3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– On behalf of the Government I desire to make a statement in reference to the Capital site question, which is occupying so much public attention. Honorable senators are aware that it is for the Parliament to determine where the Seat of Government shall be located.
– There is an Act on the. statute-book
– Yes, perfectly true, and that is one of the present embarrassing matters. It is, as I have said, for the Commonwealth Parliament to . determine where the Seat of Government shall be located. There has been an expression of opinion by one branch of the Legislature, and the Government think that it is only proper that an opportunity should be afforded to the Senate to express its opinion. Such a course is an obvious necessity, and will be calculated, I hope, to save time, because, despite what has taken place elsewhere, it will be of no use to introduce a measure repealing the present Act unless the views of the Senate on this subject are known. What I propose to do is to give notice to-morrow that on the following Wednesday I shall move that the procedure for eliciting an expression of opinion be practically the same as was adopted elsewhere. Amongst the proposals will be one which will have for its object the fixing of a day on which an exhaustive ballot shall be taken. Of course it will be for honorable senators to fix any date they think proper, to suit their convenience.
– That means an indefinite postponement.
– I hope that I have made the matter clear to everybody but my honorable friend.
– As clear as mud.
– As regards the day on which the exhaustive ballot shall be taken, I shall make a proposal which probably will be for the following Thursday week, but it will be for honorable senators to fix the most convenient day for themselves. I thought it desirable that at the earliest opportunity I should announce the intention of the Government in regard to this matter.
– Does the Minister propose to-morrow to give notice of a motion for next week, for the consideration of the matter of the Capital site, or does he propose to-morrow to move that a certain course of action be taken later on?
– I can only repeat what I said, as I thought, in the clearest language, and that is that to-morrow I shall give notice of a motion to be moved on Wednesday next, to provide the necessary machinery for taking an exhaustive ballot.
– In view of the fact that a Capital site has been mentioned, which is only dealt within a report by the late Mr. Alexander Oliver, I beg to ask you, sir, if you will ascertain whether his report is still obtainable, and, if so, whether each honorable senator will be supplied with a copy of it ?
– There is a report by Mr. Oliver which takes in about 1,000 square miles of territory, including Yass.
– It was circulated in the session of 1901-2, but it is not included in the parliamentary papers for that session, or the next two sessions.
– The report is not within the control of this Parliament, but it will be very easy for the Minister to apply to the Government of New South. Wales for copies of it, and to have them distributed.
– In the session of 1901-2, Mr. Oliver’s report was circulated amongst honorable senators, and I thought that perhaps it might have been tabled, but apparently it was not ordered to be printed.
– I have ascertained from the Clerk that it was not ordered to be printed.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if he has received from the Premier of New South Wales any information relative to the matter of the Capital site?
– I have no personal knowledge that any communication has been received within the last day or two, but if the honorable senator will give notice of his question, or will ask it again to-morrow, or even later to-day, I shall be glad to make inquiries in the meantime.
– I beg to ask the Vice- President of the Executive Council, without notice, if he will endeavour to obtain a copy of Captain Barclay’s lecture on the Northern Territory; and, if he should find, as I think he will, that it contains a great deal of useful information, he will have it printed and distributed ?
– I think that the suggestion of my honorable friend is a very good one. I shall be only too glad to make the necessary inquiries, and perhaps I may be able to comply with his request.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Essences, 31 gals.
Spirits, 9,684 pf. gals. lcohol, 356 pf. gals.
Starch, 1,120 lbs.
Liquorice, 449,996 lbs.
Cornflour, 2,260 lbs.
Spices, 39,890 lbs.
Saccharine, 1,287 lbs.
Orange peel, 2,040 lbs.
Glycerine, 4,403 lbs.
Quantities not available. Values shown -
Cork, manufactures of, £3,575.
Paper, manufactures of£974.
Aggregate duty payable,£13,950.
I may further explain in connexion with the answer to the second question that, as the honorable senator is probably aware, these ingredients mean added weight to the tobacco; and, as we charge Excise on that added weight, the return to the Commonwealth is much in excess of the amount stated,£13,950.
– Arising out of the answer given to my question, may I ask the Minister whether if, when Imported tobacco is used for manufacture, there is not a duty of, I think, is. 3d. per lb. payable on it ?
– A duty of 3s. 6d. per lb.
– In the circumstances is it not clearthat the useof the ingredients to which I have referred in my question reduces the weight of dutiable articles used in the local manufacture, and must therefore result in a loss, which is probably very much more than , £13,000.
– As a matter of fact, I do not think the Commonwealth suffers any loss. I have already explained that, from a calculation made on this subject, a return much in excess of the amount referred to in the answer to the second question is gained. If the honorable senator chooses to give notice of a further question on the subject, I shall have the matter looked into more fully.
– In order that the information given may be more readily available, may I ask the Minister to lay the return from which he has quoted on the table ?
– It will appear in Han
– It will appear in the journals also.
– I think that honorable senators, as a rule, look for this kind of information ‘amongst the Parliamentary papers.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Referring to the answer given on the 7th October to Senator Pulsford’s question, are the Government aware that the shorthand writers report Mr. Hesketh as having said, on the occasion before referred to, and in reply to the following question : - “ Can you say what reason is behind the action which resulted in calling for tenders?” - “I can only assume that it was in order to know exactly the terms and conditions under which installations could be obtained. When tenders are invited a question is being asked without full knowledge of the most important factor, that is cost. As soon as tenders are received a full statement of the position is disclosed”?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Upon inquiry it has been ascertained that the shorthand writers report of the evidence gives the question and the reply of Mr. Hesketh as quoted by the honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
In reference to the report of the Board of Inquiry appointed to inquire and report upon the suggested manufacture of cartridge “blanks,” &c., in Australia-
Did any, or what firms, or companies, or representatives thereof, furnish to the Defence Department, or the Committee, estimates of the cost of buildings, or machinery, for the proposed Mint, or the manufacture of cartridge “blanks” in connexion therewith?
Did such firms or persons furnish a criticism of the estimate submitted by Messrs, Corbet and McCay as laid before the Committee?
If so, will the Minister lay the said estimate or criticism on the Table of the Senate ?
Were such estimates or criticisms, if any, after being furnished to the Department, placed before the Committee of Inquiry?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - .
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 10th October, vide page 991).
Clause 11 -
The Minister may permit any matters required by this Act to be transacted in a Mercantile Marine Office or before a superintendent to be transacted elsewhere, and before such other person as he appoints for the purpose.
Upon which Senator Lynch had moved -
That after the word “ or,” line 3, the words “if there be no such Mercantile Marine Office” be inserted.
– This amendment was submitted just before the close of the. sitting on Friday last, and I think Senator Lynch had hardly concluded his arguments in support of it. I think it necessary to point out that the honorable senator is in this way trying to achieve an object which was defeated by a division taken on. Friday. As a matter of fact there will be a mercantile marine office in every important port.
– I think it would be hardly wise to make the alteration proposed. The matter was practically settled by a vote which has already been taken. The Minister will have to accept the responsibility of appointing an official and if, according to the amendment I suggested, that official is a public servant, that will be a guarantee to the public that the terms of the Act and the duties of superintendents in connexion with these agreements will be faithfully carried out. It is frequently a source of very great convenience for masters and men to have these agreements entered into on board the ship itself.
– It is a great convenience to the crimper.
– I am satisfied that every member of the Committee will readily adopt any means for the purpose of stamping out crimping. .
– This is one of those means, and the principal means.
– I could mention instances in which it has been a very great convenience to masters and men to have these agreements entered into on board ship. So long as a responsible officer is charged with that duty what objection can be urged against the adoption of the course which it is proposed to follow? I hope that the clause in -its present form will be retained. I am sure that all sections of the Committee will join with me in an endeavour to effectually prevent crimping.
– My objection to this clause is based upon the fact that I entertain a very strong desire to suppress desertion. Here we have an opportunity of taking, the first step towards coping with that evil. In this connexion let me recall an incident which I am sure is fairly fresh in the minds of honorable senators. Quite recently a ship arrived in Port Phillip, having on board a crew the members of which were dissatisfied with the food supplied to them during the voyage here, and also with their treatment at the hands of the master. They were brought before a magistrate at Queenscliff, who ordered their discharge. The master of the vessel then ordered them to return to their ship. They refused to obey his command, and as a result were brought before the Court in Melbourne, where they were sentenced to a term of imprisonment. An appeal was lodged against their conviction, but whilst the case was pending the master of the vessel - notwithstanding that the representative of the Sailors’ Home informed him that there were four deserters from other vessels on board - attempted to engage another crew to take his ship away. At the present time foreign ships transact the bulk of their business at the consuls’ offices. The superintendent of mercantile marine has no record of desertions, nor of those seamen who are bond fide paid off upon their arrival here. It is thus possible for crimping agents to get deserters from foreign vessels to engage to serve on British ships. I contend that every sailor who signs an agreement to serve on a British ship ought to do so at the mercantile marine office.
– If it is not convenient for him to go there, would the honorable senator make him go?
– But it is convenient for him to go there.
– A similar provision to that under consideration is operative in New Zealand and in the Mother Country.
– And crimping is just as rampant in New Zealand and the Mother Country as it is in Newcastle. If we desire to prevent crimping and’ desertion
– We shall kill the drink traffic.
– If we desire toprevent crimping and desertion we should insist that all men who desire to ship upon British vessels shall sign articles at the mercantile marine office. For what is that office established? Is it not to see that justice is done as between the seamen and the masters? Why should we build mercantile marine offices, furnish them, and supply them with official documents if the most important part of the business is not to be transacted there? Under the Customs Act do we permit a ship’s clearance to be effected on board? No, she has to be cleared at the Customs House? This Bill contains a provision under which the master will be at liberty to sign on substitutes, before a witness in lieu of any members of ‘his crew who fail to put in an appearance. Surely that is sufficient to meet alike the convenience of the master and of the men ! In the case to which I have already alluded, the fact that deserters were on board thevessel was well known. It had been the subject of comments in the daily newspapers and also of a deputation which waited upon the Chief Secretary. Yet, because the master had not been notified that these men were deserters, he was able to sign them on. At a later stage I hope to secure the insertion of an amendment providing that foreign consuls should be compelled to supply the mercantile marine office with, a list of all deserters from foreign ships. Under this clause it would be just as easy for a deserter from a foreign ship to engage to serve upon a British ship as it would be for a sailor who had been bond fide discharged.
– The difficulty will remain irrespective of whether a seaman iscompelled to sign articles in one street or in another.
– Would the record of deserters be accompanied by their photographs ?
– No, but it would be accompanied by a statement as to the last ships on which the deserters had served.
– A deserter might desire to sign articles under a fictitiousname.
– Seeing that he would have to declare the name of the ship upon which he had last served, any false declaration would be immediately detected. Of course it is impossible for the superintendent of mercantile marine to take his records to every ship. If we wish* to put down desertion, by all means let us insist that all seamen engaging to serve on British vessels shall sign articles at the mercantile marine office.
– I think that the Committee would be very unwise if they adopted the amendment. It would not restrict crimping at all, and would press very heavily on the inter-State steamers. Consider some of the objections. The steamer Riverina comes to Melbourne from Western Australia, arriving here regularly every four weeks on the Saturday. Her crew are engaged for six months. The men invariably want to ship again, as they are well treated. The vessel leaves on the same day for Sydney. The shipping office is closed at noon on Saturday. Why should not a proper officer be permitted to re-ship the man on board if required ? If this amendment were carried the crew of eighty-seven men, wishing to renew their agreements, would have to walk up to the shipping office, perhaps a mile away, thereby losing their time and perhaps losing their ship. The men are known, and there is no question of crimping in reference to the engagement. If the amendment is carried, it will be a serious detriment to the convenience of sailors.
.- The Committee are indebted to Senator Guthrie for a great deal of useful information and we shall be under obligations to him again before we have done with this Bill. But I must ask him to have some sense of the proportion of things. However desirous we may be to put a stop to crimping, this is hardly the way to do it. The shipping office is established to do justice between sailors and their employers. But at the same time we must allow a certain amount of freedom, and we ought to permit business to be done in a commercial manner. There is no answer to such a case as Senator Macfarlane has instanced. Others might be mentioned. The Loongana comes to Melbourne every other day and leaves again on the same day. If a number of her, crew had to leave their employment and go to the shipping office when they were reengaged it would be very inconvenient. They are all reputable citizens resident in Melbourne or Launceston, and there is no objection to the deputy shipping master going on board and continuing to do what he has been doing for years past. The idea in framing the clause as it stands is to make* the law more elastic. But the supporters of the amendment wish to ignore experience and return to the wretched state of affairs which the Governments of the States found unworkable. We hope some time to have a vessel like the Mauritania visiting our* ports. She carries a crew of eight or nine hundred men.
– And each of them goes to the shipping office every time he is re-engaged.
– At Liverpool the shipping office is within a few hundred yards of the wharf where the passengers land. I know that because I was there only a few weeks’ ago. It is our business to enlarge freedom and privileges and not to cut them down. As Senator Pearce said the other day, “No matter how slowly we go, we want to go.” But my honorable friends want us to return to the dark ages. In clause 94 there is a much better safeguard against crimping than is provided in the Merchant Shipping Act. Under that Act the amount of balance of wages due which may be retained is £10 Under this Bill the amount is £,S- We insist upon the wages of the sailor being paid to him, and there is no reason for inserting the restrictive provision proposed by Senator Guthrie. Because it is alleged that there is an enormous amount of crimping at Newcastle, is every other State in the Commonwealth and every other port to be penalized?
– There is also crimping at Fremantle and Adelaide.
– It cannot be said that there is much crimping at any other port than Newcastle, and we have no right to penalize the whole of the shipowners of the Commonwealth, because we wish to put down. this evil at one port. If my honorable friends will draft a few clauses with the object of putting down crimping, they will, no doubt, receive support; but this is not the way to do it.
– It is easy for Senator Dobson to urge the supporters of the amendment to draft clauses to put down crimping, but as soon as a proposal is made with that object in view he announces his intention to -vote against it. I am disappointed at the attitude of the Committee in reference to this subject. During the second reading debate, I hoped that a serious effort would be made to deal with the crimping evil. The only way to cope with it effectively is not to allow signing on to be done at any other place than the shipping office. It is utterly impossible to abolish crimping by any other method, because it is in consequence of signing on being done at other places, that crimping takes place.
– Is there any crimping in Melbourne or Sydney?
– Not much, surely.
– Newcastle is the most notorious place in the Commonwealth in this respect, but to insist on signing on being done at the shipping office will result in abolishing nine-tenths of the evil. If we allow a master to engage his handson board his ship, perhaps only a few moments before she goes to sea, it is easy for him to do whatever he likes, and there is no means of getting at him once he is outside the Nobbies.
– Is the superintendent absolutely useless and corrupt?
– He has been absolutely useless in suppressing crimping up to the present.
– What about the Minister ?
– Senator Millen wanted this Bill to be administered by an official, but now he is absolutely putting a premium upon corruption and bribery by continuing the existing system.
– Surely the Minister is subject to parliamentary control.
– The Minister cannot control an official for something done on a ship that has gone to sea. How is proof obtainable when nine-tenths of the vessels I am referring to are foreign bound? Senator Gray has said that we should prohibit signing on at ‘public houses. Very little is done at public houses. But it is a fact that sailors are filled up with all kinds of “ snake juice,” and taken on board sometimes in such a state that they do not know where they are, and do not even know that they are on a ship at all. By rejecting the amendment we shall simply be playing into the hands of the men who do these things. I am surprised at a man who poses occa sionally as a Christian Socialist, lending himself to any such scheme. I am also disappointed at the attitude of the Government. It is not to their credit. The evidence taken by the Navigation Commission shows the evil that is going on, and that it is widespread, at all events, so far as Newcastle- is concerned. The traffic has been a monstrous outrage for many years. Yet here is a Government that is prepared to allow it to continue. I shall be very much surprised if the Committee rejects the amendment.
– Who is the Christian Socialist?
– Senator Dobson. He has another reason for supporting the clause, but he has not expressed it yet. He has expressed a desire to stop this evil. But what is he doing? Nothing. ‘ Instead of taking a step forward, he is merely lifting his foot and putting it down again in the same place. This provision is in force to-day, and it is responsible for the existence of crimping. If Senator Dobson desires to put a stop to that evil, let him go ahead.
– Does the honorable senator say that no deserters have ever been shipped at the shipping office?
