4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– As I happened to be elsewhere when the Bill was considered in Committee yesterday, I take this opportunity to enter a protest against its principle. I strongly object to trust moneys being applied to any other purpose than that which has been prescribed by Parliament.
– It is the people’s money which is to be used for the people’s purposes.
– I am quite aware of. that, but I enter my protest against the principle of the Bill.
– This is a Bill to authorize an advance from the Trust Fund.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 6th October, vide page 4202) :
Clause 136 - (1.) The owner of every steam-ship registered in Australia, or engaged in the coasting trade, shall -
make provision to the satisfaction of the medical inspector or the prescribed official for the adequate ventilation of the officers’ rooms, engine-room, and stoke-hole ; and
except as in the next paragraph mentioned, provide for each officer, up to at least four, a separate room having a cubic content of not less than one hundred and eighty feet, and having a separate entrance to the deck, and not opening directly into the engine-room; or
in the case of limited coast-trade steamships of less than three hundred tons gross registered tonnage - provide for each two officers a separate room, having a cubic content of not less than three hundred and fifty cubic feet, and having aseparate entrance to the deck, and not opening directly into the engineroom.
Penalty : Twenty - pounds, with Five pounds for every day after the first day during which such default continues.’ (2.) For purposes of a prosecution under this section, service on the master or agent of a ship shall be service on the owner.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [10.35].- I move -
That the word “ eighty,” line 13, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ twenty.”
Last night I intimated to the Minister my intention to move certain amendments in clauses 136 and 137. What I alluded to then was principally the question of the accommodation to be provided in various ships. It is almost impossible to deal with one matter without, to a certain extent, referring to the other, and therefore I ask the indulgence of the Committee if I transgress the rule of debate. Clause 136 is limited to steam-ships registered in Aus- tralia, or engaged in the coasting trade. I do not take any exception to paragraph a of sub-clause 1, but, as regards paragraph b, I appeal to the Committee to reduce the space from 180 to 120 cubic feet. In the Merchant Shipping Act no special accommodation is provided for officers. It is supposed to be equal to that which is allowed to the seamen. I understand that in all the larger ships a certain amount of special accommodation is given to the officers for many reasons, which must be manifest to honorable senators. When we are asked to deal with the question of space and accommodation for officers it is very necessary to take into consideration the special circumstances in which our coasting trade is carried on. I am not in a position to speak with special authority regarding the position in the States generally, but I know that it is difficult for a steamer to enter very many of the ports along the coast of New South Wales, because the depth of water is very limited. Not only have small ships to be employed for that reason, but their length has to be limited in consequence of the tortuous character of many of the channels which they have to negotiate. After a very full consideration of this question, the Navigation Commission arrived at certain conclusions, which are really in accordance with the amendment I propose to submit.
Section 135 of the Bill substantially repeats the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act.
The Act there referred to is the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, in which the space prescribed was only 72 cubic feet. The quotation continues -
The evidence given before your Commissioners establishes the necessity for some radical alterations. In respect of air-space, very few witnesses favored the retention of the present provisions.
That is 72 cubic feet.
Three were in favour of 140 cubic feet.
Eleven were in favour of 120 cubic feet.
Eleven were in favour of 100 cubic feet.
Six were in favour of 72 cubic feet.
It will be seen that out of thirty-one witnesses, only three were in favour of the space provided in the Bill, eleven were in favour of 120 cubic feet, and the remaining seventeen were in favour of a much smaller area.
Summarized; the findings and recommendations of your Commissioners are as follow : -
That the following improvements in accommodation are desirable : -
One hundred and twenty cubic feet of air space per man.
Efficient ventilation in sleeping quarters.
Bathrooms, supplied with hot water for engineers, firemen, and others on steam-ships.
Adequate lighting of forecastles by day and night.
To the Commission’s recommendation as to the air space per man, the following footnote is appended: -
Recommendations limited to -
Ships registered in Australia.
Ships licensed to trade on the Australian const.
Ships continuously trading to any port in the Commonwealth, whose articles are drawn out in the Commonwealth, and whose final port of discharge of crew is in the Commonwealth.
So much for the recommendation of the Commission. It is quite clear that only a tithe of the witnesses examined were in favour of a larger air space than 120 cubic feet. When I turn to the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906, I find a similar provision on that subject. Section 64 reads -
Sub-section 1 of section 210 of the Principal Act, which provides for the space required for each seaman or apprentice in any place in a British ship occupied by seamen or apprentices and appropriated to their use, shall be construed as if a space of not less than 120 cubic feet, and of not less than 15 superficial feet, measured on the deck or floor of that place were substituted for a space of not less than 72 cubic feet and of not less than 12 superficial feet measured on the deck or floor of that place.
So that the amendment I have proposed is strictly in accordance with the recommendation of the Navigation Commission, the evidence given by a majority of the witnesses and the provision in the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906. Still further, it is in accordance with the Bill introduced into this Parliament in 1908. If honorable senators refer to that Bill, they will find that it provided that the air space should be 120 cubic feet per man. With all these reasons placed before the Committee, the Minister might very well see his way to accept my amendment as one which is in agreement with the most advanced opinion in regard to the requirements for air space. Not only have a large number of ships for the Australian trade beenbuilt during the last few years on the lines laid down in the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906, but ships are now being built and the requirements for air space are being met in accordance with that Act, the recommendations of our Royal Commission, and the proposals of the Navigation Bill of 1908. It would manifestly be very unfair towards those who have been constructing vessels in good faith, and meeting those various requirements, if they were suddenly confronted with the necessity for providing a larger amount of air space than has hitherto been considered necessary. The increase of air space must limit the carrying capacity of ships. Vessels in the coasting trade are necessarily small ; and it follows that every ton of cargo which they are prevented from carrying adds to the cost, thereby imposing greater burdens on the producers of the country.
– Senator Gould is, of course, quite correct in saying that the requirements of this Bill exceed those recommended by the Navigation Commission. But the Navigation Commission’s report in this respect represents a compromise between two sections in order to secure unanimity. The Commission point out on page 13 of their report that the amount of space recommended by the British Labour Commission was 140 cubic feet. This, however, referred to conditions prevailing in England, and had in view a temperate climate. Very many of our ships work in climates that are not temperate. This Bill covers vessels trading in the South seas, to Fiji, and in the waters of Northern and North-western Australia, where the conditions approximate to a tropical character. The Royal Commission, of course, gathered evidence from men who had been working under set conditions, and it is. always difficult for such men to get away from their preconceived ideas as to what is the right thing to do. In saying what they thought would be a fair amount of space to provide they naturally had regard to conditions with which they were familiar. One can quite understand that in their recommendations they did not feel inclined to go quite as far as they would have done had they been considering the case on its merits, and quite apart from existing conditions. Enormous alterations have been made in recent years in connexion with the passenger service. Honorable senators who, like myself, have had to travel much at sea during the last twenty years will be able to make a comparison between the accommodation provided for passengers twenty years ago and that now provided in our Inter-State steamers. There has been a tremendous increase of the space allotted to passengers, and a vast improvement in the ventilation and in conditions generally. I have never heard any one say that the passenger trade has: suffered in consequence. On the con trary, it has increased, and become most lucrative and profitable to the steam-ship companies. It is also to be borne in mind that the conditions which we prescribe will apply to all ships engaged in the Australian trade. There will be no unfair competition from foreign vessels. The Australian ship-owner will not be able to complain that he is compelled to provide 140 cubic feet of space per man whilst his foreign competitors provide only 75 cubic feet. The British Labour Commission recommended 140 cubic feet in face of the knowledge that if their report had been carried out there was nothing to prevent foreign ships which provided only 75 cubic feet of space for their seamen competing with British ships. We are going to make the conditions in this respect on the Australian coast even, and it is therefore worth our while to insist upon what is generally conceded to be sufficient space being provided to insure the health of the crew.’
– The honorable senator is not justified in saying that it is generally conceded, when no such provision is to be found in any other Navigation Act.
– I say that if any doctor is consulted upon the matter, he will admit that the space provided for in this Bill is little enough.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Then the report of the Commission is not correct.
