the information, and I shall be only too glad to procure it.” When I put a reasonable request to him to wait for a fortnight, when he will . get a full and complete statement, am I asking anything unparliamentary, anything unusual, or beyond the ordinary courtesy extended by members of Parliament to a Minister?
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council say whether the Budget statement will contain information for July and August of this year ?
– That information will certainly be given. I am at a great disadvantage, because I only received an intimation of Senator Chataway ‘s intention to move the adjournment of the Senate ten minutes before we met this afternoon. I have not been able to consult my colleague or the officers of his Department. But let mp just point out the difficulty in regard to what my honorable friend mentions. He asks that we should furnish him at once with a statement of the amounts returned to the States and the amounts which have been placed to the trust funds.
– For two months.
– The amounts retained.
– It will be remembered that some time ago, prior to the prorogation in June last, Parliament passed a measure expressly appropriating a sum of £750,000 for old-age pensions. It is . a matter of public property throughout the. Commonwealth, that in pursuance of that. measure there was appropriated for that purpose up to the 30th June, 1908, £193,000.
– Do not anticipate the Budget.
– It is the duty of the Treasurer during the year to apply monthly a certain sum to that particular fund. It would be quite misleading for my honorable friend to be furnished at present with mere book returns. What he asks for would not supply accurate information to the Senate. The Treasurer has to work out and fix the figures whereby he will make sure of the appropriation of the sum required for old-age pensions during the year. He has to see to it that he appropriates a fair and reasonable proportion month by month to insure that the amount which is required for old-age pensions shall be paid. If we were to adopt a system of hastily paying away everything we get, we should of course come to grief at the end of the year. The terms of the Constitution are that we are to be at liberty to appropriate a sum not exceeding one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue. I tell my honorable friend frankly that at this juncture the Treasurer has not finally fixed his figures. He floes that at the last moment, having regard to all sorts of considerations which I cannot attempt to detail at this stage.
– Then he will not be able to fix the figures until the 30th of next June ? ‘
– He lias to do so, in order to make due provision for the appropriation of a sufficient sum up to the 30th June, 1909.
– Did I understand the Minister to say that the amount hypothecated was £190,000 odd?
– £193,000. ‘
– That amount was published in the newspapers.
– Of course, it appeared in the newspapers.
– But it should not have done. The publication was anticipating the Budget !
– My honorable friend must not try to be funny if he expects me to deal seriously with this question.
– I do not !
– The position is, therefore, that Parliament has deliberately appropriated ai sum of ,£750,000 towards old-age pensions. It is known throughout the Commonwealth that £193,000 has been appropriated up to the 30th June, 1908. It is the responsibility of the Treasurer to fix a sum to be retained month by month. A statement of the monthly transactions would not be a fair and reasonable criterion. My honorable friend will see that it could not be, because section 87 of the Act contemplates an annual adjustment at the end of the year. In the ^circumstances, the position I take up is this : First, as a matter of courtesy, I urge that my honorable friend should. not press his question; and, secondly, I say that if he were furnished with the figures that’ he asks for, they would, in all probability, be misleading. Is it not a fair thing, then, to suggest to him the propriety of -waiting for the full statement that will be made in the Treasurer’s Budget speech ? I do not suggest for a moment, and never have hinted, that the Senate is not entitled to every considera-_ tion, but I do suggest that the Treasurer is entitled to that courtesy that is always extended to Ministers under such circumstances.
– I venture to say that, if the VicePresident of the Executive Council, in his reply to Senator Chataway a few days ago, had made the statement to which we have just listened, relative to the impossibility of giving reliable figures, this motion would never have been submitted. But the honorable senator has completely changed the attitude that he took up yesterday and on previous occasions. He now states as one reason why it is impossible to give the information required, that any figures which he could supply would be merely approximate and, probably, misleading. That may be a reasonable and sound ground for the Minister declining to give definite information. But the Vice-President of the Executive Council did not take up that attitude in replying to Senator Chataway’s question at an earlier period- What he did lay down was an utterly new and imaginary doctrine - the doctrine that the Senate is not entitled to any information upon, any matter which may be directly or incidentally referred to in the Budget speech. A more preposterous proposition was never put forward.
– I never directly or indirectly suggested such a thing.
– The honorable senator said that the Budget speech, is a comprehensive speech. What does that mean but that it may cover everything.? Further, he has discovered some doctrine which enables him to affirm that anything which may be covered by the Budget speech is a matter on which we are not entitled to solicit information.. That is an absurd position for the honorable senator to take up.
– I never suggested such a thing j and I defy the honorable senator to discover in Hansard any remarks of mine which justify the statement.
– Seeing that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has only just made the remarks to which I am referring, the Hansard report of it is not available. It was, the honorable senator said, an established courtesy that information which was to be covered by the comprehensive Budget speech should not be disclosed, in reply to questions, by dribs and drabs. What is the position ? It seems to me that it is simplicity itself*. There are certain receipts paid into the public Treasury, and certain disbursements have or have not been made from the public ‘funds. A member of the Senate in the discharge of his public duty asks what amounts have been received or paid, and he is practically told that the Government refuse to give him the information for which he asks until the Budget speech is delivered. , Suppose that on this occasion, as has happened on previous occasions, the delivery of the Budget speech is delayed11 that it is not delivered for some months - are we to be told that we shall not be given any information with” respect to transactions in the Treasury until it is delivered? Does the VicePresident of the Executive Council mean to say that for all time, so long as the Treasurer withholds the Budget speech, our mouths are to be closed, and the Government are to shelter themselves behind this new-found doctrine and decline to give any information at all? I remind Senator Best that amongst other things he said that if an answer were given to Senator Chataway ‘s questions, any other member of the Senate might come forward and submit twenty questions. Of course he might, and similarly, following the doctrine which, has been laid down, the Government might refuse to give any information in reply to those questions, on the ground that directly or indirectly they would be touched upon in the Budget speech. The suggestion is that anything which may be covered by a comprehensive Budget speech is a subject so sacred that no inquiry should be made -concerning it.
– Imminent on its delivery. The honorable senator is aware that I said that.
– How would that affect the question if the Budget speech were delayed? It was an old practice in New South Wales for the Treasurer in his Budget speech to review the whole industrial position of the State. Following the doctrine suggested by the Vice-President of . the Executive Council, if that course were adopted here we should not be at liberty to ask a question upon any industrial matter. We should be told that we were anticipating a matter with which the Treasurer would deal in his Budget speech. We have simply asked what has happened in connexion with certain Treasury transactions. There is nothing secret or sacred about them’ ; or there ought not to be. We have already been given some information by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who, in giving it, has violated his own doctrine that we must not anticipate the Budget speech. The world already knows that ,£193,000 was paid into the Old-age Pensions Fund up to the 30th June last, and how, therefore, can it be iniquitous for Senator Chataway to ask information as to the amounts hypothecated in the same way in the following two montEs ?
– The amounts could only be given approximately.
– I have said that I have no doubt that if the answer given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council had been that the figures would only be so approximate as to be misleading, Senator Chataway would have been satisfied. But the Minister has given no such answer. He has himself told us the amount paid to the Old-age Pensions Fund up to 30th June, but apparently it is high treason for , any one to ask what is the amount paid up to the 30th July. The thing is too absurd for a moment’s serious consideration. Let me remind honorable senators that monthly or quarterly abstracts of revenue and expenditure are published. I admit at once that I never study those documents, because I have long since come to the conclusion that the intention of their publication is to mislead. If we have officials in the Public Service possessing greater skill at hiding things than those whose duty it is to prepare the abstracts I refer to, I am not aware of it. For this reason I do not waste time in reading the abstracts. But there ‘is no doubt whatever that the publication of the abstracts does anticipate the Budget speech. They contain particulars of revenue received and expended, and I expect that the Minister will now turn round and prohibit their publication because they anticipate the Budget speech. A request has been made for information upon a simple matter of fact concerning funds paid into or out of the Treasury. I remember distinctly an occasion on which while the Tariff was being actually considered a request was made for information as to the amounts being collected under the Tariff. There can be no doubt that that information anticipated the Budget, but no Minister ventured to say that it was information which should not be furnished. It was furnished straight away for the good and sufficient reason that, as representatives of the people called upon to legislate for them, honorable senators were entitled to it. Senator Chataway has drawn a very distinct line between matters of fact and matters of policy.
– Will the honorable senator read what I said yesterday? He has stated that if I had said yesterday what I said to-day, this motion would not have been moved.
– I had what the honorable senator said yesterday in mind when I made the statement.
– Will the honorable senator read what I said yesterday?
– Willingly. I have no wish to detain the House by reading all that the honorable senator has said. Let me say first of all that the Minister laid down the doctrine that it was not usual to give information in connexion with the Budget by dribs and drabs. He has defended this doctrine by a reason which, however flattering it may be to the vanity ‘ of the Treasurer, should not be permitted to influence the procedure of the Senate. The reason the honorable senator gave for withholding the information wast that if such information were given in anticipation of the Budget, interest in the Budget speech would necessarily fail. This information was to be denied the Senate merely in order that interest in the Budget might be worked up to fever-heat, and that when he delivered it Sir William Lyne might stand beneath the limelight of public excitement.
– My remarks will not justify that statement.
– I am going to oblige the honorable senator by reading what he said yesterday.
– I wish the honorable senator would read it.
– I intend to do so. As quite a secondary condition to that I have stated, the honorable senator said -
In passing, . “however, I would remind my honorable friend that the monthly payments to the States practically have little reference to the exact proportion 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.
The Vice-President of the Executive Council does not put that forward as the reason why he refused to give the information. It is just a reminder in passing of the position of affairs. The real reason submitted in the speech which he asked me to read was that the Government refused to give the Senate information in order that nothing should be permitted to detract from an all important occasion, and that the eyes of Australia might te riveted upon his colleague when he delivered his comprehensive Budget speech. I remind honorable senators that this is not a matter in which Senator Chataway is solely concerned. I should not have risen if it had been. The matter is one which affects the Senate as a co-ordinate branch of this Parliament. This House, as a branch of the Federal Parliament, has a right to all information which can te supplied upon matters of fact connected with the administration of public affairs. If honorable senators are prepared to adopt the doctrine of the Minister that the Senate is to be denied information merely that interest in the speech of the Minister may be maintained;, I venture to say that they will be neglectful of the duty intrusted to them, and, to some extent, of the dignity of this Chamber.
– The remarks made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council are only so much bluff, and beating of the air. For seven years or more it has been the practice of the Treasurer at the end of every month to pay over to the .States certain sums of money,’ to which they are entitled under the Constitution. In the month of June a certain Bill was passed, when certain moneys were retained. We know what was kept back for that month. The Treasurer is perfectly aware of the amount of money which would have been handed over to the States if the change I have referred to had not taken place. What we wish to know is what is the difference between the amount of money handed over and the amount which would have been handed over but for the change. To attempt to. bluff us with this talk about the Budget is to insult our- intelligence. The Vice-President of the Executive Council must be well aware that the . delivery of the Budget has nothing whatever to do with this matter. I am afraid that I shall have to vary somewhat my views of the honorable gentleman’s, willingness to afford information to the Senate. I recollect that towards the end of last session Senator Macfarlane, upon two or three occasions, sought information concerning a certain despatch to London, and received replies which were not quite accurate, seeing “that we have since learned that the despatch in question, instead of being transmitted -last session, was only forwarded from Melbourne on 15th June of the present year. Under the circumstances, I unhesitatingly assert that there is no reason why the various States should not know how much money they would have received if the Surplus Revenue Bill had not been passed, and how the funds which have been withheld have been allocated. For the Vice-President of the Executive Council to tell us that this information ought not to have been asked for is an insult to our common sense.
– I listened with very great interest to the reply of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and I could not help comparing it with his utterance of yesterday. No doubt he then made it quite clear to himself that any figures which he might give at the present juncture regarding the allocation of money which has been withheld from the States to various Trust Funds, would be misleading. But this is the first occasion upon which I have encountered a Minister who was not prepared to answer a question put by , a member of the Opposition for fear that he might mislead that unfortunate member. The Vice-President of the Executive Council knows that it is my business to take care that he does not mislead me, and I think that I am fairly successful in that connexion. It was quite possible for the honorable gentleman to have supplied the desired-information, and to have added that the figures were liable to adjustment at a later stage. But, instead of doing so, he informed us that we shall obtain a full statement of the position when the Treasurer delivers his Budget. May I point out that the figures for which I asked cover only two months of the current financial year. Yet, the VicePresident of the Executive Council^ in reply to my question yesterday, said -
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.
In other words, so far as the current financial year is concerned, no adjustment can take place until the 30th June, 1909. Yet the honorable gentleman told us that the Treasurer will deliver his Budget shortly, and that in. it he will cover what will happen during the next ten months of the financial year. How can he do that?
– lt is his duty to do it. lt is part and careel of his Budget.
– That reply does not dispose of the fact that I asked for certain information which might have been supplied. May I remind the honorable gentleman that not long ago a return was submitted to the Senate setting forth “the increased expenditure which took place in Melbourne, by reason of the temporary Seat of Government being located in this city. It showed that that expenditure amounted to ,£250,000 annually. But one Minister very properly pointed out that such” a return was most misleading, .because it included, for example, all allowances made to members of this Parliament - allowances which, . as a matter of fact, are paid here, but most of which are probably spent in the other States. The Vice-President of the Executive Council did not object to the compilation of that return on the ground that it was misleading. As a member of the Opposition, it is my business, when Ministers supply me with information, to take care that I am not misled - that I do not use it until I have ascertained exactly what it is worth. Nothing that the VicePresident of the Executive Council has said will convince me that I was not quite justified in asking for the information which I sought, or that the Senate was treated by him with that courtesy to which it is entitled. When I first put my question lo him, a week ago, I was asked to postpone it for four or five days. Accordingly, I deferred it for the best portion of a week. I then put it again, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council asked me to postpone it until the Budget was delivered. When I asked upon what date the Budget would be delivered, I. was told that it would be within fourteen days. In other words, I was not to receive the information until nineteen days after I had first asked for it. But there is no certainty that the delivery of the Budget will not be delayed, or even that the Treasurer will deal with this matter in his Budget.
– If the Budget speech does not contain the desired information, the honorable senator must not ask for it afterwards, because, if he does, he will be anticipating the next Budget.
– Having ventilated the subject, I ask leave to withdraw my motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows - 1 and 2. The saddles in question were the first of their kind made in Australia, and any defects in quality of material would appear to bc due to the fact that the contractors and the officers who passed the supplies did not sufficiently appreciate the necessity of preserving the extremely high standard requisite for military purposes. It is quite possible that leather which would be pronounced by experts to be good and suitable for ordinary purposes would not stand satisfactorily the severe tests to which articles of military equipment are liable to be subjected.
By rigid inspection and enforcing the requirements of the Department, no difficulty is antici”pated in insuring that future supplies shall be satisfactory.
The whole question of supervision and control of these contracts is now under consideration, with a view to obtaining better results.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as. follow : -
A little later on a communication will be made to Parliament in the matter.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, uponnotice -
– The answer to thehonorable senator’s questions is as follows : - 1, 2, and 3. The information asked for by the honorable senator is not in the possession of” the Department, nor does it constitute a part of the information which the Department would’ have a right to demand from the shipping companies.
– Is that the answer to the question contained in paragraph 3?
– Of course. We havenot the information, and we have no right to demand it.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
In reference to the report of the Board of Inquiry into the manufacture in Australia of” cartridge “ blanks,” &c, will the Minister inform the Senate what were the “ other “ sources from which the Committee obtained information, as mentioned in the second paragraph of the report ?
– The answer tothe honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
My colleague, the Minister for Defence, isinformed by the Chairman of the Committee that the “ other sources “ mentioned refer to books and other literature, such as the Annual Report of the Deputy Master- and Comptroller of theRoyal Mint, London, and the Bankers’ Magazine-
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Does the Government propose to take any action to give effect to the resolution unanimously passed by the Senate in 1905, in favour of nationalizing the Sugar Refining Monopoly, and, if so, what is the nature of the action proposed to be taken ?
– I assume that the object of this question is to ascertain whether it is the intention of the Government to take the necessary procedure to have the Constitution altered so as to permit of the nationalization of monopolies.
– I would point out to my honorable friend that the whole question, will be raised on the 29th October, when, of course, it will be . my duty to state fully the intentions of the Government.
– Have I not the right to know whether the Government have or have not decided to do anything?
– It depends upon the Budget speech.
Motion (by Senator Dobson) agreed to-
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing -
The amount spent by Great Britain during the year1907 upon her Naval Forces.
The sum which Great Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand should each have paid of such amount had such amount been contributed by Great Britain and her Colonies before-named upon the basis -
Motion (by Senator Turley) agreed to -
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing -
The number and the nature of the offences committed by soldiers against military law and regulations from 1st January, 1901, to 31st December, 1907.
The number of soldiers sentenced to imprisonment for such offences during the same period.
The gaols, whether military or civil, in which such offenders were imprisoned.
Debate resumed from 30th September (vide page 540) on motion by Senator Best -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- Recognising the very comprehensive nature of this measure, and that it teems with technicalities, I do not intend to-day to discuss very many of its details. I did hope that the Senate would have been favoured with the opinions of those who possess a more practical and technical knowledge of the - measure than T. do, but we may be favoured with that information before a division is taken. One of Australia’s proudest boasts is that it is foremost in industrial legislation: in other words, that the legislation of the States in relation to factories, workshops, and mines, though not vet nearly perfect, is ahead of that of other countries. The reason why we occupy that position is because we, as a young nation, have learned lessons from the bitter experience of older countries. So far we cannot claim to have given any great consideration to the men who “ go down to the sea in ships.” Hitherto’ each State has made and controlled its own navigation laws, but I think that it would be a very great stretch of the imagination to say that the men who are engaged in the industry, have received the consideration and just treatment which their arduous and dangerous avocation particularly calls for. The opportunity is now afforded to this Parliament by virtue of the Constitution to, as it were, consolidate, and at the same time improve, the navigation laws of the States. It is well known that we as Britishers have an inherent love of the sea. It has made our race famous in the annals of history, and I see no reason why Australians should forfeit the heritage which has been bestowed upon them. The difficulty that faces the shipping world of to-day is not of the same nature as that which obtained in earlier years. To-day we are troubled not so much with the dangers of wind and weather, as with the difficulties of handling those huge instruments of commerce which trade across our seas. It will be evident to honorable senators that, owing to the great increase in traffic, and the complex nature of the modern steam-ship, there is all the more necessity for the skilful handling of such vessels, so as to avoid risk to the lives of crew and passengers. It is very interesting to read the history of the progress and development of British shipping, or of shipping the wide world over during the past fifty or sixty years. A Royal Commission which was appointed in Great Britain in 1836 said that the loss of life was due to bad classification, incompetency of masters and officers, systems of insurance, drunkenness, &c. So far as it is possible for human ingenuity to try to avoid those dangers, this Bill is, I think, a step in that direction. As regards the provisions for the coastal trade, the representatives of Western Australia have been criticised severelyfor desiring to secure an exemption in favour of that State. We. are not blacklegging on any principle. We simply want a suspension of the provisions until such time as Western Australia has been linked up with other portions of the Commonwealth by means of a trans-continental railway.
