20th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon: A. M. McMullin) took the- chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator ANDERSON presented a petition signed by 759 electors of the Commonwealth praying that action he taken to amend the Superannuation Act to rectify an alleged injustice.
– Can the Minister for Repatriation say whether there is any truth in press reports that the work of the Commonwealth artificial limb factories in the various States is to he curtailed? Will the Minister’ take steps to ensure that the welfare of exservicemen who have lost limbs in the defence of this country will not be prejudiced by any such proposal?
– I assure the honorable senator that the report that the : activities of the artificial limb factories aTe to be curtailed is without foundation.’ It is true, of course, that as years go by the needs of ex-servicemen for this service will diminish, but the factories are also engaged on a certain amount of civilian work. Civilian applicants for. artificial limbs are required to submit’, their applications through approved; societies, such as the Australian Red’. Cross Society, or the Department of1 Social Services or a State department of’ Health. A considerable number of artificial limbs are supplied to civilians. I assure the honorable senator that first i priority in the manufacture of new orreplacement artificial limbs by the department’s factories is always granted to ex-members of the forces. There is no truth in the rumour that the department is curtailing the activities of its artificial limb factories.
– I desire to preface a question which I address to the Minister for Repatriation by stating that during the discussion on the Estimates the Government claimed that soldiers’ pensions would be increased by kali-a-crown a week and that the pensions nl aged and invalid persons would be increased by a similar amount. I have noticed reports which have appeared in the press and have also examined a document sent to a returned soldier whose pension has been increased by less than the 2s. fid. a week which we thought had been granted to ex-servicemen. Can the Minister explain why some ex-servicemen are receiving a smaller amount? Can he also state the number of ex-servicemen who will not receive tha full increase of 3s. 6d. a week? I also ask him, as representing the Minister for Social Services, whether the same principle applies in respect of civilian pensions?
– Order’ The honorable senator should have asked two separate questions, ons of the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services and the other of the Minister for Repatriation.
– I point out that repatriation pensions ure entirely different from social services pensions. The base rate pension, or what is known in the Repatriation Department as the general rate pension, is payable in various percentages, according to the degree <of disability of .the ex-serviceman or ex-servicewoman concerned. That degree varies between ID per cent, and’ 100 per cent. As a result of the budget which was recently passed by the Parliament, the general rate pension was increased by Ss. fid. a week, or from £4k to £4 2s. fid. ji week. As was explained at the time, the full increase of 2s. fid. a week will apply only to the 100 per cent., rate, lower rates being increased according to the degree of disability. The special rate pension which applies in the case of totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen is a set rate which, until recently, was £8 15s. a week. An allround increase of 10s. a week was granted under the last budget, making the pension £9 as. a week. The widow’s pension was increased hy 3s. ;6d. a week. That is a flat rate pension, and the increase of 2s. 03. took the weekly ‘-rate from £3 l’0s. to £3 12s. fid. In the ease of widows over the age of 50 years, or those who have children under 16 years of age, or widows under the age of 50 years who are considered unemployable, a domestic allowance of £1 12s. a week was payable. That allowance has been increased by 2s. 6d. a week, making the total increase for such widows 5s. a week, or a total pension of £5 7s. a week.
– Will the Minister for National Development inform the Senate whether he has yet received a report from the Tariff Board in connexion with an application that has been made by the tin-mining industry of this country for tariff assistance. If not, will he endeavour to expedite the report? I point out that many tin mines in Tasmania have closed down as a result of the present low overseas price of tin, and other tin mines need assistance urgently.
– I have not- yet received a report from the Tariff Board in connexion with the matter that the honorable senator has mentioned. It was only recently referred to the board, which has not yet had time to complete its inquiries. I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Trade and Customs to see whether the report can be expedited. An important aspect of this matter is that the international conference that is at present being held at Geneva is endeavouring to reach agreement in relation to the floor price and selling price of tin, respectively, under which prices will be controlled by means of a buffer stock. If those -endeavours are successful, the result will have a very important influence on the stabilization of the price of tin, because violent fluctuations in the price of that commodity have caused the present difficulties.
