4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Ministerrepresenting the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The- answer to the questions is-1- 1 and2. As indicated in reply to the honorable senator on the21st instant, the question of illegitimacy does not arise directly ox indirectly when taking a census.
The use of the term “ illegitimate’” in connexion with vital statistics has been under consideration of my colleague the Minister for Home Affairs, who has decided to substitute the words “nuptial” and “ex-nuptial” for “legitimate “ and “ illegitimate “ respectively, and the question of legitimacy, whether by birth or ‘subsequent marriage of parents, is thus avoided.
SenatorST. LEDGER. - Arising out’ of the answer, I desire to know whether the terms “ nuptial “ and “ ex-nuptial “ will apply to the parents or to the children or to both?
– I must ask the honorable senator to give notice, of the question.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In reference to a statement appearing in the press that the Government does not intend to make the bounty on sugar equal to the Excise, is such statement correct?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Has the Government given any further consideration to the urgent necessity of taking steps to bring about uniformity of gauge in the railway systems of the various’ States ?
– The answers- to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– - I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
As honorable senators are aware, a Bill has been passed through both Houses this session, providing for a Commonwealth note issue, and no further argument will affect it, one way or another. As regards the paper issued by private banks, every one must recognise that it would never do to have two currencies in the Commonwealth, and therefore it has been found necessary to take one of two courses of action. It might be said that we could legislate to prevent the issue of State notes, and do exactly the same with regard to the notes of private institutions, but the Government have not thought it desirable to take that step. The only remaining method of putting the Commonwealth note issue on a sound foundation is to tax the note issues of private institutions. That course was followed in Queensland, where exists a system of currency similar to that which has been adopted by the Commonwealth. The Government propose to tax the issue of notes by banking institutions, and this Bill is introduced for that purpose. As we had a full discussion on the Australian Notes Bill, I hope that honorable senators will discuss this very short measure as briefly as possible. It contains only seven clauses. Clause 2 provides that the Act, like the Australian Notes Act, shall be brought into operation by proclamation. That will be issued in due time by the Commonwealth Government, and full notice will be given to everybody concerned. Clause 3 contains the definitions of “ Bank,” “ Bank note,” and “ Year.” The last term is denned to mean the calendar year, that is, from the tst January to the 31st December. Clause 4 imposes a tax of 10 per cent, on the issue of all bank notes after the commencement of the Act. Clause 5 deals with the assessment of the tax, and clause 6 with ‘the time for payment. It would be unfair to make the payment of the tax start with the commencement of a calendar year, and therefore the calendar year-has been adopted for the purpose of assessment, and the financial year of the Commonwealth, for the purpose of payment. The banks- will have from the 1st January, to the 30th June in which to pay the tax ; and, of course, like all other taxes, it must be paid to the King. These are, shortly, the provisions of the Bill, which is very complete in itself. Some persons may say that its action or operation will be very drastic, but I can assure honorable senators that it is absolutely necessary for carrying out the intentions of this Parliament with respect to the issue of Commonwealth notes. I hope that honorable senators will give the measure fair consideration, and come to a conclusion upon it as soon as possible.
– It is not often that I have the pleasure - and it is a pleasure - of being able to meet the wish of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. But, on the present occasion, I can heartily indorse, his appeal for brevity in the discussion of this Bill. I can assure him that my remarks will be reduced to the smallest possible compass; and I believe that the debate generally will be as brief as he can wish it to be. This Bill must be accepted as complementary to the Australian Notes Bill which we have already passed. When that measure was under consideration, it was obvious to everybody that it would have to be followed by legislation of this character. I merely wish to draw attention to one matter, in the hope that it will arrest the attention of those who have such a touching faith in the efficacy of Government action. It must be evident, even to those who are so constantly telling us that the people have greater confidence in the Government than they have in any private enterprise, that this Bill is an admission that the success of the Commonwealth note issue would be jeopardized if a prohibition were not imposed upon the note issues of private banks. There is no other meaning which can be attached to the measure. If it were necessary for me to use any other words to emphasize that position, they have been supplied by the VicePresident of the Executive Council himself, who said that this Bill provided the only means of placing the Commonwealth note issue upon a sound basis. What a pitiful, admission ! He frankly confesses that the great Commonwealth of Australia cannot hope to successfully compete with private institutions, and that it is necessary to bring down this Bill to prevent them coming into competition with the Government. With a fair field and no favour, he declares that the note issues of private banking institutions would stand a remarkably good chance of beating the Commonwealth note issue.
– Their note issues are already established, whereas the Commonwealth note issue is not.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council says that, as private enterprise is already in the field, it enjoys an advantage over the Commonwealth. But this Bill, I repeat, is an admission that if the Commonwealth note issue and the note issues of private banks were placed upon “ scratch “ - to use a sporting phrase - the latter would have a good chance of beating the former. In other words, the Commonwealth, with all its resources - resources greater than those of private institutions - is afraid to face the competition of those institutions.
– It might not get a straight run.
– If a remark of that kind can pacify the honorable senator’s mind, it will not pacify mine. The Government, realizing, as they must do, that if the public were given an option of taking either the notes of private banks cr those of the Commonwealth, they would not show such a decided preference for the latter as supporters of the Australian Notes Bill led us to believe. When that measure was under consideration, I pointed out that the Government could not hope to succeed in its note issue without the aid of the banks. They are now compelling the banks to render that aid, because, under this measure, they are practically prohibiting the banks from issuing their own notes. We must recognise that a 10 per cent, tax upon the notes issued by private banks amounts to prohibition in its most direct form. I am inclined to think that no bank will face a 10 per cent, charge upon paper money under any circumstances. The Government, fearing that it could not face the competition of private enterprise, has brought forward this Bill for the purpose of blocking private enterprise by a 10 per cent, tax upon its note issues. Thus we see that the Commonwealth note issue cannot hope to succeed except by the cooperation and assistance of the much-maligned and much-hated private banks. Those who advocated the issue of Commonwealth notes must have known all along that if we issued public paper money we should be called upon practically to prohibit the issue of private paper money. But the Bill being the necessary complement of the Australian Notes Bill, will, I think, pass through this Chamber without opposition. At the same time, I am perfectly justified in pointing out the position in which supporters of the latter measure now find themselves.
– I listened with considerable amusement to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. He seemed surprised that the Government should have taken any steps to prevent the competition of private banking companies with the Commonwealth note issue. He does not appear to realize the purpose of the Bill of which the measure is the sequel. Its purpose was that the Commonwealth should take charge of the currency of the country, and that it should become responsible for that currency. There cannot be any competition in a matter of that kind. We cannot have two currencies running side by side - a private currency and a public currency. If the Government take charge of the currency and become responsible for the money issue, irrespective of whether it be paper, gold, or silver, that responsibility cannot be divided. It must belong to the Commonwealth solely. So that the taunt of the Leader of the Opposition that the Government are afraid of entering* into competition with the banks is so much wind. There is nothing in it. There cannot be any competition, and there ought not to be. I have no doubt that when the average Australian realizes that a Commonwealth note has the whole credit of the Commonwealth behind it, he will have no hesitation in accepting it. Whatever the stability of private banking companies may be - and I believe they are all in a fairly stable position at the present moment; - surely the credit of the Commonwealth is very much superior to their credit. I shall support the motion for the second reading of the Bill, and I would not have risen but for the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition. The Commonwealth has taken over the currency of the country, and must be responsible for it. Therefore, it cannot permit any other currency to run side by side with it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without request; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 23rd September (vide page 3676), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– We have before us a Bill that has been under consideration, in one stage or another, since 1904, when it was first introduced by ex-Senator Drake. The measure is extremely technical, and it is very difficult for a layman really to grip the details of it, although the main principles may easily be understood. Unfortunately, we have not very many in the Senate who are accustomed to the various intricacies of navigation, and who can supply us with much information. The Bill also is one of enormous importance. Few measures that could be submitted to Parliament could be more important than this is. We have to legislate for an island continent with some 8,000 miles of coastline. The great highway for this land will always be the sea. The sea is the road that -must bring us the large population that we so much require. Over the iea are brought the goods that are necessary for the consumption of our people, and the sea is the only way by which we can send away the products of our lands and our mines with which the development of this great country is associated, and on which its prosperity depends. We ought to endeavour to encourage shipping to come to this country, because if we have more shipping we shall have more trade, and that will be the means of bringing about greater competition for our products, and securing better prices for our producers. Thus we shall be able to do more for the development of the country than would be the case if the shipping visiting our ports were less numerous. We cannot possibly isolate ourselves from the rest of the world, and any measure that would unduly restrict competition in shipping and restrict communication with other countries is not desirable in our present circumstances. The trade of Australia is by no means insignificant even now. Our imports, according to the latest returns, amounted t? £49,799,273, and the exports of Australian produce totalled £63,118,903, whilst our exports of foreign goods - that is, re-exports - totalled £2,192,155. Our total imports amounted to £65,311,058. That is a very large trade for a young country such as this. With whom are Ave doing that trade? Our largest customer, apart from the British Empire, is Germany, to which we send over ,£9,000,000 worth of goods per annum. France comes next with over £5,000,000 ; Belgium, over £4,000,000 ; United States, over £3,000,000 ; Japan, £1,250,000; the Netherlands, £750,000; the Philippines, over £500,000 ;- Egypt, nearly £500,000; Chili, £500,000; Italy, £332,000; China, £263,000; Java, £230,000; Peru, £94,000; the Argentine, £64,000. So that we are already doing business to a considerable extent with the principal countries of the world. Our total exports to those countries amounted to £26,043,000. Then we send to British Possessions, outside Great Britain herself, about £10,000,000 worth of goods, and to the United Kingdom, which is our best customer, we send ^£29,000,000 a year. In framing this Bill w*e have to study the Old Land very considerably, because Great Britain is not only our best customer, taking the largest proportion of our goods, but by means of her fleet, of which the British taxpayer has to bear almost the whole burden, she affords protection to our oversea trade. Inasmuch as we can only come to and go from Australia oversea, our navigation laws are necessarily of first-class importance to” us, and should have the utmost consideration that can be given to them. Apart from the requirements of our foreign trade, we wish to establish a mercantile marine of our own. We cannot always depend on Great Britain or foreign nations and therefore we have to shape our navigation legislation in such a way as to induce marine enterprise in Australia ; to safeguard the interests of those who invest their capital in the business, and to make the mercantile marine service attractive to those who may be induced to go to sea for a living. We wish to improve the standard of living “on board ships, and to provide both passengers and crew with good conditions. All these considerations make the question a somewhat perplexing and difficult one. We have to consider, first of all, the needs of our producers who are building up this great country ; then the requirements of the men who will work the ships in various capacities; and then the interests of the owners who find the capital to purchase or build the vessels. There is another phase of the question which is of great importance, and requires to be carefully considered. We are not an independent nation. We cannot pass whatever navigation laws we choose. We are bound by Imperial interests, tics, and treaties, which we cannot override even if we wished to do so. We have freedom within certain limits, but, in passing a navigation law, we must consider the relations of Great Britain with foreign countries. We do not know what the ramifications of those relations may be, or what they may involve on her part or on the part of her outlying Dominions. We must, in view, of all these circumstances, pass a just and equitable law, but I fear we shall find it a difficult matter. The shipping trade of Australia has grown very considerably during the last twenty or thirty years. In 1880 the number of ships coming to Australia was 3,078, with a tonnage of 2,177,877 tons; in 1890 the number had risen to 3,363, with a tonnage of 4,150,027 tons; in 1900, the number of ships was 3,719, representing 5,899,173 tons; in 1908, the year before last, the number of ships did not increase in the same ratio as the tonnage. The number coming to Australia in that year was 4,051, with a tonnage of 8,581,151 tons. So that, in twenty-eight years, we have quadrupled the tonnage of shipping coming to this country. Our Inter-State trade has also grown very largely. In 1908 the number of ships entered inwards was 4,706, representing 5,961,617 tons, and the number cleared was 4,654, representing 5,916,339; a total entered inwards and cleared, of 9,360, with a tonnage of 11,877,956 tons. These figures show that our shipping trade is growing, and will, no doubt, be very much larger in the future. As regards shipping, our position amongst the nations is thirteenth. We are very low down on the list for so great a country. We are next on the list to Norway, and only a little above Cape Colony, Natal, and New Zealand. Speaking entirely as a layman, it seems to me that, if we want our shipping to grow, we should endeavour to free our ports of unduly heavy charges, and give shippers and shipping the best treatment we can. We should do what is possible to accelerate the clearance of vessels from our different ports. This should apply, not merely to our own, but also to’ shipping visiting Australia from other countries. In the shipping trade time is money. Nearly all ships in these days, and especially the larger ships, are run on time, and keep wonderfully quick time. They keep almost the time of an express train, and undue delays hamper them very considerably, and greatly increase the cost of running them. The increased expense has, of course, in the end, to be borne by the public. By expediting the clearing of ships using our ports, we should enable the owners to save wages, food, and fuel, and a vast amount of expense. Our law on the subject of navigation should be simple and easily understood, both by our own people and the people of foreign nations. These various considerations emphasize the need of a Commonwealth Navigation Act. At present, our navigation legislation is somewhat mixed. We are working under the Imperial Act, which, with some amendments, was consolidated in 1894, and under State Acts, which differ considerably with respect to form and conditions. Power to make navigation laws is given this Parliament under section 98 of Part IV. of the Constitution, which extends the provision in paragraph 1 of section 51, relating to trade and commerce with other countries and among the States, to navigation and shipping. The importance of this subject was realized early in the history of Federation by the late Right Honorable C. C. Kingston. He was in charge of the Department of Trade and Customs, and he and Dr. Wollaston drafted the first Navigation Bill . presented to the Senate. I take it that any measure which Mr. Kingston drafted would be generally acceptable, especially to the Liberal electors of the Commonwealth. The first Navigation Bill was introduced in March, 1904, and discharged from the paper in the following month. It was felt that more information was needed, and a Royal Commission sat and reported on the question. The report of the Commission was not a unanimous one. There was a division of opinion amongst the Commissioners, and a still further inquiry was made into the matter at the London Navigation Conference, held in 1907. Following on the discussion at that Conference, and in the light thrown on the subject by the interchange of ideas between statesmen representing the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and New Zealand, the measure was redrafted, and submitted again to the Senate by Senator Best, as Vice-President of the Executive Council, in September, 1907, but was proceeded with no further that year. In 1908, it was again submitted, and taken in Committee as far as clause 18, when Parliament was prorogued in December of that year. Since then, with the exception of one or two casual references, we heard nothing of the measure until the Bill now before the Senate was submitted by the Minister of Defence, Senator Pearce, on 31st August last. That is the history of the measure up to the present. The speech in which Senator Pearce introduced this Bill was not a very illuminating one. The honorable senator did not go much into detail. He appeared to rest content with the speeches which had already been made on the subject, ignoring the fact that they were made so long ago that they had passed from the minds of honorable senators, and ignoring also the fact that we have a number of new senators, who, probably, have not read the speeches previously delivered on the subject, and know very little about the measure. This Bill differs very materially from that introduced in 1908, and I think it would have been as well- if we had . had from the Minister of Defence a frank statement of the changes made from the provisions of the last Bill of the kind considered by the Senate. Many of them are very drastic, and others far-reaching. The Minister has circulated two documents which are very complete, and explain matters fully to those who have time at their disposal to examine them -carefully ; but certainly they require a great deal of study. I must confess that I have not had the opportunity to look into them as thoroughly as I should have liked to do. I have tried to gather the gist of what the changes mean. Prior to Federation, it was difficult to get correct shipping statistics; but since the establishment of the Commonwealth Statistical Bureau the statistics of Australia are collected as a unit, and are fairly reliable. The Bill is largely drawn on the basis of the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act and the New South Wales and New Zealand Acts. The first Navigation Bill which was brought before the Senate contained an immense number of merely formal clauses. Many of them have not been altered for this Bill, and may be taken as read ; but still a number of important changes have been made, to which I desire to call attention as well as I can. I suppose that the discussion will range round from . forty to fifty clauses. The marginal notes are very deceptive.
