3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– As the American Fleet was about to leave Australia the Prime Minister sent to President Roosevelt the following cablegram, which, after reading it to the Senate, I shall lay upon the table -
The United States Atlantic Fleet, whose world cruise, in response to our request, was” most generously extended to include a call at Australian ports, is now leaving us. While its power and efficiency have provoked enthusiastic admiration, it is the sentiment which drew your battleships to the Commonwealth and inspired your seamen during their stay with us that has won our hearts. The Americans whom we have met with frank and friendly greetings on our own soil have clasped hands with their British kindred everywhere. Very grateful to you as we are, and always shall be, for the coming of your splendid Fleet, we would keenly appreciate another opportunity of honoring your country this time in your own person. As it is not possible for the United States to part with its President, we venture to express an earnest hope that during your projected tour next year we may welcome a visit from Theodore Roosevelt, the individual, after you shall have relinquished the heavy burdens and high responsibilities which you now sustain and discharge to the lasting benefit of your fellowcitizens of the United States and of all selfgoverning peoples especially this new Commonwealth of Australia.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if he will secure at once a list of the various Acts of Parliament which are administered by the Department of Trade and Custom’s, so that we mayhave the information whenwe are dealing with the Navigation Bill?
– I shall be very pleased to supply a list of the Acts.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he will take steps to procure from Queensland sufficient copies of the recent report of theRoyal
Commission on the Pearl-Shelling Industry, so that every member of the Senate may have a copy of it for perusal?
– I shall be very glad to comply with my honorable friend’s request.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he has seen a statement in the press giving some returns of the revenue received by the Trade and Customs (Department for the months of July and September. Is he aware that that information has been supplied by the Minister of Trade and Customs, and, if so, will he take steps to draw the attention of his honorable colleague to the fact that he is breaking that unwritten law to which he referred yesterday, about anticipating the Budget, and to that extent detracting from theinterest which ought to be centered in it ?
– The profundity of the question compels me to ask the honorable senator to give notice of it.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1 st October, vide page 640) :
Clause 5 -
– I desire to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether the definition of “Australian trade ship” - a ship which is to trade between the ports of the Commonwealth and its territories - should not be extended to include New Zealand. I understand that the provision in the New Zealand Act extends to the Commonwealth ?
– I confess that I am in great difficulty in understanding the object of the question. Last night Senator Dobson made a similar suggestion ; but I think that, on reflection, he would be amongst the last to press it. As regards ships trading on our own coast, we are prepared to impose certain conditions. But if we were to extend the meaning of Australian-trade ship we should be seeking to impose conditions which essentially belong to our own coast upon ships trading to other parts. That is not intended by the definition. I understand that the suggestion is to extend the definition to include not only New Zealand, but also the Pacific Islands. The British law is, of course, in force in those Pacific Islands which belong to Great Britain. But my honorable friend is seeking by extending this definition to supplant - a thing which we have no power to do - the British law in those islands by our own law. He is wrong in suggesting that New Zealand has extended her home trade to the Commonwealth. It has done nothing of the kind. I ask him to consider the difficulty which might arise at once if we adopted his suggestion. On certain points the New Zealand law might be in conflict with our law. Let me take one or two provisions of the Bill byway of example. In clause 75 we make this provision -
In cases where the seamen are engaged on time agreement on an Australian-trade or limited coast-trade ship, all wages earned shall be paid monthly not later than the seventh day of each month, or so soon thereafter as the ship arrives at any port in Australia at which there is a bank.
Then in clause 45 we say -
My honorable friend will see by thevery tenor of this definition that we seek to deal with ships which are immediately under our control, and engaged on our coast. Difficulties might arise where the laws of another country differed from ours. For instance, the law of New Zealand might differ from our law as regards the time when wages were to be paid, and though the owners might be prepared to comply with that law, it might be inconsistent with our own. But apart from the difficulties which might arise from the adoption of the suggestion, it is against the policy of the Bill. The definition of Australian-trade ship is intended to include those ships which are engaged in our coasting trade.
– I think that the Minister has not shown that grip of this question which we might Have expected him to display. He has stated that on certain points the New Zealand law might be different from the Australian law. That might be so, but that fact should not tie our hands in defining an Australian-trade ship. For instance, the Merchant Shipping Act defines the British home-trade to include the coast of the United Kingdom and the Continent of Europe, between the River Elbe and Brest. The laws of the countries in Europe are entirely different from those of Great Britain, and yet the hometrade of the latter extends to European ports. The Minister has quoted two clauses of this Bill.
– With the object of showing that we are seeking to legislate for our coast-trade ships.
– Exactly. The Union Steamship Company trade first on the Australian coast, and then on the New Zealand coast. They have steam-ships trading between Australia and New Zealand.
– And registered in New Zealand.
– Not all of them. The Loongana, for instance, is not registered there.
– There may be an exception.
– The company is registered in New Zealand, but all their ships are not registered there. The head office of the A. U.S.N. Company is in Brisbane, but some of their steamers are registered in Fremantle, Adelaide, and Melbourne. It does not matter one iota whether the register is in London or in Australia.
– It makes a mighty difference under this Bill.
– I cannot see where it comes in.
– Because under the Bill certain conditions apply to Australian registered ships.
– Is there any provision in the Bill which distinguishes between a ship registered in Australia and a ship registered in London and trading on our coast?
– The point is that we are applying to ships registered here our own conditions.
– The Bill is also applying the same conditions to a ship registered in London and trading on the Australian coast.
– It makes no difference between the two classes of vessels.
– That is one set of cases, but take another.
– Clause 45 of this Bill provides that in the case of Australian trade ships and limited coast trade ships the agreement may be made, either with the owner or master. Will not such a provision apply to the vessels of the Union Steam-ship Company which are registered in New Zealand, but which sign articles in Australia? When we come to deal with that clause, I shall endeavour to get excised that portion of it which provides that the agreement may be made by a seaman with the owner of Australian trade ships and limited coast trade ships. My own opinion is that the agreement ought to be made with the master who has command of the ship. The next point to which I wish to direct attention is that, under clause 45, a seaman may be engaged to serve on two or more ships belonging to the same owner. What harm can result from a seaman undertaking to serve on either the Loongana or Rotomahana? The Bill further provides that men engaged in the home trade shall be paid monthly. Now, I do not think that any honorable senator will contend for a moment that a seaman, who is engaged upon a vessel trading between the Commonwealthand New Zealand or the Pacific Islands should not be paid monthly. But under the provision relating to ships engaged in foreign trade, the wages are to be paid at the end of the voyage, and I would point out that the agreement may cover a period of three years.
– A vessel trading to New Zealand would be a” foreign-going” vessel under this Bill ?
– Yes. I desireto provide that it shall be competent for a seaman to give twenty-four hours’ notice of his intention to leavea ship which is engaged in the trade with New Zealand, and, also, to insure that his wages shall be paid monthly.
– Does the honorable Senator wish to include in his proposal vessels trading with the Pacific Islands?
– Yes. To all intents and purposes that is an Australian trade. The men engaged in it, and those who are engaged in trade with New Zealand, are domiciled in the Commonwealth. Consequently, their agreements ought to be made here, and ought to contain provisions similar to those which will apply to our coastal trade.
– The law of New Zealand is precisely the proposals in this Bill.
– I have not contended anything else.
– The honorable senator stated that he desired the wages of seamen engaged in trade with New Zealand to be paid monthly. As a matter of fact, they are paid monthly under the New Zealand law.
– Under the provisions of this Bill, a ship upon which articles were signed in Australia, but which was engaged in trade with New Zealand, would be a “ foreign-going” ship, and a seaman serving on board would not be entitled to receive his wages monthly, or to give the master twentyfour hours’ notice of his intention to leave. In the home trade, except in New South Wales, it has been customary for all articles to cover a period of six months. In Victoria all ships’ articles are signed in the months of January and June, and extend over six months. Clause 44, however, provides that agreements in respect of the home trade may be made to cover any period not exceeding two years. Of course, this is always subject to the right of a seaman to give twenty-four hours’ notice in port. But, in a great many cases, it would be impossible for him to give that twenty -four hours’ notice because the vessel upon which he would be serving would not remain in port for that time. Consequently, when once a seaman had signed articles he would, if his agreement was for two years, have no opportunity of leaving his ship until the expiration of that period. I ‘ am anxious that the same provisions shall be applied to ships trading with New Zealand as are to be applied to .vessels engaged in the Australian coastal trade. I therefore move -
That after the word “ Commonwealth,” line 9, the words “ or between Australia and New Zealand or the islands of the Pacific “ be inserted.
– Would not that amendment include Japan?
– Japan is an island in the Pacific.
– Does the honorable senator desire his amendment to extend to those islands in the Pacific which are owned by foreign powers, as well as those which are owned by Great Britain?
– Why not? If a ship trading between London and Antwerp is included in the home trade of Great Britain, why should not a vessel trading between Melbourne and New Caledonia be included in the home trade of Australia ?«
– Why stop at the Pacific? Why not include the rest of the world ?
– The material point is that we are prescribing a lighter examination for officers engaged in the Australian trade than for officers engaged in foreign trade. Under this Bill a mate upon a foreign-going vessel is required to possess higher qualifications than a mate upon a vessel engaged in the Australian trade. The man who has merely to navigate a ship for a few hundred miles -
– Does the honorable senator think that distance is the only factor which should be considered?
– It is not.
– He must recollect that a vessel may travel for some hundreds of miles upon the River Murray and its tributaries without incurring serious danger, but that a navigator is required to take a ship a hundred miles across the Bay of Biscay.
– The Bill makes special provision for vessels engaged upon the River Murray. I contend that if a man is capable of navigating a ship around the 8,500 miles of Australian coast line where he has to encounter considerable danger, he is quite competent to navigate her to New Zealand. If we desire to encourage the Australian shipping trade with New Zealand and the Pacific Islands we ought to do all that we possibly can to build it up. Australia is at present building up a trade with New Zealand and New Zealand is establishing a trade with Australia. Our aim ought to be to obtain as much of the New Zealand trade as possible. I should have liked the Government to open up negotiations with the New Zealand Government with a view to making a reciprocal arrangement in this matter. Those negotiations might have been entered upon after the Navigation Conference had been held, and New Zealand might have been induced to open her home trade to Australia conditionally upon Australia opening her home trade to New Zealand. It merely requires a lead to be given, and I think, that we ought to take the initiative. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has advanced no valid reason why the Australian trade should not include trade with New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
– I wish to say frankly that I was somewhat misled in regard to the provisions of the New Zealand Act. The definition contained in that Act which corresponds with the definition of “ Australian trade ship “ in this Bill, is the one which applies to “ Home trade ship,” and it includes “ any ship trading or going between ports or places in New Zealand.” The New Zealand Act defines “ Intercolonial trading “ as “ Shipping which extends to the Commonwealth.” When I spoke just now I merely desired to know whether, under this Bill, the Government proposed to do for New Zealand exactly what that country does for the Commonwealth. I find, however, that we are going further.