– That applies to the northern parts of Queensland just as much as it does to Western Australia.
– With this difference, that only a portion of Queensland is affected, because the rest of that State is already connected by railway with the eastern States. No part of Western Australia, however, is connected by that means with any portion of the eastern States. We have no desire to endanger the position of the men who are engaged on the coastal vessels. We have no desire to endanger their wages. This Bill does not touch that subject. There is another tribunal which will deal with a condition of that kind. Those who think that the granting of an exemption in favour of Western Australia would in any way handicap the Australian coastal companies are, I think, labouring under a very false impression. A perusal of their share lists will prove, that, financially speaking, those companies are in a very sound condition indeed.
– The honorable senator does not want them to be otherwise, does he?
– No; and the exemption that we desire will not in any way -weaken that sound financial position, nor will it prevent the companies from paying that reasonable and proper rate of wages, which we all desire to see paid to Australian seamen.
– Nor would it if allowed to the companies trading on the north coast of Queensland.
– Personally, I have not the slightest objection to making art exemption in that direction with white crews. A great deal has been said about the coastal companies, and the manner in which they equip their boats. I can say, from personal observation as a traveller, that they are well equipped, so far as passengers are concerned. It is all very well for a passenger who has travelled first or second class to speak in that manner. He wants to go into the stoke-hole to discover how the companies treat their employes. To-day, those companies for whom such solicitude is expressed, are not treating their employes in the manner in which Australian seamen should be treated. The conditions under which the men work in the stoke-hold and live are not in any way desirable. I have seen those men, even on the most uptodate Australian liners, without the means of getting a bath. Certainly, a cold water tap of some kind was provided, but there was no provision made for taking a showerbath. ‘I have seen the men herded in a very small compartment, after coming off their shift, and sleeping in the very place in which their working clothes were being aired or dried. If that is considered proper treatment of Australian seamen, it has not my approval. I am in entire agreement with one or two phases of Senator Millen’s address, particularly with his reference to the abnormal powers which are given to the Minister. That is a continuation of a very bad phase of Australian legislation. When such great powers are given to the Governor-General in Council, which means the Minister, there is always the danger that influences may be brought to bear at some time or other which may entirely defeat the intention of Parliament. In Committee I shall endeavour to remedy the defect in the Bill whereby such vast powers are given to the Minister. With reference to the committee proposed to be appointed, I hold that we should either make it am effective body or not appoint it at all. That is another phase of the Bill in which I find myself in entire agreement with Senator Millen. Other honorable senators who addressed themselves to the question yesterday urged that it was not right to consider the Bill until we had received the final despatch from the Board of Trade. In my opinion, that is not an argument that should have weight in a deliberative chamber vested with such powers as we possess. I fail to see why the Board of Trade should come as it were with a pistol at our heads, and say, “ If you do certain things we will not agree to them.” Having read the whole of the correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Secretary fox State for the Colonies, I think that we have gone as far as we could, consistent with our dignity as a national Parliament endowed with autonomous powers, in the direction of meeting the criticisms and objections of the Board of Trade. I should have regretted it very much had the Government held their hand until they received a further reply from that authority. I wish to make a reference to the question whether we can or cannot legislate in the direction indicated in the Bill so far as concerns ships not upon the Australian register. I have before me an appendix to the report of the Royal Commission, signed by a gentleman whose authority on constitutional matters will not be questioned. Reference is made to this authority in the correspondence between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Prime Minister. I refer to Mr. Garran, whose memorandum I have read with’ considerable interest. Dealing with section 736 of the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act 1894 upon Colonial legislative powers, Mr. Garran says -
From the tenuis in which sections 163 and 32S of the Act of 1S53 were repealed by the Act of 1S69, it appears that the main object of the new substantive provision was to enable the Colonics to legislate directly as to the vessels in which their coasting trade should be carried on. It was clearly intended to be an enabling, not a restrictive clause ; to grant to the Colonies (subject to conditions) certain new powers of legislation, but not to take away any existing powers. At the same time, it is not easy to see what new powers it conferred. Even before 1S69, a Colony, in virtue of its general legislative power, could make laws to “ regulate its coasting trade,” provided that such laws were not repugnant to any Imperial Act extending to the Colony. The repeal of section 163 of the Act of 1853 extended the powers of Colonial Legislatures by removing a direct statutory prohibition. But how does the substantive enactment extend their powers? It can hardly be contended that it enables a Colony to pass laws repugnant to an Imperial Act extending to the Colony.
Further down, Mr. Garran goes on to state -
As to Part n, Mr. Cunliffe draws from section 264 an inference in derogation of Colonial legislative powers, which appears to me quite untenable. He says in effect that section 264 empowers the Legislature of a British Possession to apply to British ships trading with or being- at any port in the Possession any provisions of Part 11 (only) which do not otherwise so apply; and he suggests that the section impliedly limits the powers of Colonial Legislatures to exercising the powers specified, or at least that it is “ a restricting rather than an enabling power.” But Mr. Cunliffe . does not quite accurately state the purport of the section. lt does not empower Colonial Legislatures to legislate in the direction mentioned, but declares that if such legislature_ does so, the law shall have effect throughout the British Dominions as if enacted in the Imperial Act. This is obviously an enabling provision ; it enables a Colonial Legislature in effect to pass an Imperial law. No inference whatever can be drawn to restrict its power to pass Colonial laws; and apart altogether from these considerations, it is submitted that the Legislatives’ powers of selfgoverning Colonies cannot be whittled away, as suggested, by vague “inferences” and “implications.” That is a stale of affairs which was ended once and for all by the Colonial Laws Validity Act.
I read that passage by way of reply to the extensive quotations read yesterday by Senator Pulsford from- the proceedings of the Conference of British ship-owners and other important bodies in Great Britain, which implied that we, as a Parliament, have no power to legislate as we are now attempting to do. Mr. Garran goes on to say -
As to Part III. I do not altogether agree with Mr. Cunliffe if he means that, where the provisions of the Part extend to a Colony, the Colonial Legislature cannot impose upon the owners of British ships any further statutory obligations in addition to the obligations imposed by the Imperial Act. It cannot impose any inconsistent obligations, but that is a very different proposition.
I hold that without waiting for further despatches we shall be quite within the powers vested in us by the Constitution if we pass this Bill. I was very glad to notice that from the inception of the debate until last evening there was an entire absence of party spirit. I could have wished that happy mood to be continued. But I regret that Senator McColl thought fit to introduce something in the nature of pa inspirit into the debate when he referred to the socialistic trend of our legislation. I do not think that there was any necessity to do so. But Senator McColl went further, and practically accused honorable senators who for the moment do not agree with him as to the consideration that we should’ mete out to British ship-owners of beingdisloyal. Senator Lynch addressed himself to the treatment which British! ship-owners extend to Australian people, and condemned them; but at the same time he condemned the treatment by Australian ship-owners of Australian people. Yet we find Senator McColl practically accusing us of being disloyal Britishers.
– Did the honorable senator deny the charge?
– I do not think that any one will question my loyalty. But I do not want to have this matter of loyalty always thrown in our faces. We are here as Australian representatives in an Australian National Parliament. Our first and foremost consideration must be Australia, and, secondly, the British Nation.
– Oh, no.
– Our first consideration is for the people of Australia.
– Western Australia.
– Australia first, and the British Empire second. Senator McColl went on to say that this country cannot be developed unless we have brought in plenty of British capital. I do not . think that it is fair to Australia to say that the country cannot be developed in the matter of shipping, commerce, and internal trade without British capital . There is any amount of money available in Australia” to-day for the development of our natural resources. In the Australian banks, at the end of 1907, there was locked up£112,697,969.
– In coin?
– I take the statistics from the Commonwealth Year-Book. I do not say that some of that is not British capital. But it is not correct to say that we must always depend upon British capital. Another question to which I must refer is the absence from the Bill of any provision relating to wireless telegraphy. I am glad to see that Senator Pearce has circulated an amendment to clause 215, which deals with life-saving appliances, in which he desires to insert a provision to the effect that all vessels engaged in our trade shall be equipped with a wireless telegraph system. It is patent to all of us of what great advantage such an equipment would be to’ the commerce of Australia. It would also prevent much loss of life. There have been instances of accidents happening to the machinery of vessels, which have resulted in their drifting for days, and sometimes weeks, around the Australian coast. If ships were equipped with wireless telegraphy, a great deal of worry would be savecf, and sometimes human life would be spared.
– Does not the honorable senator think that it is rather premature to insist upon ships installing wireless telegraphy until the Commonwealth has decided what sys’tem it will adopt?
– Senator Pearce’s amendment provides that the provision shall not come into operation until the issue of a proclamation. I agree fhat we should not insist upon other people putting their house in order until we do the same. But we are legislating. for the future, and want to make this Bill as perfect as it is possible for human minds to make it. Although we have not yet decided upon a system of wireless telegraphy, that is no reason why we should not put in the Bill a provision compelling ships to insta.l a system, when we. have erected stations.
– If the honorable senator looks at clause 230, he will see that reference is made to the subject there.
– Does the clause require that vessels shall be equipped with wireless telegraphy ? It is not obligatory ; it is optional.
– So is Senator Pearce’s amendment optional .
– I shall endeavour to get a mandatory provision inserted in the Bill.
– Before we have erected receiving stations?
– It is time that we had receiving stations on our coasts. 1 have not worked out the cost, but I have an idea that it will be considerable. But I also have an idea that the shipping companies can afford the expenditure.
– At whose expense?
– Their own.
– The honorable senator knows better than that.
– This equipment is necessary for the preservation of human life, and the better protection of property. I have no more to say, but shall gladly vote for the second reading of the Bill.
– I have heard it said that a Bill of this character is not one on which secondreading speeches need be made. But it is of very far-reaching importance, and I think we should be given some idea of its object and scope before we decide even to let it go into Committee. I con- fess that it deals with a subject of which I have a very limited knowledge. I am indebted to the speeches which have so far been made for a good deal of information. The speech of Senator de Largie, -who was, I believe, a member of the Navigation Commission, was very informative. I am quite sure that when he disclosed the horrors of crimping at Newcastle, honorable senators were stirred to righteous indignation, and were agreed that that kind of thing should be stamped out. I think with Senator Needham that those who” go down to the sea in ships ‘ ‘ have as much right to consideration as those who work on shore, and, in view of the very perilous nature of their occupation, perhaps a little more. We do take every care of our workers on land. The States Parliaments have all passed industrial legislation for their benefit. We have Factories Acts providing for inspection, sanitation, and the protection of machinery to prevent any unnecessary sacrifice of life or limb. It is quite right that all this care should be taken in the interests of the workers ashore, and it is my desire that equal justice shall be done to the workers at sea. There is one aspect of the measure to which I expected the Vice-President of the Executive Council would have referred in moving the second reading. The honorable senator’s speech dealt mainly with the differences between this Bill and the Bill formerly introduced. He did not inform the Senate as to how this measure would affect our coastal shipping. I have had placed in my hands a certain statement, and I presume that other honorable senators have received copies of the same document.
– It has not been circulated on this side.
– I have not a copy.
– I do not know why that is so, but let me say that in the statement placed in my hands, andwhich has been prepared, I believe, by the Federated Ship-owners, it is claimed that if this Bill is passed into law their expenses will be increased by no less than£100,000 a year.
– I think that statement was made public in the Argus on Tuesday last.
– Why were we not supplied with the information?
– There is no difference in that respect between Senator Lynch and myself, for I have not received a copy of the statement.
– I am unable to say why every member of the Senate has not been supplied with a copy of this document. What I wish to say is that I, personally, possess no knowledge which enables me either to confirm or refute the statement to which I have, referred. But we certainly ought to know whether that statement is correct.
– I agree with the honorable senator; let it be brought up at the proper time.
– I think this is the proper time to direct attention to it.
– What I mean is that if any particular, clause is objected to, we can deal with the objections in Committee.
– I fully expected that Senator Guthrie, who is an expert in this matter, and who, probably, knows more of the subject with which this Bill deals than any other member of the Senate, would have had some knowledge of this statement, and would have been able to say whether it is or is not accurate. The statement is made by a reputable body, and I have no right to question it. I recognise, however, that one side of a story is good until the other side is told, and I am anxious to hear both sides of this question, that, in casting my vote, I may be able to hold the scales of justice impartially between all the parties concerned. I wish to make some further reference to the document I have received, because it contains a number of statements which seem to me to be of serious importance, and . we ought to know whether they can be substantiated or refuted. For instance, the ship-owners complain that this is not a complete measure.
– Hear, hear ! Marine insurance and workmen’s compensation are dealt with in other measures.
– They say that a number of provisions in the Merchant Shipping Act should have been included in this Bill, in order to make it a complete measure, dealing with the subject of navigation. They are anxious that those provisions should yet be included in the Bill. They say that provisions covering lifesaving appliances, dangerous goods, applicants for examination, and similar matters should not be left to regulations, but should be included in schedules to the Bill. The principal complaint by many honorable senators who have already spoken on the motion for the second reading has, I think, been that, in this measure, too much is left to the Governor-General in Council, who, we know, in practice, is the Minister. I think that honorable senators generally are agreed that the Bill places a great deal too much power in the hands of the Minister in connexion with matters which ought to have been definitely set out in the measure itself. The ship-owners complain, further, that the penalties inflicted under the Bill are very much higher, and, in some cases, 100 per cent, higher than those provided for in the Merchant Shipping Act in similar cases.
– Do they refer to the clauses ?
– Yes; they give the following examples. They show that clause 12 imposes a penalty of£100, and section 92 of the Merchant Shipping Act£50. Clause 137 imposes a. penalty of £50, and section 211 of the Merchant Shipping Act £10; clause 26, penalty , £50, section111 of the Merchant Shipping Act . £20 ; clause 35, penalty , £50; Merchant Shipping Act no penalty’; clause 41, penalty , £25, Merchant Shipping Act no penalty; clause 57, penalty . £50, Merchant Shipping Act no penalty ; clause 64, penalty £50, Merchant Shipping Act no penalty ; clause 118, penalty£100, section 26 of the Merchant Shipping Act . £10.
– Those statements will require checking.
– I agree with the Minister that these statements require some checking. I have referred to them in order that when the Bill is in Committee, the Minister may be able to say whether the facts are as stated in this circular, and if so, why the penalties for offences under this Bill have been made so much more severe than those provided for in the Merchant Shipping Act. With regard to the question of accommodation covered by clauses 133 to 136 of the Bill, the shipowners complain that -
The provisions of the Bill will press very heavily on ship-owners, inasmuch as it will mean a very material decrease in the earning capacity of vessels built after the commencement of this Act. In the case of a small vessel, to carry, say, 2/300 tons dead weight, she would have to provide about 75 tons of space for the officers and crew. In the case of large vessels having a big crew list, the matter of providing separate mess-rooms would be very serious. For instance, a vessel of the Kyarra’s type would require to provide a mess-room for eighty-seven of a crew. This means a loss of about 145 tons of space, which represents an annual loss of, say, , £3,500 in one vessel.
– Provided that the ships are always filled up to the hatches; and they never are.
– And provided that al! the hands take their meals together.
– That only shows that these statements require to be analyzed.
– But the honorable senator does not swallow all that ; does he ?
– I expect Senator Guthrie, if he can, to burst these statements up.
– They burst themselves up.
– If they are not accurate, I want to know it before I am asked to deal with the various clauses of this Bill, and I am anxious to receive information from any who are in a position to supply it. The ship-owners further say with respect to clause 212 -
If the provisions of the Bill in this connexion are passed, it will mean very serious inconvenience, and great loss to ship-owners. For instance, if a vessel in the Queensland trade was unable to secure a dock at the hour required, in order to undergo her survey, she might miss her time-table arrangements, and would, therefore, have to be laid up for three weeks until her running date came round again.
It is difficult to assess the amount this would mean to ship-owners. But for survey fees alone, the additional expenditure would be about £1,200 per annum, and docking fees and painting about £20,000 ‘per annum.
– Surely the Government do not want a survey every six months.
– A survey does not necessarily involve painting.
– I am anxious to get information on all these subjects from honorable senators opposite. The ship-owners further sav in addition to this there would be the amount expended for towage, and the loss of time, &c, and, although ship-owners will not demur at the expenditure of money where it means increased safety, it is felt that in this case it is unnecessary, as under sections 195 and 206 power is given to the Minister to detain a ship at any time for the purpose of survey.
Then with regard to deck and load lines dealt with in clauses 216 and 226, they say -
The sections in this connexion should be altered so as to conform entirely with the Board of Trade Regulations. The Bill provides that in ships laden with coal the position of the disc shall be at all seasons of the year not higher than that prescribed by the Board of
Trade Regulations for the Winter Atlantic Loadline. There is no provision made by the Board of Trade Regulations for a Winter Atlantic Load-line, but it is presumed that this is the Winter North-Atlantic Load-line, the load-lines being Winter North Atlantic, Winter, Summer, and Indian-Summer.
The alteration from the summer to the winter North Atlantic load-line would very seriously affect the shipping companies, and it would cause in some vessels a reduction in the carrying capacity of 300 tons, which would mean the Inter-State companies’ steamers running at present would carry about 110,000 tons less coal, which represents ft loss of approximately £35,000 per annum.
It is further stated that -
From the evidence given before the Royal Commission, by various interested persons and experts, it will be seen that none of them recommend the winter North Atlantic load-line for these vessels, and those that recommend the winter load-line did so for certain seasons of the year only. It has also to be borne in mind that no evidence has been given showing the necessity for altering the present load-line, as records show that vessels carrying coal have been practically immune from disaster.
I think it has also been admitted that a Committee should be appointed to decide the manning scale that should be adopted upon each vessel, because it is impossible to lay down any hard-and-fast rule. It is further urged, in the memorandum from which I am quoting, that under this Bill the number of hands employed upon ships trading in Australian waters would require to be very considerably increased. It is stated that an arrangement has already been arrived at between the ship-owners and the Federated Seamen’s Union and Institute of Marine Engineers, with which the members of those bodies are fairly well satisfied. Yesterday, in discussing the second schedule of the Bill, which refers to the employment of firemen and trimmers, Senator Lynch frankly admitted that the conditions upon vessels differ so much that it is impossible to lay down any hardandfast rule which can be made applicable to all ships. If a Committee be appointed for the purpose of deciding upon its merits the question of the manning of each vessel trading in our waters, I think that it ought to be vested with authority to enforce its orders, subject, of course, to a right ot appeal, so as to prevent injustice. The memorandum further states that if the Bill be passed in its present form, it will necessitate a total increase of 138 in the number of firemen and trimmers employed. The document sets out exactly where increases and decreases” would take place. But where increases would have to be made, past experience has shown that they ‘are not necessary, and where decreases would take place, they could not be made, because the full complement already carried is required. The memorandum proceeds -
Under this agreement the manning of three vessels has been dealt with by a manning committee, consisting of three representatives from the Seamen’s Union, and three from the Shipowners’ Federation, and in the case of one, to the Ulimaroa, the stoke-hold manning was fixed at twenty-four men, provided the vessel did not burn more than it5 tons per day- This equals 4.S tons per man per day. If the vessel were manned according to the Navigation Bill she would require to carry thirty-three men, or an increase of nine over her present complement. As the men’s representatives are satisfied with a complement of twenty-four, why increase the manning to thirty-three?