– Yes ; but what does the foot-note at the beginning of the Bill tell the honorable senator? It points out that the references in the margin to Statutes are for the purposes of comparison only.
– I am aware that the marginal notes are not part of the Bill.
– And there is no intention to deceive.
– Perhaps not; but the marginal notes do deceive, because, when you are told in a note that a clause is taken from the New South Wales or the New Zealand Act, or the Merchant Shipping Act, you naturally conclude that it is practically a copy. But, if you do, you will be very far out indeed. It requires a strong effort of imagination in some cases to connect the clause with the Act cited. The marginal notes might have been left out of the Bill for any light or leading which they furnish. The Bill has been amended very largely in one direction. I am sorry that the Minister is not in his place this afternoon, as I should have liked to address some remarks to him.
– He will get a copy of the honorable senator’s speech.
– I trust that the changes from the previous measure, farreaching and drastic as they are, will be justified in Committee. In discussing a measure of this kind, we should keep in mind certain important principles. First, for the development of Australia, we should encourage trade with other lands. Secondly, we should encourage the establishment of a mercantile marine, and to do that we must make seafaring attractive to seamen and travellers. And, thirdly, we should never forget that we are part and parcel of the British Empire, and must conform to international agreements and treaties. How far this measure will involve us it is very difficult to estimate.
– And when the interests conflict with each other, what are we to do?
– When it is a question of international relations, we must, of course, bow to the Mother Country. There are, no doubt, very many treaties which give concessions to nations in the matter of shipping, and which, perhaps, were framed long before it was thought that a mercantile marine would grow up in Australia. I do not know how this measure may bind us. We have to be very careful lest we embroil the Old Land in trouble; and we must always remember that if we legislate, perhaps harshly, as to foreign nations, it is quite within their » power to retaliate upon us. How far does this Bill conform to those principles, and where is it leading us? I am surprised that we have had no communications from the parties mainly interested in such an important measure. We have had nothing whatever from the ship-owners nor from the seamen.
– Did they not put their views before the Royal Commission?
– It is a sinister silence.
– Yes ; it seems to me that an agreement has been come to between those two parties to allow the measure to go through without very much criticism ; but we have to look beyond them. We are here to represent the great public who find the money which keeps the ships going. And, while the measure may be very satisfactory indeed to the ship-owners and the seamen, it may not, in its entirety, be satisfactory to the general public. Certainly, there has been no illumination from the Government side by which attention could be called to the salient points of the measure. The public will not notice the changes that it introduces. They will probably be the last to be consulted, but they will be the first to find out the effect of the changes, and, perhaps, to pay for them later. There .are about seventy alterations from the Bill of 1908. I propose to illustrate a few of them, as 1 do not wish to occupy a great deal of time. Clause 2, for instance, provides that the Act is not to apply to ships belonging to the King’s Navy, or the Navy of the Commonwealth, or of any British Possession, or to any foreign ship-of-war. The corresponding clause in the last Bill applies the Act to ali public ships. Perhaps there may be a distinction without a difference. Perhaps these may be only public ships; but the clause in this Bill seems to make a very great change. I do not know how far it will be restrictive to the shipping of British or foreign countries. There is another important change.. The previous measure did not apply to small ships on our inland lakes and rivers ; but they are brought under this measure in all its restrictive and arbitrary exclusiveness, and no power is given to exempt them by proclamation. That is an important point. It will be very difficult to apply to the little boats running on the Darling, the Murray, and other rivers and inland lakes, the provisions which can be applied to ships engaged in the oversea or coasting trade. As Mr. Kingston and those who drafted the previous measure did not deem it necessary to include the inland shipping, I donot know why it should be brought under this Bill. In clause 5 we find the words. “ foreign ships “ and “ foreign-going ships,” and I am not quite sure as. to whether the terms have the same meaning. With regard to the definition of desertion, a very great change has been made. It seems to me that it will be extremely difficult to convict, any man of deserting a ship. The definition reads - “ Desertion “ means the absence of a seaman or apprentice from his ship without lawful “cause or excuse, with the intention of not returning thereto.
The provision in the last measure was very much more drastic. It contained these words - without lawful cause or excuse for a period of forty-eight hours dr any unlawful departure from his ship with the intention of not returning thereto.
Under the present measure any man can make an excuse.
– It must be a lawful excuse, though.
– I am only pointing out the trend of the definition. In my opinion, it will be very difficult indeed to convict any man of desertion. Indeed, it will, have to be a very glaring case before a conviction can be secured. Clause n of the Bill of 1908 does not find a place in this measure. That will, I think, compel all business to be done in one place. What are the underlying motives for this, [ fail to understand, or the reason why the provision has been omitted. Perhaps we shall get an explanation in Committee. I am glad to see that clause 12 of this Bill does justice to some persons who were left out of the previous measure. I refer to a number of men who were employed on steamers in out bays, but who were debarred from working up to higher rank. I am glad to see that clause 12 will give them a chance of pushing their way into better positions. Clause 25 appears to toe of a very restrictive character. It relates to the supplying of seamen, and provides that division 4 of the Bill shall apply to all ships, British and foreign. That seems to conflict with clause 2, which says that the Act shall not apply to all ships, both British and foreign navies being excluded from its operation. I fail to see how what is proposed can be done. Then I notice that the persons who can engage men have been limited. Formerly certain persons were named in the measure and included any one who was bona fide a servant in the constant and exclusive service of the owner. This latter provision has been left out, and no person other than a superintendent, or the owner, master, mate, or engineer of a ship is to be permitted to engage or supply a seaman or apprentice. That seems to be a rather restrictive change, and I shall be glad if it is explained in Committee. The Bill contains two new clauses in relation to seaman inspectors. I do not know exactly what they mean, but they do not seem to me to contain any harm. Perhaps they may be very good, and, no doubt, we shall get an explanation from the Minister or Senator Guthrie as to what they mean. Clause 43 contains an entirely new provision of an extremely restrictive character, and one has not to tax his imagination very far to see where it came from. It provides that the crew of a foreign-going ship, whether British or foreign, shall not be employed in handling cargo in connexion with the loading or unloading of the ship ; and the penalty provided is £100. That is a very harsh and drastic provision. We do not know what may depend on the cargo being unloaded. But not only does this relate to foreign-going ships, whether British or foreign, but the regulations may forbid the employment, except as prescribed, of members of the crews of Australian-trade ships in handling cargo in connexion with the loading or unloading of ships. That seems to be playing simply into the hands of trade unions. When we remember that one of our honorable friends is the mouthpiece of the seamen, and that another - a member of the Government - is secretary to the Waterside Workers’ Union, we can understand that they have made the measure to their mind. I do not think that we shall be able to alter it. I believe that it will pass without alteration j but it is our duty to point out these matters, and let the public know what it really contains. Clause 49 does not contain two very important sub-clauses which appeared in the corresponding clause of the Bill of 1908. I do not propose to dwell upon this matter at length, because we shall be better able to discuss it in Committee. I find, too,- that throughout the Bill the penalties for various offences have been increased. Clause 52, for example, provides that the master of every foreign-going ship shall, within forty-eight hours after his arrival in any port, deliver the agreement with his crew to the superintendent. Under the old Bill the penalty provided for failure to do so was £5, but under this measure it has been increased to £50. I should like to know why. Another very important feature of the Bill has reference to the question of discipline, and in this connexion some very drastic amendments have been made. Provision for certain offences has been entirely omitted, and the penalties provided for others have been reduced. Tt seems to me that that is a dangerous course to adopt. Of course, if seamen respect the law, it does not matter whether heavy penal- ties are provided or not. But there is no place where they require to be kept more under control than they do on board ship.
– And they ought to be shown no mercy.
– 1 am glad that the honorable senator agrees with me as to proper control being exercised.
– He does not.
– 1 accept his own words as they were uttered.
– He means that the honorable senator would show the seamen no mercy.
– I object to words being put into my mouth which I did not utter. I recognise that Senator Guthrie is here as a class man - that he represents a particular section - and as the representative of aR sections of the community it is my duty to point out these defects in the Bill.
– The seamen have very little to expect from the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator has no right to say that.
– Then the honorable senator ought not to. say that Sen’ator Guthrie is a class man.
– I am quite at liberty to express my opinion.
– The honorable senator has no more right to say that I am a class man than I have to say that he is a class man.
– I repeat that some of the penalties for which provision is made in the Bill have been reduced very considerably, and I very much fear that their reduction will make for want of discipline and laxity of conduct, which will not augur well for the future of our shipping interests. For instance, I find that if a seaman assaults an officer he is liable to three months imprisonment, but if an officer assaults a seaman he is liable to six months’ imprisonment. What justification is there for this difference?
– The officer ought to know better.
– I wish to do what is absolutely fair between man and man, but it does seem to me that a provision such as the one to which I have directed attention rnakes fish of one and flesh of another. In clause 107 a very radical change has been made from the terms of the old Bill. Under that measure, if a seaman deserted, it was within the province of the superintendent to prosecute him. But under this clause the superintendent cannot prosecute him unless proceedings are instituted before the departure of the ship. Now, it is quite possible that proceedings cannot be so instituted, and thus a seaman may go scot free. Clause in provides that a foreign-going seaman who is imprisoned for any term may be returned, with his consent, to his ship at any time within twenty-four hours of the sailing of the vessel. That is an entirely new interpolation in the Bill. 1 maintain that either he should be returned to his ship or he should not. But under this clause a seaman cannot be sent back to his ship unless with his own consent. Thus he is practically given the whip-hand over the captain of the vessel. Under the old Bill, if a seaman were imprisoned, it was left to the discretion of the Court to say whether or not his wages should be forfeited, whereas, under this Bill, his wages must be paid to him. The penalty for failure to carry medicine has been increased very much, but I do not take exception to that. A great change has also been effected in regard to the accommodation provided for seamen. So far as increased accommodation can be granted to them with justice, I have no complaint to urge. I do not object to any provisions in the Bill which will make for better conditions of living, and better remuneration - in short, which will cause seafaring life to become more attractive than it has been hitherto. But I suppose that 70 per cent, of the vessels engaged in our coastal trade cannot comply with the conditions of this Bill in regard to the accommodation of seamen. Under the old measure, such vessels were exempt conditionally that the necessary alterations were made in the matter of accommodation so far as their carrying capacity permitted. But all vessels will be subject to the provisions of this Bill in respect of accommodation, except those which may be exempted by the Minister of Trade and Customs. That is too great a power to place in the.hands of any Minister. In my opinion, this matter should be left to a board of experts. It is not fair to compel ships to be laid up because their structural conditions are such that the required changes cannot be made. In clause 169 it is sought to impose unfair conditions upon foreign-going ships. The old Bill provided that when a foreigngoing ship arrived at any principal port, its master should deliver to the superintendent, within forty eight, hours, the agreement with the crew, whereas, under this measure, he is required to deliver that agreement forthwith. Clause 180 draws a distinction between Australian and foreign seamen. There may be good cause for this. I am not prepared to say whether there is or is not. But it seems to me that, in that provision, we are again making fish of one and flesh of another. If a foreign seaman can be compelled to return to his ship; I do not know why an Australian seaman should not be similarly compelled to carry out his contract with the master of any vessel. Clause 190 appears to be a good one, but it is entirely new. I regret that we have not some experts in the Senate who could throw more light upon this matter-
– What is wrong with Senator Guthrie?
– Unfortunately, we have to take what that honorable senator tells us with a grain of salt. It seems to me that the Bill will produce one commendable result, in that it will improve the conditions of seamen. No dissentient voice will be raised in that connexion. The clauses of the Bill relating to the supply of food and accommodation, and also to the payment of wages, will not receive opposition. But the effect of the Bill will be to make our trade with foreign ships, and even with British ships, very much more difficult than it is at the present time. It seems to me, too, that it will increase the expenditure of all ships. That, however, will not trouble the ship-owners, because they will pass the charge on to somebody else. It will simply mean that we shall have higher passenger fares and higher freights. These will react on the producers of the country.
– Is there not a great probability that the increased charge will’ be passed on to the consumer?
– No; the producer cannot do that, although the middleman can. The Bill will make Australian ports more expensive for, and therefore more unpopular with,’ ocean-going vessels. It will increase freights and passenger fares, and thus restrict trade.
– Cannot the honorable senator drag in a reference to the widows and orphans in regard to the threatened calamity?
– That is the sort of logic with which we are usually met. The Bill will, undoubtedly, have the effect of placing the shipping of Australia under the domination of trade unions. I think it is intended to do that. It will tend to the relaxation of discipline, to the lowering of penalties, and, consequently, to the increase of offences. I believe that it will prejudicially affect our export trade, and, therefore, the interests of our producers. However, I can see no prospect of altering its provisions, and I shall have discharged my duty by calling attention to these matters. I trust that reasons will be forthcoming for the drastic changes which have been made in the Bill, so that we may be satisfied that the right thing is being done.