– I quite appreciate Senator Guthrie’s desire to place ships engaged in trade with New Zealand upon the same footing as vessels engaged in the Australian trade. But I fear that if we adopt the method which he proposes we shall very quickly bump up against difficulties. For instance, it would involve asking the New Zealand Government to submit to the manning scale provided in this Bill which is entirely different from: the scale adopted in the New Zealand Act. Is Senator Guthrie prepared to face that position? In clause 37 we set out the conditions as to crew that are to apply to ships registered in Australia and engaged in the coasting trade. If Senator Guthrie proposes to place New Zealand ships in that category, it simply means requiring New Zealand ships trading to Australia to conform to our scale of manning, and not to the New Zealand scale. In view of the fact that New Zealand arranges her manning scale upon the basis of the horse power of engines, and that our proposal is to base our scale upon the coal consumption of the steamer, a difficulty is raised. If Senator Guthrie carries his idea to the extreme, it will simply mean asking the New Zealand Government to make the steamers registered in that Dominion subject to the Australian law; or, in other words, to surrender its own rights, and submit to the Commonwealth manning scale. As far as Part IV. of the Bill is concerned, I think that ships trading to New Zealand would really fall under it. In fact, they do so on account of being foreign-going ships. No ship can leave our shores that does not carry a duly certificated complement of officers, and is not seaworthy and properly manned. But when it comes to a question of dictating to the New Zealand Government that they shall conform to our manning scale, I think, with all respect >to Senator Guthrie, that we should create a difficulty. We cannot expect the sister Dominion to conform to our laws. She probably considers her own as good as ours, or, perhaps, a little better. The matter is rather one for negotiation than for setting forth in the hard and fast terms of an Act of Parliament. But I hope to see the Bill so drafted that ships engaged in the Islands trade shall not De granted more favorable conditions than our own ships. As there is a fair amount of competition in the South Sea Islands trade, we shall not be doing our duty by those who own and work ships in Australia unless we so provide. As ships in the Islands trade are competing with our ships, we have a right to call upon them to comply with the same conditions as Australian ship-owners are compelled to observe. But we cannot compel ships going to and from New Zealand to comply with our conditions in that respect.
– We do that under clause 37, so long as the vessel coasts.
– There is a material difference between a ship trading between port and port and a ship that makes her terminal port in the Commonwealth. Is Senator Guthrie prepared to insist that our manning scale, based on coal consumption, should supersede the New Zealand scale, based on horse power ? - Unless he faces that question he will not have found a way out of the difficulty.
– I think that Senator Lynch has missed the point. Clause 37 applies to any ship, whether Australian registered or foreign registered, which trades upon our coast. Ordinarily, ships engaged in the New Zealand trade do not coast in Australia. They make the voyage direct from a port in Australia to a port in New Zealand. All that I ask is that ships registered in New Zealand ‘ shall be put on exactly the same footing regarding the engagement of crews,, their discharge, the time when money shall be paid to them, and so forth, as Australian ship-owners have to comply with. If we do not insert such a condition, what will be the position? The men employed in a New Zealand ship are engaged for six months. They are paid on the arrival of the ship at a port where there is a bank. That is the New Zealand law. If we leave out the provision that I propose, men engaged for the New Zealand trade in Australia will be shipped under foreign articles. This Bill provides that they shall be paid at the end of their engagement, which may extend over three years.
– Do not these ships engage in the coasting trade ?
– I want to bring them under Australian trade regulations.
– Do they not come from New Zealand to Sydney, from Sydney to Hobart, and trade along the coast?
– Many of them dp, but all of them do. not. Some trade directly from Sydney to the Bluff.
– What ships trade directly from Sydney to the Bluff ?
– I cannot mention instances off hand, but that is a fact.
– There are none now.
– Ships engaged in the coastal trade will come under the Australian coast law. Otherwise they will come under the foreign trade definition; and under that provision we are going to place impediments in the way of Australian ships and Australian seamen, which I believe no member of the Senate would consciously do. No man would say that the owner of a. ship should have the right to retain the money of seamen on a ship trading between ports only a few days apart for a period of three years.
– Can .the honorable senator mention any ship-owners who do that sort of thing?
– They have not done it, but this Bill gives them that power, unless we bring them under the Australian coast trade definition. I believe that the seamen are strong enough to force the shipowners, whether we make the law what I propose or not.
– At what stage of negotiations would the honorable senator, as the representative of the seamen, agree to such an arrangement as he has described ?
– At the present time the men are strong enough to enforce their conditions, independently of the law. They would refuse to sign under these conditions. But that is to make our law the laughing stock of the world. I am certain that no ship-owner will raise his voice against what I propose. There can be only a sentimental objection to it. I think that the Bill has been drafted rather loosely. For instance, I do not know what officers £.n Australian trade ship has to carry. There’ is no provision to that effect in clause 13-
– Read clause 12.
– There has to be a foreign-going master, and certificates of competency have to be obtained. But are we not going to grant an Australian trade certificate? There is absolutely no provision in clause 13 for granting a certificate for Australian trade ships. The master of such a ship either has to hold a foreign-going master’s ticket or a limited coast trade ticket. I doubt whether that was intended by the draftsman. Surely it is not intended that the master of an Australian trade ship must hold a, foreign-going master’s certificate?
– Is there any distinction between the certificates ?
– A great deal. It is true that there is nothing before us with regard to the certificates, but, arguing from what has taken place under the Board of Trade, and under the States laws, there will be a considerable difference. A master who obtains a foreign-going certificate has to pass an examination so stringent that a man requires to be well educated, and to have had considerable sea experience to get it. But for a limited coast trade certificate he has only to have a limited knowledge. The educational examination is a very slight one indeed.
– How does the honorable senator get over the point raised by Senator Lynch?
– There is nothing in it. If a ship has her first port and her final port in Australia, she complies with Australian law. If her first port and her port of destination are in New Zealand, she complies with New Zealand law. I am only seeking to lay down what is the law in England to-day. ‘Say that an English ship signs articles in London. She makes a voyage to Australia. Her port of destination may be at Rotterdam, Antwerp, or Havre. Suppose that she discharges her men at Havre. She has not to comply with French rules there. Men can be signed on again at the British Consul’s office, and she complies with British law. It is just the’ same with our Australian coast trade. If the men are signed on here, the ship belongs here. When a ship goes from Australia to New Zealand, the New Zealand Government does not interfere with her. They assume that the ship is complying with the law of Australia. It is the same with a New Zealand ship coming here. The survey is carried out at a port where her agreements are drawn up. I hope the Minister will see that many advantages would’ follow from the adoption of my amendment, and that there is in it great’ possibilities for the development of the Australian shipping trade with New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific.
– I direct the attention of the Minister, and of Senator Guthrie, to clause 43, which provides that -
When, in a case of a ship not registered in, Australia, the agreement is made out in accordance with the law of the place where the crew is engaged and the master engages single seamen in Australia, those seaman shall sign the agreement in the presence of the superintendent and no other agreement shall be required, but in al! other respects the requirements of this Act shall be complied with.
Under that clause it is clear that a single seaman would be engaged in an Australian port for a New Zealand ship under Neve Zealand conditions.
– That is so.
SenatorBEST (Victoria - VicePresident of the Executive Council) [11. 17]. - I do not agree with Senator Guthrie that the objection to his amendment is of merely a sentimental character. The amendment affects a fundamental principle of the Bill. Throughout this measure we seek to legislate for ships registered in Australia and engaged in the Australian coasting trade in a particular way. As regards foreigngoing ships, it is proposed to deal with them in quite a different way. The honorable senator has said that there is nothing in the point raised by Senator Lynch, but there is in it everything that Senator Lynch claimed for it. Senator Guthrie must be aware that with one or two exceptions - if, indeed, there are any - New Zealand ships coming to the Commonwealth trade on our coast between Commonwealth ports. The effect of his amendment would be to impose upon those ships the manning conditions mentioned by Senator Lynch. That is one of the most serious objections to the amendment. With all his local knowledge on the subject, Senator Guthrie is unable to quote a single New Zealand ship trading between one port in the Commonwealth and New Zealand.
– The honorable senator must know that some New Zealand ships do trade in that way.
– There may be one ship trading in that way, but that is not the class of ship the honorable senator proposes to legislate for. His amendment would apply to all New Zealand ships trading with the Commonwealth, and against all the principles of the Bill would impose upon them the manning provisions of the Australian coastal trade. Let me say, too, that the Bill is practically the same as the New Zealand law. Suppose, however, that the New Zealand law were not the same as ours, and provided that wages need not be paid except every six months. A ship is registered in New Zealand according to the law of the Dominion, and her men need only be paid every six months. That would be one of the terms on which they engaged, and yet Senator Guthrie would have it that on the arrival of the ship in an Australian port, if the captain had not paid the men for two months he should be liable to prosecution for not complying with the law of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator is turning the question right round.
– I am showing what the effect of Senator Guthrie’s amendment would be. It could only serve to create friction between the Commonwealth and New Zealand.
– It would furnish another charge against the Bill - that it would be anti-New Zealand.
– Exactly. But not content with an interference with New Zealand ships, Senator Guthrie desires that his amendment should apply to vessels trading to the Pacific Islands. Some of those islands form a part of the British Empire, but others belong to foreign nations. The honorable senator wishes to impose our navigation law not only upon the British Government, in the case of islands belonging to the Empire, but also upon foreign nations. That is a thing which the British Government would be the first to resent.
– The foreign nations would resent it also.
– Of course. It must be remembered that the British law obtains in the Pacific Islands belonging to the Empire. If we take Fiji, for instance, the British law is in force there. Men signing on at Fiji would do so under the terms of the British law, but if Senator Guthrie’s amendment were accepted, when the vessels arrived here the innocent master would be liable to prosecution because he had not complied with the Commonwealth law, whilst what he had done was absolutely legal at the place where his agreement was signed. Would that be just or fair?
– I hope the Minister will be consistent throughout the consideration of the Bill in the attitude which he is now taking up.
– Throughout the Bill, so far as foreign-going ships are concerned, we follow the policy of the Merchant Shipping Act, and adopt a course which we were invited to take. As I pointed out yesterday the few suggestions made to us on the subject conclusively bear out that contention. Dealing with another matter referred to by Senator Guthrie, whosays that no provision is made for masters’ certificates or other certificates in the case of Australian trade ships, I think the honorable senator must recognise that the qualification of officers of Australian trade ships should be as high as those required from officers of foreign-going ships. They have the same perils of the sea to encounter, and possibly greater perils, when we take into account the cyclones and typhoons that arc to be met with on our coast. In the circumstances it has not been deemed wise to lower the qualification required from officers engaged in Australian trade ships.
– If New Zealand boats were included would they not be required to carry a doctor and a slop chest?
– They must comply with the New Zealand law, and in practice,’ so long as they are seaworthy we should not interfere with them, any more than with any other foreign-going ship. I have explained the effect of the amendment, and I am sure the Committee will see that it cannot be seriously entertained.
– The Minister in stating the case I put turned it absolutely round, and, I think a little unfairly, managed to twist it into something I did not suggest at all. He referred to a ship whose articles were signed in New Zealand, coming to Australia. I did not give any such illustration. I do not care what the New Zealand law is, but, as a matter of fact, under that law wages are payable, not every six months, but every month. If the Minister is prepared to assist me by providing that in the case of foreign trade ships wages shall be paid every month, and payable after the end of the month after the arrival in port, I shall be prepared to give way.
– Every argument the honorable senator has used would apply equally well to ships going from Australia to Europe.
– Exactly ; but I point out that we have a large trade between the Commonwealth and New Zealand, and men engaged in that trade are in port in the Commonwealth every four or five days. Under the provisions of this Bill, if under the agreements which they sign the wages of the men are payable only every two years, the master can retain the money for two years.
– We have knowledge that theNew Zealand law would not permit of such an agreement.
– The New Zealand law contains the same provision as that in the Bill. Where articles are signed in New Zealand, and single men are shipped in Australia, the articles signed in New Zealand prevail, and not the Australian conditions. We make the same provision. We say that if articles are signed in New Zealand, no matter what the Australian law is, the New Zealand law shall prevail.
– The honorable senator would have two agreements in force on the same ship.