– It would be such anomalies into which a Committee would inquire.
– Yes, and I thinkthat the Committee -should be empowered to decide fairly between the parties concerned. But, to my mind, the serious feature is that it is claimed that the increased expenditure entailed upon shipowners under this Bill may be set down as follows: - Manning, £31,000; loadline, £35,000; six months’ survey, £21,000, making a total of £87,000 per annum -
Under the heading of manning, there would also require to be added the cost of provisioning the extra seamen. The loss of freight Bv providing extra accommodation for the whole of the crews would also have to be considered, and it can safely be stated that the total increase in the expenditure of ship-owners would not be less than ^100,000 per annum.
If the foregoing statement be true, who is going to pay the piper? Not the shipowners, I am sure, especially if we are going to preserve the whole of the coastal trade to them free from competition. The will pass this extra charge on to the general public, with 10 per cent, added, so that the latter will probably be called upon to pay an additional sum of, approximately, £110,000 per annum.
– Does not the honorable senator think that some portion of that expenditure might reasonably come out of the fat dividends which the InterState shipping companies have been paying for years?
– I have not received any of those dividends myself. If it be a fact that the increased expenditure to which ship-owners would be liable under the Bill would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of £100,000, I maintain that, inasmuch as our coastal steamers “are chiefly engaged in carrying produce from one State to another, the producers will eventually ha,ve to find this money. The bulk of it will certainly be contributed by our primary producers, and it would constitute a burden which they ought not to be called upon to bear.
– The honorable senator thinks that a seaman ought not to have more than 72 cubic feet of space in which to live?
– Is the matter of accommodation the only consideration involved ?
– Seamen have more than 72 cubic feet of space allotted to them at the present time.
– I understand that whilst 120 cubic feet of space is to be allocated to each seaman under this Bill-
– I think it is conceded that the question of accommodation is only one of the considerations involved.
– This is the statement to which I desire to direct special attention -
Under the Bill provision is being made for sleeping accommodation to the extent of 120 cubic feet, and in addition, mess-room accommodation (which will vary, of course, according to the number of the crew), and also bathroom, ite, accommodation would have to be provided. Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1906, seamen are entitled to 120 cubic feet of space, but any space occupied by the crew for mess-rooms or bath-rooms, &c, is to be deducted, provided, however, that the sleeping accommodation is not less than 72 cubic feet”.
I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in his reply, will tell us whether these statements are accurate, and:, if so, whether there is any justification for imposing upon our primary producers an extra burden of £110,000 per annum. Personally, I am prepared to give every consideration to the provisions of the Bill, with a desire to do that which will be just to those who are engaged in the industry, whether they be ship-owners or seamen.
– I intend to follow the example of Senator Vardon, and to confine my remarks to a criticism of some of the general features of this Bill. I acknowledge freely that a large portion of the measure is of a highly technical character, and we occupy a fortunate position, in that some honorable senators will be able to afford us valuable assistance in dealing with its technicalities. As has been pointed out by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, it is the policy of Australia to encourage the shipping industry in every possible way. He prided himself upon the fact that if we adopt the principles embodied in this measure,_ we shall place some very advanced shipping legislation upon our statute-book. But I wish to point out that our oversea trade already amounts to the enormous sum of nearly £140,000,000 annually, and that, per capita, with the exception of New Zealand, our output of wealth is the greatest in the world. It seems almost superfluous to emphasize that our prosperity is, however, absolutely dependent upon that splendid production. It therefore follows that the means of carriage to and fro of the main sources of our wealth is one of the most important matters which can claim our attention. Even the Vice-President of the Executive Council cannot deny that anything which will seriously prejudice the development of our oversea trade will strike a blow at the progress of Australia. Whilst members of the Opposition concede that our ships should be adequately manned, and that proper accommodation should be provided upon them-
– If it does not cost much.
– I do not say that. We are bound to give sympathetic consideration to the question of providing our seamen with adequate accommodation. But on the other hand, we are equally bound to see that the vast interests of our primary producers are not unduly hampered. I doubt very much whether the adoption of a restrictive policy will result in the building up of a mercantile marine even upon our own coast, quite apart from the question of whether it will conduce to the expansion of our oversea trade. Great Britain has been very much disparaged on account of her shipping policy ; but there is no more glorious achievement to which we can point than the development of British shipping within the past forty or fifty years. The key-note of that policy has been absolute freedom to the shipping of the world. The figures are indisputable. In the whole world, there is no record of success to equal the record of the achievements of British shipping.
– Mr. President, I call your attention to the State of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
– T was referring to the magnificent achievements of a policy which certainly the Government are not going to carry out. In i860 the total tonnage of Great Britain amounted to 4,186,000 tons. In 1870 it had risen to 13,341,000 tons, and in 1890 it had increased to 75,347,000 tons. Those figures I have taken from the official records of the Merchant Shipping Conference in England. No country in the world can show such enormous additions to its mercantile marine in each year since that era of freedom as can Great Britain. In i860 she added 168,420 tons in sail and 92,590 tons in steam. The additions steadily rose until in 1890 the tonnage in sail added to the mercantile marine that year was 109,189 tons, while in steam’ the tonnage increased by 858,480 tons. In 1901 the additions totalled 30,118 tons in sail and 1,123,180 tons in steam, and during the subsequent five or six years the increase has been maintained at the same rate. We may agree or disagree about the principle of restriction of freedom in regard to shipping, but there can be no getting away from this fact, that the policy of allowing ships and trading in ships to be(as free as possible is one which has materially benefited Great Britain. It may be said that the ship-owners as representing the moneyed classes have benefited from that freedom at the expense of the seamen. But on looking into the tables I was very pleased to find that as regards their wages the seamen have benefited to some extent in keeping with the benefit which the British shipowners and British trade have enjoyed. In some cases there have been decreases, but it is very pleasing to note that in the vast majority of cases 1’here has been a gradual and steady improvement in the wages of many of the classes of men engaged in the shipping trade. The table I hold in my hand shows the monthly wages paid to first mates, second mates, third mates, boatswains, and engineers on various kinds of vessels. And on the whole there has been a steady and gratifying increase in the rates paid to them during those years. If it is desired to build up a mercantile marine I do not see how we can hope by a policy of restriction to achieve anything like the results which have been achieved under the policy of Great Britain.. In the past her policy has been to remove restric tions from shipping, and not to impose them ; and these figures prove beyond question that it has been remarkably successful. One great example which has inspiredthis legislation is that of America. In. moving the second reading of the Bill, Senator Best pointed out that Australia was going to proceed on the lines laid down by that country. He said that, so far as it was possible consistently with our position as a subordinate portion of the Empire, our policy would be to follow in every respect the policy of the United States, and evidently the Bill bears that impression from start to finish, One of the reasons which prompted theNavigation Commission to recommend a measure of this kind was that in the nearfuture we should require to build up a naval marine for our defence. It was pointed out that the effect of their suggested draft for a Bill and their recommendations would be to build up a great naval marine for Australia.. But in their report they supplied information which would lead to an oppositeconclusion, because it goes to show that notwithstanding that for fifty yearsAmerica had followed out a “restrictive policy, it was not within anything like sight of the resources of Great Britain for the fitting out of a naval marine. On page 67 of the smaller edition of their report, they say -
In the report of the Committee of Congressappointed in 1904 in connexion with questions affecting the marine of the United States of America it is stated that had America, in her war with Spain, met with a single reverse necessitating further drafts of seamen, none wereavailable for the purpose. Practically the wholeof her sailors and fishermen had been absorbed, and to man the fleet recourse must have beenhad to landsmen. Just what this means is shown by the experience of the ill-starred Baltic Fleet of Russia. America is now, with feverish haste, building a fleet of up-to-date battle-ships, and” this her colossal resources will enable her speedily to accomplish, but the task of manning, these leviathans as soon as completed with trained seamen is likely to prove beyond evenher power.
According to the admission of the Navigation Commission the United States instituted a very strongly conservative and’ restrictive policy in regard to shipping, but at the end of fifty years when confronted with the necessity of building upthe navy it was almost unable to do so. Therefore the aspiration which is put forward in another portion of the report by the Commission, that by a measure framed’ on the same lines, we can build up in Australia a naval marine, is a contradiction which at present is not intelligible to my mind. I regret that at the moment Senator Guthrie is not in his place. In Committee we shall have to rely greatly upon him, and other honorable senators who are familiar with the conditions of vessels, their equipments, and requirements. I hold in my hand a memorandum of agreement which was drawn up between the Steam-ship Owners’ Association and the Federated Seamen’s Union, and signed on behalf of the latter by Senator Guthrie. Evidently a committee was appointed by the companies and the men to decide the number of stoke-hold hands to be employed on the Bingera. I wish to draw the attention of Senators Best and Guthrie to the following article in the agreement -
It being agreed between the federation and the union that with the exception of this vessel the manning of all other steamers remain as at present.
This agreement, I believe, was made an award by the Federal Arbitration Court. Surely the Minister is bound to show us why, in the face of that statement, the conditions are required not merely to be altered, but, if the facts and figures given by Senator Vardon are correct, the cost to be materially increased ! Still more is it the duty of Senator Guthrie in helping us to come to a proper conclusion on these highly-debatable matters, to tell us why, after the lapse of a few short months, an alteration is required. When he agreed that the requirements for the manning of all other steamers, except the Bingera, should “ remain as at present,” surely that meant that he was satisfied.
– No, it meant that that was the best solution which was possible. “
– If it did not mean that, we require some explanation. We are also entitled to know what meaning Senator Guthrie attached to the agreement when he signed it, because the words appear to convey the meaning that he was satisfied with the conditions then existing, except as regards the Bingera.
– Was anything said about the duration of the agreement?
– Yes, it was to last for eighteen months, and it was not to be broken except after three months’ notice. Surely whatever objections there were to the conditions must have been settled with some degree of satisfaction before Senator Guthrie signed that agreement. We who do not understand all the details are entitled, in the face of a specific declaration of that kind, to know why he apparently desires the conditions to be altered now. I amnot going to say that Senator Guthrie cannot reconcile his position with that taken up in the Bill, but I do say that for the benefit of those of us who are not acquainted with the details he should explain the position.
– His silence is surely good evidence that there is not much that is wrong with the present manning.
– I think that it is clear that at the time the agreement was signed Senator Guthrie was satisfied with the condition of the steamers, and had no reason for altering the manning.
– The schedule to the Bill would reduce the number of men employed on some vessels.
– Then that is a further aspect as to which Senator Guthrie should explain his position. There is another matter to which I should like to draw attention. It is denied by the Government that their Bill will interfere with British shipping. Senator Millen has pointed out good reasons why we cannot accept that assertion. One only needs to have a slight knowledge of what foreign treaties mean to doubt very much whether the Government are not aiming a blow at British shipping, and giving a preference to foreign ships.
– Hear, hear ; that is what it is meant to do.
– - The usual silly old bogy !
– The Bill does that.
– It does not, in the slightest degree.
– I am not saving that it is the intention of the Government to strike a blow at British shipping, but I do say that the ship-owners of Great Britain who have looked carefully into the question are of the opinion that not only will this Bill aim a blow at British shipping, but that the effect of it will be to give advantages to foreign ships as against British.
– Mr. Deakin does not deny that in his last despatch to the Imperial authorities.
– He seems to admit it by not denying it. I shall quote from the speech delivered by Mr. Lloyd George at the Colonial Conference, which was attended by the Prime Minister, when this question came up. The probable effect of the Bill which was then to be brought before this Parliament was considered. Mr. Lloyd George pointed out how British ships would be affected by proposals which had been brought before the Navigation Conference. He said -
There are methods by which the Colonies, or some of them, could give a very directimpetus 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 vet.
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 shipping 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 prohibitive.
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 Australia the resultwill 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 enteT 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.
– That passage was quoted last night by Senator McColl.
– It shows how seriously Mr. Lloyd George regarded the position. Mr. Deakin wished to re-assure him that his. fears and those of British ship-owners were not well founded, and there was an instructive interchange of remarks. Mr. Deakin used the following words -
They might be, if we adopt such conditions. It is, of course, possible to push those conditions to a prohibitive point, but the Government Bill has not yet been drafted. The only Bill you have seen is a Bill prepared by a Commission, two of whose members were associated with my colleague, Sir William Lyne, at your Conference. The Governmenthas yet to consider its own proposals in that regard. I am at a disadvantage in the unexpected absence of my colleague, who would have taken up the whole of the question.
The impression derived by the Conference from Mr. Deakin’s remarks must have been that he was almost apologetic regarding the position taken up by Sir William Lyne. Mr. Lloyd George came from the Navigation Conference to the Colonial Conference, and pointed out that Sir William Lyne had been speaking in a militant style against British shipping and on behalf of Australia.
– Hear, hear !
– I am surprised at that interjection, because, if there is anything we ought to be particular about, it is the protection of British shipping.
– After the consideration of our own.
– Certainly. It was never disputed at the Navigation Conference that Australia was free to do what was proposed if she chose to do it. But what was felt was that Australia was about to adopt a restrictive policy which would hit British shipping more than the foreigner. Mr. Lloyd George, said in effect, “ We want. no preference, but give us equality.”
– New Zealand has been doing the same as we propose to do.
– It was pointed out by Sir Joseph Ward, that the New Zealand Parliament had refused to adopt some of the restrictions which appeared in the New Zealand Bill. We must remember that the welfare of the British carrying trade affects us, because we are largely dependent upon British ships for taking away our produce. If it is the policy of the Government to help Australian shipping, they will not find any hindrances from honorable senators on this side of the Chamber. But I wish to draw attention to clause 279 of the Bill. When the second reading was moved last session, Senator Best was asked a question as to whether he was satisfied that the measure was constitutional in that respect. But he appeared to be satisfied.
– What did I say?
– After the VicePresident of the Executive Council was brought up against a constitutional snag,. he took the matter rather airily. But the warning given has evidently been of some service, and the Bill has been altered. I venture to say, however, that the lion is still there, although it is trying to hide itself in sheep’s clothing. I observe that the Government propose to get over the constitutional difficulty if they can, by transferring the responsibility of granting exemptions to the Governor-General. It is a most unsatisfactory and dangerous method. It means trying to do indirectly what the Government are not game to do directly. By reason of our warnings, they learnt that they had not the power to put an express provision in the Bill. As the clause now stands, it is intended to provide for the case of ships travelling between Melbourne, Adelaide, and Fremantle. Charged by our leader, Senator Millen, with practically pleading that Western Australia should be allowed to “ black leg “ in the matter, Senator Lynch attempted to justify the position. So far as I can gather, the Government, and most honorable senators opposite, rather apologize for what has been done. They see that the position is not a very nice one. They cannot defend it logically. The more it is apologized for. the more the unblushing injustice of the proposal becomes evident.
– The Government have got past the blushing stage.
-It is proposed to allow exemptions in the ships between Fremantle and Adelaide.
– Where does the Bill say so?
– That is what the Government mean. Are they going to say that they do not mean that?
– I say that we cannot do such a’ thing as the honorable senator suggests.
– I am glad to hear that. The Vice-President of the Executive Council must know that the Queensland Government have concluded a contract with the British-India Steamship Company’ for the bringing out of immigrants from Great Britain. ‘ The vessels will come by the Torres Straits route.
– What class of labour is employed on those vessels?
– It does not matter what class of labour is employed on the vessels between Western Australia and Melbourne.
– So it seems. If the ships of the British-India Company call at Port Darwin, take on board passengers there and land them at Thursday Island, Cooktown, or Cairns, are they to be allowed to do so?
– Evidently my honorable friend has not read the’ clause, or he would not ask such a question.
– It is of no use quibbling in this matter, and I ask. the Vice-President of the Executive Council to answer “yes” or “no” to the question I have put to him.
– If the .boats do not carry mails, they will not come under it.
– I do not suppose that this will be a, line of mail steamers.
– They will always carry some mails.
– And the clause does not refer to cargo either. The honorable senator has not read the clause.
– I have read the clause, but it is quite possible that I have misunderstood it.
– Why should Western Australian passengers be given privileges that are denied to Queensland passengers?
– Exactly. Why should any restrictions whatever be placed upon these British-India boats? The reason for this clause, of course, is that a special concession may be made in favour of Western Australia, because that State has not railway communication with the eastern States. But I remind honorable senators that the Northern Territory is in exactly the same position. The natural outlet for the trade of that Territory must always be via the Queensland coast. We are certain to have established a very useful line of steamers trading along the north coast of Australia and down the coast of Queensland. I wish to know whether, under this clause, there is likely to be trie slightest restriction imposed upon vessels engaged in that trade, whether carrying passengers or cargo, between the various ports of the same State or from ports in one State to ports in another?
– They, will be prevented from carrying cargo, but will be permitted to carry passengers at the sweet will of the Government.
– I believe that is exactly what the clause means, and I thank Senator Mulcahy for putting it so tersely. If, however, it means something else, it is highly desirable that we should be given some further light on the subject. The Government profess to be extremely anxious for the development of the Northern Territory, and it will surely be admitted that a line of steamers trading from the East, and ha.ving Port Darwin as a port of call, would be of material assistance in the development of that Territory. It is of extreme importance to Queensland that no restrictions whatever should be placed upon the communication between port and port on her very long coast-line. It is of great importance to that State to maintain frequent communication with the Old” Country, because, per capita, Queensland is the great exporting State of the Commonwealth. It is further absolutely necessary that there should be the freest possible intercourse between the Northern Territory and Queensland, and now that the State Government has completed arrangements for a service with the British-India Company, I wish to know whether, under this Bill, any restrictions are likely to be imposed on the operations of those vessels. Many years ago we had steamers of the same company trading to Queensland ports via Torres Straits, and there is no doubt whatever that the service then established was a powerful factor in opening up the trade of the ports of Northern Queensland, and in connecting them with the southern ports of the State and with the other States of Australia. For many reasons, chiefly, I believe, financial reasons, the subsidy formely paid to the company was withdrawn, and the service discontinued. It is now recognised that, in view of the increasing volume of Queensland exports, there should be frequent communication between that State, and the Old Country. The necessity for the pursuance of an immigration policy is also recognised. One of the objects of the new contract entered into with the British-India Company is to provide for the introduction of immigrants to Queensland. In the circumstances, I wish to know what will be the exact position under this’ Bill of the steamers engaged in this service. I point out that, under the previous contract with the British-India Company, the steamers were under no disability whatever in trading between port and port. The vessels of local companies engaged in the coasting trade had to face the competition of tne British-India boats, whether they liked it or not. I have said that the original British-India service to Queensland ports was a considerable factor in promoting the development of the northern part of the State. The Vice-President of the Executive Council will understand why I desire to know what is likely to be the position of the boats of this company engaged in the new contract under the provisions of this Bill. I am aware that honorable senators are anxious that we should get into Committee as soon as possible, and I shall not, therefore, detain the Senate longer. I hope that in Committee we shall be given explicit information on some of the points I have mentioned.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales; [4.46]. - I wish to congratulate Senator St. Ledger upon the very able speech which he has just delivered. In my opinion, the people of Queensland owe the honorable senator a debt for his expose of this measure, so far as its effect upon Queensland interests is concerned. I listened with great attention to all the speeches that have teen made, and with particular interest to those of the honorable senators opposite, and I must say that I did not hear one from the other side that was not restrictive in its character, and did not disclose a. willingness to discriminate against the Mother Country. We may, I think, claim that the people of Australia are the happiest people on the face of the earth, and when we consider that the development which has taken place during over 100 years of peaceful progress has been in a great measure due to the protection afforded by the Mother Country, we have the more reason to be astonished that the provisions of the Bill now before us should, so far from being generous in their application to the trading interests of the Old Country, impose restrictions, the tendency of which must be to drive British ships out of the Australian trade.