.- I listened attentively to the speech of Senator McColl, and I entirely agree with his remarks. I should be sorry, indeed, if we enacted laws in regard to shipping which are entirely opposed to the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act. We in Australia have developed magnificently under the protection of the Mother Country. The tonnage of the shipping of the Mother Country to-day more than equals that of the shipping of the rest of the world. Long may it continue to do so. I shall not complain of any provision in this Bill which is designed to make the lot of our seamen more comfortable than it has been. There is no doubt that in times past our seamen were treated as many others were treated - rather harshly. In the early days they too frequently had to live on salt junk. Yet they seem to have developed wonderful constitutions, and do not appear to have suffered any great harm.
– Harsh treatment has driven them from the sea.
– Quite so. I shall hail with satisfaction any provision the effect of which will be to render their lot more comfortable. But we should take care that we do not handicap British shipping, because, if we do that, we run a great risk of entailing consequences which every true-born Britisher would regret- In the present age there are dangers ahead which the British Empire may have to” face. Those dangers must come oversea. That is an additional reason why we should not handicap British as against foreign shipping. Under present conditions we often treat foreign ships) more leniently than British vessels. Foreign ships often leave our ports with heavy deckloads such’ as British ships would not be permitted to carry.
– Every steamer out of Melbourne carries deck cargo.
– But greater liberties are given to foreign than to British ships.
– Not a pennyworth more liberty is given.
– My attention was drawn to this very fact the other day in Sydney by a Customs officer. We should not insert in this Bill any provision differing from the Merchant Snipping Act without consulting the Home authorities.
– The Home authorities have been consulted.
– Does not the honorable senator remember the Navigation Conference which took place in England ?
– Does the Minister say that all the clauses in this Bill have been agreed to by the Board of Trade?
– Most of the suggestions of the Board of Trade have been adopted. Only fifteen of them have been departed from.
– I am pleased to hear that. I was under the contrary impression. I have a word or two to say with regard to river steamers. I am very well conversant with their work, and would point out that there is no danger of loss of life from them.
– Except that sometimes their boilers may blow up.
– I do not mind the Bill making proper provision in regard to boilers and engines. Probably some honorable senators are not aware of the importance of river navigation. A great quantity of produce comes down the Edwards, the Murray, and the Darling to Port Victor, thus saving considerable expense to producers. The prosperity of the Australian shipping trade depends largely upon our primary producers, and if we handicap them unduly we must injure the seamen in the long run. I see no reason why the Bill should touch river steamers at all, except in regard to their boilers and engines. There is no danger to life from these boats going down in our rivers. Even if one did go down, the water is so shallow that the cargo could be brought up again without much’ difficulty.
– There are some parts of the Murray where there are 40 feet of water.
– There are very few parts of the river that are so deep. I also draw attention to the point that one of the clauses of the Bill gives the GovernorGeneral in Council power, by proclamation, to exempt the ships of foreign countries.
– That is the Treaty Clause.
– If the British Government enters into a treaty with a foreign country we must surely recognise it.
– 1 acknowledge at once that we do an immense trade with foreign countries. We send them more produce than we receive, and, therefore, we have nothing to complain of in that regard. But it must be remembered that nearly all foreign ships are heavily subsidized. Therefore, we ought to be extremely careful not to encourage them as against British” ships. In my opinion, the exemption contained in clause 292 should not be extended to foreign ships unless we are absolutely compelled to do so. Our only safety lies in the supremacy of the British marine.
– And of the British sailor.
– Of course. Inasmuch as British ships number more than the ships of all the rest of the world put together, there must be a considerable number of British sailors to man them.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the sailors on British ships should be British?
– I am not quite so sure of that, and I will give my reasons. I have been round the world two or three times in my life, and I found, to my great satisfaction, that sailors of Finnish, Russian, or Scandinavian origin serving on the British ships were just as loyal to the British flag as I was. Surely that is a laudable thing to encourage.
– Should not loyalty begin at home, and should not British shipowners employ men belonging to their own race ?
– We should give British ship-owners as much assistance as we can, bearing in mind that they have to compete against subsidized shipping.
– What about the employment of lascars and Chinese?
– There are more coloured people in the British Empire than there are whites, and we should not unnecessarily offend or insult the hundreds of millions of our kith and kin.
– Kith and kin?
– Yes, in regard to their membership of the British Empire.
– That is coming it loo strong !
– We are all children of Adam-at least, we are told so on high authority.
– By “ kith and kin “ 1. mean that million* of these coloured people are fellow subjects of ours. I am a White Australian to the bitter end, but we are also members of an Empire, and wc must look to its interests as well as to our own. I consider that this Bill requires to be altered in several of its details before it is passed.
– My task in replying will be easier than was my task in introducing the Bill. I do not remember that any very serious arguments have been brought against the measure. We have, of course, been faced with the hackneyed argument that is brought against any proposition for reform - that if we interfere with the conditions of employment we shall make it difficult for the British producer to meet foreign competition. That argument is as old as reform itself. It was used in the House of Commons against the Bill to limit the labour of children in factories; and Lord Macaulay, in replying to it, pointed out that, when the day came for Great Britain to yield the supremacy in manufactures to some other country, it would not be to a country where the children were sent to work in the factories at an age when they ought to be sent to school, nor to a country where women were employed ‘in industries whilst they ought to be attending to their household duties, or fitting themselves for the duties of maternity, nor to a country which worked its men long hours under insanitary conditions and at low wages, but to a country where the workmen were employed shorter hours at better pay, and under superior conditions. And it is a fact that the countries which to-day offer the most serious competition to Great Britain are not those where bad conditions of industry obtain, but those -where men are being well paid and worked under proper conditions.
– In Germany men are worked long hours with very little pay.
– But Germany is coming rapidly to the front in respect to insuring shorter hours for her work people, and granting them easier conditions of labour. In this matter of reform it is a notorious fact that’ improvement of the conditions under which seamen work has lagged far behind reform in respect to workers on land. The seaman has too long been neglected ; and it is a surprising thing in this Australian Senate to hear the same old argument trotted out as a reason why »’.e should not bring forward a Bill such as this.
– Some so-called reforms have proved disastrous.
– The ‘honorable senator is at liberty to point to what he thinks is disastrous in this Bill. So far the only provisions to which exception has been taken are those aiming at improving the conditions and surroundings of the workers in the industry.
– The honorable senator should make some allowance for the fact that members of the Opposition have largely refrained from speaking on the second reading, because they have become” tired of discussing this Bill.
- Senator McColl referred to one matter to which I shall make a passing reference. He said that the marginal notes to the clause’s of the Bill are misleading. If he had read the Bill more closely, he would have seen the following footnote on the first page -
Throughout this Bill the references in the margin to Statutes are foi purposes of comparison only.
The marginal notes are references to sections of other legislation dealing with similar matters, and it was in order that honorable senators should not be misled into believing that the sections referred to were identical with the clauses of this Bill that the footnote I have quoted was printed. The honorable senator complained that I did not deal with the principles involved in this legislation. For the reason indicated in the interjection by the Leader of the Opposition just now, I did not go very fully into .the principles of the Bill, because the Senate has long passed the stage at which the principles of this measure might be usefully discussed. We ought now to come down to the details of the measure, which should be dealt with in Committee. I do not propose to accept the honorable senator’s invitation to go into the principles of the Bill now. I think we should get at once to the details in Committee.
– Do the Government really propose to pass this Bill this session ?
– This’ week, if possible.
– We intend, if possible, to pass the Bill this session.
– The disability of passing the Bill this session is that the Government may have nothing with which to fill in time next session.
– If all goes well, I think we shall be able to find occupation for the honorable senator next session.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 -
This Act may be cited as the Navigation Act 1910, and shall commence on a day to be fixed by proclamation.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) (4.29]. - I should like to know whether the Minister considers this clause sufficient to insure the validity of this measure.
– What more does the honorable senator want?
– There is such a thing as the Merchant Shipping Act, and a great deal has been said upon two very important sections of that Act.
– The honorable senator may depend that the measure will not be complained of until it has been assented to.
– By whom?
– By the GovernorGeneral, or, if he reserves it, by His Majesty.
– That is the very point to which I wish to direct attention.
– Surely the honorable senator does not wish us to teach the GovernorGeneral his duty?
– My point is that if the clause is passed in its present form, the effect may be to put the Governor-General in a very awkward position. He will have to assent to this Bill in the usual way, or to reserve it for the assent of His Majesty.
– If it is reserved, the proclamation will not be issued until the assent of His Majesty has been given to the Bill.
– That may be so; but we should have some indication as to how the matter is to be dealt with. The proclamation should recognise the Merchant Shipping Act. We do not know whether the Government intend to make their proclamation entirely consistent with sections -735 a°d 736 °f the Merchant Shipping
Act ; and unless they do so, there may be trouble about this Bill. The validity of some portion of this measure may depend upon the attitude of the Government in connexion with this first clause. I should like to hear something more explicit as to what the Government intend, because this clause involves grave constitutional questions. Senator Guthrie will admit that it involves consideration of the question as to how far the measure may be in conflict with the Merchant Shipping Act. The position of British shipping under treaties with foreign countries will also be affected by this clause. I would ask the Minister whether he proposes to deal with the difficulty now, or to postpone the clause?
– The honorable senator surprises me. Surely he knows that no proclamation bringing the Bill into force will be issued until the measure has been assented to. He should be aware that the Governor-General is deemed to be competent to exercise the duties imposed upon him by reason of his office. He is just as well aware of the limitations imposed upon Colonial Legislatures as is any member of the Committee. We can assume that legislation in connexion with which such limitations are imposed is indicated in his instructions from the Colonial Office. Does the honorable senator think that we ought to try to teach the Governor-General his duties? The proclamation cannot be issued until the measure is assented to. If it is not such a measure as the GovernorGeneral may assent to in the usual way, he has his instructions from the Colonial Office, and, no doubt, will act according to them.
– Just so; but the adviser of the Governor-General in the matter may be the Attorney-General. To a certain extent, the Governor-General may take his instructions on this point from the Ministry. And, with all deference to the Governor-General and the Government, I say that, bearing in mind the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, and of treaty obligations, we have no right to put the Governor-General into a position in which he may have to take the advice of his Ministerial adviser, and, at the same time, consider his duty under the Merchant Shipping Act and his general instructions. My contention is that the matter should be dealt with in some way in the Bill itself. This is not merely a question of -reference to the Imperial authorities, because, even if assent be given to the measure, if the proclamation is not an conformity with the provisions of sections 735 and 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act, this Bill may be held to be invalid. That is a very important point, and I do not raise the question frivolously. Will the Minister of Defence contend that the Commonwealth Parliament has larger powers in dealing with legislation affecting navigation and shipping than, say, for instance, the Parliament of the Dominion of New Zealand ? I do not think he will.-
– The honorable senator should remember the covering sections of our Constitution.
– I intend to refer to those sections. The question is whether the matter to which I refer should not be provided for in the Bill itself before it can become law, no matter when it is proclaimed. I propose to refer honorable senators to section 1 of the New Zealand Act of 1908. I remind the Committee that that Act was passed after the holding of the sittings of the Imperial Navigation Conference. The Commonwealth Navigation Bill, as originally drafted, and the New Zealand Bill were both under consideration by the Navigation Conference. This great constitutional question, as a matter of law, and a matter affecting shipping, was. very carefully discussed by the Board of Trade and the representatives from Australia and New Zealand, as well as at the Navigation Conference itself, and it is important to remember that it was only after the New Zealand representatives at that Conference returned that the New Zealand Merchant Shipping Act of 1908 was passed. The very first section of that Act contains these words -
This Act shall not come into operation until His Majesty’s pleasure thereon has been publicly signified in the manner provided by the Constitution Act.
– We have no constitutional provision of that kind.
– But does our Constitution give us greater powers in the matter of legislation on navigation and shipping, and affecting outside shipping, than are given under the Constitution of New Zealand. Unless the Minister of Defence can support a proposition that we have larger powers in this matter than are conferred by its Constitution on the Dominion of New Zealand, I think that the point I have raised must be dealt with in the drafting of this clause.
It is quite possible that the Constitution Act of New Zealand, as well as its power to deal with navigation and ‘shipping, were correlated to section 735 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894. With regard to the power of Colonial Legislatures to alter the provisions of that Act, that section says - any such Act or Ordinance shall not take effect until the approval of Her Majesty has been proclaimed in the possession, or until such time thereafter as may be fixed by the Act or Ordinance for the purpose.
I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that there is a clear distinction in constitutional law involved between the approval of Sovereign and the approval of a Governor or a Governor-General. Section 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act is very explicit, and confirms that view. It reads -
The Legislature of a British possession may, by any Act or Ordinance, regulate the coasting trade of that British possession, subject in “every case to the following conditions : -
the Act or Ordinance shall contain a suspending clause providing that the Act or Ordinance shall not come into operation until Her Majesty’s pleasure thereon has been publicly signified in the British possession- in which it has been passed.
Will the advisers of the Government contend that the assent and approval of the Governor-General, signified in the usual way, are the equivalent, in any event, to the assent and approval which are required under sections 735 and 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act? Because, if that were so, how was it that New Zealand put in the very forefront of its measure a saving clause to the effect that it was not to come into operation until His Majesty’s assent thereto had been proclaimed?
– In most cases the States put that provision in the last clause of the measure.
– Exactly, because they were bound to do so.
– And we are not.
– Why not? The important point is that after a careful consideration of all the opinions expressed at the Navigation Conference in London, and the correspondence on that important constitutional issue, New Zealand had as the very first clause of itsmeasure a provision that it was not tocome into operation until a certain event had happened. Unless it can be shown that the Commonwealth has by reason of its Constitution stronger and larger powers in regard to shipping and navigation than,
New Zealand has, an important issue may arise when the Government want to enforce a part of the law. Some person may go into Court and plead that, inasmuch as the provisions of sections 735 and 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act have not been complied with the! Act is invalid. Unless the Government are perfectly assured on that point by the AttorneyGeneral or the law officers, the measure may, from the very beginning, be in jeopardy. Let me now explain our powers under the Constitution to deal with navigation and shipping by quoting from an Imperial parliamentary paper of 1900 some remarks which were made by the delegates who were commissioned by the respective Colonies of Australia to go to London for the purpose of facilitating the passage of the Constitution Bill through the House of Commons. Every one will remember that on their arrival two grave questions arose. One was the very point I am discussing, and the other was as to a possible alteration of the power of appeal to the Privy Council. Many communications on those two points passed between the delegates and the Crown law authorities in England, and became part of the proceedings on which the Constitution in its present form was passed. Addressing Mr. Secretary Chamberlain, the delegates wrote : -
It will be observed that this provision is much more restricted than that made by section 20 of the Federal Council Act of 1885. Under the present measure the provision is made to apply only to cases in which a British ship begins and concludes her voyage within the limits of the Commonwealth. But section 20 of the Federal Council Act -
This question arose because under a covering clause power was proposed to be given, and ultimately was given, to the Commonwealth to deal with shipping whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination were in the Commonwealth. The question arose *as to whether it was an enlargement of our powers, and, if so, whether it was wise in the circumstances to give us such large powers. The delegates answered the inquiry in these words -
But section 20 of the Federal Council Act applied to every British ship which commenced her voyage in any one of the Colonies concerned, and also lo every British ship which concluded her voyage in any one of them.