– I have pointed out that the witnesses who dealt with this question were men who had been brought up under the conditions of the limited space hitherto provided. It will be admitted that, with the experience they had, they were not likely to recommend an undue increase in the space to be provided. I direct attention to the fact that in clause 1 38 we propose to provide that -
The Minister may by order in writing exempt a ship built before the commencement of this Act from compliance with any or all of the provisions of this division (except paragraphs c. d, e,f, and g of sub-section 1 of the last-pre ceding section) if he is satisfied that the accom modation in the ship for officers and men isno insanitary or that all such alterations havebeen made in the ship as are in his opinion necessary to make the accommodation sanitary.
Then sub-clause 5 of the preceding clause 137 contains this provision -
If the. Minister is satisfied on. expert evidence that it is not practicable to make any alteration necessary to meet the requirements of paragraph a of sub-section 1 of this section, the Minister may permit similar and equivalent accommodation in another part of the ship to be substituted for the crew’s space which does not fulfil the requirements of this Act.
So that in the case of existing ships, every endeavour will be made to administer this provision with as little harshness as possible. Honorable senators will see that the Bill makes provision for exemptions from compliance with these requirements where the structure of the ship will not allow of the crew space and accommodation being supplied in the way provided for. Of course, when the measure comes into force, ship-owners will know the law, and in any future ships built by them they will be required to comply with these provisions. We know that the life of a modern steamer is very much shorter than that of the old wooden ships, and in a comparatively few years all the ships trading on the Australian coast will have to comply with these provisions. I admit that, under this clause, the owners of British foreign-going ships will be placed at some disadvantage as compared with foreign owners. But Senator Gould, in moving his amendment, has admitted that this clause will not affect a large ship so much as a small ship, and the foreign-going trade is carried on with large ships. In the case of large ships, the cubic contents represented by the accommodation space required will not be of so much consequence as in the case of a small vessel.
– I admit that.
– In the case of the Australian trade the competition will be equal, because all vessels will be subject to the same conditions. In all the circumstances the Government feel constrained to ask the Committee to accept the clause as it stands, although they recognise that it represents a big advance upon any provision of the kind in any other legislation. We think these provisions are justified and are necessary amongst other reasons in order to encourage young Australians to take to the mercantile marine. One cannot read the report of the Navigation Commission without being struck by the references to the decline of the British mercantile marine. The decline is not in the number of the ships, their tonnage, or the capital invested, but in the number of Britishers employed in the ships. This is largely due to the fact that, while sanitary and housing conditions ashore have steadily improved, such conditions on board ship have not improved. We need to make the housing conditions on our ships as nearly equal to those on shore as practicable if we are to. encourage the people to take to the sea for a livelihood. I ask the Committee to reject the amendment.
– I hope the Committee will very seriously consider this question and that honorable senators will listen carefully to the evidence from both sides. I have no hesitation in saying that some of the information we have received for our guidance in this matter comes from agencies of ship-owners. We are as much entitled to place that information before the Committee, provided that we consider it bona fide, as honorable senators opposite are to submit information supplied by officers and seamen. We can afford to dismiss considerations of interested motives in discussing this question. I intend to support the amendment. It must be as obvious as the fingers on one’s hand that if ship-owners are required to provide increased accommodation and these extra conveniences for their seamen, it must limit the carrying, and therefore the earning, capacity of their vessels. We should remember that a profitable trade is springing up along our coasts which is of the greatest importance to Australian development. If we increase the obligations of ship-owners engaged in this trade, we must expect an increase of freights and fares. We have therefore to consider whether any request in the direction of this provision is fair-
– The same thing has always been said about factories legislation.
– It ever will be said. If some persons were given the accommodation of the Kingdom of Heaven they would get up and strike against it. 1 admit that the converse of the proposition is also true, and that there are some persons who will not respond to the claims of humanity, no matter how insistent they may be. The common-sense view is always a compromise between the views of the extremists, who are the despair of all legislators and every community. It is in that spirit of compromise that I hope we shall discuss this matter. The expense involved in the increase of the obligations placed upon ship-owners by this Bill must come out of the trade, and as a result freights, and especially fares, may be so much increased that travelling by sea may become a privilege of which only the rich may be able to avail themselves. It is generally admitted that a sea voyage is one of the best remedies for a condition of ill-health, and we should do nothing which would debar the poor from taking advantage of such a remedy. No one can deny that freights, and especially fares, have been increased immensely of late. The cost of travelling by sea has within the last five or six years gone up by 50 or 60 per cent. for first and secondclass passengers, and if the obligations of ship-ownersbe still further increased sea travelling may be denied to a large section of the community. The Minister has said that it has been generally recognised that 140 cubic feet ought to be provided for seamen. In his plausible remarks in defence of the clause the Minister failed to recognise the fact that he was casting a slur upon the merchant shipping legislation of almost every other country on earth. In the pragmatical spirit which is often displayed on the Ministerial bench, the honorable senator practically claimed that the present Government are the only persons who recognise the common claims of humanity in dealing with seamen. I cannot indorse that opinion. There have been three Acts ‘dealing with navigation passed in New Zealand. One was passed in 1903, another in 1908, and the third in 1909. The accommodation to be provided for seamen was thoroughly discussed in connexion with every one of these measures, and in the light of expert evidence. But notwithstanding this fact, the New Zealand Parliament in their last amending legislation on this subject in 1909, maintained the provision of 120 cubic feet for a seaman. Section 16 of the New Zealand Act of 1909 is in these terms -
Sub-section one of section One hundred and twenty-one of the Principal Act is hereby amended by inserting at the end of paragraph (4) the following : - “ Provided that in the case of home trade steam-ships under one hundred tons register the Minister may grant exemption from the requirement as to separate rooms in the case of mates and engineers who are carried in excess of the requirements of this Act, and he may also fix the minimum size of the separate rooms when only one mate and one engineer are carried on a steam-ship.
That section was passed in order to preserve and conserve the coastal trade. Their amending Act shows how much the New Zealand Parliament thought of that trade. Our coasting trade is as important to us as the New Zealand coastal trade is to the Dominion. The New Zealand Par liament considered this matter from an economic, as well as from a humane, point of view, and was exceedingly careful to vest in the Minister power to compel shipowners engaged in its coastal trade, to provide fair accommodation for the crews and officers of vessels. Section 17 of the New Zealand Act of 1909 reads -
Section one hundred and twenty-two of the principal Act is hereby amended -
by omitting from sub-section one thereof the words “ seventy-two nor more than.”
by omitting from the said sub-section the words “twelve nor more than eighteen,” and substituting “ fifteen.”
by adding the following sub-section : - “ (8.) In estimating the space available for the proper accommodation of seamen there may be taken into account the space occupied by any messrooms, bathrooms, or washing places appropriated exclusively to the use of those seamen, so however that the space in any place appropriated to the use of seamen in which they sleep is not less than seventy-two cubic feet, and twelve superficial feet for each seaman.”
It will be seen, therefore, that when I characterize the remark of the Minister that this is the first Legislature which has considered a Navigation Bill from a humane stand-point, as pragmatical, I am justified in doing so. The New Zealand Navigation Act was most carefully considered by the Dominion Parliament, and the seamen of that country appear to be well satisfied not only with the provisions of the Act itself, but also with its administration. Over and over again this question of accommodation has been brought before the Board of Trade and before the Imperial Parliament. In the Merchant Shipping Act, the accommodation to be provided for each seaman has been increased from 72 cubic feet to 120 cubic feet. It must be well within the knowledge of those who have studied the course of shipping legislation that the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 had been so carefully considered by Select Committees that it passed through the House of Commons - notwithstanding that it contains more than 700 clauses - in less than half-an-hour. The accommodation which has found general acceptance with seamen is 120 cubic feet.
– In what kind of climate ?
– I was about to refer to that matter. It may seem strange to the honorable member that from one point of view the fact that our coastal vessels trade largely in a tropical climate may be used as much as an argument in favour of 1 20 cubic feet of space being allotted to each seaman, as against it. The Minister of Defence has already pointed out a fact which is unchallengeable, namely, that the passenger traffic along our coast has materially increased. It would be a damning circumstance if it had not done so. That increased traffic merely means that the population of Australia has increased. As the size of our ships is increased naturally they provide increased acommodation for their crews. Both passenger fares and freights have been increased, because our prosperity has been abnormal. This season will probably be a record one.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Labour party are responsible for the prosperous season which is being experienced?