– No. Those whom it is safe to ship are shipped there. But those whom they want to get away under cover of this immoral practice are not shipped there. It is1 to the latter that
Ave should lend assistance. As regards the inter-State trade, I do not think that there is a great deal of crimping going on. The only inconvenience caused by the acceptance of the amendment will be to the crimper.
– If the amendment is not agreed to the position will not be improved in the slightest degree, and crimping will be continued at ‘Newcastle, and at other ports, where it has been carried on largely. The evidence taken before the Navigation Commission is very conclusive as to the extent of the evil in Newcastle.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that a later clause, which makes this a penal offence, will be useless and wasted?
– That may be a help, but this amendment would be of very great use in circumventing the crimper.
– It would also remove a facility to ship-owners and seamen.
– No. It will be no inconvenience to any one to go to the shipping office and get signed on there. I ask those who oppose my amendment what they mean by the term “ a shipping office ‘ ‘ ? Do they meana place where men are not shipped? If they vote against my amendment, it would seem that the true meaning of this phrase in the future will be “ a place where men are not, and will not, be shipped.”
– No, this is only a permissive clause.
– If we do not bind the shipmaster to bring the crew to the shipping office, he will be free under the terms of the clause, as it stands, to sign them on wherever he pleases.
– Where the Minister thinks fit.
– My honorable friends want to give an extraordinary discretionary power to the Minister. On clause 6, a large number of honorable senators made a strenuous effort to cut down his powers. They tried to destroy the power of the Minister, even to the extent of taking the administration of the law out of his hands, but when it is a question of compelling him to see that the shipping of crews shall take place in a mercantile marine office, they are prepared to extend to him the utmost liberty. They are very inconsistent indeed.
– The honorable senator ‘told us to trust the Minister.
– I am prepared to trust the Minister in all those matters which are plainly prescribed in black and white, and in respect of which he is invested with a discretionary power ; but on certain points I am not in favour of giving to the Minister any more discretionary power than is absolutely required. Now this clause was specially designed to stamp out crimping.
– No. It was specially designed for the convenience of those who will have to operate under it.
– My amendment was submitted in the hope of stamping out crimping’. I do not say that it is a perfect one. I recognise thai, even although crews may be shipped at a shipping office, still the crimper will have plenty of elbow room in which to exercise his perverted ingenuity. It will place an obstacle in his way if we call upon every shipmaster to get his crew signed on at a shipping office and not at an out of the way place, or even on board the ship. I am astonished that my simple proposal has not met with more support at the hands of honorable senators, who declare their anxiety to stamp out a manifest evil.
– Will not clause 26 stamp it out ?
– I am prepared to insert a limitation. If, for instance, a ship were lying at anchor or at any inconvenient place, say five or six miles away, I should not call upon the shipmaster to go through the formal proceeding of signing on men at the shipping office. But I think that the shipping office should, as far as possible, be used for the purpose for which it was erected and intended - the signing on of crews.
– I can heartily indorse the concluding remark of Senator Lynch, that the shipping office was primarily designed for the purpose of crews signing on. That is what the clause contemplates. But it also recognises that there may be circumstances in which some additional convenience is required, and it enables the Minister to create that convenience when and where it is required. The honorable senator is prepared to unbend to a slight extent. He says that if there was no shipping office within a distance of five or six miles he would allow the shipmaster to exercise this power. If he admits that there is a point beyond which it is unreasonable to ask seamen and ship-owners to go in order to meet these facilities, he concedes the point of the clause, and that is that every facility should be created in order to lessen the trouble to men required to sign on. The only question is whether the Minister is likely to exercise the power conferred by the clause in a reasonable or unreasonable way. I cannot help smiling when I remember that only a few days ago this hall rang with flowing praise from honorable senators opposite as to the integrity and business-like capacity of the Minister.
– The honorable senator wanted to hand over the administration of the Bill to an official, instead of the Minister.
– That is immaterial, because the official might be just as bad, or just as good, as the Minister. I was assured, not once, but a dozen times, that the Minister would always exercise his power in a common-sense and business-like way, and that if he did not he could be carpeted.
– The honorable senator has developed extraordinary faith in the Minister lately.
– -I am npt showing faith in the Minister, but pointing out to my honorable friends their inconsi’stency. Having affirmed only last week their unqualified faith in the Minister, and a great belief in their own power to bring him to book if he did not do the right- thing, they now come along and say, “ We said that on Friday on one clause, but to-day is Wednesday, and we are dealing with another clause.” A great deal has been said about the facilities which this clause will give for crimping. If I could be convinced that it was essential in order to stop or to minimize crimping, I should vote for the amendment at once. But Senator de Largie says, “As a proof of your bona fides you must do what I think,” although my own judgment tells me that it is wrong. He says, “ I am to be the judge as to what is the right provision to enact, and any one who ventures to exercise his own. independent judgment and to differ from me is in favour of crimping.” Both Senators Lynch and Guthrie speak of this as a convenience, but they say that crimping can take place under the facilities proposed to be given, and that what we should try to do if we wish to prevent the abuse is to withdraw the convenience. In all our large cities we have great conveniences in the shape of tramways; they kill a few persons every year, but do we ever propose, because they do a little or a great injury, to stop them from running? What we should do is to look round and see if we cannot devi’se means by which, while the convenience is conserved, the abuse is prevented or stamped out. I think that this clause represents a considerable convenience, and one which can only be exercised by Ministerial sanction, and under the review of Parliament. We should do a great wrong if, in order to stop the abuse, we also stopped the convenience. I propose, therefore, to vote for the convenience, but when we reach clause 26, I shall go just as far as my honorable friends want us to go to stamp out the evil of crimping.
– Senator Millen has tried to make a little capital out of last week’s vote concerning the powers of the Minister under this measure. I take up the same position? to-day as I did then. I prefer the Minister to an irresponsible body. I think that honorable senators do not quite realize theposition of a man signing on and being, discharged from a ship. Senators Dobson and Macfarlane have exhibited ignoranceof the whole matter. Three different classes of agreements are provided for in this Bill.- First of all, there is an agreement for a foreign-going ship trading tosome place beyond the Commonwealth, and finally returning to a port in Australia, thevoyage not exceeding three years. Men who sign such an agreement need not go on board the ship for the purpose at all. As 1 rule, such agreements are made before the men ever see the ship. As soon as the ship returns to the port, the men are discharged, and within twenty-four hoursafter her return the master is compelled’ to give them their account of wages.
– Under this clausethey could not be paid off on board theship without the sanction of the Minister.
– If the clause be agreed to, what will happen will be that a general regulation will be framed under which the superintendent’ will be givenpower, if he pleases, to sign men on, and see that they are paid off on board the ship. I remind honorable senators that if menare dissatisfied with their account of wages they will be on board when they are beingpaid off only on sufferance, and will have no one present to see that they get fairplay.
– The honorable senator is supposing an impossible case,, which could not occur under this Bill.
– I know more of the matter than does Senator Trenwith, and I say that such cases are occurring continually. Another agreement provided for is a running agreement for a single voyageor a succession of voyages extending over six months. Such an agreement would cover trips between the Commonwealth and New Zealand, and between the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands. I should’ like to say here that I am very sorry that honorable .senators did not see their way to accept my suggestion for the inclusion of such voyages in the definition of Australiancoast trade. Such an amendment would have been acceptable to owners and seamen, and would in no way have affected’ the interests of the public. In the case of these running agreements, the seamen will be engaged before they enter upon their duties on board the ship, and immediately upon her arrival at her port of destination after the six months’ period has elapsed the men can be discharged at a shipping office in the same way as men signing a foreigngoing agreement. A third agreement provided for is one which would affect a vessel like the Loongana, to which Senators Dobson and Macfarlane have referred. Hut honorable senators appear to forget that this Bill provides in such a case an agreement lasting over two years. No doubt provision is also made for the shipping of substitutes in such a case, and” such men may be signed on on board the vessel. 1 am, however, dealing with the case of the men originally signing the agreement, and under this Bill if what we propose were adopted the only inconvenience to which the owners of the Loongana and the seamen engaged on the vessel would be put would be in having to attend the shipping office twice in two years - once that the men might sign on, and the second time that they might get their discharge. Seamen require protection in this matter of signing on and paying off, and it should 1>j afforded to them in public. We know that honorable senators opposite are accustomed to describe as “ Star Chamber “ practice the making of agreements in secret. What is proposed in this Bill is to remove the business of the making of these agreements from a public office to a star chamber. It must not be forgotten that many of our seamen are foreigners, who have very little knowledge of English. In the circumstances, it is not difficult to understand why a shipmaster would like to be able to discharge them on board a ship, where he might, if he thought fit, take advantage of them. I say that it is to the interest of the fair owner, of the men, and of the general public, that this work should be done in the light of day, and not on board a ship or in any private office. Senator Trenwith is aware that for a long time labour engagements were entered into in private labour bureaux instead of authorized Government offices. When I am told that the Minister would not consent to the signing of agreements or to the granting of discharges on board a ship, the answer is that a regulation will be framed under which a superintendent, at his discretion, will be able to witness these agreements and the discharge of men elsewhere than -fct a shipping office, and, having made the regulation, the Minister could not interfere. The provision in the Bill is that which appeared in the Merchant Shipping Act of j. 864, away back in the dark ages. We know the practices which have been resorted to under such a provision in the existing law, and we have no right to expect that the practice adopted in the future will differ from that which has prevailed in the past. I point out that the mercantile marine offices in all the States have been to some extent self supporting. The ship-owners pay a certain amount for the men shipped, and the seamen pay something every time they sign articles, and every time they get a discharge. The seamen in this matter are willing to pay for protection, and it can be afforded them byinsisting that these agreements shall be made in public.
– - This question is so important that I do not care to give a silent vote upon it. I believe that there is a time and place for everything, and the shipping office is the proper place in which to make these agreements. We have in this Committee honorable senators who possess a technical knowledge of the questions involved in this Bill, who have worked before the mast, and understand the position of the seamen. They strongly advocate the making of all these agreements at a shipping office, and where they are earnest and sincere it is wise that we should listen to th» advice of experts. We have evidence of th* earnestness and sincerity of Senators Guthrie, de Largie, and others, who have had shipping experience, and they advise us that this provision is a dangerous one to pass. It is necessary that it should be amended as proposed, in order that seamen may be protected from crimping. I was a member of a Royal Commission appointed in South Australia to inquire into the way in which the blacks were treated by the whites in the Northern Territory and other places, and I can inform the Committee that it was proved before that Commission that one blackfellow, who had worked for a long time for an employer, received for his labour a- race-card instead of a cheque. He was perfectly satisfied, because he did not know any better. When honorable senators who stand behind the Government sixty times out of one hundred move an amendment, the Government get under the wing of the Opposition to fight labour. How long is this going to last?
– No such thing is involved here.
– When Senators Walker and Gray address the Senate upon financial matters, they are listened to with the greatest respect, and when seamen, who have worked before the mast, and know exactly where the shoe pinches, advocate a reasonable reform in our navigation law, even the conservative element in the Committee might be expected to make some effort to give effect to what they desire.
– Very often, the people who are interested in legislation of this sort do not number a very great many, and perhaps have not a great deal of influence at election times. As Senator Dobson has said, in this case there is only a few of them after all, and it does not matter about taking men down and robbing them so long as they number but a few.
– That is a very unfair interpretation of my argument.
– That was practically the honorable senator’s contention when he interjected just now that there were only a few any way, either at Fremantle, Sydney, or Melbourne. I do not wish to be hypocritical over this Bill. I have no wish to tell honorable senators or the people outside that I am in favour of preventing the committing of a certain crime, whilst at the same time I do all I can to facilitate the operations of the people who commit that crime. I would not go to a place like Newcastle and advocate the very thing which would assist the operations of the crimper. I very much doubt whether any other member of the Committee would do so. But, while honorable senators opposite say that they are totally opposed to crimping, they also say that they cannot see their way to adopt a suggestion which has been supported by shipping masters and others who gave evidence before the Navigation Commission, and who were agreed that to compel men to be signed on and discharged at a shipping office is the best means to put a stop to the practice. That evidence was collected by Senators Macfarlane, de Largie, and Guthrie.
– Captain Brown stated that he was quite satisfied with the clause as it stood in the original Bill.
– The shipping master at Newcastle declared that if we compelled all seamen to sign articles at the shipping office, the facilities for crimping would be greatly diminished. It is idle to suggest that that evil will be suppressed merely because we employ a Government official to witness the signing on and discharge of men. As a matter of fact, we employ a Government official at the present time. Yet more crimping takes place at Newcastle than at any other port in Australia.
– Might I remind the hon- or able senator that recommendation No. 8 of the Navigation Commission is that all seamen should be engaged through a Government officer - the superintendent of mercantile marine? That is exactly the proposal which is embodied in the Bill.
– But the Commission does not recommend that seamen should be engaged on board ship.
– It has been urged that we should trust the Minister, and I have been twitted with having resisted a proposal to place the administration of the measure in the hands of an independent Board. I did so upon general principles, and I would repeat my vote to-morrow. I ask honorable senators: “Is it wise to appoint an official to do certain work, and then to give him a free hand to supplement his salary outside of office hours “?
– If he were a man of that sort, could he not supplement his salary inside of office hours just as well as outside of them?
– No. His office has to be opened and closed at regular hours. When it is closed the officer naturally goes home. If we afforded him an opportunity of increasing his salary outside of office hours by doing work for shipping masters,
I contend that we should be offering him a direct inducement to do things which would not meet with the approval of the Minister.
– A similar reason might be urged in the case of every outside Customs officer.
– No. A Customs officer employed on the wharfs has to work in the open light of day. A ship is required to pay the Customs Department certain fees for his services. The Department knows exactly how much overtime he may work. I contend that the shipping master ought not to be encouraged to perform outside of office hours work which might be done just as well, if not better, during office hours. Senator Millen has declared that he regards this question in much the same light as he views a tramway service. He urges that a tram service is conducted for the purpose of conveniencing the, public, and that though it may kill a person, it is not discontinued. That is perfectly true. But what would be said if those responsible for the conduct of such a service declined to adopt a certain method by which fatalities could be prevented? Senator Dobson has suggested that the Bill contains a clause - with which we shall be called upon to deal at a later stage - which provides that it shall be an offence to carry on crimping. But I would point out that at the present time it is an offence to induce people to desert their ships.
– Let us make the law enforceable.
– At the present time there is a law in existence in every State, which is designed to prevent crimping. But has it proved effective?
– That is the fault of the administration more than of the law.
– I maintain that if we permit seamen to sign articles anywhere outside of a public office, we shall be offering facilities for the continuance of crimping. Sufficient evidence is contained in the report of the Navigation Commission to satisfy any unbiased man of the necessity for stricter regulations in this connexion, and for doing everything within our power to suppress the evil. Only a week or so ago Senator de Largie quoted the testimony of a number of witnesses who gave evidence before the Commission at Newcastle. There was not an honorable senator who did not condemn the villainous system under which seamen are frequently signed on at that port. Naturally I welcomed their protestations. But if there is one thing that 1 detest, it is a man whose daily actions do not harmonize with his professions. Yet that is the unfortunate position which some honorable senators appear to me to occupy to-day. Not a valid objection has been urged against the position taken up by Senator Guthrie. It has been said that in. a particular instance it would inconvenience a few people. Senator Dobson cited the case of one ship, the crew of which sign on at the shipping office every six months.
– Do not the seamen on that vessel sign articles on board?
– The vessel arrives on Saturday morning, and leaves for Sydney at noon of the same day.
– Are not fresh agreements continually being made as the result of seamen dying and also leaving their ships?
– Undoubtedly. I would further point out that seamen are paid off by the master at the shipping office. Under such circumstances, how can it reasonably be urged that he would be subjected to a disability if he were required to sign on fresh men in the same office ? I desire to protect the seaman adequately, both in respect of the making of his agreement and the securing of his discharge.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Lynch’ s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
That after the word “ elsewhere,” line 4, the following words be inserted : - “ but not in taverns or inns or any premises licensed to sell intoxicating liquors.”
We have had many speeches from honorable senators opposite as to the regrettable amount of drinking carried on in publichouses in which seamen are engaged, by which means encouragement is given to unprincipled persons to carry on the practice of crimping. Whenever Jack Tar. comes into port with money in his pocket, we may depend upon it that there will be unprincipled individuals who will be only too apt to take advantage of his position. My amendment will give those honorable senators who profess to love the sailor an opportunity to -prevent his falling into the hands of such harpies.