-If British ships are driven out, what would take their place but other British ships.
– I believe that Senator Lynch does not care a button whether British ships are driven out of the Australian trade or not. In common with other honorable senators of . the. party to which he belongs, he appears to me to be backing up the Government in this measure.
– What would the honorable senator call an Australian ship?
– I shall not enter into an argument with Senator Lynch as to what is an Australian ship. If he does not know by this time what an Australian ship is, he ought not to be a member of the Senate. I have risen, not to offer a general criticism of the Bill, as that task has been performed by other honorable senators better qualified to undertake it. I have risen particularly to direct attention to a consideration that in my opinion is of paramount importance. Honorable senators will look in vain to the provisions of this Bill for any indication of concern for the development of the producing interests of Australia. In the shipping industry we have at present a condition of affairs in Australia which no doubt meets with the complete approbation of honorable senators of the Labour Party. It will probably be remembered that when in this chamber Senator McGregor and exSenator Dawson stated that they looked forward to the day when there would be only two parties in the industrial life of Australia - a union of workmen and a union of employers - I made the remark that the public would be crushed between them. The condition of affairs looked forward to by members of the Labour Party at that time is, to some extent, realized in the shipping industry of Australia at the present time. Australian shipping engaged in the coastal trade has formed a combine. Personally, I have no objection to a combine which conducts its business efficiently and equitably. I believe that so far the Shipping Combine has clone so, but I cannot shut my eyes to the danger that confronts us in a possible agreement between the Labour Party and the Shipping Combine.
– Will the honorable senator explain himself?
– I shall be very pleased to explain myself in this way : Companies engaged in the Australian coasting trade have made arrangements by which they have established a shipping combine. This has been brought about to a great extent, if not altogether, as the result of the legislation pressed forward by honorable senators opposite. I say that the Shipping Combine as at present established is in a position to do serious injury to the producing interests of Australia. That it has not done so, is because it is very wisely administered, but the danger that it may do so remains.
– To what legislation does the honorable senator refer?
– The legislation which the Labour Party has initiated or assisted to carry out, and which hasforced large business concerns to form combinations that they may be able to carry on their operations under fair conditions. The day is passing when the small man or individual trader can expect to succeed, and he is being forced to join others in a combine.
– Can the honorable senator explain why in America, where there is no Labour Party, and no labour legislation, trusts and combines are increasing more than in any other country?
-Does the honorable senator say that the Labour Party have not assisted in the legislation to which I have referred?
– I ask the honorable senator not to be drawn into a discussion of that kind. I would also ask the honorable senator whether it is his intention to connect his remarks with the provisions of the Bill?
– I was about to suggest” that should the shipping companies combine with the workers in the industry to injuriously affect the development of Our producing interests, an appeal should be provided to a body like the Inter-State Commission.
– I would remind the honorable senator that his remarks are scarcely relevant to thequestion of navigation with which this Bill deals.
– I am merely endeavouring to direct attention to the fact that navigation affects shipping, and that shipping affects the general prosperity of the country. Consequently, if, in a Bill relating to navigation, we do not legislate for difficulties and dangers which may arise, we shall fail in an important part of our duty. Some provision ought to be made to meet these contingencies. I desire to enter my protest against the restrictive policy which it is proposed (o embody in this Bill. I do not intend to occupy the time of the Senate at any further’ length. I trust that when it finally leaves this Chamber, the Bill will confer a benefit upon the whole of Australia.
– I have to thank honorable senators for the generous and enlightened criticism which they have bestowed upon this very complex and important measure. I intend as briefly as possible to deal with the main arguments which have been levelled against it. The first objection with which I shall deal is one of a somewhat strange character - an objection which was urged by the leader of the Opposition, and which has been reechoed by several honorable senators, namely, that the Bill is prematurely before this Chamber.
– Hasty legislation.
– No doubt that is the idea which is prominent in their minds. It is a most extraordinary objection, seeing that this measure has been more or less before Parliament, or its representative Committees, for a period of something like five years.
– Yet the. Government are still discussing matters involved in it with the Imperial authorities.
– I repeat that for something like five years this Bill has been before Parliament or its representative Committee. It has undergone an investigation of a most searching character at the hands of the Navigation Commission, and it has also been the subject of an Imperial Conference, consisting qf most representative men. With a view to proving that the measure is prematurely before us emphasis has been laid upon the fact that a despatch from the Mother Country dealing with a comparatively few trifling matters is not yet to hand. It is a most amusing argument. Upon the one hand, the Government are blamed by a section of the Senate because they have given way too much to the suggestions of the Board of Trade, and on the other they are censured because they have not given way sufficiently. I will admit at once that, so far as the Government thought it consistent with Australian interests to accede to the suggestions of the Board of Trade, they have done so. The result is that there are not more than half-a-dozen matters of more than passing importance upon which agreement has not been arrived at. No reason whatever exists why, in regard to matters which are solely within the discretion of this Parliament, we should defer action until the reply to which reference has been made is forthcoming. The matters with which it will deal are not of serious import, and are very limited in number.
– But the VicePresident of the Executive Council has over looked the fact that the Prime Minister did not reply to the despatch of the Board of Trade till five or six weeks ago.
– At the present moment that circumstance has no bearing whatever upon the question at issue. In December last certain despatches from the Imperial authorities reached us, and in order that they might receive a thorough revision, we took our own time to reply to them. We did reply to them in June last. With one or two exceptions the despatches of theBoard of Trade took the form of suggestions for our consideration, because that body recognised that the questions involved are essentially questions for this Parliament to determine, having a due regard to our positionas a component part of the Empire. I am perfectly sure that the same confidence which has hitherto been reposed in this Parliament will continue to be reposed in it. There is no reason why - especially in view of the shortness of the present session - we should await the despatch to which reference has been made before dealing with this Bill, because that despatch relates to .matters of no great importance, and matters which arc solely within our discretion. In dealing with the criticism of my honorable friends. I think I may confine my remarks to three fundamental objections which they have urged. Of course, various clauses of the Bill have been criticised, and with the more important of these criticisms I propose to deal. I may perhaps be pardoned for not replying to the others at the present stage, because they are matters which can be better dealt with in Committee. In the first place, we have been told that the Government have not given effect to the resolutions of the Navigation Conference.
– Did not theleader of the Opposition say that this Bill, was brought forward because the Government had nothing else ready ?
– That was one of hisjokes. It has been brought forward in accordance with a promise which was made that it would be the first measure dealt with by the Senate this session.
– Why was all Australia given to understand that it was not to be proceeded with?
– The honorable senator lives so completely in the past that his information must necessarily be of a most ancient character. Never at any time have the Government stated - either directly or indirectly - that the Bill would not be proceeded with.
– The statement was made a week before Parliament reassembled.
– Never at any time have the Government stated that the measure would not be ‘proceeded with. The three fundamental objections are, first, that we have not carried out the resolutions of the Conference; secondly, that the Bill in its terms is anti-British, and thirdly, that in various provisions it shows a preference for the foreigner rather than for the Britisher. There is no foundation for those fundamental objections; they are purely imaginary. As regards the first, I ask my honorable friends if they are content to confine our legislation on navigation and shipping to ships registered in Australia and ships trading on our coast? In their protest against the Bill that was the attitude which thev took up. I have given to my honorable friends an assurance from our representatives - some of whom I have consulted - that as regards resolution 9, which refers to the conditions to be imposed as to ships registered in Australia and ships trading on our coast, it was not at any moment suggested that our legislation should be confined to those classes of ships. I have told them that such -an idea never entered our minds. Moreover, I have made the reasonable suggestion, that we should read all the resolutions together. I submit that the twenty-four resolutions do not, and cannot, bear such an interpretation. On the face of them it -is quite obvious that such a thing was never in the minds of our representatives. And more than that, if they had advanced such a view they would have completely misrepresented Australia, because as my honorable friends know, in regard to a large number of these matters, not only had the States prior to Federation their own legislation, but New Zealand framed its provisions largely in accord with those of this measure. Is it to be suggested for one moment that we are to be denied the obvious right of legislating in respect of such matters? To put it plainly, my honorable friends opposite would deny to this community the right of preventing-
– I can only judge by my honorable friends’ objections.
– My honorable friend said that we denied the right. I denied nothing of the kind.
– My honorable friends argued from beginning to end that the agreement arrived at at the Conference was that we should legislate in accordance with resolution 9, reading it alone-
– Hear, hear ! I do not dispute our legal right.
– In the first place, that is a distortion of the meaning of the twenty-four resolutions, and in the second place my honorable friends must take up the attitude that our legislative powers in that connexion are limited and inferior to those of the States prior to Federation and of New Zealand.
Senatoc Millen. - But it is an agreement at which the Government arrived.
– If that were so, is my honorable friend prepared to sanction the agreement ?
– If that were so, it would be the most blind following of the Government that I have ever known on the part of any follower.
– No, because the Government are not leading ; but going back. They made an agreement, and now they are running away from it.
– We never at any time made such an agreement.
– What the Minister means is that resolution 9, which affirms something, is so much waste-paper now.
– I do not mean anything of the kind. The resolution speaks for itself. It is one of a series.
– What does it mean?
– I have referred my honorable friend to the debates, and to the resolutions, and I hold that, read together, it is not possible to attach such a meaning to them. He should be the verv last to urge that the Bill should be so confined, as that would be derogatory to the rights which we undoubtedly have.
– Will the Minister tell me what resolution 9 means?
– It means what it says, read in conjunction with the other resolutions.
– What does it mean?
– As Lord Elgin said, it means that we have the undoubted right - it was not necessary to make that de- claration - to legislate in regard to ships registered in Australia and ships trading on our coast.
– Will the Minister oblige me by reading the first two lines of the resolution, and telling me what he thinks it means ?
– 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 (A) 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.
– What does that mean ?
– That is, amongst other things, simply a declaration of our undoubted right.
– To do what?
– To legislate in regard to those particular classes of vessels. But Senator Millen must recognise, that even if it were capable of the construction which he urges, he should be the last to sanction it. The position of my honorable friend and of his party, and of every true Australian, should, of course, be to insist upon our undoubted right to legislate, just as the States prior to Federation legislated, and just as New Zealand has been allowed without any question to do.
– No one questions our legal right. The only point is that here is a resolution by which the Government state that our law should be made applicable to certain ships only ; now they say that it does not mean that, but that the law is to apply to all ships.
– I contend” that when it is read with the other resolutions it is not capable of such a construction.
– According to the Minister’s own showing, it is a declaration of how we should limit our rights, and that is what the Government led the Conference to believe;
– My honorable friends are blaming the Government in that they have not surrendered our rights in the framing of the Bill because, among other things, we say that we shall not permit any ships, British or foreign, to leave our shores if they are in an unseaworthy condition as to machinery, equipment, number, and competency of crew. Such a thing is unheard of, and will not, of course, be sanctioned by this or the other Chamber. The next fundamental objection that is urged against the Bill is that it is anti- British. That is about the most amusing criticism that we could have heard. Hearing it so frequently from the other side, it reminds us of the time when the Immigration Restriction Bill was introduced. In those days we heard of the selfishness of certain politicians in Australia in disregarding the interests of the Empire, and doing something essentially in our own interests. We were described as an unpatriotic body of men who were engaged in doing everything we could to thwart British interests in Australian territory. Recently we have had a repetition of that sort of talk.
– The Minister is most unfair in regard to that Bill, because, I think, I am correct in saying that more than one-half of the Opposition voted for it.
– I am alluding to the talk from that side of the House in those days, and pointing out that we are still hearing the same thing from that quarter. It is quite true that there is a stil 1 small voice crying in the wilderness in the person of our esteemed friend, Senator Pulsford, whom, I would call not, a lone fisherman, but. a lone anti- White Australian. We still hear from my honorable friend the same complaint that in passing that measure we were unpatriotic. That was the character of the criticism which we had from the other side. But what do we find now? A few short years have passed, with the result that some of my honorable friends opposite are tumbling over each other in their anxiety to declare their admiration of the wisdom of the White Australia policy. In the .same way, the anti-patriotic criticism which we now hear will have vanished within a very short time, and it will be admitted, ‘ even from the other side, that in exercising our power to do what was right to Australia, without doing injustice to the Mother Country, we assisted in the “building up of the Empire as a whole. The foundation of this criticism is that, according to mv honorable friend, there is a possibility of confining the exemption referred to in clause 279 to ships manned by white crews. In passing. I would simply say that on the face of the measure it is not capable of that interpretation, but I shall be fair to my honorable friends, and say that it will be possible, by an Order in Council, to confine that exemption to certain ships which do’ carry white crews.
– Are the Government going to do that?
– The Government of the day will have the responsibility of dealing with the question.
– Are the Government going to do it?
– That is a. matter with which we shall have to deal later.
– The Government should put in the Bill what they mean to do.
– I am dealing, with the terms “ of the measure, and pointing out that it does not make a distinction of the kind.
– Will not that clause, taken with the prohibition in the Post and Telegraph Act. prevent the extension of the exemption to a ship carrying a coloured crew ?
– Not necessarily. It is quite competent, I admit, by an Order in Council to so restrict the exemption to a class of vessels, as to have that effect. But, after all, we have adopted five White Australia policy, which is now commended by all except Senator Pulsford, and our territorial waters are part and parcel of our territory?
– Are 3 miles equivalent to 12,000 miles?
– In this matter we can only deal with our territorial waters, and J ask my honorable friend, as a lawyer, what is the real difference between legislation of the kind for the land, and legislation of the kind applying to within 3 nautical miles of our coast or headlands? Practically there is none. Apart from the merits <.f a White Ocean policy, but discussing the abstract principle only, I ask if it is admitted that there is nothing unpatriotic in our Immigration Restriction Act, is it not absurd to suggest, because of section 279, this Bill is anti-British ?
– Will the honorable senator allow me to say that he has distinctly misinterpreted, and misunderstood, ray position. I stated that! I approved of the legislation which separated the white and coloured races in Australia. Then I said that it is our. duty, having done so much, 1.0 avoid any legislation which is insulting to coloured races. I make a wide and absolute distinction between residence in Australia and anything approaching a White Ocean policy. I shall be glad if that is recognised.
– Nothing is more delightful to me than to hear the apologies and excuses of the honorable senator.
– There is no apology.
– Then I will say- his explanation. Even my honorable friend is falling from grace, and now wants to show how heartily he is in favour of the White Australia policy.
– Why does not the Government propose an Excise duty on Chinese furniture?
– We will deal with such matters as that on another occasion. I am arguing against the extraordinary suggestion that this Bill is anti-British. If we approve of the White Australia policy in principle, what is to prevent us saying that we shall apply the same policy to our territorial waters ?
– Common sense ought to prevent us.
– Even my honorable friend will not claim that he has a monopoly of common sense.
– May I say, as a believer in the White Australia policy, that I consider that to apply it to ocean-going ships is anti-British, silly, and unstatesmanlike. I thought that by my silence the honorable senator might infer that I approved of it.
– I never suspected the honorable senator of any other view. The third fundamental feature to which I have to refer is that which was mentioned by my honorable friend, Senator Millen, and reechoed by several other senators. It was said that we were differentiating to the disadvantage of British ships; that, in other words, we were giving a preference to foreigners in Part II. of the Bill, and were most ungenerously taking advantage of our power of legislation to do an injustice to the Mother Country. Senator Millen usually gives thoughtful consideration to these matters; but I am certain that he cannot have favoured us with the result of his mature thought in this instance. I invite him to look at British legislation in regard to matters of internal management such as are mentioned in Part II. of the Bill ; that is, matters relating to the superintendent, officers, supplying seamen, apprentices, the rating of seamen, the crew, the agreement, discharge of seamen, seamen’s wages, seamen’s money orders, discipline, provisions, health, accommodation, protection of seamen, property of deceased seamen, relief to seamen’s families, distressed seamen, the master, the log, and inquests. Those are all more or less matters of internal management and administration. We have, in dealing, with these subjects, first of all to take a glance at the policy of British legislation. While the Imperial Parliament legislates as it thinks proper, and while all the Imperial legislation affecting the oversea Dominions applies throughout the whole Empire, it has never at any time attempted to deal with foreign ships in regard to these subjects. The Imperial Parliament legislates for the shores and territorial waters of Great Britain ; but does not attempt to deal with foreign ships, with their discipline or agreements or contracts between foreign owners and crews.
– Are foreign ships allowed to leave a British port undermanned?
– No; but that matter is not dealt with in these provisions, which relate to internal management. There is. of course, power under the 1906 Act to enforce conditions as to load-lines, overloading, undermanning, and a number of similar matters. Those are applicable to foreign ships within British territorial waters, and there is power to detain such ships under section 462, as amended by the Act of 1897, and further modified by the Act of 1906. I have drawn attention to the general policy of British legislation in that regard. I am then asked why it is that we confine Part II. of the Bill to British ships.
– That was not my question. I asked why the Government include British ships in Part II. of this Bill, when they did not in the first Bill?
– I am not going to evade that question. First of all, it will be obvious to honorable senators that we cannot deal with foreigners as to these particular classes of matters ; because, if we attempted to do so, it would involve international complications. Great Britain would not see her way to consent to our measure, or would more probably disallow it. Consequently, we must start out from the posi tion that we have no power to apply clauses of the kind to foreign ships. Then it is asked, “Why should we seek to apply them to British ships?”
– There is no danger of complications there 1
– No, there is no danger of complications : and a further reason is that in matters of this kind we are directly invited by the Merchant Shipping Act itself to legislate for ourselves.
– As to most of them ; but what of those as to which we are not so invited ?
– In most of these matters we are simply carrying out the policy contained in the Merchant Shipping Act itself, which directs us to legislate in regard to them. The position that I am trying to make clear is that we are permitted, and the States previous to Federation were permitted, to legislate practically as to all the subjects mentioned in Part II. ; and I want honorable senators to realize that we do not attempt to put burdens on the British ship-owner by the terms of that part of this Bill. Such a suggestion has never been made by the Board of Trade itself or by the British Government.
– They have’ not had a chance yet.
– They have had every chance, and, as a matter of fact, the Board of Trade have criticised “this Bill in several of its clauses.
– Not this Bill.
– In several respects we have yielded to the suggestions made by the Board of Trade.
– Do they approve of the penalties for foreigners being made lighter than for British seamen ?