– Of course, they are. The sun will not rise in the morning until the Caucus allows it to do so. Ministers are actually encouraging delusions of that sort.
– But it was a fact that the Labour party were responsible for the drought.
– I wonder if the Minister has ever read the classical story about the horse which neighed first before the sun rose, and whose master was in consequence made King. I have travelled a good deal along the tropical coast of Australia. I have been several times round Thursday Island, and down the Gulf to Normanton, and I have made the trip at all seasons of the year. As the result of my experience I say that a passenger’s cabin is the last place to which he will go. If a man had the whole saloon to himself he would not go there unless he were ill. Even the spacious dining saloon is a most uncomfortable place in which to remain. On board the vessels trading along this route it is customary for the passengers and crew to sleep on deck unless the weather be very stormy. The cabins are the last places to which resort would be had, even if they were fitted with patent electric ventilators. . From that point of view the Minister of Defence will note that his argument cuts both ways. I do not for a moment suggest that decent accommodation ought not to be provided for our seamen. But in asking for 120 cubic feet of space to be allotted to each man we have all the authority of precedent. It has been said that the fixing of space was the result of a compromise. But all our legislation represents compromise. The Minister himself is a compromise. He and his followers would not be where they are to-day but for compromise.
– Does the honorable senator expect us to admit that?
– I defy the honorable senator to deny it. The Navigation Bill which was submitted to this Parliament in 1904 provided that only 72 cubic feet, with 12 superficial feet, and without any deduction for mess-room or bath-room accommodation, should be provided for each seaman.
– That was the proposal which emanated from the other side of the Chamber.
– I was not. here then, so that I am entirely innocent.
– Does the honorable senator approve of 72 cubic feet being allocated to each seaman?
– I do not.I think that he requires more space than that.. Six feet by 6 feet by 2 feet represents; little more than a grave. The Navigation Bill of 1908 increased the accommodation proposed to be granted to each seaman to 120 cubic feet, with 16 superficial feet, and with 4 feet clear between the bunks. In the measure which is now under consideration, the accommodation for each seaman has been still further increased to140 cubic feet, and to not less than 18 superficial feet measured on the deck or floor, with 5 feet space between the bunks, and additional space is allowed in respect of mess and bath-rooms. I dare say that if the consideration of the measure were delayed for five or six years, the accommodation for each seaman would be increased to 160 or 170 cubic feet.
– Is that why the honorable senator would like to delay it?
– If 160 cubicfeet be allowed to each seaman, will the honorable senator consent to delay the passing of the Bill ?
– No. In five or six years the honorable senator will agree to each seaman being provided with 160 cubicfeet of accommodation.
– Which of the compromises to which I have referred is correct ?
– What does a foot or two matter? A cubic foot is only about the size of a candle-box.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator was in the chamber when Senator Gould pointed out that if the accommodation provided in the Bill for engineers and seamen be insisted upon, it will lessen the carrying capacity of a ship of 200 or 300 tons’ burden by 40 tons.
– What is a matter of 40 tons?
– Well, say, in a vessel from 200 to 300 tons. If that statement be correct, one-fifth of the carrying capacity of the vessel is taken away.
– Why not?
– If the limited coast-trade ships are to earn their freights, what will they have to do?
– The freights are not earned by the ship, but by the men.
– The men are certainly a powerful factor in the earning of the freights, but the capital invested in the ship is also a factor, and it is out of the pooledreceipts that the capital on the one hand receives interest, and the seaman on the other hand receives his wages.
– What space is taken up by the boiler and engines?
– The honorable senator cannot get away from his own admission. He admits substantially that the statement made by Senator Gould is correct.
– Not at all.
– My honorable friend cannot go back on his admission.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The statement is that under this clause one- fifth of the carrying capacity of a ship of 200 tons will be absorbed in sleeping accommodation.
– There is not a single ship on the Australian coast in which that occurs.
– At any rate, there must be a diminution of the carrying capacity, whether it amounts to a fourth or a fifth. We ‘do not wish to see the wages of seamen or the salaries of officers decreased, but it must be evident that if the carrying capacity of vessels is materially decreased the fares and freights will be increased, and, consequently, the trade is likely to be less patronised and therefore less remunerative, -My experience in travelling is that an ordinary cabin for Saloon passengers usually contains four berths, and a four-berth cabin on what are practically first-class steamers measures about 8 feet by 6 feet by 7 feet ; that is about 436 cubic feet in all, or about 106 cubic feet for each passenger. I make that statement largely from personal observation, and it is verified by inquiriesI have made. I do not believe that on the best of our coasting steamers more than 120 cubic feet of air space is provided for each passenger in a four-berth cabin. Perhaps less space is provided in many cases on a first-class vessel.
– The passengers have only to work their jaws. Should not the men who work the ship get a little more space?
– Echo answers why.
– Let me remind the Minister that one-half of the seamen are on duty while the other half are in their berths. In the case of passengers, however, four are sometimes down in their cabin at the same time. If we allow a space of 1 20 cubic feet to each seaman, and a four-bunk cabin is occupied by only onehalf of the seamen at a time, then we shall give the seamen vastly more space than the passengers are allowed, or could reasonably claim. My retort to Senator McGregor is that the seamen are to get twice the amount of accommodation and ventilation which is to be provided for the passengers. I ask him to address himself to that aspect of the question.
– The honorable senator has not travelled very much.
– I have travelled along the Australian coast as much, if not more, than my honorable friend has done. I have travelled in every class of ship along the Queensland coast since I was sixteen years of age.
– What is the average tonnage of the ship in which the honorable senator has travelled ?
– I have travelled in ships of from 400 tons to between 6,000 and 7,000 tons.
– I travelled once from Sydney to Rockhampton in a vessel of 400 tons, and I do not wish to do so again.
– If I thought for a moment, or if it be shown that the non-provision of 140 cubic feet of air space for a seaman was likely to materially injure his health, I should not support the amendment, but when we remember that 120 cubic feet has been considered a sort of standard accommodation, why should it not be adopted in this measure ? Our coasting trade is almost as important to us as is our oversea trade, and certainly as years go by it will be an increasingly important factor in the development of Australia. We have also to bear in mind that in many cases only ships of a very limited draught can be employed in our harbors and rivers. We might alter the ships, but we cannot materially alter the bars and harbors. They will always require the employment of a certain type of vessel. For the reasons I have given, I support the amendment.
– I should like the Minister to tell the Committee why no provision for the accommodation of passengers is made in this clause. But for the passengers there would be no work for ships or crews.
– Does not the honorable senator see the reason?
– The steam-ship companies will compete in giving the best accommodation for the trade.
– It is all very well for the honorable senator to make that statement, but, as a matter of fact, the companies do not compete in that regard. On some ships I have known eight or ten passengers shoved into a room not much bigger than the officer’s room.
– The companies will provide the accommodation for their own sake.
– They do not do so, as the honorable senator can see, if he chooses to look.
– Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act will prevent the companies from putting so many passengers into a room.
– But it is done, to my personal knowledge. I have seen eight or ten passengers shoved into a room, and perhaps three or four have been sick at the same time.
– We cannot provide against people being sick.
– I hope that honorable senators on the other side will allow somebody else to speak. Apparently, they care nothing about the provision for the passengers.
– How does the honorable senator know?
– I know from the interjections which have been made. Mr.
Chairman, am I to be interrupted by three honorable senators at a time, and are you to take no notice of the interruptions? I appeal to the Chair for an opportunity to put my views before the Committee. There are three honorable senators persistently interrupting me, and you do not seem to notice it.
– Order ! All interjections are disorderly.
– YesterdayI had to call your attention to interruptions, and I object to being interrupted in this persistent way.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. He did not call my attention to interruptions yesterday.
– I am making a statement, sir.
– Order ! All interjections are disorderly.
– He is sea sick.
– Order !
– It seems, sir, that a few honorable senators think that they run the Senate.
– Order ! At times the honorable senator objects to interjections, and at other times he does not.
– I object to that remark from you, sir. I object to silly interjections. You were not listening to them, sir.
– I remind the honorable senator that yesterday he did not object.
– I do not object to any pertinent interjections, but I do object to an interjection which is offensive.