-Will the Minister for Shipping and Transport inform me whether it is true, as reported in the Canberra Times, that the Liberal party has insisted on nominating a candidate for the Gwydir by-election, contrary to the wishes <of the Australian Country party! How does he reconcile the turbulent atmosphere in the Liberal and Australian Country parties with a further part of the report, which states that agreement has now been reached whereby the two parties will exchange preferences, and that it is expected that the Government parties will announce a common policy within the next few days?
– I have seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred. The selection of candidates to contest a by-election in New South Wales is a matter within the control of the political parties in that State. I suggest to Senator Ashley that he should concentrate on settling his own problems, and not worry about our problems.
– Will the Minister representing the Vice-President of the Executive Council use his best endeavours, in conjunction with the State Government of Western Australia, to have the town and port of Geraldton included in the itinerary of our Royal guests in the course of the forthcoming Royal tour?
– I shall draw that matter to the attention of the responsible Minister and obtain a reply to the honorable senator’s question as soon as possible.
– In view of the fact that Mort’s Dock, Sydney, will complete its last order for a ship within the next eight or nine months, has the Minister for Shipping and Transport considered placing further orders with this firm in order to maintain new ship construction in Sydney and so retain the ship-building skills that have been built up at that yard ?
– I am sure that honorable senators will appreciate that there are more merchant ships on order in Australian’ yards now than ever before. The estimated cost of them is about £24,000,000. Whether orders will be placed for further ships depends very largely on the price for which they can be built and I am sorry to say that the cost of building ships in Australia is very much higher than the price at which they can be imported from the Unite( Kingdom. On the last occasion when tenders were called for the building of ships some of the prices that were tendered were so high that I recommended that they be not accepted. I can assure the honorable senator that the matter is under active consideration and I shall let him know when a decision has been made.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that there is still an acute shortage of steel in Western Australia, despite his recent action in assigning Binburra to the Western Australian run for the specific purpose of lifting steel which had been on order for Western Australia for a very lengthy period ? Can the Minister name the ships which have been allocated to Western Australia for the remainder of this month and also for December, and give approximate loading dates and tonnages of steel to be shipped?
– The honorable senator informed me that he proposed to ask this question. Enquiries are being made and I hope later in the day to have the latest figures concerning the ship; that have been allocated for the Western Australian trade. I regret very much that the continued industrial trouble at Port Kembla and Newcastle is preventing shipowners from transporting a large quantity of processed steel to many parts of Australia. Ships are available but unfortunately the continued hold-ups have caused serious delay and inconvenience. Senator Pearson will be pleased to know that the Australian Shipping Board sent a ship to Western Australia with steel and it was able to load Western Australian hardwood and sleepers that were urgently needed for Port Lincoln and Port Augusta. That ship is now being unloaded. As soon as I obtain the information that Senator Paltridge has sought, I shall convey the details to him.
Later: < -.
– I have obtained a list of the present sailing fixtures from the eastern States to Western Australia. The vessels will carry all cargo avail al,1, for shipment to Western Australia on present indications, and the Traffic Committee has advised me that additional vessels will be allocated between now and the 1st January if further cargoes become available. The list is as follows : -
asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
I. (a) The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company is not employed in AustraliaUnited Kingdom wheat trade. Practically the whole quantity of Australian wheat shipped to the United Kingdom is carried in hulk by chartered vessels arranged by the Australian Wheat Board at the charter rates ruling at the time. The current rate is £A.5 12s. 6a. a ton. Small parcels of bagged wheat of 1/200 tons have been lifted at intervals in the past by Peninsular and Oriental vessels. The current. rate for any such shipment would be £A.6 lis. 3d. a ton. In the case of chartered ships the freight rate is governed by the charter rates which are paid in respect of such ships and which vary considerably according to the demand on the world charter market. Wheat in these ships is handled in bulk by mechanization and the costs of operating such ships are not comparable with much smaller ships which carry potatoes on the Australian coast. In the case of Peninsular and Oriental vessels which may carry small quantities of wheat the cost of labour at the discharge port is much lower than the cost of labour at Australian ports and as the ships are on the United Kingdom register the cost of operation of the ships would vary considerably from Australian-owned ships. In the circumstances it is not considered reasonable to compare the freight rates on wheat shipped to the United Kingdom with those on potatoes shipped between two Australian ports. (6) The Union Steamship Company of New Zealand is not a subsidiary of the Peninsular and Oriental Company. The former company is incorporated in New Zealand and is a public company whose shares may be bought by any one on the stock exchanges of the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand. I understand the Peninsular and Oriental Company is a large holder of ordinary shares in the Union Steamship Company, (o) Yes.