– Senator Gray’s amendment is quite unnecessary. He overlooks what I regard, and what the Navigation Commission regarded, as the essence of the Bill in regard to crimping, namely, that we should insist upon a responsible officer having cast upon him the duty of carrying out the terms of the measure.
– What harm can the amendment do?
– There is no use in encumbering the clause. Why should my honorable friend pick out taverns and other licensed places when, without any difficulty, we can, in our imagination at least, conjure up a number of other undesirable places where crimping might be conducted.
– Can the honorable senator show how we can get at them ?
– The point is that the Navigation Commission recommended that the signing on should take place before a responsible officer of the Government; and later I propose to alter the clause to make it sure that the Government official shall always be present. He will risk his billet if he does not discharge his duty under the clause.
– The honorable senator himself, whilst he was Minister of Customs of Victoria, had the administration of an Act which sought to prevent crimping, but it was evaded.
– If such a case had come under my notice, the officials responsible would have been heavily dropped upon. What is the use of mentioning one or two of perhaps fifty undesirable places?
– But for the fact that the VicePresident of the Executive Council has just repeated a statement formerly made by him as to the recommendation of the Navigation Commission, I should not have taken the trouble to contradict it. I thought at first that it was a mere slip of the tongue, but evidently he is under the impression that the Commission recommended that men might be signed on before a superintendent anywhere. That is quite erroneous. I hold in my hand the Bill as drafted by the Navigation Commission, and - also the report. The recommendation of the Com mission, as shown on page 16 of the report, was that -
No person shall receive or accept on board any ship any seaman unless he is satisfied that such seaman has not been engaged or supplied in contravention of the laws.
Surely the intention is clear enough ; but if there is any ambiguity regarding the wording of the recommendation, the clause of the Bill drafted by the Commission makes the intention clear. The Commission said in regard to clause 11 : “ Omit the whole clause.”
– Will the honorable senator read recommendation 8, “ That all seamen be engaged only before a Government officer, the superintendent.”
– We did not want to throw any obstacle in the way of signing on before a superintendent. The important factor is the place where the signing on is done. The attitude of the Commission was clear enough, although it has been misunderstood by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. We desired the whole clause permitting the engagement of seamen at any other place than the shipping office to be left out.
.- I do not know that there is much harm in Senator Gray’s amendment, although he bar, not enumerated half the places at which crimping is carried on.
– If the honorable senator can suggest an amendment ‘of the amendment so as to include other places, I will vote with him.
– I have before me the South Australian Marine Board Handbook. Regarding signing on, it lays down a scale of overtime fees which may be received by any superintendent of mercantile marine for his attendance after office hours.
The following fees may be charged by any Superintendent of Mercantile Marine for his attendance after office hours for the purpose of shipping or discharging crews, or part of a crew, or for other purposes, viz. : -
The above fees are exclusive of any cost of transit to and from ships, and such cost shall be paid by the master or owner.
Senator Gray now says, “ That is all right ; we think it is fair that you should be allowed to earn a couple of pounds per day. You must not earn it in a publichouse, but you can earn it anywhere else.” If the place next door happened to be a brothel, I suppose that Senator Gray thinks that it would be all right to sigh on. ai ship’s crew there. I am prepared to support his amendment, but it does not go far enough.
– The honorable senator cnn add to my amendment.
– I am asking the honorable senator to include all places where, in his opinion, it would not be a right or proper thing for men to Be engaged.
– I shall support any amendment which the honorable senator may propose in that direction.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.13]. - I recognise that Senator Gray is actuated by a beautiful desire in the direction of morality ; but I quite agree with Senator Turley that his amendment does not go far enough ; nor will it achieve any useful purpose. Take, for instance, the case of a “tavern,” which is not defined. Under his amendment, my honorable colleague might ex- ? elude those cheerful establishments known as coffee taverns. But apart from that, the man whom it was sought to entrap into a kind of illicit bargain with a shipmaster might be speedily made drunk in a tavern and signed on next door. The amendment, while it certainly aims at a praiseworthy result, is not calculated in its present form to produce that result. What we have to consider is not the place, but the condition of the man whom it is proposed to sign on. If my honorable colleague would move that no person who was “ the worse for liquor “ should sign on anywhere, and indicate that he proposed to recommit Clause 6 in order to give a definition of what he meant by that term, I would support him. An old sea captain - one of those persons who inveigle men who are not quite themselves to sign on - wa.s once asked, “What is moderation?”. He replied, “Well, you know, it all depends. It is somewhere between a glass and a barrel.” Some men get knocked over with a glass and some can carry a barrel. So that if is the condition of the seaman which should be considered rather than the place in which he should sign on. A drunken man might be signed on under the shadow of a cathedral, but the sacerdotalism connected with the building would not make him sober.
.- I do not agree with Senator Best that this amendment is quite unnecessary. Immediately before it was moved we had a division in which Senator Gray voted with the Government in favour of providing facilities for crimping, and this amendment is absolutely necessary in order to salve his conscience. For that reason, if for no other, I contend that it is very necessary, and I shall support it. I have also to agree with Senator Turley and others that the amendment in its present form is really useless, although it may be very necessary as a salve to Senator Gray’s conscience. If he wants to enumerate all the places in which he thinks it would be undesirable to have seamen signed on he might as well have supported the original amendment, and confined this work exclusively to shipping offices.
– Senators Turley, Givens, and Neild have sought to turn this discussion along a line which, from want of knowledge, I cannot follow. It seems to me that honorable senators have overlooked a very important fact. They have pointed out that it is not the place in which a man signs on, but his condition at the time which should be considered, and that, therefore, it is not desirable or necessary to permit signing on to be conducted in licensed houses. One would think that this was the first time we had placed a bar against the use of licensed houses. Have they forgotten the terms of the Electoral Act? Every argument which they have used against this proposal would have applied equally well when it was proposed to place in the Electoral Act a prohibition against the use of licensed houses.
– There has not been one argument adduced against the proposal.
– In the States it is not lawful for employers to pay wages in hotels. The reason which underlies that law underlies this amendment. The only doubt I have in my mind is created by an interjection from Senator Guthrie, who affirmed that the amendment would include ships, many of which, if not all of them, were really licensed houses. After the recent vote I gave I am not in a position .to vote for an amendment to do a thing which we have just said that we are not prepared to do, and therefore I should like to hear from Senator Best whether the amendment can be construed so as to include ships as well as licensed houses.
– I am advised that it cannot include ships.
– In that case, I am content to support the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 -
If a ship registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade goes to sea without a duly certificated’ master and officers, according to the scale set out in Schedule i, or as prescribed, the master and owner of the ship shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty : One hundred pounds.
– I should like to ask the Minister to say why it is proposed to make the penalty in this case twice as high as that provided for in the Merchant Shipping Act. In the corresponding section of the Merchant Shipping Act the penalty provided for is £50. In the clause before the Committee the penalty provided for is £100. There may be some special reason for the increase of the proposed penalty, and if so the Committee would be glad to hear it.
Senator BEST (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council [4.26]. - It will be for the ‘Committee to fix the penalty. That proposed in the clause is an arbitrary sum, I admit, but it was thought desirable to make the penalties under this Bill more stringent than those provided for in the Merchant Shipping Act.
– I should like to know why the words “or as prescribed ‘ ‘ are used in this clause. Is it intended that they shall cover the scale recommended by the Advisory Committee which is to be appointed ? Every ship, of course, must carry a master, and we make provision for a scale of officers; why, therefore, these words, “ or as prescribed “ should be introduced into this clause, I cannot understand. So far as I can see, there is no power given to alter the number of officers to be carried according to the schedule, except in the case of engineers, and we have not yet decided that they are officers.
– The honorable senator has overlooked the fact that we have included engineers in the definition of “officer.”
– Then, so far as the Bill is concerned, the number of engineers to lie carried is a fixed number.
– First of all, there it a scale of officers to be carried, but as it would be most unwise and unreasonable to say that that scale must be applicable to every class of ship, no matter what alterations may be made in the structure of the vessel, or what other new conditions may arise, we provide that the Minister, where any alteration in the scale is suggested, must obtain expert advice under clause 416, sub-clause 2 of which reads -
The Minister shall appoint a Committee for the purpose of advising him as to the alteration and application of the scale of the crews to be carried by different classes of ships, and as to the crews to be specified for particular ships by the Minister.
– Does that cover officers ?
– Possibly, it may be found desirable when we come to consider clause 416 to insert the word “ officers,” to make it quite clear that the clause shall also apply to them. I shall be glad if honorable senators will direct my attention to the point when we reach that clause. Having received the advice of the Committee, it will be for the Minister to take the responsibility of acting.
– I am not content to leave the words “or as prescribed” in the clause. I am quite satisfied that if we set ourselves to the task of fixing a scale of the number of officers to be carried in any ship, we should not, later in the Bill, give anybody else the power to undo our work. There is a side reference to section 92 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, but the reference is entirely misleading, in so far as the words “or as prescribed” do not appear in the Imperial Act. If they were not necessary in the control of the great shipping industry pf the United Kingdom, they can scarcely be necessary in the control of the smaller shipping industry of Australia.
– The honorable senator’s objection might hold good as regards the inclusion of the scale, but not as regards the inclusion “of the words “or as prescribed.”
– Section 92 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 provides that -
Every British foreign-going ship and every British home-trade passenger ship when going to sea from any place in the United Kingdom and every foreign steam-ship carrying passengers between places in the United Kingdom shall be provided with officers duly certificated under this Act according to the following scale : -
In any case with a duly certificated master.
If the ship is of 100 tons burden or upwards, with at least one officer besides the master, holding a certificate not lower than that of only mate, in the case of a foreign-going ship, or of mate in the case of a home-trade passenger ship.
If the ship is a foreign-going ship and carries more than one mate, with at least a first and second mate duly certificated.
If the ship is a foreign-going ship of 100 nominal horse-power or upwards, with at least two engineers, one of whom ‘shall be a first class and the other a second class or first class engineer duly certificated.
If the ship is a foreign-going ship of less than 100 nominal horse-power or a sea-going home-trade passenger ship, with at least one engineer, who is a first class or second class engineer duly certificated.
Here we have the numbers of the officers set out, but no power is given in the Merchant Shipping Act to undo that work by conferring on anybody authority to prescribe a different scale. I suggest that the Minister would be wise to adhere more closely to the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act in this matter.
– As Senator Pulsford has said, there is some departure in this clause from the Merchant Shipping Act; but we made our first departure from the provisions of that Act when we set out to define “ officer.” It may be necessary in some instances, because of alterations made in a ship, to alter the number of officers she shall carry. As the Minister has explained, that can only be done after the Advisory Committee has been consulted, and made a recommendation to the Minister. Otherwise the manning schedule must be complied with. In the circumstances, after the Minister’s explanation, I think that these words “or as prescribed “ are necessary.
– Senator Pulsford has raised the question whether we ought not to strike out of this clause the provision for a number ofofficers differing from the number pro vided for in schedule 1. The Minister’s reply was that it might be necessary to make some departure from the schedule, and he assumed that clause 416 was designed to meet such a case. I take the view that if that contention be correct, the schedule might as well be struck out altogether. If clause 416 is to apply to officers as well as to men, and the Minister must appoint a Committee which is to advise as to the number of officers required for every ship going to seal, what is the good of the schedule ?
– Will not these words “or as prescribed” be required if we are to have a manning Committee?
– Certainly. The recommendation of the Committee would be what would be prescribed. It may bethat it is necessary that there should Be some official sanction for the complement of officers and men to be carried by a particular ship. If it is intended in this matter to act upon the Advisory Committee’s recommendation, it is necessary to include the words “or as prescribed “ in clause 12 ; but, if we are to have a manning Committee to decide this matter, what is the good of the schedule?
– The manning Committee will deal only with certain ships. Senator MILLEN.- If the Bill were designed to make the schedule apply to all ships, except where for special reasons on the application of the ship-owner, or at the instance of the Minister, an inquiry was held as to whether a vessel was carrying too many or too few officers and men, I could understand it ; but according to my reading of clause 416, it is imperative that the Committee which the Minister must appoint shall pass every ship under review.
– The clause refers only to particular ships.
– It provides in subclause 2 that -
The Minister shall appoint a Committee for the purpose of advising him as to the alteration and application of the scale of the crews to be carried by different classes of ships, and as to the crews to be specified for particular ships.
Leaving out the reference to particular ships, the Committee is to advise the Minister as to the application of the scale of the crews to be carried by different classes of ships.
– That reference is to the crews, not to the officers.
– The Minister has just said that he thinks sub-clause 2 of clause 416 should be altered so as to include officers. If we are to have every class of ship reviewed by the Advisory Committee for the purpose of deciding the application of the manning scale, I_ again ask, what is the good of the schedule? I submit, with all deference, that clause 416 was never intended to cover officers.
.- When we come to deal with clause 416, it will be necessary to determine whether we shall include in it officers as well as crews. The underlying idea of the Bill is that there shall be a particular scale of manning applicable to all ships. If it were a cast-iron scale which was applicable to all ships, I admit at once that it would work strange injustices, and inflict a great deal of unnecessary hardship. But we lay down the principle that there must, at all times, be a manning scale. Of course, we know that from day to day, alterations in shipping are taking place. Different classes of ships are coming forward. Take the case of a ship, in the stoke-hold of which it has hitherto been necessary to employ a certain number of men. Latterly, a machine has been invented which automatically removes the ashes from the furnaces, and thus does away with the necessity for employing some four or five hands. In such a case, it would be obviously unjust to insist that the vessel .should comply with this manning scale. That is just one illustration of what is taking place year by year, and as this measure - when it becomes an Act - will be “ always speaking,” we lay down as a principle that at all times there shall be a manning scale. But we make that scale sufficiently elastic to meet the changing conditions of ships from day to day and year to year. The same scale cannot be applicable to all vessels, and, therefore, we say that it will be necessary for the Minister to obtain the expert advice of an Advisory Board, having special knowledge of the subject-matter. Consequently, the Minister is given power to make regulations from time to time.
– My point did not refer so much to the recommendation of the Committee in the case of any particular ship, as to the advice to be given as regards classes of ships.
– As regards classes of ships, certain regulations will be made to apply.
– The clause covers ail classes of ships.
– The Minister will pick, out the different classes. He will say that, as regards a particular class of %’essel, a certain scale shall apply.
– But particular classesare dealt with separately.
– -All classes of shipsmust comply with a scale ; but there may be vessels to which a special scale will be applicable. Having regard to the fact that an Act of Parliament must be “ alwaysspeaking,” the provision in this Bill would: inflict serious hardship if we did not make the manning scale accommodate itself to varying conditions. Hence we have provided for the framing of regulations,, which will at least have the indirect sanction of Parliament, seeing that they will have to be framed by the Minister, and laid upon the table of the two Houses, and’ that it is competent for Parliament to agreeto, or differ from, them as it may think fit. Further, if the Minister takes it upon himself to disregard the recommendation of the expert Committee to which I have referred, he will assume a very serious responsibility, and will have to justify his action. I am rather surprised at the proposal of Senator Pulsford, which, if adopted, would be calculated to inflict very serious hardship.
– What particular method is indicated by the use of the words “or as prescribed “ ?
S’enator BEST. - They mean the Minister, acting on the advice of the AdvisoryCommittee.
– Not acting without it?
– The Minister is compelled to obtain the advice of the Committee, but upon him is thrown the responsibility of accepting or rejecting that ad-, vice.
– That means” that the Minister has power to throw theschedule into the waste-paper basket if he chooses to do so.
– It is for Parliament, to say whether it will permit that to be done. If we pass this ‘Bill, we announce that there shall be a. manning scale; but that scale may be varied in the way I have indicated, either in regard to classes of ships or particular ships. It is “ a very wise scheme, and one that is calculated to meet emergencies and variations in ships- as they arise. Reference has been made to the manning scale prescribed by the Merchant Shipping Act. It is quite true that that Act prescribes a manning scale, the object of which is to insure the seaworthiness of vessels. But I would point out that that scale is of such a reduced character-
– Under Part III. of the Act, the scale prescribed is more complete than is that provided under this Bill.
– I am referring particularly to that portion which relates to the power to provide for the efficient manning of ships and to insure that vessels shall not leave the coast of Great Britain unless they are seaworthy. The scale prescribed in that case is a very low one.
