4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council give the Senate an opportunity of discussing the new Lands Ordinance for the Northern Territory, seeing that the only way in which it can be done, unless the Government afford such an opportunity, will be by placing on the notice-paper a motion to disapprove of the Ordinance, which would be tantamount to a challenge to the Government.
– I do not know how I can do other than lay the Ordinance on the table of the Senate, and then any honorable senator will have the right to take whatever action he may think to be necessary. I would remind the honorable senator that on the motion for printing the Budget-papers, any matter outside the ordinary business of the Senate can be ventilated.
Senator McGREGOR laid upon the table the following papers: -
Northern Territory. - Crown Lands Ordinance 1912.
Papua. - Ordinances of 1912 -
No.10. - Supplementary Appropriation 1909- 10, No. 7.
No. 11. - Supplementary Appropriation 1910- 11, No. 8.
No. 12. - Supply (No.2)1912-13.
– Has the Minister of Defence had brought under his notice the reports in the Sydney press regarding military chaos, and if so, has he seen the following passage in the Daily Telegraph of the11th inst : -
Captain Lyons, whose crime is said to have consisted of “not assisting the Q.M.G. to the extent he might have done,” has asked for a court-martial to investigate the charge, but it is understood that his request has so far been entirely ignored.
Is it a fact that Captain Lyons has asked for a court-martial, and that his request has been ignored, and, if so, why?
– The reports in the newspapers have come under my notice, but as the cases are pending, I do not propose to make any statement about them at the present stage.
Case of Mr. Savage
– Before the Orders of the Day are called, sir, I ask leave to make a statement.
– On many occasions Senator Long, no doubt with the best of motives, has called attention to the position of a public servant in London, Mr. Savage. Of course, it was impossible, when he last referred to the matter, for me to get the information in time to deal with it when I was replying on the motion for the adjournment; and consequently I have sought this opportunity to make a statement. In 1906, there was no High Commissioner, and Captain Collins was then appointed to represent the Commonwealth in the Commonwealth offices there, It would have been impossible for Captain Collins to carry out all the work, and, therefore, an application was made that an officer with special knowledge in connexion with the purchase of stores, and other matters of that description, should be appointed to assist him. As Mr. Savage was employed in the Defence Department at that time, and connected with that very kind of work, and as he was also anxious to obtain tRe position, and was a suitable officer, he was, with Captain Collins, appointed in 1906 to the Commonwealth offices in London. It is the custom, I understand, that when an officer visits England, or Europe, or America, or any foreign country on temporary business, he is given a travelling allowance equal to that which a public servant in his position would get in other circumstances. When Captain Collins and Mr. Savage were appointed, the appointments were understood to be permanent. They understood that they were to be connected with the Commonwealth offices. They were not in the position of an officer of the Defence or any other Department, going to England for a few weeks and then returning. The very fact that Captain Collins and Mr. Savage were there for four years would indicate that the latters was a’ fairly permanent temporary appointment.
– Yes, a fairly permanent temporary appointment.
– It was a fairly permanent temporary appointment. In carrying our his duties as representative of Australia, Captain Collins had to do some entertaining, and, consequently, he was allowed on one occasion, I think,£250, and another small allowance during the four years. But Mr. Savage had nothing of that kind to do, and, consequently, he got no “travelling allowance, in the ordinary sense.
– He was the only officer who went to London who did not receive an allowance.
– He was the only officer who went in the same circumstances as Captain Collins. There was no other officer who went to London with the idea in his mind that his appointment was of a permanent character. The reason why Captain Collins and Mr. Savage were not permanently appointed in 1906 was that there was no High Commissioner, and the offices could not be established on a thoroughly permanent basis until 1910, when a High Commissioner was appointed.
– You are hard pushed to justify the previous conduct.
– When that was done, Captain Collins and Mr. Savage were made the permanent officers at the Commonwealth offices, in the position they filled when they went there first. I do not want to use any hard expression which would offend Senator Long, because I believe that he is doing his duty.
– You might as well, because I am used to it.
– You mean that you do not want to be controversial in your statement.
– Exactly. Since the last reference to this matter, I have made particular inquiries, and obtained all this information. I have also been informed by officers with whom Mr. Savage was previously associated in the Defence Department that he is a very capable officer, and thoroughly deserves the position in which he is employed. I have also found that when the late Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Batchelor, was in London, he heard some of the particulars of the case, and some of the complaints, and last year he placed on the Estimates £100 as a solatium to Mr. Savage for any inconvenience he had suffered, or any anxiety he had endured while he was waiting for the ratification of his permanent appointment. That was, f think, very generous treatment, and so does Mr. Savage.
– Who is making the noise?
– I do not know. I have not heard any one make any noise, except Senator Long.
– What is the complaint?
– I do not know the complaint ; I am only making a plain statement of the facto of the case. If honorable senators will refer to the Estimates, they will find that an increase of £50 is proposed to be granted to Mr. Savage.
– That is not the point at issue at all.
– When Mr. Savage came over from the Victorian service he came from a position with a salary °f jo45° to a position with a salary - of *£600, and, after this year, he will receive ^650. I think that so far as his treatment is concerned it has been, not only fair, but generous.
– The Minister knows that the treatment was never questioned.
– According to the arrangement under which Mr. Savage went to London, he was entitled to no expenses, and yet he has been generously allowed by this Parliament .£100. I believe that he is a thoroughly efficient, careful, and energetic officer, and I hope that he will be granted the increase in his salary °f ^5° which is provided in the Estimates. I .do not think that if Senator Long were thoroughly seized of all the particulars he would trouble further about the matter ; but if he is not satisfied, I would ask him to see Mr. Atlee
Hunt, who would show him the private letters of Mr. Savage, which I have no desire to make public here, and thoroughly satisfy him that that officer is very contented with the position he is occupying.
– The honorable senator is put to a lot of trouble to hide the real issue.
– There is no real issue involved.
– Is it competent for me, sir, to reply to the statement made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– The honorable senator can only speak by leave of the Senate.
– I beg to ask leave.
– We seem to be drifting into an extraordinary position. I venture to say that such a statement as has just been made ought to have been concluded with a motion to allow every honorable senator to discuss it if there is to be a discussion at all. -
– Let us have a motion.
– I do not want to burke discussion.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator Long have leave to speak?
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has gone to a great deal’ of trouble to tell the Senate the fair treatment which has been meted out to Mr. Savage; that was never questioned. He has also gone to a. lot of trouble to assure us that there is no more efficient officer in the Commonwealth service to-day than is Mr. Savage; no one doubted that for a moment, because we are all perfectly satisfied as to his qualifications. In 191 1, I brought up the matter of this gentleman not getting a daily allowance. I pointed out to the Senate and the Government that he was acting in a temporary capacity, and, therefore, ought to be treated the same as every other officer who was so acting. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, on the advice of the Secretary to the External Affairs Department, peremptorily denied that Mr. Savage was acting in a temporary capacity.
– So I do now.
– The honorable senator told us that Mr. Savage was there in a permanent capacity, and said there was no doubt about it. I showed the other night that Mr. Savage was sent Home, in 1906, to the position he now occupies, and that the permanency of his occupancy of the office was not established until four years later.
– If it was not, it was very well understood.
– All that I asked was that Mr. Savage should be treated the same as every other officer.
– What has been withheld from him? That is the point.
– Nothing now. Mr. Savage has obtained all that he could wish for, but there is this point at stake, that information of a distinctly misleading character in connexion with the permanency or otherwise of his appointment to the London office was tendered to the Senate. That is what I am taking exception to, and I think that I am justly entitled to do so.
– But you have been very savage about it all the time.
– I have not been savage at all, but I have exercised my
Tight as a senator to see that information in accordance with fact is supplied in answer to a question-
– Well, you have got it.
– I had information at the time quite apart from the facts which the honorable senator presented to the Senate, and I told him then chat I would go into the matter later, and that if it were possible to establish the fact of Mr.. Savage’s temporary occupancy of the office, I should do so. I did that the other night to the entire satisfaction of the Senate and the Government, as the Minister knows. But he has occupied nearly half-an-hour to-day in covering up the real issue which is at stake, and telling us what a really good officer Mr. Savage is. I have no more to say than that, if he is content to whitewash an officer as he has the Secretary for External Affairs so capably to-day, honorable senators who seek information from that source will view it in future with the proverbial grain of salt. I congratulate the Vice-President of the Executive Council on concealing what he knows to have been the real question that ought to have been placed before the Senate.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message resumed from 7th November, vide page 5149) :
The acts specified in Column 1 hereundershall be offences against discipline, and a seaman or apprentice committing any one of them shall be liable to a punishment not exceeding the punishment set opposite to the offence in Column 2 hereunder : - Column 1. *Offences.*
Absence without leave from duty, such absence not amounting to desertion or not treated as such by the master.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - In Column 2, after “ Twenty pounds,” where second occurring, insert “ Penalty of Twenty pounds.”
Upon which Senator Pearce had moved -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the word “ Twenty,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Ten.”
– I desire to make an appeal to the Committee to bring the debate on this amendment to a conclusion as soon as possible. We have devoted a considerable amount of time to it, and we still have a large number of amendments to deal with, some of them of considerably more importance than this one. The session is approaching what we hope will be its conclusion, and a large number
Forfeiture of all accrued wages not exceeding Twenty pounds, or a penalty of Twenty pounds.
Forfeiture of two days’ wages with an additional forfeiture of two days’ wages for every twenty-four hours of absence; or a penalty of Twenty pounds. of other Bills are coming forward. It is the desire of the Government that the Navigation Bill should become law during the present session ; and I appeal to those who desire that it should become law to assist us in bringing the present debate to a termination. There are only one or two points upon which I propose to speak now, and that will conclude the debate, as far as I am concerned. It was said last week that this amendment had been made at the request of the ship-owners. I denied the statement at the time, but I thought it of so much importance that I have taken the trouble to inquire personally from the Minister of Trade and Customs, the AttorneyGeneral, and their officers. I am now in a position to say, most emphatically, that no such suggestion was ever made by the shipowners, or by their representatives, to any of the persons connected with the framing or introduction of this Bill, or- to those who have been responsible for it.
– The suggestion was made in a circular.
– I do not care whether it was made in a circular or not. I say, as far as concerns the Ministers responsible for the Bill and their officers, that the amendment was not inserted in consequence of any suggestion made by the shipowners. I wish that statement to stand without further comment. As regards the question of crimping, and the statements that have been made in connexion with it, I desire to read to the Committee a letter which has been received from the Premier of New South Wales in order to *>how that the system still exists. The letter which I shall quote has been forwarded by the New South Wales Premier to the Minister of Trade and Customs. He states -
Although the decoying of men on board ship under the influence of liquor, or by means of some false pretence, and then carrying them off, is not known to exist now to any appreciable extent, a practice known as ‘ ‘ blood-money traffic “ has gradually grown to large proportions during the last three years, although the shipping master at Newcastle has been unremitting in his efforts to put a stop to the traffic. In order to obtain crews, some masters of foreigngoing vessels, when in Newcastle, employ agents to procure men, for whom blood-money to the extent of from £x to £5 per head is paid. In many cases unscrupulous shipmasters share this money with the agents.
The point which I1 have made all through, and which I make now on the authority of the law officers of the Crown, is this - that under this Bill only one loophole is left for the crimp, and tha: loophole occurs in the case of men who leave a vessel just prior to her departure. The opportunity for the crimp comes in there. Men sign agreements, but at the last moment they refuse to go to sea. The crimp is there with his men, and is very often acting in collusion with the master to supply other men to the ship. There is nothing in the Bill that deals with such a case except the penalty imposed on the seaman who breaks his agreement at the last moment.
– Where does the “ bloodmoney “ alluded to in the letter of the Premier of New South Wales come in?
– The blood-money comes from the ship-owner, who has to pay the master the expense to which he is put, whatever that may be; and that bloodmoney the master very often shares.
– What is the inducement offered for men to leave?
– The inducements held out by the crimp.
– Who gets nothing.
– Oh, does he not? He is a philanthropist, I suppose ? I read on Friday a statement showing that crimps make all sorts of glowing statements to men, telling them that, if they desert their ship and go to another lying at another wharf, they will get larger pay, “ plum duff “ every day, and all that sort of thing.
– This provision does not penalize the crimp.
– But it penalizes the man who gives the crimp his opportunity. If a seaman has a grievance, or if he thinks that the ship is unseaworthy, we give him an opportunity under this Bill of bringing his grievance before the Minister. The Minister will then have an opportunity of causing an inspection of the ship to be made. If she is proved to be unseaworthy, she will be prevented from going to sea. The measure is, therefore, in the interests of seamen. But the seaman who refuses at the last moment to go to sea in an unseaworthy ship is doing an injury to other seamen. We do not want a seaman to desert, but to bring his grievances under the notice of the Minister. We say that by refusing to join he is defeating our objects in inserting in this Bill provisions for the protection of seamen.
– My amendment would do that.
– With all due respect to the honorable senator, it would not. The fact that a seaman does not get his discharge may not prevent him from going to sea again. He may take his previous discharge. Senator Guthrie himself on a previous occasion said that the discharge was a farce.
– “ Under present conditions.”
– The Honorable senator did not qualify the statement in any way. I shall not take up more time, but I wish this statement to be in the minds of honorable senators when they vote-. There is just one other statement to which I should like to reply. It has been said that this amendment has been inserted for the express purpose of penalizing men who do not wish to join a ship in case of a strike.
– The statement is that it will have that effect.
– I want honorable senators who take up that attitude to remember that there are two penalties provided in this Bill for desertion. Those penalties apply to men who are already serving’ in a ship and who have already joined. They were agreed to by the Senate. One penalty is the forfeiture of all accrued wages not exceeding £20, and the other is a penalty of £20. The penalty with which we are now dealing is for refusal to join
After signing articles. Are we to believe that union men, men who believe in union principles, are going to sign an agreement to join a ship when there is a strike on? This provision will not affect union men at all because, if there is a strike on, they will refuse to sign. Those who take this objection ought to have objected to the previous provision imposing a penalty on men who are already serving in a ship and who desert. I appeal to the Committee not to debate the amendment any further at undue length, but to proceed to deal with other questions which- are infinitely more important than this one. I also ask them, when voting, to bear in mind the various points which I have submitted.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) £3.30]. - No one is more anxious than I am that this Bill should be passed ; but I desire honorable senators to realize what the House of Representatives’ amendment means. It means the manufacturing of criminals. I have to congratulate the Vice-President of the Executive Council upon the position that he takes up regarding this measure. I have heard him in the past pose as a fair man. He certainly is not a fair man in regard to this provision. Looking at the matter from the point of view of fairness, I ask honorable senators what is the position, of a ship-owner who refuses to carry men to sea? Is he sent to gaol? No. There is no proposal to deal with him in that manner. The seaman has no remedy against him except to sue him for the wages due. Where is the fairness in the differential treatment meted out to seamen and ship-owners ? ‘
– There is a clause which imposes a penalty on the “ owner.
– There is no penalty, except that the ship-owner must return the seaman to the home port.
– The owner must take the seaman to sea or pay his wages.
– But if the owner does not pay the wages, the seaman has only a civil remedy.
– He can recover the wages.
– But the owner is not sent to gaol, because he has plenty of money with which to pay.
– What more can the seaman desire than to get his wages for doing nothing?
– If a seaman enters into a contract and refuses to go on board, he can be sent to gaol; but the owner who refuses to carry out his agreement may merely become the object of a civil action.
– The shipowner must pay the seaman for what he has done.
– But that is all.
– He must pay the seaman for the whole term of his engagement.
– The seaman has to sue, and get what he can. The owner is not sent to gaol for terminating the agreement.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - If the owner pays up, the seaman does not want him to go to gaol.
– Will the honorable senator read clause 87 ?
– The only penalties on the owner are that he has to return the seaman to the home port and pay him a month’s wages. There is no honorable senator who has done more to put down crimping than I have, and I say that this Bill will effectively prevent it by the abolition of advance notes. The Minister has pointed out that there may be a conspiracy between the master of a. ship and a crimp. But, in that case, the master defrauds his owners. That would be a clear case of conspiracy, if it could be proved, between the master and the crimp. In the past, seamen have been called all sorts of names because they have not been able to render assistance to their fellowworkers in Australia in connexion with strikes. They have kept to their agreements and observed the law. We desire now to take some of the shackles off them ; but, instead of that, this amendment would impose another shackle on them. Honorable senators who look at the matter carefully, will. see that the amendment goes much further than supposed, because the definition, of “ seaman “ in the Bill includes persons temporarily employed on a ship. That would include wharf labourers.
– Wharf labourers are excepted under the definition, because it excludes persons temporarily employed on a ship in port.
– In very many cases wharf labourers are not temporarily employed. They are employed for a considerable time.
– Only while a ship is in port.
– Many ships carry wharf labourers with them. They carry tradesmen as well.