– Their objections _ speak for themselves. The Board of Trade have, categorically, dealt with the measure, and I have shown how far we have followed the suggestions made. Iii some cases we have agreed to them and in others we have not done so.
– Is it .not a fact that the Board of Trade have not seen the new clauses of this Bill?
– They had the Bill of 1907 before them, and upon that t’hey made their suggestions. There is one new provision of which they now know by cable, and that is the alteration of clause 279 ; and they certainly cannot take exception to that.
– Cannot the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company take exception to it?
– Resolution 4 of the Conference reads -
That the conditions imposed by Australian or New Zealand law as regards accommodation, ventilation, and conveniences, should only apply to vessels registered in those Colonies and engaged in their coasting trade.
Lord Elgin in his despatch - quotations from which 1 have given to the Senate - specificially says, “ We do not for one moment challenge, your right to deal in regard to the coastal trade as you please.” The only alteration with which the Board of Trade were not familiar when they supplied us with their criticisms was that in clause 279. The other alterations have been made at their own suggestion.
– They did not suggest that Part II. of the Bill should be made applicable only to British ships.
– Their criticisms were founded on the Bill introduced in the Senate in 1907, which dealt with the very matter that my honorable friend has referred to. What he probably has in mind is a Bill that was never under the direct consideration of the Imperial Conference at all, although it was incidentally referred to there. What was under their direct notice was the report of our Navigation Commission. It was only in so far as that report suggested alterations of the Bill of 1904 that it was incidentally referred to. I should like my honorable friends opposite to be seized of that.
– The honorable senator must admit, from the correspondence, that the Board of Trade is objecting to certain portions of Part II. of the Bil) being made applicable to British ships.
– I shall come to that presently if my honorable friend will permit me. I asked the honorable senator what were the burdens to which he” referred, and he gave me one or two instances. Let me say, first of all, that the point I have been making is that Part II. of the Bill does not impose any burdens at all. What we are doing is in accordance with the policy of the Merchant Shipping Act itself. The second point I make is that these are not burdens on British ships, and that all that is attempted are restrictions which make for liberty - efforts to interpose between master and man for the purpose of securing more satisfactory discipline, and matters of that character. The clauses referred to deal with matters of adjustment, in regard to which we have, of course, the widest discretion. When I asked what were the particular burdens towhich the honorable senator referred, he practically rested his whole case on clause 23.
– I did not. The honorable senator asked me to mention a case in point, and I took the first clause in theBill that provided me with an illustration.
– The honorable senator referred to clause 23, and dealt with it at considerable length. I should have been delighted if he could have referred me to a few more clauses, but, of course, he could’ not.
– That is’ not correct.
– Then perhaps the honorable senator will mention them later on. Now let us look at clause 23. It provides that -
No person shall -
engage as an officer unless he is duly certificated ; or
take into employment as an officer any person who is not duly certificated.
I propose showing how, in obedience tothe suggestion of the Board of Trade, we subsequently modified the form of that clause as it appeared in the Bill of’ 1907. But I wish now to say that the very clause to which Senator Millen takes exception is British legislation.
– And the Board of Trade object to it to-day.
– The honorable senator is referring to the clause as it stood in
– No, the last correspondence shows that the Board of Trade objects to it.
– Pardon me, I shall deal with the points raised specifically. The point I am now making is that the very clause to which my honorable friend takes exception is British legislation.
– My note is that the Board of Trade say that it is more stringent than the corresponding section of the Imperial Act.
– It may perhaps shorten the discussion if I am permitted to ask why, if the comments of the Board of Trade refer only to the Bill of 1907,
Mr. Deakin did noti on the 15th June, dispose of the matter by saying, “ It has since been altered,” instead of dealing with the whole of their objections?
– The honorable senator asks an extraordinary question. First of all, there was the clause appearing in the Bill of 1907. Certain objections were made to it by the British Government and the Board of Trade. We subsequently took into consideration the suggestions and representations then made, and we altered the clause in such a way as I venture to think renders it entirely unobjectionable. The point I make is that the clause as it now stands is to all intents and purposes identical with the British legislation. I ask honorable senators to listen to the corresponding section of the Merchant Shipping Act. It is section 92, and it provides that -
Then is set out a certain scale, according to tonnage, and sub-section 2 provides -
If any person -
having been engaged as one of the abovementioned officers goes to sea as such officer without being duly certificated ; that is in accordance with our clause - or
employs a person as an officer in contravention of this section without ascertaining that the person so serving is duly certificated- that person shall be liable for each offence to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.
– That is clause 23 of the Bill.
– Of course it is.
– Perhaps the Minister will explain the difference between the Merchant Shipping Act and the Bill in the matter of officer requirements?
– I have read the section.
– But the honorable senator does not see that the point underlying this matter is that they are satisfied with a smaller complement of officers than the Bill requires.
– That has nothing to do with the question.
– It is the whole point.
– No, we are dealing at this stage with the certificates provided for in section 92 of the Merchant Shipping Act, and in the famous clause 23 of this Bill, which we were invited to believe imposed a terrible burden on British shipping, and was therefore protested against by the other side. I have shown that, as a matter of fact, it is the same as the British legislation.
– Would the honorable senator mind reading Mr. Deakin’s communication on clause 23?
– What on earth has that to do with the matter? Even assuming that there was a possibility of our taking a harsher view in June than we did immediately prior to the introduction of this Bill, surely my honorable friends opposite cannot reproach the Government on that account ?
– Perhaps the honorable senator will permit me to quote two lines from Mr. Deakin’s despatch on clause 23. ‘ Mr. Deakin says -
The fact that British legislation does not go so far -
– There is something else.
– There is nothing else. Let Senator Trenwith ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council to read it.
– I shall deal with that point. The objection made by the Board of Trade to clause 23 of the Bill of 1907 is put in this mild form -
Clause 23, which deals with the employment of uncertificated persons as officers, is more stringent than the corresponding provisions of the Imperial Acts, and it is suggested that it should be applied only to ships registered in Australia and ships engaged in- the coasting trade.
In other words, the Board of Trade expresses the opinion - which for present purposes it is not necessary either to admit or deny - that clause 23, in the form in which it appeared in the 1907 Bill, is more stringent than British legislation. After looking into the matter, and consulting with those present at the Conference, I have no doubt that what was feared was that the clause would permit of some prying -or inquiry into Board of Trade certificates. That, of course, was not intended, and, in deference to their representations, we altered the clause to read as it now stands -
No person shall -
engage as an officer unless he is duly certificated ;or
take into employment as an officer any person who is not duly certificated.
By putting it in that form it is believed that the objection of the Board of Trade will be met. If this qualification had appeared in the clause as originally submitted, it is probable there would never have been any criticism of the provision at all. So much for this clause 23, about which so much fuss has been made by the other side as imposing a burden upon British shipping. First of all, it is British legislation. Secondly, there is the modification, and then I draw attention to the fact that no exception was taken to Part II. of the Bill, because it was thought we imposed burdens. I have denied altogether that it does impose burdens on British shipping which are not imposed on foreign shipping. If honorable senators will look at the various objections which the Board of Trade have made to Part II., they will see that they simply draw our attention to certain things, make suggestions in regard to others, but never for a moment dispute our right to legislate in regard to them. They do not challenge our right to make any alteration.
– Nobody does.
– That is consistent with mv contention from the beginning that we are honestly carrying out the resolutions of the Conference. In the various objections taken, no protest has been made against the provisions of the Bill as representing burdens. They are regarded as in pursuance of the’ policy of the Merchant Shipping Act, and we are permitted to deal with these matters in our own way. All that the Imperial authorities have attempted to do is to submit suggestions for our consideration, and in some cases to ask us to accept certain views which they urge. We have done so in many cases. I submit that that indicates conclusively enough that it was never in the minds of the British Government, British ship-owners, or the Board of Trade, that we were imposing conditions and burdens on British shipping that we did not impose upon foreigners, and were thus taking advantage of our position in order to prefer the foreigner to the British ship-owner. It is worth the while of honorable senators to look at these objections in order to verify the statement I have made about them.
– The honorable senator said just now that the Imperial authori- ties did not affirm that the Commonwealth was going away from the Conference resolutions.
– I am talking about this particular clause 23, and I say they did not.
– If the Vice-President of the Executive Council will look at the communication from Lord Elgin he will find this statement -
In other cases resolutions accepted by the Commonwealth - probably by inadvertence - have not been carried into effect.
That is a very courteous way of putting the position, but it is nevertheless a challenge.
– I do not at all assent to the suggestion of Lord Elgin. We deny it altogether. In only one instance, speaking subject to correction, did the British Government or the Board of Trade suggest that bv reason of a certain clause the foreign ship-owner might be preferred to the British, and in that instance we made the alteration requested so as to put it beyond all doubt that such a contingency could not arise. More than that, we gave the Imperial authorities the assurance - which I now gladly repeat - that if any clearer language were necessary to establish the proposition that under no circumstances would the foreign ship-owner be preferred to the British, that language would be inserted: I now come to the next point dealt with by the leader of the Opposition - the manning scale. I did not understand him to say that he objected to the scale provided in this Bill. However, he will have an opportunity of dealing with that question subsequently. What I wish to point out is that the manning scale embodied in this measure is not the outcome of any new suggestion. As a matter of fact, that is the result of a suggestion by a body of experts representative of the whole Commonwealth.
– What ! compulsory manning?
– Yes. Seeing that he was a member of the Navigation Commission, my honorable friend ought to know that.
– The manning scale is in opposition to the evidence tendered to that body.
– It is in strict accord with the preponderance of evidence given before the Commission. The manning clauses in the Bill are the outcome of a suggestion by a body of experts representative of the various States of the Commonwealth.
– Then why make provision for the appointment of a Committee to determine the manning scale, which shall be applicable to different vessels? .
– My honorable friends have found it most convenient to ignore the provisions of the Bill. They have urged that it is impossible to apply the same manning scale to every class of ship. Of course it is. We recognise that in clauses 12 and 37. Clause 12 relates to the officers, and clause 37 to the crew of . any ship. The latter provision reads - ‘
Every ship registered in Australia, and every other ship (British or foreign) engaged in the coasting trade, shall carry as crew the number and description of persons specified in the scale set out in Schedule II. or prescribed, or specified for the ship by the Minister, after advice from the Committee to be appointed under this Act for that purpose.
– I should like to be perfectly clear as to the meaning of that clause. Under it there may be three scales, the one contained in the schedule, the one prescribed, and the one fixed by the Committee.
– The clause means exactly what it says. Knowing our own coastal shipping as we do-having an intimate acquaintance with the manning requisite upon the different vessels engaged in the trade - we provide a general scale. But we recognise that ships are differently constructed, and therefore that scale has not been made a cast-iron one. Instead, we have provided a scale which will accommodate itself to any class of vessel, so as to obviate the possibility of hardship or injustice. In order to prevent hasty action, provision has been made in sub-clause 2 of clause 416 for the appointment of a representative committee of experts to advise the Minister upon this all-important matter. It reads -
My honorable friends will see at once that the very object of that provision is practically to adapt our manning scale to different classes of ships. The clause further provides - ,
What could be more reasonable, or exhibit greater anxiety on the part of the Govern ment to do justice to all ships in this connexion? I submit that that provision in itself is of such an elastic character that it can be applied from time to time to the advantage of coastal shipping. Senator Millen also drew attention to clause 204, and inquired, “ Are we going to apply our manning scale to foreign ships ?” I say that whilst our Australian scale of manning may be a guide to us, it does not necessarily follow that it will be applied to foreign ships. Clause 204 practically repeats British legislation. It is a declaration of the British law on the subject which at the present moment is in force throughout the Commonwealth. It reads -
A ship shall not be deemed seaworthy under this Act unless -
She is in a fit state as to condition of hull and equipment, boilers, and machinery, stowage of ballast or cargo, number and qualifications of crew, including officers, and in every other respect, to encounter the ordinary perils of the voyage then entered upon ; and
– Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council connect that provision with the manning scale specified in the Bill and say whether, if a ship’s complement falls below that scale, she will be deemed seaworthy ?
– We have highly competent officers who by the very appearance of a vessel know at once the number of officers, engineers, and men required for her safe working. Whether a vessel has a full complement on board is a matter which will at once be apparent to the trained official eye. Our officers have to be satisfied upon this point in just the same way as the British expert officers have to be satisfied that a ship is manned by a competent crew.
– If I were acting for an insurance company and a ship carried one less than the complement provided by the Bill, I should say that the insurance policy taken out by such vessel would be void.
– We particularize in respect of our own coastal vessels. They are in and out of our ports every day, and we know exactly what complement they require for their efficient working. Accordingly we have provided an elastic manning scale which is applicable to those vessels.
– Let us assume that a vessel entered one of our ports with two men less than the number required under our Australian manning scale. Would she be allowed to leave that port without taking on a’dditional hands?
– The question which would then arise is whether every oversea ship should -be required to carry exactly the same complement. If in the opinion of our experts a particular vessel ought to do so, the increased number of hands would have to be engaged.
– Then we shall need to make the meaning of clause 204 plainer.
– Nothing could possibly be plainer. It applies to all ships - British and foreign. In the one case we apply it specifically to our own coastal trade and to ships registered in the Commonwealth, and in the other we apply it from the standpoint of British legislation.
– Let us assume that an Australian ship or a vessel upon the Australian register is required to carry a certain complement, and that she transfers to a foreign register. .Would such vessel be permitted to leave our port, carrying a lesser crew than she had previously carried, as a. seaworthy ship?
– It is possible. My honorable friend must see that that is a matter for our expert officers to deal with. Upon them rests the responsibility of determining whether or not a” ship is seaworthy.
– But the point is that the manning scale will te used as evidence that she is not seaworthy.
– First of all we have no power to apply our manning scale to foreign ships.
– But I was speaking of a foreign-going ship.
– The whole point resolves itself into this : Is the ship seaworthy or not? We have full and complete British standards to act upon in that connexion - standards which would no doubt guide our expert officers in arriving at a determination.
– If the manning on a British ship were lower than that required by the Australian scale, and if she entered one of our ports, would she be permitted to leave without manning up to our standard?
– A British or foreign ship would not be allowed to leave our shores unless she were seaworthy, which means that she must, in the opinion of our expert officers, carry a full complement.
– A full complement according to which law - British or Australian ?
– According to the opinion of our expert officers.
– I have asked a straight question.
– And I have given a straight answer. The responsibility of determining whether a vessel carries her full complement - or whether she is seaworthy - rests with our expert officers. They have to be satisfied upon this point before she can- leave our shores.
– But the Government would pay due regard to the Board of Trade certificates?
– We expressly do so by the terms of this Bill. I now come to one or two clauses -to which my attention was specially drawn. First, Senator McColl, and subsequently Senator St. Ledger, mentioned the apprehension of Mr. Lloyd George that a blow would be dealt to British shipping by reason of certain provisions in the Bill which was then before him: That had special reference, I think, to the .structural alterations which were therein provided for.
– They were specially mentioned.
– Yes. I want to show my honorable friends, who “evidently had overlooked the provisions of our Bill, how we have yielded to the suggestions which were then made, and to the resolutions of the Navigation Conference. Clause 133 of this Bill provides for certain accommodation for officers, and that, if I remember rightly, is the same as British legislation. Clause 1.34 deals with the sleeping accommodation, and, subject to an alteration, it is practically in the same terms as British legislation. It provides that -
Every space in a ship which is appropriated to the berthing accommodation of seamen or apprentices shall -
have for each seaman or apprentice a space of not less than 120 cubic feet and of not less than 15 superficial feet measured on the ‘deck or floor of that place, &c.
That is practically the same as British legislation. The reason for the apprehension on the part of Mr. Lloyd George was that this clause, was made applicable to British sea-going ships, and, in consequence of the representations which were made at Home, we introduced after the word “ ship “ the words “ registered in
Australia or engaged in the coasting trade.” In other words, we yielded to their suggestion, and made the provision applicable only to ships registered in Australia and ships engaged in our coastal trade. That gets rid at once of the fear which was expressed by Mr. Lloyd George. Clause 135 deals with certain other features of the accommodation which has to be provided. It reads -
As in all other cases, that provision is in strict accord with the resolution of the Conference, which says -
That the conditions imposed by Australian or New Zealand law as regards accommodation, ventilation, and Conveniences, should only apply to vessels registered in those Colonies or engaged in their coasting trade.
My honorable friend will see that, although at the time, and in the then form of the Bill, there was reason for the apprehensions expressed by Mr. Lloyd George, we have met them by the reconstruction which was then suggested.
– But is there not a great difference indeed between 120 cubic feet in both the measures, because, under the English Act, the bathroom and messroom can be part of that space?
– It only deals with ships to be built hereafter, any way.
– Yes. If Senator Dobson is referring to certain representations which were brought under our notice by Senator Vardon, my information is that they are quite exaggerated. They are apparently made on the basis that the Bill provides that the mess-room which is to be provided is to accommodate practically the whole of the crew. When the clauses are reached they will require analysis, and we shall ascertain what is the exact position. The point is that unless a ship is insanitary - and no one will protest against alterations being made in that case - these conditions will only apply to ships to be built hereafter. My. honorable friend made a point in regard to clause 201. We specifically provide there that the certifi cates of the British Board of Trade are to be accepted, but my honorable friend objected to sub-clause 2, which reads -
In cases where the Minister is satisfied, in regard to any British steam-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 ; and
give a certificate which shall have the same effect as if -given upon survey under this Act.
My honorable friend is under a misapprehension. He will see that the first portion of the clause deals with that class of ships which are provided with a British Board of Trade certificate- We say that except in cases of emergency such certificates are to be accepted. But sub-clause 2 deals practically with British ships which do not possess such certificates - that is with British ships which are registered in other Colonies, and to which, of course, British law applies.
– That is probably correct, but I suggest that its wording( wants to be amended.
– Possibly it does. I now come to clause 279, concerning which a great deal has been said. I have to give special attention to this provision, because of the extraordinary criticism of Senator St. Ledger, which could only have been made without a reading of the clause. He put to me the case of the British India Company’s steam-ships trading on the north-east coast of Queensland, and asked whether they would be exempted as regards passengers and cargo. The clause is most specific. The ships have to carry mails, and the provision is to apply to passengers only, and not to cargo.
– That is to say, the boats to which Senator St. Ledger referred could not be exempted under this clause?
– They might under certain circumstances. If they were carrying mails, they might be exempted as to passengers.
– Queensland will insist upon the boats carrying mails if she can.
– The boats must be under contract to the Commonwealth.
– Not necessarily; not under paragraph b. My honorable friend will see that, according to the terms of the clause, there is no power to discriminate as between ports.
– Not directly.
– There is no such power, either directly or indirectly.
– Pardon me ; there is.
– Every steam-ship which is exempted will have the right to trade to every port in Australia, so far as passengers are concerned.
– Does the Minister mind telling me what lines of boats have contracts with the Government to carry mails to or from the Commonwealth?
– That is beside the question.
– There is only one line that has a contract with the Commonwealth Government?
– Paragraph b permits every class of steamer so exempted to trade to every port-
– The Government can put an exemption under paragraph a into operation, but not one under paragraph b.
– That may be so.
– Why does not the Minister say that the clause is designed to save Western Australia, and have done with the matter?