– The honorable senator is himself to blame to some extent, because, yesterday when I was stopping interjections, he said, “ I do not mind, Mr. Chairman.”
– I do not mind pertinent interjections.
– I hope that there will be no more interjections made.
– On the Australian coast I have seen ten and twelve passengers in a room on ships in the coasting trade. I do not object to the clause prescribing the accommodation to be provided for seamen and officers. What I contend is that the accommodation for passengers should be prescribed and should not be left purely to regulation. Clause 268 provides that the accommodation for passengers is to be left entirely to regulation. When we are legislating specifically with regard to the accommodation for ships’ officers and crew, surely we ought to legislate specifically for the accommodation of passengers.
– I take the point of order that the honorable senator has for a considerable time been dealing with passenger accommodation, which has nothing whatever to do with this clause.
– We are dealing with the question of accommodation, and I say that there ought to be a clause providing for the accommodation of passengers. The honorable senator has no right to say that I am out of order. I have seen vessels so overcrowded that the accommodation for the people on board was utterly insufficient. I may be told that the overcrowding was the fault of the marine authorities. To prevent that sort of thing we should insert in this Bill a specific provision insuring a proper amount of air space for people who have to travel by sea.
– Reading the clause carefully, I observe that, although it is headed “accommodation,” it refers entirely to accommodation for officers and crew, and has no relation to accommodation for passengers.
– I suppose I can move an amendment? If I am blocked in one way I shall secure my object in another.
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the imputation that I am “ blocking “ him from moving an amendment.
– I did not say that. I have no desire to reflect upon the Chair. I simply say that if the rules of the Senate prevent me from dealing with the subject in this way I shall have to take other steps. I shall move an amendment upon clause
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [11.55].- The Minister of Defence has alluded to the circumstances under which the Royal Commission recommended the air space of 120 cubic feet. He pointed out that a number of witnesses did not regard that space as sufficient. But when I turn to the report of the Commission I find that eight medical men were examined, and the report states thatthey were “ practically unanimous in recommending the minimum of at least 120 feet” as a space that “ would insure the convenience, as well as the health, of the seamen.” The next paragraph in the report says -
As to the value of the evidence given on this head it may be remarked that nearly the whole of the witnesses were experts - masters, officers, seamen, and medical men.
So that clearly the recommendation was based upon evidence. The report adds -
Your Commissioners therefore recommend that the air space for each seaman shall be not less than 120 cubic feet.
– In the Melbourne Gaol the space for each prisoner is 179 cubic feet.
– I have not been there, and am glad that the honorable senator speaks merely from information received. He should remember, however, that a man in gaol is very much more confined than is a sailor on board a ship. Of course, it would be very much better to have 140, or even 200, cubic feet of space. But the question is not how much we should like to have, but how much is reasonable. It is a matter of degree and of the surrounding circumstances. The Commission were unanimous that 120 cubic feet would meet all requirements.
– “At least.”
– In their summary the Royal Commission said that certain improvements in accommodation are desirable, and the first of these is - 120 cubic feet of air space per man.
There not even the words “ at least “ are used. Clearly the Commission thought 120 feet quite sufficient. I find that that was signed by Mr. Hughes, the present Attorney- General of the Commonwealth, Mr. Groom, Senator Guthrie, Senator de Largie, and Mr. Samuel Mauger. I notice that in a dissent signed by Senators Guthrie and de Largie, and Messrs. Hughes and Mauger, the statement is made -
We think that all ships should comply with all the required conditions, but if it can be shown that the structural alterations are unreasonable so far as cubic and superficial capacity is concerned a ship might be exempt; but in the case of sanitary hygienic and other arrangements no exemption should be made in any circumstances whatever.
There is no proposal now before the Committee for any exemption in respect of general sanitary, hygienic, and other conditions. That is the only dissent which these gentlemen recorded. They did not record any dissent from the recommendation that the space provided for each seaman should be 120 cubic feet. There is another dissent signed by Senator Guthrie, in which he does not deal with this matter at all, but mentions his objection to the reference in the report to Board of Trade certificates. These are the only two matters upon which Senator Guthrie considered it necessary to indicate any dissent from the recommendations of the Commission. That being so, we have a right to expect that the honorable senator will now be prepared to adhere to the recommendation with respect to the space to be allowed to each seaman, to which he attached his signature. It is not reasonable that he should now ask that the space should be 140 cubic feet unless good reasons are submitted for the alteration which were not stated to the Commission. As Senator de Largie is nowpresent, I should like to direct his attention to the recommendation which he signed.
– I know all about it, and how it was arrived at. It was a compromise.
– The recommendation that the space should be 120 feet was made with out any conditions attaching to it, and Senators Guthrie and de Largie signed that recommendation. I have said that Senator de Largie as well as Senator Guthrie signed the statement that there should be no exemption from the provisions with respect to general sanitary, hygienic, and other requirements.
– Surely this is a hygienic question?
– I do not see how Senator de Largie can oppose the amendment. I repeat that the’ Commission had the advantage of hearing the evidence of eight medical men as to the accommodation required for seamen.
– And every one of them stated 120 cubic feet as the minimum.
– They stated what they considered to be necessary. I have referred to the way in which this provision is likely to affect the coastal trade ; and to show how desirable it is in the interests of the continual development of Australia that we should be very careful in dealing with matters of this kind, I quote the following from the minority report of the Commission -
The prosperity of the settled portions of Australia, and the continued development of our productive resources throughout the unsettled remainder, require as an indispensable condition frequent, regular, and economical communication from one part of the coast to another, and from all of these with other parts of the world.
We have no desire to reduce below reasonable limits the space to be provided for every person on board a ship, but I point out that in New South Wales there is shallow water on the bars of many of our rivers, and we have shifting bars. Shipping companies in consequence must consider the depth of water drawn by vessels engaged in the trade between our ports. This must affect the size of the vessels employed in the trade, and if we require them to provide unnecessary space for the accommodation of seamen - and I use the word “ unnecessary “ advisedly, because I do not wish to be misunderstood in this matter - we shall hamper the operations of people who are engaged in developing this country.
– What space would the honorable senator allow for a bullock on board a ship?
– Sufficient space to enable the animal to be transported comfortably. I should not ask that 120 cubic feet of space should be provided for a bullock.
– He could not be got into less.
– Surely a man is entitled to as much breathing space as is a bullock.
– The honorable senator knows that that is only cant.
– I ask Senator de Largie to say how much space would be required for an elephant. Surely a man is of more account than an elephant? Senator Guthrie must see that his argument by interjection may be reduced to an absurdity. The honorable senator might just as well have asked me how much space I would allow on board ship for a sheep, or for the proverbial goat, about which we heard so much recently. The Government propose that 140 cubic feet of space shall be allowed for a sailor, but we know that in the passenger accommodation provided on some of the first-class ships on our coasts nothing like that space is provided for each passenger. It should be remembered also that the passenger has to pay a considerable fare, and is confined to his cabin much more than the seaman is confined to his quarters.
– There is not a ship en the Australian coast that provides less than 140 cubic feet for a passenger.
– Does the honorable senator make that statement authoritatively ?
– Yes, she could not get a certificate unless she did.
– Assuming for the sake of argument that that is so, I remind the honorable senator that a passenger requires more ample accommodation than a seaman, because he is often very much confined to his cabin. The seaman has many more opportunities of being on deck and breathing the fresh air. I agree that seamen should be provided with all necessary accommodation for their health, comfort, and convenience, but we should not forget that the accommodation available upon any ship must be limited, and to legislate in the way proposed in this Bill would be to put an undue embargo upon our coasting trade. The argument of the Minister of Defence that every ship engaged in our coastal trade must provide the same accommodation does not appeal to me as sufficient to justify this provision. We have to consider the interests of our producers, and we should not unduly increase the cost of the transport of goods from port to port in the Commonwealth in order that we may make provision for fanciful and unnecessary accommodation on board ship for seamen or passengers. I remind the Committee that if a passenger requires extra accommodation he has only to pay for it. If he wants a four berth cabin all to himself he can get it by paying for it. There is no precedent and no necessity for this provision, and it appears to me that it is absolutely without justification.