– Ship carpenters.
– And others. No one has condemned the seamen more than an honorable senator now present because they would not leave their ships and assist strikers at Albany. The organ of the association, of which an honorable senator is an official, has in cold print condemned the seamen because they would not incur the penalty of imprisonment and come out during the strike on the Queensland coast.
– The honorable senator is drawing on his imagination.
– Every one knows that articles were written in the Waterside Gazette calling the crews of ships who refused to come out on the Queensland coast various unpleasant names. Another shackle is now being placed upon the seamen. My amendment would remove that. A considerable amount of attention has been given to this matter in England, where crimping is practised far more than in this country. Advance notes, however, are used considerably in Great Britain, and the advance note is what the crimp works for. It is an easy matter in Newcastle, or any other port, under the existing law, to induce men to leave their ships by the offer of higher wages, the crimp knowing perfectly well that he can get another ship for them with a month’s advance. That is where the crimp makes his money. This Bill will kill that practice by abolishing advance notes. The crimp is not going to take men off a ship and keep them until he is able to get another ship for them, unless he knows that he will get some advantage out of it. If he finds that there is no money to be obtained, there will be no crimping. I put this case to honorable senators. Orders may be given that a ship will sail at 12 o’clock to-day. All the members of the crew are present on board at the time, and’ it is then found that some cargo has to be taken in, and the departure of the vessel is postponed for three or fourhours. The men are off duty, and not. wishing to be confined to the ship go to the mate or engineer, and ask, “ What timeare we likely to get away?” The mate tells them that the vessel will sail at 3, o’clock. They then go ashore, and return at 3 o’clock to the wharf to find that the ship is gone, and they have missed their passage.
– That would be an absolutely reasonable cause for failure to join the ship.
– It might not be considered so by a Court, and the honorable senator forgets that when the seamen are brought before the Court for failure tojoin their ship, the mate or engineer whotold them that she would not leave until 3 o’clock may be cruising in the Bight, and it may be a very considerable time before the seamen will be in a position to bring the evidence necessary to . prove that they did not fail to join the vessel without a reasonable cause.
– Who would get the benefit of the doubt?
– The seamen would get it in gaol. Under the existing law, the master of the ship would prosecute in such cases, but we have altered that by this Bill, and under its provisions the master could take his ship to sea with the witnesses required by the seamen, and the superintendent of mercantile marine could prosecute the seamen, though he would know nothing at all of “the circumstances. Under my amendment, a man who fails to join his ship, or proceed to sea in her,, may have his papers withheld by a superintendent. I admit that I have said that, under existing conditions, a discharge is of very little value, but, under this Bill, noseaman will ever be able to ship twice on the one discharge. The Imperial Government saw’ the necessity for a provision of that kind, and have given superintendentspower to deal with discharges, but they have not provided for the punishment of a seaman by sending him to a gaol to mix with criminals. Honorable senators should remember that seamen are honest, upright, . working men, and yet under the Minister’s proposal, if one of them has. the misfortune to miss his passage, he may be sent to gaol to herd with criminals. I think the matter has been sufficiently discussed, and I do not intend to reply to any further statements made on the subject. I conclude by asking honorable senators whether they are prepared to send men to gaol for a breach of a civil agreement, when another method of punishing them may be adopted.
. -I do not wish to hang up the Bill further than to recite briefly my objections to this provision. The matter has been debated long enough, and further wrangling about it is not likely to alter the opinion of any honorable senator. I believe that Senator Guthrie has made out a good case against a criminal prosecution for an offence by a seaman when a civil prosecution is all that is open to a seaman if an offence of the same kind is committed against him by the master or owner of a ship. I admit that clause 87 of the Bill gives a seaman a remedy by the institution of a civil action for the recovery of a penalty if his employer has wrongly dealt with him.
-It will suit the seaman better to be able io get his money than to send the owner of the ship to gaol.
– That is so, but the average seaman has very little money to spare, and it would be necessary for him to secure legal assistance to sheet home any offence charged against the owner of a ship. However much honorable senators may favour the Bill as it stands, they must admit that it is much easier for the master of a ship, with the owners behind him, to recover compensation for injury done him by a seaman than it is for a seaman to initiate a prosecution when, unless he has more than the average ability of seamen, “he must secure the services of a legal man to prove his case. It is more difficult for a seaman to recover compensation against the master or owners of a vessel than it is for a shipmaster to visit his vengeance, it may be, upon a seaman.
– The seaman can employ a solicitor, and get costs as well as the verdict if he proves his case
– Surely Senator Fraser, with his vast experience, will not pretend that a man can get a lawyer to work for him unless he has some money to put down.
– He can get any number of lawyers to work for him if he has a good case.
– I know the difficulty which the practically penniless man has if he wishes to secure legal or any other assistance.
The saying that to those who have much more is given, and to those who have little the little they have is taken from them is as true now as when it was first uttered. The Minister of Defence has stated that we have permitted a part of the clause imposing a penalty in the case of the desertion of men who have been working on board ship under an agreement to go through without making provision for desertion where men leave a ship because of a maritime strike. But if in connexion with the previous paragraph we neglected to perform our obvious duty as Labour men, that is no reason why we should neglect to make such a provision in dealing with this amendment ; and having done so, the Government can secure a recommittal of the Bill to make a consequential amendment in the previous paragraph to which reference has been made.
– That cannot be done now.
– If that be so, and we have left one loophole, it is but an additional reason why we should not leave another.
– What would the honorable senator call a man who would not leave his ship in a strike?
– I used the expression before, and it was objected to. Men may join a ship in their eagerness to secure employment without knowing” the conditions that exist.
– They will be nice unionists if they do not know the conditions that exist.
– A man may be a good unionist, and still be ignorant of the conditions connected with certain employment. If in my eagerness to secure employment, I signed an agreement to work on a ship, and then discovered that there was an industrial dispute, and that it would be against the interests of my fellow-unionists to carry out my engagement, I would leave the ship and take the consequences. I do not wish to make it difficult for other people to do the same thing, and I should be satisfied if the Minister in charge would consent to the addition to thispart of the clause of a. proviso in the following terms -
Provided that such refusal or failure if occasioned by reason of an industrial dispute in which any section of those employed in the working of the ship is concerned shall be held to be teasonable cause.
I say that we shall not be true to the principles of Labour and unionism if we deliberately pass legislation which will have the effect of penalizing men who leave a ship, or refuse to join a ship, in defence of principles which they hold dear. The Minister may consider that I am obstinate in this matter, but I know that the honorable senator is obstinate. Some time might elapse before any difficulty would arise under a provision of this kind, but I think that there is a distinct danger of it ; and if we have overlooked the necessity for some such provision as T have suggested in dealing with the previous amendment of the House of Representatives, we should not overlook it in this case. If the Minister is obstinately determined to adhere to the letter of the Bill, on his head, and on the heads of those who support him, will rest the consequences.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.53]- - No one will accuse Senator Rae of having any obstinacy in his composition. We know that he is so goodnatured that he is willing to yield, and to fall in even with rulings of the Chairman of Committees. The honorable senator is doing himself an injustice when he suggests that for a moment he may be charged with obstinacy in connexion with this matter. I have been struck by the irrelevant matters which have been introduced into the discussion of what is really a very simple question. Senator Rae has held over our heads a kind of sword by suggesting that if the Ministerial proposal is agreed to, those who support it will be responsible for future danger and peril ; but we must do the best we can in the matter.
– I did not expect anything better from the honorable senator’s side.
– I do not know why the honorable senator should say that. We are not obstinate any more than is the honorable senator; and if he. had produced a single argument against the provision which the Minister asks the Committee to assent to, we should have been prepared to listen to it and give it fair weight. When Senator Guthrie says that the provision is one for the manufacturing of criminals, he uses an expression which is not justified. Senator Rae compared the position of the owner and seaman by saying that this provision would enable the owner or master of a vessel to wreak vengeance upon the seaman; but that is not an appropriate expression when we are considering a contract between” an employer and an employe. Whether we have industrial disputes and strikes or not, such contracts must continue to exist. No one will deny that the unionists of this and other countries have done beneficent service in ameliorating the conditions of employment, but they have always recognised, and must continue to recognise, the existence of contracts.
– The honorable senator is a member of a union himself.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.It is a union which subsists in order to secure competency, but the honorable senator has suggested a large subject, which, if he will forgive me, I shall not enter upon now. Senator Rae was entirely mistaken in suggesting that a seaman would be placed at some disadvantage because he would have to employ a lawyer. Why should he employ a lawyer ?
– Because there are so> many technicalities which he might otherwise be twisted up in.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.That is one of the highest compliments ever paid to the profession to which I belong. The honorable senator assures us that lawyers exist for the purpose of relieving the cause of justice from the embarrassment of technicalities.
– No; because the lawyers first create them.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.If the lawyer creates technicalities, the honorable senator apparently objects that he should also relieve the cause of justice fromthe consequent embarrassment.
– No; I say there is a. conspiracy in the honorable senator’s profession which should be done away with byAct of Parliament.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.The honorable senator should not use a harsh term like that, but it is characteristic of the argument which has been used tomeet the very fair and judicial view submitted by the Minister of Defence. We should endeavour to understand what really is the point in dispute. The offence whichit is sought to prevent by this provision isthat of a man entering into an agreement, to take his place in the crew of a ship, and then, without reasonable cause, refusing, it may be, at the very last moment tojoin the ship or proceed to sea in her. Asthe Vice-President of the Executive Council has pointed out, that offence is not necessarily limited in its effects to the owner or master of a ship. Its mischief mayextend to passengers, and many personsother than the owners of the ship or those concerned in its management. All that i& sought to be done is to impose, in the case of such an offence, a maximum penalty of
– And the Minister in charge of the Bill is prepared to reduce that to£10.
– There is, in my opinion, not very much meaning in the reduction. I am not prepared to say that the fact that a man failed to join his ship, or withdrew from the ship because there was a general strike, would not be taken into consideration if he was charged with this offence.
– The magistrates would “ sock” it on to him double for that, if they got the chance.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.That is not my experience. The stipendiary magistrates of the State with which I am best acquainted are not in the habit of doing that sort of thing. The statement might be an argument for purifying or abolishing the magistracy, but it is not an argument against this provision. The Minister of Defence called attention to the fact that there may be a conspiracy between the master of a ship and the crimp. They might share, so to speak, the plunder. If the will of this innocent seaman, who goes down there to enter on the ship, is operated upon by the crimp, in order that he may gain something, why should he not be penalized ? If he lends himself as a willing tool to the crimp, by saying that the vessel is not seaworthy, or something of that kind, why should he not be put to the proof of it? In what other way can we get at the crimp than by operating against the man who has set up an unfounded reason ?
– We have done that by abolishing advance notes.
– No. That is the simple way in which it can be done. If a seaman puts forward a reason which is without foundation, surely he ought to suffer a penalty for allowing himself to become the willing victim of the crimp.
– We have provided for that.
– I cannot understand why the honorable senator should object to this provision.
– Take the provision in the Imperial law, for which you always stick up.
– This is better than the Imperial provision, because it is more direct and clear.
– This is very much more drastic.
– Not at all. I consider that it is a great amelioration of the existing law, and a distinct improvement. It is in such a form that he who runs may read. The other point which has been mentioned is that we are not dealing fairly with the seamen. Senator Guthrie referred to the fairness which has been spoken of by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Now, what is the position of the owner? Senator Guthrie says that the seaman is not provided for.
– One goes to gaol, but the other does not.
– What nonsense to talk ! There is no reference here to gaol. The seaman may have a penalty of£5, or it may be a penalty of £,10, imposed if the amendment of the Government is accepted.
– And if he does not pay he will have to go to gaol.
– Suppose that we put the seaman in the same position as the owner, and make him liable to damages for not fulfilling his engagement. The amount he would have to pay might be vastly more than £,10. We are putting a salutary limit on the amount of his liability, but if the matter were left open, and he were liable for the damage caused to the ship by his refusal to join her or to proceed to sea, it might be more than£10. He might not be able to pay the amount, and he would be sent to gaol just the same.
– No; he would go bankrupt.
– Then he could go bankrupt for the amount of the penalty. The proposal of the Government is absolutely in favour of the seaman. What is the position of the owner?
– Twenty-four hours’ notice in his home port.
– The honorable senator would make a perfect mess of the whole of this legislation by introducing provisions such as he suggests. In clause 87 we have improved upon the provision in the Merchant Shipping Act, both in its verbiage and in its effect. It reads - 1.) If a seaman is discharged, otherwise than in accordance with the terms of his agreement, without fault on his part justifying that discharge, and without his consent, he shall be entitled to receive from the master or owner, in addition to any wages he has earned, compensation not being less than one month’s wages, and may recover that compensation as if it were wages duly earned. (2.) If the seaman is so discharged elsewhere than at the port of discharge mentioned in the agreement, the master or owner shall provide him with a passage to that port or such other port as is mutually agreed to with the approval of the superintendent’.
Then we find this provision in clause 88 -
Every seaman (wherever engaged) who is discharged in Australia before the completion of the full term of his engagement, shall be paid and may recover the full amount of wages due up to the time of his discharge.
It seems to me that there is the most ample protection for the seaman. . Senator Guthrie talks about the seaman having to bring a civil action. The remedy in the Bill is by summary proceeding before a magistrate. There is exactly the same proceeding by the seaman against the owner as by the owner against the seaman. There is no more need for a lawyer in one case than there is in the other. The Government have, it seems to me, exhausted their opportunities of ameliorating the conditions of the seaman, and placing him and the owner on practically the same level of justice in regard to the wages question. Therefore, I hope that their amendment will be adopted, and not that of Senator Guthrie, which would be entirely ineffective and complicated, and would introduce a new system.
– I propose to compare the amendment of Senator Guthrie with the proposal of the Government, and I am taking this step because I object to the honorable senator always claiming that he is the one man who is capable of addressing himself to the subject. I object to him posing as the only champion of trade unionism so far as seamen are concerned, because I am equally anxious to see justice done. The proposal of the Government is really more moderate and humane than that of the honorable senator, and certainly it is much more moderate than the provision in the Merchant Shipping Act. As regards the fine for the offence, the Minister in charge of the Bill has made it quite clear several limes that he is prepared to reduce the maximum to j£io, and also not to provide for a minimum. The proposal of Senator Guthrie does not provide for a minimum. It reads -
The Minister may direct that any of the senmen’s certificates of discharge may be held for such period as he may think fit.
Therefore, he could fix any period he thought fit for holding a seaman’s dis- charge. It might be six months, or aslong as the period for which Senator Guthrie was quite willing to subject the seamen of the Coombana
– For a different offence altogether.
– We shall not engage in any hairsplitting about the difference between the offences. The honorable senator has been sailing very near tothe wind all through in this matter. Here is a proposal in which he does not provide for a maximum as to time for which a seaman’s discharge may be withheld. If it were adopted, a seaman might be kept for months and months without the means of earning a livelihood. The Minister, however, provides for a maximum fine of ;£io,. which, if inflicted, would represent only ae month’s pay. Last week Senator Lynch pointed out that on one occasion the Seamen’s Union in order to punish the mere who had left the Coombana at Fremantle, withheld their discharges for six months.
– They did nothing of the kind.
– Senator Guthrie’s proposal is to impose a penalty of starvation instead of a monetary penalty.
– Read Senator Lynch’s remarks in Hansard., and you will see I am substantially right in what I say. In other words, he proposes that, instead of a maximum fine of £,10, the men shall bepenalized to the extent of six months’” wages. I think that, he should have a. more up-to-date case than the strike at Albany ten years ago to bring before the Committee.
– The Brisbane strike was just the same.
– I am not acquainted with the Brisbane strike, but L can speak about the Albany strike. Thelatter was confined to the wharf labourersall the time. So far as I know, the seamen were not asked to go into it.
– They were.
– At what stagedid the seamen go into that strike?
– They did not go into- it.
– What did they do? Seeing that the Seamen’s Union did’ nothing to help the Albany wharf labourerswhen they were engaged in that long struggle, the honorable senator should hold* his tongue on that subject.
– They kept the law, which was not so stringent as this measure will be.
– The honorable senator has gone further. He has led the Committee to believe that a cruel fine is being imposed by a tyrannical Labour Government, which is ready to crush the poor Australian seaman, while he is the man to save them from those tyrants, ‘and that there is no such provision in the Merchant Shipping Act. Section 65 of the Act reads -
Where a seaman who has been lawfully engaged and has received under his agreement an advance note, after negotiating his advance note, wilfully or through misconduct fails to join his ship or deserts therefrom before the note becomes payable, he shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding Five pounds, or, at the discretion of the Court, to imprisonment for not exceeding twenty-one days, but nothing iri this section shall take away or limit any remedy by action or by summary procedure before justices which any person would otherwise have in respect of the negotiation of the advance note, or which an owner or master would otherwise have for breach of contract.