– It seems to me that we are up against a matter of real importance, and, consequently, I am impelled to ask, *’ Are we legislating, or are we merely playing with legislation?” Are we expected to pass laws which may be thrown into the waste-paper basket at the discretion of the Minister? Clause 37 of this Bill gives the Minister power to ignore schedule 2 and to prescribe the complement which any ship shall carry. Under it any rule, regulation, or scale that may be framed may at any time be cast into the melting pot and new rules and regulations decided upon. I am very much dissatisfied with the clause under consideration. Had we been content to follow the lines of the Merchant Shipping Act this difficulty would have been avoided. I move -
That the following words be added : - “ If a ship proceeds to sea being short of not more tha’n one officer where two officers are required to be carried or not more than two officers where three are required to be carried, the master or owner shall not be liable under this section, if it is proved that the .breach was not occasioned by any fault of his own.”
My proposal is upon all-fours with subclause 2 of clause 38, which reads -
If a ship proceeds to sea being short in her crew of not more than one-fifth of her engineroom staff, or one-fifth of her deck complement, the master or owner shall not be liable under this section if it is proved that the breach was not occasioned through any fault of his own.
If it is reasonable that an owner or master of a vessel shall not be penalized because a small proportion of his crew have not - by reason of illness, or from some other cause - been able to join the ship, it is equally reasonable that an owner or master shall not be liable to punishment if one of the officers belonging to a vessel should fail to put in an appearance.
– Where do the interests of the general public come in? The proposal is ridiculous upon the face of it.
– I do not think so. The amendment has been suggested by the steam-ship owners themselves, and perhaps that is the reason why Senator Guthrie feels called upon to jeer at it.
– I am usually blamed for taking their part.
– It is really difficult to think that Senator Pulsford can be serious in submitting an amendment of this kind, which means that where two officers are necessary for the safe working of a ship which may have to undertake a voyage occupying seventy-two hours or more, one officer shall be deemed sufficient. The honorable senator’s argument is that because in another portion of the Bill provision is made whereby, should 20 per cent, of the crew fail to put in an appearance, the ship may proceed to sea; should 50 per cent, of the officers of a vessel fail to turn up. she should be permitted to proceed to sea. Is such a proposal fair upon the face of it? The scale prescribed in the case of officers is the minimum required for the safe working of the ship.
– Vessels may carry two or three more officers than are prescribed if they choose.
-And the probability is that some of them will do so. Some Australian trade ships will have more than the prescribed number, and at the present day have more. But is it to be seriously argued that where not only property, but the lives of individuals are concerned, a ship should be allowed to go to sea carrying only one officer, when two are prescribed. Suppose that the voyage of such a ship were to occupy twenty-four or seventy-two hours. Are we going to say that only one officer is necessary for the whole of such a journey? If anything like this proposition could be entertained, the whole scale would have to be largely increased.
– If Senator Pulsford would study his own amendment a little more closely he would see the absurdity of it. A ship is bound to carry a master. It is not proposed that ,a vessel shall be allowed to go to sea without one. But the honorable senator suggests that where only two officers are carried under certain circumstances a ship may be permitted to proceed to sea with only one. If the engineer did not turn up, the ship would be permitted to go to sea without an engineer at all. ‘ There would be no qualified man in the engine-room to take charge of the engines and boilers. I know that honorable senators have been misled by a statement which has been put into their hands, wherein it is alleged that the Merchant Shipping Act allows what is now proposed to be done. That Act does not permit anything of the kind. A vessel must have a master, an engineer, and a mate. The persons who drew up the circular to which I refer were evidently thinking of sailing vessels, but we are dealing with steam-ships as well. Take the case of a vessel compelled under the scale to carry two mates. If one of those did not turn up, is it contemplated that the ship should be allowed to go to sea with only one mate, who would have to navigate the vessel during the whole time, with no navigating officer to relieve him? The ship-owners suggest that it might be in the public interest to adopt such an amendment. I hold that it would not be in the public interest for a ship to go to sea under such circumstances. In the case of the Bega, which went down on the south coast of New South Wales, the engineer on watch had never seen salt water until a fortnight previous to the voyage. The ship-owners want power to send their ships away short-handed. Under such circumstances a vessel might get to her destination, but under other circumstances there would be a great probability that she would not. I look at the matter from the point of view of public safety and the safety of the crew. I hope that Senator Pulsford, after giving further consideration to the subject, will recognise the wisdom of withdrawing the amendment.
– I think that we have arrived at the point of recognising how absurd it is to have a compulsory manning scale at all. Great Britain for hundreds of years has carried on her immense trade without a compulsory manning scale.
– She has a compulsory manning scale under section 92 of the Merchant Shipping Act.
– But that is only a scale which any ship-owner would use. We must trust a ship-owner to look after his own property. The standard prescribed is excessive. As a member of the Navigation Commission, I was strongly against a compulsory manning scale, and Senator Pulsford has now shown how wise it would be to drop the scale in case of necessity.
– I (jo not agree with Senator Guthrie that this amendment has been put forward at the instance of the ship-owners, merely with the desire to enable them to send their ships to sea without a sufficiency of officers. I cannot think for a moment that they have any such desire. To do so. would be a losing game in the long run. A ship-owner who followed that principle would soon require the services of an accountant to draw up a statement of his affairs for presentation to the Insolvency Court. The object of the amendment is, I take it, that ship-owners may be free in an emergency to decide for themselves. We all like as much individual freedom as we can get. But the reason why I cannot support the amendment is principally this. I think that we may assume that the officers represent the brains of a ship ; and whilst it is a very serious thing to let a ship go to sea undermanned, so far as manual labour is concerned, it is much more important that the head directing the manual labour should be there. Senator Guthrie made a very strong point when he said that a vessel might require to carry a mate and an engineer, and that if either were away it would be possible for the ship to sail without the engineer necessary to look after the engines, or without a navigating officer necessary for looking after the ship’s course. So that, whatever the object may be, I think that the amendment would be rather unworkable.
– Senator Best and Senator Guthrie have striven pretty hard, and have succeeded to some extent, in magnifying some difficulties arising out of my amendment. It has been said that we might have a vessel with two officers, and’ that the amendment would enable 50 per cent, of them to be taken away. But nothing has been said about the fact that vessels that carry so few as two officersare very limited in number, and that the great bulk of, the shipping trade is done in vessels which carry five or six engineers and mates. The argument about shipowners desirous to underman their vessels. will not bear examination, because the last words of my amendment are, “ If it is proved that the breach was not occasioned through any fault of his own.” I propose to make an alteration in the amendment which will largely meet the objections. I propose to strike out the words “ where two officers are required to be carried or not more than two.” The amendment will then read as follows -
If a ship proceeds to sea being short of not more than one officer where three are required to be carried, the master or owner shall not be liable under this section if it is proved that the breach was not occasioned by any fault of his own.
If the amendment, as I propose to amend it, be carried, it will simply mean that where a ship carries five or six officers she may go to sea if one of them is absent.
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
– I wish to point out what the Merchant Shipping Act requires in regard to ships. . It provides -
Every British foreign-going ship and every British home-trade passenger ship when going to sea from any place in the United Kingdom, and every foreign steam-ship carrying passengers between places in the United Kingdom, shall be provided with officers duly certificated under this Act according to the following scale : -
In any case with a duly certificated master ;
If the ship is of 100 tons burden or upwards, with at least one officer besides the master holding a certificate not lower than that of only mate in the case of a foreign-going ship, or of mate in the case of a home-trade passenger ship.
Then, with regard to steamers, it is provided that they shall have an engineer, and so on. But no manning scale such as we have in this Bill, is provided.
Clause agreed to.
– In accordance with notice, I move -
That after the words “ Foreign-going ship,” line. 4, the words “or Australian-trade ship” be inserted.
The clause provides for the granting of certificates for three different classes of ships, namely, foreign-going ship, limited coast-trade ship, and river and bay ship. I do not know why the Australian-trade ship has been omitted, because the schedule provides for four different classes of ships. I think that the omission must be due to a printer’s error. It is such an obvious mistake, that it cannot be accounted for in any other way. I wish the same standard of certificate to be prescribed for the Australiantrade ship as for the foreign-going ship. It will be generally admitted that many waters round our coast are quite as dangerous as any waters to be found elsewhere. Some of us know, to our sorrow, that we can experience as stormy weather in the Australian Bight as in any part of the passage between Australia and the Old Country. I do not think it is necessary to say more in favour of my amendment, because it only seeks to correct what I regard as a printer’s error.
– I can assure my honorable friend that this clause contains no printer’s error. Its whole design is to keep up a high standard for Australian officers. Wherever we can, we use well-known British terms, and when an Australian officer gets to London, he can be appointed to a foreign-going ship, because our standard of qualification is recognised by the Board of Trade. We do not want to ear-mark any particular class of Australian certificate, and to make it applicable to ourselves alone. It is important to the officers themselves that we should prescribe a high-class qualification which will be recognised in the Old Country. If necessary, I can show .subsequently how, according to British law, it will be possible for an Order in Council to be made recognising our foreign-going certificates. In sub; clause i, we provide for certificates of competency to be granted for certain grades of officers, which are enumerated, and in subclause 2 we practically say that when a foreign-going certificate is granted, it shall qualify a man for an Australian-trade ship.
– Why not mention the Australian-trade ship in the first part of the clause as well as in the second part?
– Because it is not desirable to ear-mark a particular class of Australian certificate. At the present time we are dealing with only foreign-going ship certificates, and we use a recognised Board of Trade term, so that if a man with a certificate entitling him to become an officer on a foreign-going ship goes to :the Board of Trade he can be appointed to such a ship in the same way as to an Australian-trade ship. In the interests of the officers themselves, it is desirable to adhere to British terms. What we do in this clause is to declare that an officer holding that high-class and recognised certificate throughout the Empire shall be qualified for an Australian-trade ship. Senator de Largie will be well advised to leave the clause as it is. We want our certificates to -be of such a high-class character that they will be recognised throughout the Empire.
– Yes; but it is proposed to issue certificates that the Board of Trade may not recognise.
– That is. only to satisfy local conditions. The Board of Trade would not be concerned about our limited coast-trade ships, or our river and bay ships. We consider that an officer on an Australian-trade ship should possess the same high qualification as an officer o”. an ocean-going ship.
– That is what I wish to have mentioned.
– That is exactly what we do, and, if I may be permitted to say so, in a better way than my honorable friend has suggested. We enact that the recognised Board of Trade certificate for a foreign-going ship shall qualify an officer for an Australian-trade ship.
– By mentioning the Australian-trade ship, how would we reduce its status in any way?
– My honorable friend wants to provide for a different class of certificate.
– No; for the same class, but to extend to another class of ships.
– If my honorable friend’s amendment is inserted, it will provide for a new class of certificate. He wants to earmark another class of certificate. Although it might be just as good as a foreign-going certificate, from the qualifying point of view, still it would not be of the same value to an Australian officer who was applying in London for a position on a- British ship. He would be told: “We know nothing about your Australian-trade certificate, but we do know about a foreign-going certificate, because that is recognised throughout the Empire.” It would be unwise to make the amendment, because there is nothing to be gained by doing so.
– When I first took up this Bill, I thought that the Australian-trade ship was not mentioned in this clause as the result of a mere omission, but on looking into it, I found that it provides first for the issue of a foreign-going certificate, and then goes on to say that no one shall trade either as master or mate on an Australiantrade ship unless he has a foreign-going certificate. That is virtually what the clause means. If the clause, had provided for the issue of an Australian-trade certificate, that certificate would only have been valuable to a man here, and once he had left our coast, it would not have been recognised in any other part of the British Empire. If it was possible to recognise a grade for vessels propelled by other than motive power, surely it was also possible to provide that what applies to a foreigngoing ship shall also apply to an Australiantrade ship? It is not the ship with which we are dealing, but the certificate. I am satisfied that we cannot do more than is done in that regard. But there ought to be some amendment introduced. I notice that in the regulations for the examination of masters and mates, the Board of Trade put the following footnote to foreign-going certificates - “A foreign-going ship” includes every ship employed in trading or going between some place or places in the United Kingdom and some place or places situate beyond the following limits, that is to say, the coast of the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man, and the Continent of Europe between the River Elbe and Brest included.
That is the definition of a foreign-going ship in Great Britain, and if a man takes his ship outside that limit, he must hold a foreign-going certificate. We should require nothing less than a foreign-going certificate for an Austraiian-trade ship. I do not think that Senator de Largie intends to introduce another grade.
– The honorable senator’s argument was against that. He desires the highest qualification, because of the dangers of our coast.
– Just so. I think that the clause meets what the honorable senator desires.
– I admit that this is a somewhat technical question, but I have not been entirely satisfied by the explanation given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council and Senator Guthrie. I cannot see how we should in any way be reducing the status of the certificates if we provided beyond all doubt that those required for our coast trade ships should be equal to those required for foreign-going ships.
– So we do.
– I think that should appear in the first as well as in the latter part of the clause. I am not alone in taking this view of the matter, no less an authority than Mr. McKie, the Secretary of the Marine Board of Victoria takes the same view, and it is from his evidence, given before the Navigation Commission, that I got my cue. He gave the following evidence, in reply to Mr. Edwards, who was a member of the Commission - “A State-trade ship might mean a ship trading from Adelaide to Port Darwin?” - That is dealt with in the definition clause, and I have endeavoured to give attention to it. So far as masters and mates are concerned, I observe that an Australian-trade ship will require to be officered by men holding foreign-going certificates.
Or that point we are all agreed -
There is an omission, the words “Australiantrade ship “ are supposed to follow the words “ foreign-going ship “1 I take it that they are practically synonymous terms.
If the Minister is prepared to leave the matter open to be dealt with later, if necessary, I shall be satisfied to let the clause go. I can assure honorable senators that I make no proposal with the intention of reducing- the status of the certificates required for officers of Australian-trade ships.
– I circulated an amendment proposing the insertion of the word “ only “ before the word “ mate “ in the paragraph referring to foreign-going ships. As used here, the reference might be to a first or second mate.
– The word “mate” should be struck out.
– The Board of Trade issues, in addition to a first mate’s and second mate’s certificate, an “ only mate’s “ certificate, but the qualifications required are as high as those required for a first’ mate. The certificate is not of the same value, since the holder of an only mate’s certificate could not go to sea as. a chief mate, but could only go as “ only mate” on a ship carrying one mate. I have carefully studied the examinations required to be passed to secure a_certificate as first mate and as only mate, and they are practically the same. Many years ago the examination for an only mate’s certificate was much easier than that for a first mate. Now that they are practically the same, the position of only mate has becomeobsolete, because when a man knows that he must pass practically the same examination he prefers to apply for a first mate’s certificate.
– I agree with what Senator Guthrie has said. As the position of “only mate” has now become obsolete, it is undesirable that the word “ mate “ should be included. I accept the suggestion that has been made,, and I move -
That the word “mate,” line 9, be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania) [5.32J.- I hope that in dealing with river and bay ships we shall not require vessels of from- 50 to 60 tons to carry a master and a. mate,, as provided for in this clause.
– This clause deals only with the certificates, not with the officers’
– We have decided that a limited coast-trade ship shall be as prescribed by regulation, and the voyage of such a ship may extend for 200 miles or 1,000 miles along our coast. In the schedule, provision is made that a limited coast-trade ship shall carry two mates, whilst in this clause we are making provision for certificates only of a master and mate in the case of limited coast-trade ships. I think that the word “ first “ should be inserted before the word “mate,” and the words “second mate “ should be inserted as a new line in the paragraph dealing with limited coasttrade ships.
– I have no objection.
Amendments (by Senator Guthrie) agreed to.
That the word “First” be inserted before the word “mate,” line13.
That the words “ Second mate “ be inserted as a new line to follow line 13.
– I intend to propose that the words “Marine engine-driver” be left out of this clause. I believe that their inclusion would have a tendency to lower the status of men at present employed on a large number of our river and bay steamers. Many men, who are at present engaged and recognised as engineers by law and in the shipping industry, will have their status reduced in the estimation of the public if these words are retained. I am satisfied that it is not the desire of the Committee that a man should be disrated from the position of third class engineer to that of marine engine-driver. I do not say that it is a reflection on any man to say that he is a marine, engine-driver, but the insertion of these words in this clause seems to indicate a desire on the part of the Government to’ lower the standard of men at present employed as third class engineers. Men holding certificates as third class engineers have charge of harbor and river steamers in New South Wales up to 100 nominal horsepower. The same applies in South Australia.
– The inclusion of the words “marine engine-driver” in this clause would not affect them.
– If these words are retained, the men filling this position on vessels under 50 nominal horse-power will be called marine engine-drivers.