– A ship leaves England, and calls at Hobart, where for various reasons a number of her men leave. We do not ask that the men taken on in their place should sign an Australian agreement, but the same agreement as that signed by’ the men engaged in England. The only alteration that is made is in regard to the rate of wages. My amendment would not affect arty fundamental principle of the Bill, but it would give men employed in the New Zealand trade the advantages enjoyed by the men employed in the Australian coasting trade, and put them in the same position as men who are engaged between New Zealand and Australia. It will be an absolute handicap, in fact men will prefer to sail out of New Zealand rather than out of Australia, and ship-owners will be prepared to sign their men on in New Zealand rather than in Australia. We do not want to bring that about, but to put the men as nearly as possible on an equal footing. In its law New Zealand has met this case. In this Bill the progression is a limited coast-trade, an Australian trade and a foreign trade; but in the New Zealand Act the progression is a limited coast-trade, a coastal trade, an intercolonial trade, and a foreign trade. I am only asking that this definition shall be made to apply exactly in the same way as the definition of intercolonial trade in New Zealand. If the Minister desires time to enable him to look into the matter, and to bring downa new definition of intercolonial trade and to put it on the same footing as in New Zealand, I have noobjection. But I object strongly to a trade which is virtually an Inter-State trade being made a foreign trade, where the conditions are far more harassing to the menthan they are in the Inter-State trade.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Guthrie’samendment) - put. The Committeedivided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) Jil. 35]. - I desire to elicit some information from the Minister about the definition of “Limited coast-trade ship.” First of all, let me take the case of a steamer like the turbine steamer Bingera, which runs from Brisbane to Townsville, and calls at only two or three ports, not to do a cargo tra.de, but to pick up mails and passengers. Practically the greater part of her_ course is in sheltered waters, and she is running backwards and forwards every week. Would she be a limited coast-trade ship? Again, what would happen in the case of at ship which runs backwards and forwards between two ports nearly all the year, and on an odd occasion calls at an extra port? Would she for eleven months be a “ limited coast-trade ship,” and the moment she went into an extra port for a single trip become an “Australian-trade ship” ? This definition is too strict. It seems to me that a ship could not be taken off a berth and given a different job unless she were reclassed.
– Not reclassed, but remanned.
– It would mean that in certain cases where the manning “had to be different men would ha>ve to be taken on for one trip and sacked immediately afterwards, although, as a matter -of fact, the ship might not have been doing any different work except that it had called “in a.t an extra port. Along the Queensland coast there are ships dodging about the Barrier Reef. It will be interesting to know whether it is possible to describe the sea route between the Barrier Reef and the coast as a port when it comes to the deter mination of what is a port.
– The object of these definitions is to enable us, by regulation, to accommodate ourselves, as far as possible, to the physical conditions of the several States. For instance, we could not very well provide that ships trading in ports within the same State should be limited coast-trade ships. Suppose that a ship is trading from Adelaide to Port Darwin, in the same State. That must be classed and officered’ differently from a ship which is merely trading between Brisbane and Townsville, or between various ports in the same State where the water is comparatively “ smooth. I ask honorable senators to read the definition of limited coast- trade ship.
– What is a short voyage? Is it to be defined?
– I will give my honorable friend an idea of what is meant by a short voyage.
– Ship-owners want to make it a voyage of 1,000 miles.
– The object of the definition is to accommodate the ship-owners as far as possible, so that their ships may be properly classified. I have pointed out that the original suggestion was that we should confine limited coast-trade ships to ships trading to ports within the same State, and shown that that would be impracticable. Under this definition it will be competent to issue a regulation that ships trading between, say, Mallacoota Inlet, in Victoria, and Eden, or even a little farther north, shall be at liberty to continue their operations as limited coasttrade ships. Senator Chataway put the case of a ship trading in comparatively smooth waters’ - although they are not always smooth between Brisbane and Townsville. Speaking off-hand, it is possible that such a ship would become a limited coast-trade ship, and be so classified. My honorable friend also said that some of these ships trade in what might be more or less inland waters, say, within a bay or a port. Suppose that a limited coast-trade ship sometimes undertook the more limited class of bay and river work. Whilst she was engaged in limited trade trips, say on the coast between Brisbane and Townsville, she would have to take on such additional hands as would be necessary to comply with the manning scale applicable to a limited coast-trade ship. But while she was engaged in river and bay work, such as, for instance, in Hobson’s Bay, or on the Parramatta or the Murray, no doubt she would be liable to a different classification. My honorable friend will see that there is no means of laying down hardandfast rules in the Bill, because if a ship, which is ordinarily engaged in the river and bay trade, wants to go outside to do the wider and more perilous work, necessarily she must be competently manned - in other words, additional hands must be taken on.
– The Minister has told us that we cannot lay down hard-and-fast rules in the Bill. But does he not think that it would simplify matters very much if the word “exclusively” were left out of the definition of limited coast-trade ships? If that were done it would leave a certain margin for Ministerial action; otherwise we shall be tying his hands as tightly as possible. The definitions of “ limited coast-trade ship,” and “ river* andi bay ship “ seem to me to come very close together. On the eastern coast of Queensland, where the sugar industry is carried on, small steamers, of about 300 tons, trade most of their time in the northern rivers. They carry sugar down these rivers, and just outside the entrances discharge it into large ships. These craft, I take it, would be called “river, or bay ships.”
– I hardly think so. It is very difficult to say, but any vessel trading in a river or a bay - such as Hobson’s Bay - would certainly be a “ river or bay “ ship.
– Am I then to understand that steamers which are engaged in carrying sugar down the rivers of Queensland would1 be called “limited coast trade ships “ ?
– These vessels occasionally go up to the Proserpine River - which is a comparatively short trip, covering some 70 or 80 miles - load sugar there, and bring it down that stream to be ultimately discharged into a larger vessel. In undertaking that trip they have to pass outside the limits of the port of Mackay, which is not a port in the ordinary sense of the term. These vessels merely have to hug the land the whole way. Under the Bill, therefore, they would for two days come under the definition of “ limited coast trade ships,” and for the rest of the time they would be “bay ships.” Surely there must be some method of meeting this difficulty. If it can be provided for by regulation, well and good., but it is obvious that such vessels cannot engage a mate for a couple of days and then discharge him,, to re-engage him six weeks hence.
– I desire to emphasize the point which has been raised by Senator Chataway, namely, that the use of the word “exclusively “ is likely to create difficulty. I propose to give an instance in which this, definition would prove extremely irksome. Take the case of a tugboat which within the limits of this provision - is allowed to trade between Sydney and Newcastle. If that tug were suddenly called upon to forsake that trade and engage upon a rescue expedition, she would have to pass outside the limits of the port, and would, it seems to me, upon returning to take up her ordinary work, be debarred from doing so. I am perfectly certain that that is not what the framers of this Bill intend. I contend: that if a vessel, as a matter of business, chooses to vacate her ordinary route for ® term, for the purpose of engaging in someother work, she ought not to be debarred, from resuming the trade in which she had originally been engaged. But the retention of the word “exclusively” would have that effect. If we strike out the word, I admit that another difficulty will be opened up, because then a vessel mating a short voyage once a year will be able to claim exemption! for the balance of the twelve months. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council recognises that there is an objection to this provision, I suggest that he should confer with his officials with a view to putting the matter right. The retention of the word “exclusively” would prevent a tug which happened to be called away from its ordinary work of plying between port and port from resuming that work upon the ground that she had not been .” exclusively “ engaged inmaking these short voyages.
– Speaking broadly, the definition of “ limited coast trade ship “ is intended to apply to vessels engaged :n rough water, and the definition of “ river and bay ships “ to vessels engaged in smooth water. There is no doubt that the correct drafting of the clause is a matter attended with considerable difficulty. If we strike out the word “exclusively,” we shall, perhaps,. open up greater difficulty. I have consulted the officer who is advising me in this matter, and I am informed that it would be dangerous to omit that word.
– It will be dangerous to retain it.
– If honorable senators will agree to the clause as it stands, I will endeavour to meet the case suggested by Senators Chataway and Millen.
– I am pleased that the VicePresident of the Executive Council admits that there is a difficulty to be faced in this provision, and I am willing to allow it to be passed upon the understanding, not merely that he will confer with his officers, but that he will, at a later stage, afford honorable senators another opportunity of considering it.
– If that is necessary.
– But who is to be the judge of whether it is necessary? We think that the provision, as it stands, is imperfect. I recognise the difficulty which will arise if we strike out the word to which objection has been taken, but if we pass this provision, in the absence of an assurance from the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that we shall be afforded another opportunity of considering it-
– I have already told my honorable friend that I will bear his representations in mind.
– But if we agree to the provision now, we shall not have an opportunity of reviewing it. I think that time should be afforded to the VicePresident of the Executive Council and his advisory officers to look into the matter, and that the proposal should again be submitted to us at a later stage.
Senator Chataway. Postpone it.
– We cannot postpone a portion of a clause.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said in effect “ I want you to be perfectly satisfied with the decision at which I arrive.” That, I think, is asking the Senate to altogether forget its duty. I ask him to give honorable senators an opportunity of reconsidering the provision. The honorable gentleman himself admits that the clause is imperfect, and he has asked for time to consider it.
– I have not. My present assurance is that the term “ exclu sively “ is one which is well understood by those engaged in the trade.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council stated just now that he recognised that there was a difficulty in the drafting of the clause. Surely then it is our business to provide for that difficulty ?
– I have already said that I will take the suggestion of the honorable senator into consideration.
– I ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council how he will deal with the case which I have already instanced?
– The provision I am advised would not interfere with such a case.
– Then those who are advising the honorable gentlemen are attaching to the English language a meaning which nobody else attaches to it. If, under this provision, a vessel must be “exclusively “ engaged in our coasting trade, but we permit her to engage in some other trade, those who administer this Bill will be absolutely laughing at Parliament, and will be interpreting it in the way that suits themselves. In that case we might as well abrogate our functions, and say, that whatever the Customs Department thinks ought to be, shall be. It is quite evident that the word “exclusively” is not meant to be in this provision, and that the officers of the Department would interpret it in their own way. If those officers do not intend that under this provision a vessel shall be “exclusively” employed in the limited coast trade, we ought not to retain that word.
– How long a period does the term exclusively “ cover?
– That is the point. Under this provision, the best tug boat employed between Sydney and Newcastle might suddenly be called upon to search for a missing vessel outside those limits. In that case she would not be “exclusively” engaged in the limited coast trade.
– Is not the honorable senator putting an extreme case?
– I must put an extreme case to illustrate my point. Unless the officers of the Department deliberately break the law, that vessel would not be able to re-engage in her former trade.
– Oh, yes. She would simply be engaged for a time in a humanitarian enterprise. .
– In an emergency.
– That is an admission of all that I am contending for, namely, that when the Bill says “ exclusively,” it does not mean it. Therefore, 1 say that we ought to substitute another term. Let us take the case of another vessel engaged in a limited coast trade, which decides to ply between Sydney and Newcastle. Let us assume that, after a time, she engages in another trade, and that twelve months later she wishes to resume running in the limited coast trade. This provision would prevent her from doing so, because the word “exclusively” has only one meaning. Whilst I admit the danger that will follow the striking out of that word, I intend to move for its excision if the Vice-President of the Executive Council is not prepared to afford us another opportunity - after consultation with his officers - of considering the matter. The advice of those officers ought to be available to the Committee, as well as to the honorable gentleman.
SenatorBest. - I have already told the honorable senator that I will seek advice upon the subject, and I shall have no hesitation whatever in stating the effect of that advice.
– But as the VicePresident of the Executive Council will not undertake to bring the provision again before the Committee, we are practically being asked to abrogate our function’s in his favour. We might as well request him to take the Bill, confer with his officers as to the form of its various clauses, and ask us to pass them in globo. It is certainly a case of the blind leading, but I do hope that there will be no blind following. I move -
That the word “exclusively,” line11, be left out.
If the Committee support me in this matter, the obligation will then be thrown upon the Vice-President of the Executive Council of bringing forward this provision in a. different form.
– The effect of this amendment would be to leave room for dodges on the part of shipowners to escape the manning clause. If we eliminated the word to which Senator Millen objects, there might be theutmost difficulty in getting it re-inserted. At present the definition is substantially right. Exceptional cases have been mentioned of an emergent character, but they are matters for administration. When we speak about a ship being “ exclusively “ engaged in a particular trade, we mean that that isgenerally the class of trade in which she is engaged. The emergent cases that Senator Millen has mentioned need not trouble us. I have given an assurance that the difficulties that have been mentioned will receive further consideration. But they are of minor importance compared with the many reasons for keeping the definition substantially as it stands. It cannot be subject tothe same difficulties and dangers as would naturally attach to it were the word “ exclusively “ eliminated. Extreme and emergent cases will not be of everyday occurrence, and it will be competent for the officers administering the Act to deal with them satisfactorily.