– When we remember that shipowners derive very reasonable returns from the capital they have invested in the shipping business, and that passengers are very well catered for, it is surprising that there should be so much opposition to this proposal to give relief to the workers in the shipping industry. I have been surprised to find Senator St. Ledger speaking as he has spoken on this question. When before the electors I have no doubt the honorable senator posed as a bright and shining example of what an advocate of the cause of the workers should be. But we now find him making every effort to resist a provision for adequate accommodation for seamen, and to reduce what is considered to be only reasonable breathing space for them. Senator Gould ignores the fact that the British Labour Commission recommended 140 cubic feet as the space to be provided for each seaman.
– And with a knowledge of that fact our Navigation Commission recommended that the space to be provided should be 120 cubic feet.
– He also ignores the fact that in making its recommendation the British Manning Commission kept in mind the circumstance that most men sailing from British ports are engaged in a temperate clime, and that, as a result, they require very much less accommodation than those who are engaged in tropical climes. He also forgets that when the Queensland Parliament framed legislation dealing with shearers and bush-workers, It did not limit the sleeping accommodation to 140 cubic feet per man, but fixed it at 240 cubic feet.
– And we supported it.
– I am merely emphasizing the remarkable attitude which has been taken up by Senator St. Ledger. The Queensland Parliament also provided that not more than four persons should be domiciled in one compartment. In view of these facts, it is difficult to understand the position of Senator St. Ledger. He comes from a State which has recognised the necessity for providing reasonable breathing accommodation for bush-workers, and yet he refuses to provide similar accommodation on board our ships. What has been happening in the maritime world for quite a number” of years past? Those who have invested their capital in maritime ventures have been reaping a handsome reward. According to a report which was tendered to the Melbourne Chamber of .Commerce in 1901, the freights along our coast have almost kept pace with the freights from the Old Country. The freights which ruled in 1902 were 20s. per ton higher than those which ruled twenty years previously.
– What about the dividends ?
– I am not concerned with the dividends. Further light can always be thrown upon balance-sheets. The balance-sheets of some companies appear to be specially devised to conceal profits. We have ample evidence that balancesheets are not a true index of the financial position of companies. Upon page 40 of the report of the minority section of the Navigation Commission, it is pointed out that between 1854 and 1900 the number of men per hundred tons required to work a steam-ship decreased from 7.6 to 2.2. During the same period the number of men required per 100 tons gross register to work a sailing vessel decreased from 3.9 to 1.6. Taking steam and sailing craft combined, in 1854 1,166 men were required to do the work which 389 men performed in 1900. In other words, only about a third of the number are now required. Yet the freights and fares along our coast are higher now than they were twenty- live years ago. Consequently those who have embarked their capital in maritime ventures - the individuals of whom Senator St. Ledger is such a stalwart champion - are not only working their vessels with a very much smaller number of men than they did formerly, but are maintaining fares and freights at higher rates than prevailed twenty years ago. I can recollect the time when I was able to travel from Brisbane to Sydney for 10s. The report of the Navigation Commission shows very clearly that foreign ships provide conveniences and accommodation for their crews which are undreamt of in our coastal trade. Upon shore a man can always ventilate his dwelling, but upon board ship that is not always possible. In rough weather the port holes may have to be closed for hours, and perhaps for days. I hope that honorable senators will agree to grant each seaman 140 cubic feet of space by way of sleeping accommodation, especially as by so doing we shall only be giving effect to a recommendation by the British Labour Commission.
– - Senator Sayers has affirmed that he has no objection to this clause if we provide in it that passengers shall be afforded equal accommodation. I would point out to him that Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act is in force in every part of the British Dominions.
– Does the honorable senator make that statement seriously ?
– I do.
– Then what are we legislating for?
– This Bill has been carefully drafted so that its provisions do not conflict with that part of the Imperial Act. The regulations under Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 lay down that every passenger shall have 18 superficial feet of space on the deck, which is exactly the area which the Bill provides shall be allotted to the members of the crew.
– The honorable senator knows that that provision is not observed.
– If it be not, that circumstance is a great reflection on the officials who are charged with administering the Act. Each of the States has officials whose duty it is to see that the regulations are carried out. So far as I know, those officials are discharging their duties to the best of their ability, and any person who affirms that they are systematically evading their obligations in that connexion is doing them a grave injustice.
– I will give an instance presently.
– I repeat that Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 applies to the whole of the British Dominions. We cannot alter its provisions.
– Surely we can amend them so as to control our own trade.
– Only the Imperial Parliament can amend that portion of the Act. Steerage passengers, or whatever class on the deck below, would be entitled to 18 feet per statute adult.
– “ Would be entitled “ ?
– Of course I know that there is no provision to that effect in the Act, but this is the instruction which is given to the surveyors, and which they cannot get away from -
The existing law for regulating immigration ships as contained in Part ill. of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, under the provisions of sections 355 and 713 of that Act, is to be carried into execution in the British Islands by the Board of Trade and by officers called “ emigration officers,” acting under their direction. In the absence, however, of emigration officers or their assistants, or at ports where there are no- such officers, their duties and functions devolve on the chief officer of Customs.
These regulations have to be carried out by every officer under Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act relating to passengers. All our Inter-State steamers have to comply with that Act, which makes provision for passengers. It provides that there shall be 18 superficial feet measured on deck, that there shall not be more than two tiers of bunks, and that the house shall not be less than 6 feet high.
– How much accommodation is given to passengers in a sleeping car on the train to South Australia?
– About 340 feet.
– That is a great deal more than is given to a passenger on the railways in New South Wales.
– On every sleeping car running in Australia to-day there is a space of 340 cubic feet for each passenger.
– But that is only for one night.
– Yes, and in some cases for only a few hours.
– That is not the case on some lines.
– I am prepared to say that on every sleeping car running in Australia to-day not less than 340 cubic feet is allowed to each passenger.
– I believe that the honorable senator is wrong.
– I ask the honorable senator to prove that I am wrong. Now, a house is to measure 18 superficial feet on the floor, to be 6 feet high, and to contain only two tiers of bunks, each berth being 6 feet long and at least 18 inches wide.
– That is only 54 cubic feet for each passenger.
– I think the honorable senator will find that the space per bunk is considerably more than that.
– That makes 126 cubic feet.
– The honorable senator is mixing up cubic feet with superficial feet.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon, it makes 166 cubic feet.
– That is the space allowed for an immigrant or steerage passenger, who is also provided with other accommodation such as, for instance, deck accommodation. But what about a fireman who comes off duty in sweaty clothes, or a man who comes from the wheel, where he has been drenched to the skin.
– Most of the wheel houses are now covered in.
– We are not dealing now with covered-in wheel houses. When a man comes off duty drenched to the skin, he needs accommodation for hanging and drying his clothes. The Navigation Commission recommended that the accommodation per man should be at least 120 cubic feet. What are a few feet of space in an ordinary ship ? Senator Gould wants to meet the case of an exceptional ship, forgetting that at the end of the Bill the Minister is empowered to appoint a committee of experts to report on any matter of that kind, and, on the production of their report, to vary the provision regarding accommodation.
– Only within limits.
– Yes. Take the case of the extraordinary ship instanced by the honorable senator.
– Perhaps a phantom ship.
– No; but a ship which is virtually built to go over a grass paddock if there is a bit of dew on it. She is practically to have no draught, and is to be short, because of the bends in the river. Surely to goodness, if there is a trade for that ship, the owners ought to house the men in something like decent comfort.
– That is what we propose.
– Is a provision of 140 cubic feet per man too much ?
– We take the teaching of the Navigation Commission, and the action of other nations, and say yes.
– The Navigation Commission said that there should be at least 120 cubic feet provided.
– Not in the recommendations which the honorable senator signed.
– Honorable senators on the other side are arguing from a summary at the end of the report.
– Which the honorable senator signed.
– Without qualification.
– Surely in a summary of its recommendations, a Royal Commission is not expected to put in every word? What is a summary? It is merely the gist of the recommendations.
– The honorable senator says now that he meant something else.
– In the body of the report the Commission say that there should be at least 120 cubic feet per man provided.
– That is what we say. We are prepared to allow 120 cubic feet, because it is a fair space.
– The Navigation Commission said that the space should not be less than 120 cubic feet, but the Government, in their wisdom, after going through the evidence, came to the conclusion that 140 cubic feet was a fair space to allow.