As the Commonwealth has no control over freight rates charged by overseas companies and as I have indicated there is no basis for comparison between the freight rates mentioned, no good purpose would be served by an inquiry of the kind suggested.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Supply -been directed to, or has he seen, a report in an evening newspaper which was published in Sydney last week and which read as follows : -
A bauxite expert said yesterday that although the Australian Aluminium Commission’s plant in Tasmania would be completed early next year the Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Commission would not bc able to supply power for another live years.
Is the Minister in a position to make a statement as to the truth or otherwise of that report?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for Supply and obtain a considered reply to it as soon as possible.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that a number of Commonwealth Bank officers in Western Australia believe that the Australian Government has, in some way, opposed a policy of expansion of the bank in that State particularly in connexion with the opening of new branches ‘i Will the Minister comment upon that matter and take steps to ensure that the policy of the Government with regard to the Commonwealth Bank is brought to the notice of all bank officers concerned in Western Australia?
– Any statements that are made to the effect that the Aus. tralian Government is interfering or influencing the activities of the Commonwealth Bank are quite incorrect. The ordinary banking functions and trading activities of the Commonwealth Bank are entirely within the control and determination of the Commonwealth Bank Board. They are not matters of government policy and the Government does not interfere with them. In fact, I can go so far as to say fairly that so much detail is involved in those functions and activities that it would be completely impracticable for the Government to interfere in them, or, indeed, to have any working knowledge of them. The Government’s position is plain. It has established the trading branch of the Commonwealth
Bank upon the basis that it is to operate in free competition with other banks. It is.subject to managerial and directorate control just as are the other trading banks. The honorable senator has asked whether the Government will make its policy known. In that connexion, the Government cannot do much more than it has done, and any further statement by the Government upon the matter would be in the nature of interference with the bank. It is the privilege and responsibility of the Commonwealth Bank to publicize its own activities and decide where it will open new branches. It must plan its trading activities in each State according to circumstances as they arise, without interference.
– Will the Minister for National Development give the Senate details of the proportion of the total expenditure required to equip the new oil refinery now in the course of erection by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company Limited in Western Australia that is being devoted to Australian-made machinery ?
– I could not answer the question in detail without investigation. I can inform the honorable senator, however, that when plans for the new refinery were under discussion, it was made very clear to the company that it was to obtain within Australia as much of its material requirements as’ possible. Moreover, Australian workmen and tradesmen were to be employed so far as was practicable. The company was not to import plant, machinery, materials or workmen if its requirements could be met within Australia. From conversations that I have had with officers of the company and with departmental officers I know that those arrangements are being observed and that routine discussions take place whenever the company requires plant, equipment and materials. I understand that the company is obtaining all requirements that it is possible for it to obtain in Australia and is being supplied with a substantial proportion of such production in this country. I shall check up on that point, and if I have misunderstood the position, I shall make a correction later.
– In view of the large percentage of accidents to motor cyclists which result in serious head injuries, will the Minister for Shipping and Transport request! the Road Safety Council to make strong recommendations to the State governments to introduce legislation with the object of obliging motor cyclists to wear crash helmets? I typed this question about ten days ago, but I noticed in thin morning’s press that a new crash helmet of very light material is being tested in Queensland and, so far as I can ascertain, it would be suitable for Australian, conditions.
– I shall be pleased to convey the honorable senators’ suggestion to the appropriate State authorities.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation in a position to inform the Senate of the progress that has been made with the construction of the new airport at West Beach in South Australia, and when it is expected that the work will be completed ?
– I shall direct the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation to the matter that the honorable senator has raised and obtain a reply as soon as possible.
– ‘Can the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether i!t is true that air hostesses resident in New South Wales will be required to join the Barmaids and Waitresses Union when the “No job without a ticket “ legislation now before the New South Wales Parliament becomes law? Is it a fact that some TransAustralia Airlines hostesses have been informed thai they will lose their employment unless they become members of that union?
– I shall refer the question to the Minister, for Civil Aviation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Is it a fact that at the 30th June last an amount of £467,683’ was owing by certain airline operators to the Department of Civil Aviation in respect of air route charges?