Proof that the law does operate is contained in the Shipping Gazette of 12th October last -
Twenty firemen who engaged to serve on the Canadian Northern liner Royal George appeared at Bristol Police Court on Wednesday, charged with unlawfully neglecting, without reasonable cause, to join the ship.
It proceeds to describe the case, and concludes with this passage -
Two of the defendants, on account of their youth, were ordered by the magistrates to pay 2s. 6d., and the remainder were fined 10s. and as. 6d. costs each.
– That is a case where the men cashed advance notes. There is no penalty where there is no advance note.
– Nothing of the kind; there is no mention of, cashing advance notes in the case. The seamen were tried and fined for refusing to join their ship. I think I have said sufficient to show that the amendment which the Government propose is really much more moderate than the one suggested by Senator Guthrie, and which, simply because it emanates from him, is accepted by certain honorable senators as though it were the beginning and the end of all justice. I intend to exercise my own judgment.
– He has dropped the second part of his amendment.
– I have referred to the amendment as it was circulated in print.
– Read sub-section 2 of the section in the Merchant Shipping Act..
– Last week the honorable senator declared that only one of these provisions applied to this particular matter.
– I say so still.
– I think I have shown that both sub-sections apply.
– They do not.
– I think that theinfliction of the fine on the twenty seamen shows that I am right. In conversation, the secretary of the Seamen’s Union told me that he was quite agreeable to accept the provision in its present form; Senator Guthrie is not .the only authority in these matters. I am satisfied that 1 am not taking up an unreasonable attitude, but the right and proper one.
– I regret to say anything that would delay the passing of this measure, and should not have risen to speak were it not for the lecturettes to which we have been subjected by certain honorable senators. I quite agree with the last speaker that the statement of the Minister to-day was alsolutely unanswerable. I wish to enter my protest against being termed a “ scab “ on account of the attitude that I take up.
– Do not renew that matter.
– Unfortunately, these statements are circulated through the press, and unless a strong protest is made against them they are likely to be flaunted in ‘our faces on some future occasion. I shall allow neither Senator Rae nor Senator Guthrie to lay down the law to me as to what shall be my gospel of unionism. I have had sufficient experience of it to be quite as capable of realizing what my duty is as any one. Within my experience as a unionist, I have always had a strong regard for an honorable agreement, and for a man’s honour in carrying out an agreement to which he Kas put his name. I have never advocated an agreement that would only hold good on one side, and shall not do so now. When a man with his eyes open walks straight into an agreement, it is his duty to abide by its conditions. I know of no union in any part of the world that has been so great a stickler for agreements as has the Seamen’s Union. The seamen want an agreement for everything. They would do scarcely anything without one. I believe that to be right. They ought to stick to their agreements when they are made. In showing what might happen under this provision, Senator Guthrie has instanced the case of a seaman having been advised by the mate of a ship as to the hour of sailing. He alleged that if the ship sailed an hour earlier, and the man was left behind, that would be regarded as desertion.
– No, as missing the ship.
– But no magistrate in his senses would regard a man’s statement under such circumstances as not being “ reasonable cause.” A seaman who missed his ship under those conditions would undoubtedly incur no penalty.
– Decidedly, it would be “reasonable cause.”
– The Minister has presented an unanswerable case, and the experts in seamanship in the Senate have not said one word to weaken the position that he stated.
– I shall endeavour to approach the question without discussing personalities. Speaking as a workman, I know that it is a common practice that if an employ6 in a factory or workshop absents himself from duty he is subjected to a penalty. I have had to pay such a penalty for being five minutes late in the morning. If I had not appeared at work after lunch, and had not sent in a doctor’s certificate, I should have risked immediate dismissal, I have listened to this long debate as patiently as any one, and can only come to the conclusion that it is my duty to support the infliction of a penalty for absence from duty when a ship is about to proceed to sea. I am by no means afraid to take the responsibility for the vote which I intend to cast. No honorable senator can be more anxious than I am to assist in the passing of legislation which will make the lot of the men who “ go down to the sea in ships “ easier than it has been in the past. No one realizes more than I do that the Legislatures of Australia, though laws have been passed to improve the lot of workers in factories, mines, and workshops, have done little for the seamen. It has been left for the National Parliament to take steps to make the lot of the seaman easier than it has hitherto been. I do not think that we have anything to do with the Imperial legislation on this subject. We are discussing a piece of Australian legislation. We can benefit from the mistakes that have been made in other parts of the world,- but we need not be otherwise affected by the Acts of other Parliaments. If a seaman has a reasonable and lawful excuse for not being on board a ship when she is about to proceed to sea, no penalty will be inflicted under this Bill. But if we impose no penaltywhatever on a seaman who is absent from his ship without reasonable excuse it will be tantamount to saying to Australian seamen that they can break the law with levity, whilst workmen on the mainland must conform to the laws connected with the occupations they follow. This Bill does not deal with seamen only. It also affects the ship-owner and the travelling public. If a ship is ready to proceed to sea, and the seamen refuse to go in her, the travelling public are put to great inconvenience.
– There are plenty of other men.
– Other men may not be available at the port. I have seen a case where the full complement of seamen were not available when a ship was ready to proceed to sea. If a master takes his vessel to sea without the full complement of men, he endangers the lives of those on board, whilst if he does not’ go to sea at the proper time he inconveniences the passengers, and an injustice is done to the owner. . I do not think that this provision will inflict any hardship on seamen, especially as it is proposed to reduce the penalty to .£10. We are simply endeavouring to make seamen realize that when they enter into an honorable compact they must expect to incur a penalty for breaking it, unless they can produce lawful excuse for so doing.
– That is why so many unionists have been sent to gaol.
– The word “unionist” has been frequently brought into this debate. I am as good a unionist as any of my colleagues, and we agree to differ about the matter. lt is one of the virtues of our party that we can afford to differ on some points. If I thought that by supporting the Government I was committing a breach of my creed as a unionist, I should be the last to do so ; but I feel convinced that I shall not be doing anything of the kind. Knowing that I myself, as a workman, have had to pay penalties for minor offences, and that 1 did not object to doing so, I see no reason why penalties should not also be incurred by seamen who break agreements.
.- It seems the custom for honorable senators who have the temerity to oppose any of the proposals of the Government to be subjected to the most bitter sarcasm from the Ministry and some of their satellites.
– Order 1 I ask the honorable senator to withdraw that word.
– Very well, Mr. Chairman, I will withdraw it. Whatever the consequences mav be, I intend to run the risk of opposing the amendment of the Government now before the Committee. I quite agree that there ought to be the most absolute and complete loyalty on the part of seamen to agreements that they have entered into, and that, for any breach of such agreement, there ought to be a penalty. But where there is uniformity of offences there ought to be something like uniformity of penalty. But there is no such uniformity where, if one party breaks an agreement, he is sent to gaol, whilst the other party is merely subjected to an action in the civil Court.
– Gaol is not mentioned.
– It is mentioned in very definite terms. There is a fine of £10, or, as usual, prison in default. The honorable senator knows very well that if a person does not pay a fine which has been inflicted upon him ‘ the usual consequence is imprisonment.
– That, is if damages are not paid up in civil cases.
– The position of the seaman who is aggrieved is that he will have to go through the complicated and expensive ramifications of a civil action to recover damages.
– It is a summary action.
– Is the Minister so innocent as to believe that all that a seaman has to do is to go to a Court, make his complaint to the magistrate, and have his employer hauled before the “beak” and fined? The Minister knows perfectly well the procedure that a man has to go through before he can hope to get anything like justice.
– A case may take a couple of years.
– It might take a considerable time.
– In a magistrate’s Court?
– The seaman would have to consult a solicitor, to begin with*. Then action would have to be taken by the solicitor.
– The case would have to come before a Court within a stipulated time. What is the man to do while he is waiting for his case against his employer to be heard? There ought to be the strongest possible objection on the part of members of the Labour party to the proposal of the Government, although I am sure that every one of us would desire to see that an agreement once entered into was honoured. The penalty, however, whichever party offends, ought to be uniform. It is because I hold that opinion that I intend to run the risk of voting against the Government.
– I am sorry to be again under the necessity of saying a few words with regard to this matter.
– No necessity.
– The statement has been made that a new offence is being created by the Bill, which was not contained in the measure as originally drafted. The penalty was inserted in the House of Representatives, at the instance, it has been alleged, of the ship-owners. That statement has been denied by the Minister in charge of the Bill. The thing has a sinister look about it. This is an offence which was not originally contemplated, otherwise it would have been dealt with in the Bill as introduced. It is an offence which the Navigation Commission never once refer to in their report.
– Yes, they do. Let the honorable senator look at the part of the report dealing with crimping. He will find a reference to it there.
– The report of the Commission does not refer to this offence, but there is ample reference to the offence of desertion. This is not desertion.
– It is a form of desertion.
– I admit that, but it is’ not desertion in the ordinary sense of the term. A man cannot desert a ship which he has never joined. I agree with honorable senators who contend that a seaman who breaks an agreement should be placed in the same position as other members of the community who do the same thing. The employers have the civil Courts open to them, and can sue for damages if they feel that they have been aggrieved by the action of the seamen. In one paragraph of their report, the Navigation Commission actually recommend the adoption of this course. The reference does not embrace the particular offence we are now discussing, but is to a seaman who leaves a ship without giving notice. This is what the Commissioners say -
If he does not give notice, however, the Commissioners consider the case will be met by the forfeiture of all or any part of the wages, at the disc-etion of the Court, then due to him, together with the liability to be sued for such damages as his employer may have suffered through his action.
That is therecommendation of the Navigation Commission in a case of desertion - forfeiture of wages and liability to be sued for damages. The Commission took a great deal of evidence, and occupied a very long time in looking into matters connected with the conditions of our seamen and the merchant service generally. I think the opinion they expressed is an eminently commonsense and fair one, and it ought to be followed by the members of this Committee. When the Bill was last under consideration, the Vice-President of the Executive Council painted a terrible picture of the inconvenience to which passengers, people sending or expecting freight, the public generally, the ship-owners, and the master of the vessel would be put if seamen who signed an agreement to join a vessel failed to put in an appearance when the time for the sailing of the vessel arrived. I admit that all the honorable senator said on the subject was true. It is very important that ships should sail at the appointed time in the interests of the public sending goods by the ship or passengers travelling by her. That being so, I ask whether it is not desirable that such conditions as would induce seamen to be as prompt in joining their vessels as the owners and passengers could desire should be established? But the very opposite is the case. There is no occupation of which I have ever read anything in connexion with which desertion and failure to complete agreements are so common as in the occupation of the seaman. The fact compels me to look for the reason, and it is given in plain language, and without equivocation, by the Navigation Commission. They say -
If the owner knew that unless he treated his crew properly they would leave at the first opportunity he would see that they had no just cause for complaint.
That is the spirit in which the whole of the merchant service ought to be conducted, but, unfortunately, it is not conducted in that spirit. We have a number of other transport services in Australia in connexion with railway, coaches, and tramways ; but I have never heard of a railway being held up because a number of men failed to carry out agreements they had entered into with the company or Government owning the railway. Such a state of affairs has never occurred,so far as I am aware, in Australia, simply because the men employed by the different Governments on the railways of the country, or by coach proprietors, or others engaged in transport services, are provided with decent conditions by those for whom they work. The employers in these cases see that their men are well treated, and as human beings ought to be treated, and they consequently have no difficulty in securing men to carry on their work.
– Does the honorable senator say that the two cases are parallel ?
– I do say so. The one and only reason; why shipping companies have any trouble with their men is because they do not treat them as men ought to be treated. I say that deliberately from my place in this Chamber, and with the authority of the Navigation Commission. By consenting that this should be considered an offence at all, we are playing into the hands of the shipping companies, and going against my ideas of equity and good government.
– Are we not in this Bill making for fair conditions all the time ?
– There may be ninety-nine clauses of the Bill with which I agree, and one with which I disagree.
– And the honorable senator will lose the ninety-nine to go after the one.
– There is no need to lose the ninety-nine good clauses. If the party with which Senator St. Ledger is associated were in power, we would not expect from them theninety-nine good clauses ; and I am not sure that we would get even nine good provisions from them. But we have a party in power now that is in sympathy with the seaman.
– What is the difference between fining a man and preventing him from earning his living?
– I have never said that I agree with the amendment suggested by Senator Guthrie. I say that the Courts are open to the shipping companies, and if men fail to implement their agreements, the shipping companies can sue them, just as other people are sued every day in the week if they fail to carry out the agreements they have entered into. If I take a lease of a house, and fail to occupy it, the owner cannot throw me into prison, or have me fined; but he can, if he pleases, sue me for damages. If a man engages another in Melbourne to do certain work, and he fails to put in an appearance, he is not fined or imprisoned, or called upon to show good cause for his non-appearance ; and why should seamen be placed in any different position? The seaman is as much a citizen of Australia as a landsman ; he should have the same rights and privileges, and should not be subjected to inferior conditions. All that honorable senators who oppose this provision are contending for is that seamen in this matter should be put on the same level as other people who break agreements. If a man does not join his ship, let the owner sue him for damages, if he has sustained any damages. It is ridiculous to talk about fining and imprisoning a seaman, or putting him to the trouble and expense of proving to a Court that he had reasonable cause for failure to join his ship. I shall vote against the House of Representatives’ amendment. I should like to know, from Senator Guthrie, exactly how he thinks his suggested amendment will meet the views which have been expressed ? A man’s certificate might be withheld for months under the honorable senator’s proposed amendment. That would represent a very serious penalty, and a greater penalty than I should be inclined to inflict upon any man. I would not suspend a seaman’s certificate for a single hour, but would say to the shipping company, “ You have your remedy. You are both citizens of the State; there is a disagreement between you; settle it before the Court.”
.- I cannot understand the opposition to the Government’s proposal for a maximum penalty of £10 for this offence. I have travelled in other countries, and in the United States of America, and I say that seamen are nowhere else as well treated as they are on the coast of Australia. I do not say that they are too well treated here, or that there is not still room for improvement in their conditions.
– Any amount of it.
– I would not say that; but I repeat that there is no other place in the world where seamen are as well paid and as liberally treated as they are on the coast of Australia.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
– I move -
That the amendment be further amended by adding the following words : - “ Provided that such refusal or failure, if occasioned by reason of an industrial dispute in which any section of those employed in the working of the ship are concerned, shall be held to be a reasonable cause.”
– I take it that this proposal is a modification of the amended amendment, and is in order.
– Before a final decision is given, sir, I wish to draw your attention to the fact that amendment No. 55 dealt with the question of reasonable cause. The amendment with which we have just dealt has relation to the penalty. If the proposed proviso were made, surely it would have to be, not as a proviso to the penalty, but as a proviso to the interpretation of what is the offence dealt with. The question is : What is the offence dealt with ? The object of this proviso is to make a certain thing not an offence. Obviously, it has nothing to do with the penalty, but is a qualification of the offence. I submit that it should have been moved as an amendment to amendment No. 55, and cannot be accepted as relevant to the next amendment.
– I think that the objection raised by the Minister of Defence is fatal to the amendment. I took it, when I read the amendment first, that it was a modification of the amended amendment of the House of Representatives dealing with the penalty; that is, reducing the penalty from £20 to£10. It should be understood that when an amendment is handedin hurriedly, it is quite possible for the Chairman to misread it. I misread this amendment as a modification of the penalty. The House of Representatives’ amendment dealing with reasonable cause was amendment No. 55, which reads “ Failure or refusal, without reasonable cause, to join a ship.” That amendment has been passed, and, therefore, I cannot accept the amendment of Senator Rae.
– I am sorry, sir, that I shall have to differ from your ruling.
-Perhaps it might save time if I were to point out to Senator Barker that, when the question is put, that the House of Representatives’ amendment, as amended, be agreed to, a vote can be taken on that question, if that course is agreeable.
Question - That the amendment, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Column 1, after “ duty “ insert “ without reasonable cause.”
– There are occasions when a man may have a good and sufficient reason for going ashore without leave. Clause 139, for instance, provides that a seaman may demand, and the master must give, leave to go ashore to consult a superintendent or justice, or to take legal proceedings against the master or an offi cer of the ship. If a seaman made such a demand, and were refused leave, he would: be quite justified in going ashore without permission, in order to take the necessary action to bring the master or officer concerned to book. The amendment makes provision for such circumstances.I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 103 -
No deserter shall secrete himself in any place with intent to escape from his engagement. Penalty : Five pounds.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit the clause.