– The Government had very little confidence in the recommendations of the Commission, because they found they were not to be relied upon; is that so?
– No. The Government have acted absolutely in compliance with the report of the Commission, which says that at least 120 cubic feet should be provided. I feel satisfied that honorable senators on the other side are only raising this opposition for the sake of objecting. Senator Sayers, I take it, is going to vote with us, because he thinks that a space of 140 cubic feet is little enough, only he contends that the same accommodation should be provided for the passengers as for the crew.
– Is that wrong?
– No. But the Bill already provides for the accommodation of passengers.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator was here when I pointed out that in Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act, which applies to the whole of the British Dominions, provision is made in regard to the accommodation for passengers. We ‘ would have a strike on the coast to-morrow if Senators St. Ledger and Gould had to go to sea with a space of only 120 cubic feet for their accommodation.
– The honorable senator means that we would strike?
– No. We would have a strike on the coast to-morrow if my honorable friends were asked to dry their clothes, and do their washing in a space of 120 cubic. feet.
– That is generally done on deck.
– The honorable senator must remember that there are regulations to be observed.
– I have always seen the washing done on deck.
– It is a common regulation on the coast to-day that a man shall not wash himself or his clothes on deck. The Bill makes provision for bathrooms on board, but in the past men have even been compelled to wash themselves in the water-closets because no other accommodation was provided. I feel satisfied that the Opposition are only putting up a fight for the purpose of making an alteration, and not because they consider that 140 cubic feet is an inch too much space for any man.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [12.43].- I resent the last remark of Senator Guthrie. We. are taking up this attitude, not because we want to oppose the Bill, but because we are satisfied from a perusal of the evidence that 120 cubic feet is sufficient space to allow. We were led to that conclusion by a report which was signed by the honorable senator without any qualification.
– The qualification was that at least 120 cubic feet should be provided.
– We are following the recommendation made by the honorable senator, amongst others. He had an opportunity of qualifying the recommendation if he had seen fit to do so, and he did not. We on this side have only one object in view and that is to do what is fair and square as between man and man, and between various sections of the community. Why should we object for the mere sake of opposition? We look at the Merchant Shipping Act, the report of the Navigation Commission, the New Zealand Act and the draft of the Bill presented to the Senate in 1908, and we find that they concur in one thing. I shall not labour the matter, having simply risen to repudiate the suggestion made by Senator Guthrie.
.- I also resent “the imputation that the Opposition have been discussing this question for the mere purpose of seeking an unnecessary alteration. I have listened to the debate, and carefully weighed the reasons on each side. The Minister of Defence made a very lame attempt to justify the change proposed by the Bill. His principal reason was that the British Labour Commission had recommended an area of 140 cubic feet. When reference has been made to the Merchant Shipping Act and the New Zealand Act, honorable senators opposite have said, “ What have we to do with other legislation ? “ I might retort now, What have we to do with the British Labour Commission? We may take it for granted that the Commission recommended more than it thought was likely to be granted. It has also been said that the 120 feet was recommended by the Australian Royal Commission as a compromise. Compromises are generally arrived at when there is a close division of opinion between parties. But we find that out of thirty-one persons who gave evidence before the Royal Commission only three - less than one-tenth - were in favour of 140 cubic feet. Those who have no interest in the matter ought to pay respect to the advice of a properly constituted body like the Royal Commission. A provision inserted in the 1908 Bill, in conformity with the recommendation of the Commission, should be fair and reasonable. The first Bill dealing with navigation that was considered by the Commonwealth Parliament was drafted by the late Mr. Kingston, who could not be accused of lack of sympathy for workers of all kinds. That Bill left the measurement standard at 72 cubic feet.
– Does the honorable senator say that Mr. Kingston was responsible for that clause? I think it was an open secret that he left the Government of “which he was a member in consequence of the treatment to which that Bill was subjected more than for any other reason.
– At all events, the Bill was Mr. Kingston’s. It is curious that some of those honorable senators opposite who now raise their voices against the recommendation of the Royal Commission were members of that body, and signed their names to its report.
– The Royal Commission’s report is an old document now.
– Circumstances have not altered materially since the report was published. As a matter of fact, however, the Government, in dealing with this measure, have simply been trotted along by Senator Guthrie, and they seem to be content to adopt whatever he chooses to recom mend. 1 find that of the thirty-one persons examined by the Royal Commission on this subject, eleven were in flavour of 120 cubic feet, eleven in favour of 100, and six in favour of 72. Of the eight medical men examined, not one made a recommenation in excess of the minimum of 120 cubic feet. It is also curious that the witnesses examined by the Commission speak of the British Labour’ Commission having advocated 120 cubic feet. I do not know where the 140 cubic feet idea came- from, though honorable senators opposite have been continually referring to it as the recommendation of the. Labour Commission. I propose now to quote from the evidence taken by the Royal Commission. I find that Captain Mark Breach, whose evidence is printed on page 696, was examined as follows -
Have you read the provisions of the Bill before the Commission which provide for the accommodation of the crew and the officers. There is a clause which says that there shall be not less than 72 cubic feet of space allotted to each seaman, and that there shall be no paint locker, or lavatory, or excrescence, or any encumbrance whatever permitted inside that space. The Manning Commission and the Steam-ships Subsidies Committee appointed by the Imperial Parliament have made recommendations on that head. The Labour Commission, in their report, advocated 120 cubic feet for each man, and a witness, giving evidence before us a few days ago, advocated 140 cubic feet. From your long experience at sea, both as a seaman and as master, what, in your opinion, would be a fair area of space for each seaman ? - I should think that 72 cubic feet would be quite enough. Go on board any ship and into the forecastle and see what it will ‘measure. There is a great big space, or there was, on the Aberdeen line, that carried a much larger crew than is carried now in the same forecastle. You will see there a big, cold, barren place, and if there were twenty-six men in it there would yet be plenty of room. 72 cubic feet should be the minimum allowance.
I do not say that I agree with that, but 1 quote the evidence because Senator Guthrie told us that we should not consider what the Commission recommended, but should turn to the evidence itself and see what the witnesses said. I am taking his advice. I quote again from the evidence -
By Senator Guthrie. - There would be 6 x 6 x 2 feet for each man? - There would be more tha» that.
By the Chairman. - If it had been stated i» evidence by a medical man that to enable a man’s health to be maintained a certain amount of fresh air was required each minute, and that there should be a certain amount of oxygen available, which would mean his having not less than- 140 cubic feet, would you still say that 72 cubic feet would be sufficient? - Yes, i’f it were not right in the bow of the ship, but on the deck, where you could make a good house ; then it would be sufficient. If you were to measure a. corner, part of which you could not perhaps see, that would be quite different; but to take any square on the deck and give a man 72 cubic feet it would be quite enough.
That is the evidence of a man who had been forty years at sea. At page 785 honorable senators will find the evidence of Dr. Burnett Ham, then Commissioner of Public Health of the State of Queensland. He was examined by the Chairman on this and other subjects, and in the course of his evidence, question 21753, he said -
With regard to section 135- the cubic capacity is placed at 72 cubic feet of air space and 12 superficial feet of floor space. I think this is much too low. This would be equal to a space for each seaman 6 feet in length, 6 feet high, and 2 feet wide, the sepulchral accommodation which a man is entitled to at his own interment. This section has evidently been taken from the Merchant Shipping Act of 1854 practically without amendment. It is interesting to note that in the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 there is still the same amount of cubic capacity, so that in England there has been no progress in this direction for over forty years ; but since 1894, the cubic capacity has been increased, owing to the efforts of the health authorities.
A little later on the witness was examined by Senator de Largie -
YOU are aware that several Commissions have recommended an increase of air space? - The Royal Labour Commission of 1894 recommended 120 cubic feet as the minimum.
It will be observed that the witnesses all speak of 120 feet as the recommendation of the Labour Commission.
– We ought, to have an apology from the Government supporters who have used it as an argument that 140 cubic feet was the recommendation of the Labour Commission.
– The witness was further examined by the Chairman as follows -
You have not read the report of the Manning Commission? - No. I think that the limit should be at least 100 cubic feet.