– Why should I misrepresent the terms of the Bill? The truth is that it cannot be made applicable to Western Australia only.
– Senator St. Ledger wanted to know whether, if the Government are going to exempt vessels to help the people of Western Australia, they will exempt the boats of the British India Company if they carry mails?
– How absurd it is to ask me a question of that kind ! The Government of the day will have the responsibility of making, or, perhaps, repealing an Order in Council.
– The Committee will require the Minister to state what the Government intend to do.
– Here is the Bill which the honorable senator, can read for himself. He will see that if an Order in Council is made in regard to a certain class of ships, it will be within his power - to repeal it as soon as he attains office.
– That is what we object to. People should know what they can do, and should not be subject to the whim of a party.
– A great deal has been said as to the non-responsibility of the Ministry ; but no one seriously thinks for a moment that the Ministry of the day is not responsible to the Parliament. It can only live with the consent of a majority in Parliament, and whatever a Ministry may do under this measure will be done pursuant to the will of Parliament. It is perfectly obvious that this clause was made to apply to all the ports of Australia. It is equally obvious that it- can only apply to passengers, and not to cargo.
– And not to ships with a black man on board.
– It is very difficult for me to deal with everything that has been mentioned ; but I wish to refer now to certain objections by the Steam-ship Owners Association. In the first place, they urge that Parts I. and VIII. of the Merchant Shipping Act should be included in thismeasure. Part I. of the Act refers to a certain registry of ships, and Part VIII.,. I think, fixes the liability of owners of ships. That is the law in the Commonwealth at the present day, and neither directly nor indirectly do we attempt to interfere with it. What, in those circumstances, have the steam-ship owners to object to?
– They ask that the Government should put all the legislation under one cover.
– It is really absurd to ask us to incorporate the whole of that Act in this Bill. Why should we encumber our measure with parts of an Act which are designedly made applicable to the whole of the British Dominions?
– Why should a man who wants to ascertain the law on a question have to buy the Commonwealth Act and also the Imperial Act?
– When provisions such as those contained in Parts I. and VIII. of the Merchant Shipping Act are made applicable to the whole of the British Dominions, and we are satisfied with them, there is a great advantage in leaving them as they are, because we get the benefit of the interpretation of the law by British’ Courts, which is most useful to us.
– We should still get that benefit.
– Not if we altered the law.
– The Government are doing that in the case of the Marine Insurance Bill.
– In that case, we are accommodating the law immediately to our own circumstances, but no reason has been suggested why we should encumber this Bill with any provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act. I next come to the objection with regard to regulations. Honorable senators will see, as we come to the clauses one by one, that regulations are the only proper and effective means of dealing with the various matters. I have shown how useful it is, and how satisfactory it must be, to have an elastic means of regulating the manning scale to particular classes of ships that come to our shores from time to time.
– By means of a Committee.
– Yes, and by regulation. Then, with regard to lights and such matters, I have to say that the terms of the British Act have nothing to do with us. Why on earth British regulations should, be made applicable to us I do not know. We shall deal with our lighthouses by a separate Act of Parliament. But 1 am at present speaking on the subject of regulations; and I say that it will be found in regard to many of the features of the Bill that it would be dangerous and improper, and would work great hardships, to fix, by means of the cast-iron sections of an Act of Parliament, certain conditions which in many cases may be right, but which in other cases may be quite useless, and would, therefore, involve the use of all the heavy machinery entailed in altering the law. If, however, in SUCh matters, regulations can be made suitable to the conditions that arise, it will be a source of advantage to all concerned.
– We really want a Marine Department.
– There will be a branch of the Customs Department for the purpose.
– Senator Macfarlane means that we require some body apart from the Minister.
– This Bill provides for the appointment of a Committee; and i’f honorable senators think it desirable that the powers of the Committee should be strengthened, that will be a matter for further thoughtful consideration, although I think that the Senate Will hesitate to go further than we propose. I venture to say that the Committee will be most sensitive to the wishes of Parliament. A number of other clauses of the Bill have been debated, but I am sure that honorable senators will not hold me guilty ot discourtesy if I do not refer to them at this stage. I shall be only too glad to deal with the remaining points in Committee.
– I wish to inquire when the cablegram was sent to London in reference to clause 279, and whether the Minister will lay a copy of it upon the table?
– I am not aware that I said that we sent a cablegram; but it has incidentally come to our knowledge that ‘a cablegram was sent by one of the shipping companies.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time. / n Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
– I allowed clause 1 to pass, although I desired to have some assurance as to the date when the Bill would be brought into operation. I shall, however, have an opportunity of mentioning the matter later.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I move -
That for the better carrying out of the wages and labour conditions of Commonwealth contracts, it is essential that inspectors should be appointed to supervise their observance.
I dare say that honorable senators are aware that, under the conditions observed in Commonwealth contracts to-day, whether for buildings or for providing material, there is a provision that the contractors shall observe the wages and labour conditions of the district in which contracts are carried out. But no machinery is provided by which due recognition is given to the principle embodied in a resolution carried in both Houses of the Parliament some years ago, and was also included in the Post and Telegraph Act. In some of the States there are bodies established by law, such as Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards, which lay down schedules of wages. For instance, in the building trades there is a schedule, and in the clothing trades there is a “ log.” Of course, in the States where such conditions prevail, provision is made for the observance of them. We have, in the Commonwealth, carried out this principle of the appointment of inspectors regarding the quality, of material supplied and of work done. In some cases our work is carried out by the Public Works Departments of the States. For instance, in Western Australia it is carried out by the State Public Works Department, whose inspectors supervize the quality of work done for the Commonwealth, just as they do for the State. In New South Wales and Victoria the work is done by the Commonwealth Public Works Department directly, which has inspectors for the same purposes. As regards the labour conditions, in Western Australia the building trades work under an award of the Arbitration Court. But under the law in Western Australia there is no statutory provision for the supervision of the work, so as to insure that the proper wages are paid. The employes have to police the Act. In the building trades experience shows that the wages conditions are properly observed. I know of no instances in which the labour conditions affecting the building trades in Western Australia are disregarded.
– Then ‘the honorable senator does not want an inspector in that particular industry ?
– I think not, although it has been alleged that in one or two cases the law has been evaded. But I have no personal knowledge to that effect, and, therefore, make no statement of my own concerning it. But there are other States in which no such statutory provision is made for setting up a standard of wages, and where our Public Works Department would have to fall back either upon the recognised standard of the trade, or would have to make a standard of its own, and announce that to be the standard under which works are to be tendered for. In connexion with the clothing trade - again referring to my own State - matters are by no means so satisfactory. The clothing trade in Western Australia has obtained.,- I suppose, about the best award under which the clothing trade in any part of the Commonwealth is conducted. I venture to say that the conditions of the award regarding apprentices form a model for other States. We have practically adopted the recommendations contained in a report by the Commission appointed in Victoria to inquire into the subject. But when I was in Western Australia during the recess numerous complaints were made to me by members of the union, and by women workers par ticularly, that they found very great difficulty in enforcing the award. Honorable senators are aware that women are largely engaged in the clothing trade, and they have a diffidence about reporting cases where the wages conditions are not observed. Many of them have no knowledge of the conditions. They may be outside the union, and, not being fully aware of the terms under which they ought to be working, and accept what the employers choose to give them. In other States, as 1 will show the Senate presently - in one State, at any rate - the clothing contracts of the Commonwealth have been carried out under what can only be described as shameful conditions, and in disregard of the terms specified in our tender forms. It will be obvious, Mr. President, that if we lay down certain conditions, and call for tenders under them, and if a tender is accepted, and the contractor does not observe the conditions, he is simply guilty of fraud ; and I am sure that no- honorable senator would have the least sympathy or consideration for a man who tendered’ under conditions pledging him to observe standard rates of wages, and who, having obtained a contract in competition with other contractors, defeated what was aimed, at by the Legislature. I have just pointed out the method by which the building contracts for the Commonwealth are carried out. I now wish to show the conditions under which clothing contracts are conducted. Here a most unsatisfactory system obtains. I have no fault to find with the manner in which the postal contracts are managed, and the departmental control exercised. But I do find fault with the manner in which the contracts for the Defence Department are observed. Again I speak for my own State, but I believe that the rule obtains throughout the Commonwealth. Instead of the military commandant, or even the staff officers, having control of the military contracts, each regimental commanding officer calls for tenders for the supply of uniforms for his particular unit of the Defence Force. Many of these regimental officers are hardworking business men. The whole of their time in business hours is taken up with their private concerns. They merely devote their leisure to the drilling and affairs of their regiments. Yet they are expected to call for tenders, to accept a tender, to allot it, and generally to supervise the. carrying out of the contract. I believe that by arrangement with the State Government in Western Australia these officers have the assistance of the State Tender Board. But that is simply a departmental Board, consisting of a certain number of officers - three or five - who have the tenders brought before them, and recommend which should be accepted. My information is that whilst there is an inspector - a State officer - who inspects the material and the made-up garments in order to see that the work is of proper quality, there is absolutely no inspection and control whatever of the method in which the work is carried out for the Commonwealth.
– Does not the State law provide a scale of wages in the clothing trade?
– In Western Australia there is a State Factories Act and an Arbitration Act, but I am pointing out that, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, although State officers acting for the Defence Department supervises the material and workmanship, that is the only supervision that is exercised, apart from that given in some States by legislation such as Factories or Arbitration Acts. The point I wish to make is that in States where no such legislation exists the only supervision, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, is as to quality of material and workmanship. Where there is no statutory regulation of labour conditions there is no supervision of those conditions. I have said that in the clothing trade in Western Australia - and other honorable senators from that State have had the same complaint made to them - there is no supervision of the labour conditions, particularly in connexion with the supplyof postal and military uniforms.
– The practice is to require compliance with the conditions obtaining in the nearest State in which statutory provision is made.
– I am not complaining that there are no such statutory provisions in Western Australia. There are such provisions, but there is no one charged with the duty on behalf of the Commonwealth of seeing that the statutory conditions are observed. Under the Western Australian Arbitration Act, it is left to the trade union concerned to see that the statutory conditions are observed. There are many engaged in the manufacture of clothing who do not belong to a trade union, and there is some subletting of these contracts. I shall give an example of what occurs in Tasmania, where the workers have no statutory protection. One can easily imagine that if the statutory conditions are evaded in a State in which they have been laid down by legislation, good conditions are not likely to be observed in a State which has made no statutory provision.
– Does not what the honorable senator has said indicate a failure on the part of State authorities to carry out State laws?
– No; because the Western Australian Arbitration Act makes no provision for the appointment of inspectors.
– The law lays down principles, but provides no machinery to give effect to them.
– Only that which is brought into operation . voluntarily.
– Is there not a factory inspector ?
SenatorPEARCE. - This has nothing to do with wages conditions and hours of labour, which are fixed by the Arbitration Court. In South Australia the whole matter is covered by one Statute - the Factories Act - but in Western Australia there are two Statutes dealing with these matters. I have here the evidence given before the Royal Commissioin on wages and wageearners, appointed by the State Government of Tasmania in 1906. I shall read a few extracts from the evidence to show what has actually taken place in that State in connexion with contracts for the supply of military and postal uniforms. I may say that, I believe by order of the Government of Tasmania, in this publication the names of witnesses and of business firms are omitted. I believe that the object was to protect certain witnesses, who thought they might be injured if their names were published.
– The Commission carefully let alone the office of the labour organ, which was the biggest sweater of the lot.
– That does not “make much difference. At question 12034, I find this evidence -
What work do you do ? - Improver to the tailoring.
In what department? - I am on contract work.
In whose employ ?-
What particular class of work are you engaged at ? - Military coats.
What rate of pay do you receive? - 8s. 6d. per week.
How long have you been in this employ? - Over 3 years.
When you first entered this employment, what were the terms of your engagement? - I came three months and a fortnight for nothing.
What did you then receive? - as. 6d. per week.
For how long a period? - About 6 months. Then I got 4s. 6d. per week; then I got 7s., and a little while ago I got 8s. 6d.
How long ago is that? - About 3 weeks.
Are you constantly employed making military coats ? - Yes.
Are you required to make so many coats a week? - Yes, four a week, with an apprentice, who gets 5s. a week.
How old are you? - Nineteen.
Do you live with your parents? - I live with my mother.
You practically have to maintain yourself? - Yes.
– Was the witness a boy or a girl?
– The fact that I am unable to say whether the witness was a boy or a girl is due to the action of the State Government in eliminating the names from this publication.
– It is typical of Tasmania.
– It is typical also of Western Australia-
– I hope that no member of the Senate will think that I am making these quotations with any intention to disparage Tasmania; to do so would be to take quite a wrong view of what I am endeavouring to do. At page 235 of this publication I find that another witness was asked -
What work do you do? - Tailoring.
Are you working for- ? - Yes.
What hours do you work? - From half -past eight till six.
What wages do you receive? - 12s. 6d. per week.
How long have you been at this employment? - About 5 years.
You have to make 8£ hours up? - Yes.
Are you a competent coat hand now ? - Yes.
Can you complete a coat right through? - Yes.
In every detail ? - Yes. For 2 years back now I have been making coats by . myself.
How many coats do you make a week? - Two.
You are making coats by contract? - Yes.
So much a piece for each coat? - We are’ paid so much. We have a certain number to make for our wages.
How many of you are together? - Five.
Are you all equally skilful with the work? - The others are not all. They have not been so long at it. Some are only getting zs. 6d. per week.
Is there any one getting more than you? - Yes, only one.
Will you tell us how many coats you fiveemployes make in one week? - We do not make the same every week.
What is this contract work? - The cadet uniforms. There is a rush of work on now. Wehave to do it.
How many of these coats would you make in a week? - I do not know.
How many would you turn out by yourself?’ - About five.
Military coats? - Yes.
Are you making police uniforms? - No, postoffice and cadets.
How many ordinary plain sac coats would’ you make in a week? - I would make two by myself.
How many post-office coats did you make in> a week ? - About five.
This witness received 12s. 6d. per week.
– The witness appearsto me to be paid by piece-work.
– No. The witnesswas only getting 12s. 6d. per week, and’ was required to make a certain number ot coats in the week. A certain minimumr task had to be performed for a wage of” 12s. 6d. per week. The witness was a competent coat-maker, and had been employed at the work for five years.
– Is the honorable senator able to state the exact terms of the wages and labour conditions inserted inour contracts?
– No exact terms arelaid down, but it is provided that the contractor shall observe the standard rate of wages in the district in which the work is performed. I am not saying that these contractors are not observing the standardrate of wages.
– Is not subletting forbidden in our contracts?
– It is, but I shall’, refer honorable senators to this evidence fora clear case of subletting. At page 236,. question 12482, I find this evidence -
What work are you engaged at ? - I am a. trousers hand.
You are emnloyed by- ? - Yes.
What “ rate of pay do you receive ? - I am onpiecework.
How are you paid bv piece-work? - Whateverwe do. It is different work we get, and we arepaid differently for it.
What rate of pay do you get for trouserswithout any extras in them? - I get 3s. a pair.
And you get 6d. extra for extra pockets? - Yes.
And 6d. for raised seams? - No, not for raised’ seams.
Is there a class of trousers worse paid than that? - Yes, 2s. 6d. and 2s. The railway work is cheap. The post-office trousers are is. 6d., and the railway is. 3d.
Would that be the lowest? - Yes.
What have you earned recently in a week? - One week I got 18s. 6d.
Is that the highest you have ever earned? - Yes.
Would you average 15s. a week? - No.
What would you earn on the average, working the ordinary hours - on 3s. trousers? - It depends on what I get.
You do not always get that class of work to do ?- No.
Consequently you do not earn 18s. a week? - No.
Would your average earnings be 14s. a week since you have been here, taking one week with another? - No, some weeks it has been ns.
Would that be when you are working full time? - Yes, because we do not get good work every day. Sometimes we do, and then we earn more.
What do you mean by good work? - I mean the trousers we are paid 3s. and 2s. 6d. a pair for.
Evidently the making of postal uniforms was not regarded as good work. The evidence continues -
Would there be a fairly large proportion of is. 3d. and is. 6d. trousers? - They only come in when there is .contract work to do. The post-office work is in now.
How long would that cheap work last - would it be a month? - According to how much there is; sometimes over a month.
What causes your average wages to be so low if the cheap work only comes occasionally? - -To-day you might get a 3s. pair, the next 2S. 6d., or you might get 3s. all the week,’ and then 2S. pairs.
If you got 2S. trousers all the week, your wages would be 12s. ? - Sometimes I do not make a pair a day.
How old are you? - Twenty.
Can you give us an idea how many pairs of trousers for the post-office you can make in a day ? - I can make one pair and get a start with another.
That would mean . about is. 9d. per day. Questions were asked of another witness, a trousers hand on piece-work, who confirmed the statements made that the. rates for trousers were is. 3d. and is. 6d. This witness was asked by Mr. Long -
Let us get at this more definitely. Can you complete a 3s. pair of trousers every day without working overtime? - Yes.
More than one pair of post-office trousers without working overtime? - Yes, and start another.
Seven pairs a week - would that be fair? - Yes.
Honorable senators will see that seven pairs of trousers per week, at rs. 6d. per pair, represent a wage of 10s. 6d. per week.
At page 238 I find the evidence of a member of some clothing firm in Tasmania. At question 12571, he was asked -
Does the log price for coats apply to both male and female employes? - Really, we have no recognised women’s log. We simply pay them a weekly wage. Some of the coat hands are earning £1 for two coats.
No female piece-workers on coats? - No women coat hands on piece-work; only trousers and vests.
There are times when you employ females on piece-work in the manufacture of coats? - No; never. They are all weekly wage earners. A woman is getting £1 10s. This log shows 15s. 6d. for a sac coat for a man. She gets £1 10s. for three coats, but she does not get paid the same as a man.
– Because she does not do the same work as a man.
– She gets 30s. per week, and makes three coats in that time, while the men get 15s. 6d. for each coat.
– But the man does his own pressing, and a lot of work that the girl does not do.
– I think that is not so, because I find at question 12 581 the witness was asked -
A male hand* finishes his coat and presses it, but a female does not, and the answer was “ No.”
– He is assenting to that proposition.
– His answer maybe interpreted in either way. He affirms, however, that there is no recognised women’s log. In question 12575, he is asked -
Does not your firm manufacture the railway officials’ uniform, Post-office, and cadets’?
His reply is -
In answer to question 12584, the witness says -
Two shillings would be a fair thing for pressing a coat.
If that be so, the women operatives are being paid less than the men.
– Because they do not perform the same class of work.
– The witness is further asked -
There is a discrepancy between the male and female in the making of coals? - Yes, no woman gets the same price as a man. In any part of the world no woman’s labour is recognised at the same rate as a man’s.
That is not the case under our Commonwealth legislation. The witness is then asked -
Is the work as good? - No; it is not. If a man comes in for a better class of garment, we never give it to a woman to make. It is the cheaper trade we put a woman on to.