– There seems to be no necessity for retaining this clause. If a seaman ran away from his ship and: hid himself in a boardinghouse, or up country till she sailed, strange to say, he would be subject to several penalties. He would be liable to be punished for desertion under clause 99, and again, under this clause, for having secreted himself, being practically the same offence. We therefore propose to omit the clause. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 106 -
When proceedings have been instituted for desertion against a seaman who has deserted from his ship, and a warrant has been issued for his apprehension, but he has not been apprehended until -
after the departure of the ship from Australia ; or
so shortly before the departure of the ship that he cannot conveniently be brought to trial prior to her departure; or
so shortly before such departure that the master cannot reasonably be expected to attend for the purpose of prosecuting him, the superintendent shall continue the proceedings against the deserter ; and upon the hearing of the charge, verified copies of the agreement, and of the entry in the log-book, in which respectively the offender’s name appears, shall be admissible in evidence.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ for desertion,” lines 1 and 2.
– This amendment, and the two following ones, are consequential upon the amendment which we have debated for so long and have just agreed to, and under which provision has been made for the punishment of seamen who fail to join or proceed to sea in Ships at the time of sailing. That provision having been made in another part of the
Bill, this, and the following two amendments, are consequential amendments to take the words out of the clause. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I should like to know, why the word “deserter” has been struck out by the other House, and the word ‘ ‘ seaman “ inserted? “Deserter” includes more than a seaman ; it also, includes an apprentice. “ Seaman “ does not include an apprentice. Therefore, an apprentice could desert and go free under this provision. I wish to know if there is any particular reason for the alteration?
– That is dealt with in amendment No. 61.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendments. - After “ship,” line 3, insert “or who has failed or refused ‘without reasonable cause to join his ship or proceed to sea; omit “deserter,” line 17, insert “seaman.”
– If Senator Guthrie has any doubt about the matter, and cares to move an amendment to insert “ apprentice,” I am quite willing to accept it; but we do not think that there is any necessity to do so. I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
Motion agreed1 to. Clause 117 -
The master of every ship for which an agreement with the crew is required under this Act shall furnish provisions to every member of the crew (who does not furnish his own provisions) in accordance with the scale set out in Schedule III. applicable to the ship, or as is prescribed.
Penalty : One hundred pounds, in addition to any compensation awarded under the next following section :
Provided that, if the master proves to the satisfaction of the Court that the failure was not due to any default or neglect on his part, no penalty shall be incurred.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “ ship,” line 1, insert “ registered in Australia, Or engaged in the coasting trade.”
– - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The clause purports to prescribe the scale of provisions to be supplied, not only in Australian-registered ships, and ships engaged in the coasting trade, but also in British oversea ships, engaging perhaps a single seaman in Australia. The latter ships are bound by the Merchant ShippingAct. Section 25 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906 - the section has application throughout the British Dominions - lays down the scale of provisions for British ships, and in the case of ships which go outside our jurisdiction, we have no power to vary it. It is true that the first scale set out in Schedule III. is headed for British ships not registered in Australia, nor engaged in the coasting trade, and is, except in two minor points, identical with the scale prescribed by the Board of Trade. But, apart from the fact that we have no power to legislate for ships other than Australian-registered when outside our jurisdiction - excepting, perhaps, in the case of British ships whose port of clearance and whose port of destination are both in the Commonwealth - apart, I say, from this fact, there are two other very important matters for which no provision is made in the Bill. The first is that, under section 25 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906, there is power for the King in Council to vary or add to the Board of Trade scale. If ever this were done, any conflicting provision in our Act would simply become ultra vires. The second point is that, under section 25 of the Imperial Act, provision is made that the scale shall not apply to lascars, or natives of India, or others not accustomed to a European dietary. No such exemption is made in our Bill ; and if a British tramp steamer, manned by coloured labour, picked up an Asiatic seaman here - perhaps held in custody as a prohibited immigrant - then clause it of our Act would appear to require that that man should be fed accord’ing to the European scale. As a matter of fact, it would have no such effect, because, in so far as our Bill is repugnant to the Imperial legislation, it would be ultra vires and of no effect. Seeing, then, that in regard to foreign-going British ships it is quite unnecessary to prescribe the Board of Trade scale, because such is already done by the Merchant Shipping Act, and that there is a danger that, in its present form, clause 117 may be declared1 ultra vires, it is considered advisable to specifically restrict its application to Australianregistered ships, and ships engaged in the coasting trade, as is proposed in the amendment.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.20].- This clause appears to place some of our Australian ships in a disadvantageous position in comparison with ships registered in Great Britain. The Minister has explained that we have no power to deal with any ship unless she is registered in Australia, or engages in the coasting trade. A ship may ‘be registered in Australia, but may trade between this country and Great Britain, and she will be in a different position from a ship registered in Great Britain and also trading between the same ports.
– That is one of the disadvantages of not having complete powers. We cannot help that.
– There will be a distinct disinclination on the part of companies owning vessels trading between Australia and Great Britain to register in Australia. Would it not be better to make the clause read -
The master of every ship engaged in the coasting trade for which an agreement with the crew is required under this Act shall furnish provisions to every member of the crew - and so on. It appears to me that we are discouraging ships from registering in Australia. Is not that a distinct disadvantage when we are trying to create a mercantile marine?
– What Senator Gould suggests would not carry us much further, and would not give us any more power than we have now. It is obvious that we do not want to invite more attention to this Bill, from a legal standpoint, than we can possibly help. Certainly we do not want to invite legal attacks upon what we wish to accomplish. That is the reason why we are specifically limiting this provision to ships registered in Australia. If we were to leave out the words “ registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade,” we should be inviting attacks upon the Bill, because then it might be supposed to apply to all ships, whereas we have not power to apply our legislation to British shipping. The amendment has been well considered, and will accomplish all we can accomplish. It keeps well within our legal powers, and will not have the effect of hindering the final passing of the Bill or of delaying its coming into operation.
, - Suppose a foreign ship arrives in Melbourne, discharges her cargo, and runs round to Port Pirie for a cargo of pyrites. Have we any control over her between the time when she leaves Melbourne and when she arrives in Port Pirie, or is she outside the scope of the Bill altogether ?
– If she engages in the coasting trade we have control over her.
– Suppose she goes round from Sydney to Port Pirie in ballast?
– If she takes in ballast she may or may not be regarded as engaging in the coasting trade.
– Suppose she has nocargo on board? Take the case of a Dutch ship coming to Sydney with a cargo. Suppose she discharges her cargo, and takes on board at Port Pirie pyrites for Flushing, in Holland. Would she come under this measure?
– If she took in cargo to carry from Sydney to Port Pirie she would be engaging in the coasting trade.
– That is a hardship, because it will have a tendency to put a lot of our trade into foreign bottoms, inasmuch as foreign ships can be worked cheaper than our own ships.
– That is one of the disadvantages of our situation.
– It is one of the disadvantages of being part of an Empire.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.30].- The Minister has not understood my point iri regard to this clause. I am not complaining that we are not including everything, because I recognise that we cannot include foreign ships registered outside Australia. On the other hand, I do not suggest art amendment that would leave the question open, because my idea was that, if we omitted the words . 1 1 registered in Australia,” and made the clause read “the master of every ship engaged in the coasting trade,” we should accomplish what we desire. We know that no ship can engage in the coasting trade unless a licence hasbeen granted by our shipping authorities. It is perfectly clear that such a ship comeswithin our competency. But while it may be perfectly right to include ships registered in Australia under this provision, wehave to bear in mind that if we do that we may discourage owners from registering ships in Australia where they can by any possibility avoid doing so.
– Is there any disadvantage in having ships registered here if they are not under our jurisdiction?
– We must not make it such a disadvantage to register ships in Australia that owners will be disinclined to do so. Our object is to build up a mercantile marine of our own.
– Registration will not do that.
– It has a tendency in that direction. It is disadvantageous to us to make it undesirable for ship-owners to register in this country. It will be very much better in this legislation for us to confine ourselves as far as possible to our own coasting trade, and not to attempt to interfere with trade that goes beyond our ports. Tt would be wise to limit the amendment in such a way as to show what jurisdiction we are exercising, and with the object of making our navigation law a success as far as our own mercantile marine is concerned.
– - I do not think that ship-owners are likely to be thankful to Senator Gould for suggesting that they would be inclined to register elsewhere. At present, by registering in Australia, ship-owners obtain exemption from compulsory pilotage. Special facilities are given to ships registered in Australia.
– Are those facilities given in all the States ?
– I would not be sure about New South Wales, but the compulsory pilotage exemption applies in Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland. We have a perfect right to say that when a ship registers in Australia she shall comply with our food scale.
– Is the pilotage exemption given to the ship or to the captain ?
– To the captain, but he must be master of a ship registered in Australia to enjoy the exemption.
– The exemption is personal, and has nothing to do with the ship.
– If a master, who has been on a ship registered in Melbourne, becomes master of a ship registered in Calcutta, he does not take the exemption from pilotage with him. He is only allowed to pilot a ship registered in Australia. Just after Federation the Adelaide Steam-ship Company raised this matter of exemption from pilotage. Some of the ships of the company were registered in Sydney, some in Melbourne, and some in Adelaide. They adopted this practice for the purpose of securing a voice in the election of members of Marine Boards, Harbor Trusts, and so forth. A ship registered in Adelaide was compelled to take a pilot on board in Mel bourne, and the question was raised that this was an endeavour to make a distinction between ports that ought not to exist under Federation. Since then an arrangement has been made whereby a ship registered in Australia is exempt in any port in Australia ; but it is only a Victorian registered ship that can “ go foreign “ with an exempt master. The advantages conferred by registration in Australia weigh against any disadvantage pointed out by Senator Gould.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.37].- Under this Bill special provision is made in regard to pilotage. Under clause 331 the Governor-General may proclaim the ports at which the employment of a pilot shall be compulsory, and at any such port the pilotage has to be performed by a pilot in the Public Service of the Commonwealth. I take it that it is not intended that there shall be exemption from pilotage in great ports like Sydney and Melbourne, but that the desire is to grant exemption) from pilotage in some of the smaller ports: So far have we gone with respect to this policy under the present Bill that a shipowner has to take the first pilot who comes-, and has no choice. That is one of the complaints that are made against the Bill. We have gone so far as to provide that, if an accident should happen to a ship while in charge of a pilot, he is not to be held responsible, nor is the Commonwealth to be held responsible. We have provided that the masteror owners of a ship shall be responsible if an accident happens to the ship through the negligence, carelessness, or incompetency of a pilot. There is certainly a provision enabling the master of a ship, if he sees fit, to take upon himself the responsibility of displacing a pilot in an emergency, but he must do so at very serious risk to himself and the ship should an accident happen subsequently. We have provided that -
The following ships shall be exempt from pilotage dues unless a pilot is actually employed -
British ships the masters of which hold valid pilotage exemption certificates; and
– Whether registered here or not?
.- Yes. If the master of such a vessel does not hold a valid pilotage exemption certificate, he must employ a pilot. Then, in clause 342, we provide that -
Certificates having the effect of exempting ships (the masters of which hold pilotage exemption certificates) from compulsory pilotage may be issued in the manner and under the conditions prescribed, and on payment of the prescribed fees.
Such certificate shall be called “ pilotage exemption certificates.” and shall -
be granted to British subjects only ; and (b) have effect only in regard to ships registered in Australia, and to such other classes of British’ ships as are prescribed.
That leaves it open to the Government to grant these pilotage exemption certificates to any British ships. That may be said in reply to Senator Guthrie’s remark that great advantages are given to people who register their ships in Australia. We find that, although a ship may not be registered in Australia, the master may be given a pilotage exemption certificate.
– Or he may not.
– He may not be given a pilotage exemption certificate ifhis ship is registered in Australia.
– No ; he gets it as a right, if he passes the necessary examination.
– If the honorable senator will refer to the clause which I have just quoted he will find that it is provided that these certificates “ may be issued “ in the manner and under the conditions prescribed, and they may be issued to the masters of British ships that are not registered in Australia.
– The other class of British ships referred to will be menofwar.
– No; the honorable senator forgets that we cannot interfere with menofwar. They will be independent of the provisions of this Bill. The pilotage exemption certificate is not, under this Bill, to be something to which a British subject, as such, is entitled, because the Minister may grant, or refuse to grant, such a certificate. I ask, then, whether the advantage referred to is sufficient to justify an owner of a ship registering her in Australia, and so bringing her under more stringent conditions than she would otherwise be compelled to comply with. I might put to Senator Guthrie the practical question : Why is it that the ships of the P. and O.
Company are not registered here ; or why is it that the ships of the Orient Company, that trade only between Great Britain and Australia, are not registered here? These vessels carry out mails, and are subsidized for the purpose, and I should like to know why they are not registered in Australia.
– They should be.
– I believe that an attempt was made, when the contract for the service was being let, to arrange that the vessels should be registered in Australia; but it was found to be impracticable.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT, GOULD. - Because the Australian conditions were such that the Orient Company were not encouraged to register their vessels here. If they had agreed to do so, we should have had to pay a very much larger subsidy, in order that the company might be compensated, and might be able to make the service pay under Australian conditions.
– The company were foolish not to register here if they could depend upon a higher subsidy.
– The honorable senator forgets that the Government did not wish to pay a higher subsidy than they could help. They were not prepared to pay the company £30,000 or £40,000 more every year, in order to induce them to register in Australia. It is clear that the company would have registered their vessels in Australia if that would have been to their advantage. They saw that it would be to their advantage that their ships should be registered in Great Britain.
– Do the Orient Company’s boats trade nowhere but between Great Britain and Australia?
– Yes ; they trade with Marseilles and Colombo.
– Those are merely ports of call on their voyages between Great Britain and Australia. The Orient Company’s boats do not, like the vessels of other companies, trade between Great Britain and India, for instance, and call at our ports only occasionally. Practically we say in this Bill that the conditions of seamen shall be improved, that they are entitled to higher rates of pay, and we provide for rates that are nearly double the rates which may be paid under the Merchant Shipping Act. We provide that they shall be given accommodation greatly in excess of that required under the Merchant Shipping Act, and a more liberal dietary scale, and I ask whether any shipping company can, in the circumstances, be expected to register its ships in Australia when to do so would bring them under the more stringent and expensive requirements of our law ?
– We cannot help that.
– We might give shipping companies an inducement to register in Australia, instead of providing that, if they do so, they shall be placed in a position of disadvantage as compared with those who register in Great Britain. No doubt, we have a perfect right to control our coastal trade, but in that case we are not unduly hampering one company as against another. If the vessels of the Orient Steam Navigation Company were registered in Australia, the Peninsular anr!” Oriental Steam Navigation Company would be given an advantage over their rivals, as the stringent provisions of our law would hot apply to their vessels, whilst they would apply to those of the Orient Steam Navigation Company. I am reminded by these provisions of the idea which some persons had of making the whole world white. If honorable members opposite had their way, they would not allow a coloured seaman to be employed in any ship on the face of the earth, but when we came to deal practically with the matter, they found that we could apply the principle only to vessels engaged in our own coasting trade. We shall only hamper the development of our own trade by this provision, and, instead of building up a mercantile marine of great oceangoing ships, we shall place the owners of such vessels at a disadvantage, and discourage them from registering in Australia.
– - I agree with the criticism of Senator Gould, but the Government have never disguised their intention in this Bill. They do not now disguise the fact that it is the object of this Bill that, so far as possible, the coasting trade of Australia shall be a close preserve for ships on the Australian register.
– Does the honorable senator oppose that idea?
– I am merely expressing the intention of the Bill. I am not saying whether it is right or wrong as a matter of policy. I have not spoken very much upon the Bill, and desire to see it become an Act of the Commonwealth. But, at the same time, I remind the Committee that it is the desire of honorable senators opposite to keep the whole of the Australian coasting trade, and some of the trade beyond our own waters, a close preserve for ships on the Australian register.
– The honorable senator’s statement is altogether too sweeping.