Our delegates pointed out to the House of Commons that under the Constitution Bill, not the Constitution schedule, they were claiming less powers than had been conferred by the Federal Council Act of 1885. Continuing, they said -
In the former case the Federal Council Law would apply to a British ship on the whole of her voyage from Australia to a port beyond the Commonwealth : in the latter case to a British ship on the whole of her voyage from any point beyond the Commonwealth to Australia. In the present measure, so wide an application is not for a moment desired to be given to any law of the Commonwealth.
It was admitted by the delegates that under the Constitution Australia would still be a British Possession - that is, in the sense understood by the two former Shipping Acts, and as understood in sections 735 and 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act. If Australia is a British Possession within the meaning of the Imperial law, it is clear that the provisions of those sections will have to be complied with before pur legislation on this subject can obtain any validity. In 1906 the Canadian Parliament, in order to give validity to a marked departure from the Merchant Shipping Act, included in Part XV. of that measure a provision to the effect that il was not to operate until the assent of His Majesty had been proclaimed. My next point is that New Zealand, which desires just as much as does the Commonwealth the possession of legislative power to control her own shipping, has admitted in the very first section of her Navigation Act that that Statute cannot possess any validity until it has received the assent of the Imperial authorities. Canada has done precisely the same thing, and I contend that under our Constitution our legislative powers in this connexion are not larger than are those enjoyed by those two portions of the Empire. Of course, we may be told that the Governor-General will consider these matters before the proclamation bringing the Bill into operation is issued. He may or he may not do so. The rule is for the Governor-General to accept the advice of his Ministers upon all matters in regard to which this Parliament is empowered to legislate. But suppose that he should look into the position. He may say, “ Here is the advice of my Ministers, and the Bill has passed both Houses of the Parliament. But shall I assent to it, when I know that it does not comply with the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act?” We have no right to place him in that position. I hope that the Minister who is in charge of the Bill will be able to give us some stronger assurance than has already been forthcoming in regard to its perfect constitutionality.
– - This is one of those entrancing subjects, upon which, if there were twelve lawyers in the Chamber, we might have six upon one side, and an equal number upon the other. It has already been the subject of an exchange of opinion between the Imperial and the Commonwealth authorities. The Commonwealth legal authorities take up a very definite attitude upon it, and the Government, accepting their interpretation of the position, invite the Committee to take up a similar attitude. As I am not a lawyer, it is somewhat difficult for me to reply to the arguments of Senator St. Ledger, except by quoting the opinion which has been expressed upon this question by Mr. Garran, the legal adviser of the Government. I am compelled to do so in order to put the position of the Ministry. Honorable senators will find his opinion in an appendix to the report of the Navigation Commission. I shall not read the whole of it, because it is too long, but I shall quote a few paragraphs which deal more particularly with the points that have teen raised, although I do not see that we shall serve any useful purpose by continuing this discussion. We take up one side-
– Who takes up the other ?
– Certain officials of the Board of Trade. It is not correct to say tha’t the British Government take up the other side. The matter was referred to the Board of Trade, and one of its officials wrote the memorandum from which Senator St. Ledger has quoted.
– We ought to stand up for the larger attitude, anyway.
– Mr. Garran says -
To create the invalidity, it is not enough that the Imperial law and the Colonial law both deal with the same matter,
That narrows the ground - and deal with it differently ; they must be actually repugnant one to the other - inconsistent one with the other. The Colonial law may go further than the Imperial law - may require compliance with further or more stringent conditions, but it is not therefore necessarily repugnant. Moreover, it is not enough that the Imperial Act is worded so generally that it is capable of being construed to extend to the Colony, or that it is not in express words limited to the United Kingdom. The application to the Colony must be either by express words or by necessary intendment - i.e., it must be incapable of being construed as not extending to the Colony.
That is exactly the attitude that has been adopted by Senator St. Ledger.
Legislatures, but certainly cannot be construed as depriving those Legislatures of all or any powers not mentioned.
– 1 wish to supplement what has been said by the Minister ot Defence upon this matter which received very careful consideration at the hands of the Navigation Commission. Mr. Garran was specially asked to- draft it memorandum regarding the legislative powers in respect of navigation which are possessed by this Parliament. That portion of his opinion which has been quoted by the Minister is borne out by the opinion expressed by Professor Harrison Moore in the second edition of his work The Commonwealth of Australia, page 560, where he says -
In the United States the Federal power has extended itself over the whole range of “ shipping law “ so far as concerns shipping upon the high seas and “ the public navigable waters of the United States,” which include such waterways as “ form by themselves or in connexion with others a continuous highway over which commerce may be carried on between our own States or with foreign countries in the customary way of carrying on commerce by water.”
Further on, at page 562, this author says -
The Commonwealth Constitution commits to the Federal Judicature matters of “ admiralty and maritime jurisdiction” (section 76, iii). It commits to the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws with respect to “ external affairs “ (section 51, xxix.); it declares that the commerce power extends to “ navigation and shipping “ (section 98) ; and establishes that “ the laws of the Commonwealth shall be in force in all British ships, the Queen’s ships of war excepting, whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth “ (section v.). In these circumstances it is not likely that the Commonwealth power in respect to the modes and instruments of navigation will be more restricted than the power of Congress. The great practicable difficulty of drawing a geographical line in matters of navigation and shipping together with the importance of establishing a single authority thereon, would be strong reason for concluding that the whole matter belongs to the Federal Legislature.
That absolutely corroborates what has been quoted from Mr. Garran. Professor Harrison Moore also quotes the instructions given by the Imperial Government to the State Governors. The following passage occurs in the instructions given to the Governor of Victoria -
The Governor shall not, except in the cases hereunder mentioned, assent in Our name to any Bill of any of the following classes - 1.. Any Bill for the divorce of persons joined together in holy matrimony.
Consider the difference between those instructions and the instructions given to the Governor-General of Australia. The GovernorGeneral is instructed in quite different terms. One passage is as follows -
Our said Governor-General is to take care that all laws assented to by him in Our name, or reserved for the signification of Our pleasure shall, when transmitted by him, be done in certain form. It is quite clear, therefore, that the Government are within their rights, and that the Bill is properly drafted. It provides that the Act shall not come into force until a proclamation is issued. If the Governor- General gives his assent the Act will come into force as soon as the proclamation is issued. If he does not give his assent, the proclamation will have to be held over until the assent of the Crown is received. I am perfectly satisfied that we are acting within our powers in passing the clause as it stands.
– I notice one fallacy in the passage quoted by Senator Guthrie from Professor Harrison Moore’s work. He winds up a passage with reference to the power possessed by the Commonwealth under the Constitution by the assertion that the Commonwealth Government has the powers of Congress in the United States. But we well know that. Congress is the parliamentary authority of a sovereign State. We are not. Senator Guthrie has argued that we have sovereign powers in regard to navigation, but not in regard to all other points. There, I think, he is on sounder ground than Professor Harrison Moore is. But the remarkable circumstance is that this matter was discussed from every point of view at the Navigation Conference, and notwithstanding the opinion given by Mr. Garran as to the powers, not only of the Commonwealth, but of New Zealand, the very first Shipping Act passed by the New Zealand Parliament, after the Conference, did not seek to extend the powers of the Dominion. It cannot be contended that the Commonwealth, under our Constitution, has greater plenary powers than New Zealand has. New Zealand is probably just as jealous as we are to preserve the powers that she possesses. But, notwithstanding that, New Zealand in her new Act acknowledged dependence on the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act. Canada, in legislating on the same subject, expressly pro-‘ vided in dealing with load-lines that that portion of her Act was not to be valid until His Majesty’s assent was publicly proclaimed.
– What is the use of arguing about the question of load-lines in face of the fact that since the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 was passed, the Imperial Parliament has gone back upon the principles therein laid down.
– In what way ?
– Great Britain now insists upon certain safeguards in regard to foreign ships.
– That simply means that Great Britain has amended her own former legislation.
– Under the Act of 1894, foreign ships could enter a British port under any conditions whatever in respect of load-line. But that has now been altered.
– The Imperial Government made certain treaties with foreign countries involving reciprocal relations. In other words, as the Imperial Government altered its shipping laws, and laid down certain requirements, other countries altered their laws. The policy all along has been to make the laws of the countries interested as far as possible reciprocal. We are inextricably involved in those obligations. I admit that we have plenary powers in regard to our coastal trade.
– Even that was disputed by honorable senators opposite some time ago.
– Circumstances might arise in which that principle would not be good law, but generally speaking, and for all practical purposes, we have plenary powers in . regard to our coastal trade. Furthermore, under the Constitution, we were given for convenience’ sake power to deal with foreign and British warships. But did that power to deal with foreign and British ships give us the plenary powers which we are now assuming? I do not think so. The moment we put our hands on foreign ships we are confronted with treaty relationships.
– That matter is dealt with in a separate clause.
– But there are such things as international law and general maritime law, apart altogether from navigation law. If Australia were to come into conflict with a’ foreign Power in consequence of her legislation, the foreign Power would call the attention of the Imperial authorities to the matter.
– Surely, the British Government would never make a treaty affecting Australia without the consent of the Commonwealth.
– We have inherited a large number of treaties.
– We have inherited some which, I think, we should like to get rid of.
– The question of treaties is not affected by this clause.
– That is so. I admit that in clause 417 the Government attempt to deal with treaties, and that it is provided that we shall respect the provisions of treaties so far as they bind us. But in view of the points I have put, I cannot see why the binding obligation of sections 735 and 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act should not be specially recognised in this Bill.
– Is the honorable senator in a position to say that, under his instructions, the Governor of New Zealand was not obliged, as were the Governors of Australian Colonies, to reserve such a measure for the King’s assent.
– It is possible that the Constitution of New Zealand required that to be done. That may be the reason for the wording of the section I have quoted from the New Zealand Act. But I wish to know what larger powers we have under our Constitution.
– We have an express power in the Constitution.
– We have an express power, which, as I have pointed out, is, according to the members of the Navigation Conference, a good deal less wide than that which was given under the provisions of the Federal Council Act of 1885. The point is a very important and interesting one, and 1 suggest that the clause should be postponed.
– It has been fully considered by three Governments, and all have taken up the same attitude. The honorable senator must admit that his point is not a new one.
– I agree that it is not new, but we have been informed that the Bill is to be passed this session. We are not playing with it this time. We are told that the Government are in earnest in proposing to pass the measure this session, and it would be well that the point should be cleared up. If the Government are satisfied that the clause is all right as it stands, I can do no more than call attention to the difficulty.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 -
This Act shall not apply to ships belonging to the King’s Navy or the Navy of the Commonwealth, or of any British possession, or te any foreign ship’ of war.
– I believe that the purpose of this clause is tolerably clear, but I question its phraseology. First of all, the reference to ships belonging to “ the King’s Navy “ is, I think, entirely superfluous, in view of the fact that under section 5 of the Constitution laws made by this Parliament are to be inforced - on all British ships, the Queen’s ships of wa/ excepted, whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth.
The clause also contains the term “ the Navy of the -Commonwealth.” What is meant by that? Does it mean that only the fighting ships of the Commonwealth are to be exempt from the operation of theBill, or that any ships owned by the Commonwealth may be exempt from its operation? I take the trawler, for instance.
– Why should she not come under the Bill?
– I think that she ought to, and I wish to make it quite clear that she shall.
– She does not belong to the Navy.
– Has the honorable senator never heard of the “ mercantile navy “ ?
– “ Mercantile marine “ is the term.
– I think the term “ navy “ has a wider meaning than we give it in ordinary conversation, lt is used generally to signify a collection of fighting vessels, and we require to be assured that in this connexion it does not include a collection of mercantile vessels. The phraseology of the New Zealand Act is -
This Act docs not apply to ships belonging to His Majesty nor to ships belonging to the Government of New Zealand.
– We do not wish to go as far as that.
– I understand that, and I desire that, in this clause, we shall not include in the ships exempted from the operation ot the Bill vessels which may not be used for the purpose of defence, and which may be used for mercantile purposes. I think we might adopt a form of words which would make it quite clear that we exempt from the operation of the Bill only vessels employed in the defence of the country. “ The Navy of the Commonwealth “ is a phrase I do not like. First of all, we have not got a navy.
– What about the Cerberus ?
– And we have some humorists in the Senate who can refer to the Cerberus as a vessel for defence purposes. It should be made perfectly clear that what will be covered by the clause, so far as Commonwealth vessels are concerned, will be only those used for the purposes of defence or offence, and not vessels used for mercantile purposes. I nave mentioned the trawler, but I know that the New South Wales Government, and possibly the Governments of the other States, possess vessels which could not by any stretch of imagination be called war ships, and the same provisions of the law should apply to them as will apply to similar vessels owned by individuals and companies.
– - The reason why the Government have departed from the wording of the New Zealand Act is exactly because they take the view which Senator Millen has just put forward, and do not desire to exempt from the provisions of our navigation law vessels which may be held to belong to the mercantile marine. I am informed by our legal advisers that the term “ Navy” has a definite legal meaning, and applies to vessels in commission ir. the fighting’ forces of His Majesty. Used in connexion with the Commonwealth in this clause, it is held to have the same meaning as is inferred from its use in the Constitution.
– The Constitution does not speak of the “ Queen’s Navy,” but of the “Queen’s ships of war”; but if the honorable senator says that the word “ Navy “ has a legal interpretation such as he has mentioned, I am satisfied.
– We are advised that, under the legal interpretation of the word “ Navy,” such a vessel as the trawler Endeavour would not be exempt from the provisions of this Bill.
– It is curious that ia the Constitution the suggested legal interpretation of the word “ Navy “ is not recognised.
– Perhaps the Minister in charge of the Bill will be able to tell the Committee why the word “public,” which appeared in a similar provision in the Bill of 1908, has been omitted from this clause. The Bill of 1908 referred to “ public ships of the King’s Navy.” Is it not possible that ships other than war vessels should be excluded from the operation of the Bill?