-The Minister for Civil Aviation has furnished the following answers: -
– I direct a question to the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture with respect to the measure recently passed by this Parliament under which the Australian Wheat Board will be reconstituted for a further period of three years and will market wheat directed to it by the .States, and in respect of which the States agreed to enact complementary legislation in order to fix the price of wheat within Australia. Can the Minister say whether all the States have passed such complementary legislation ?
-I understand that all the States have passed the necessary complementary legislation, but I shall have a check made in that respect later to-day. The new price will come into operation as from the 1st December next.
– I understand that representatives of wheat-growers’ organizations in Australia were to discuss with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in the near future details of a plan for the stabilization of the wheat industry for a further period, and that the scheme, if approved, was to be submitted to the growers by the States. As the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is indisposed, and I understand, is unlikely to be able to resume his duties for some time, I should like to know whether the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture intends himself to hold those discussions with representatives of wheat-growers’ organizations.
– That matter is under active consideration, and representatives of the various States will meet the Commonwealth’s representatives in Melbourne on the 26th of this month. I. understand it is the wish of the State governments to conduct the poll on the stabilization scheme which is to be held before the end of March.
– Is the Minister for National Development in a position to say whether the Government has reached ii decision with respect to the construction of a railway from Dajarra to Newcastle Waters?
– The Government has that matter under consideration find when it reaches a decision it will make an announcement on the subject.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that in some parts of Australia difficulty is being experienced in the supply and distribution of milk to school children? Where such difficulties occur, will he investigate the possibility of supplying to school children instead of milk a piece of mild cheese wrapped in cellophane? Cheese contains all the essenrial ingredients of milk, and in the circumstances to which I refer it could be readily handled hygienically. I understand that the extensive use of cheese in Scandinavian countries for lunch purposes has had a beneficial effect on the health of the community.
– I assure the honorable senator that I shall bring his question to the notice of the Minister for Health and obtain a considered reply ;is early as possible.
– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say when the special research laboratory now being constructed at the Dewcrisp dehydration and canning factory at Scottsdale, on the north-east coast of Tasmania, will be completed and in operation? Would it be possible to set up a separate laboratory and factory in conjunction with that now being built to dehydrate meadow-hay, rape, kale, chou moullier, &c, as is being done in England and the United States of America where it has proved so valuable in animal husbandry ? It is contended that Scottsdale is eminently suitable for this purpose and is the logical place for such experiments which would be an important step forward in Australia’s agricultural economy.
– I shall have that matter considered and provide the honorable senator with a reply as soon as possible.
– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture indicate to the Senate the present position in connexion with the supply and cost of bags for potatoes? Does the Jute Controller purchase bags for this purpose, or has the practice of private procurement been reverted to?
– I shall make inquiries and inform the honorable senator of the result.
– On the Sth October, I informed Senator Marriott that I would obtain statistics of the average number of hours worked by, and the average weekly earnings of, waterside workers at a number of Australian ports. The following statistics for the year ended the 30th June, 1953, are now supplied: -
In addition to the above wages, watersiders at those ports received the following average . weekly attendance money payments during 1952-53: Melbourne, 17.3. 8d..; Hobart. Ils. 2d.; Newcastle, 8d. ; Port Kembla, 2s. lOd. ; Bowen, 14s.
– Has your attention been directed, Mr. President, to the vast improvement that has been effected in the lighting in the House of Representatives simply by pulling back the curtains on the twelve windows around the chamber during the daylight hours? If not, will you examine this innovation and, if you are impressed as I am by the improvement, will yon give instructions thai; the same be done in thi3 chamber to provide some natural light during the day time?
– I arn aware of what has been done in the House of Representatives, and although the problem in that chamber i3 slightly different from ours, I see no reason why the scheme could not be tried here. T shall arrange for that to be done.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has furnished the following answers: -
asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
SenatorMcLEAY- Theanswers to thehonourablesenator’squestionsareas follow- 1 to 5. Some of these questionsareconcerned withmattersoflawwithwhichitisnot customarytodealinsansweringquestions.As toquestion3,thetimewhichwillelapse betweenthecommencementofproceedingsand thedecisionoftheInternationalCourt naturallyvariesbetweenonecaseandanother andinthisparticularinstanceitisatthis stagepurelyamatterofspeculationwhenthe casewillbedeterminedbythecourt.Asmost of the pointsraisedbythehonourablesenator werecoveredinmypressstatementissuedon the2ndNovember,acopyofthestatement hasbeenfurnishedfortheinformationofthe honorable senator.