– It may be, but no honorable senator on the other side will deny that the object of this Bill is to make . the Australian trade, as far as it possibly can be so made, a close preserve for individual Australian shipping companies, or a combine of Australian shipping companies. We should not play the hypocrite or hedge in this matter. That is clearly the object of the Bill. I agree with the Minister of Defence that if the words “ registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade “ were not included in the clause, the Bill would be in conflict with the Merchant Shipping Act and the Constitution, and we should be asserting a power over British shipping of a certain class, and over all foreign shipping, which we do not possess, because it must not be forgotten that, at present, the Commonwealth is a constituent part of a great Empire interested in shipping all over the world, and between portions of the Empire that are not directly connected, either with the United Kingdom or Australia. Senator Gould has said that the provisionsof the Bill will not encourage the registration of shipping in Australia. I wonder whether the honorable senator, from the time the Bill was first introduced, ever anticipated that that was desired? I take the opportunity of saying that the present Government are not solely responsible for these provisions. A previous Governmentsubmitted a Navigation Bill, which in some respects was no more acceptable to me than is the Bill now under consideration. The experience of the world has shown, hovever, that legislation of this character defeats its own end. Canada tried to make the Canadian coasting trade a close preserve for Canadian shipping, but failed’ to do so. For nearly a century and a half, the United States of America has tried tokeep its own coasting trade a close preserve for American vessels. If the Minister of Defence, as I presume he does, knows the history of the development of’ commerce along the coasts of the United’ States of America, he will know that their legislation in this regard has proved to be a failure. Great Britain has to-day half the shipping of the whole world, and yet every country, with the exception of Great Britain, has imposed restrictive legislation with the object of securing its coasting trade for its own people. The coasting trade of the United States of America is not carried on in British bottoms, but is carried on with British capital, which has been invested in American steam-ship companies and in vessels which are really British all the time. This has also been the experience of Canada, and it will be the experience of Australia. From this point of view, the Bill has been fundamentally wrongly conceived. We shall be able to prevent British shipping from taking a fair share of our coasting trade by legislating in such a way as to make it a close preserve for an Australian shipping combine. The more we examine this measure, the more clear it becomes that, whether the Government mean it or not, it will be possible to give effect to the real purpose of the measure only when the entire commerce of Australia becomes the exclusive possession of some shipping combine. I say that the Minister is right in proposing the insertion of the words which have been referred to ; but their very inclusion in the clause under consideration goes to show that the Australian coasting trade is going to be the prey - and I use the word advisedly - of some shipping combine or combines. I shall not pursue the matter further. I have said that I agree with the Minister that the insertion of the words is necessary in order to avoid the constitutional difficulty to which 1 have referred.
– It is strange to listen to so general a denunciation of the principles of this Bill from an honorable senator who got up to support the Minister’s proposal. If the Government, in drafting the Bill, had in mind the object suggested by Senator St. Ledger, the fact is certainly new to me. The honorable senator has said that the object of this Bill is to make the coasting trade of Australia a close preserve for some shipping company or combine. I might say that I sincerely hope it will have that :result.
– I hope that Hansard will report that statement.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will permit me to finish my sentence. I do sincerely hope that the ulti mate effect of the measure will be to put the Australian trade into the hands of a combine which will represent the people of the Commonwealth, who will own their own ships for carrying on the coasting and also oversea trade. That combine will, 1 think, be able to secure a good deal of trade, and will give good conditions to the seamen employed in its vessels. I wish to ask whether it is probable that, by the provisions of this and other clauses, we shall drive owners to remove their ships from the Australian register. To make my point it is necessary to put an extreme case. Suppose our legislation has the effect of driv-ing ship-owners to remove every ship from the Australian register, and register them somewhere else?
– It would not matter twopence to us.
– That is just what I want to know. I want to know what advantages there are in. the local registration of ships. If it is in the interests of Australia that ships should be registered here, manifestly we should so frame the Bill as to give some advantage to ship-owners registering their vessels here, or as to impose some penalty on ship-owners who do not register here. We should try to make the conditions such as would encourage ships to register here, if that is worth anything.
– Make the conditions, and they can register where they like.
– If we, as a community, would derive some advantage from the local registration of ships which trade with Australia, it is manifestly our duty to put in a provision that would help us to secure such registration. Take, for instance, the Union Steam-ship Company, which does a big trade with Australia and New Zealand, and also with other countries. Do its steamers come within the definition of “ coasting trade “ ?
– Yes. .
– Even if they should only call at one port in Australia?
– Yes. The trade between New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific is Australian trade.
– Does the fact that the ships of the Union Steam-ship Company are registered in New Zealand make any difference with regard to our power to prescribe conditions as to food?
– It would not matter if it did, because this Bill and the New Zealand Act are, in this respect, practically alike.
– But suppose that they were not alike.
– The New Zealand Act would govern the ships of the company, and our Act would govern our ships.
– If there is any power we can exercise in regard to ships registered in Australia, but not ships registered elsewhere, we ought, if it is considered desirable in the interests of persons engaged in the coasting trade, to offer some inducement to ships to register in the Commonwealth.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [6.3].- I have already pointed out the disadvantage to ships by their registration in Australia. I desire to amplify the remarks of Senator St. Ledger as to the position in the United States of America. No ship can trade along the coast of that country unless it is locally registered, and has thereby become subject to all local conditions.
– Is not that fair?
– We have made a similar provision in regard to our coasting trade. I am not raising any objection to that. If a foreign ship engages in the coasting trade she will have to comply with the Australian conditions. That is fair and reasonable from that stand-point. But even the Government are not altogether consistent, because they are reserving to themselves the power to exempt ships from the application of those conditions. And if the power is exercised, Senator de Largie will have the advantage of travelling by a steamer belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental, or Orient Company, in preference to a big steamer belonging to a purely Australian company. The steamers so exempted will be able to compete in the coasting trade without complying with the whole of the Australian conditions. Clause 286 reads -
A ship shall bc deemed to engage in the coasting trade if she takes on board passengers or cargo at any port in Australia, or any Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, to be carried to, and landed or delivered at, any other port in Australia or in any such Territory :
Provided that the carrying of passengers who hold through tickets to or from a port beyond Australia, or of cargo consigned on a through hill of lading to or from a port beyond Australia, or of mails, shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade :
Provided further that the Governor-General may by order declare that the carrying of passengers between specified ports in Australia by British ships shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade.
– The last proviso ought to be struck out.
.- Clause 287 provides that noforeign ship shall engage in the coasting trade unless she is licensed so to do. A licence may be granted for three years, and the holder will have to comply with the Australian conditions. It will be seen that, although the Government take power to grant licences to foreign ships to trade on our coast, they must observe certain conditions which are prescribed in clause 287-
There is another condition attached which
T need not quote. The Government realize that it is necessary to take the power to make certain exemptions, and the object is to convenience persons who travel to and from ports between which there is no railway communication. I assume that the exempting power is taken to meet the case of persons who travel from Fremantle to Adelaide, and possibly from Sydney to Hobart during the apple season. In any case, these ships can be exempted so far as the carrying of passengers is concerned. Let us now see what ships will have to comply with our conditions. First, they must be observed by all ships engaged in the coasting trade. An “ Australian-trade ship “ is also subject to similar conditions, and is defined to include - every ship (other than a limited coast-trade ship or river and bay ship) employed in trading os going between places in Australia, and every ship employed in trading between(a) Australia and (b) Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth, New Zealand, or the islands of the Pacific.
Unquestionably we have the right to regulate the ships which trade on our own coastWhether we can require other ships to comply with the whole of the Australian conditions is, I think, an open question, and one which probably will have to be decided in a Law Court. A ship trading from Sydney to Melbourne or India, will not be an Australian-trade ship, and unless she is registered in Australia she will not have to comply with the Australian conditions. Senator Guthrie mentioned just now one or two lines of vessels which are registered in Australia and trade to India. Now, these vessels also trade between ports in the Commonwealth, and if they should see fit to take passengers from Melbourne to Sydney, or Brisbane, or other port in Australia, they will have to comply with the Australian conditions. If, however, these vessels go straight from Australia, or India, to Great Britain, where we can not reach them with our special conditions, they will pass under the Merchant Shipping Act, and. have to comply with the conditions therein prescribed. Except as regards certain matters which are purely local, and with which every ship, whether foreign or British, will have to comply whilst she is in our waters, we shall not be able to touch foreign-trade vessels at all. We have to face a difficult question, and that is that ships registered in other parts of the world have not to comply with these conditions, and will be able to compete on much more favorable terms than can locally registered ships. If my honorable friends opposite make it more economical to run a ship registered in London than a ship registered in an Australian port, they must recognise at once that it is not likely that our vessels will do the foreign carrying trade. Our object in framing this legislation should be to show the world that we desire to build up a mercantile marine. At one time American vessels carried an enormous quantity of foreign goods, but that trade has all departed.
– For very good reasons.
– There were other reasons,I admit.
– The difference between steam and wind.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT
GOULD. - That was not the only factor.
– It was.
– Ships can be built and registered in other parts of the world where the conditions are more favorable than in America. Ships which go from Europe to America are not registered in the latter country, but in foreign ports.
– Some are.
– If ships wish to trade along the coast of the United Stales of America they have to be locally registered, but not otherwise.
– Victoria had to legislate to prevent ships from being registered here.
– That is a remarkable thing, and 1 am really at a loss to know why. What would be the advantage to our country if we prevented all the ships of the world from coming to our ports unless they complied with certain conditions as to seamen and running? Such legislation would, of course, be contrary to the law of community of nations. Foreign Powers would not allow us to erect such a barrier against their ships entering our ports. They freely admit our right to regulate our own coasting trade, but they could interfere if we attempted to enact such extreme legislation as Senator Rae has hinted at. Whilst I have every sympathy with the position taken up by the Minister, I protest against the enactment of legislation which cannot promote the interests of Australia, but will have the effect of preventing the possibility of any persons registering vessels in Australia where it can be avoided. I think that my honorable friends would be far better advised if they would confine this legislation to Australian trade ships. I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ registered in Australia,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “being an Australian-trade ship.”
– I cannot accept the amendment, which I ask the Committee to reject. I do not think that a prolonged argument is needed on what is a very simple proposition. It is quite true, as Senator Gould says, that if we like to adopt the conditions of British or foreign shipping, vessels will register here, but the question for us to ask ourselves is : Would it be an advantage to Australia for vessels to register here at that price? The Government think not. We want to lay down, for ships on our register, conditions which we believe are right. We do not believe that we should measure those conditions by the amount of reform which other countries have been able to achieve. Our idea is that we should lay down what, in our opinion, is a right standard, and require ships on our register to conform to that standard. That view is, of course, quite irreconcilable with that of Senator Gould, because he says that so long as we do that we shall have no vessels on our register, while we think that we shall be just as well off if the price we have to pay for ships to register here is that which he has stated. He wants vessels on our register, no matter what the conditions or the cost may be.
– The view of the Government is that the. local registration of vessels at such a price would be a nominal gain. Now, what is the value of having a number of vessels on our register, if they are nominally Australian, and carry with them the conditions as to the wages and the food and manning scale of the country to which they really belong?
– We cannot exclude them from this trade ; if they are not registered they will come in on their own conditions.
– It is true that we cannot prevent such vessels from engaging in the foreign trade, but we can say that no vessel shall appear on an Australian register unless she conforms to Australian conditions. 1 appeal to the Committee that it is of no use to try to reconcile views which are decidedly opposite.
– Senator Gould apparently thinks that there is a great advantage in being able to say th’at we have a- large number of ships registered in Australia. But, even for statistical purposes, that information, would be useless. What we want is to show the amount of trade carried in ships trading with Australia. Registration means nothing. We do not even provide for registration in this Bill. It is provided for in the Merchant Shipping Act. The “Victorian Government, before Federation, gave a special concession to ships registered in this State. They provided that a ship should only be registered in Australia, and enjoy the exemption from pilotage, if she was also owned in this State. If we intended to provide that ships registered in Australia should also be owned here, the case would be different. Section 83 of the Victorian Marine Board Act provided that the master of any ship registered and owned in Victoria should have a certificate to act as pilot. Dr. Wollaston, who administered the Victorian Act, says, in a footnote to his book -
A Victorian ship is one registered in Victoria under the Merchant Shipping Act. But the section goes further than this, and requires that the vessel must be owned by persons domiciled in Victoria, a provision inserted to prevent the transfer to the Victorian register for the mere purpose of evading pilotage.
So that mere registration is nothing. I hope that Senator Gould will consent to the Bill standing as it is. His fears about inflicting any injustice on any ship will disappear when the measure is brought’ into practical operation.
– We should, if possible, try to make our mercantile marine a service manned by Australian seamen. We are trying to build up a navy, and must train seamen for it. Surely we are not for all time going to look to other countries for our supply of seamen. Unless we have seamen of our own to man our Navy, trouble will take place. I notice that we are now getting seamen from the British Navy to man our ships. While this Bill is before us we should endeavour to encourage Australian people to go to sea, instead of having at all times to call for seamen from other parts of the .world. We ought to look ahead. I can see difficulties in the way, but surely they can be overcome. Senator Gould’s amendment might not meet the case, but Senator Pearce himself admits that under this Bill we shall have no shipping of our own, except our coastal-trade ships. They will not be sufficient to train up men for the Navy. Men trained in coastal steamers are not usually sailors in the full sense of the term. A man may go up and down our coast on a steam-ship, and yet never become a real sailor. In Great Britain, lads are sent to sea in training ships. Some of the large shipping companies have their own training vessels. I believe that before some of the important shipping companies will accept the services of an officer, he must have served a certain time on a sailing ship, so as to be a thoroughly competent sailor. If we are to have an Australian Navy, we surely want it to be manned by thoroughly competent men, so that in an emergency, or in the stress of battle, they may be reliable and able sailors. Unless we can devise some scheme by which we shall be able to man our fleet from Australia, our position will not be satisfactory. We do not want our vessels to be manned by people from other parts of the world. At one time, the United States had a very large foreign trade, and thousands of Americans were engaged on the ships of their own country. To-day there is in the American mercantile marine a great number of foreigners. They are not actuated by patriotic motives. We want our Navy to be patriotically Australian, so that if war takes place our men will feel that they are fighting for their own country. I trust that the Minister and his experts will be able to devise a scheme whereby we shall be able to train up an efficient body of sailors. If we are to spend millions upon an Australian Navy, we ought to take steps to man it.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8p.m.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.0].- I should like to say, as far as concerns the remarks that were made by the Minister of Defence in connexion with this matter, that there is no doubt that he has clearly pointed out that he and his party are actuated by different motives from those which are influencing my mind. He has told us clearly that he would sooner have no deepsea ships registered in Australia unless they comply with what Australia looks upon as proper conditions in regard to the treatment of seamen. My contention is that when you admit that the conditions are of a more severe character as affecting the ship-owner, in respect to ships registered in Australia as compared with ships registered in other parts of the British Empire, you admit that this policy hinders the building up of a mercantile marine. However desirable it may be to improve the conditions of the seamen, we have to bear in mind that our jurisdiction is entirely of a limited character, and that we cannot compel ships that come to this country from other parts of the world to comply with the requirements that we may consider to be fair and reasonable.
– We can if they engage in the coasting trade.
– We cannot if they are engaged in the deep-sea trade. I am not attempting to interfere with the coasting trade or with Australian-trade ships. We define an Australian-trade ship as one trading between our own States and Territories, or between our States and the South Sea Islands or New Zealand. My amendment does not seek to interfere with them. But what I say is that if there are two ships competing for trade between Australia and Great Britain, one a ship registered in Australia, and the other registered abroad, we place a handicap on our own ship, and discourage the registration of other ships in this country if we impose conditions which make competition difficult. I am asked what is the use of having ships registered in Australia at all ? I cannot imagine any number of honorable senators saying that they do not want ships to be registered in Australia unless they can comply with impossible conditions and still compete with ships from other parts of the world.
– Will the honorable senator tell us what advantage we derive from ships being registered in Australia if they do not conform to our conditions?
– Surely it is a great thing for a country like Australia to have a mercantile marine trading with various parts of the world. We may depend upon it that where ships are registered there will be an opportunity of their employing seamen, and of bringing trade with the profits that ensue from it. The home port unquestionably stands before any foreign port. At the present time we are attempting to build up a navy in Australia. To have a navy we must have seamen. The better seamen we can get the better it will be for our Navy. We have also to bear in mind that Australia is an island. The greater part of the population is at present settled on the seaboard, and there is communication between various parts of the country by sea as well as by railway. In that way there is a great inducement for people to take up a seafaring life which would not be the case if Australia were a densely-populated country. In any case, we have to bear in mind that if an attack were made upon Australia, the attacking force would come across the water, and would have to be met on the water in the first instance. Before any landing could take place, or any attackbe made upon our ports, the sea would have to be negotiated. We ought to be supreme on the sea in our own waters, as far as we can be. That ought to be our first line of defence, in order to prevent an attack upon our country. Anything that we can do to build up a mercantile marine is, therefore, of great advantage from the point of view of defence.
– That is a good argument for making the’ conditions of seafaring life attractive enough to induce people to pursue it.
– Two considerations have to be borne in mind. The conditions of life should be such as will induce people to follow the sea, and they should also be such that the owners of ships will be induced to employ men on Australian conditions. The training of seamen cannot satisfactorily take place upon coasting ships such as we have engaged in the Australian trade. The bulk of our trade is done in steamers. Men can work upon steamers without becoming expert seamen, though they may be very useful for the purposes for which they are engaged. Every important steam-ship company trains its men on sailing ships. They have to learn all that is to be known about the management of ships going round the world. We cannot bring into existence a number of well-trained seamen on small coasting craft, or on coastal steamers. Seamen have to be trained upon the deep waters, and upon sailing ships. Is there any inducement to build and register trading ships in Australia under present conditions? The inducement is to register in other parts of the world. We are handicapping the building of a mercantile marine by practically providing that the home port of ships trading in this country shall be iri another part of the world.
– What is the use of putting men trained on board sailing ships on board a steamer?