Having regard to the fact that the Labour Commission was dealing largely with temperate down to cool and cold climates, while we are dealing with tropical and semi-tropical and warm temperate climates, do you not think that 120 cubic feet might be regarded as the minimum when the Labour Commission recommended it in England? - Yes, I would recommend 120, but if we cannot get that I would like it to be not less than 100. ,
– Dr. Ham recommends 120 as the minimum.
– At question 21834 the witness was examined -
As to cubic space, do you yourself think that too feet should be the minimum? - I think we should get 120 feet if we can.
The difficulty of adopting an ample and liberal provision is to apply it to ships already constructed. Should we not have a minimum of 120 feet for ships constructed after the passing of this Act, and a minimum of 72 feet with as much more as we could get in vessels capable of having their construction altered from those built before the passing of the Act? - It would be advisable to have 120 feet fixed by the Bill for new vessels; but if you have 72 cubic feet as the limit, and as much more as you can get for other ships, you will never get more than 72 feet. [ would suggest 100.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.J0 p.m.
– Dr. Ham gave this further evidence -
Some vessels are incapable of yielding 100 feet without expensive alterations? - It is very desirable to get as much as you can.
We have to fix a minimum. If we do not take into our purview the large number of ships already existing, and the fact that it would cost a lot to effect structural alterations in them, we will make this minimum for future ships less than we otherwise would .if we considered only future ships. Do you not think it would be a wise thing in the interests of the future to fix 120 feet for ships built after the passing of this Act, and 72 (or as much more as can be effected without expensive structural alterations) for ships built prior to the passing of the Act? - You must effect certain structural alterations, and why not make it 100.
All ships now have 72 feet if they comply with the present law. You may come across a, ship in which you could not, without great expense, provide for 100 feet. We should have a clause to enable us to compel alterations, but if it were impossible to alter to 100 feet without expensive structural alterations, would it not bg better to leave that old ship - which would probably soon pass out of existence - at 72 and legislate so that all vessels constructed after the passing of this Act should have 120 feet? - Yes, I think that is a good suggestion.
By Senator Guthrie. - If a ship-owner wanted to carry a double crew he would have to make provision for structural alterations? - Of course. Therefore, if you can get 120 feet in the Bill for all future ships I would like to see 100 feet fixed for other ships.
By Mr. Edwards. - Would you like to see 100 all round or 120 for new ships, and leaving 72 for old ships? - No, 100 for old ships.
Do you think it would be just and expedient to leave the 72 now in existence, and provide for the minimum of 120 for vessels constructed after the passing of the Act, knowing that if we did not do that we might have the minimum of the whole reduced to 100? - Most decidedly, I think so, if you cannot secure 100 for old ships instead of 72, and can make sure of securing the 72 feet.
Dr. Ham, therefore, fixes the’ space which should be provided in future ships at 120 cubic feet, and thinks that the space that ought to be provided in existing ships should be 100 feet. Dr. Dick, in answer to question 24040, gave this evidence -
Can you in any definite way express what should be required in the shape of ventilation for forecastles and the accommodation for seamen at sea? - I was at sea myself for a year in the China trade. As regards the means by which air should be admitted, in the first place, you must have a certain cubic capacity, otherwise a man would be blown out of his bunk. The greater you increase the cubic space the less risk there will be of the men shutting up the portholes, and so forth. Seventy-two cubic feet per man seems much too small ; I should say 100 or 120 cubic feet was little enough.
Say you have 120 cubic feet for each man ; can you express in definite words what ventilation is required? - The only way is to take samples of the air. Is it not possible to say that certain mechanical means shall be adopted to change that air in a certain space of time, or that certain sized openings should be in it? It could be provided for in that way.
Would that definitely do it?- No, because the condition of the atmosphere varies so frequently as regards temperature, &c.
If you give 120 cubic feet to each man, it really means 240 to the men who are in it, as only half of them are there at the time? - It does not necessarily follow that is so, because they are all in it when in port.
Do they continue to occupy the forecastle when in port? - Not in all cases.
You do not think science is yet capable of definitely describing any form of ventilation that would be perfect? - No, I do not think so.
This medical man also agrees that 120 cubic feet of air space would be sufficient to provide for each seaman. Mr. McAllister, Superintendent of the North Coast Steam-ship Company, and superintending engineer for the Illawarra Steam-ship Company, gave this evidence -
Take clause 135, which relates to space for seamen; do you approve of that clause which says that for “the use of seamen or apprentices” they shall have each a space of not less than 72 cubic feet?- I agree with that as it stands.
Do you think that 72 cubic feet would he sufficient? - Yes, I think it quite sufficient.
Would it be sufficient in a sub-tropical climate such as this? - Yes.
– The honorable senator should read the evidence given by Mr. Cameron, Secretary of the Seamen’s Union.
– I do not wish to take up too much time. I was asked to refer to the evidence, but as there is no index of witnesses attached to it, it is a very difficult matter to pick out the evidence of a particular witness. It is a matter of indifference to me whether the space decided upon be 120 or 140 cubic feet. If the space could be increased without disadvantage, . I should not hesitateas to the course I would adopt, but we cannot overlook the fact that to increase the accommodation of seamen in the way proposed must have the effect of decreasing the cargocarrying capacity of a ship and so of reducing her earnings. Such alterations of the law must lead to an increase in freights and fares, and in view of the evidence I have quoted in favour of a provision for 120 cubic feet, and of the fact that that space has been recommended by the Navigation Commission, it seems to me that we should do well in fixing the space to be . provided at 120 cubic feet, as was done in the 1908 Bill. I think that that would be a fair provision, and I intend to support the amendment.
– I have no wish to continue the debate, but I desire to put on record a few opinions from the evidence given before the Royal Commission, in opposition to those which have been cited by Senator McColl. It will be found that, in answer to question 24040, Dr. Dick, medical officer at Newcastle, said that 100 or 120 cubic feet of space is little enough. Dr. Robertson, assistant medical officer of the Board of Health, Melbourne, in answer to question 16228, suggested 140 cubic feet as the minimum space which should be provided. It will be seen from the answer to question 162 11 that in the Grantala, an existing ship, the space provided is 260 cubic feet per man. Dr. Ramsay Smith, Chairman of the Board of Health, Adelaide, in answer to question 14541, said that 120 cubic feet would not be too much. Dr. Ham, who is now Chairman of the Board of Health, Melbourne, made, in answer to question 21794,a general statement as to the condition of the men’s quarters on board ship which is anything but flattering to those who permit such conditions to continue to exist. In the answer to question 21758 the statement appears that the Royal Labour Commission recommended 120 cubic feet as the minimum; but that was for cool and cold climates. Dr. Thompson, President of the Board of Health, Sydney, said, in answer to questions 16698 and 16705, that the cubic space per man provided for should be not less than 100 feet, and he would be glad to see 120 cubic feet provided. One point which, so far, has not been considered is the fact that this accommodation for seamen is deducted from the registered tonnage of vessels in computing the tonnage upon which harbor dues are payable. Honorable senators will see that we shall be able in this way to equalize matters to a certain extent for Australian ship-owners. The clause has now been very fully discussed, and in view of the many contentious questions which have yet to be dealt with, I appeal to honorable senators to let this matter go to a vote, and I ask the Committee to stand by the clause as printed.
– I agree with the Minister that we ought now to be prepared to take a division on this question. I should like to say that there has been no answer to the contention advanced from this side that this provision must consideraby reduce the cargo-carrying capacity of vessels engaged in the Australian limited-coast trade.
– And in every other vessel.
– The effect must be most marked in the case of vessels that are necessarily of very limited tonnage. We have been charged with resisting the proposed increased accommodation for seamen in the interests of ship-owners. We have been accused also of being unmindful of the interests of seamen. Senator Lynch, in this connexion, specially referred to myself, and suggested that, although I have often advocated the humane treatment of workmen, I am found resisting a provision which would be in the interests of seamen. These accusations return boomerang-like upon those who make them, because we are supporting a recommendation by the Navigation Commission, which, after careful consideration, was signed by some honorable senators opposite.
– No. The Commission recommended that the space provided should be “not less than” 120 cubic feet.
– Senator Guthrie, who is materially assisting the Government and the Committee in the consideration of this Bill, would have us believe that the summary appearing in the Navigation Commission’s report is not important; but it is really the verdict of those who had the matter to decide.