– I have to inform the SenatethatIhaveascertainedthat His Excellency theGovernor-General willbe pleased to receive theAddressinReply at Government Houseat 3.45 p.m. on Thursday next, the 26th November. ThesittingoftheSenatewillbe suspendedonthatdayforthepurposeof presentingtheAddress-in-ReplyandI inviteasmanyhonorablesenatorsascan makeitconvenienttoaccompanymeto Government House.
Motion (by Senator McLEAY)-by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given tobring in a bill for an acttoammendtheNationalityandCitizenship Act1948-1952
Bill presented, and read a firsttime.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia-
Minister for Shipping and Transport) [11.54]-Imove-
The billnowbeforethe Senate seeks to makeanumberofminoramendmentsto theNationalityandCitizenshipAct. The first amendment,whichissetout inclause2(a)ofthebillprovides thatthedefinitionof”Australia” shallbemademoreaccurateandcom- prehensivethanitisatpresent.The definitionnowincludesNorfolkIsland andtheTerritoryofPapua,butdoesnot specificallyincludeourotherexisting externalterritoriesforexample, MacquarieHeard,AshmoreandCartier Islands. The clause willremedythis position.
Clauses2(b), . 3, 4,5 (c) and8 of thebilldealwithatechnicality whichismainlyofadministrativecon- cern.Insixplacesintheexisting act,applicantsforvariouscitizenship privileges are requiredtoapply”inthe prescribed form”.Thesewords,strictly interpreted, requireregulationstobe madeprescribingindetaileveryword of the forms of application, and each time someimprovementofaformis devised a new regulation should bemade. This is, of course, much too ponderous a procedure andit is desirable that the Minister shouldbe able toauthorize forms withoutthedelay involved insubmitting regulations tothe Executive Council. This purpose will be achieved bytheproposed amendments.
Clause5 (a) concerns the acceptance of a certain kind of war service as a partofthequalifyingperiodofresidence fornaturalization.Normally,theact requirescandidatesforNaturalization to havelivedinAustraliaforfiveyears, but the Minister is empoweredto accept aperiod of residence in another British country, or of service under the Governmentofsuch : country, as equivalent to a period of residence in Australia. Under these existing provisions, ithas been possible to accept war service in Allied forces only in cases where such forces came under the direction of an officerwho received his command directly and solely from a British Government, Ithasnot been possible to accept serviceunder commanders who, though British themselves, held their commands from a joint appointmentby the Allied Powers.For exampleservice under Lord Wavell and Lord Mountbatten while they were
Supreme Commanders for the Allies in South-East Asia has not been acceptable. The amendment proposed by clause 5 (a) will give the Minister discretion to accept such service if he thinks that the circumstances of a particular case warrant such fiction.
Clause 5 (Jb) relates to the naturalization of aliens under 21 years of age. At the present time the act empowers the Minister to naturalize minors under such (conditions as he thinks fit, ,and the Minister has exercised this discretionary power by permitting young people to become naturalized after two years’ residence instead of the usual five. However, die act does not at present cater far the case where a person applies while still under 21 year of age, tot reaches his majority while his application fis being processed. At present the Minister -can issue a certificate on the basis pf the reduced resilience qualification .only if the applicant is still xl minor at the date of issue of the certificate. In order to avoid compelling n. minor to wait for as long as three more, years for naturalization, through no fault of his own, it is proposed, in clause .5 (b), that the Minister shall bo able to exercise his discretionary power in favour of any person who lias applied for naturalization, or has declared his intention to apply. Wore reaching the age of 21 years, whether or not he reaches that age before the certificate of naturalization is issued.