– Every man who is regarded as efficient upon a steamer has had his training upon a sailing ship, because the duties on such a vessel are so diverse that a man can acquire experience that could not be obtained on a steamer.
– Sailing ships are becoming a negligible quantity nowadays.
– Except for training purposes. But in every part of the world, sailing ships are used for the training of seamen. Some remarks have been made about the United States of America. The Americans have made their coasting trade a close preserve for American ships, just as we propose to do in regard to our coasting trade. But America has practically no deep-sea shipping. . The great ships which trade between the United States of America and Europe are registered in foreign ports, although an immense number are American owned. They will not register in the United States of America because of the disabilities attaching to so doing.
– That does not cause the United States of America to relax their standard, though.
– No, it does not cause them to relax their standard, but the Minister must see that the imposition of that standard has lost the United States of America the control of its deep-sea trade. The United States of America has a navy, and one of the greatest difficulties they have to contend with is to obtain seamen for it.
– The British Navy today does not get its seamen from the mercantile marine.
– A large number of the men come from the mercantile marine.
– Not 5 per cent, of them. That is quite an exploded idea.
– Originally, at any rate, the crews of the British Navy were drawn from the mercantile marine.
– Quite true.
– We are only just starting to build up an Australian Navy, and does the Minister mean to tell me that it would be possible for us to obtain all the men we require for our Australian Navy without being able to draw upon a mercantile marine? Surely we have a better chance of getting them from that source than from any other? We may take a lesson from America when we see the difficulty that the Government of that country have in getting men to man the ships of the navy. I recollect very well that one of the Admirals of the American Fleet that visited Australia told me that one of their chief difficulties in the United States of America was to man their ships. He said that they could seldom get men to take a second engagement, and that, after their first engagement was completed, they turned to different pursuits on land. A great many of the men who came here in the American Fleet were recruited from inland States.
– That is also the case in Great Britain to-day.
– It is ridiculous to speak of an inland State of Great Britain. Great Britain is wholly a seafaring country, and cannot, in this regard, be compared with the United States of America or Australia. Honorable senators will be consulting the best interests of the seamen of Australia by agreeing to my amendment.
– I had not the advantage of listening to the whole of this discussion, but, as I understand the matter, I am at a loss to account for the attitude taken up by the Minister. I could quite understand those who support the principles of this Bill adhering to the wordsnow in the clause if, by so doing, there was a hope that it would be possible to apply the superior conditions provided for in this Bill to a single additional seaman or one extra ship. The Minister will not pretend that the retention of the words which have been referred to would have that effect. That being so, I may repeat an argument which the honorable senator earlier in the day addressed to the Committee, and I ask what is the use of doing something which can confer no benefit upon any one, but may result in some harm? This amendment cannot possibly do any good in the way of bringing an extra seaman or an extra ship under the humane provisions of this Bill. Let us see what harm it is likely to do. It will certainly not be disputed that, if the clause is retained as it now appears, there will be a tendency for ships that might otherwise be registered here to be registered abroad. I am not sufficiently familiar with the matter to be able to say definitely whether there are any Australian-owned ocean-going ships, but, if there are not, I suppose we all entertain the hope that before many years are past we shally have a mercantile marine owned in Australia.
– The mere registration is of no advantage.
– I take it that, by his silence, the Minister concedes my first argument that the retention of these words will not bring under the provisions of this Bill one additional seaman or one extra ship ?
– It is scarcely fair to contend that the Minister, merely because he remains silent, accepts that statement.
– I put the matter in that way, arid the Minister would probably have answered me if he did not agree with me. If it is possible by the retention of these words to bring other ships under the humane provisions of this Bill, I invite some honorable senator who supports the clause, as amended elsewhere, to point out how that could be done. If we say to the owner of a ship who is not under any compulsion to observe Australian conditions, “ You can register in London and avoid the provisions of this Bill, or register here and bring your vessel under those provisions,” what is the owner going to say? It does not require a moment’s consideration to be satisfied that he would decide to register abroad. I say there is distinct harm in that. I ask myself whether, in the circumstances, we should cut off our noses to spite our faces? We say that we cannot impose Australian conditions upon certain vessels unless they are registered here, and then we take all sorts of care that they shall, not be registered here. I want to see an increase in the number of ships registered here.
– Under any conditions rather than that they should not be registered here at all?
– The ships to which I refer will observe the same conditions whether they are registered here or not. The Bill does not propose to make these vessels conform to Australian conditions. The Minister admits that we cannot say that we shall impose Australian conditions upon them. As these vessels would continue to be under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, whether registered here or not, the only point we have to consider is whether it would be an advantage to Australia to encourage the registration of such vessels here? I should regard it as a matter for keen regret if we did anything to force vessels which are Australian in the sense that they are owned here to register under the flag of any other country, or even of the Old Country itself. If the home port of a vessel is in Australia, there will be a tendency to have as much as possible of the work connected with her done at her home port, where her owners reside. Much has been said from time to time, in my own State and elsewhere, as to the advantage accruing to Sydney from the presence in the harbor of the Australian Squadron. It has represented a certain amount of business and trade. I say that in the same way the registration of vessels in Australian ports would represent a distinct business asset to those ports. In my judgment, we should make no provision in this Bill which will have the effect of forcing Australian owners to register their ships elsewhere, and of forcing them for the purposes of this Bill to pretend to be citizens of another country. For these reasons I hope that the amendment will be amended in the way Senator Gould has proposed.
– I trust that the amendment will not be amended in the way proposed by Senator Gould. I think I can give a good reason why the words he proposes to omit should be retained. The fact that we provide that all ships registered in Australia shall conform to certain conditions may lead certain ship-owners to ‘believe that it will be to their advantage to register their ships elsewhere. I do not dispute that ; but I say there is a distinct advantage in fixing a high standard, and insisting that all ships registered here shall conform to that standard. I should like, .quite as much as honorable senators opposite, to see an increase in the ownership and registration of ships in Australia, but I should not like that to, take place at the sacrifice of any of the conditions we have laid down in this Bill. It is extremely probable that we should very much weaken our case by allowing certain ships to be exempted from the obligations we impose upon others. We should thus be raising distinctions which the ordinary citizen would not understand, and we cannot explain to each individual and elector that the reason for the distinction is that the conditions are different. In my opinion, it is wise to set a high standard, and say that all ships registered in Australia shall, without exception, conform to that standard. If the owners of any ships are not prepared to do what we consider a fair thing by those whom they employ or the passengers they carry, though we may be reluctant to lose the registration of their vessels in Australia, we should be prepared to face that rather than lower our standard to oblige them, or to gain a little profit by obliging them. I trust that the provisions of the clause, as amended, will be strictly adhered to. I look forward to the day when many of our merchant vessels will be owned and controlled by the Commonwealth, and will be so built that they may te turned into armoured cruisers should the necessity arise, as is the case with many vessels that are subsidized by other Governments. Sooner or later the Commonwealth will own steam-ships engaged in the coasting and oversea trade, and that will solve many important problems, in addition to the difficulty of having Australian ships registered in Australia.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) (8.24]. - In the definition clause we have a definition of “ Australian-trade ship,” and also of “ limited-coast trade ship. “ This clause, as amended, reads -
The master of every ship registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade - and so on. Honorable senators will see that “Australian-trade ship” is omitted from this provision. I should like to know why.
– That is a ship registered in Australia.
– Not necessarily. An Australian-trade ship may not be registered in Australia. An “ Australiantrade ship “ specifically mentioned in the definition clause may not be subject to the provisions of clause 117, because she may not be registered in Australia, and only those ships that are registered in Australia will be subject to that clause. I have risen for the purpose of seeking some explanation from the Minister as to why Australian-trade ships are omitted from this provision. I believe that some of these ships do not trade with New Zealand, but trade with the islands of the Pacific, and then go on to Singapore. On the round trip they call at some German ports on their way back to Australia. Perhaps the Minister will say why these ships are not included in this clause.
– An Australian trade ship may be registered in New Zealand, and this provision will not apply to her provided she does not engage in the coasting trade.
– Is that the reason for the omission?
– The reason is that we cannot bring such a ship under the Bill, unless she registers in Australia.
Motion (Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir Albert
Motion (Senator Pearce’s) agreed to.
Amendment to clause 121 agreed to.
Clause 132 - (2.) Where the ship is registered out of Australia
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit sub-clause 2.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
In the case of British ships other than Australian registered ships, it has been found to be quite unnecessary to require any deposit on account of seamen left behind sick. The Merchant Shipping Act makes full provision for such cases. Superintendents throughout the British Dominions are authorized to pay the expenses incurred on behalf of such men. They then forward vouchers to the Board of Trade, which in turn asks that the expenses be defrayed by the owners. This system is found to work well, and as there is no occasion to alter it, it is thought well to omit sub-clause 2 of this clause.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 133 - (2.) The owner or master of every -
Penalty : Fifty pounds.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “ inspector,” insert “ or by an approved authority.”
– Under the Board of Trade Regulations, a seaman cannot obtain a seaman’s or mate’s certificate unless he holds a certificate first issued by some proper authority, such as St. John’s Ambulance Association or the London County Council. This clause makes provision, on the suggestion of the Board of Trade, for the recognition of certificates issued by those authorities. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 134 - (1.) The owner of every foreign-going ship registered in Australia, or engaged in the coasting trade, and going to sea from any port in Australia to any port beyond Australia and New Zealand, shall cause to be carried in the ship a supply of all articles of clothing ordinarily required for a seaman’s use ….
House of Representatives’ Amendment:- Omit “ or engaged in the coasting trade.”
– This amendment is designed to remove a contradiction in the terms of the clause. It will be noticed that the clause is to come into effect only when a ship clears for a port beyond Australia or New Zealand. Only ships with foreign-going agreements can clear for any such port, and it is evident that, as soon as they did so, they would cease to be engaged in the coasting trade. A ship could not be engaged in both the coasting and foreign-going trades at the same time. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 135 - (1.) The owner of every steam-ship registered in Australia, or engaged in the coasting trade, shall-
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.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ paragraph,” line 9, insert “ two paragraphs.”
– The amendments made in clause 135 are to enable river and bay ships to be considered as a separate class as far as sleeping accommodation is concerned. There is no need to point out that the conditions on boats making short voyages of a few hours in rivers and bays are wholly different from those obtaining on ocean-going ships ; hence the reason for this amendment. My remarks on this amendment will apply to the two following amendments. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.33].- I wish to ask the Minister if there is not some question as to whether we have any control with regard to river and bay ships. Take, for instance, ships trading in Port Melbourne or Port Jackson, or in any of the rivers. Is there not some question as to our jurisdiction in dealing with ships which do not go outside the heads or trade only on the rivers.
– When I was dealing with the first amendment of the other House, I pointed out that our power to deal with ships trading within a State was doubtful, but it was conceded that we had certain powers to deal with such ships in so far as the rules of the road were concerned. I mentioned that, if we laid down certain rules of the road, it was obvious that, for the safety of Inter-State ships, we must have the power to control the InterState ships in that regard. That argument also applies to river and bay ships, but only in that respect in so far as other portions of the Commonwealth are concerned. I also quoted the legal opinions which have been given on that point, but there is one part of the Commonwealth where we have full control of river and bay ships, and that is the Northern Territory. I pointed out then that we got that power, not under the Constitution, but under the Merchant Shipping Act. It is necessary to put in these amendments for the purposes of the Territory, apart from the bays in the States; but even as to the latter it is held that we have certain powers. That is why we are carrying out this definition throughout the Bill.’
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.37].- I can follow the reasoning of the Minister very well ; at the same time I am very doubtful as to how far the power will exist, even in regard to the rules of the road, in respect of river and bay ships in ports and harbors. I recognise at once the force of what the Minister said in regard to the Northern Territory, because it is under our control, and is not like a State with separate rights and powers. . I presume that this opinion has been expressed by the Law Officers of the Crown with a certain amount of diffidence, because there is no decision which throws any light on the point. I assume that that is one of the reasons why we have this extraordinary provision in new clause1a - (2.) This Act shall be read and construed sub ject to the Constitution, and so as not to exceed the legislative power of the Commonwealth, to the intent that where any enactment thereof would, but for this sub-section, have been construed as being in excess of that power, it shall nevertheless be a valid enactment to the extent to which it is not in excess of that power.
– If you will look at paragraph b, you will see where the river and bav ships come in.
– Sub-clause 1, of new clause1a is as follows : -
This Act shall not apply in relation to any Australian-trade ship, limited coast-trade ship, or river and bay ship, or her master or crew, unless the ship -
is engaged in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States; or
is on the high seas, or in waters which are used by ships engaged in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States; or
is in the territorial waters of any Territory which is part of the Commonwealth.
That, to a certain extent, modifies the objection I conceived to this provision. I realize that, in the circumstances, it is very difficult to frame an amendment that would take in the cases which occur to my mind as coming within the purview of the Commonwealth, and excluding other cases. I am quite content to leave the responsibility upon the shoulders of the Ministers, who, I know, are quite prepared to accept it.
Motion agreed to.
Remaining amendments in clause 135 agreed to.
Clause 136 (Accommodation for seamen).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After sub-clause 3 insert the following new subclause : - “ (3a) Sub-sections (2.) and (3.) of this section shall not apply to river and bay ships, but the owner of every such ship shall make such provision as is prescribed for accommodation for the taking of meals by the seamen and apprentices, and for their sanitary and lavatory accommodation, including bath-rooms.”
– This amendment provides for the seamen’s accommodation on river and bay ships, just as the amendment in clause 135 dealt with the officers’ accommodation in the same class of vessels.
– I have a prior amendment to move.
– I understand that Senator Lynch desires to move an amendment for another purpose, but that he can do by way of addition to the amendment of the other House. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I desire to move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting following new sub-clause : - (4.) In every ship where a library is provided for the use of passengers, members of the crew shall be entitled to obtain books therefrom under the same conditions as may regulate the use of such books to passengers.
Penalty on owner : Ten pounds.
I ask the Minister to withdraw his motion in order to afford an opportunity to the Committee to consider my proposal ?
– The Committee can only consider amendments which are relevant to the amendments of the other House. I cannot see that the proposal of Senator Lynch is relevant to the amendment now before the Chair.
– Is if not relevant to the clause as it was received from the other House ?
– We can only deal with the amendments which have been received from the other House. The proposal of the honorable senator is not relevant to any such amendment, and, therefore, cannot be accepted.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 139 (Facilities for making complaints).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After line 26 insert the following new sub-clause : - “ (3.) A seaman or apprentice who by any false statement or pretence obtains leave to go ashore for any such purpose shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty : Five pounds.”
– The object of this amendment is merely to prevent a man from giving a fictitious or frivolous reason for desiring to go ashore to see the superintendent, when really he has no complaint to lodge. Where a seaman obtains leave to go ashore under such a pretext he will be liable to a penalty.
.. - Does not the Minister think that the proposed penalty, even though it is a maximum, is unreasonable?
– It is only to be imposed if a man gives a. false reason.
– I do not want to encourage falsehood, but, seeing that so much falsehood gets off so lightly in the Law Courts, this is a red-hot penalty imposed’ on a sailor who, very often, is on a ship so long that he considers that almost any excuse to get off is justifiable. I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the word “ Five,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ two.”
Motion agreed to..
Amendment, as amended, agreed to..
Amendment in clause 139 agreed to.
Clause 145- (1.) No person, not being in the King’s’ service, or not authorized by law, shall -
Penalty : Twenty pounds……..
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “ pounds “ insert “‘or imprisonment for six months.”
– This additional penalty is being inserted to enable us to deal effectively with crimps and their runners, who hang about ships in port inducing men to desert. The amendment provides an alternative penalty of imprisonment. It will meet the case of crimps who go on board ships without permission, and to many of whom, so far as they are satellites, to quote a term used here this afternoon, a monetary penalty would mean nothing. I move -
That the amendment he agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 164 (List of crew to be delivered).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit the clause.
– This clause purports to refer to ships “ other than Australian-trade or limited coast-trade ships “ arriving at an Australian port. The only other classes of ships are river and bay ships and foreign-going ships, and, as river and bay ships never leave the confines of rivers and bays, and consequently could not well “ arrive in a port,” it must be construed as applying to foreigngoing ships only. The requirements in regard to this class of vessel are fully covered by clauses 52 and 168, as amended. The clause is, moreover, not only redundant,but conflicts with the clauses mentioned in regard to time within which the papers are to be deposited with the superintendent. It is accordingly proposed to strike it out. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 166 - (2.) The list of the crew -
Penalty : Five pounds.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ thirtieth day of June and thirty-first day of December in each year “ and insert “ termination of the agreement.”
.. - This amendment is intended to bring the clause into accord with clause 48, sub-clause 2, which prescribes that running agreements shall not extend beyond six months “ from the date thereof.” I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 167 -
The master of every ship shall record in his log-book every birth, death, and marriage happening on board his ship….