.- Senator Millen’s contention might have someforceif it were not generally recognised that the administration of Acts of Parliament is accompanied with some sort of tact and discretion. It is absolutely essential in most cases that Parliament should giveto the Government a reserve power, so that they may have full authority to enforce notonly the spirit but the letter of the law. The whole body of our Statute and common law is full of fictions which are winked at every day in the week. I need mention only one - that “ The King can do no wrong.” That fiction is carried out to the extent that a person who is convicted of an alleged . offence, and afterwardsproved to be absolutely innocent, is pardoned for an offence that he never committed. Why does not Senator Millenraise his voice against that?
– We are not in Committee on that now.
– I could talk for a week on similar instances. To insure the efficient administration of the law we have to take a reserve power.
– In this case we are not giving a reserve power, but are laying it down in black and white that ships mustbe exclusivelyemployed in a certain way.
– That is where the reserve power lies. Except for this provision every ship-owner would be able to dodge the law.
– If the word to whichI object is taken out other words must be put in.
– Why did not the honorable senator suggest an alternative word? It is the duty of a senator who submits such an amendment to suggest a word to take the place of the one to which he objects. Many Acts of Parliament contain things, which, according to the absolutely strict and undiscriminating interpretation of language, would appal almost any one. Yet we have unhesitatingly given such powers, knowing that the Government is responsible to Parliament for the administration of the law. Take the case mentioned by Senator Millen, of a vessel going to the relief of a shipwrecked crew. Would any Government say that such a vessel was, within the meaning of this Bill, taken away from the trade in which she was “exclusively” engaged ?
– If the Government have power to exempt one ship one day, another Government can exempt two ships another day.
– Governments can do wrong every day in the week. It is the fault of Parliament that they are allowed to do so. According to some people, the present Government never does anything that is right. If the party opposite could get a sufficient majority together they would, turn the Government out.
– The honorable senator would do the same.
– Undoubtedly I would. It is for Parliament to see that this power is not abused, and I, for one, shall vote for the provision cheerfully.
– This provision is meant by the draftsman to take the place of provisions contained in the Acts of the States prior to Federation. Every State except Victoria had a law confining its coasting trade to its own territorial waters. Victoria, however, made its coasting trade extend from Port Stephens, north of Newcastle, New South Wales, to Port Augusta, at the head of Spencer’s Gulf, South Australia. That is the Victorian law to-day. Whilst the other States confined their coasting trade to the coasts within their own jurisdiction there was not the trouble that Senator Millen anticipates.
– The word “ exclusively “ is not in any State Act.
– The word was not necessary, because the States knew that they had no jurisdiction outside their own coasts. The provision is- meant to take the place of States laws regarding limited voyages. There is a reason for it. This Bill, in its manning scale, provides that ships going on voyages under a certain number of miles, shall carry a certain number of engineers ; or more if the voyage is longer.
– Why not impose a mileage limitation?
– That is precisely what I was going to suggest. We should lay it down that the limit of coasting trade means a voyage not exceeding 200 miles. In New South Wales, no coasting voyage exceeded 200 miles. Generally Sydney was the port of departure, and the vessel sailed either south or north. In Queensland the coastal voyages would be a little longer, and the same would apply in South Australia and Western Australia. Victoria has very limited coast-line, and 200 miles would be more than sufficient. In South Australia we consider a trip from Adelaide to Port Augusta within our coasting trade, though it is a considerable journey, and the masters of all such steamers have to have foreign-going certificates.
– The 200 miles would not suit Queensland.
– A ship could not get her clearance if she were bound on a voyage of over 200 miles, and were not properly manned and officered for the purpose. There is no necessity to strike out the word “ exclusively,” but I think there is a need for inserting in the definition a limit of distance. What I have described is quite common in England. . Take the case of a ship engaged in the coasting trade. Say that she is going outside the coasting trade limits to the Continent of Europe. In that case, she merely changes her -captain and gets one holding a different certificate. I have been in a ship on which the mate was master for one trip, because he held a foreign-going certificate, and on the next trip, when the ship was going to ‘a different place, he was mate, and the man who had been mate on the previous trip was master, because he possessed a different certificate. The same thing applies in Australia to-day. Whilst a ship is trading within certain limits a man holding a certain certificate is entitled to take charge of her, but if she goes outside those limits she must have a master holding a higher certificate. I should like to mention that, in the case of engineers, provision is made in this Bill for higher qualifications in the harbor and bay trade than in the limited coast trade. I think that the distance to be run from, various ports should be defined.
– In the opinion of the Minister and Senator Guthrie, as well as of senators Millen and Chataway, this definition as it stands is unsatisfactory. A strong case has, therefore, been made out in favour of the suggestion that it should be looked into more closely. It is not unreasonable in the circumstances to ask that the paragraph should be postponed.
– We cannot postpone part of a clause.
– Then the Minister might give a promise to bring this definition up again for consideration, if subsequent light thrown upon it by consultation with his officers, should justify that course.
– I have availed myself of an opportunity for consultation, and I am told that it would be most dangerous to leave the word “exclusively” out.
– I think we should be given an opportunity to discuss the reasons advanced for that conclusion. If the Minister will not agree to bring up this definition again for consideration, he must admit that he is inviting resistance.
– As the Vice- President of the Executive Council has said, those who are opposing the definition as it stands are fighting a shadow. They found their opposition to it upon an illustration given of a ship going out of her way to rescue another in distress.
– A tug boat between Sydney and Melbourne.
– The honorable senator is talking nonsense. I did not build up my case on that.
– The honorable senator certainly gave that illustration.
– I gave that as an extreme case, and I object to the honorable senator’s statement that I founded my opposition to the clause on that case:
– I am putting the illustration in the honorable senator’s own words, and I shall not permit him to put words into my mouth.
-Then the honorable senator should not put words into mine. Let him tell the truth, and I shall not mind.
– The case the honorable senator mentioned was that of a tug going to the assistance of a ship in distress. I shall not allow him to crawfish away from it.
– I gave two illustrations. The honorable senator is not speaking the truth.
– Senator Millen must withdraw that statement.
– All that I can say is that the honorable senator is stating what is not true.
– The honorable senator must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw the statement ; but what can I do? Senator Lynch charges me with saying something which I did not say.
– The honorable senator can make a personal explanation when Senator Lynch has concluded his speech.
– I repeat that the opposition to the definition has been built up on the illustration that Senator Millen gave of a tugboat going to the assistance of a ship in distress.
– I gave two illustrations.
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator Lynch in order in continuing to attribute to Senator Millen a statement which that honorable senator denies having made ?
– The honorable senator is at liberty to repeat the statement. The accuracy of the statement is entirely a matter of opinion.
– It is a matter of fact.
– I am not called upon to be a judge of the accuracy of any statement made. It is, of course, usual for an honorable senator to accept the denial of another.
– The impression left on my mind is that the illustration given by Senator Millen was that of a tug boat, employed in trading between Sydney and Newcastle, and going beyond the prescribed limits to the assistance of a vessel in distress. It was suggested that by doing so the tug would become, not a limited coast-trade ship, but an Australian-trade ship. If a second illustration was given I did not hear it. Surely we do not pass Acts of Parliament to deal with exceptional cases of that kind? Many cases might be quoted in which the law is not complied with. To give an illustration : Suppose a man is suddenly stricken with cholic outside a hotel door on a Sunday, and the hotelkeeper gives him a glass of brandy to relieve his distress, just as the master of the tug, in Senator Millen’s illustration, goes to the relief of the ship in distress- -
– In such cases the hotelkeeper has been fined dozens of times.
– And has been let off hundreds of times.
– Yes, and the law has been declared to be a “ hass.” My point is that the foundation of guilt in the violation of an Act of Parliament is in the intent, and though the captain of a tug, in going outside the prescribed limits to render assistance to a ship in distress, might break the letter of the law, he would not break it in spirit. Licensed victuallers have broken the letter of the licensing law in Western Australia in the way I have described, but justices have declared that they were quite justified. If a ship were driven, by accident, beyond the prescribed distance from the coast, in the opinion of Senator Millen and those who are opposed to the definition as it stands, the master would have violated the law. Such cases arise in every country, and, in the opinion of Senator Millen, if a ship is driven out of her course only a mile beyond the prescribed distance from the coast, by the operation of the elements, over which the master has no control, he is to be held, guilty of a violation of the Act.
– That is not my opinion, and the honorable senator should not say that it is.
– Then I exempt Senator Millen, and say that other honorable senators opposite hold that in such a case the master would have violated the law, although he could not help himself. In this, as in all other matters of the kind, room must be left for the exercise of a wise and discriminating administration of the law. Let me say that those who desire to pull down a structure, should indicate how they propose to replace it, and honorable senators opposite, while opposing this provision as it stands, have not suggested how it should be amended. I am satisfied that any difficulties likely to arise can be overcome by a wise administration of the law.
– I should not have risen again if Senator Lynch had not absolutely distorted the position I took up. The Minister, and honorable senators on this side, have expressed a fear that the clause, as it stands, does not leave enough to administration, and is not sufficiently elastic. The answer is that we must leave this power to the administration; and that is the object which I had in view.
– The answer was, that we should leave sufficient reserve power in the hands of the Government to prevent evasion of the law.
– I wish to leave the Minister in such a position that where, in his opinion, a ship honestly conforms to the conditions, he need not interfere.
– No, the honorable sena tor wishes to rush to the other extreme. He has proposed to strike out the word “ exclusively. ‘ ‘
– I have fold the Committee a dozen times that I propose to strike out the word, because it is believed that it is not the best word to use. The Minister forced me into moving the amendment when he declared that the Committee would be given no opportunity to avail itself of further advice.
– I have taken the advice of a gre’at expert, and he believes that the paragraph should remain as it stands.
– I do not object to being crushed by argument, but I object to being weighed down by authority. The Minister told us a few minutes ago that he regarded the definition as open to such doubt that he felt it incumbent to seek further advice. If the Minister, who is assumed to come here with a better knowledge of the Bill than any other member of the Committee, says that words in the definition create a doubt in his mind so great that he must consult his officers, am I not justified in sharing the doubt? In these circumstances .is, it wrong that I should want the same opportunity as the Minister claims to look further into the provision? When Senators Lynch and Givens take up an extremely lofty and superior air. and say that any one who ventures to strike out a word should be prepared offhand to put in another word, I recognise that transcendent ability which enables them to do so. I claim no such quality.
– We would not attempt to delete a word unless we proposed to insert another word.
– On dozens of occasions I have known the honorable senator to propose the omission of a word or a dot or a comma, for the mere purpose of testing the feeling of the Committee on a question.
– Does the honorable senator want to defeat the provision.?
– Certainly not. I think that the provision is absolutely necessary and desirable, but I want to leave in the hands of those who will have to administer it a reasonable margin of power by which they can meet extraordinary cases that may arise. Senator Lynch stated - quite inaccurately, but up to his usual standard - that I based my case solely on one instance. I did nothing of the kind, and as he has such a faulty or convenient memory, let me remind him of the second instance I gave. I said that a vessel might be engaged for nine or ten months in the limited coast-trade, and might decide to enter another trade for a month, and asked whether she would be held to be “ exclusively engaged in making short voyages from and to any port in Australia.”
– For ten months she would.
– The word “exclusively,” if it means anything, means all the time, and to the exclusion of anything else. That is not intended.
– It means for the time being.