Clauses 6, 9. .10 and .1 1. of the bill arc complementary to one another, and involve three aspects of the oath of allegiance which has to be taken by each candidate for naturalisation before his certificate of naturalization becomes effective. The first aspect is the necessity to make provision for persons who, on grounds of conscience, object to swearing an oath and desire instead to make an affirmation. This is provided for in the first part of clause 6, and in clauses 10 and 11. The second aspect is really a drafting matter. Section 41 of the act at present provides that the Minister may make arrangements for the oath of allegiance to be taken before a justice, judge or magistrate, and to be accompanied by suitable proceedings, but it is- nowhere provided that the oath must necessarily be taken before one of the officers prescribed by the act, although that was the intention. The Government’s legal advisers consider that this deficiency should be .remedied and this will be achieved by the explicit provisions to be inserted in .section 16 by the second part Df clause 6. It then becomes unnecessary for any >other section to state anything about the classes of persons before whom the oath may be taken, and the necessary deletion from section 41 is made by clause 9. The third aspect is that it has been found that others besides judges and magistrates will have to be authorized to administer the oath of allegiance at naturalization .ceremonies. For example, there is the case of an alien serving in our forces in Korea. He is eligible in every way for naturalization, but there is no Australian judge or magistrate in the area. It will be recognized by all that it is wrong that such a man, whose service demonstrates his fitness for citizenship, should be debarred from citizenship by that very service. It is considered that the applicant’s commanding officer could well be authorized to administer the oath of allegiance with appropriate ceremony. Furthermore, in our efforts to have naturalization ceremonies in Australia transferred from courtrooms to town halls, where they become civic proceedings of much greater warmth, impressiveness and interest to all, it has alf-o been found that varying circumstances may require some one other than a judge or magistrate to preside. In New South Wales and South. Australia, for example, the State governments have decided that magistrates cannot officiate in town halls, due to pressure of court business. The Premier of New South Wales has suggested that the mayor or shire president of the area concerned should officiate instead of the magistrate. T.n four other States it is found that mayors are legally magistrates as well, and naturally want to preside over these ceremonies in their own town halls. It has, therefore, been decided to permit mayors to act in this way, but for the two States, Queensland and New South Wales, where mayors arc not already magistrates, this will require mayors to be specially authorized under the Nationality and Citizenship Act. For such reasons, it is considered that the Minister of the day should he able to authorize others besides judges and magistrates to preside at naturalization ceremonies.
Clause 7 of the bill will, in effect, clarify an obscurity in the existing act. Section 25 (4) of the act confers Australian citizenship on any British woman whose husband became, or would, but for his death, have become, an Australian citizen on the act’s commencement. The section does not, however, say how it is to be decided whether the deceased husband would have retained or acquired the qualifications for citizenship if he bad lived. It was the general intention that if a man might reasonably have been expected to become an Australian citizen if he had lived, his death should not result in his widow being denied citizenship. I shall state a simple case. If a man born in Australia died before the 26th January, 1949, when Australian citizenship was first created, and if he had not lost British nationality before his death, then it should be assumed that he would have remained a British subject if he had lived, so that he would have become an Australian citizen by reason of his birth in Australia. The Government’s legal advisers consider that such assumptions should be explicitly stated in the act, and this is the object of clause 7.
It will be obvious to honorable senators that this bill proposes no very farreaching changes in the law relating to nationality and citizenship. The matters covered are principally of a machinery nature. Insofar as any principles are involved - that is, in connexion with war service under Allied commanders who were British subjects, and the naturalization of minors - I may say that the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, which is representative of many sections of the community, has expressed itself in favour of the amendments concerned. I therefore commend the bill to the Senate for approval.
Debate (on motion by Senator Arnold) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) -by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for as act to amend the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1951, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Section8 of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1951 provides that there shall be a chairman and a vice-chairman of the committee who shall be elected by the members of the committee at their first meeting, or as soon thereafter as is practicable. The power to elect a chairman or vice-chairman is, therefore, confined to the first meeting of each committee as it is set up at the beginning of each Parliament.
With the death of the Honorable A. McK. McDonald, the previous chairman of the committee, the members of the committee therefore found that they had no statutory power to elect a successor to him. The committee is at present without a chairman, but the vice-chairman has been carrying on in his stead. However, this latter situation is also without a proper statutory basis, since the vicechairman may, under section 8 of the act, act in the place only of a chairman who is absent or under a disability. There is no power for the vice-chairman to act in the place of a chairman who is deceased.