So far as the military and postal uniforms are concerned, it is scarcely necessary for me to point out that they are of a uniform character, and it is quite probable that a man holding these ideas would pay a woman less - for performing the same class of work - than a man. Another tailor who had been employed upon piece work during the preceding twelve months, was asked - 12622. What wages can you earn, working the ordinary hours, 8 till 6, on piece-work, at 15s. 6d. a coat? - If I were kept fully employed I could make £3 to , £3 5s. 12623. There are times that you are not kept fully employed? - Yes; about nine months of the year. Sometimes only one job a week ; then, perhaps, none for a week. This is our Best time that is just before us. 12624. For nine months of the year you would be slack? - Yes. 12625. What would your average earnings for a year be ? - It would not come to £110s. Some weeks I get nothing, and sometimes it is13s. and 14s. a week. 12626. Can you give us any idea why you are not employed here regularly? - Yes; because the women are taking our places and doing the work. 12627. On coats? - Yes. They import them from Melbourne and Sydney. 12628. By the President. - What do they import? - Tailors and tailoresses. 12629. By Mr. Long. - Is there really any necessity to import those people ? - Certainly not. 12630. Am I to understand that people are imported from the other States despite the fact that the’ labour is here ? - Yes. 12631. Do they get them at the ruling rate? - I do not say what they get them at. 12632. The tendency is tosupplant men labour with women labour ? - Yes; there is no doubt about it. 12633. Would that be characteristic of the trade generally? - Yes. We feel we have a grievance. They bring the men and women over here to do our work, and they take £30 or £40 in a season, while we stay here and pay our taxes. We consider it very unfair to us, the fathers of families, who stop here all the year round.
That evil would be quickly cured if employers were compelled to pay women the same wages - for the same class of work - that they are required to pay men. Under the award in Western Australia a woman is paid the same rate as a man for the same class of work.
– The difference between women’s and men’s work in the tailoring trade is rapidly disappearing.
– The honorable senator’s complaint is that the wages stipulated for in Commonwealth contracts are not being paid.
– If Senator Millen will permit me to finish my next quotation, I shall then endeavour to state the point which I desire to make. Upon page 261 of the same report, a tailoress is examined as follows - 13885. You reside at High-street? - Yes. 13886. You undertake piece-work in this line of business? - Yes. 13887. For different firms? - Yes. 13888. For- ?- Yes. 13896. Do you do any contract work? - Yes.
contract? - Yes. I am doing prisoners’ clothes. They are tweed. I get 7½d. a pair for them. 13898. You complete those trousers, with the exception of cutting out? - Yes. They find everything- thread, &c. 13899. For cadets? - Ninepence for those: they find everything. I finish them right off ready for wearing.
There is a, clear case of subletting, which is distinctly forbidden under the conditions of contract. The examination of the same witness is thus continued - 13911. Taking week for week, what do you earn on the average at those prices? - I may earn ten shillings on that. 13912. Would ten shillings be a fair average if you were constantly employed ? - Yes ; I dare say it would if I were kept going. 13917. By Mr. Long. - In earning that ten shillings you would have to work different hours ? - Yes ; I work all hours. I might not be working in the afternoon, but I might at night. I do the work as I can get time to do it. 13918. Is your husband alive? - Yes. 13919. Have you any family? - One child. 13920. From whom do you receive this work? 13924. These cadet trousers - whom do you get that work from? - cuts them out; pays me.
I dare say that the gentleman who paid the witness was an individual who had previously given evidence before this Commission, which seems to have been in the habit of first taking the evidence of an emplover, and afterwards of listening to the testimony of his employés. According tothe testimony of the last witness, a distinct breach of the contract conditions was committed in subletting to her the making of cadet uniforms. Evidently, there is no recognised scale for the payment of women engaged in this line in Tasmania. I quite recognise that the services of an inspector in this connexion would be useless unless a scale was first laid down, and he was instructed to secure its observance. I brought this matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral more than twelve months ago, and he informed me that it was his intention to instruct his officers in Hobart to draw up a scale of wages, submit it to employers and employés, take their evidence in regard to it, and, if that scale were mutually satisfactory, to adopt it in all postal contracts. Evidently very low prices have been paid in Tasmania for work of this kind - especially women’s work.
– No lower than those paid elsewhere.
– The curious thing is that contractors were getting men and women from Sydney to go over there.
– Several witnesses who had been working previously in Melbourne gave evidence before that Commission, and in every instance they declared that the wages paid in Tasmania were less than those they had received in this city.
– Then why did they go there?
– Presumably because they were young women whose parents had removed to Hobart.
– The statement was made that men and women went to Tasmania from Sydney and Adelaide.
– Probably some of these young women, had worked in factories in Melbourne and elsewhere, and their , parents having removed to Tasmania, they were content to accept similar employment there. But my point is that if the Postmaster-General has fulfilled his promise, there is now a recognised scale of wages in Hobart. But even, if that Be so, there is nobody in that city to enforce its observance.” If this Parliament is in favour of the observance of wages conditions, it should insist upon the same supervision being exercised over them that it insists upon, so far as the quality of the material supplied by contractors is concerned. I believe that in every capital city in Australia there is sufficient Commonwealth work being carried on to keep an inspector fully employed, and it might be portion of his function to see that proper wages conditions are observed. It would be a simple matter for the Minister of Home Affairs to establish a wages standard in connexion with every building that is being erected by the Commonwealth, and to insist upon its being posted by the contractor in a conspicuous place. Senator Trenwith informs me that when he was a Minister in Victoria he enforced that practice. - Every contractor should be compelled to post on his contract the log which he is observing. An occasional visit by an inspector would afford the employes an opportunity of complaining if the wages conditions were not being fulfilled.
– Why should he complain to an inspector?
– If he were to complain to his employer, he would be quicklytold to look elsewhere for work.
– The honorable senator is speaking of a State in which there is no Wages Board or Arbitration. Act.
– His argument applies to all the States,
– No. If there were a Wages Board in existence the employe” would be able to complain to the inspector of factories. If, on the contrary, there was no Wages Board, but an Arbitration Court in existence, he could - if he were a member of a union - complain to his union. If he were a non-unionist-
– Surely it would be . an easy matter to appoint a man to receive complaints.
– Why not appoint an inspector?
– Because in Tasmania he might have very little to do.
– If in Tasmania there is not sufficient work to keep him fully employed, there is no reason why we should not depute a State officer to do this work. I do not see why the inspector upon a Commonwealth building, who is charged with the duty of seeing that the workmanship and material put into it are good, should not be called upon to see that proper wages conditions are observed.
– It is very rarely that we find one person who is constantly engaged as an inspector upon a Commonwealth building. Very frequently we have to utilize the services of State officers.
– I have always admitted that State officers might be advantageously employed in some circumstances. But at present the inspectors are not charged with the duty of seeing that the labour conditions are observed. I am not advocating that an additional inspector should be appointed, but there is no reason why a schedule should not be adopted by the Minister and posted on the building or in the factory arid the present inspector charged with the duty of seeing that it is observed.
– Has the honorable senator any evidence that the wages he quoted are below the ruling rate of wages in the district?
– Who is to judge as to what is the ruling rate?
– I take it that the judge will be the Minister. If he says to certain persons, “ I want you to contract for the making of so many coats, and to undertake to pay the standard rate, and this log is the standard rate which I recognise,” every tenderer will know what he will have to pay. And having contracted with his eyes open, a contractor will not be able to complain when he is asked by the inspector to observe the conditions under which he tendered. It seems to me that in this matter Ministers have shown great laxity. Although these conditions have been embodied in all contracts, still I have not noticed any determined effort to enforce them.
– In several instances in different parts of the Commonwealth we have refused to advance a penny to the contractor until he has made a declaration exhaustively setting forth that he has complied with every condition.
– I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that a log has been drawn up for Tasmania. I am under the impression that if he makes inquiries he will find that no log has yet been adopted.
– All that it is necessary to do is to ask them to adopt the Melbourne log; Most of the decent tradesmen have done so.
– It is not the decent tradesman who objects to these conditions, and to a visit from an inspector, but it is the sweater.
– Is there not a difference between a contractor employing somebody on piece work to do the work, and subletting the whole contract?
– Of course there is.
– Is the honorable senatorquite sure that in this instance the person did sublet?
– The piece-work system is different from subletting. Piece rates are, I understand, recognised generally in the clothing trade.
– Did the man who let the making of the coats at9d. each sublet?
– Yes, because the woman was not working at the factory. Apparently she resided by herself.
– Do I understand that the difference between piece-work and subletting is whether the work is done at home or in the factory?
– That is one of the differences, but there are others. The system of home work has been more productive of sweating than has any other system in the clothing trade. Although it is entirely forbidden by the present conditions of contracts, yet it has been broken in the instance I have given. I hope that the Senate will agree to the motion and that the Minister will take action upon it.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keating) adjourned.
– I confess that I am a little surprised to find any opposition on the part of the Government to a motion which only asks for information concerning the tenders received for the installation of wireless telegraphy at various places.
– If my honorable friend will consent to strike out the words “ and particulars of all tenders received “ there will be no objection offered to the motion. He will see that it would be most unfair to the tenderers to have their tenders disclosed to the public.
– If that be soand I can understand that there may be departmental objections to a disclosure of such information - and the Senate is furnished with the specifications of the plant required for the installation of wireless telegraphy and particulars of the tenders as invited, I shall be quite satisfied, for that is all I wanted to obtain. If a certain statement in the Argus has been made with authority from the Government, I have some reason to think that there has been something wrong in connexion with the tenders. I am anxious to bring out what wrong there has been. In Monday’s Argus the following statement appears -
Tenders were called for the six first-named stations, and tenders from five of the leading companies were received. Not one of these tenders, however, provided for the erection and installation of the wireless system. All that the companies cared to do was to sell to the Government the necessary equipment, leaving to the Postal Department the responsibility of installation. In these circumstances none of the tenders have been accepted.
In different parts of Australia, and in Tasmania, a great deal of interest has been ta,ken in the question of wireless telegraphy, and the deplorable catastrophe which happened quite recently on the Tasmanian coast is a further illustration of the necessity of establishing some communication with our outlying islands. The public want to know what the Government intend to do - whether they are acting in accordance with what they promised some time ago, or why the establishment of this service, which is so keenly desired, and which is so absolutely necessary for the safety of the sea-going public in Bass Strait and round the coast of Australia generally, should unnecessarily be delayed. I have information that tenders were submitted which did provide for erection and complete installation, and taking full responsibility for the success of the work. If that . be so, the statement? made in the Argus must have been absolutely incorrect. I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be able to embody a contradiction of that statement in the return which will be made to the order of the Senate. I beg to move, with concurrence^ -
That the specifications of the plant, Sc., required for the installation of wireless telegraphy, for which tenders were recently invited, and all information supplied to contractors, be laid upon the table of the Senate.
– There is no objection to the information being supplied, and the papers being placed upon the table of the Library or the Senate as the case may be, as requested by my honorable friend. The objection of the Department was directed to the disclosure of the tenders to the public. That is confidential information, and the disclosure of it would be strongly objected to by the tenderers.
– That information is nearly always published.
– No; only the amount of the successful tender is published. As regards the other matter which my honorable friend mentioned, I shall be only too glad to call the attention of the Department to his remarks, and to ask for an explanation, but my general impression is that the statements in the newspaper do not apply to the stations referred to in the motion.
– There is another matter which seems to require an explanation. I presume that Senator Mulcahy was quoting from some evidence which was given yesterday by Mr. Hesketh, Chief Electrical Engineer to the Post and Telegraph Department. According to .the Age report of his evidence, Mr. Hesketh said -
Tenders had been invited for installation at Fremantle, Sydney, Cape York, Thursday Island, Port Moresby, Melbourne, and Cape Borda. That was for the purpose of obtaining an idea as to cost.
It strikes me that if anything of the sort was done, it was very wrong, cannot imagine the Department deliberately putting a number of firms to the expense - and very often these tenders do involve a good deal of expense - of arranging and making tenders simply for the purpose of getting some idea of what the cost would be. Perhaps I had better quote all that Mr. Hesketh said on the subject -
Wireless telegraphy was usable for the requirements of Australia, but not commercially justifiable. There would be no proper return for the outlay. The system could not be operated on land economically except in rare instances. Tenders had been invited for installations at Fremantle, Sydney, Cape York, Thursday Island, Port Moresby, Melbourne, and Cape Borda. That was for the purpose of obtaining an idea as to cost. As to proposals re wireless telegraphy between Victoria and Tasmania, and between Australia and Papua, he suggested that evidence should be obtained from the Department of External Affairs. He knew of no wireless installation which would perform the ser. vice now rendered by the cable between Victoria and Tasmania.
If any official in the employ of the Department might be presumed to know anything about the matter, one would think that the Chief Electrical Engineer would. Here he is reported distinctly as having asserted that these tenders were called for simply with the idea of enabling the Department to find out what would be the cost of establishing this installation. I need not say that such a course would beexceedingly undesirable; indeed, exceedingly wrong. I should think that if it is true it would give the firms who tendered a just claim against the Government as regards the cost to which they have been put. I cannot help but think that the Government will have some reply to make to this statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed, vide page 623) :
Clause 2 -
This Act shall not apply -
to public ships belonging to the King, or to any foreign ship of war, or to any class of ships exempted from, this Act by proclamation; or
to any ship exclusively used in inland waters of a State which are not navigable by ships engaged in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States.
– I was hoping that, after having cleared the notice-paper of private business, the Vice-President of the Executive Council would have seen the propriety of making a start with the consideration of the clauses of this Bill to-morrow. But, as he seems disposed to go on to-night, I ask him to postpone the “consideration of any clause which is likely to lead to much debate. I desire to know what is meant by the phrase “ public ships “ in this clause?
– Amongst other things, it means ships of war. My honorable friend will see that it is referredto in the resolutions of the Navigation Conference.
– It is desirable where we can to use the same terms where (ve mean the same thing, and not to have a variety of expressions. In regard to foreign ships, we use the term “ foreign ship of war,” but when . we speak of British ships, we refer to “ public ships.” Some ambiguity may be created as to what is a “public ship.” If we mean war ships, and vessels associated with them, such as tenders, it seems desirable to set out our meaning in language which every one can understand.
– It appears to me that the term “public ships” used in this clause means either men-of-war clr ships belonging to States Governments. I do not think that the Committee intends to exempt the latter class of vessels. The State of Victoria, for instance, has a fleet of ships. There are pilot vessels., boats to attend to light houses, dredges, and barges. They would all be “ public ships “ under this clause. A “ship” is any vessel not propelled by oars, and “ public “ means anything belonging to the public. I quite agree that we have no right to interfere with ships of war, whether. British or foreign. In New South Wales, however, the State Government has vessels which are used for commercial purposes. They should comply with the conditions prescribed as to manning, provisioning, and so forth. I think that the word “public” should be struck out, and that we should simply use the term “ ships of war.”
– I think that the clause should remain as it stands. The term “ public ships “ is intended to refer not only to ships of war, but to such vessels as the Victorian Lady Loch. It is hardly reasonable to say that such ships are engaged for commercial purposes. They are kept to do the ordinary public work of the States. The Lady Loch supplies stores to the lighthouses. The States employ ships in connexion with their harbors and for various other purposes. They, are not used in competition with private owners, and those engaged upon them are not employed under sweating conditions. It is the best class of employment. I consider that the small exemption granted to the States under this clause need not be taken exception to.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council said this afternoon with some emphasis that it was desirable to adhere as far as possible to the wording of the British Merchant Shipping Act. He also said that where the terms of that Act were departed from, there was a liability to give ground for points of law. I find in the Merchant Shipping Act this exceedingly simple section: -
This Act shall not, except where specially provided, apply to ships belonging to Her Majesty.
– A vessel belonging to the Melbourne Harbor Trust does not belong to His Majesty, and yet.it is a public ship.
– There are craft of all kinds in England that would be covered by this definition. I can see no reason for making this exemption. The English section is much simpler than our clause. Will the Minister explain definitely why the language of the Merchant Ship- ping Act is departed from, in view of his opinion that it is desirable to adhere to it wherever possible? ,
– The question is as to what is a public ship” belonging to the Crown. I raised the point under discussion with a view of making the Bill as free from ambiguity as possible. I still feel that the term “public ship” is open to challenge. It is hardly definite enough. We speak of “public buildings,” but the term covers a wide range.
– Is a Harbor Trust vessel a ship belonging’ to the King?
– It seems to me that it is. It -is an instrument of government. Surely we can arrive at a definition which will state exactly what we mean. I am at a loss to suggest a solution, but it ought to be possible to make this clause clearer than it is.
– I shall be glad to discuss the matter with the draftsman again, but it seems to me that the definition is quite clear.
– Our task is merely to point out defects in the Bill in order that they may be remedied. I suggest that for the present we should leave out the word “public,” and it will be ‘possible later on for the Minister to propose a re-committal, with the view of inserting some other word if necessary. I also desire to ask a question with regard to the exemption in paragraph a. The proposal is that by proclamation any class of ships may be exempted from this measure. I do not challenge . the provision, but it seems to me to be unusual. To meet what class of contingency is it inserted? What kind of vessel are we likely to exempt by proclamation?.
– Senator Millen has mentioned the Lady Lock., That vessel is using important waterways, where there is a large amount of traffic. Do we mean to say that we shall exempt a ship like the Lady Loch from’ carrying a certificated master, a. certificated engineer, or certificated officers ? It is quite possible for men to be put into vessels of that class who are not thoroughly competent if we do not insist upon their being certificated; and in such a case disaster may be caused, not only to the vessel in question, but to other ships with which she may come in contact. A grave mistake wilt be made in exempting them. In the case of ships of war we have the assurance that the officers in charge are men who have passed naval examinations before reaching the positions they occupy. But it may be possible for men to be put on board ships, owned by a State, to take charge of machinery, or the vessels themselves, although they do not hold certificates.
– It is possible, but in practice it would not happen.
– We have often seen men pitchforked into positions which they were not capable of filling. I am not speaking of the Lady Loch, but I know of ships, on board which men have been put although they had not the necessary qualifications for the positions for which they were appointed. The same thing may happen again. I believe that the New South Wales Government have steamers which are used for commercial purposes. This clause would exempt them from carrying certificated officers. Again, the question of survey is important. A State department that was cutting down expenditure, might, instead of having a survey made once in six months, have one not oftener than three or four years. If it is considered that these conditions are necessary, they should apply to all vessels except ships of war. Again, as to manning; surely if we are going to impose a manning law for other ships, vessels of the same tonnage belonging to a State should be in the -same position.
– Are not the ships the honorable senator is referring to subject to departmental survey? The boilers of locomotives on State railways are not subject to inspection under Boiler Inspection Acts, because they are subject’ to departmental inspection.
– They may or may not be. We have heard of explosions in Government ships, and of the explosion of locomotive boilers, which would probably have been prevented if they had been subject to proper survey. We are making provision under this Bill for surveys, and are appointing surveyors, and what I suggest should, I think, be agreed to in the interests, not only of the Government ships, but of those employed ih them.
– They have their rights as public servants.
– They are not public servants.
– Oh, yes, they are.