– Those words are not contained in the definition, and if I were to propose their insertion, the Minister might say at once that it would leave a way open to dodgery. Of course it would. I should: not have risen again except for the fact that my position had been entirely misinterpreted. Senator Lynch sought to make out that I was trying to limit the powers of the Department, whereas in this case, I am really trying to enlarge them. I would remind honorable senators that by the insertion of such words, in provisions of Bills, injustice has frequently been done. We can all recall instances where the Judges or the magistrates or the Department have said to persons who appeared before them, “ We quite admit the equity of your case, but unfortunately the law is such that we cannot do anything for you.” That position will arise under this definition if the word “ exclusively “ is retained. We shall find the Department saying to the captain of a ship, “ We are extremely sorry. We think that what you have done is the result of circumstances which do not violate the spirit of the provision, but unfortunately, while we admit that you are the victim of a hardship, the Parliament in its wisdom chose to keep in the .word 1 exclusively.’ We can do nothing for you. You must suffer the penalty.” That is what I have been trying to avoid.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) t12-34]- - I desire to put a question for the consideration of Senator Best, who has considerable legal knowledge and has certainly given a great deal of attention to the Bill. All along his plea has been that he wants this definition to be worded in such a way as to allow for elasticity of administration. Now, if he will agree to the omission of the word1 “exclusively” and allow the definition to read - “ Limited coast-trade ship “ means a sea-going ship engaged in making short voyages will it not give him all the elasticity and freedom of administration which he desires for the Department?
– Certainly not.
– Certainly it would, because the Department would have to interpret the word ‘”’ engaged “ with the context.
– But engaged for how long?
– My honorable friend’s whole argument was a plea for elasticity of administration, and when the difficulties in the way were pointed out by Senator Chataway and accentuated by Senators Guthrie and Millen-
– No. I want the word “exclusively” to stand.
– To my mind the very illustrations which the honorable senator gave tended to show that the definition would require elasticity of administration. If the plea on the part of the Minister is genuine he will know that when words are not limited, as a matter of both administration and! interpretation, the widest meaning is given to them. But when we attempt to limit words and limit them by such a hard-and-fast word as “ exclusively “ there will not be that freedom of either administration or interpretation.
– Does it not mean that a prosecution would have to take place in the extreme cases mentioned by my honorable friends? Would any intelligent administrator start prosecutions in such circumstances ?
– Certainly he would.
– It must be remembered that the extreme case I put is one which occurs on two days in every month of the year.
– I am pleased to hear that interjection. We desire to know how the coastal trade of Queensland will stand, because in some respects it is an exceptional one. In that State these are almost every-day occurrences.
– Then the officer should have the higher qualification every day.
– In Queensland an extensive coast-trade is done within very limited areas. The boats go from port to port and from river to river. The cases pointed out by Senator Chataway are not exceptional, but occur very frequently. We are entitled to know how they will be affected under this Bill. When it was pointed out from this side that the coastal-trade in Queensland might be interfered with by one or other of the two definitions, and when Senator Millen extended the illustrations more strongly, what answer did Senator Best give? He almost pleaded for the definition to be allowed to pass in its present form, because the Parliament must rely upon the administration of the Minister, subject to the guidance of his expert officers. All along, he pleaded for elasticity of administration. When we point out that the retention of the word “ exclusively “ will deprive him of that quality, hecannot complain very much; whereas, if it is omitted, it will leave the way open for freedom of administration and interpretation.
– In many cases the retention of a word of this kind in a measure has created a great deal of confusion. As regards the coastal-trade, the circumstances of Queensland differ from those of any other State. During the sugar season small steamers which are ordinarily engaged in the bay or river trade, are called upon occasionally to visit the rivers higher up or lower down the coast. I know of several small steamers at Townsville which, during the greater part of the year are engaged in what might be called the bay trade.
– They trade as far as Cairns.
-They make an odd trip to Cairns, but very often they are engaged between the rivers and Townsville. They go down the coast for a load of sugar to be shipped immediately on a steamer waiting in a bay. If the word “ exclusively “ is retained in this definition these boats will be employed outside their usual trade during a certain portion of the year.
– Would they be employed outside their usual trade?
– Yes; because they would be employed to run trips to points 100 or 150 miles along the coast to pick up a load of sugar for a steamer lying in the bay. Of course that only occurs during the sugar season, and if we retain this word we shall handicap those who grow that article. At Mackay, for instance, it would not be possible to pick up a mate or a captain for two or three days to go up to the Proserpine River. If a man with a sea-going certificate had to be put on a boat, what would be the upshot? A larger freight would have to be charged. This question should be considered from the point of view of the producers. In Queensland we are settling a large population on the Proserpine, the Burdekin Delta, and the various rivers along our coast. The trade is of such a character that it will be extremely difficult for any man to comply with the regulations, unless the Minister is granted power to do what he thinks is right at the time. We are all aware that in many cases the magistrates or the Judges say, “ Yes ; we think that this is a hard case, but we must comply with the law and inflict a nominal fine. We must convict.”
– If my honorable friend will look at the definition, he will see that the design of its framers has been to make it sufficiently elastic to meet cases of that kind.
– But, in my opinion, it is not sufficiently elastic. I have already pointed out cases of hardship which will undoubtedly arise. The producers will practicallybe unable to get their produce to market.
– The effect of the honorable senator’s suggestion would be to sacrifice human life.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council ought to know that in our northern latitudes, during the sugar season, a ship can voyage for hundreds of miles in water which is calmer than that of Hobson’s Bay. I appeal to the Government to reserve to themselves power to meet such cases as I have instanced. I merely ask that justice shall be done to the community in which I live. The retention of the word “exclusively” will inflict hardship upon the class of people whom we are endeavouring to settle upon the land. It will hamper the small traders along our coast, because they cannot possibly keep vessels employed in this trade all the year round. In this provision, I suggest that words should be inserted which will empower the Government to exempt small vessels, such as those to which I have referred.
– I have listened attentively to the whole of the arguments which have been advanced against this provision, and, if they amount to anything, it is merely to a plea foi- inefficiency, and therefore danger. To whom does the provision apply? To the officers carried by these vessels. Clause 13 prescribes the number of officers which ships engaged in certain trades shall carry. It sets out that a limited coasttrade ship shall carry a master and mate, and a river and bay ship shall also carry a master and mate. But there is a considerable difference between the value of the certificates held by the officers carried on these two classes of boats. A man holding a second-mate’s certificate upon the former is qualified to ship as mate upon the latter. Whilst vessels are engaged in river or bay trade, officers possessing the lower qualification are competent to navigate them; but when those vessels require to pass outside the area in which they are ordinarily engaged, the Government wisely say that they must carry officers possessing the higher qualifications.
– But we are now dealing with vessels employed in the limited coast-trade, and not with river and bay trade.
– The position is exactly the same. The Opposition are pleading that ships engaged in river and bay trade should be allowed to undertake journeys of 200 and 300 miles along our coast. ‘ This, they urge, ought to be permitted in the interests of the producers and by sacrificing the competence of the officers upon these vessels. Let us glance at the coast of Queensland and see what it is like. Take the case of a vessel running from Maryborough. So long as she engages in trade inside the islands, she will come under the regulation relating to harbor and bay trade. But vessels of this kind are sometimes taken out of that trade and sent north. They occasionally load coal, and are sent, to Townsville, Cooktown, or Cairns. At the present time, they are required to carry officers possessing higher certificates than those held by officers who are engaged exclusively in river trade. The case 0? the steamer Kingsmill is one in point. When that vessel leaves Maryborough for Sydney, another master has to be placed on board. Again, vessels engaged on the Fitzroy River have to travel a distance of 45 miles to do their lightering. The companies do their own lightering, but they are able to send to those lighters men who do not hold seagoing certificates. So long as those vesselsare engaged in lightering, no trouble is experienced, but the moment they have to be taken to Brisbane for the purpose of being overhauled, the company has to send certificated men to take charge of them, although the distance is only about 350 miles. Let me now refer to the case put by Senator Chataway - the case of a vessel loading sugar from the wharfs in a northern river and conveying it to deep-sea vessels lying at the mouth. Such a craft would be engaged in purely river trade, and consequently would be able to carry an officer who only possessed the certificate required under that portion of the Bill relating to river and bay trade. But it frequently happens that these vessels have to proceed to Proserpine River, a distance of 70 miles along the coast from Port Mackay. They are not then engaged in river and bay trade, but in limited coasttrade, and officers who are quite competent to handle them between the wharf where the sugar is loaded and Pioneer River or Flattop Island would not possess the necessary qualifications to navigate them there. Consequently there is always a man in charge who possesses the requisite qualifications to take these vessels to Flattop Island, or to any port within the prescribed radius above or below Port Mackay. If a man possessing only the qualifications necessary -to enable him to engage in river and bay trade is to be permitted to take a vessel to Proserpine River, why should he not be allowed to navigate her to Townsville, or all round the Queensland coast?
– The honorable senator has put his illustration in the way in which the difficulty does not arise. Under this Bill, the master of a vessel which is engaged only in river and bay trade would have to be superseded the moment it became necessary to navigate his ship 70 miles along the coast.
– Undoubtedly. The same sort of thing applies to our railways. Would the honorable senator advocate placing a second-class engine-driver in charge of the express train to Albury?
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I have pointed out, in answer to ‘the interjection of Senator Chataway, that an officer who lias not a certificate of competency may engage in the river trade ; and I said’ that most boats that a’t present occasionally engage in this class of work keep certificated men, so that they shall not only be able to trade in a bay or river, but to go, say, 150 miles along the coast. Senator Chataway asked, “ Suppose a man “does not hold a certificate; will he be able to run a voyage or two ‘ ‘ ? Well, suppose that the Commissioners in charge of the Victorian Railways put a third class engine-driver om the Melbourne express to Albury ; that there was an accident, and the fact came out that the man in charge of the train, instead of being a first class engine-driver, was one who had recently been a fireman. Honorable senators opposite would be the first to cry out because an inexperienced man had been intrusted with such responsible work. But they have been arguing for putting men who are not competent in charge of vessels. It is an argument for incompetency so long as men can be employed at cheap rates.
– The argument is that it is not the Minister who should be able to grant an exemption, but that we should set out in the Bill what the exemption is to be.
– I know the Queensland coast very well. I have dealt with a vessel that runs from Mackay, 10 miles down the coast, to Flat-top, and takes on board sugar and passengers. The object of honorable senators opposite is to allow -such a vessel, without complying with this measure, so far as certificated officers are concerned, to go, say, to Proserpine, which is 60 or 70 miles away at sea. It is true that Proserpine is inside the Barrier Reef, but it is in the track of steamers that follow the coast of Australia so long as they keep inside the Reef. If such a boat were allowed to go to Proserpine, why should she not be allowed to go to Bowen, which “is 1x0 miles away? She would be in the same waters. Senator Sayers has men tioned the case of boats working in the Townsville Harbor, occasionally taking cargo and passengers from the depots to vessels that may be lying in the bay a distance of 5 or 6 miles. Such a vessel may. take cargo and passengers to Magnetic Island. That is all right. But Senator Sayers says, occasionally in the sugar season it may be necessary for. those vessels to go round to the rivers along the coasttake cargo, and bring it down to the ships at Townsville. Where are we going to stop, if we allow that kind of thing? If a man does not possess a certificate of competency, ought he to be al lowed to go outside the waters of the bay into deep water? I say no. If such a man is allowed to take a vessel to Cardwell, 40 miles away, why cannot he’ go to the next place, Mourilyon, and thence to the Johnstone, and from the Johnstone to Lucinda? He would still be inside the Reef. Why should he not go from Lucinda Point to Cairns, and from Cairns to Port Douglas? Where are we going to stop? In the case of Queensland, the limitation of distance does not amount to much. But it is far better to leave the matter to administration than to mention any distance in the Bill. Take a boat running out to Mackay, about 70 or 80 miles, or a boat running from Townsville to Cairns, 180 miles, calling at different places along the coast. The most northerly sugar district sends its sugar down to Port Douglas which would be outside the 200-mile limit. Fresh rivers in the neighbourhood of which sugar is being cultivated are frequently being opened up. It would be far better, as occasion arises, to prescribe what should be the limit of coast trade, than to put a provision in the Bill. We do not know exactly what may happen in connexion with the opening up of Western Australia. If the matter is left, to administration, the wants of the people may be consulted without the necessity of coming to Parliament for an amending Bill.