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ his,” line 1 ; insert “ the official.”
– There are two separate log-books about a ship, the ship’s log, which is the property of the owner, and the official log, which is the one which must be lodged with the superintendent, and is recognised by law. If honorable senators will refer to clause 172 they will see that. The amendment of the House of Representatives makes it clear that the entries referred to must be made in the official log.
– Is that log retained or returned ?
– It is retained by the superintendent.
– I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 172 -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “fifteen” and insert “fifty.”
– There is no real necessity for an official log on a small coaster dodging about between closely adjacent ports, or on river and bay ships, which are in constant touch with the authorities ashore. Any matter arising under such circumstances, such as assault, can be dealt with immediately. The amendment exempts these vessels accordingly. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Further amendment in clause 172 agreed to.
Clause 174 -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit sub-clause 3.
– The official log-book, as its name indicates, is an official document admissible in evidence. It contains records of births, deaths, &c, and should be carefully preserved as a record. Under the Merchant Shipping Act, the
New Zealand Shipping Act, and the Canadian Act, the official log must be given up to the superintendent when the voyage ends, and is filed -for record. Interested persons may at any time inspect these old log-books upon payment of a nominal fee, or may call for their production as evidence in a Court of Law.
– Are they kept eternally ?
– Yes. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 176 -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “superintendent” insert “or surveyor.”
.- An engineer’s log contains particulars in regard to the engines under his charge of value to the surveyor as indicating in what particular portions faults are most likely to be found. The amendment provides for the production of the engineer’s log to the surveyor when required. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 185 -
In any prosecution under this Act it shall not be necessary, for the purpose of proving the articles of agreement by which any seaman has engaged to serve on board any ship, to call any subscribing or attesting witness thereto.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “this” insert “part of this.”
.- Part III., in which this clause occurs, relates to foreign seamen only - that is to say, seamen on foreign ships. Provision similar to this, but relating to the seamen in British ships, is made in clauses 55 and 403. The amendment limits clause 185 to Part III. accordingly. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Clause 191 - (1.) The regulations shall provide for not less than three classes of surveyors, as follows : -
Class I. - Shipwright surveyors.
Class II. - Boiler and iron hull surveyors.
Class III. - Engineer surveyors. (2.) Class I. shall consist of men who are qualified to determine the general fitness of a ship, her deck, hull (where the hull is constructed of wood), rigging, stowage of cargo fitness for the voyage, general equipment, and other prescribed matters in relation to the ship. (3.) Class II. shall consist of men who are qualified to determine the condition of a ship’s boilers and hull (where the hull is constructed of iron or steel). (4.) Class III. shall consist of men who are qualified to determine the condition of a ship’s engines and machinery. (5.) Admission to the respective classes shall be by examination conducted under and in accordance with the regulations :
Provided that any person who proves to the satisfaction of the Minister that he was at the commencement of this Act bond fide practising as a shipwright surveyor, boiler and iron hull surveyor, or engineer surveyor, or as a surveyor in an equivalent capacity under any State Act relating to navigation and that he -
has been so practising for at least three years prior to the commencement of this Act, or
is the holder of a certificate of competency under State law of equivalent class to a certificate under this Act, and is competent to act as a surveyor under this Act, may be admitted as a shipwright surveyor, boiler and iron hull surveyor, or engineer surveyor, as the case may.be, under this Act, without passing the prescribed examination. (6.) Any examination under the preceding subsection shall be, in part at least, of a practical nature. (7.) The provisions of sections thirteen to eighteen inclusive shall apply, with such modifications as are prescribed, to examinations held and certificates granted under this section.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit the clause, and insert the following new clause : - “ 191. - (1.) The Minister may appoint persons to be surveyors. (2.) Persons appointed to be surveyors shall be skilled in regard to -
wooden hulls and equipment;
metal hulls and equipment, and boilers; or
engines and machinery.”
– In view of the rapid changes in ships’ construction, the passing away of wooden ships, and even, to a considerable extent, of wooden life-boats, the development of oil-engine propulsion, with the consequent elimination of boilers, and the increasing use of electricity aboard ship, it appears highly undesirable that the administration should be bound for all time to appoint only surveyors possessing the particular qualifications laid down in these clauses. With regard, for instance, to shipwright surveyors, it may be pointed out that section 724 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, giving power to the Board of Trade to appoint surveyors, provided, inter alia, that “ a person so appointed may be appointed either as a shipwright surveyor, or as an engineer surveyor, or as both.” But within the next dozen years such a change took place in the character of ships and of the material used in their construction that in the 1906 amending Act the position of shipwright surveyor was abolished. Subsection 1 of section 75 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1896 provides that “ any person appointed to be a surveyor of ships under section 724 of the principal Act may be appointed either as a ship surveyor, or as an engineer surveyor, or as both, and any reference in that section, or in any other section, of the principal Act to a shipwright surveyor shall be construed as a reference to a ship surveyor.” The clause in its proposed new form is more elastic, and while it still lays down the matters in which surveyors must be skilled, it will allow some latitude in regard to the arrangement of the duties of the men. It may be mentioned that no other British legislation - Imperial, Canadian, or New Zealand - makes any such hard-and-fast provision as to classification of surveyors as is attempted in clause 191, as printed. Clause 192 is unnecessary, as all surveyors under the Act will be duly appointed Government officials. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I desire that the amendment made by the House of Representatives shall be rejected, and that clause 191, as it left the Senate, shall be restored. This is a very important matter in the interests of seamen and of passengers who are carried in ships. We can trace many of the disasters that happen at sea, especially on steamers, to the incompetence of surveyors. There are surveyors who, from a want of practical experience, really do not know their work, and there are others who have not taken sufficient time to carry it out. I think it is absolutely necessary to insure that surveyors shall be competent men. The Navigation Commission, after hearing evidence on this subject from representatives of the steam-ship owners, trade unions, and others, came to the conclusion that there should be three classes of surveyors. I myself have had something to do with this class of work. I have surveyed many vessels. I have seen instances of unseaworthy ships going to sea because the surveyor did not understand his business.
– Does not the proposed new clause stipulate that the surveyor shall know his business?
– The new clause is of no use so far as practical knowledge is concerned. It is not worth anything. Under it surveyors can do exactly as they have done. The examination made by the surveyor should be of a thoroughly practical nature, which simply means that the man who is to survey the :hull of a steam-ship must be able to build the ship. It is of no use sending a man to survey a ship who knows noth’ing about the -work ‘of ship-building. I say that this precaution should be ‘taken in the interests of passengers and of those who habitually ““go down to the sea in ships.” I have seen vessels passed by surveyors who had not even taken the trouble to go down to the stokehold. The evidence given before the Royal Commission on Navigation was -sufficient to warrant the recommendation that “there should be three classes of surveyors. There should be shipwright surveyors, boiler and hull surveyors, and engineer surveyors. The objection taken to that recommendation by the ship-owners was that there would be too many surveyors. But the answer is that, at the present time, if a ship is thoroughly surveyed, these three classes -of surveyors have to do the work ; and if a surveyor is not himself competent in any particular trade he hires the services of a practical man to do the particular class of -work required. The clause as it stood before being amended by the House of Representatives was one of the best in the Bill. I listened carefully to the Minister’s statement as to what is done in the United Kingdom, but it was pointed out before the Royal Commission on Navigation that a shipwright surveyor under the Board of Trade must be a practical shipwright, and must have served five years at his trade, as well as having had three years’ experience in ship-building, before he is regarded as competent to be a surveyor. The survey should “be of a practical nature, which will give the surveyor an opportunity of determining whether the vessel is or is not fit to go to sea. I have seen a vessel go to sea certified by a surveyor, and have to come “back a few hours afterwards because the surveyor had been incompetent to do his work and missed bad places. The surveyor could not tell, by simply looking at a door “lying in the stokehold whether matters were right or not. I drew attention to the state of that particular vessel before she went to .sea, with the result that one man refused to -,go in her. Another who did go was scalded to death before she was out an hour. I am very sorry that the other House has put in this new clause, which certainly does not improve the Bill. All those who desire that vessels shall go to sea in a staunch and seaworthy condition ought to assist me in having the clause inserted by the House of Representatives struck out, and the clause as it left the Senate reinserted.
Senator PEARCE (Western AustralianMinister of Defence) [9-40- - Practically all that Senator McDougall is contending for is included in the scope of the amendment made by another place. The sur- veyors appointed must be skilled in regard to wooden hulls and equipment, metal hulls’ and equipment, and boilers or engines and machinery. The Minister of the day, whoever he may happen to be, would carry out exactly what Senator McDougall wants to provide for.
– Would it not be better to require that the Minister shall appoint certificated men?
– I have seen certificated men who were not skilled. It would be quite possible for the Minister to prescribe the appointment of certificated men as one of the conditions. After all, it is a question of the Minister’s judgment as to what is a skilled man. He can make it one of the conditions that a surveyor shall hold certain certificates. * It might be necessary to make it a condition that he should hold a certificate for certain classes of work. The new clause inserted by the House of Representatives is more elastic than the clause which Senator McDougall prefers.
– That is why it does not satisfy me.
– It can be made to include all that the honorable senator wants to do, and more.
– It means nothing.
– That means that, in the honorable senator’s opinion, the Minister would administer the Act in a slipshod manner. He could also do that under the original clause. The view of the Government is that, under it, we should be able to do all that Senator McDougall desires, and more. I ask him to accept my statement that the amendment will have that effect, while at the same time it will give greater elasticity, and will not bind the Minister down to the mere acceptance of certificates of men in these various avocations.
Senator MCDOUGALL (New South’
Commission in connexion with the survey of ships contains the following paragraph -
In connexion with the provisions for surveys three things seem essential -
That sufficient surveyors should be appointed.
That they should have adequate powers.
That provision be made to enable these to be given effect to.
As to the first, the evidence shows that modern ship-building called for some change in the qualifications of persons acting as marine surveyors. The modern ship is largely constructed of steel, yet the marine surveyor is usually a man whose knowledge better fits him to speak as to the seaworthiness of the older type of vessel. He is not usually an expert in machinery, and so cannot speak with authority as to the condition of the ship’s engines. Yet it is upon the efficiency of these that the safety of the steamship largely, if not entirely, depends. And, as has been pointed out by Mr. Travers, secretary of the Shipwrights Society, surveyors are generally seafaring men, possessed of expert knowledge on the general fitness of the ship, but not so competent to defect flaws and imperfections in structure or equipment as an expert. Your commissioners, therefore, consider that, in these days of specialization, a radical departure from old-time methods is necessary, and they therefore recommend the appointment, after examination, of three classes of surveyors : -
General surveyors - men who are qualified to speak of the general fitness of the vessel, her deck, and hull (if constructed of wood), rigging, stowage of cargo, fitness for the voyage, and general equipment.
Boiler and iron hull surveyors - experts in regard to boilers and iron hulls.
Engineer surveyors - experts in respect of the engines and machinery.
As the Navigation Commission unanimously adopted that suggestion, it should have considerable weight with honorable senators. It is perfectly true that the character of vessels is changing. Whereas formerly boilers carried 100 lbs. of steam to the square inch, they are now carrying 500 lbs. There was a time when it was necessary to have a vessel with1¼ inches of iron plates, and now you have vessels with half that thickness of steel. The times march, and we must have different classes of surveyors to march with them. I say that the clause proposed By the House of Representatives will enable inefficient surveyors to be appointed. I ask that we shall have none but practical men in the full sense of the term. They may have as much theoretical knowledge as they can acquire, but they should also be thoroughly practical. Any man, by studying, can pass a theoretical examination, but to pass a practical examination he must have had practical experience.
– What is the definition of the word “ skill “?
– I mean skill acquired by working at a trade. For instance, an expert for iron vessels should be able to build a ship. He should be able to lay her down from specifications providing that she shall carry so much cargo and so forth. I do not want to have merely practical men, but men who have the whole of the necessary knowledge from top to bottom. These men are available.! There are plenty of them.
– Is there any prohibition against employing them in the new clause ?
– No, but I want to insure that they shall be practical men. That is a fair thing to ask for, and, as the assurance of the Minister does not satisfy me, I hope that honorable senatorswill assist me to have the clause that hasbeen struck out restored, and so have the surveying done by practical men, who will know what they are doing.
Senator RAE (New South Wales) [9.10J. - Honorable senators must realize that the. clauses dealing with the seaworthiness of? ships are the crux of the Bill. It is of no use to pass any number of clauses to secureideal conditions for the accommodation of. seamen, passengers, and others if the ship goes down through lack of proper supervision. I do not pretend to know much about shipbuilding, but we all know that; ships sent to sea as seaworthy have gone to pieces because they have been unseaworthy. I travelled on one occasion from here to New Zealand on a ship called the Tasmania that was so rushed by passengers that, joining her at one of her later ports, I had to be content, with others, with sleeping accommodation temporarily provided in a part of the ship’s hold. The vessel was wrecked a fewmonths afterwards. I may say that anyordinary landsman, who had ever seen another ship, would recognise that there was something slipshod about the Tasmania if be was in the hold, where the framework of the vessel was not hidden by a fancy lining. Any one could see that that ship was jerry built.
– Would not a skilled surveyor know that?
– A skilled surveyor should know it a great deal better than a landsman ; but Senator Vardon will agree that it is necessary to have skilled men appointed to survey ships, and that with such men it is less likely that defects will escape notice.
– The clause provides that the surveyor must be skilled.
– But there is no definition of the word “ skilled.” A man might have merely theoretical knowledge. It seems to me that in this important matter the Minister should not hesitate to accept Senator McDougall’s amendment. Those who have known the honorable senator for many years know that he has had a very large experience of practical shipbuilding, and, from his skilled knowledge of that calling, he is well fitted to criticise the provisions of this Bill relating to the survey of ships. I do not think we should hesitate to amend the work of another place any more than honorable members in another place hesitated to amend our work.
– The honorable senator Is taking it for granted that what Senator McDougall proposes would be an improvement upon what has been done in another place.
– I hope there will be no ill-feeling over this. The Minister must realize the great importance of the clauses intended to secure the safety of ships. The ordinary seaman or passengers cannot be expected to know when a ship is seaworthy, and the whole success of the measure will fringe upon sufficient and efficient survey. If necessary, we should be prepared to postpone this clause in order that it may be surrounded with all possible safeguards. The Minister was quite correct in saying that the possession of a certificate will not “necessarily imply the possession of a high degree of skill, as it may be based very largely upon theoretical knowledge. I ,think we should provide that these surveyors should have practical experience as “working engineers, or in branches of their calling, which would qualify them to carry out the work of surveying ships satisfactorily. We might provide for surveys by more than one person, where all the skill required to report upon the various matters involved in the complex structure of a -modem ship is not possessed by one per>son. I can quote the case of ship-owners -with whom I am acquainted who employed ;a certificated man to survey a ship and report as to what was requisite to bring her >up to the requirements of the law. It was intended to alter her in regard to her fitness for one purpose, and render her suitable for another. When the owners got the surveyor’s report, to be on the safe side they did more than he adeemed necessary. They exceeded his minimum requirement in every case, and he passed the ship with flying- colours, and said that the owners had done more than was necessary. Before the vessel proceeded to sea, the surveyor received an appointment under the Government. He was then asked to survey the ship again,, and he condemned her in regard to many of the appliances supplied upon his former, advice. Whether he’ acted dishonestly,, or what suited him as a private individual did not, in his opinion, come up to- the legal requirement, I do not know ; but that is a case which came under my own observation. We really cannot spend too much time in taking every precaution to insure the best possible survey of all vessels, before they are allowed to go to sea.
– I prefer the clause passed by the Senate, to the clause substituted for it in another place. The clause provides that the Minister may appoint persons to be surveyors. They may have passed an _ examination, or they may not. No provision is made as to how they shall be appointed. I take it that it is the intention- of Ministers to have Government surveyors, but I point out that there are surveyors in private practice.
– They will not deal with surveys under this Bill. They will carry out surveys for the owners.
– Not a single surveyor to-day can give a certificate regarding the stowage of cargo. Surveyors in private practice obtain their certificates from the Government in New South Wales, from the Marine Board in Victoria, and from the Marine Board in South Australia. This clause will cover these men, as well as the men who will carry out surveys under the Bill.
– No; we are not dealing in this Bill with private surveyors at all. This clause refers only to Government surveyors.
– Then we have knocked out all provision for private surveyors ?
– We do not recognise their certificates.
– Their certificates have been recognised in every State up till now.
– What are they worth?
– They are worth a great deal.
– Not under this Bill.