– Nothing of the kind; the clause merely provides for an additional certificate.
– If the honorable senator turns to the schedule, he will see a footnote which puts the position very plainly. It shows that for river and bay ships the engine-room manning scale provides, in the case of ships under 50 nominal horse-power, “ one marine engine-driver.”
– That is what the owners will be compelled to adopt.
– And that is the very thing the ship-owner will jump at. It is not right that by an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament we should seek to lower the professional status of any body of men. I shall, later, have something to say about providing means to enable the third class engineer to reach the top of the ladder in his profession. But my object now is to secure the elimination of words which can only have the effect of disrating a large number of men employed in each of the States who are at present recognised by law and amongst their fellows as engineers. If honorable senators will search the recommendations of the Navigation Commission they will not find a sentence suggesting any necessity for the creation of such a class as marine engine-drivers. I move -
That the words “ Marine engine-driver,” line 22, be left out.
I believe that the omission of these words will be an improvement upon the Bill. It should not be forgotten that a reduction in the status of these men would in all probability be followed by a reduction in their pay, and that is a vital point so far as they are concerned. I am certain that honorable senators have no wish to deprive men who have hitherto been employed as third class engineers of the status and wages which they have previously enjoyed.
– I think that my honorable friend has quite misconceived the object and meaning of this clause. In the first place, it deals with the certificates which shall be held by officers on foreign-going ships, limited coast-trade ships, and river and bay ships. It then proceeds to deal with the certificates granted to engineers. It provides for the issue of first class, second class, and third class certificates, grade A in the case of steam-ships, and grade B in the case of vessels propelled by any motive power other than steam. It then proceeds to deal with “ marine enginedrivers.” That term is intended to cover all those men who know how to drive the engines which are installed upon the innumerable small craft which potter around our rivers and bays.
– What is the difference between a third class enginedriver in Victoria and a third class engineer in New South Wales?
– I believe that in New South Wales the qualification is lower than is that in Victoria. I wish Senator Lynch to realize how his proposal would inflict injustice upon our third class engineers. We cannot ignore the owners and engine-drivers of the innumerable small vessels to which I have referred.
– Those men are third class engineers.
– Not in all cases. They do not possess qualifications which approach those held by third class engineers. If we strike out the words “marine engine-driver,” the small craft to which I have alluded will be obliged to carry third class engineers. Consequently an agitation will at once be promoted to fix a very low qualification so far as third class engineers are concerned. Senator Lynch contends that the clause in its present form would inflict injustice upon marine engine-drivers. I maintain that the amendment, if adopted, would impose hardship upon third class engineers, in that it would bring about a lowering of the qualification. Practically that qualification would become equivalent to that of a mere marine engine-driver, and the now wellrecognised third class engineer, who possesses a much higher qualification than do marine engine-drivers, would suffer accordingly.
– Is there any authority for the use of the term “ marine enginedriver “?
– It is supposed to adequately describe the section to which it refers.
– There are no third class engineers at the present time.
– There are in New South Wales.
– But they are only on a par with the engine-drivers of Victoria.
– Above all things, we must maintain the standard of our engineers.
– Then why lower the qualifications of the marine engine-drivers?
– We do not propose that, but the effect of Senator Lynch’s amendment would be to lower the standard.
– Quite the opposite.
– If the honorable senator’s amendment were carried, our marine engine-drivers would have to be included in the category of third class engineers. If the standard for third class engineers were fixed very high, injustice would be inflicted upon the owners of the innumerable small craft to which I have referred.
– It would deprive a good many of them of a living.
– Exactly. If the standard were lowered, injustice would be inflicted upon the third class engineers. Consequently, we ought to provide for the issue of marine engine-drivers’ certificates to that well-recognised class, whose members do not require to possess the qualification of a third class engineer, but who can earn a livelihood by driving small craft which potter around our coast.
– How can they become third class engineers ?
– By obtaining the qualification to be prescribed.
– Marine engine-drivers can qualify as third class engineers.
– Undoubtedly. No injustice can be done to third class engineers by providing for the issue of certificates to marine engine-drivers.
– Will not a certain amount of shop experience be provided for.
– That is entirely another matter. Senator Lynch has circulated an amendment upon that subject which win involve discussion at a later stage.
– That is the crux of the position. Marine engine-drivers cannot present themselves for examination, because they do not possess the requisite experience.
– If we alter the clause in the way that is proposed, we shall inflict hardship upon the owners of the innumerable small craft which at the present time potter about our bays.
– Cannot we provide for the issue of a service certificate?
– That is practically what we have done. What we say to these marine engine-drivers is, “ Whatever certificate you possess shall not be prejudiced in any way. But if you want to obtain the certificates prescribed by this Bill, you must qualify for them, or satisfy us that your present qualification is equal to them.”
– Is a certificate issued to marine engine-drivers at present?
– There may be in some States. Clause 22 provides -
– Then, under this Bill, we shall confer upon marine engine-drivers a status which they do not possess.
– Whatever qualification they may possess under the present law, they will retain.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council explain the difference between the value of British and Australian certificates in the case of engineers, seeing that the British Board of Trade issues only first and second class certificates ?
– That is so; but we propose to issue a third class certificate, so far as our own coasts are concerned. Our first and second class certificates will be the recognised Board of Trade certificates.
– The difficulty is that marine enginedrivers frequently possess a knowledge of their own marine engines, but have never been to sea. Around Hobart there is a very large number of small craft driven by engineers who are really not seamen in the technical sense of the term. I think that they ought to be protected by enabling marine engine-drivers to qualify as third class engineers.
SenatorE. J. RUSSELL (Victoria) [5.55]. - The Vice-President of the Executive Council seems to be labouring under a disability. As a matter of fact, we are not now discussing men possessing different qualifications, but men who are grouped under different titles. In Victoria we have no third class engineers, and never have had. The third class marine engine-drivers in Victoria are really third class engineers. But they labour under the disability of not being recognised under this Bill on an equality with the third class engineers of the other States, although they hold similar certificates of competency.
– They are protected under the Bill.
– To-day they are designated as third class marine engine-drivers. They cannot rise above that rank, because there is no such thing as a first class marine engine-driver. It is provided that if they hold the necessary qualifications they can come in under this measure. But if a Victorian wants to come in under the Bill, he must pass a third class examination before he can offer himself for the second class examination, although a man holding a similar qualification in New South Wales would simply have to present himself forthwith for the second class examination. The fact is that we have in the two States men with similar qualifications under different designations. We are told that the Bill protects them. But those who turn to the part dealing with the power of engines, will notice that the Victorian marine engine-drivers are going to be reduced to the extent of 15 horse-power. I understand that persons in Tasmania are in the same position, but that it does not apply to the other States. I can see no reason why any disability should be placed upon men because they happen to live in a State where the law was so absurd as not to allow them to rise to a higher grade, even if they possessed ability. I hope that a guarantee will be given that their rights will be preserved. It is certainly doubtful whether under the present Bill the certificates they hold will retain their validity.
– Clause 22 preserves their rights.
– But under the system of defining horse-power under the Bill, the divisor is altered from 30 to 25 ; and I understand that that will reduce the Victorian certificates to the extent of about 15 horse-power. I think that two things should be done. The men holding these certificates should be given their correct status, which is equivalent to that of third class engineer in the other States. In addition, they should be given the right, if they are capable of passing an examination, and possess the necessary ability, to rise from the position of third class engineer or marine engine-driver, to that of’ second class engineer by examination. Under the Victorian Act they are debarred. I trust that justice will be done to them under the Bill now before us.
– It appears to me that the clause under consideration achieves the objects for which Senator E. J. Russell has been contending. What we require to do is obvious. We should provide for the case of a number of men who are now in the service of the public driving engines on small boats. In Victoria these men have not engineers, but an engine-driver’s certificate.
– We should make them -all third class engine-drivers.
– Merely striking out the names would not accomplish our object. The general principle adopted when it is found necessary to make a change in order to secure greater efficiency in a service is, so as not to injure those who are getting their living under present conditions, to issue service certificates. It seems to me that this clause has in it the spirit that prompts the issue of such certificates; and if we wish to accomplish more completely the assertion of that principle, we shall have to do it, not by striking out the provision, but by making some other provision in another part of the Bill.
– The ground that I take up in arguing for the amendment of this clause is that it would do great injustice. The retention of the words “ marine enginedriver “ in the clause simply means making a double inroad upon, the welfare and interests of men who are now acting as engineers on board small steam-ships, and are recognised as engineers. Take a case in New South Wales of a steam-ship with 50 nominal horse-power. Under this Bill a marine engine-driver will be competent to take charge of such a boat. The present law of New South Wales requires a third class engineer to take charge of her. It is possible that there is merely a difference in words, but I am informed that the conditions in New South Wales are of so exacting a character as to be the means of turning out a body of men who have .given every satisfaction as third class engineers. This Bill proposes to shut down hard on vessels over 50 horse-power that go outside Sydney Heads, and only carry a marine enginedriver.
– Such a vessel could not go out if she carried a third class engineer.
– River and bay steam-ships are not at present very clearly dealt with in the classification. As far as the schedule is concerned a steamer of over 50 nominal horse-power will have to carry a third class engineer. But at present third class engineers are employed on board such ships. If these words are retained it simply means creating a body of men called marine engine-drivers, who can present themselves to ship-owners and take positions in place of third class engineers. I feel sure that that is not the intention. The intention is to conserve the rights of those who are at present employed as third class engineers. We cannot attain that object by creating marine engine-drivers.
– A third class engineer in Victoria would be a marine engine-driver in New South Wales, and a marine engine-driver in New South Wales would be a third class engine-driver in Victoria.
– It seems that the clause requires recasting. In New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia three classes of engineers are specified. But here we have this fanciful invasion created by the draftsman of the Bill. T think it is an unfair proposition. The Minister has referred to little steamers that potter about.’ If he means little vessels of less than 50 nominal horse-power he is welcome to his description. But when it comes to assessing the value of the work of men who have been doing responsible work I think that the passing of the clause in its present form would involve an invasion of their rights. There is no reason why we should rigidly adhere to the clause, especially as it will make a double inroad upon the interests and welfare of those third class engineers who are at present engaged in other States than Victoria.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) T6.io]. - There is no doubt that the issue is complicated. There should be no difference of opinion regarding the grade of .first class engineer and the grade of second class engineer, because those grades have always existed. But some States have instituted the grade of third class engineer, which stands alone. To show how the third class engineer in South Australia has been kept back from advancement, let me quote the following note to the regulation in the Marine Board Handbook -
The possession of a third class passenger’s certificate enables the holder thereof to take charge only on a steam-ship trading on a river or lake within the Province or of .a steam-ship trading, within the limits of a port or harbor. Service in such capacity does not in any way qualify for a certificate of a higher grade.
In South Australia, a third class engineer can take any vessel under 50 nominal horse-power from Adelaide to Port Augusta.
– Can he not go into the Inter-State trade?
– Only by river. In New South Wales, a man can take a ship under 50 nominal horse-power to any point along its coast. Employer after employer of these men gave evidence before the Navigation Commission, and wrote letters to the effect that they were perfectly satisfied that these were the best men whom they could get for their ships.
– Was that because they were cheap?
– No; because they were the most suitable men for that class of vessels. The Bill institutes a grade of third engineer, and provides that a third engineer can pass to the grade of second engineer, and that a second engineer can pass to the grade of chief engineer. In’ the past a third engineer has been debarred in South Australia from doing that, no matter how high his qualification was, unless he had served four years in an engineering shop on the construction of boilers, and without touching an engine at all. If a man had served that time in 3 shoo, he was allowed to go up for examination ; but not otherwise”: Another condition was that he must -have served for twelve months - a thing which was impossible - as a watch-keeping officer in a steam-ship of over 66 nominal horse-power. That prevented a third engineer on a ship under 50 nominal horse-power in South Australia from ever becoming a watchkeeping officer in a ship of over 66 nominal horse- power. I know many men who have had charge of boilers and engines for the last twenty years, but who, although competent in every way, were debarred from becoming second engineers, and afterwards chief engineers. That is not right. If a marine engine-driver is able to pass- a practical examination, and to show that he is competent to handle the tools, and do all the work in connexion with boilers and engines, why should he be prevented from rising to the grade of chief engineer? Apparently, the Government want to assist the persons who have tried to keep back those men in the past. On a ship, we have, as a rule, three mates, but the Bill contains no provision for the issue of a third mate’s certificate. Why should a. certificate be issued for a third engineer? That is what I cannot understand, unless it is intended to provide for a third class engineer, as was done by several States, and to allow him an opportunity to qualify for the higher grades. On a large ship there is a number of engineers and mates, but the Bill only provides for the issue of certificates for first and second mates.
– The honorable senator would not allow a third mate to take charge of a ship ?
– The third mate has to keep the same watch as the chief mate, and when a third mate is being engaged by a ship he is told that he must have a second mate’s certificate. The third class engineer I have referred to in South Australia has had more responsibility thrown upon him than has the second or third engineer on a large steamer, because the latter has a- supervisor in the person of the chief engineer. During thirty years a third class engineer’s certificate has been issued in that State, but during that period there has not been one accident or one case investigated by the Marine Board in which the holder of such a “certificate has been concerned. Senator Best has said that the holders of those certificates are to be allowed to retain them as long as they like, but that they will be at liberty to change them for other certificates, lt is not likely that a man who holds a third class certificate will change it for a certificate with a lower qualification. If the qualification is reduced, it will bring down the status of these men, because competition will ensue. I ask the Minister to ascertain from the experts whether it is not advisable to drop the provision for a third class engineer, otherwise I feel certain that this provision will require a man to have the very shop qualification which has prevented third engineers from rising in the past.
– I hope that honorable senators will review the position from the Commonwealth standpoint and try to realize the difficulties which have to be solved somehow or other. If there were corresponding grades in all the States we should have no difficulty in dealing with the matter. In all the States first and second class certificates have been issued, but in some States third class cer- tificates are also issued. South Australia, for instance, issues third class certificates. In Victoria we have what are known as third class engine-drivers’ certificates.
– A most idiotic designation.
– Whether it is an idiotic designation or not it is a qualification which is esteemed hy the possessors of the certificates.
– That is not correct.
– Then in Tasmania and other States, particularly in Tasmania, we find a very numerous class who dodge about the rivers in their own small crafts and earn their living, as they have been doing for a great many years. Our desire was to institute some uniform system. What we did was, first of all, to provide in the Bill that existing certificates were to remain at their full value.
– That is, a Victorian certificate as against those of the other States.
– I do not care where the certificate was issued. Hereafter the certificate of South Australia will have its full significance. We take away no right; we merely say that any qualifications’ which are now possessed shall be retained by the holders of the certificates.
– The Government are creating a disparity which will not be just.
– That is exactly what we are not doing. We propose to issue third class certificates as they have been issued in some parts of the Commonwealth, and whatever conditions it is deemed wise to attach no doubt must have regard to existing qualifications. As regards owners of boats driven by oil engines and the small river crafts to which 1 have referred, they will be called marine engine-drivers.
– What is proposed to be done with the existing marine engine-drivers?
– My honorable friend says that their qualification is equal to that of the holder of a third class certificate. If that be so, it is distinctly provided in clause 22 that -
The holder of any such certificate may, subject to any prescribed restrictions or limitations, surrender it for a certificate of a similar or corresponding grade under this Act.
That is the process which we have adopted in order to secure some uniformity. If, as
Senator E. J. Russell says, the qualification of & marine engine-driver in Victoria is equal to that of the holder of a third class certificate in South Australia, he will only have to prove that to the authorities in order to obtain a third class certificate under this measure.
– That is presuming that the South Australian certificate wilt be equal to the certificate set forth in this Bill?
– That is the trouble.
– A qualification for the third class will have to be prescribed, but in preparing that qualification some regard must be had for the present qualification required for third class engineers’ certificates. If we struck the provision out altogether, we should have people in South Australia and in some of the other States complaining. So far from seeking to do any injustice, we are preserving all existing rights, and we say that if the qualification for any certificates at present held are equal to the qualification which will be required under this Bill, and the authorities are satisfied on tha point, those at present holding certificates will be able to secure a corresponding certificate. We hope ultimately to bring about uniformity.
– Is it intended, for instance, under this Bill, to restore their correct title to those men who have had their title denied to them in two of the States ?
– We do not propose to interfere with their title at all.
– No ; what the Government propose to do is to create marine engine-drivers who will take their jobs.
– We propose to do nothing of the kind. We do not propose to interfere with them in any shape or form.