– What ships does the honorable senator suggest?
– I am unable to say ; but there must have been some reason for the use of the word “ public” in the Bill of 1908. There may be vessels belonging to the Navy other than actual ships of war.
– This clause is in accordance witu the recommendation of the Royal Commission. State Government Departments, such as Harbour Trusts, own vessels which it would be most unfair to exempt from the provisions of this Bill. Some State vessels carry passengers and excursionists ; and Senator McColl will agree that it is not right that they should be exempt from inspection of their boats and life-saving gear generally. They should be subject to the same inspection as ships belonging to the mercantile service.
– Would not coaling ships, such as those which came here with the American Fleet, be considered a part of the Navy?
– No; they were merchant ships. They were chartered for the purpose.
– The Glacier was not.
– She was a repairing ship, and was part of the Navy.
– Would such a vessel be exempt under the Bill?
– I should think so.
– I think that the Committee ought to pass the clause as it stands. With respect to the meaning of the word “ Navy “ I have here a cyclopedia of marine law, which, though it does not contain a definition of the word
Navy,” does contain a definition of a Naval Court which meets the purpose, lt defines a Naval Court in this way -
A Naval Court consists of three, four, or five members, being officers in His Majesty’s Navy, consular officers, masters of British ‘ merchant ships, or British merchants. Honorable senators will see that in this definition a distinction is made between the Navy and the merchant service. I think that the expression “ ships of war ‘ ‘ used in the Constitution may be taken to mean exactly the- same as the word “ Navy “ as used in this clause.
– I should like the Minister to give the Committee some assurance that the word “ Navy,” as used in the phrase the King’s Navy,” will have exactly the same effect as the word “Navy” used in the phrase “ the Navy of the Commonwealth.” Senator Millen has pointed out, and the Minister agrees with- him, that we do not wish to exempt such vessels as Government trawlers from the provisions of the Bill. But I point out that there are some vessels used by the Imperial Government to take deep sea soundings, and for other scientific purposes.
– Like the Fantome, now on the coast?
– It might mean a warship which was used for scientific purposes.
– Not necessarily.
– Suppose that a vessel were fitted out to go on a scientific expedition to the Antarctic, would she be included in the term “ King’s Navy “ ?
– Then we are using a term, in two different senses in the clause. Suppose that the Imperial Government were to. fit out a ship for a- purely scientific purpose, what would be her position ?
– Under a commission the Challenger was sent out under a naval officer. This clause would apply to such a vessel.
– Suppose that the Commonwealth were to fit out some vessels for scientific purposes, the seamen would be subject to the provisions of the law, but that would not be so in the case of ships which had been fitted out by the Imperial Government for such purposes. This suggests that there is perhaps some danger in altering the provision as it stood in the original Bill.
.- It seems to me to be quite clear that the same rule applies to His Majesty’s Navy as to the Commonwealth Navy. Whenever a ship is commissioned by the British Government, she will become part of His Majesty’s Navy, and therefore will be excluded from the operation of this measure. Generally speaking, scientific expeditions are sent out in commissioned vessels by the British Government. The Challenger, for instance, was a commissioned vessel, under the command of a naval officer, with a scientist on board directing operations. The Fantome, which is at present on our coast, is not a fighting ship, and yet she is part of the King’s Navy. She has a regular crew, under the command of an officer on the Australian Station, and will be excluded from the provisions of this measure. The position will be the same with regard to the Commonwealth Navy, or any survey ships which we may send out. ‘ In that respect, we are not differentiating as to the Commonwealth Navy and His Majesty’s Navy.
– The Minister has replied to the last criticism, but has not said a word 011 the point to which I have directed attention
– The word “public” was regarded as surplusage.
– Frequently in the past credit has been taken for following in our legislation the simple language of our Constitution. I remember that, when our machinery Bills were under consideration, a great deal of stress was laid by the then Vice-President of the Executive Council, Mr. O’Connor, as to the desirability of having no differences in phraseology between the Constitution and laws enacted thereunder. If it was sound then to follow that course, I certainly think it is equally sound to-day. It seems undesirable to use in this Bill the word “ navy,” when the term “ ships of war “ is used in the Constitution. If we are to have a continuity of practice, we certainly ought not to proceed in a slipshod way.
– It has been done for a deliberate purpose, which I indicated just now, although I did not know that I was doing so.
– I shall be glad to hear what the purpose is.
– The term used in this clause has a wider scope than the term used in the Constitution. “ His Majesty’s Navy “ includes the shipsofwar referred to in the Constitution; but the provision in this Bill will include a survey-ship. Such a vessel is part of His Majesty’s Navy, but is not a ship-of-war. We did not follow the language of the covering section of the Constitution, because we did not think it desirable to bring such a ship under the Bill.
.- As some doubt seems to be entertained about the matter, it might be desirable to use in this clause the words which were used in the corresponding clause of the Bill of 1908- to any foreign ship-of-war, or to any class of ships exempted from this Act by proclamation.
– In a later part of the Bill, there is a general clause under which we can exempt ships by proclamation.
-That will practically mean the same thing. By adopting my suggestion, the Minister would be in a position to use a certain amount of discretion if the occasion . should arise. For instance, a visiting fleet might be accompanied by consorts which might not come strictly under the term “ navy,” but which it would be desirable, as an act of courtesy, to exempt from the provisions of our law. If we do not take advantage of a clause such as the present one to give that power, the Government may mid themselves in a dilemma.
– If it is correct, as the Minister has stated, that the use of the word “navy” will allow greater margin for the coming and going of His Majesty’s vessels other than fighting ships, then there arises a discrepancy in the use of that term, as applied to foreign vessels. In one case, we have the term “foreign ship-of-war,” and in the other, the term “King’s Navy.” In view of the Minister’s previous statement, I suggest that we ought to use the words “ foreign navy.” Suppose that a foreign country sent out a vessel for scientific purposes, and she happened to call at some port in Australia, surely it is not desired to apply to her any law other than that which would be applied to a scientific vessel sent out by the British Government. I draw the Minister’s attention to the matter, because, in view of his last statement, it seems extraordinary to use different terms in one clause. I should like to know if there is a reason for doing so?
– - I should like the Minister to indicate the objection to using the words “ any foreign navy.”
– The German steamers which trade on our coast are part of the German Navy.
– That contradicts what the Minister said just now.
– They are not part of the German Navy at present, but may be called upon for service.
– Those steamers are subsidized, but are not part of the German Navy in the sense in which we in this clause use the terms “ the King’s Navy,” and “ the Navy of the Commonwealth.” It seems to me that, in order to carry out our intention, we should use the words “or to the ship of any foreign navy.”
– We do not want the words.
– We . use the term “ship-of-war” in one sense.
– Yes, and- for a -very good reason, too.
– I should like to hear what it is.
– If honorable senators will glance at the definition clause, they will see that the Bill deals with certain classes of ships, viz., foreign-going ships, Australian-trade ships, limited coast-trade ships, and river and bay ships. It does not apply to a ship which may accompany a fleet of menofwar, or which may come out for a scientific purpose, or which, perhaps, may sail from one of our ports. The intention of this clause is quite clear to me. The Government say to every foreign Power, “’ Your men-of-war are alsolutely excluded from any restrictions,” and to the Imperial Navy they say the. same thing. We give to foreign men-of-war every liberty to come here, but should we include ships which may be only partially attached to a navy? What is the position of some steamers which come here? They may be attached by charter to a foreign navy; that is, they may come into a port with coal, and as soon as their charter has expired - that is, when they have put their coal on board the war-ships - take away cargo or trade along our coast. We might fall into a nice little trap if we gave to chartered steamers the same privileges as are given to foreign war-ships. I am satisfied that the clause is quite clear.
– I do not think that Senator Guthrie quite appreciates the point which has been raised. It has not been suggested for a moment that any alteration to be made should give to foreign vessels the right to come here and trade in the way which he has indicated. But Senator Pearce has pointed out that, purposely, the Government has departed from the language of the Constitution, and adopted a term which means that any vessel coming here with the commission of His Imperial Majesty shall be exempt from the operation of this measure. But when the Government came to deal with foreign vessels they adopt quite different phraseology, and the question might arise at once as to what constituted a “ ship-of-war.” I do not know that it is desirable to leave any room for trouble of that kind. Suppose that a vessel should come here with a commission from a foreign country, and the objection were taken that she was not a ship-of-war, what are the Government to do?
– Exempt her by proclamation.
– I do not know that this is a matter on which we ought to joke. The Minister said that there was a very good reason for the difference which is made, but he has not given it to us. He did give a reason which I accepted as sufficient.
– I find that there is no real reason why we should make a distinction between His Majesty’s Navy and the navy of a foreign Government, and, therefore, I move -
That the words “ any foreign ship-of-war “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the Navy of any foreign Government.”
– Senator Millen has somewhat altered his view of the definition of the term “ Navy.”
– The Minister of Dpfence has given the Committee an assurance that there is a legal interpretation of the term.
– I am heartily in accord with the amendment, because it in no way alters the interpretation which I place upon the clause. The term “ Navy “ is one which is applied to fighting ships, and not to vessels which are engaged in survey or scientific work.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [5-56J- - 1 would point out to Senator de Largie that the Minister of Defence has indicated that the term ‘ ‘ Navy “ is held to cover, not merely fighting vessels, but any vessel which carries the King’s commission. That being so, the entire complexion of the clause as it first presented itself to me has been altered.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I wish to call attention to the fact that a number of small craft, such as are engaged upon our rivers and lakes, were exempt from those provisions of the Bill of 1908 which related to the accommodation to be supplied to the crews of vessels. No such exemption is provided for under this clause. Is there any reason why these vessels should not be exempted ?
– The fact that the Government have, for the convenience of honorable senators, placed before them a memorandum setting out the provisions of the Bill of 1908 will, I hope, not be held to give any honorable senator the right to discuss matter in that measure which is not contained in this clause. T submit that you, sir, would rule me out of order if I attempted to debate why we do not propose to exempt ships which are engaged upon the inland waters of a State. Before this matter can be debated it will be necessary for Senator McColl to move an amendment.
– I am surprised at the statement of the Minister of Defence in view of his declaration in moving the second reading of the Bill that it had been before the Senate so often and had been so fully discussed, that it was unnecessary for him to debate it at length. I move -
That the following words be - added - “or to any ship exclusively used in inland waters of a State which are not navigable by ships engaged in trade or commerce with other countries or amongst the States.”
– The Government do not propose to accept the amendment, because it relates entirely to a matter of policy. We are not in favour of restricting the operation of the Bill. On the contrary we are in favour of extending it to navigation wherever we can do so. Wherever life and property may be in danger as the result of navigation, the provisions of the Bill should be operative.
– I should have been inclined to allow the clause to pass but for the explanation of the Minister. He knows perfectly well that we cannot exercise greater legislative powers in respect to navigation than are conferred upon us by the Constitution. Take the case of vessels which are engaged in carrying timber on the waters of some of our inland rivers.
– Take an extreme case - that of a vessel upon a lake.
– Exactly. Is it proposed that the provisions of the Bill in respect of the accommodation to be supplied to crews shall operate in the case of such vessels?
– Two questions present themselves to my mind in connexion with this clause. The first is as to how far - unless an opportunity be provided for the granting of exemptions - we may be attempting to apply the provisions of this Bill to a class of vessels over which we have no jurisdiction. Is it suggested that the Commonwealth shall apply its provisions to a vessel which is employed upon a lake in any State? I can quite understand the class of vessels which it is desired to cover, but I question whether, under our limited Federal jurisdiction, we can apply the Bill to all vessels on inland waters. Regarding those vessels on inland waters which do come within our Federal jurisdiction, the question arises, “ Ought we to exempt them, or ought we to make some special provision for them ? ‘ ‘ We ought to have some law to control them.
– They are under State control now.
– But, by means of a Federal law, we seek to achieve uniformity. I would suggest to Senator McColl that, in dealing with this class of vessels, it would be better to frame provisions to meet their particular conditions rather than to exclude them from the operation of the Bill.
– We can legislate for no vessel of less than 15 tons.
– My honorable friend is extremely moderate. I do not think that any vessel which comes properly within any Federal jurisdiction should be exempted from the provisions of the Bill. But, obviously, we ought not to attempt to apply to a small boat running on the Darling River the same conditions that we apply to a vessel trading round our coast.
– I do not know why special provisions should be framed to apply to vessels simply because they happen to be confined to inland waters. Probably Senator McColl has in his mind the boats which are to be found in the Ballarat district.
– Take die case of the vessels which are employed upon die River Darling.
– This clause will not touch them at all. Take the Gippsland Lakes as an illustration. Should not the same strict inspection apply to vessels trading to those lakes as applies to vessels trading in Hobson’s Bay? The same remark is applicable to boats which trade to die Richmond, Clarence, and Tweed rivers, in New South Wales. Only last week, Senator Gould appealed to us not to insist upon vessels being fitted with watertight false bottoms, on the ground that, if we did so, we should decrease the carrying capacity of those which have to enter barbound harbors.
– I had in my mind the vessels which are employed upon the Darling and Murray rivers.
– This clause will not touch them. Senator Fraser seemed to imagine that these river boats work in a depth of water of only 3 or 4 feet. But sometimes the Murray and the Murrumbidgee contain a good depth of water. The vessels plying on our rivers are not intended for seagoing. They could not go alongside a ship lying in Port Victor. They are suitable for the: trade in which they are engaged, and all that we ask is that they shall be inspected to make sure that they are lit for that trade. We do not ask for the same renditions to apply to vessels trading on the Gippsland Lakes as apply to ves sels that go round Cape Horn. The Bill does not provide that such shall be the case. Senator McColl would be welladvised in withdrawing his amendment.
Senator ST. LEDGER (‘Queensland) ir6.Ti]. - Under whose jurisdiction would be a ferry steamer plying exclusively in Port Jackson between Milson’s Point and
Circular Quay? According to Senator Guthrie such vessels would be inspected by the Federal authority to insure that they were fit for the purposes for which they are used. Suppose a Commonwealth officer went on board a ferry-boat in Port Jackson and said to the captain, “ I want to look at your boilers.” Does Senator Guthrie contemplate anything like that being done under this Bill?
– I hope so.
– Does the Bill allow that to be done? If so it confers a wider jurisdiction than I think the Government contemplate. In that event a serious question arises, and Senator McColl’s amendment is justified.
– The Bill covers all vessels over 15 tons.