– That is so; and it might just as well be stated at once that these licensed surveyors will be practically wiped out under this Bill. The surveyors provided for in this measure will be appointed solely for the purpose of carrying out surveys under the Act. In almost every port in Australia there are surveyors who make reports for Lloyd’s, insurance, and other purposes. Three classes of surveyors are provided for in this clause, but I think we should make provision for other surveyors by inserting the words “ or other special skill.” The proper stowage of cargo is vital to the safety of a ship, and there is no provision in the clause, as amended in another place, for a surveyor having special skill in the stowage of cargo. Seamen may prevent a ship going to sea by claiming that she is unseaworthy because her cargo is not properly stowed, but we make no provision in the Bill for a survey in such cases. We provide for surveyors with special skill in engines and machinery, but there are very few men who are specially skilled in every class of engine used. We shall have internal combustion engines in common use shortly, and men with special knowledge will be necessary to survey them.
– The new clause is as useful for the honorable senator’s purpose in that regard as the original provision.
– There is no provision in the clause for a survey in respect of the stowage of cargo. I should like the Minister to make some explanation as to the way in which private surveyors will be affected by the Bill.
– Lloyd’s surveyors and other authorized surveyors are appointed and authorized to meet the requirements of ship-owners for the survey of ships, which may be necessary at other times than those fixed by this navigation law. Suppose that a month before the time when the survey of a ship under this Bill is due, the owner, for the purpose of the insurance or the sale of a ship, requires a survey to be made. He will not be able to employ a Government surveyor, but must apply to one of the licensed or authorized surveyors to conduct the survey.
– Are these Government surveyors to be retained exclusively for Government purposes on a salary?
– Yes. A ship-owner will get a survey from a private surveyor, and will go on with the insurance or the sale of a ship according to the surveyor’s report; but when the time arrives for the ship to be surveyed under this Bill, the report of the private surveyor will not be recognised by the Government.
– I admit that.
– The ship will still have to undergo a survey by the surveyors? appointed under this clause. So that the position ofprivate surveyors does not arise under the clause. Before sitting down, I wish to say that if honorable senators will turn to page 33 of the Navigation Commission’s Report they will see that the Commission recommended the appointment oil three classes of surveyors. I quote the following from the report -
It will be seen that the amendment made by the House of Representatives is practically the same as the recommendation of the Commission.
– No; there is no reference to cargo stowage.
– With that exception and the fact that, while the Commission speak of “ experts “ in respect of certain matters, the amendment refers to persons “ skilled “ in respect of those matters, the amendment practically embodies therecommendation of the Royal Commission.
– The proceedings to-night, coupled with one’s recollection of what took place a year or two ago, point to the value of experience. We can all recollect in the history of the present Government a strong tendency on the part of honorable members supporting them to approve of what is known here as “government by regulation. They then exhibited a very touching and pathetic faith in the capacity of the Government to administer the Departments. On more than one occasion the Oppositionobjected to placing unnecessary power in the hands of the Government, but we werealways told that we could trust them. It is a source of gratification to me to think that after an experience of two years and a half of the occupancy of the Treasury bench by the Government, it has begun todawn upon honorable senators that there isa very great danger in trusting this particular Administration, that it is time to tighten up, and that, instead of leaving things to regulations, we ought to put provisions in the Bill. That is the value which Senator McDougall and others are getting from experience. This candid admission on the part of my honorable friends opposite should have a chastening influence on Senator Pearce and his colleagues. Out of evil good sometimes comes, and we may hope that the country will get the benefit of this experience, which is working so rapidly in the minds of my honorable friends opposite.
Regarding the amendment, there is, I think, a very great difference between the recommendation of the Navigation Commission as quoted by the Minister and this proposal. When he was quoting from their report, 1 asked him if it provided, not that a man should have knowledge under three different headings, but that there should be three different experts. He replied that the Commission had recommended the appointment of three men versed in different branches of the business. He went on to say that the new clause provided for the appointment of three separate officials, but it does not do anything of the kind. It was not until he spoke that I began to doubt the soundness of his position. It seems to me that there is a vital difference, inasmuch as the amendment does not provide that there shall be three surveyors to inspect with regard to different portions of a vessel, or different classes of vessels, but that one individual will be required to possess knowledge of the three different subjects.
– Why not?
– There is no reason why one individual should not have as much knowledge of as many subjects as he can acquire. There is a very big difference between this amendment and the recommendation of the Navigation Commission. Whereas I understood the Minister to -say that the amendment did actually provide what the Commission had recommended, I think he will see that there is -.a very big difference between stipulating -that there shall be three officials to carry on the inspection of a vessel, and saying that there shall be one official who is assumed to have the knowledge which the Commission thought could only be possessed “by three officials. I admit that I do not know whether, in the ordinary course of -things, it is possible to obtain individuals who have a sufficiently intimate knowledge of all these matters. I admit that I do mot know whether a man can be at the same time a thorough expert in a wooden hull, an iron hull, machinery, equipment, and the stowing of cargo.
– The section I quoted from the Imperial Act showed that in their experience they came to the conclusion that there could be, and they made provision that a man may be appointed for both.
– That is, of course, an argument; and it is weakened only by the fact that more than once the Minister has asked us to depart from the Act. I should like to hear from those who can speak with practical knowledge, whether one individual can reasonably inform his mind on all the matters of detail under these various headings. If so, there is no, reason why we should throw upon any one the cost of calling in three surveyors.
– It will be recollected that two years ago the Government promised that this matter would be dealt with by , regulation, but at the time I objected to “ that being done, and the Senate had it provided for in the Bill. Senator Millen has asked if it is possible for any one man to be competent for this work. I do not’ think that there is a man born to-day who is competent. I am not going to say that he could not become competent, but it would take him a lifetime to acquire the necessary practical knowledge in all branches of ship-building. For a number of years I have assisted a Lloyd’s surveyor in the survey of iron vessels. Do honorable senators think that I would go and survey a wooden boat which is hanging in the davits, or boats which are intended to carry passengers? I would not attempt to do such a thing. I hold that a man who has to survey the boats in which people have to be carried in the case of a shipwreck should have practical experience of boat -building ; that is, he should be a shipwright. In New South Wales it has been the practice for a good many years for a shipwright to be appointed as a surveyor of equipment, boats and hull. At the same time, he has held a captain’s certificate. There is evidence given in the Commission’s report that a shipwright had gone to sea and obtained a master’s certificate before he could be appointed to this position in New South Wales. The surveyor to-day holds two credentials : he is a qualified, practical shipwright and also a master mariner.
– What about the engines and machinery?
– The men who survey vessels to-day are engineers skilled in machinery. These men . also have a theoretical knowledge of the building of a vessel, but not a practical knowledge. They have always to get the services of a man who has practical knowledge to point out the defects in the ship. A man. with practical knowledge of ship-building can at once detect the weak points in a ship. In Sydney, if a vessel is going to be surveyed by a Government surveyor, a practical man is always employed to survey the hull and the machinery. The Government promised that they would control this matter by regulation. I ask the Committee to place it beyond the power of regulation by making the necessary provision. I am not satisfied with this new clause, because it means nothing at all. The inspection which is scamped to-day by incompetent surveyors, and which has often resulted in great loss of life, will be carried out just as easily under this measure as under the State Acts. I do not say that ship-owners generally desire to send vessels to sea in that condition, but in the past unscrupulous owners have done so. In the other House the members did not give proper consideration to the provisions of this Bill, or to the report of the Navigation Commission. They merely came in when the division bells were rung, .and voted. I trust that the Committee will, at all events try to reverse their decision in this matter.
– I am somewhat perplexed to know what honorable senators really desire.
– Something more stringent.
– -I do not know whether the honorable senator wishes to divide the proposition into three parts, and compel three persons to do the work which, probably, one man would be capable of ‘doing, or vice versa. I do not agree with those who argue that, because a man is capable -of thoroughly examining a wooden hull, he is not also able to expertly examine a metal hull.
– I only want him to show by examination that he can do it.
– I feel quite satisfied that there are those who can thoroughly ‘examine, not only wooden and metal hulls, ‘but also machinery.
– A turbine engine?
– I am not prepared to give a vote to debar a man’ who is qualified to fill these three positions.
– Our motto is* “One man, one job.”
– I agree with* the honorable senator that “one man, one: job” is a very, nice theory, and that, in. regard to some avocations, it works out. fairly well. I hope that the new clause.will be passed as it stands. I am not prepared to believe that if a man were nob capable of doing the work it would be placed in his hands. I prefer to believe that a man would be chosen who would be capable of doing the three jobs, if required, and that if such a man could not: be found, then men who were capable at each job would be employed. That is, 1. think, the intention, and, therefore, I shall support the provision.
– -I think that Senator Henderson has misunderstood the contention of Senator McDougall and myself. We do not contend that it is impossible for a man to have the qualifications necessary to enable him to survey a wooden hull, an iron hull,, and, in possibly a few cases even machinery. What we say is that a person, so appointed should be able to prove his capacity to do three things. We contend that, if necessary, three men. should be employed, if one man cannot be found who has the requisite knowledge in< all matters. If one man cannot do the whole of this work, we should take care to see that whoever is employed is skilled in the branch which he -undertakes.
– ‘That can -be done under the amendment.
– I do not say that it cannot be done. All the talk about this partyswallowing regulations wholesale does not assist the Committee to arrive at -a rational* conclusion in this case. I have fought, not only against regulations, but very often, against the Bills of this Ministry, when I did not believe in them, and frequently Senator Millen was most ready to rush ito their assistance if he thought that I wanted anything more radical.. I have never believed in leaving important matters to be dealt with by regulation, though I acknowledge that it would be foolish to burdenthe Bill with mere details. Lt does appear to me- :ana the Minister did not attemptto refute the statement - that the whole value of this Bill hinges round the seaworthiness of the ships which are controlled by its provisions. We must take every possible precaution that a ship shall not go to sea unless she is absolutely seaworthy in every respect.
– We are all agreed on that.
– Then we cannot, in reason, devote too much time to an endeavour to approach as near to perfection as we can in framing the clauses of this Bill. This is, I think, a very loosely-built amendment. It provides that a person appointed to be a surveyor shall be skilled in regard to -
In other words, a man must be skilled in two of these three things; but it may be either two of the three.
– Is that the intention of the provision?
– I do not say that it is ; but the road to hell is said to be paved with good intentions. According to my reading of the new clause, it does not even (prescribe that a surveyor shall necessarily be skilled in all three of these things; but be must be skilled in wooden or metal hulls’, or, as an alternative, in engines or machinery .
– There are three classes.
– What does the word “or” following “boilers” mean, if it does not mean as an alternative to a man being skilled in metal hulls or equipment, he must be skilled in engines and machinery.
– Is not the supposition that he would only be required to inspect engines and machinery ?
– If he did not understand wooden hulls and equipment, he might get them-
– No; he would not be sent to examine them.
– Leaving wooden hulls out of the question, he must understand metal hulls and equipment and boilers, or engines and machinery, not “ and engines and machinery.” He must understand either one of the other. Yet, under this provision, one man may be sent to do the lot, although he may be skilled in only two out of the three things. I do not think that it can be read in any other way. Certainly, there should not be any doubt about what we mean. Even if it. took half-a-dozen clauses of the Bill to define the duties and qualificationsof surveyors that would not be too much, considering the amount of space devoted to less important matters.
– Would the honorable senator insert the word “or”?
– If I put anything in it would be “ and.” I think that surveyors should be skilled in regard to all these classes of work. Can any honorable senator deny the position I am putting, that if there is an alternative in the new clause it does not mean that the surveyor must be skilled in all three classes, but that he must be skilled in one or the other?
– Three men may be sent to do the work of surveying a ship.
– They may be, but the clause does not say that they must be. It is ambiguously worded, and, while seeking to attain conciseness, sacrifices sense. I think it ought to have been brought home to the Minister by this time that another place has not improved matters in sending us the new clause. We need to have something much more explicit and rigid. Personally, I believe that there is more wisdom in the Senate than in another place, and I am not prepared to give way to the “other shop” in this case.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.52].- I have been considering which is the better clause to adopt of the two now before the Committee, and I must admit, in the light of the arguments that have been brought forward, that I am inclined to regard the original clause as the better of the two. In that clause there are certain provisions in regard to examinations which are not to be found in the new clause. In the original clause we specify the duties to be performed. Various tests are set forth for surveyors. The Minister is required to appoint surveyors who shall be skilled in regard to certain matters. But in the new provision there is no method prescribed by which the qualifications of persons are to be ascertained. The matter is left entirely in the hand’s of the Minister. He may prescribe certain regulations, but we have no assurance that the qualifications of the surveyors will be guaranteed. A question has also been raised by Senator Rae as to the proper interpretation to be put upon the word “ or “ at the end of paragraph b in the amending clause. I think that the true interpretation is that the Minister would have power to appoint a surveyor skilled in regard to wooden hulls and equipment, and so forth, just as in the original clause. A man might be appointed a surveyor who had a knowledge of metal hulls and equipment, and of boilers and engines. Or it may be that a man would be appointed who would be qualified in regard to all three of the matters mentioned in the paragraphs in the new clause. In the professions, it is customary for men to qualify as experts in certain directions. Take the medical profession. One man becomes a specialist in surgery ; another is a physician, a third looks after heart troubles, and a fourth after another class of ailments. To obtain the highest degree of efficiency men have to become specialists nowadays. The general practitioner is able to deal with ordinary cases- -that come before him, but when he meets with a difficult or intricate case he calls in the advice of the specialist. Similarly in the legal profession, a general practitioner has a general knowledge of the law, but if he has to deal with a difficult question of equity or a bankruptcy law he calls in the aid of a specialist. I see no reason why the same should not occur in this case. On the whole, I think that the proposal made by Senator McDougall is one which the Committee might very well accept with advantage to the Bill and to the public generally.
– - Senator Gould has put the case very clearly. I do not say that one man. could not become skilled in all three of the branches of surveying mentioned in the clause, but I am quite sure that no man now standing in shoe leather is. There is no man who would attempt to be an expert in all the conditions governing these three branches. Very much depends upon skilful surveying. In connexion with our. railways we very seldom have a boiler accident. I do not remember one. A locomotive boiler carries a higher pressure and is subject to weather conditions that do not apply to ships’ boilers. In New South Wales there is an inspector of locomotive machinery and another inspector for boilers. Recently I heard the Railway Commissioner say that he would never place a man as an inspector in one branch because he was skilled in another. The safety of our railway travelling public to-day depends largely upon the inspection of locomotives and boilers. I am asking that similar care shall be taken in regard to ships. Surveyors should be thoroughly practical men. By all means let the conditions as to examination be as severe as the Government like to prescribe. I do not care how severe they are. There are men in the trade who wouldbe able to comply with them. But whatever we do we should insist that the surveyors shall be skilled in the practical part of the business. I feel sure that the new clause never received the consideration which it ought to have had. I could give reasons for thinking so, but I do not desire to do so. We have either to accept the House of Representatives’ amendment or to insist on our original clause, and I trust that the Committee will follow my advice and re-insert the clause sent down by this Chamber.
’. - It appears to me that this is one of the most, important parts of the Bill. As the clause left the Senate it was undoubtedly capable of improvement. The amendment suggested by another place is more than, anything else a drafting amendment. But, at the same time, it overlooks some of theessential provisions of clause 191 of theBill as it left the Senate. If we adopt, the new clause instead of the original one.we simply provide that the Minister mayappoint surveyors, and that they shall beskilled in regard to certain things which* are enumerated in paragraphs a, b, and-. c. I entirely agree with what Senator McDougall and Senator Rae have said with-, regard to the drafting of the clause in itsalternative form. Provision is made that* persons appointed shall be skilled in regard to wooden hulls and equipment, and also in regard to metal hulls and equipment and boilers; and then, alternatively,, persons may be appointed who shall be skilled in regard to engines and machinery. . The first two requirements are what arecalled cumulative. But the most important part of the original clause that we are askedto delete from the Bill is sub-clause 5… There it is provided that -
Admission to the respective classes shall be byexamination conducted under and in accordance with the regulations.
If we are to adopt the new clause at all, the Minister might reasonably incorporate in it a provision similar to thatcontained in sub-clause 5 of the original clause. There is also a paragraph in the original clause which makes provision for certain persons who have already qualified retaining their status. If we are to adopt the’ new clause we should add ‘ a similar provision. Otherwise, we shall/-‘ fall back upon the position that the Minister may appoint persons to be surveyors who shall be skilled in regard to the matters mentioned in paragraphs a, b, and c, whilst there will be no standard or criterion whatever of their skill or experience. I do not see that we should be doing much amiss in adopting the clause in its amended form, provided we add the qualifications I have indicated with regard to admission.
– I recognise that there is considerable force in the arguments that have been put forward in regard to this clause, and I should like to have an opportunity of considering them, with a view of seeing whether some modification in the House of Representatives’ amendment cannot be made. With this object, I ask that the amendment be postponed. I shall also ask that the next amendment, affecting clause 192, which deals with a similar matter, be postponed.
Amendment omitting clause 192 postponed.
Senate adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 November 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121113_SENATE_4_68/>.