– Is it not proposed to give a South Australian third class engineer’s certificate the same status throughout the Commonwealth ?
– No. In order to bring about uniformity, we propose to fix a qualification for a third class certificate. We say that if a man holding a South Australian third class engineer’s certificate satisfies us that his qualification is equal to that for which! we provide, we will give him a certificate* under this Bill. In the same way, on similar conditions, we shall be prepared to make an exchange with a man holding a third class certificate in Victoria. But in the meantime we do not propose to in any way interfere with the individual. He can continue his work under the certificate which he holds. Could anything be fairer?
– The honorable senator’s statement would be correct on the supposition that the Commonwealth did not adopt a higher standard than the State for certificates.
– It is impossible at this stage to say what the standard adopted will be, but it is clear that in fixing that standard regard must be had for the qualifica- tions provided for in South Australia and Victoria.
– The qualification for a third class engineer would be practically the same as that for a marine engine-driver ?
– It might be something like the qualification for a third class engineer’s certificate in South Australia and New South Wales, and for a third class engine-driver’s certificate iri Victoria.
– We can hardly deal finally with this clause without knowing what the qualification for a certificate under this Bill is to be.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I propose to ask that the work of the Committee be suspended for a few minutes in order that I may lay certain important papers on the table.
– I beg to lay on the table a cablegram, dated London, 12th October, 1908, just received by the Governor-General from the UnderSecretary of State for the Colonies, and transmitted to the Prime Minister, referring to the invitation extended to President Roosevelt to visit Australia.. It is as follows -
My telegram of 29th September, President United States of America wishes following message conveyed to your Government in reply to your telegram of 18th September, begins -
President very deeply appreciates courteous invitation thus extended to him, especially in view of more than generous hospitality which people of Australia have everywhere shown to American Fleet. It will not be possible for him after visiting Africa to visit Australia, but he most earnestly hopes that some day it will be his .good fortune to make a trip to the giant young .Commonwealth of the South Seas upon future growth and success of which so much depends for the whole civilized world.
MINISTERS’ laid upon the table the following papers -
Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1909.
The Budget 1908-9. - Papers prepared by the Honorable Sir William Lyne, K.C.M.G., foi “the information of honorable members on the occasion of opening the Budget of igo8-g.
Transcontinental Railway Survey, Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. - Report of Mr. H. Deane, M.I.C.E., on the progress of the work.
In Committee (Consideration resumed).
– We are dealing in clause 13 with a very troublesome and difficult question ; but it is for the Committee to adopt a provision which will give effect generally to what honorable senators desire ; and that is that there shall ultimately be uniformity in the matter of certificates of qualification. I have pointed out that at present there are third class engineers’ certificates issued in New South Wales and in South Australia, and third class engine-drivers’ certificates issued in Victoria. We know also that the owners of a very large number of small craft, by which they earn a decent livelihood, hold no engineer’s certificate at all. The question before the Committee is how we shall bring about uniformity without doing any injustice. I wish honorable senators to realize that the Government are most anxious that no injustice whatever shall be done to any present holder of a certificate of qualification. We provide, first of al! that for the first and second class, the certificate must be the Board of Trade certificate. Honorable senators are agreed as to that. Then we say that it is desirable to issue a third class engineer’s certificate. The qualification for that certificate must be prepared with due regard to the qualifications required for existing third class; engineers’ certificates, or certificates equal to them. In New South Wales, a certain qualification is required for what are called’ third class engineers’ certificates. In Victoria, third class engine-drivers’ certificates are issued, the qualification for which isin some respects higher than that required for a third class engineer’s certificate in New South Wales. Then there is a third class certificate issued in South Australia,, which 1 am not in a position to comparewith the others. We desire to provide for a Commonwealth third class certificate to represent, as nearly as possible, the third class certificates I have mentioned. If it is proved to the satisfaction of the authorities that the qualification required for the existing certificates is equal to that required for the Commonwealth certificate, all that will be necessary will be for those who hold those certificates to exchange them for a Commonwealth certificate. It is true that it will be necessary to prescribe certain conditions governing the exchange. I agree with Senator Millen that the matter is substantially one of administration. I have said that we are most anxious to do no injustice, and that is why the clause is submitted in its present form.
– Where is there any provision in the schedule for the employment of third class engineers?
– I regret that some of my honorable friends should confuse this clause with the schedule. The clause deals -only with the names of the certificates, and does not affect the schedule in any way. Senator Lynch has pointed out that under the schedule, it is provided that a marine engine-driver may take sole charge of a ship of 50 nominal horse-power ; but it will be time enough when we come to deal with the schedule to decide whether a ship of 50 nominal horse-power should be in the sole charge of a man holding a certificate as a marine engine-driver. We do not desire to do any injustice by making it necessary for the owners of the small craft 1 have referred to to qualify themselves as third class engineers, by providing that such craft shall be taken charge of only by persons possessing a third class engineer’s certificate. We say we shall have a class of marine engine-drivers by itself. In the next place, we have no wish to do any injustice to persons holding third class engineers’ certificates by including amongst them marine engine-drivers, because that would involve a lowering of the status of third class engineers. It is obvious that if we strike out the words “ marine enginedriver,” we shall have to make the qualification attaching to third class engineers’ certificates so low that marine engineers will be afforded a chance of obtaining them. We wish to avoid these two injustices. Hence we provide for the creation of a fourth class. I desire to impress upon honorable senators that engineering work is growing in importance year by year, and that the general tendency is to prescribe high qualifications for important positions. It is re cognised that the higher the qualification which we fix, the greater will be the possibility of its possessor being well paid. If we are going to issue third class engineers’ certificates, by all means let us avoid making the qualification attaching to them a very indifferent one. On the other hand, let the fourth class man have his separate existence, and we shall then be able to accommodate ourselves to the existing conditions.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council provide that a fourth class man may rise to the position of the third class engineer?
– Of course he will be at liberty to qualify for a third class engineer’s certificate. He will be afforded every opportunity of doing so. During the course of this debate, reference has been made to the injustice which would be inflicted if we compelled the qualification for a third class engineer’s certificate to embrace of necessity workshop experience. May I point out that there is nothing in the Bill which suggests anything of the kind.
– The Bill is rather a conundrum in that respect.
– The fixing of the qualifications attaching to these various certificates must necessarily be determined by regulation. When those regulations are laid upon the table of the Senate, if the Government provide that workshop experience shall be necessary, exception can be taken to their action. Engineers throughout the Commonwealth will doubtless have their eves closely riveted on any procedure respecting their qualifications. It is very unlikely that the regulations will prescribe workshop experience. Probably they will follow the Board of Trade custom, by providing either for workshop experience or sea service.
– The last alternative means nothing.
– They might provide that the one qualification shall apply to the present holders of certificates, and that the other shall apply to future holders.
– Exactly. I do ask honorable senators to accept my statement that our object is to avoid inflicting injustice .upon any class - to make our legislation fit existing conditions, and ultimately to bring about uniformity. I would ‘impress upon the Committee that under this Bill all existing rights are preserved to the holders of certificates.
When once the qualification has been fixed, the holder of a certificate issued in South Australia may present his certificate - assuming that it is of equal value - and obtain a Commonwealth certificate in exchange. The same remark is applicable to the third class engineers in Victoria and New South Wales.
– Does the VicePresident of the Executive Council contemplate that third class engineers in New South Wales shall hold third class engineers’ certificates for the Commonwealth?
– I contemplate that regulations will be framed having regard to the qualifications of the three States mentioned, and that an average of those qualifications will be assumed.
– Will workshop experience be required to obtain a third class engineer’s certificate?
– That is a matter to be determined by regulation. The holder of such a certificate will probably have to possess either shop experience or sea service, or, as the leader of the Opposition has suggested, the one qualification may be made applicable to the present holders of certificates, and the second qualification to future examinees. Senator E. J. Russell has pointed out that an engine-driver’s certificate issued in Victoria provides for a divisor of thirty, and reduces the power of the vessels which its holder may drive from a nominal horse-power of 100 to 85. If that he so, it is necessary that we should provide for it in the schedule.
– The schedule already provides for a divisor of twenty-five.
– Under this Bill would an engine-driver’s certificate in Victoria, which entitles him to drive a vessel of100 horse-power, be entitled to receive from the Commonwealth in exchange a certificate entitling him to drive a vessel of 115 nominal horse-power?
– That is a matter which canbe discussed upon the scale itself. At present we are dealing only with the various classes of certificates, and laying down general principles in regard to qualifications. I am sure that honorable senators do not realize the full effect of clause. 22 of the Bill, which reads -
Thus, if a State certificate is substantially equal in value its holder may exchange it for a Commonwealth certificate. Can anything be fairer than that? I think that I have dealt with every objection that has been raised.
– Is the VicePresident of the Executive Council quite sure that under the Board of Trade certificate there is room for the third certificate and for the marine engine-driver’s certificate?
– The Board of Trade issues only first and second class certificates to engineers. We maintain the qualifications attaching to those certificates in every respect ; but, for our own purposes,we propose to issue a third-class engineer’s certificate and also marine drivers’ certificates.
.- I am sure that the Government only desire to do what is fair. But we must recollect that the provisions which we have been lately discussing will affect a very large number of men throughout the various States. Their position is an extremely anomalous one, and their future is very uncertain. The importance of this question is such that it ought not to be left for decision to regulation. The position of these men should be specified in the Bill so that they may realize exactly where they stand. The Vice-President of the Executive Council is well aware that whenever attempts have been made to deal legislatively with certain classes, such as accountants and dentists, existing conditions have always been most liberally construed. The measures dealing with them have provided that to persons possessed of a certain amount of knowledge - so long as the public interests were protected - the door should be kept as widely open as possible.I ask that the same rule should be followed here. At the present time a most anomalous condition of affairs obtains. For instance, in Tasmania, what are known as fourth class engineering certificates are issued, whilst in Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australia, third class certificates are granted, which entitle their holders to work engines up to 50-horse power. In Victoria there are no third class engineers,)” but what are called engine-driver’s certificates are issued, which enable their holders to work engines double the power of those which third class engineers in the other three States are permitted to work.
– But not to cover the same distance.
– No. In the other States third class engineers’ certificates enable their holders to work round the coasts. Of course, the man who works the engine of a vessel is not responsible for the navigation of that vessel. But the certificated engine-drivers of Victoria must be possessed of a certain amount of experience upon salt water. They work upon salt water because the type of engine used is different from that used upon fresh water. They are compound or condensing engines. The certificates held by these men allow them to operate the same class of engines as the sea-going engineers are operating. So that as far as experience goes, they are entitled to the same certificates as those that are held by engineers who go to sea. The qualification demanded of them is that each must have served for two years as a fireman and one year as a leading fireman and assistant engineer, _ making three years’ service; or must have had such service as in the opinion of the Board is equal to the service first mentioned. These men are at present quite uncertain as to what their position is going to be under the Bill. The Minister has not made that position more definite than it was before. He says that the matter is to be decided entirely by regulation. It ought not to be left for regulation, but ought to be set out in the Bill. I claim that the holders of these third class engine-drivers’ certificates should be classed with third class engineers in the other States. Their work has been the same, and their class of experience is the same, except that perhaps they have not made the same length of journeys. As a matter of fact, the engines which they operate are double the power of those operated by the holders of third class engineers’ certificates in other States. They desire to be allowed, when they exchange their present certificates for Commonwealth certificates, not to have simply marine engine-drivers’ certificates, but. in lieu thereof, third class engineers’ certificates, if they can show that they have had the necessary experience.
– One would assume the possibility of engineers’ certificates being given to those having the necessary qualifications.
– The point to remember is that the work done by these men is often of a higher quality than that done by third class engineers in other States.
– They may use higher class engines, but they do not take them on journeys extending over the same area.
– The mere fact that they are not allowed to run along the coast is a matter of indifference, because they are not responsible for the navigation of the ship, but only for the management of the engines. Whether they manage those engines on coastal journeys or outside the heads, their work is the same. It is, therefore, a fair claim that they should be allowed to exchange third class enginedrivers’ certificates for third class engineers’ certificates under this Bill. The Government cannot refuse to the third class engineers of South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland, third class certificates under the Bill.
– They may.
– The position is , anomalous, and we should make it plainer. If the Government allow third class engineers’ certificates to be granted in the other three States they will be in duty bound to allow them to the engine-drivers in Victoria, many of whom have had fifteen or twenty years’ experience. I trust that the Government will later accept an amendment providing that this shall be done. It may appear to be a small . matter, but a measure of this kind has to be construed liberally.
– The men will retain the whole of their existing rights. The honorable member does not want us to give them more rights than they have at the present time.
– If the Government say to them : “ You will retain your existing rights, and will simply be marine enginedrivers,” they will be absolutely blocked from getting higher.
– Oh, no.
– Their experience will count for nothing.
– There is nothing in this Bill to say so.
– What sort of certificate would the Minister give to a thirdclass engineer in Queensland, South Australia, or New South Wales?
– There will have to be a third-class qualification, and whatever that is, having regard to the existing conditions in Australia, will be the qualification for them.
– Would the Government give the same certificate to those who hold engine-drivers’ certificates in Victoria as are given to those who hold third-class certificates in other States, provided they had had the same experience?
– The Bill says that the qualifications are to be substantially the same.
– I think the point will have to be made plainer.
– The Bill says that they will surrender their certificates for certificates of a similar or corresponding grade.
– There is an anomaly, and instead of rectifying it, and bringing about uniformity, as they profess to do, the Government are continuing it. I have stated the position “as far as I know it, and I trust that later an amendment will be proposed which will have the effect of clearing the matter up.
– I think that it would remove the obstacles that have been raised during the debate if the Vice-President of the Executive Council would say at once whether he intends the holders of marine enginedrivers’ certificates to have a lower status than the holders of the third-class engineers’ certificates. If we had a clear understanding on that point, there would not be so much room for misconception.
– I cannot say what will be the position of holders of certificates in any one State as compared with another.
– No one asked for consideration to be given to any one State that is not extended .to the whole Commonwealth.
– The certificate of a Victorian engine-driver represents a different qualification from that of a third-class certificate holder in New South Wales or South Australia.
– That is where the difficulty arises. We have the same position of affairs in Western Australia as exists in Victoria. We have what are called “ engine-drivers’ licences.” Such » licence is sufficient to allow the holder to go right out to sea on any kind of ship whether cargo or passenger. Mr. Ramage who is an engineer surveyor in the Harbor Department at Perth, gave evidence on this point. Perhaps honorable senators will be able to get a better grasp of the position from hearing what this witness, who knew more about the subject than most honorable senators can do, had to say. He said -
The marine engine-driver’s certificate of this State will allow a man to take a vessel along the coast to Bunbury or Geraldton. It is called an engine-driver’s licence.
Another witness, who is the president of the Coastal District Certificated Engine Drivers Union of Western Australia, said -
We have a couple of recommendations we, wish to bring before you. The first is that the marine engine-drivers’ certificates be deemed a certificate for a State trade ship of 50 nominal horsepower trading within 150 miles of the port of registry.
He went on to explain the very difficult examination that certificated engine-drivers had to submit themselves to; and from reading his evidence, I gather that that certificate is obtained after an examination that is really as difficult as are any of the examinations in the States where there are third class engineers. I understand that the position is practically the same in Victoria. The position of a marine enginedriver in Western Australia is equivalent to that of a third class engineer in States where certificates are granted of that nature. If we are going to continue the certificates to the third class engineers, why should it not be understood forthwith that we are going to include marine enginedrivers within the same grade?
– If they have the same qualifications they will be included.
– That is obvious from the Bill.
– I dare say that that is the intention. . But, at present, there seems to be some doubt and confusion as to the meaning of the measure.
– Does the honorable senator contend that there may be marine engine-drivers who will not be competent to take third class engineers’ certificates?
– I believe that there is a class even lower than the holders of marine engine-drivers’ certificates, but who will yet receive recognition under this Bill. The best way out of the difficulty would be for the Minister to frame a clause to make clear the position of the holders of marine engine-drivers’ certificates.
– I have frequently said that the marine engine-drivers’ certificates under this Bill will be distinctly inferior to the third class engineers’ certificates.
– I should like to have an intimation as to whether the present marine engine-drivers will receive the third-class engineers’ certificates mentioned in the Bill. Unless we know something about the examination that is to be held we shall be acting in the dark. 1 do not think that any one of us wishes to foist an unqualified man into a position in which he should not be placed. But we should proceed very cautiously, and do nothing to reduce the status of any engineer. I think that the better way to get out of the difficulty would be for the Minister to give us some idea as to the examination which would have to be passed by a man in order to qualify for a third class engineer.