– I do not think that they are recognised as public servants, or have any rights under the Public Service Acts. I admit that in South Australia the provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act have been extended to them. I say that the provisions of this Bill should apply to public ships, as well as to those belonging to private individuals. “
– I think that Senator Guthrie is unnecessarily concerned about those who are engaged in public ships belonging to the several States Governments or to the Commonwealth. The honorable senator’s argument presupposes considerable laxity on the part of public Departments. In Western Australia we have a Steam Boilers’ Inspection Act, but it is not applied to the inspection of the boilers of locomotives used on the Government railways, for the reason that it is assumed that they are the subject of strict departmental supervision and inspection. I feel that the same principle might well be applied to public ships. I am satisfied that the ships belonging to the several States Governments are under a form of departmental surveillance sufficiently rigid to make the occurrence of any accident due to defective machinery very unlikely.
– Suppose the New South Wales Government took over the ferry service in Sydney Harbor, does the honorable senator think that the boats should be brought under the provisions of this Bill?
– I do not think that there would be any necessity for anything of the kind. I think that the provision is reasonably safe, and does not require alteration in the way suggested.
– The only case in which I imagine there might be some reason for applying the provisions of this Bill to public ships would be where for some reason they are leased to private companies. I think we have very little danger to fear where the ships are to remain under the control of the Government of a State or of the- Commonwealth. Some witnesses who appeared before the Navigation Commission referred to this matter, and I think it was generally admitted that the danger against which it was sought to provide was very unlikely to arise. I think we are justified in assuming that ordinarily public ships will be under complete supervision, and there will be very little chance of anything going wrong. I cannot believe that’ any Minister would tolerate the leasing of a public ship to private individuals on theunderstanding that it would be exempt from, the provisions of this Bill. I take the most extraordinary case that could be imagined - that of a Labour Government using Government ships to tradeon the coast, and’ giving them an advantage over those owned’ by private individuals. I am quite sure, from the way in which labour men generally look at these things, that they would seethat competent men were placed in charge of the ships, and would require compliance with labour conditions of a very high standard. If we take the case of a Government opposed to the nationalization of the shipping industry, we might depend upon them to take very good care that a public ship would not be given any advantage over one running in the interests of private enterprise. I do not anticipate that any danger is likely to arise under the clause.
– I suggest that in this clause we have a fair sample of the difficulties into which we may get if we depart from the simple wording of the Merchant Shipping. Act. I believe I am correct when I say that even if we so desired, we could not apply the provisions of this Bill to foreignships of war. By international law, foreign ships ‘of war have certain rights everywhere. It will be found that section 41 of the Merchant Shipping Act simply exemptsships belonging to His Majesty. Why should we go beyond that? Why should we assume to have any power to deal with foreign ships of war? I move -
That the words “ or to any foreign ship of war,” line 3, be. left out.
I regard those words as surplusage. They do not appear in the Merchant Shipping. Act, and they appear to me to represent some assumption of a power which we donot possess.
– I believe that Senator Pulsford’s reading of this matter is correct. The words objected’ to by the honorable senator are not in the New Zealand Act. The corresponding section in that Act . provides that the Act - shall not apply to ships belonging to His Majesty ot ships belonging to the Government of New Zealand, except in so far as any section of this Act may by order of the Governor in Council be made applicable to such ships.
There is no reference to foreign ships of war. That Act has been approved by the
Imperial authorities, and we would do well to follow the New Zealand example.
– Honorable senators are really quarrelling about a very small matter. We seek to arrive at the same object.
– Why not adopt the wording of the Merchant Shipping Act ?
– Because we think that the wording we propose is a little better. I ask honorable senators to consider the clause, and say whether it does not include everything mentioned in the Merchant Shipping Act. We are trying to express what we wish to do. First of all, we say that this Act shall not apply to public ships belonging to the King. If we wished to differentiate very nicely, public ships belonging to the King would not include a private yacht belonging to His Majesty. But a public ship belonging to the King would certainly include all men-o’-war, and vessels such as I have mentioned, like the Lady Loth.
– Vessels doing lighthouse duty.
– I thought the honorable senator was aware that the Lady Loch was used for that purpose. She is used in the work of the inspection and overhauling of buoys, the delivery of stores to lighthouses, in the carrying out of repairs at lighthouses, and in attendance at wrecks.
– Would the clause exempt vessels belonging to a Harbor Trust?
– I do not think that a public ship would include a vessel belonging to a Harbor Trust. It would be very undesirable for the Commonwealth Government to interfere with ships the property of the States Governments, and to attempt to impose conditions as to the number of men employed, surveys) &c.
– The honorable senator is not speaking to my amendment.
– I am endeavouring to show why the clause should be permitted to remain as it stands. Recent decisions of the High Court, amongst other things, should induce us to refrain from amending it in the way suggested. Apart from that, I am satisfied that the States Governments have a high regard for their public servants, and we may confidently assume that they will treat them properlv. As regards the amendment, I should hope that we will not make any attempt to interfere with foreign ships of war ; but I say that the direction appearing on the face of the Bill that they are not to be interfered with may operate as a useful instruction to our officers. Of what use is it to quarrel over small matters of this kind ?
– Will the Minister say why the Commonwealth Government should require a power which the Imperial Government does not require?
– We are not acquiring any power. We are simply making a declaration as an instruction to our officers.
– No objection was taken to the clause at the Navigation Conference.
– That is so. I do hope that Senator Pulsford will not cause us to waste any further time in discussing it, because the clause carries out exactly what we want.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council evidently desires to belittle the importance of this matter. The words which I wish to delete deal . with foreign shipsof war - the representatives of the maritime power of foreign nations. The more I think over the matter the more certain I am fh’af we ought not to assume that we have power to legislate in respect of those vessels. Great Britain would not arrogate to herself a power which she does not possess, and certainly we ought not to do so. I am quite sure that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is not justified in ridiculing my amendment, which I trust will commend” itself to the good sense of the Committee. The Minister should feel indebted to any honorable senator who suggests a way in which this measure can be improved, and I hold that my amendment if adopted would certainly have that effect.
– So far we have heard no explanation of paragraph b of this clause. Personally, I do not admire the wording of that paragraph, which reads -
This Act shall not apply -
To me this provision does not appear to be very clearly worded. I “should like to know what particular class of ships it is anticipated will be engaged in these inland waters. Are they river and bay vessels? To my mind, the provision is so ambiguous that it is likely to create trouble.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether this clause will apply to the River Murray?
– The River Murray is navigated by fairly large vessels.
– But it is navigated by vessels which trade between the States.
– Will such vessels be subjected to any supervision?
– They will all be subject to this Bill.
– That statement appears to contradict the clause in its present form.
– Not at all.
.- To me this provision does not appear to be as clear as it might be, and I should like to know what is the meaning of the word “ not,” which appears before “navigable.” Does it refer to waters which are not usually navigable, or to waters which it is impossible to navigate?
– To some extent I dealt with this matter in moving the second reading of the Bill. The view of the Government, which is founded upon leading cases on the subject is that the Commonwealth has control over all navigable waters which can be used by ships - trading from one State to another. There is, however, a certain class of waters - lakes, for instance - which can be approached only from the State in which they are situated. These are “ inland waters.” Perhaps it is advisable that I should read, for the information of honorable senators, two or three extracts from the Australian Constitutional Law, by Mr. Justice Clark, in which he deals with the principles that I have already laid down. Upon page 104 of that work,’ in- discussing the Federal control of the rivers of the Commonwealth, he says -
It has been repeatedly decided by the Supreme Court of the United States of America that the power conferred on Congress by the Constitution of that country to “ regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States,” includes authority to regulate the use of all navigable rivers which flow through more than one State, for all purposes of commercial intercourse and the passage of travellers between the States.
After citing the case of The Genesse Chief v. Fitzhugh, he further states -
In the case of The Lottawanna (a) “the Supreme Court of the United States declared that “ The power to regulate commerce is the basis of the power to regulate navigation and navigable waters and streams….. The trade and commerce with respect to which the Parliament of the Commonwealth has legislative power includes trade and commerce “ among the States “ and it therefore extends to navigation upon rivers between the States.
If it were possible to suggest a doubt upon the matter, the extension of the power to “ railways the property of any State “ would conclusively dissipate it.
He continues -
It has been repeatedly decided in the United States that the navigable character of a river, by virtue of which it is subject to the power of Congress in relation to trade and commerce, does not depend upon the instruments or methods of navigation by which commerce may be conducted upon it. If it is capable of use for the purposes of trade by the employment of any instrument or method of transportation, its use for that purpose is subject to the control of Congress, (a) But the control of Congress does not extend to navigation conducted wholly upon the internal waters of a State which are not accessible by navigation from any other State.
– Would such a definition include the waters of the Murrumbidgee and the Goulburn Rivers?
– Yes. They ultimately flow into the Murray. That is the law upon the subject. 1 dealt with this matter pretty fully in my second-reading speech, and I pointed out that the object of reserving inland waters in the manner proposed in this Bill is to avoid any onslaught being made upon the constitutionality of the measure. Honorable senators will see that those waters which are not navigable in ships coming from other States cannot be interfered with, and are exempted from the provision of this Bill. I’ have discussed the matter very fully with the Attorney-General’s Department, and after careful consideration Mr. Garran has advised the adoption of this form of words.
– Then the States will require navigation Acts also?
– But they will be very short Acts.
– I quite recognise what the VicePresident of the Executive Council has in his mind, and I also appreciate the desirableness of placing beyond all question the position of those inland waters which are absolutely within the control of the
States. But the point’ raised by Senator Pulsford was as to whether the words of this clause convey what they are intended to express. I would remind the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the language employed by Mr. Justice Clark, in the quotation which the honorable gentleman has just made, is much clearer and better than that contained in this provision. The determining words of Mr. Justice Clark’s statement are -
The control of Congress does not extend to navigation conducted wholly upon the internal waters of a State which are not accessible by navigation from any other State.
The words used in this clause are very clumsy ones.
– No, they have been taken from a decision of the American Court.
– What does “ not navigable” mean? Does it mean “not being navigated,” or “ not capable of being navigated “ ?
– Clearly it means “not capable of being navigated.”
– If that be so, the provision will not bring some of our inland waters into the category mentioned by Mr. Justice Clark, because there are tributaries of the Murray and Darling Rivers which are hot capable of being navigated by ships trading between the States, but which are nevertheless waters running from one State to another.
– Some of our Murray vessels can go up those waters.
– Only a portion of the way. Each of these tributaries .becomes smaller, but they are nevertheless portions of a stream which runs from one State to another. It seems to me that the Government might with advantage have employed words in this clause, similar to those used by Mr. Justice Clark. Instead of doing that they attempt to define the water, not by its geographical surroundings, not by its internal position, but by the measure of ships employed on some other water. Surely it is possible to design a better provision than that. I commend to my honorable friend even now the very happy words which he quoted, and which speak of the water as being accessible or not accessible from another State. A little time ago I inquired as to the class of ships for which the power of proclamation was sought, but evidently he has overlooked the matter.
– That provision is intended to apply to, say, a telegraph-repairing ship, or to a ship which is engaged on a marine survey. It is an elastic provision to meet any contingency which may arise. It is difficult at this stage to say exactly what classes of ships it will include. But it is very desirable that there shall be power to exempt ships such as I have indicated. For instance, on our coast for some years past a ship has been engaged on a marine survey.
– That is a King’s ship.
– It is not necessarily a King’s ship, but it may be a ship employed by the Home authorities to do the work.
– As honorable senators have decided to retain the words “or to any foreign ship of war,” I wish to point out that those words are not inclusive enough, if they wish to assert a right to deal with the ships of any foreign powers. We have had visiting Australian waters training ships belonging to foreign powers. Not long ago we had a visit ‘from a German training ship, and subsequently we had a visit from a Japanese training “ship. A training ship ds not exactly a ship of war, but it belongs to a foreign power.
– My honorable friend will see that, by proclamation, we could exempt a special class of ships like that.
– A training ship is not a ship of war.
– If it is a ship of war it is already exempted.
– It may be either n ship of war or a commercial ship.
– There have been in Australian waters training” vessels which belong to foreign countries, and over which, by international law, we have no power of interfering. Yet by the wording of this clause we, while allowing ships of war to be exempt, assert the right to deal with the training ships of foreign powers.
– A training ship is a war ship which would come under the first definition.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3- agreed to.
Clause 4 (Parts).
Senator PULSFORD (New South
Bill dealt with goods and bills of lading. It extended over four or five pages, and I desire to know why it has been omitted from this Bill?
– It is quite true that in this Bill we have not included that part of the previous Bill which related to the delivery of goods and bills of lading. It is .thought that as the Parliament has power to deal with such matters it should do so in one comprehensive measure. In this Bill we deal with navigation and shipping pure and simple. In the meantime the States have their own laws in regard to the delivery of goods and bills of lading, some of them being of a complicated character. Those subjects would require to be dealt with in a far more comprehensive way than they could be dealt with in this measure. It is desired to deal at the present time only with navigation and shipping, and to take another opportunity of dealing with the allimportant subject of the delivery of goods, which, strictly speaking, has nothing to do with navigation and shipping.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
In this Act,’ unless the contrary intention appears - “ Vessel “ means any ship, boat, or any other description of vessel used for any purpose on the sea or in navigation. “Foreign-going ship” includes every ship employed in trading or going between places in Australia and places (other than territories under the authority of the Commonwealth) beyond Australia.
– - I rise to suggest to the Minister that the various interpretations in this clause should be arranged in their alphabetical order.
– We have followed the plan of the Merchant Shipping Act. I do not know that we have done wisely.
– The Minister will see at once that it must be a great convenience to have a long list of interpretations arranged so that one can pick up an interpretation readily. I notice that we have not always followed that plan.
– It was followed in the case of the first Navigation -Bill.
– In the case of the Customs Act, a long list of interpretations was placed in their alphabetical order, and
I suggest to the Minister that that plan should be followed before this Bill is allowed to pass from the Senate.
– I shall discuss the matter with the draftsman. I hardly know why the alphabetical order was departed from, unless it was to follow the plan of the Merchant Shipping Act and to bring together the definitions in regard to classes of ships.
– With regard to the definition of “ vessel,” I desire to draw the attention of the Committee to a few words which I think are mischievous. I refer to the words “ for any purpose on the sea or.” I do not attach very much importance to the matter, but I just mention the fact that they are not included in the definition of “ vessel “ in the Merchant Shipping Act. The objection I have to their retention in this clause is that they would bring under the definition of “ vessel “ a hulk or lighthouse boat. Surely it is not desired to do that ! What we mean by a vessel is, I take it, a vessel of any description which is used in navigation. It seems to me that the definition is altogether too wide.
– A light-ship would be a public ship, and, therefore, exempt.
-3-! presume that it would ; but certainly it cannot be desired to bring a hulk under the definition.
– Why not?
– Does the honorable senator want to have a manning scale on a hulk?
– I do not think that it can be seriously intended to bring hulks under all the elaborate provisions of the Bill, and require a survey of them every six months. I suggest to the Minister that the words I object to should be struck out.
– The English definition of “ vessel “ includes -
Any ship or boat or any other description of vessel used in navigation.
– Yes; but in this definition the draftsman has inserted the words “for any purpose on the sea.” I cannot see that they would serve any useful object. I think it is possible that they might bring under the definition such things as hulks, which it cannot be intended to bring under this Bill. I move -
That the words “for any purpose on the sea or “ be left out.
– If these words were intended, as Senator Millen has suggested, to include hulks, I think that there is something to be gained by their retention. I know that condemned ships are turned into hulks for the purpose of being towed from port to port with cargo. For instance, they are largely used by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company for carrying flux along the coast to P.ort Pirie. I do not think that they would be brought under the provisions of the Bill so far as manning and other things are concerned, because they are termed here vessels, not ships. They are used for navigable purposes, as they are towed from place to place. Even in the port of Melbourne hulks are towed out to the bay and back again. They are used for long tows at sea, and with men on board. A few years ago a hulk was towed under the water, and three or four men who were on board her were drowned. I think that we ought to have some jurisdiction over hulks, although, probably, they would not come under the clauses of the Bill, as they would do if termed ships. Possibly that is why the words have been inserted in the. definition. I hope that after this explanation Senator Millen will see’ the advantage of retaining them.
– According to this definition, a “ vessel “ means -
Any ship, boat or any other description of vessel used for any purpose on the sea or in navigation.
But in the next definition we say that a ship includes - ‘
Every vessel used in navigation not ordinarily propelled by oars only.
The object in inserting the words to which Senator Millen objects is to cover all classes of vessels which are used on the sea, so that we may exercise some control over them. I cannot, at this moment, pick out a particular clause in which the word “ vessel “ is used, but I may mention that where it is intended to include a vessel such as has been referred to by Senator Guthrie, the word “ vessel “ is used. I am informed that the word “ ship “ is used throughout the Bill, and that the word “ vessel “ is not used, except in a few cases. In these circumstances, Senator Millen will see that it is desirable to retain the words.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) on the point as to whether the word “ vessel “ is used in any of the clauses which carry these conditions. But I am quite prepared to ask leave to withdraw the amendment on the understanding that, if later on I should find any clause which would render a modification of this interpretation necessary, he will facilitate a reconsideration of the matter.
– In the definition of foreign-going ship it seems to me that the word should be “ place,” not “ places.” As the definition reads, it means a ship going from two places in Australia to two places or more outside. What is really meant is a ship going from a single place in Australia to any place outside, say from Sydney to Auckland. The word “ places “ is , a little misleading.
– The point is covered by the Acts Interpretation Act. The plural includes the singular.
– But is it desirable to use the plural form when the singularis correct ? I shall not labour the point if the Minister does not care whether the Bill is correctly worded or not, but I am certain that the word ought to be “ place.”
– I think we should have a proper definition’ of “foreign-going ship.’’ Under the present definition, it would mean a ship that traded between the Commonwealth and theDominion of New Zealand, and also between Australia and the Pacific Islands.. Our trade with New Zealand is very important, and is growing every day. It will grow to great proportions in years tocome. New Zealand is closer to us thant are many ports in Australia itself. I intend to move an amendment to add the words “or . between the Commonwealth andthe Dominion of New Zealand and thePacific Islands.”
– I do not think that itis an unreasonable request that honorablesenators should circulate their amendments. The Bill is exceedingly technical, and I donot like accepting an amendment at thetable.
– I quite agree. I remember that the Minister asked that notice should be given of amendments, anc? I think we should comply with his wish. But I ask him to consider whether it is not desirable that “ Australian trading ship “ should include New Zealand and the Pacific Islands?
– I agree with Senator Dobson, and intended to give notice of an amendment such as he has described. We should include New Zealand and the Pacific Islands in the definition of “ Australian trading ship.” There is a precedent in the Merchant Shipping Act, in which Great Britain declared that she included the Continent of Europe, between the River Elbe and Brest, in her Home trade. I ask the Minister to consider the point, because there is a great deal in it.
– I am sure that honorable senators will agree that it is not unreasonable for me to request that amendments on this Bill should be circulated. Many of the clauses in it are highly technical, and one cannot foresee for the moment how an amendment will affect other clause’s. If I have time to look into amendments I shall be able to do greater justice to them, and to accept some to which I should not otherwise be justified in agreeing.
Senate adjourned at 9.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 October 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19081001_senate_3_47/>.