– That is a good argument for having no Bill at all. Leave everything to the Minister and the Department, and things can be done much quicker.
– I do not think that it is a good argument. There was a time when men without any certificates whatever were permitted to take charge of vessels and go to sea. But that is no argument against having a law dealing with the subject to-day. It is sound policy to insist that men who are in charge of ships which go to sea shall be competent and experienced before the lives of people, and the property of ship-owners are intrusted to their charge.
– It is sound policy to draw the line intelligently.
– I think so ; and, in my opinion, I think the line is being drawn intelligently. I come now to the word “exclusively.” A man may be engaged this’ week exclusively in driving a dray. He may be engaged next week exclusively in carrying a hod. But that does not involve his being engaged the whole of his life in such occupations. Whilst a vessel is engaged in a certain trade, she is in that trade exclusively, and should observe the conditions laid down under this Bill. As soon as she goes out of that class of trade, she should be required to have a properly certificated officer on board. Would any honorable senator argue that vessels should not be compelled to do that ?
– No one has said so.
– But the argument for the other side has been that vessels ordinarily engaged in bay or river traffic should be allowed to do work along the coast of Australia, whether those in charge of them hold certificates of competency or not.
– Who said that?
- Senator Sayers said that by carrying the Bill in this form, we should be imposing penalties on the producer by compelling ship-owners to put men in charge of their vessels to whom they would have to pay high wages. He argued that the increase in the wages would not be paid by the ship-owner, but by the producer. That argument underlies all the objections we have heard from the Opposition. It is nothing more than a question of cheap labour. It is said, “ Here is a man who is running a boat in a river or a bay ; at certain times of the year he wants to take that boat 100 or 150 miles along the coast to pick up cargo. This Bill compels the ship-owner to put a certificated man into the vessel. By so doing, the cost to the producer is increased and he is penalized.” Left me point out that the Queensland Government, while it was free to do as it pleased, did not act upon Senator Saver’s principle. I have known a barge to be working between Brisbane and some point in Moreton Bay. A man without a certificate was in charge of the plant. By- and-by, it was considered necessary tosend a portion of the plant to some port along the coast where harbor improvements were being made.. Was the man who wasordinarily in charge of the vessel allowed to take her there? Oh, no. The Government engaged a competent man to take her to the place where she was required, whereupon he would hand her over again to the man previously employed. There was no compulsion exercised upon, the Queensland Government; but for the sake of safety, they engaged a competent man. That is all that we are asking for now. Everything hangs upon the use of the word “exclusively.” If a vessel isengaged in harbor or. river trade, she is exclusively in that trade. If it is desired that she shall engage in the limited coast trade, a competent officer should be put in charge. When a change is made from one class of trade to another, the owners should be compelled to comply with the manning scale laid down in this measure. It is proposed that limited coast-trade shipsof 100 tons net register and upwards, but not exceeding 300 tons2 shall? each carry one mate, and he must be a certificated man. Ships exceeding 300’ tons net register are to be required to carry two” mates. It seems to me that the objection from the other side is not that a ship should not be allowed to change from one trade to another, because they are doing that now.
– Of course, they are doing that now. This Bill has not yet been passed.
– But I remind the honorable senator that they will be able to continue to do it under this Bill, if they comply with the manning scale provided for. I could understand honorable senators if they admitted that their opposition is to the manning scale. I can understand Senator Sayers when he uses the argument that the employment of competent certificated men on these vessels would penalize the producer by compelling the shipping companies to pay the wages which would be demanded by competent men.
– All that we are concerned about on this side is as to the best way to define “ limited coast trade.”
– That is not the only concern on .the other side, if we are to judge by the arguments which have been advanced. Senator Millen has moved an amendment to strike out a certain word, in order, as he said, to throw upon the Minister the responsibility of bringing the matter up again for further consideration. The Minister said that he would consider the matter, and the leader of the Opposition might also consider it, and, at a later stage, it could again be brought up for discussion in Committee.
– If the Minister thinks necessary.
– The Minister is not a Czar in this Chamber. If honorable senators believed it to be necessary that any portion of this Bill should receive further consideration at any stage, the Minister might stand alone in opposition to it.
– It is a question of the best definition.
– No, it is a question of the manning scale. It is a question of the employment of cheaplabour, no matter how some honorable senators may attempt to cover it up.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it competent for the honorable senator to discuss the manning scale on the question now before the Chair?
– I have allowed honorable senators to discuss the question of manning because it has been pointed out that it is raised in connexion with the different classes of ships dealt with in the clause before the Committee. I think it is in order for honorable senators to discuss the question of manning.
– Then we shall have second-reading speeches in Committee.
– I did not speak on the second reading of the Bill. I do not, like Senator St. Ledger, pose as an authority on everything under the sun, but I may, I. think, claim to have nearly as good a knowledge of navigation as even that honorable senator has. Let me inform the Committee that, under the Queensland law, a home-trade vessel is “defined to be-
Any coasting passenger vessel and also any foreign-trade vessel trading between any port in Queensland and any port of the Colony of New South Wales, or’ between any port in Queensland and any other port which may be notified from time to time by the Governor in Council in the Government Gazette.
– Is the word “ exclusively “ used?
– No, becausethe Act applies only to the Queensland coast, whilst the Federal Parliament has to deal with : he coasts of six different States. Under : he Queensland law, it is provided that if a vessel bea foreign-going or home trading vessel of 300 tons or upwards, she must carry a master, a first mate, and a second mate, duly certificated. That is exactly the proposal in this Bill. Senator Chataway suggested that if a man, who was not a certificated officer, was running a boat in Mackay Harbor, he should be allowed to take the boat from Mackay to the Proserpine. That simply means the advocacy of the employment of uncertificated men. I have already referred to the argument used by Senator Savers that to compel shipowners to put competent certificated men in charge of their vessels would increase their expense, and add to the burdens on the producer. The producer is generally a strong advocate of cheap labour, and sometimes is not concerned about the colour of the labour he employs, but I think that even he would prefer that the vessel carrying his produce, or himself and his family, from Mackay to the Proserpine should be in charge of a competent man, to the saving of, say, 5s. a year in freight by the employment of an incompetent man. I hope that the definition will be passed as it stands.
– I think that the Minister is responsible for a great deal of the delay in dealing with this matter, and for the heated arguments which have been used.
– I do not expect the honorable senator to think anything else.
– This is not a party measure.
– Honorable senators opposite are making it one.
– If it had been a party measure, the Minister would have been defeated on the first division.
– Are not honorable senators opposite making this a party question ?
– Certainly not.
– They are solid on it.
– Every member of the Committee is entitled to do what he can to have the provisions of this measure expressed as clearly and concisely as possible. The Minister was asked by Senator Millen whether, if the definition were allowed to pass as it stands, he would make certain inquiries, and, if necessary, give it further consideration!.
– The honorable senator will pardon me. Senator Millen never suggested anything of the kind. I offered to do that, and my offer was refused.
– The Minister said afterwards that he had made inquiries, and did not think further consideration was necessary. If he had been courteous enough to say that he would not oppose the reconsideration or recommittal of the clause, this definition would have been passed an hour ago without alteration. I resent most strongly the remarks which have been made by Senator Turley. The honorable senator has suggested that we desire to secure the employment of incompetent labour on these ships. I take the first opportunity to resent any imputation of that sort. No one can say that I have not always been anxious to do the best I could for the worker. I shall not consciously do him any injustice under this Bill. In discussing this question, I had not the labour conditions in mind. I repeat that if the request for reconsideration had been agreed to, there would have been no further opposition to this provision.
– I appeal to Senator Millen to say whether the offer was not made and refused?
– The Minister absolutely refused to promise to give an opportunity for further consideration of the matter in this Chamber.
– The Minister later on said he had further considered the matter, and was not prepared to agree to a reconsideration of it.
– That was very much later.
– The definition would have been disposed of long ago if the Minister had agreed to the request which was made to him.
– Honorable senators on this side, on the arguments used by some honorable senators opposite, but apart from the imputations with which they were accompanied, and which are characteristic of the utterances of some honorable senators, arrive at a conclusion exactly opposed to that submitted from the other side. The Minister is seeking to define what coasting trade means, and the danger of the definition has been pointed out to him. The Imperial Parliament never attempted to define it in the Merchant Shipping Act.
– Did they not?
– To which Imperial Act is the honorable senator referring?
– I propose to quote from’ Abbott’s Law of Merchant Ships and Seamen, which is recognised as the highest authority on the subject.
– What about the definition of a home-trade ship ? Is not that practically a coast-trade ship?
– The Imperial Parliament must have had the same difficulty with regard to the coasting trade, and they did not define it.
– A home-trade ship means a ship engaged in the coasting trade, so the honorable senator will see that they did define it.
– I quote from page 477 of the last edition of Abbott’s Law of Merchant Ships and Seamen -
The term coasting trade has never been denned by the Legislature.
– Is there any reference there to the Act passed in 1906?
– I find that this edition of Abbott’s book was published in 1901.
– Two Merchant Shipping Acts have been passed in Great Britain since then.
– The Imperial Parliament, in those Acts, have defined home trade, but they did not seek to give a definition of coasting trade.
– Is coasting trade defined in this Bill?
– It is partially defined. We are dealing with coasting trade, and I say the Imperial Parliament did not attempt to define it. Prior to 1901 the Imperial Parliament did not define the coasting trade of the United Kingdom. What we on this side contend is that by this definition of “ limited coasttrade ship “ the Government are defeating their own object, because they must admit that the conditions of the coasting trade of the States vary very much. They claim that they desire to have elasticity of administration; but I point out that when the same difficulty was being dealt with by the Imperial Parliament they did not attempt to define the coasting trade.
– We are doing exactly what they did.
– I have quoted my authority for the statement that, prior to1901, the Imperial Parliament refused to define the coasting trade.
– And so do we.
– It is not of the slightest use for my honorable friend to try to quibble in that way. In this definition he is trying to define, beyond a doubt, the limited coast-trade.
– It does nothing of the kind.
– It seeks to define a limited coast- trade ship.
– Just as the Imperial Parliament defined a home-trade ship.
– Can we separate the ship from the coasting trade? The fact of the matter is. that my honorable friend is quibbling. By insisting upon a hard and fast definition he will make the administration of it more difficult. We on this side are seeking to have elastic definitions, but the Government object. It might be well for speakers to address themselves to the subject under discussion, and that is to try to make a complete and elastic definition if a limited coast-trade ship is to be defined at all. It does not involve the question of cheap labour or the question of an inferior class of ships. It merely involves the getting of a working definition of “ coasting trade.” All the arguments which have been advanced from the other side tend to show that honorable senators are trying to defeat the object which they profess a desire to attain.
– So far as this particular matter is concerned there is a wide difference between the Merchant Shipping Act and this measure. Senator Chataway dealt with the cost of shipping to the producers, and if I understood the meaning of his argument at all, it was that extending the boundaries within which limited coasttrade ships may trade would cheapen that traffic. This Bill provides for more classes of ships than does the Merchant Shipping Act. When we provide for four different classes of trading ships we must be very careful in defining the limits for those classes to trade in. The Merchant Shipping Act provides for only two classes - foreign-going ships and home-trade ships. But, in addition to those two classes, this Bill provides for a limited coast-trade ship and a river and bay ship, and, according to the trade in which a ship is engaged, a manning scale is fixed. If we interfere with the limits laid down for one class of ships in one part of the Bill we shall be running counter to its provisions relating to the manning scale. We must be very careful not to alter the limits assigned toeach class of ships. If honorable senators want to alter those limits, and to take the Merchant Shipping Act as their model, it would be better to divide the ships into two classes. Of course, that would cut against those who have argued on the basis of that Act, because we should have to provide a very high manning scale for our home-trade vessels instead of the very much reduced scale which is provided for the limited coast-trade ship and the river . and bay ship. It would make a great difference in the value of the manning and in a number of other directions. I think that the trade into which ships may go should be divided into four classes. We really cannot afford to break down the barriers which have been erected. If we do we may just as well remove the clause referring to pilotage. If we extend the geographical area over which the boats can trade we may just as well allow a ship to go where it chooses without a pilot. In Queensland they have a system of coasting pilots. We are told that it is a very safe coast to navigate; but it is rather strange that from Torres Strait to Brisbane they have coasting pilots. That does not suggest that it is a very safe coast. If these points are borne in mind honorable senators will see the danger of extending the trading area of a limited coast-trade ship beyond a certain radius. I think that the limit defined is a very reasonable one.