– I understand that the object of the amendment is to strike out words which provide for the recognition of an engine-driver’s certificate. There is a great difference in status between an engineer and an enginedriver, and there is generally a difference in the remuneration of those two classes of men. It seems to me that whatever difficulties may arise - I can appreciate them quite well - with regard to what we may define in the future as a third class engineer, we must perpetuate a class of men who will be found necessary for the local commerce of the States, and who need not such high qualifications as are necessary for a qualified engineer. About Launceston and Hobart we have very many miles of comparatively smooth water, and a very large amount of carrying is done by small steam vessels. We do not want to saddle the management of those boats with unnecessary expenditure. I am glad that the Government intend to perpetuate that class of men, and to acknowledge in the Bill that they will be entitled to drive a certain class of engine. But the difficulty which I see with regard to those who have acquired a status is that in Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australia they hold one title, and in Victoria a totally different title. In New South Wales and Queensland these men are called third class engineers, but in Vittoria, men with the same qualifications are called engine-drivers. In South Australia there is issued a third class engineer’s certificate, but the qualifications are not stated in the publication handed to honorable senators, and from which I am quoting. While it is quite proper that we should take away no right from those per- sons, is it intended to confer a Commonwealth status on the third class engineer’s certificates of New South Wales, and leave Victoria and the other States with their engine-driver’s licences? That point has not yet been made clear to me by the Minister. I can understand his ideas with regard to the future status of third class engineers. I know that he wishes to have a certain prescribed status, which, after the existing men have died out, will be attained bv all persons holding a uniform certificate. But are we going to perpetuate a distinction in title as regards men who are doing the same work in the various States? That is what seems to me to be their grievance.
– The whole of their rights are conserved to them until -they choose to come in under the Commonwealth qualification.
– And then they will get a certificate equivalent in value to their old one.
– ls it intended to allow a third class engineer in New South Wales to go to Tasmania and do certain work there which possibly the local regulations do not allow ?
– If his present certificate permits him to do so, my answer is, yes.
– Is it possible, under a Commonwealth law, to confine such a man to the jurisdiction of New South Wales ?
– Every right which a man has in his own State at the present’ time is conserved to him by the Bill.
– That is not very clear.
– That is what the Bill says. Of course, it is not intended to give special rights to these men without further qualification.
– But we shall have two or three sets of men.
– So we have at the present moment ; but in time uniformity will be achieved. The great point to be borne in mind is that the present rights of these men are conserved.
– I know that the Minister’s intention is to do what is fair to men who have acquired a certain status, but it seemed very doubtful to me whether the Bill really did conserve their existing rights.
– It occurs to me that there would be no trouble if we were starting with a clean sheet. No one would object whether the Bill provided for four or forty grades, if it did not affect certain vested interests. For the present we may leave the question of the number of grades, and confine our attention to those who hold certificates under State laws. The Minister has affirmed that the Bill does not contemplate taking away from a single man one jot or tittle of the rights which he now enjoys. I cannot read clause 22 in any other way than as an absolute guarantee that all existing rights will be faithfully respected by the Commonwealth. But it seems to me that an effort is being made on behalf of marine enginedrivers to obtain a little more than they now hold.
– By no possible stretch of the imagination can those persons be injured by the Bill. If it should happen that a certificate is issued for a qualification higher than they possess, and they cannot therefore get a Commonwealth certificate, they will not be injured, but will remain exactly as they are to-day.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the .expression of opinion by the Senate has made their position doubly sure?
– I do not know what effect it may have. I think that it should have a very important effect. Let us see what might happen to these persons. It is proposed in the Bill to grant a certificate for a third class engineer and one for a marine engine-driver. It might happen that the qualification prescribed for a third class engineer was a little higher than that which the holder of a State marine engine-driver’s certificate could show. In that case, he could choose between taking a marine engine-driver’s certificate under this measure or retaining his present certificate : he would not be injured. On the other hand, it might happen that the more capable men would be able to claim certificates of a higher value in the open market than those which they now possess. That would be an advantage to them. The only thing I want to be abundantly clear about is that there is no bar or impediment to a man who holds an inferior certificate presenting himself, and, if he can show the necessary qualification, gradually obtaining a higher status. The Minister has said that in prescribing the qualifications for third class certificates an effort will be made to average the standing of the present State certi-ficates. I wish to draw his attention to a great danger underlying a procedure of that kind. If that course is taken, it is quite evident that the men below the Commonwealth standard will be shut out. On the other hand, the men who were above that standard will be brought down. I admit at once that it is entirely a matter of administration, and will call for a considerable amount of thought. I do not think that in the Bill we should lay down any hard-and-fast rule to meet that case. I desire now to refer to a matter which occurred to me when Senator de Largie was speaking. If we were to exclude, as proposed by Senator Lynch, a class called marine engine-drivers, what would he do with the men who are following a useful occupation, but who are not qualified enough to become engineers? Surely it is not desired to stand between any man and his means of livelihood? I would much sooner err in the other direction, with a little liberality.
– Those persons would have to qualify.
– If they are capable of qualifying for a higher position - and we know that some men are past that stage - there is no harm in giving them, in the meantime a marine engine-driver’s certificate.
– Why not deal with these men in exactly the same way as engine-drivers have been dealt with in Coal Mines Regulation Bills? Why not allow the present holders to remain marine engine-drivers, and make all new men marine engineers, as such men are known in every State except Victoria?
– The position is not exactly the same. The men with whom we are now dealing have an official status, but the men to whom my honorable friend has referred were practically without official recognition.
– They had each a status, without a certificate.
– They had a status from custom only, but the men with whom we are dealing have certificates which have a value. It should be possible for those who will administer this measure to say at once whether the third class certificate of Queensland is, or is not, up to the standard of the Commonwealth third class certificate, and similarly with regard to marine engine-drivers.
– The trouble is that the present holders of these certificates will be kept for ever where they are.
– There I differ from my honorable friend. I have .questioned the Minister distinctly on that point.
– The conditions of the examination will include workshop experience, which these men cannot obtain.
– I cannot find that provision in the Bill.
– That is the position which they take up.
– It is possible that as regards future certificates, there might be a demand for workshop experience; but in the Bill there is nothing which says that a man who is a marine engine-driver to-day shall’ not, if qualified, pass on until he becomes an engineer. If it did contain such a provision, I should be prepared to throw it under the table at once. I should be the last to say that a man, no matter how humble, should be barred from obtaining more lucrative employment. So far as I can see, every possible facility is afforded by the Bill to a man to proceed’ to the next rung on the ladder, provided that he has the necessary qualifications. 1 do not think that we can ask any more than that. I certainly cannot indorse the claim put forward by Senator McColl that, because a man has a certificate vouching for the fact that he possesses certain qualifications, and entitling him to certain privileges, therefore we are bound to give him something more. I take it that in administering the Bill, an effort will be made in every case to give a man, the benefit of any little doubt, even to the point of generosity. But if we are protecting their rights and privileges down to the last letter, it would be a serious mistake to provide that if so facto, those men should receive certificates of a higher grade- than that for which they are qualified. The Bill seems to me to hold the balance fairly true. We say to these men, “ We offer you a Commonwealth certificate in return for one of equal standard issued under State laws. If you cannot show that you possess a certificate equal to the Commonwealth certificate, we shall do nothing which will destroy your opportunities for work. We shall not interfere in any way with the rights and privileges you enjoy.” I cannot see that they have any right to ask for anything more.
– I have no doubt in my mind that the third class engineer’s certificate proposed under this Bill has nothing whatever” to do with the third class certificates at present issued throughout the Commonwealth. The Minister says that the Government desire, as far as possible, to follow the Board of Trade in this matter.
– So far as regards first and second class certificates.
– I take it that it’ is the intention that the holders of a Commonwealth third class engineer’s certificate shall be eligible for employment, on foreign-going ships. There is nothing in the schedule to show that they are to be employed in any other kind of ship. The Board of Trade lays down very strict regulations that before ai man can secure a second class engineer’s certificate, he must have had shop experience-
– Is there no alternative?
– Or must have been to sea in a ship of over 66 nominal horse-power. In the schedule to this Bill, as far as marine engine-drivers are concerned, it is proposed that they shall be confined to ships of 50 nominal horsepower.
– Does the honorable senator think that any man has passed into the second class engineers division by the alternative method mentioned ?
– One or two have done so. I believe that in Victoria there is one man who did so. He was given a position as engineer on a tug-boat, and managed to get through in that way. Every third class engineer’s certificate issued in the States to-day bears on its face an intimation that its possession does not qualify the holder to go up for examination for a higher grade. We propose to alter that by this Bill.
– No, we do not.
– We say, in subclause 4 of this clause -
No person shall obtain a first class engineer’s certificate “ unless he is the holder of a second class certificate or shall obtain a second class certificate unless he’ is the holder of a third class certificate.
– Under this measure, undoubtedly.
– If that means anything, it means that no man can get a Board of Trade certificate for second class engineer unless he is the holder of a third class certificate. That is dead against all Board of Trade regulations. I believe it was never really intended that Holders of third class engineer’s certificates under this Bill should be eligible for employment in foreign-going ships at all. I believe it was intended that they should be confined to the limited coast trade ships. If they were so confined, all the trouble would be at an end, because the men who hold third class certificates in Australia to-day would be satisfied if permitted to continue in the limited coast trade.
– That is the only trade in which they can engage now.
– Because their certificates absolutely debar them from going further. If we pass this clause as it stands, a man holding a third class certificate will be enabled to go on to the second class without the qualifications which are laid down by the Board of Trade, and if such a man secured a second class engineer’s certificate, it would not be recognised by the Board of Trade.
– We propose that the Board of Trade qualifications for first and second class engineers’ certificates shall remain intact.
– Then the Minister’s suggestion that the third class certificate provided for in this Bill is to be a substitute for the certificates issued in Australia to-day is absolutely wrong. I say that no man holding a third class engineer’s certificate in Australia to-day, unless he has had shop experience, or has been a watch-keeping officer in a vessel of over 66 nominal horse-power - a class of vessel into which he could not get under this Bill - will be able to get a second class certificate. He can pass any theoretical or practical examination he pleases, but unless he has complied with the other conditions to which I referred, the Board of Trade will not recognise his certificate.
– Why not?
– Because they will recognise only certificates complying with their own standard.
– Could we not make our second class standard correspond with that of the Board of Trade?
– So we do.
– Then a man to secure a second class certificate must have served five years ‘in a workshop, and that condition would debar all the third class engineers we have in Australia to-day.
– We cannot alter that according to the honorable senator’s own showing.
– We cannot alter it, and what I suggest is that we should confine holders of third class engineers’ certificates to the limited coast trade. We have done that in the case of mates and masters, and why not in the case of third class engineers? If that course were adopted the Board of Trade could not interfere with us at all.
– But the Board of Trade would not interfere so long as the men holding these certificates confined themselves to the Australian trade.
– That is so, but, if a man here gets a second class certificate and things are not too good in Australia, he may go to Hong Kong and try to get into a vessel there, and he will find himself shut down upon and told that his certificate is waste-paper. The third class engineer’s certificate is an innovation, and the Minister has not yet explained the necessity for its introduction into this clause.
– It is only for our own local purposes. I have said so several times.
– Then why not confine it to the local trade?
– The thing is so obvious. Nothing we can do would alter the qualification required by the Board of Trade, who in the first place do not issue third class certificates.
– That is exactly what I have been saying all the time. The contention of the Minister is that the third class certificate should cover practically the qualifications required to obtain third class certificates issued in Australia to-day. In the meantime that is all right, but byandby a man holding one of these certificates may wish to improve his position, and go from third class to second class or chief engineer. He may be in a ship going to New Zealand when he gets his certificate as chief engineer, and when he arrives in New Zealand he will find that his ticket is worthless.
– How would the honorable senator make it good?
– By confining the third class engineer to the limited coast trade.
– That would mean that the engineer referred to could not go toNew Zealand.
– But of what use is it to pretend that we give these men something which we do not give them? Under sub-clause 4 we are promising the holders of third class engineers’ certificates something which it is not in our power to give them.
– I am prepared to admit that there is not much in the latter part of sub-clause 4 - “ or shall obtain a second class certificate unless he is the holder of a third class certificate “ - because we can speak only for our own trade.
– My point is that we are here holding out toour people something which they cannot take advantage of.
– If the honorable senator attaches any importance to ‘he words of sub-clause 4, which I have just quoted, I do not, because in this matter we have not the power to legislate for anything but our coastal trade.
– Then why not confine this to the limited coast trade?
– It is so confined.
– The Navigation Commission went into this matter fully, and heard the evidence of all sections of the marine engineering profession. Not one of the witnesses advocated third class engineers for foreign-going ships. This is really a question between what are called “ mechanical engineers “ and “ shovel engineers.” The Government have taken up the position of the mechanical engineer as against the shovel engineer. The whole matter is a dispute between these two classes of engineers, and that dispute has been behind the legislation on this subject in every one of the States. There has been a continual dispute.
– What does the honorable senator wish us to do?
– I desire to confine third class engineers to the limited coast trade.
– The honorable senator says that the third class engineer cannot work outside of Australia.
– I hope that the Board of Trade will see this matter in the light in which we view it.
– If the Board of Trade should do that, would it not improve the position of our third class engineers?
– The leader ofthe Opposition has stated that if the words “ marine enginedriver “ be not retained in this clause the provision will press very harshly upon those who are at present engaged in marine engine-driving. The Vice-President of the Executive Council also declared that it would inflict hardship upon the owners of innumerable small craft which are engaged in pottering about our harbors and rivers. May I remind both of those honorable gentlemen that under existing State laws all vessels which ply for hire are required to be in charge of a certificated person. By eliminating the words to which I have referred, and fashioning this Bill upon the New South Wales model, we shall not inflict the least injury upon the owners of these small craft.
– The honorable senator is assuming that they will be ableto obtain certificates under this Bill.
– In that case, we must make the Commonwealth certificate equal in value to the lowest grade certificate issued to engine-drivers.
– The honorable senator’s argument is that if the words “ marine engine-driver “ are omitted, men who work their own vessels will be very unfairly dealt with. But I would point out to him that under existing State laws these same individuals are required to possess certificates of some kind, so long as their boats ply for hire. Consequently my amendment will not press more severely upon them than do the existing State laws. That is one point which I have cleared up.
– Oh, no.
– The point has been cleared up unless the honorable senator contends that under the existing State laws these men are harshly dealt with.
– What does the honorable senator propose to do with those who now hold these certificates?
– I would allow them to qualify under this Bill in the same way that they are eligible to qualify under the States Acts. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has declared several times that under this Bill there will be no interference with existing rights. But when he was asked whether he would insist upon a third class engineer possessing shop experience, he declined to give a straight answer. He said that that matter would bedealt with by regulation. In the absence of any definite assurance from him, I take it that under this Bill an applicant for a third class engineer’s certificate may be required to produce shop indentures.
– Does the honorable senator lay it down as a hard-and-fast rule that an applicant for a third class engineer’s certificate should or should not be required to possess shop experience?
– I am dealing with the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– Would the honorable senator exclude a man who said “ I have had four years’ shop experience, and wish to pass the examination for third class engineer”?
– No more than I would exclude the man with an equivalent period of sea service who desired to obtain a certificate.
-The regulations under the Merchant Shipping Act provide that in lieu of shop experience the applicant shall have had four years’ experience at sea as engineer of a watch.”
– The words “engineer of a watch “ render that provision worthless. I do not think that there are half-a-dozen men in the British mercantile marine who have had that experience. To rely upon a provision of that kind as a means of enabling ambitious men to graduate’ in the engineering profession is to rely upon a myth.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the Bill should recognise those men who cannot qualify as engineers, but who are nevertheless capable of driving boats of small power?
– The Bill does recognise those men, and in doing so, does not accord with my view. I believe that a man can qualify as a marine engineer without workshop experience as well as he can with it. If the words “ marine enginedriver “ be retained, we shall inflict an injustice upon the third class engineers who are recognised under State Acts.
– We can provide for them by the introduction of special words.
– I hope so. But the difficulty can be more easily overcome by omitting the words “ marine enginedriver.” So far as the marine enginedrivers of Victoria are concerned, the amendment would have the effect of placing them in a more favorable position.
– The schedule set! out that a marine engine-driver shall beat liberty to take charge of a vessel upto 50 horse-power.