– Never mind the summary ; let the honorable senator quote from the report.
– The summary is a vital part of the report. The most important part of a Judge’s direction to a jury is his summary of the evidence in the case.
– Letthe honorable senator look at the report -
Your Commissioners therefore recommend that the air space for each seaman shall be not less than 120 cubic feet.
Couldanythingbeplainer than that?
– That was the recommendation after the Commission had had under consideration the report of the British Labour Commission recommending that the space to be provided should be 140 cubic feet.
– Senator Guthrie must know that the summary of the Commission’s report is as important for us as is the summing up of a Judge for a jury. Let me direct his attention again to the third recommendation in the summary. It reads -
That the following improvements in accommodation are desirable -
One hundred and twenty cubic feet of air space per man.
There is a note stating that this recommendation is limited to -
Can it be said that we are acting inhumanely or unjustly when we ask the Committee to accept this recommendation of the Navigation Commission. The effect of the clause must inevitably be to reduce the cargo-carrying capacity of the vessels engaged in our coastal trade, and particularly of those engaged in our limitedcoast trade. There are only two ways in which that reduction can be made up.
Either the public must pay for it-
– Why should not the public provide seamen with decent accommodation ?
– We have to consider, not merely the interests of the seamen, but those of the owners and of the public.
– The public do not want our seamen to live under bad conditions.
– If the shipowners who are engaged in our limited coast trade cannot get increased freights and fares out of the public to compensate them for the reduced cargo-carrying capacity oftheir vessels, either one of two things must happen. If the vessels are forced out of commission as the result of our legislative mistake-
– We are making no mistake.
– The Government might well abandon the charge of this
Bill, seeing that we have an infallible authority upon navigation laws in the person of Senator Guthrie. The most dangerous form of intelligence is that which arrogates to itself the attribute of infallibility. If the vessels engaged in our limited-coast trade are forced outof commission, there will be so much less employment available to our seamen. On the other hand, if the public cannot afford to pay the increased freights which the owners will demand, the produce will not be carried. It will be allowed to rot. As a matter of fact, I know of instances in which that has actually occurred. Under these circumstances, I have a right to ask the Government to seriously consider the question. The Minister has not attempted to answer the objections which have been urged by honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber in regard to vessels employed in our limitedcoast trade. Senator Guthrie has himself admitted that the carrying capacity of these ships will be reduced by one-fourth or one-fifth, if we agree to the clause in its present form.
– Nothing of the sort.
– The honorable senator himself made that statement.
– The statement was made as the result of crossexamination. It has been said that the opponents of the clause are opposed to extending humane provisions to our seamen. But the answer to that allegation is that the Navigation Commission itself recommended that the same amount of space for which we ask in the amendment should be allocated to each seaman.
– The honorable senator is arguing in favour of granting the seamen as little space as possible.
– I am advocating granting to our seamen a larger area of accommodation than is granted by any other country in the world.
– Because nobody has done better, we should not do better. That is a good old Tory argument.
– I repeat that we have to consider the interests of the public and of the producers, as well as of our seamen. When wefind that in Act after Act provision is made for the same accommodationthat supporters of the intendment desire to extend to the seamen, it is playing to the gallery for. honorable senators opposite to declare that we are actuated by inhumane impulses.
– The honorable senator wishes us to adopt the minimum space which has been recommended.
– No. The space provided for in the amendment is larger than that for which provision is made in the New Zealand Navigation Act of 1909.
– What has that to do with the question?
– We have to consider, not merely what is fair to the seamen, but what is fair to the public. It is easy for us to legislate in times of prosperity, but the time will come when Australia will experience adverse seasons.
– Do not prophesy.
– There is not a fair-minded seaman who is not prepared to say to this Parliament, “ Deal fairly with us, and if the legislation which you enact proves injurious to us, by all means amend it.” I do ask that some weight should be attached to the arguments which have been advanced by members of the Opposition.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir Albert Gould’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.1].- With regard to paragraph c of sub-clause 1, I announced my intention to move in the direction of increasing the gross tonnage of the limited-coast trade steam-ships from 300 to 500 tons, and to reduce the cubic capacity of an officer’s room from 350 to 230 cubic feet. On the latter point Ido not intend now to submit an amendment, as I accept the decision of the Committee in the last division as final regarding any alteration of the space proposed in the Bill. Nor do I intend to propose an amendment in the following clause to reduce the number of cubic feet to be allowed tothe seaman, because I take it, after the long debate to-day, that the Committee is in favour of the larger space being allowed, at any rate at present. I move -
That the word “three,” line 18, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ five.”
I trust that the Minister can see his way to increase the gross tonnage of these steamships from 300 to 500 tons. I do not anticipate that honorable senators can entertain any very strong objection to the amendment.
– Senator Gould has not given any reason to the Committee for making the proposed alteration.
– I gave a good many reasons earlier in the day, and I did not want to repeat them.
– The honorable senator did not give any reason in support of his view that we are providing too much space. The only effect of his amendment if carried would be to increase the number of ships having the smaller requirement as to space.
– Only so far as the officers are concerned.
– I know that the paragraph only refers to the officers, but the effect of the amendment if adopted would be to increase the number of ships with the lesser requirement. On this, point the honorable senator has not given any reason why we should make the alteration. I admit that he made out a good case for the previous amendment, but I do not see that what he said then has any bearing on this proposal, unless, of course, his aim is to attain his object byanother means. If this amendment were carried he would obtain in this way what he endeavoured to obtain previously.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.5].- It is perfectly true that one object in urging a reduction of the space for each officer was to have more space reserved for the use of the ship as a cargo carrier. The present proposal to increase the gross tonnage is made, of course, with a view to provide a sufficient or a greater quantity of accommodation for the carriage of cargo and passengers by any ship between 300 and 500 tons gross register. Earlier in the day I pointed out that, owing to the nature of the harbors and rivers which the coasting ships of New South Wales have to navigate, it is very desirable that the steamship companies should have the opportunity of carrying as large a cargo as possible in their small ships. It is with that object in view that I urge this extension of the gross tonnage.
– To take it out of the officers.
– There are some ports and harbors which ships of 500 tons can enter, but which ships of 600 or 700 tons cannot enter. At the same time, there is an enormous quantity of produce to be carried and, naturally, it will go to the ships which are available. If 500 tons of produce could be put into one bottom, obviously it would be much less expensive to run a ship containing that tonnage than to run one capable of carrying only 300 tons. The producers would be benefited, because the shipping companies would be able to carry their produce at a lower rate than they could do if they had to incur heavier expense. In other words, one ship of 500 tons would be able to do almost the work of two ships of 300 tons each. The effect of my amendment would be to reduce the cost of maintenance and the freights and fares. I do not think that the Minister can seriously contend that it is very objectionable. Senator Guthrie has interjected that we on this side are anxious to get this extra accommodation at the expense of the officers.
– Will the honorable senator allow me to make a suggestion?
– In order that the Committee may have time in which to consider this amendment, I suggest that progress should now be reported.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Certainly.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– According to a statement which appeared in the press this morning it is the intention of the Government to invite a number of members of Parliament to go to England for the Coronation ceremony. I wish to bring under their notice the fact that we have a mercantile marine, and to suggest that if they intend to convey members of Parliament to England they might charter an Australian ship, man her with Australians, and load her with Australian produce, in order to advertise the Commonwealth there. I believe that it would be money well spent.
.- An invitation to the Coronation ceremony has been sent out by the British Government, but I would remind Senator Guthrie that it is not to be an exhibition.
– What is it?
– I would also remind my honorable friend that if everything is to be Australian he would be barred, because he is an imported man. The first business to be taken on Tuesday will be the third reading of the Trust Fund Advances Bill, and then the consideration of the Navigation Bill in Committee will be resumed. Some little alterations have been made in the census papers, and regulations will have to be laid on the table of the Senate. The census papers which have already been tabled will be withdrawn, and any honorable senator wishing to alter the regulations will have an opportunity, if he likes to do so, to give notice of a motion in that direction.
– The Government will not do anything.
– That is the position of the Government with regard to the census papers.
– Safe lines.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.15p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 October 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19101007_senate_4_58/>.