– The issue is not a maritime question, but merely whether or not the word “ exclusively “ should be retained in thisdefinition. That ought to lead us to inquire why it was inserted, and if the reason seems sufficient, to consent to its retention. The Bill provides for four classes of ships, and in connexion with each class different degrees of rigour as to conditions are attached because of the dangers incidental to them. Those which go the longest and most difficult voyagesare required to carry officers possessing a very high standard of efficiency. That is done in the interests of the safety of the public and property. Then, as it would be unwise and hampering to demand that high degree of efficiency where the possibility of danger and the necessity for skill do not exist, the Bill imposes other conditions in reference to the less dangerous trade.
– No, it imposes exactly the same conditions for the Australian trade.
– I am dealing with a specific issue.
– But the honorable senator’s argument is absolutely wrong.
– In connexion with certain ships we have decided that there is to be a certain manning scale, both as’ to skill and as to number. But in connexion with other ships we do not attempt to impose the same rigorous conditions, and we specify, subject to limitations, the ships in connexion with which the rigour is relaxed. Then we necessarily and properly say that it shall only be relaxed if the ships are exclusively engaged in that trade. Surely there is nothing wrong in doing that? The reason for retaining the word “ exclusively “ is that if they did engage in other trade at a time when they had the concessions as to skill and manning, they would incur the danger which one part of the Bill is designed to avoid. Senator Millen has urged that “exclusively” is a word of such a character that it bars the possibility of making a change. I am sure that he will see at once, if he looks into the matter, that it is not so. For instance, in one week a man may be engaged in a business with a number of branches. In the following week he may have discarded all those branches but one, and then he is engaged exclusively in one branch of the business. The fact that a man spent the early part of his life in a number of callings does not prevent him from being engaged exclusively in some specific calling at the present or any future time. Therefore, the use of the word “ exclusively “ in this definition presents no embarrassment. Its retention is absolutely necessary, I think, as a safeguard that the persons claiming the concessions as to manning and skill are exclusively engaged in the trade for which they are given. I suggest to honorable senators that it is really a very small matter about which to occupy so much time. When they talk of the rigid character of the provision, I point out that the concluding portion gives the widest possible elasticity of administration, as it should do, in a country such as ours where circumstances will be arising from day to day that will require different conditions to be applied. The definition gives the largest possible elasticity to meet, within reason and with a certain degree of safety,. the varying conditions which certainly will arise from time to time in the development of this young country.
– I have no wish to protract the debate, but I certainly cannot allow the amendment to go to a division at this stage. With regard to the somewhat unseemly laughter in the chamber, “it seems to me unreasonable that honorable senators who have been discussing everything but the provision under review, should resent the fact that I rise to say a few words on the matter at issue. It has been alleged that by attempting to excise a certain word - not the purport or the effect of the- definition - we are seeking in some way to disturb the manning scale, to authorize the sending of ships to sea with incompetent officers, and to permit of the payment of low rates of wages. No such argument, I venture to say, has ever been addressed to you, sir, by honorable senators on this side of the chamber.
– Senator Sayers used that argument.
– Certainly not. I am absolutely in accord with the object of this particular provision, but I wish to see a definition inserted which will have the effect of preventing one class of ships from obtaining advantages or shirking obligations attaching to another class of ships. The only point I raised was as to whether the words contained in this provision adequately express what is intended. Here I would remind the VicePresident of the Executive Council that if he wishes to make progress with this Bill he will not smooth its passage if, immediately he finds himself in conflict with honorable senators upon this side of the chamber, he accuses them of acting in a party spirit. Senator Vardon has already directed his attention to the fact that only five minutes before this proposal was submitted we stood shoulder to shoulder with the Government in defeating its present supporters. We have no desire other than to make the Bill as perfect as possible. >v
– When, I offered to reconsider the matter the leader of the Opposition should have accepted my offer. That is the usual practice.
– When the. Opposition request a further opportunity of considering the provisions of a clause it is also the usual practice for the Minister in charge of the Bill to announce that if any desire for its recommittal is expressed at a later stage he will not oppose it.
– But recommittals cannot be hastily conceded if we are to get on with the Bill at all.
– I am quite aware of that. The Vice-President of the Executive Council will not facilitate the passing of this measure if, when he feels assured of gaining support from the Labour Party, he ignores requests .preferred by honorable senators upon this side of the chamber, or if, when he feels assured of gaining support from the Opposition, he ignores requests made by honorable members opposite. In this connexion I might also remind the”* members of the Labour Party that before this Bill emerges from Committee, they may have to prefer a similar request to the Government, and it would be well for them to remember that a majority to-day sometimes becomes a minority to-morrow. In submitting the amendment my only object was to prevent the hands of the Government from being tied-
– That was not the matter out of which the argument originated.
– That may be a most interesting point to Senator Turley-
– The argument sprang from something quite different from that which the honorable senator is laying down.
– Does Senator Turley wish to make another secondreading speech?
– I have not made one such speech.
– The point which I raised is not whether we should allow limited coast-trade ships to engage in work which properly belongs to foreign-going vessels. That was not in my mind.
– The honorable, senator has previously told us that we have no right to know what is in his mind.
– The honorable senator has no right to assume that he knows what is in my mind, but I am at perfect liberty to make him acquainted with what iS ‘ there. I altogether dispute the assertion that I seek to extend to limited coast-trade ships privileges which properly belong to other classes of ships. The only point at issue is whether this definition will be sufficiently elastic. I must express considerable resentment at. the fact that when I came forward with a bond fide proposal to improve this clause I am not met in a’ better spirit.
– It certainly was met in the spirit in which it was tendered.
– No. We were told1, that if we agreed with the Vice-President of the Executive Council things would beall right. But because the Minister issatisfied, does it necessarily follow that we should be satisfied? If so, the honorable gentleman would merely have ti> give us his certificate that the clauses of this Bill were in proper form, and we should pass them in globo.
– -And that the objectionsraised were contingencies which need not be feared.
– Although I appreciate the kindness of the Vice-President of the Executive Council in taking upon> himself responsibilities which we all ought to share, I cannot free myself from thoseresponsibilities. I think that this provision is open to abuse, and for that reason* I still press my amendment.
– As a matter of personal explanation, may I mention that thisdiscussion originated in a statement by Senator Chataway, that a number of small’ vessels are engaged in the Pioneer River,, and that they run Out to ocean-going vessels at Flattop Island - a distance of a -few miles - carrying cargo and passengers. He desired to know whether thisprovision would have the effect of preventing those vessels from proceeding 70 miles along the Queensland coast toProserpine River for the purpose of picking up cargo. Senator Millen then intervened with his proposal for the eliminationof the word “exclusively,” and brought forward an argument founded upon lifesaving arrangements.
Question - That the word “ exclusively “’ proposed to be left out (Senator Millen’ samendment) be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
– At this stage I desire to outline an amendment which I intend to submit subsequently, and I do so in view of the reasonable suggestion made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council last evening that honorable senators should give early notice of their amendments- especially those of importance. The Government propose that the limits of the short voyages provided for in this clause shall be determined by the GovernorGeneral. That raises the whole question of the administration of the Bill. Although I do not propose to move for the excision of the words “ Governor-General “ in this definition of “limited coast-trade ship,” I shall in clause 6 propose the substitution of an authority, other than that contemplated by the Bill, with the object of removing the measure from Ministerial control, and creating a Board which shall be more in the nature of the British Board of Trade. If my amendment be approved it will, of course, be necessary at a later stage to recommit this clause.
-Ihave already intimated that I think some limit ought to be imposed upon the voyages which are to be determined by’ the Governor-General. In the various States the trade which corresponds with limited coast trade is confined to limits within their jurisdiction. But in Victoria that trade was made to extend from Port Stephens, in New South Wales, to Port Augusta, in Spencer’s Gulf. The whole coast of Tasmania was included in the Victorian coastline. I do not think that the Committee intends that the limits of coasting trade should extend so widely as that. With some little knowledge of the present certificates, I think that those voyages should not exceed 400 miles,, and that a provision to that effect should be inserted.
– Is distance the only consideration ?
– The Queensland coast would be infinitely less dangerous than the Victorian coast.
– Four hundred miles along the west coast of Tasmania would be far more dangerous than the same distance inside the Barrier Reef. There is not a rougher place in the world.
– Between Port Lincoln and the Althorps the sea is as rough as on any part of the Australian coast, and yet that is included in the river and bay trade. It seems to me that distance is the best test we can have. The idea of the Royal Commission in laying down this limitation of coast trade was that it would be fair to the States ; but we also thought that it was right to place a limit on the length of voyages. .
– Suppose a vessel left Cooktown, and wanted to go to Normanton. The distance would be 500 miles. Under the proposed limitation she could not do it.
– No; that voyage would not be included. The principal ports of Australia to-day are the capitals of the States. The largest boats, the heaviest cargoes, the most valuable vessels, and the greatest number of passengers are carried on trips of not more than 400 miles between ports. We shall be justified in maintaining the present standard for home-trade certificates. Under the existing law, in South Australia and Queensland, a home-trade certificate is almost identical with the certificate -granted on the coast of Great Britain. Wherewe are not asking for a very high Qualification for the master and officers, we have to put a limit on the trade. For this class of boats we shall not have men who are thoroughly skilled in navigation. Usually men who are working ships on the coast largely navigate by dead reckoning, and not by navigation.
– The principal ports would not come within the honorable senator’s definition if he confined the distance to 400 miles.
– Not all of them. The Bill does not provide for a separate certificate for the coasting trade. The opinion of the Government is that a man in that trade should have a foreign-trade certificate. The same conditionsapply regarding engineers and mates. The prin- ciple that I am advocating has been adopted regarding engineers.
– Not on account of rough or smooth water, but because of the time occupied on voyages.
– Suppose the matter were left to the Government altogether. On what principle would they act? They would, I imagine, act on the principle of the short voyage. The policy of the States before Federation was to draw trade into their own capitals. The same sort of thing can take place under this Bill, unless we are very careful.
– Under a Commonwealth Government ?
– Does the honorable senator think the Parliament would permit it to take place?.
– There is the danger at any rate.
– There is danger in going to church ; the steeple might fall on one.
– Of course Senator Trenwith has every confidence in the present Government, but he might not be so sure that the steeple would not fall on him if other men occupied the Treasury bench. I move -
That after the word “ voyages,” line 12, the following words be inserted : - “ not exceeding 400 miles.”
– I hope that my honorable friend will see the wisdom of not attempting to lay down any castiron limit of the kind proposed. The object of this provision is to enable the Government to accommodate the trade in conformity with present trading conditions. In issuing a proclamation of the kind contemplated, the Government would have to take into consideration the water. As Senator Mulcahy has suggested, a voyage of 200 miles on the west coast of Tasmania would be far more perilous than a voyage of similar distance within the Barrier’ Reef.
– Because in the latter case the water is comparatively smooth, whilst in the former the weather conditions are frequently tempestuous.
– There are as many dangers in the one case as in the other.
– I think not. The intention is by proclamation to provide for short voyages between port and port, or, in other words, to enable little vessels to potter about along the coast. Probably, in the case of Queensland, the distance might be extended to 400 or 500 miles.
– Is it the intention tofix a mileage limit?