– -Then there will be a conflict of jurisdiction, and the Bill will make work for the lawyers. I remember that, before the railway line was constructed, there used to be a considerable amount of river trade between Ipswich and Brisbane. The steamers used to carry thousands of tons of wool from the Darling Downs. Occasionally vessels still run up and down the river between those two places. Is it intended that the Federal jurisdiction shall extend to them? I do not think that Senator Pearce will say that (hat is what is meant.
– I do not think there can be any doubt as to what the Bill intends. The definition clause says that -
River and bay ship includes every ship which trades exclusively in some river or gulf or bay within any State or States.
That covers every vessel over 15 tons, no matter how she trades. 1 am not at all certain that we should have satisfactory legislation unless there were such a provision. A vessel would never know where she stood, nor would a seaman, unless there were one authority. The very object of Federation was to bring about uniformity in respect to such matters.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The provisions of this Act relating to steamships shall apply, with such modifications as are prescribed, to ships propelled by electricity or other mechanical power.
– Is the Minister advised that electricity is regarded as a mechanical power? I understand that usually electricity and mechanical power are considered as different things. For railway purposes, for instance, the electrical and mechanical staffs are different. But this clause would seem to imply that electricity is a mechanical power. I venture to say that what is intended is that the provisions shall apply with such modifications as are prescribed “ to ships propelled by mechanical power or by electricity.”
– I think that the clause follows the wording of the Merchant Shipping Act.
– 1 doubt whether my honorable friend is correct.
– In this case, the Bill follows the wording of the Merchant Shipping Act. But there is not much substance in Senator Millen’s contention. If he feels that an alteration should be made, and that the clause would be improved by making it read “ propelled by electricity or any other power,” the Government will not seriously object. The greater would include the lesser. Personally, however, I do not think that it is necessary to make an alteration.
– The point is that there is a difference between mechanical and electric power. Electricity is not a mechanical power. I move -
That the words “electricity or other” be left out and that the words “ or electricity “ be added.
– The Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 contains a section, 743, which has exactly the same meaning as the clause under consideration. It reads -
Any provision of this Act applying to steamers or steam-ships shall apply to ships propelled by electricity or other mechanical power.
A section which has stood the test of practical working so long should not be departed from in this Bill without very good cause.
– I have no particular reverence for the language used in an Imperial Act of Parliament, or in the Acts of any other Parliament, and it is not for that reason I am inclined to follow the advice of Senator de Largie. But, seeing that the words of the Imperial Statute are here introduced, and remembering how much the interpretation of an Act is sometimes assisted by decisions given under a similar Act - lawyers being thereby enabled to see what judgments have been given with respect to the meaning of particular words - I think it desirable that we should not depart from the wording of the English section. That “is particularly the case as our interests are closely interwoven with those of Great’ Britain in respect of navigation. For these reasons, I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- Reference is made in the clause to electricity, because that power is now used. Some other power may be discovered later, but, if so, it will be covered by the expression “ other mechanical power.”
– We might use the expression “ propelled by electricity, or other mechanical or motive power.” I admit that there is something in what Senator Millen has said. There will be an advantage in following a Statute, the provisions of which have very often been tested in Court.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
In this Act unless the contrary intention appears. “ Equipment “ includes boats, tackle, pumps, apparel, furniture, life-saving appliances of every description, spars, masts, rigging, and sails, fog signals, lights and signals of distress, medicines and medical and surgical stores and appliances, and every thing or article belonging to or to be used in connexion with, or necessary for the navigation and safety of, the ship, including apparatus for preventing or extinguishing fires, buckets, compasses, axes, lanterns, and loading and discharging gear and apparatus of all kinds : :’ Freeboard “ means the height from the water to the upper side of the deck line as marked under this Act :
.- I should like to refer to a matter which I dealt with when we were considering the last Navigation Bill. I am sure that the matter must have escaped the attention of those who drafted this clause, or they would have included charts in the definition of “Equipment.” I think the word “ charts “ should be inserted after the word “ compasses.” Even a compass would be of very little use without a chart of the waters over which the vessel is sailing. I am surprised that charts have not been included in this definition of equipment, when such minor and unimportant things as lanterns, axes, and buckets are included. We actually make provision for a room in which charts are to be kept, easy of access to the navigating officer, that he may consult his charts in time of danger or doubt, but we have no provision that charts shall be included in the equipment of a vessel. I move -
That, after the word “ compasses,” the word “ charts” be inserted.
– I have no objection to the amendment. It seems to me to be necessary. The- insertion of the word may be subject to review later, but at present I am prepared to accept the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That the word “ upper “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ lower.”
Honorable senators will recognise that, in accordance with scientific rules, the length, breadth, and depth of a ship are measured, and the reserve buoyancy such as poops and shelter decks, are all taken into account in estimating the freeboard, which means really the height from the water line to the deck of the ship. I submit my amendment for good and substantial reasons. No doubt when the provisions of existing Acts were framed, the idea was that the measurements should be taken from the upper part of the deck to the waterline. But ships have been constructed with iron decks, and the load line has been measured from these iron decks. In order that they may put more cargo into their ships, and still maintain their freeboard measurement, owners have adopted the practice of laying on an iron deck 2 or 3 inches of a wooden deck, and the measurement is then taken from the top of the wooden deck to the waterline. I do not wish to deal now with the question of the loadline, but I shall later on discuss that question. As originally provided for, it insured the safety of a great number of ships. But, to-day, following the lead of the Board of Trade, the Imperial and State Governments have so modified the regulations that ships go to sea in a far less seaworthy condition than ever they did before. I think the only way to overcome the difficulty is to measure the freeboard of a ship from the lower side of the deck to the waterline.
This is a technical question which only Senator Guthrie is able to explain to U.
What he has said seems to be reasonable. I find that, in the New Zealand Act, “ freeboard “ is defined to mean the height from the water to the upper side of the deck, from which the depth of the hold, as stated in the register, is measured. Does that correspond with the definition which Senator Guthrie proposes?
– No; it does not. It would give the ship more freeboard. Ships are built to-day with iron or steel decks, and they are measured from the top of the iron or steel deck -to the waterline to estimate the freeboard. Honorable senators will understand that if the freeboard is increased by 3 inches, that may mean all the difference between seaworthiness and unseaworthiness. 1 wish the freeboard to be measured from the lower part of the deck whether it be of iron or wood. Ships on the colonial register have put on top of their iron decks a deck of 3 inches of wood, and the freeboard measurement is estimated from the top of the wooden deck to the waterline. That gives the shipowner the opportunity to load his ship until she is another 3 inches deeper in the water, and the provision for safety is so much less than if the freeboard were measured from the lower side of the deck. Most ships are to-day built of steel, and in most cases the steel or iron deck will not be more than half-an-inch in thickness. In such a case the freeboard, measured from the lower or upper side of the deck, would make a difference of only J inch ; but in the loading of a vessel above what ought to be the load-line even that might mean ,the difference between safety and danger. When, under the practice now adopted, it is possible by laying a wooden deck 3 inches in thickness on top of the iron deck to add 3 inches to the freeboard, and enable the ship to be loaded 3 inches above what ought to be the loadline, the danger becomes appalling. A ship-owner might put a wooden deck over the iron deck, not of 3 inches, but of 6 or 9 inches, or 1 foot, and then proceed to load his vessel down accordingly. If the Plimsoll mark is to be of any service to men going to sea in future, the measurement of the freeboard must be taken from the lower side of the deck.
– Senator Guthrie, as a practical seaman, is fairly well versed in matters of this kind, but, while I do not care to oppose any suggestion he makes, I invite his attention to another aspect of the question. I hold that a ship that is too light may be as unseaworthy as a ship that is too heavily loaded. If that be so, unless we provide for a light load line as well as a heavy loadline, we may add to the dangers of people who go to sea. Only very recently, I was brought face to face with this danger. I do not wish to mention the names of any steamers, or to make any remarks which might be calculated to injure a shipping company ; but very often a steamer, in returning from Western Australia, crosses what is perhaps the most dangerous part of our coast with practically no cargo. Ballast - whether it be water or anything else - has to be bought, and naturally owners do with as little ballast as possible. They may continue to take these liberties until we hearof a ship having been loaded so lightly that she has toppled over. Not very long ago, I was travelling on a steam-ship which was so extremely light that sometimes the passengers felt as if she were going to be blown out of the water. If we adopt Senator Guthrie’s proposal, we shall increase the tendency towards light loading. Unless he can show that there is some way in which we can prevent an increase of the evil, I am afraid that I cannot support his proposal. Surely, if we provide for a heavy load-line, without also fixing a light loadline, travelling in a ship may be made more dangerous than it is at present. When a ship is loaded too lightly, a greater surface is exposed to the wind, and in a very heavy sea she may get blown about; very often she will not answer to her helm, and sometimes the screw may be racing. If we do not look at the question from both standpoints, we may increase the element of danger, which is now sufficiently great. I cannot agree with Senator Guthrie that a ship would be made any safer to travellers by fixing the load-line as he has proposed. I can speak with some authority ‘ of the traffic between the west and the east. The majority of the passenger ships which run to Western Australia do not remain more than two days at Fremantle, and considerable time would be required to take inmuch ballast in the shape of Jarrah timber.
– Senator Guthrie will see that if he desires to alter the load-line the clauses which he will need’ to alter are clauses 223 and 229, in which we practically accept the load-line laid downin the Merchant Shipping Act, whereas. in this clause, we only accept its definition of load-line. If the honorable senator is dissatisfied with the load-line provided in the Bill, he should wait until we get to clause 223.
– I said that I was not going into the whole question of the loadline at this time, and that I only wanted to deal with the definition.
– There is really no necessity to alter the definition.
– It is only a matter of, where the measurement shall be taken from.
– Clause 223 says-
The position of the disc shall be fixed in accordance with the tables in force in the United Kingdom under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, subject to such allowance as may be made necessary by any difference between the position of the deck-line marked under this Act and the position of the line from which freeboard is measured under the said (tables.
According to this clause - “ Freeboard “ means the height from the water to the upper side of the deck-line as marked under this Act.
– I want the lower side to be adopted.
– Then the honorable senator is going about the matter in. the wrong way, because that question should be tested on clauses 223 and 229.
– That would still leave the definition of freeboard as it is.
– Yes : and we can give good reasons why it should be left as it is in clauses 223 and 229.
– Give them now; I have given reasons why this definition should be altered.
– I do not think that the honorable senator will convince the Committee that it should be altered. I ask him not to press his amendment at this stage, because to do so is to prejudice the consideration of those provisions. If, however, an alteration is made in them, this clause can be recommitted to make any consequential alteration which may be required.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) (8.19]. - I am sorry that the Minister was not in the chamber when I mentioned that I did not intend to go into the question of load-line at the present juncture. I said tha’t on this definition clause we ought to decide the point from which the freeboard of a ship shall be measured, because, under the present definition, abuses had crept in. 1 pointed out that in the case of an iron ship the measurement is taken from the upper side of a J-inch plate, and that a ship-owner deliberately puts a 3 -inch plank on top of the plate, and measures the freeboard from the top of the plank, which allows him to load his ship 3 inches more deeply than was intended. That is a point which we cannot discuss until we come to the clauses dealing with the loadline. I am perfectly in accord with those provisions. I introduced the first load-line. The old rule was to allow 2 J inches per foot to the depth of the hold for wooden ships, and 3 inches for iron ships. In other words, if an iron ship were 12 feet deep, 3 inches to every foot were allowed. After the report of a Select Committee had been presented, the Board of Trade, which had discussed the matter for years, came to a scientific rule -that a ship should be measured from forward to aft, and that her beam, her depth, and all the reserve buoyancy, such as poops, forecastle heads and houses, should be taken into consideration. A rule was laid down that the measurement should be taken from the upper side of the deck, and that the vessel should be given her reserve buoyancy, instead of 2^ or 3 inches, which was previously allowed. 1 do not want now to go into the question of load-line. When Plimsoll started his agitation for a load-line, the Imperial Parliament passed a measure providing that every ship should be marked, leaving it to the ship-owner to decide where the mark should be placed. They were of opinion then that if men wanted to ship, or persons desired to travel, they could see if she had sufficient freeboard. It was such a ridiculous farce that some ship-owners even went to the length of putting the Plimsoll mark on the funnel. The Act merely provided that the ship-owner could place the mark where he liked, but that if it was submerged he would be liable to a penalty. Consequently, some ship-owners put the mark on the funnel, where it was impossible for it to be submerged. Finding that the legislation was absolutely inoperative, a Select Committee recommended that every ship should be dealt with on its own merits. Rightly or wrongly - and, I believe, in good faith - it recommended that the freeboard should be measured from the upper side of the deck, whether it was wood or iron. The result has been that after years of experience ship-owners who wanted to carry more cargo have taken the measurements from the upper side of the deck. They have put the ships down in such a position that at sea they are virtually halftide rocks. There is neither comfort nor anything else on board.
– Surely that is a question of the alteration of the load-line.
– No; it is a question of the deck- line, which is quite another thing. The load-line and the deck-line are two separate things.
– The honorable senator is bringing them together.
– No; I am dealing with the definition of the deck-line. I wish to determine the point from which the measurement shall be taken, and also the point from which the deck-line shall be measured. In some instances the difference may be merely a matter of half-an-inch, but in others it may be one of two and a-half inches.
– Is that the thickness of the deck plank?
– It is if an extra plank be placed upon the deck. A deck may be made as thick as the owner chooses to make it. The thicker it is, the more will the’ buoyancy of the ship be lessened. I recognise that this is a highly technical question, but I have no hesitation in saying that every seaman, will agree with me as to the point from which the deck-line should be measured. The question which was mentioned by Senator de Largie and that of the light load-line are as separate as are the poles.
– Do they not affect each other?
– No. The Plimsoll mark has been adopted to prevent a ship from being overloaded and to insure decent conditions for those on hoard, whereas the light load-line is intended to prevent a ship from going to sea too light. Although a Committee of the Imperial Parliament investigated the question of the light load-line, it was not able to arrive at ‘ an agreement upon it. In the old days of sailing ships, it was notorious that those vessels would not stand up even in port unless they had a certain quantity of ballast in them. When they proceeded to sea they required a very considerable quantity of ballast. But today the position is quite different. Practically all steamers carry water ballast, so they have only to pump in or discharge water, according to the weather conditions which they experience. A vessel may leave port well ballasted to en counter ordinary weather. If she meets with adverse weather, she has merely to pump more water into her tanks.
– But what if the tank space be limited?
– Then the whole thing goes by the board. Most ships today draw from 24 to 28 feet of water. A difference of 3 inches in the free-board is a very considerable one.
– Under clause 222 there can be a difference of only 1 inch.