– But it also says that his present rights shall be preserved. In other words, he can continue to hold his State certificate, and need not bother about this measure at all.
– If the clause be retained in its present form, a marine enginedriver can take charge of a steamer of 50 nominal horse-power. That is not the kind of craft which is to be found pottering around our bays and harbors, as was stated by. the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Perhaps some of the Manly steamers would come within that category. Thus a third class engineer in charge of one of the Manly ferry-boats would be brought into direct competition with the marine engine-drivers created under this Bill.
– Are there many Manly steamers possessing engines of only 50 nominal horse-power? Are they not driven by engines more nearly approximating 500 horse-power?
– No. If the Bill be passed in its present form, the third class engineers in three of the States will be brought into direct competition with the body of men known as “ marine enginedrivers.”
– What will become of the marine engine-drivers if the honorable senator’s amendment be carried?
– Except in Victoria there are no marine engine-drivers in the Commonwealth. Under my proposal, their rights will be preserved. The proposal of the Bill is an innovation. It is one that will not inspire third class engine-drivers with any special love for their calling. It will mean the positive disrating of them, for the simple reason that it will bring into competition with them a number of men of a lower status and qualification. Considering that they have given such satisfaction in the past, as is clearly attested in the Royal Commission’s report, I feel that it is the duty of the Committee to aid in not interfering with their status, and reducing their chance of earning their livelihood.
– The argument of my honorable friend, Senator Lynch, from beginning to end, simply touched the necessity or otherwise of reducing the 50 horse-power provision of the schedule. Of course, that will be a matter for consideration when we come to it. My honorable friend, to my surprise, referred to some of the Manly ferry-boats being under 50 horse-power. Senator Guthrie says that some of them are over 500 horse-power. Senator Guthrie is under a complete misapprehension as to third class certificates. The object of preserving the qualification for first and second class certificates is that we may have the advantage of the Board of Trade recognition. But third class certificates are merely a local creation. Nothing that we can do will cause a third class certificate to be recognised by the Board of Trade. We create that grade simply .for our own purposes. I ‘refer my honorable friend to the schedule of the Bill. He will observe, in the manning scale, that the minimum number of engineers to be carried holding first class certificates is mentioned in the first column. In the second column, the minimum* number of engineers to be carried holding second class certificates is mentioned ; and, in the third class, we have the total number of engineers to be carried in single-screw vessels. I wish to disabuse mv honorable friend of the idea that, even if we desired to do so, we have the power to make third class certificates applicable to foreign-going steamers.
– Why does the Bill mention third before second class certificates ?
– I attach no importance to that point, and if any reasonable objection can be taken when we come to it, well and good. The qualifications for the various grades of certificates are set out in the Board of Trade regulations; and it is extremely unlikely that the qualification under this Bill will be confined to shop service. If it were so, my honorable friend would be one of the first to object, and he would gain much support for his objection. What is likely to be provided foils either shop service or an alternative sea service for a period to be fixed.
.- It appears to me that the Bill does exactly what we all desire. It meets the conditions prevailing in some of the States, where there are third class engineers, whilst in other States there are men holding very much the same qualification who are called marine engine-drivers. Senator McColl would class engine-drivers with third class engineers, but I think that that is hardly right unless they have the necessary qualification. Senator Lynch, on the other hand, is so prejudiced in favour of the engineers, strictly so called, that he would absolutely shut out all the marine engine-drivers. That is not my idea of justice. My honorable friend is unconsciously suggesting something which is unjust. The Bill does justice, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council lias explained, over and over again, that the qualification for third class engineers will not be fixed without taking into consideration the present qualification of the men who are now third class engineers. The whole matter must be one of qualification and of administration ; and until we know what the qualification is to be, we are, to some extent, without the means of being precise. I should like to ask Senator Lynch whether there are men in the Commonwealth who hold their ert !ficates aas marine engine-drivers, and who are nothing more, but whom he desires to have the privilege of getting third class engineers’ certificates? The Bill conserves all their rights. My honorable friend talks about competition, and engineers’ wages being reduced; and he gave us the impression that he wanted to shut out tha men in the humbler grades. The Bill provides for both. It says ‘that the man who has a third class certificate is not to be reduced. His rights are to be conserved. What more is wanted I do not know. I come from a State where we have a large extent of still water. A man drives his little steamer out of the harbor in the morning and comes back at night. If anything goes wrong, he does not repair his engines himself, but takes his vessel to a repair shop. The Bill leaves in their . proper grade engine-drivers who are nothing but engine-drivers, and who ought not to hold the certificates of third class engineers. The men of whom Senator Lynch has been, talking have only to possess the qualification and they will get into the third engineers’ class. But we must recollect that we are dealing with property, and may be affecting the lives of passengers and crew.
Each man ought to have justice done to him ; but at the same time, each man ought to possess the’ qualification of the grade to which he wishes to belong.
– I thought the honorable senator was in favour of encouraging men to take a pride in their calling?
– What does my honorable friend mean ? Is there any’ pride in a man occupying a grade for which he is not qualified? Would Senator Lynch feel proud if he had only a qualification to be in a low class-in a school, and was put in an upper class where he would be regarded as a dunce? It appears to me that the Bill carries out what we desire. Everything, however, must turn upon what the qualification is. As Senator Best has pointed out, if the qualificationprovided for in the regulations is too severe, or is not severe enough, any honorable senator can object to it.
.- I do not see what is to be gained by leaving out the words to which Senator Lynch objects ; but we may possibly do a great deal of injustice by carrying the amendment. The Vice-President of the Executive Council points out that he intends this qualification for marine engine-drivers to apply to those who are plying small craft for hire, and who, if we make no provision for them, may be left without any certificate at all. It may not be possible to provide for all of them in the third class, and consequently they may be deprived of their living. But that does not settle the question as to the future of the third class engineers in New South Wales, Queensland; and South Australia, and the enginedrivers who hold certificates in Victoria. I think that we should not leave that point indefinite. When Senator Lynch’s amendment is disposed of, I think that we might effect an improvement by adding after the word.” ships” in sub-clause 5, the words “ as are within the limited coast trade.” The limited coast trade is defined in clause 5 as meaning -
A sea-going ship exclusively engaged in making short voyages fromand to any port in Australia within limits determined for the port by the Governor-General.
Such an amendment would make absolutely certain the future of the holders of the certificates to whom I have referred.
Question - That the words “ Marine engine-driver” proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Lynch’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
.-I move -
That after the word “ ships,” sub-clause 5. the words “ as are within the limited coasttrade “ be inserted.
If that amendment is made, sub-clause 5. will read -
The holder of a third class engineer’s certificate, or of a marine engine-driver’s certificate, shall be deemed to be duly certificated for service in such ships as are within the limited coast trade and for such voyages and in such capacities as are prescribed.
I do not propose to speak at any length, because the subject has been very well threshed out. Senator Guthrie has shown the uncertain position in which the holders of a third class certificate in three States and the holders of an engine-driver’s certificate in Victoria will be placed, if the clause is passed as it stands. Of course, it may be said that the matter can be settled by regulation, but my reply is that there are too many interests involved for it to be left in an uncertain state. If the Committee will insert these words in the sub-clause, I believe that the men will be quite satisfied, and they will all be placed on the same footing.
– I know that my honorable friend has not intentionally sprung this amendment upon me, but it is very difficult for me to see in a moment exactly its effect if carried. It is rather a serious limitation which is proposed. I think that the words “ for such voyage, and in such capacities as are prescribed,” answer all the purposes which my honorable friend seeks to achieve.
– No; that leaves the whole position uncertain.
– The amendment is too restrictive. Under clause 5 - “Limited coast-trade ship” means a sea-going ship exclusively engaged in making short voyages: from and to any port in Australia, within limits determined for the port by the Governor-General.
My honorable friend’s amendment would confine this particular class of engineer to service between Melbourne and Portland, or between Melbourne and Warrnambool. Hut it may be desired to employ some of these men in the Australian trade.
– The interpretation clause provides for all that.
– Certainly, so far as the third class engineer’s certificate is concerned, there should be no limitation to its recognition on an Australian trade ship - “ Australian-trade ship “ includes every ship (other than a limited coast-trade ship or river and bay ship) employed in trading or going between places in Australia, or between Australia and territories under the authority of the Commonwealth.
Without further consideration, 1 do not feel justified in accepting the amendment. On its face, it seems to me to impose an undue restriction, and one which we should not be asked blindly to impose.
– The Minister has just told us that the qualification for the Australian trade will be higher than the qualification which Senator McColl proposes in his amendment. It just comes back to the old argument that what the Government mean is that the third class engineer is to be an engineer employed on a ship on which two other engineers are carried, and not a third class engineer who has a ship under his care. 1 am quite satisfied now as to what the Government mean, and that is that the present holders of a third class engineer’s certificate are not to get a certificate under the Bill, and have to come down to the grade of a marine enginedriver.
– If I understand the amendment aright, it will have the effect of limiting the holders of certain certificates to the limited coast trade. If that is so, it seems to me that it is already provided for in sub-clause 5. I take it that that provision meets all Senator McColl’s requirements.
– There is too much prescription about it.
– I have heard the honorable senator say that so often that T have been looking to him to do something to get the prescription provision struck out.
– I have made a move in that direction.
– The honorable senator has not yet made a move to limit the Minister’s action under this or- any, other Bill. He knows that he is steeped up to the neck in admiration of and faith in the Minister. If Senator McColl seeks to limit the use of these certificates to certain work, I think that it is provided for in sub-clause 5. But if that is not so, I should like him to state wherein his proposal differs from that set out in the Bill. “Senator McCOLL (Victoria) [9.36].- By my amendment I am not limiting, but rather extending, the provision. It is plain from the definition what a limited coast-trade ship is. The Minister has stated time after time that these third class engineers’ certificates are only intended for the Australian trade, and’ that is what I propose to limit their use to by my amendment.
– No; it does not.
– It extends the area in which existing third class certificates can be used.
– The honorable senator has misunderstood the whole thing. His amendment confines the use of that certificate to the limited coast trade. What I contend is that we should be left at liberty to extend its use to the Australian trade.
– The concluding words of clause. 13 will amply meet that position.
– I want to be sure that men who hold these certificates in four States will not be thrown out of their employment or put in an indefinite position.
– They will not be.
– The matter should not be left to mere chance. At the present time, the holder of a third class certificate in Queensland is entitled to take a steamer to any part of its coast, and so it is in New South Wales. In South Australia these men are confined to the home-trade and to the inter-State trade by river. In Victoria they are confined to ports and harbors. But if mv amendment is carried they will be able to go from one Australian port to another, n.nd at the same time will be confined to the Australian trade, to which the Minister said it was intended to limit these men.
– No ; the honorable senator has misunderstood the whole point.
– - If I understand Senator McColl aright, his object is to extend the area in which the holders of these certificates can work. If that is his object, I submit, with all due deference to him, that he is not going to work in the right way to achieve it. What he is doing is to absolutely limitthe area, and not to extend it.
– If the honorable senator will look again at the definition of “limited coast -trade ship,” to which he drew our attention, he will see that he has rather misconstrued it.
– They can make short voyages from Melbourne to Port Darwin if they like.
– No; those voyages will be made be an Australian-trade ship.
– If Senator McColl calls a voyage from Melbourne to Port Darwin a short voyage. I should like to have his definition of a long voyage on the coast of Australia. I think the honorable senator has made a mistake in assuming that, “from and to any port” means between any ports in Australia. In framing the regulations, the Government will probably confine coast-trade ships to short voyages between ports fairly close together. I am sure that Senator McColl does not wish to limit the holders of these certificates to ships engaged in that trade.
– I wish to continue to them the advantages which they have at present. Personally, I should be prepared to extend their opportunities to the Australian trade.
Question - That the words proposed to inserted, be inserted (Senator McColl’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move-
That after the word “ prescribed,” sub-clause 5, the following words be added : - “ Provided that in all examinations for engineers’ certificates under this Act indentures of service at any; particular trade shall not be required.”
I am aware that this amendment raises an issue which has already been discussed. My object is to insure that in all examinations to be held in future for the granting of marine engineers’ certificates, the examining Boards shall not be entitled to demand any indentures from candidates. We have in these matters slavishly followed the Merchant Shipping Act and the Board of Trade regulations, under which it is necessary for a man to serve a certain length of time in a shop, and get his indentures before he can present himself for examination for an engineer’s certificate. It is about time we got out of this groove and. gave some chance to men who have served lengthy terms at sea in charge of enginesof high capacity, to secure engineers’ certificates without being required to have shop experience. There is a belief amongst some of the castes in India, that if a man is the son of a shoemaker, he should be content to make shoes all his life, and if he is the son of a weaver, he should be content to continue weaving. Under the Acts at present in operation in all the States, an absolute barricade is set up which prevents any ambitious Australian youth from advancing any further than the third class grade of engineer. There are second, first, and extra chief grades to be reached but a person holding a third class certificate is absolutely debarred under existing legislation from reaching any higher rung of the ladder. My amendment, if agreed to, would remove an obstacle which has been so long placed in the way of bright youths who are earning their livelihood at sea, and who might, if given the opportunity, secure a second or a first grade certificate on any vessel afloat. I do not see why we should confine ourselves to the practice of the United Kingdom in this matter, when, if we look further afield, we shall find that in a country like the United
States of America there is no statutory provision requiring that an applicant for an engineer’s certificate shall have shop experience. Under the laws of that country, a man may go to sea as a fireman, and, if he industriously applies himself to study, there is nothing to prevent him mounting to the top of the ladder in his profession and” becoming a chief engineer.
– But suppose that, when his vessel was at sea, an accident happened to the machinery, and he had no knowledge of tools?
– He has to pass a practical examination.
– We had a very good example of the benefit of my proposal in this port only recently. The Ajax, a fairly large steamer, which honorable senators will remember was attending upon the American Fleet, when here had as third engineer a man who comparatively recently was employed on the Australian coast as a Fireman. Is it right that by slavishly following Board of Trade precedents we should continue to enact provisions which will place so many obstacles in the way of Australian youths who desire to advance in the marine engineering profession? I admit that the amendment I have moved is one of a radical character, but I know that many bright Australians will be prevented from securing a first or second class engineer’s certificate if shop experience is insisted upon as one of the necessary qualifications. I have been asked to consider what would happen in the case of a breakdown of the machinery at sea? That is a bogy which is frequently raised in discussing this matter. Honorable senators must not forget that marine engineering has so far advanced in these times that in almost every ship going to sea duplicate parts of the more important portions of the machinery are carried. It does not require a great deal of technical skill on the part of the engineers to put these parts info position and set the engines going again after a break-down. Let me say, also, that breakdowns may occur which engineers fresh from the engineering shops could not remedy. For instance, when a ship breaks her tailshaft, or one set of eccentric rods, the best engineer in the world can only attempt to get her engines under way by the best means in his power. Honorable senators will recollect that when the Monowai broke her shaft, she could not be brought into port unaided. The work was beyond the capa- city of any engineer. American experience conclusively proves that young men in that country who are filled with ambition are able to reach the top of the tree, whereas, under our laws, they are debarred from so doing. I submit the amendment in the belief that we should no longer lag behind America in that respect.
– I shall be very glad if we can at once dispose of this amendment. I must confess that my honorable friend has proceeded upon an entirely wrong assumption. There is nothing in the Bill to warrant his doleful forebodings. As a matter of fact, I have already intimated upon more than one occasion that there is not the remotest intention on the part of the Department to insist upon indentures of shop service. On the contrary, I have told the Committee that the probability is that the precedent established by the Board of Trade will be followed, and that the substitute of sea service will be provided.
– That is valueless.
– My honorable friend should recollect that the regulations framed under this Bill will have to be approved by Parliament. Why should it be suggested that the possession of shop experience should be regarded as a disqualification?
– I do not suggest that.
– The honorable senator’s amendment reads -
Provided that in all examinations for engineers’ certificates under this Act indentures of service at any particular trade shall not be required.
If a man has had the benefit of shop experience, surely that is an important factor, which should count for something?
– Under my proposal, there is nothing to prevent him from handing in his indentures.
– But the honorable senator affirms that they should be. regarded as of no value. I appeal to him to allow the clause to pass in its present form. It would be idle to insert a hard-and-fast provision such as he proposes. The regulations framed under the Act must have regard to Australian conditions, and if they arc not sufficiently practicable, Parliament will have thepower to take exception to them.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 October 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19081014_senate_3_47/>.