– I think not. The idea is to enable ships to travel from port toport. We must consider, not only the distance, but the water and the perils of the navigation. I recognise that there is someforce in what Senator Guthrie has said. But let me direct attention to the paragraphrelating to river and bay shipping - “River and bay ship” includes every shipwhich trades exclusively in some river or gulf or bay within any State or States.
– That needs closer definition.
– I think it does. I shall endeavour to meet my honorable friend in this way : Take St. Vincent’s Gulf and Spencer’s Gulf. Storms are frequently met with there, and it is not con.templated that river and bay ships shall be permitted to trade between Adelaide and’ those gulfs. If we inserted, after the definition of “river and bay ship,” the words “ within such limits as may be prescribed,” the effect would be to enable the Governor-General, or such body as Parliament might determine, to limit river and bay ships to smooth waters. Ships trading at the head of Spencer’s Gulf or St. Vincent’s Gulf might be regarded as river and bay ships, whilst the same conditions, would not apply to ships which were to allintents and purposes limited coast-trade ships plying between Adelaide and the head of Spencer’s Gulf. It is a very difficult thing, to define whether an opening is a bay or a. gulf. The honorable senator will, I hope, withdraw his amendment. I have given an. illustration of what it is proposed shall be done. Boats may be permitted to gofrom Mallacoota round to Twofold Bay, or from’ Melbourne to Portland or Warrnambool, but it is a very different matter to say that, irrespective of the character of the coast, we should fix a limit of distance of 400 miles.
– The honorable senator does not accept the Victorian definition - from Port Stephens to Port Augusta.
– Or the Queensland definition, which included New South Wales.
– No. We must take into consideration the character of the coast. We might fix a limit of 600, or 700 miles on the Queensland coast without danger, but it will be admitted that it would be absurd to include that distance in a definition applicable to the coast of New South Wales or of Victoria.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania) f3-32]- - Iri view of what the Minister has said, I see considerable objection to the 400-miles limit proposed. A ship on a voyage of 1,000 miles would probably follow a safer course than one on a voyage of 400 miles from light-house to lighthouse, as the former would probably keep further away from the. coast.. As Senator Millen has foreshadowed, we propose to endeavour to take the administration of this Bill out of the hands of a certain authority, and to place it in the hands of persons having more expert knowledge, and, in the circumstances, we may pass this definition as it stands.
– Before passing from this definition, I should like to direct attention to the way in which it is proposed to administer this measure. We are providing that certain things shall be determined by the Governor-General, and it is understood that the ‘ measure is to be administered by the Minister of Trade and Customs and his Department. It is well that honorable senators should understand the burden of administration already laid on that Department. The Vice-President of the Executive Council was good enough to get for me from Dr. Wollaston a list of the Acts already being administered by the Trade and Customs Department. It includes, first of all, the Customs and Excise Acts, together with the Tariff, the Commerce Act, Patents, Trade Marks, Copyright and Designs, Sea Carriage of Goods Act, Sugar Bounties Act, and the general Bounties Act, the Anti-Trust legislation - the Australian Industries Preservation Act - and very shortly the Department will also have the administration of the Quarantine Act.
– I am afraid that I cannot permit a discussion on this paragraph as to the Minister, who is to administer the Act. I remind the honorable senator that clause 6 deals with the administration of the Act.
– This definition «of “ limited coast-trade ship “ leaves trie limits of the “short voyages” to be determined by the Governor-General. I suppose it would have been competent for me to move to strike out the words “ Gover nor-General,” with a view to placing the administration of the law in the hands of some other authority. “ I therefore thought I was at liberty to direct attention to the present position.
– The honorable senator will see that such a discussion as he is initiating will be more appropriate to clause 6, and I therefore ask him not to proceed om those lines.
– I have really done what I wished to do, and that was to direct attention to the immense strain which is already upon the Trade and Customs Department, in order to show that the Minister in charge of that Department will have but very little opportunity to give such personal attention as would be of any use to the administration of this important Bill.
– As 1 previously intimated, I propose to move an amendment in the next paragraph, which reads - “ River and bay ship “ includes every ship which trades exclusively in some river or gulf or bay within, any State or States.
I move -
That after the word “ States,” line 18, the words “ within such limits as may be prescribed” be inserted.
Senator Guthrie drew our attention to the fact that a gulf or a bay may include a very large area of water, and is difficult of definition. The amendment will permit the Governor-General in Council to limit river and bay s’hips practically to smooth walter, with the result that the more dangerous waters will be left to limited coast-trade ships.
Amendment agreed to.
– - I wish to move an amendment* which, if adopted, will simplify the wording of the definition of “ boilers and machinery.” Honorable senators will see that it is a long definition, and enters into what I consider unnecessary detail. Our principal object in framing Acts of Parliament’ should be to make them so simple, that the legal luminaries who have to construe them afterwards, shall not be able to defeat the intention of Parliament.
– That is a big contract.
– I am well aware that it is-; but it must be undertaken some day, and I propose to begin now in a small way to try to bring about this very desirable reform. I .suggest that the definition should be amended to read as follows : - “ Boilers ‘and machinery” includes every description of machinery and apparatus used on a ship for the purpose of the ship or her cargo.
– That would include a great many things covered by the term equipment.
– It would include everything required for the working of a ship or her cargo.
– It would include boats and tackle.
– Certainly, they are required for the working of a ship. Before formally moving the amendment, perhaps the Minister would say whether he is inclined to accept it?
– It is quite impossible for me, on the spur of the moment, to say whether I. can accept such an amendment. I asked honorable senators to circulate their amendments that I might have an opportunity to fully consider them. That would in many cases save time, as when they were submitted I should be able at once to say whether I was prepared to accept them, ox to give reasons why I could not do so. I am unable at this juncture to say whether I can accept Senator Stewart’s amendment, but I shall be very glad to hear what he has to urge in favour of it. I point out that the definition as it stands is wider than the definition appearing elsewhere. It is intended to be wider, but Senator Stewart’s proposed definition is of such a sweeping character that it might go too far, and might include appliances that should not fairly be included. On the face of it, the honorable senator’s definition does not appear objectionable, but I should require to give it full consideration.
.- If the Vice-President of the Executive Council is not prepared to postpone the paragraph-
– We cannot postpone part of a clause.
– Then we must settle the matter now. The honorable senator asked me to state my reasons for proposing the amendment. I thought I gave them. They are not very complicated or involved. I want brevity and simplicity in our Acts of Parliament. I desire that they shall be stated in plain, common-sense
English that any man can understand. Every one of us who has taken any part in the work of legislation knows perfectly well that, when the finished measure passes out of our hands, he does not know what interpretation may be put upon any clause in it by the Court. That is a ridiculous position for any legislative body to be placed in.
– Does the honorable senator know what interpretation will be put upon the definition he proposes?
– I do not, but I am making an endeavour to bring the language of our Acts of ^Parliament to the level of the most ordinary intelligence. The most ignorant people in the country are bound by our laws, they are presumed to understand them, and we should therefore couch them in language capable of being understood by such people. I have been thoroughly disgusted by the fining and refining of Judges on the Bench recently.
– Order ! I hope that the honorable senator will not proceed in that way.
– I am trying to give a reason for offering this definition. That is my reason; I cannot advance any other. I have found, and every other senator I think must be aware, that the intention of the Legislature is very often frustrated by the interpretation placed on Acts. That is a state of affairs which ought not to continue. I think the one reason for its existence is the anxiety on the part of parliamentary draftsmen to enter into too much detail in framing measures. They mention too many things. Senator Best. - If I remember rightly, this was the recommendation of the Navigation Commission. I know that every word was carefully considered by the draftsmen.
– It is very like our recommendation, but not exactly the same.
– Probably the Navigation Commission was in the hands of the nightmare of things as they are. I want to reform things. I want Brevity and simplicity. I desire our Acts to He, so to speak, common primers, which can be read and understood by any one~ who takes the trouble to read them. As they are at present, they might as “ well be written in Sanscrit, or some dead and. forgotten language, because no private in- ‘ dividual need attempt to interpret them. The lawyers, of course, do.
– I do not like to interrupt the honorable senator, but I do not think that, on a provision relating to boilers and machinery, I can allow a discussion on the verbiage or clearness of our Acts of Parliament. Of course, he can state why he wants to alter the definition.
– I want to make the definition clear. I am attempting to prove that, as at present framed, our Acts are not understood by the common people, or by the lawyers, or evenby the Judges.
– The honorable senator is at liberty to point out where the definition fails to convey a meaning, but I cannot allow him to discuss the form of Acts of Parliament.
– I shall proceed to show exactly where the definition leads. It reads - “ Boilers and machinery “ includes engines and everything connected therewith employed in propelling a steam-ship, -
I submit that it contains a great deal of unnecessary verbiage. We all know that if we have an engine on a steam-ship, it is used for the purpose of propelling her.
– No; it can be used for a hundred and one different things.
– For what other purpose can it be used?
– For providing light.
– Working a donkeyengine, and steam winches.
– And for working hydraulic cranes. “Senator STEWART. - Honorable senators are very facetious. The definition continues - and every description of machinery used on a ship for the purposes of the ship or her cargo, and all other apparatus or things attached to or connected therewith or used with reference to any engine or under the care of the engineer.
Of what use are the last three lines of the definition? They are surplusage pure and simple. Some Court would examine the paragraph word for word, and if a fryingpan or other utensil were not mentioned therein, it would hold that the law did not apply to it. I want the measure to be so all-embracing that it will cover everything which is used on board a ship for the purposes of the ship or her cargo. That, I think, would be very much more satisfactory than is the present definition. I move -
That after the word “ includes,” line 19, the following words be inserted : - “ every description of machinery and apparatus required for the working of a ship or her cargo.”
If that amendment is carried, we can delete the remaining words of the definition.
– Where does the boiler come in?
– We cannot drive an engine without a boiler;
– We can.
– The boiler is part of an engine, just as the stomach is part of a man.
– A boiler is not required for a gas-engine.
– If we have a gas-engine, of course, we do not want a boiler ; but if we have a steam-engine, we must have a boiler. If a ship has a boiler or a gas-engine, the Act will apply.
– I have to report the following message from the House of Representatives -
The House of Representatives acquaints the Senate that in compliance with the request of the Senate, contained in Senate Message No. 1,. the House of Representatives has agreed to resume the consideration of the Bill for “An Actrelating to Parliamentary Witnesses,’ which was transmitted to the House of Representatives for concurrence during the last session of the Parliament, and the proceedings on which were interrupted by the prorogation of the Parliament..
– I have to report the following message from the House of Representatives -
The House of Representatives acquaints the Senate that in compliance with the request of the Senate, contained in Senate Message No. 2, the House of Representatives has agreed to resume the consideration of the Bill for “ An Act relating to Bills of Exchange, Cheques and Promissory Notes,” which was transmitted to the House of Representatives for concurrence during the last session of the Parliament, and the proceedings on which were interrupted by the prorogation of the Parliament.
– move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I am sure that honorable senators will realize that I am not making an unreasonable request when I ask them to circulate any amendments which they propose to move in Connexion with the Navigation Bill. They have been kind enough to recognise, to a great extent, the necessity for taking that course. Of course, I admit that since last night there has not been very much time to circulate amend- ments. The last amendment which was moved in Committee appears, on its face, to be a very good one; but iit is quite impossible to accept, at the table, a sweeping amendment unless we know exactly how it will affect other clauses of the Bill. If honorable senators will kindly circulate their amendments in print, I may be able to accept some of them, and as regards others, to make suggestions which would commend themselves to the movers. By that means, business will be facilitated.
– I desire to ask Senator Best if he will be good enough to ascertain whether any information has been obtained with re- gard to the action of the Customs authorities of Western Australia in allowing the importation of a peculiar kind of spirit, which has had a most deleterious effect on persons in that State - which is- called Palestine brandy - and, if so, whether he will lay it upon the table at the earliest possible moment?
– We have already written about the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 October 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19081002_senate_3_47/>.