– Even 1 inch will make a considerable difference in the case of a ship which is loaded down to her bearings. The Minister will be well-advised if he adopts my amendment.
– This is a highly technical matter, and I think that when amendments of a technical character are to be submitted by honorable senators they ought to give notice of them. I ask Senator Guthrie not to press his proposal at the present juncture, and I will promise to inquire into the matter. My present advice is that if any alteration must be made, it should’ be made in clause 222, and that, in any case, the whole difference in question is merely one of an inch. I again ask the honorable senator not to press his amendment at this stage. I promise to inquire into the matter, and if I find .that an alteration is necessary, the clause will be recommitted.
– I am very pleased to have the assurance of the Minister of Defence that he does not take up a definite attitude upon this matter. I agree with him that the question is a highly technical one, but I must say that I was very much impressed with the remarks of Senator Guthrie. In a Bill of this kind, which is in no sense a party measure, there are necessarily many matters with which the Committee are not familiar. At the present moment my impression is that the merits of the dispute are with Senator Guthrie. At the same time, I should hesitate to approve of any amendment at the present juncture, because it is a matter - owing to its very technical character - which is somewhat beyond my ken. I am glad to have the assurance of the Minister that if an alteration lie deemed necessary an opportunity will be given to recommit the clause. I think that the Committee are under an obligation to Senator Guthrie for having brought this matter forward.
– I would suggest that the Minister should consent to postpone the further consideration of the definition of ‘ free-board “ until we have dealt with the question of the deck-line.
– Clause 222 has no bearing on this matter.
– Exactly. It has nothing whatever to do with the upper or lower side of the deck-line. The Minister in his remarks dealt withthe Plimsoll mark, with which everybody is acquainted. That mark is a circle with a line drawn through its centre. Clause 222 merely provides that the line drawn through the centre of the disc shall be 1 inch wide. But the deck may be 20 inches in thickness.
– The direction which is contained in clause 222 is merely intended to facilitate inspection.
– Exactly. We are asked to say that the deck-line shall be the upper side of the deck.
– If we alter the definition so as to make the deck-line the under side of the deck there will be a difference of only 1 inch. The deck-line is only 1 inch in thickness.
– But the deck may be 20 inches in thickness. The Bill provides that the measurement for freeboard shall be taken from the upper side of the deck, no matter how thick the deck may be. I ask that the measurement shall be taken from the lower side of the deck. The issue is a plain 6ne, and I again ask the Minister to consent to the consideration of this matter being deferred until we have dealt with the question of the load-line.
– We cannot postpone the definition now. I ask the honorable senator to withdraw his amendment, and I promise to afford htm an opportunity to recommit the clause.
– Then I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.’
Clauses 6 to11 agreed to.
Clause 12 - (1.) Certificates of competency (in this divi sion referred to as certificates) shall be granted in accordance with this Act for each of the following grades of officers (that is to say) : -
Foreign-going ship (steam, sail or other motive power) -
Limited coast trade ship (steam, sail, or other motive power) -
River and bay ship (steam, sail, or other motive power) -
Provided that the regulations shall be so framed as to allow any holder of an engineer’s certificate . . . . to qualify for a certificate of the next higher class.
– No provision is made in this clause for the granting of a certificate of competency for a second mate. I move1 -
That, before the word “ Mate,” line 13, the word “ First “ be. inserted.
– In the first schedule to the Bill the officers provided for in limited coast-trade ships are, over- 15 and not exceeding 100 tons net registered tonnage when running beyond50 miles from port of departure, a mate; over 100 and not exceeding 300 tons, a mate; exceeding 300, one first and one second mate. It is not intended in this clause to provide for a first and second mate in vessels of 100 tons which run only short distances.
– What Senator Guthrie says impresses me as being reasonable. The Bill proposes that a certain class of vessels shall c arry a captain and two other officers. But this clause provides for the issue of only two certificates. What about the third officer? Is he to go without a certificate? If so, what is to distinguish the third officer from an ordinary A.B. ? He cannot claim to command as second mate unless he has a certificate to show. Therefore, we ought to make provision for the issue of a certificate to the second mate. Otherwise the captain of such a vessel would say, “ How am I to comply with the schedule to your Act requiring me to carry a second mate, if you will not issue a second mate’s certificate?” Clause 22 of the Bill provides that no person shall engage as an officer unless he holds a certificate. That further strengthens Senator Guthrie’s argument.
– I think that Senator Guthrie’s contention is perfectly right. If honorable senators look at the provision made in the first schedule for “ river and hay ship,” and compare the provision made for “ limited coast-trade ship,” it wiil *1** seen that a mistake has been made. Apparently the provisions in regard to the two classes of ships have been transposed. Certainly a ship that merely trades within enclosed waters can do with fewer officers than a ship trading along the coast.
– On reconsideration I think that a mistake of the kind mentioned by Senator de Largie has been made. What was intended was that a limited coast-trade ship should carry a master and first and second mate, and that a river and bay ship should carry a master and a mate. Therefore, I shall agree to Senator Guthrie’s amendment, and to the consequential amendments that will be necessary.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (bv Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That, after the word “ Mate,” line 13, the words “ Second mate “ be inserted ; that the word “First,” line 17, be left out; and that the words “ Second mate,” line 18, be left out.
– Some changes have been made in this .Bill as compared with the previous Navigation Bill as regards engineers. I should like to know the reasons for these somewhat drastic alterations.
– I wish to mention a matter that has given me some anxiety. When the last Navigation Bill was .before us representations were made to honorable senators individually, if not collectively, by some of those in the humbler ranks of the engineers’ profession. They put the view that some provision should be made to enable such of them as possessed the necessary energy to qualify for higher positions, so that the way might be left open to them to climb up the ladder of promotion. I think that we ought always to be careful, in framing a Bill of this kind, to see that we do not close in the face of any man the door to promotion, if he has the energy and ability to seek and quality for it.
– The two questions that have been raised by Senator Millen and Senator St. Ledger are answered in the one way. The alterations that have been made in this Bill, as compared with the previous Navigation Bill, have been effected with the object of permitting men to rise from the position of greaser or fireman to the highest grades of the engineering service.
– That being the desire, I presume that, if it be pointed out that any clause does not give effect to the view expressed by the Minister, he will consent to alterations being made.
– The matter of promotion referred to by Senator Millen is really one of examination. The engineers have expressed a desire that every man obtaining a second or chief’s certificate should be a mechanical engineer. It is most necessary that that should be provided for. If the machinery of a steam-ship breaks down, a man who has not had mechanical training is not competent to put it right. It is necessary for some one on board a steamer to have had mechanical training. There is no desire to prevent an engineer of the lower grades securing promotion to the position of chief engineer if he has the necessary qualifications. It is claimed, however, that he should be able to pass a certain test in fitting, turning, blacksmithing, and that kind of work, to prove his ability to effect repairs in case of a breakdown at sea. Any man who has been on a vessel for a number of years as a thirdclass engineer should have sufficient experience to enable him to pass such a test.
– The honorable senator is speaking of shop experience.
– He should be able to pass a practical test. The Enginedrivers’ Association say that the test proposed is too severe, but I think, so long as we are assured that a man possesses sufficient mechanical ability to repair damages in a breakdown at- sea, there should be no objection to his going from the position of third-class engineer to that of second or first-class engineer. I think, however, that the regulations should provide for the passing of a mechanical test.
– I am glad that a departure is proposed in this Bill, ‘under which a thirdclass engineer will be given the opportunity to advance step by step to the highest engineering position he is qualified to occupy.
– That is in the Bill.
– It is not sufficiently clearly stated to satisfy me. As Senator Millen has pointed out, this is a matter which affects a large and very worthy section of our maritime workers. To leave it to regulation, as it is left in this Bill, is to deal with it rather cavalierly.
– There is a direction as to how the regulations are to be framed.
– We must provide for examinations by regulation.
– I feel that the matter is of far too great importance to be left to regulations, which are very often framed in accordance with the desires of the Government of the day. I admit that it might not be convenient to provide for the examination in the Bill, but we should lay down the principle that the holder of a third-class engineer’s certificate shall not be debarred from presenting himself for examination for any higher grade. The matter is first referred to in clause 12, in a reference to engineers of the third class in our coasting trade. Engineers of this class can have charge only of engines of 50 nominal horse-power. If a ship’s engines are of 51 nominal horse-power, the third-class engineer must give place to an engineer of a higher grade. Unless the Minister can show me that what I desire is provided for in the Bill, I shall submit an amendment when we come to clause 13 to give effect to it. In the meantime, I am anxious to know from the honorable senator what opportunities are afforded under this Bill for a third-class engineer who applies himself to acquire the necessary information to advance from the lowest grade to the position of chief engineer, having charge of the engine-room on one of the largest steamers engaged in our coastal trade.
– We should bear in mind that the crux of this matter is in what is to be prescribed. We may decree that the door shall be left open to an officer of the lowest to advance to the highest grade, but, as the examination held under this Bill will be “ as prescribed,” it will really rest with the Minister administering the Act to say whether the door shall be left open actually as well as figuratively. That being so, I say at once, in spite of doubts I have regarding the present Administration, that I am willing to accept the provision of the BiU. 1 do not believe that even the present Government would be inclined to make the road unduly hard for any man who might seek to raise himself from a lowly position to a higher one. I strongly protest against the view put forward by Senator McDougall, who seemed to think that, because the engineers have decreed that a certain examination should be prescribed, that should be sufficient for the Committee. I entirely dissent from that.
– I am not an engineer, but I could pass the examination they suggest to-morrow.
– That is not the point. We are passing a law which will remain for years on our statute-book, and I altogether dissent from the proposition that any section of those employed under it should be at liberty to declare that a certain thing shall be done, and we should therefore accept it. Without wishing to cast any reflection whatever upon the higher grade of engineers, we may suppose that they would regard with some degree of jealousy the efforts made by others to enter their ranks. Senator McDougall’s view appears to be that if the higher-grade engineers declare that a certain examination is essential, no one shall be allowed to pass from a lower to a higher grade who does not pass that examination.
– The lower-grade engineers are also satisfied with what is proposed.
– That overcomes one difficulty, but if all the engineers in the world agreed upon a certain proposal, we should not, therefore, be bound to accept what they agreed upon. I hope we are not framing a Bill merely to meet the convenience of certain persons who have come to an agreement on this matter. We have other interests to look after.
– What other interests have we to look after?
– I am surprised at the interjection. Does the honorable senator mean to say that we have no interests to serve but those of a certain trade?
– Yes; but they will look after the bigger interests.
– I prefer to look after the bigger interests first. I hope we have not yet reached the stage when, because a certain trade union agrees to a certain thing, it is, therefore, settled for us, quite apart from the interests of the rest of the community.
– The honorable senator has admitted that he knows nothing about the engineering trade.
– I have; but it does not matter what trade it is, I am laying down a principle. The honorable senator has submitted a proposition that, when a trade agrees that a certain examination is essential, we have nothing to do but to legislate to give it effect. I dissent from that altogether.
– I did not say or infer anything of the sort.
– Then I must plead inability to understand the honorable senator. We have no right to regard as conclusive the dictum of any section of those interested in this Bill. We ought to try to do what will be just and fair as between all concerned in the measure, and what will make for the safety of those who will travel as seamen or passengers in the vessels trading in our waters.
– The honorable senator has said that he would not know what is just and fair.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– -The honorable senator admitted that he does not know what would be a fair examination for an engineer to pass.
– I think that Senator McDougall will not claim to know what would be a fair examination for an engineer to pass. If he does know there must be others who possess the knowledge, and if a majority of the Committee know what would be a fair examination, why should we not put it in the Bill? The reason it is not included in the Bill is because that would be laying down for all time what would be a fair examination. As a consequence, we leave it to be “ as prescribed,” and I am perfectly content to believe that the officers who will administer this measure will decide what is a fair examination to ask any one to pass. I object altogether to the theory advanced that we are bound to follow the lead given us by any section or trade interested in any of the clauses of this Bill.
– The clause before us is a big improvement upon the similar provision of previous Navigation Bills considered by the Senate. An endeavour has been made to overcome the objections urged to similar clauses in the earlier Bills. Honorable senators will remember that there was considerable discussion upon this matter when the last Navigation Bill was before us. I think that the difficulty then pointed out has been fairly met by the proviso that (he regulation shall be so framed as to ai! >w any holder of an engineer’s certificate to serve in any ship for such voyage, and in such capacities, as will enable him to qualify for a certificate of the next higher grade. That is what a number of honorable members on this side contended for last year.
– The honorable senator might say that that was contended for by honorable senators on both sides. The difficulty was to decide upon the best means to carry out what was desired.
– That is so; and the clause now before the Committee meets, to some extent, the objection urged to the Bill of last year. I remind the Committee that the matter will be in our own hands, because any regulations framed under the clause must be laid upon the table of the Senate, and it will be within the right of any honorable senator to move their disallowance if he does not approve of them. I have had suggested regulations put into my hands with which I ‘could not be satisfied, because no chief engineer employed on the coast of Australia to-day could pass a satisfactory examination under them. They appear to me to have been framed in order to prevent men rising from the position of third-class engineer. If such regulations were framed under this Bill, I should do all in my power to have them disallowed when they were laid before Parliament. I wish to add to the clause another proviso in the ‘ direction indicated by Senator Millen. I wish to provide for efficiency and safety. We have to consider, not merely the engineer, but the whole of the crew and passengers of a vessel. I should like to say that I am sorry I was unable to get my amendments printed.
– So am I.
– I told the Minister that I would like to have had them printed on Friday, but I had to go to Adelaide. I think the amendment I now intend to propose may be accepted without much discussion. Had I thought that we should have got so far with the Bill, I would have endeavoured to have had my amendments printed, so that the Minister might have had an opportunity of considering them. I move -
That the following words be added to the clause “ Provided also that these regulations shall have due regard to a sufficiency of sea service in lieu of apprenticeship, and a reasonable efficiency in the use of engineers’ tools.”
– Is there not some provision of 1’iat kind in the Merchant Shipping Act?
– No. That Act and the Board of Trade provide for only two grades of certificate, namely, first and second, but in this Bill we are making a distinct departure from the Act.
– Not for the first time.
– No; because every State has provided for the issue of a third-class certificate. It is only fair that the regulations should afford an opportunity to a man to start as a trimmer on a steamer, and to pass through the grades of fireman, greaser, donkeyman, third-class engineer, and second-class engineer, until he attains the position of chief engineer. At the same time we must be careful to see that men who are incompetent shall not get certificates. My desire is to protect those who travel and those who are anxious to start at the bottom of the ladder and work their way to the highest rung. My amendment, if adopted, will get rid of the difficulty experienced hitherto.
– I share Senator Guthrie’s sorrow that this amendment has not been circulated in print. Although it is of a comparatively simple character, I think it is entirely unnecessary. If honorable senators will turn to the clause they will see that under the present proviso a man has to qualify, and that clause 13 provides that the examinations of candidates for certificates shall be held in such places and under such rules as are prescribed. Obviously, the things which are covered by the amendment must be dealt with in the rules as to the examinations.
– There is no practical examination now.
– That will be provided for in the regulations. The amendment does not indicate the length of the sea service, but the regulations will have to do so. Nor does the amendment lay down a standard of reasonable efficiency in the use of engineers’ tools, but in. the regulations a test will have to be set up. The honorable senator’s object can be attained by keeping an eye on the regulations, and seeing that they meet the case. If this amendment is made it will not be anything more than the expression of a pious hope that a certain thing will be done.
– I think that the proviso in the clause does more than that.
– Yes; it provides that when a man reaches one grade, rules must be framed to enable him to reach the next grade. A definite principle is laid down, but in the. amendment no principle is involved. It provides that regulations shall be made in a certain direction, but does not indicate how far they are to go. I know that the Attorney-General contemplates dealing in the regulations with each of the points which have been mentioned here. I trust that the amendment will not be pressed.
– I am sorry that the Minister has not looked with a more friendly ‘eye on the amendment. It must be recognised that the Bill is making a radical departure in the methods of qualifying engineers in the coasting trade. Regulations can always be altered more easily than can an Act of Parliament. We should express in plain words our intention when we are about to make a radical departure. If the intention is to substitute sea service for a term of indentureship to a trade, it should be clearly stated.
– Where you indicate’ certain things, do you not narrow your intention rather than widen it?
– I do not think so. In my opinion, the clause as it stands will still permit those who will be called upon to frame the regulations, and work the Act, to adhere to the old groove, and to refuse to admit a candidate as an applicant for a third-class certificate unless he has served for a certain number of years in the engineering trade. That has been the practice for years, both here and in the Old Country.
– That would violate the provision already in the clause.
– I fail to see it. My contention is that the qualification for a third-class certificate should be set out in the Bill, and should not be left to be dealt with by regulation. Hitherto the objection has been that an applicant has not been possessed of the requisite shop experience. To leave the removal of that obstacle to the mere operation of a regulation would be, I think, a very faulty method of giving effect to our wishes.
– The honorable senator is dealing with the acquisition of the first certificate?
– Yes. Whilst the amendment may be looked upon as superfluous, it has this virtue, that it will set beyond doubt the possibility of a clever man being able to obtain a third-class certificate, and then advancing by easy stages fo the highest grade. Hitherto the whole difficulty has lain in the acquisition of the third-class certificate. Applicants for higher grade certificates are well safeguarded, but unless this amendment be made, it will still be possible to throw the old obstacle in the way of a man who is endeavouring to get his foot on the ladder. It should be expressed in black and white that in future the old obstacle of indentureship shall not be required of an applicant for a third-class certificate.
– I think the amendment is worthy of serious consideration. I recognise that it is the intention of the framers of the Bill to give equal opportunities to all. If I thought that we were to have a Labour Government continuously, I should agree to the proviso as it stands, but recognising that perhaps three years hence we might have another Government - I hope we shall not - I do not feel inclined in this matter to trust to a regulation.
– How will an amendment help the honorable senator?
– I think it is more definite, inasmuch as it specifies a certain service, and requires an acquaintance with the use of engineers’ tools.
– It refers to a sufficient service.
– What is a sufficiency of sea service?
– It is just possible that the amendment may not go as far as I want. I think the proviso goes very much further than does the clause. It reads - .
Provided that the regulations shall be so framed as to allow any holder of an engineer’s certificate to serve in such ships, etc.
Does that refer to a third or second or first class engineer’s certificate? We know very well that men working at the trade, both on sea and laud, have ample experience, and it is just possible that if we accept the provision in its present form, it may prevent some of these men from getting to the door, at all. I shall support Senator Guthrie’s amendment, because it will assist the man who is endeavouring to get a footing on the lowest rung of the ladder, and will thus carry out the intention of the Bill.
– In the course of this discussion two points have been raised - one By Sena tor Guthrie, and .the other by Senator Lynch. It is essential to a proper understanding of the question that we should recognise that these two points are entirely distinct. Senator Lynch has contended that some provision in the Bill should prescribe the conditions under which a man shall obtain his first certificate as an engineer, in other words, the conditions under which hi shall place his foot on the first rung of the ladder. Senator Guthrie, on the other hand, seeks to deal with the man who has obtained his initial certificate, and who desires to secure promotion to the higher graces. To my mind the conditions under which the first certificate shall be obtained, ought to be, and indeed must be, left to regulation. Unless we wish to do an injustice to those who are striving to secure their first certificates as engineers, I do not see how we can lay down in this Bill the examination which they must pass. We must really leave something to the discretion of the Minister. We may do so with perfect confidence, because I do not think any attempt will be made to administer the law in any way other than that which will bf fair to all concerned. Senator Guthrie wishes to smooth the path df those who desire to pass from the rank of third-class engineer to the rank of either second or first-class engineer. In my opinion, his proposal would have the effect of restricting their opportunities.
– It will make for efficiency.
– I do not ‘think so. Can anything be wider than the proviso is at present? When once a man has obtained his first certificate he is guaranteed that no regulations shall require him to put in shop service as against sea service. If any attempt be made by regulation to require him to render shop service, it will be a violation of this proviso which declares that “ the regulations shall be so framed as to allow any holder of an engineer’s certificate to serve in such ships, and for such voyages, and in such capacities,” &c. The man has not yet been born who can be in two places at once, it seems to me, therefore, that we have safeguarded his interests in the fullest possible manner, and that the effect of Senator Guthrie’s proposal would be to limit, rather than widen, his opportunities. I would, therefore, suggest that the Committee should agree to the clause as it stands.
– I ask those who are possessed of a very keen practical knowledge of the matter which we are now discussing to recollect that every member of the Committee does not occupy that happy position. But most of us know, in a general way, what is required to make men thoroughly proficient in their particular calling in life. As one who does not profess to possess a technical knowledge of seafaring life, I wish to say that the provision in the Bill impresses me in precisely the same way as it has impressed the Leader of the Opposition. The proviso clearly sets out that a man must have had a sufficient sea service to enable him to qualify for the position of second or first-class engineer.
– After he has a certificate.
– If we insert in the Bill a provision which will permit of a man becoming a full-fledged engineer by serving his time wholly on board ship, we shall fail to achieve our object.
– It is not nrouosed to do that.
– That may be so. But there seems to me a disposition on the part of certain honorable senators tn slight shop service. They appear desirous of wiping it out altogether.
– I confess that that point has not been made clear to me. Senator Lynch wishes the regulations to be framed in such a way as will not prevent a man from obtaining his certificate as a third-class engineer. He affirms that they ought to provide that it shall not be essential that a certain term of years shall be served in a shop. He would thus prevent a man from obtaining his first certificate. I am not a slave to any particular term of years. There are some young and clever youths who are able to grasp engineering difficulties and technicalities in two or three years, while others may not be able to grasp them in ten years.
– They may not he able to grasp them at all.
– The Bill empowers the framing of regulations for the purpose of insuring that every candidate must pass a certain standard examination for his -first certificate.
– That is all that I propose.
– Then why load the Bill with superfluous terms? I do not think that we can add to the proviso words” which will make it cover a wider range. We ought not to load the measure with incongruities, and therefore it would be wise for the seafaring experts in thisChamber either to make their position clear to the Committee, or to agree to the provision in its present form.
– We accept that provision.
SenatorHENDERSON. - The honorable senator accepts it, and then seeks to introduce a modification of it.
– The honorable senator has a wrong conception of my proposal.
– Then I am either very dull of comprehension, or the honorable senator has failed to make clear his intentions.
– As one who has devoted a little attention to this matter, I am perfectly satisfied with the clause in its present form. In it the principle is laid down for which we contended when the Bill of last year was under consideration. It is laid down in such a clear way as to admit of no mistake. The clause provides a perfect ladder of promotion from the lowest to the highest rung. Senator Lynch seems to think that no provision is made in the Bill for those in the lower ranks to rise. But such is not the case. . Provision is made for granting A.B. certificates to seamen, and also for the rating of firemen. So that provision is made for the gradual rise of a man from the lowest ranks up to the highest.
– The proviso to this clause is not sufficient.
– The clause lays down the principle. The provision as to rating is contained in clauses 38 ‘and 39. While I am pleased that the measure has been made so complete in this direction, I should not like to have it made so loose that an incompetent man could get to the lop. I am sure that that is not Senator Guthrie’s intention. But, at the same time, we do not want to see men who have made themselves competent prevented by legislation from securing promotion. I hold that every possible means of enabling a man to rise has been provided, and that the amendment is unnecessary. While the Bill departs so radically from the Merchant Shipping Act, it does not depart from the practice hitherto in vogue in the various
States. No doubt there were contradictions in the State legislation ; but the principles contained in this Bill are, more or less, contained in the Acts of the States. To make the Bill any looser would be a mistake.’ Furthermore, to carry out Senator Lynch ‘s idea would be to make the Bill much more bulky than it is already. We should have to provide for the various examinations, and even when that was done the- provisions might be unworkable in a few years’ time. Alterations are continually being made in engines, and the regulations that might be suitable this year might be out of date a few years hence. To lay down such provisions in an Act of Parliament would be a very foolish thing indeed.
– While I am in sympathy with the intention of those who support the amendment, I cannot vote for it. 1 think that the clause is ample as it stands. Even a third engineer should have a general knowledge of the” use of tools, and if an accident took place at sea should be competent to effect repairs. A man who merely holds an engine-driver’s certificate is not competent to repair an engine. I myself hold a certificate as an engine-driver, and can drive any engine. But if an engine which I was driving broke down, I should have to get assistance to mend it. If I thought that the amendment would assist good and competent men to get third-class certificates, I should willingly support it ; but I do not want to see any man obtain a third engineer’s certificate unless he is a practical man, able to make repairs in case of an accident occurring. A knowledge of engineers’ tools is not sufficient. A man might be able to name all the tools used by an engineer, but he might not be competent to use them. The practical experience which we should require from a third engineer can, in my opinion, only be obtained in a workshop. A man might be it sea for twenty years, and never* witness a serious accident.
– A man must have shop experience to know how lo mend an engine.
– That is my opinion. I have been wrecked, and have also been at sea when the engines have broken down. On those occasions the passengers would have been very much disturbed if they had known that the engineers were not competent to effect repairs. About twenty years ago the engines of the Perthshire broke down, and the vessel floated about for some weeks, until the engineers could repair the machinery and enable her to be brought into port.
– How did those engineers gain their experience?
– I am satisfied that they gained it before they went afloat. I have conversed with many ship’s engineers’, and found that. nearly all of them had had shop experience. I know engineers who have served their time in ship-building, yards before going to sea. It is quite conceivable that, in case of accident, the first and second engineers might be ill or injured, and that the repairs would have to be effected by the third engineer. It would be a dreadful thing if he were incompetent. 1 am willing to give every man who has ability to rise the opportunity to do so; but I do not want to make it too easy, or to leave loopholes for unqualified men to get engineers’ certificates.
– The argument of Senator Sayers really tells in favour of the amendment. Under ordinary circumstances a man who goes up for an engineer’s second-class certificate has had -shop experience. ‘ It is impossible for a man to obtain a Board of Trade certificate unless he can show a certain period of service in ships having a certain horse-power, or a certain amount of shop experience! I want to see efficiency provided for; but, at the same time, an engineer who has had no shop experience ought to be able to pass a moderate examination in the handling of tools.
– Those who are opposed to the amendment simply say that they would leave it to regulations to determine the character of the examination.
– Honorable senators would prevent men in the lower grades from rising. Let me give an idea- of the kind of examination a third class engineer might be called upon to pass.
– Is this under the Board of Trade, or under Australian legislation ?
– There is no third class engineer recognised by the Board of Trade, nor is there a third class engineer recognised by the Victorian law. They have here what they call a “ marine enginedriver.” In New South Wales and Queensland there is provision made ‘ for third class engineers.
– But is not the marine engine-driver of Victoria equivalent to the third class engineer of the other States?
– No ; the position i? not equivalent to that of third class engineer in New South Wales. In that State a third class engineer may take charge of a vessel whose engines are of not more than 50 nominal horse-power, anywhere on the coast of New South Wales, whilst a marine engine-driver, under the Victorian low is limited to Port Phillip and Hobson’s Bay. 1 quote the following from the South Australian regulations -
The possession of a third-class engineer’s certificate enables the holder thereof to take charge only of a coasting steamship trading in a river fir of a steamship of fifty nominal horse-power or under plying between any ports of the State or any port between the Gulf of St. Vincent md Spencer’s Gulf. Service in such capacity does not in any way qualify for any position in a higher grade, the qualifications of which are prescribed in clause 23.
That certificate would be useless to a man in New South Wales, Queensland, or Western Australia as a means tn advance to a higher grade. If a man has served ten or twenty years on board a ship, and acquires a knowledge of the engineers’ tools and the handling of them, 1 think that ought to be taken into consideration when he applies for a certificate for a higher grade.
– When the honorable senator says a knowledge of tools, it might mean a knowledge of the price of them. His- expression is too indefinite.
– I mean a knowledge of the way in which” to handle the tools.
– If the honorable senator’s amendment means that a mau must pass as qualified to use the tools in making repairs, I am with him.
– That is exactly what it does mean. ‘ A man who serves an apprenticeship at the present time has a theoretical, and nol a practical, examination to pass, and I take it that that is what will be proposed in the future. It will be assumed that a man who has served an apprenticeship as engineer has a knowledge of the handling of tools. I propose that if a man has only sea experience he should be obliged to undergo a practical examination.
– That, no doubt, is what the honorable senator intends.
– That is what my amendment states as plainly as language can state it, and I hope the Committee will accept it. “Progress reported.
Senator PEARCE laid on the table the following paper- -
Patents Act 1903-1909. - Amendment of Regulations 38 and 48; new heading, “Extension of Patent under Section 84 of the Act,” and new Regulations 133A, 13311, and 33ci and amendment of Forms A-A10 in the Second Schedule to the Patents Regulations, 1909. - Statutory Rules sgio, No. 85.
Senate adjourned at 10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 September 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100927_senate_4_57/>.