The purpose of this bill, therefore, is to remedy the position by providing - (1) that the committee may elect a chairman or a vice-chairman from time to time and that the chairman and the vice-chairman shall hold office during the pleasure of the committee; and (2) that the present vice-chairman shall be given retrospectively the power to act as chairman from the day following the death of the late chairman until the day on which this bill becomes an act. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) road a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill deals only with certain matters of procedure in connexion with the collection of sales tax at the point of importation of goods into Australia by retailers or consumers. The primary object of the bill is to authorize the adoption, for sales tax purposes, of the same procedure as that followed, for the purposes of customs duty, in respect of goods which are temporarily imported into Australia with the intention that they shall be subsequently re-exported. The bill is designed to amend the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 5) 1930-1939, which is the act relating to the collection of sales tax in respect of the importation of goods into Australia by retailers or by users or consumers of the goods. In such cases, tax is collected by the Department of Trade and Customs on behalf of the Taxation Branch, at the same time as the goods are being dealt with for the purposes of customs duty.
It is provided in section 6a of the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 5) that, in prescribed cases, sales tax payable in respect of imported goods may be paid to the Collector of Customs and retained by him on deposit for a period not exceeding twelve months. Where the goods are exported within that time, the deposit on account of sales tax is refunded. Subsection (4.) of section 6a provides that, in these cases, the Collector may accept a security in lieu of a deposit. Goods to which the section applies, and the conditions to be observed, are prescribed in sales tax regulation 52a.
The classes of goods to which the provision applies, as prescribed in regulation 52a. include travellers’ samples, certain goods imported for the purposes of public exhibition or entertainment, the personal belongings of tourists or temporary residents, wedding presents, containers and goods imported for the purpose of being repaired or for other industrial purposes. These provisions are administered by the Department of Trade and Customs, for the Taxation Branch, in conjunction with the corresponding provisions of section 162 of the Customs Act. That section has, however, been re-expressed so as to authorize the Collector of Customs to deliver such goods to the importer upon receipt of a security or undertaking by the latter for payment of the duty in the event of failure to comply with the conditions regarding re-exportation of the goods. Section 162, as amended, also authorizes the Minister to extend, beyond the prescribed period of twelve months, the time during which the goods may be retained in Australia, if such extension of time is sought by the importer. Needless to say, it is essential that, in these cases, there should be uniform treatment for the purposes of sales tax and customs duty. Action is therefore being taken to bring section 6a of the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 5) into line with section 162 of the Customs Act as now expressed.
It is opportune also to delete certain parts of section 4 of Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 5), which are now unnecessary. Under sub-section (1.) of that section, sales tax is payable in respect of imported goods upon an amount which exceeds by 20 per centum the sum of the following: - (i) the value for duty of those goods converted into Australian currency; and (ii) the duty of customs payable in respect of the goods. Subsection (3.) of section 4 deals with the rate of exchange to be used in converting the value for duty into Australian currency.
When these provisions were enacted, the Customs Act provided that all duties were payable in British currency and values shown on invoices in any other currency had to be converted to British currency for the purposes of ascertaining the value for duty. By Act No. 54 of 1947, which was assented to on the 13th November, 1947, the Customs Act was amended to provide that the value for duty of imported goods should be expressed in Australian currency. It will be seen, therefore, that,, since the 13th November, 1947, the requirement in section 4 of the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 5) that the value for duty shall be converted into Australian currency for sales tax purposes has been redundant, and it ia now being removed. The bill deals with these matters of routine only. I commend it to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong*) adjourned.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cooper) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In Australia for many years it has been the practice for the States to adopt the standards of purity of the British Pharmacopoeia or the British Pharmaceutical Codex in respect of medicines controlled under their legislation dealing with food and drugs, dangerous drugs and poisons, and other matters of this kind. The Commonwealth, where it has dealt with this subject by statute such as, for example, in the pharmaceutical benefits legislation, has also, in the past, adopted the standards df purity of the British Pharmacopoeia. The British Pharmacopoeia does not completely cover the field of therapeutic substances as there is usually a time lag between the introduction and use of new drugs and their inclusion in the British Pharmacopoeia. Naturally enough, with such a standard authority as the British Pharmacopoeia, it cannot be amended from day to day nor can positive and conclusive standards be determined and established in such a form as _ would readily permit their incorporation in such a standard work.
It will thus be seen that until some authoritative standard is set up or until the newer drugs are incorporated in the new editions of the British Pharmacopoeia, it is extremely difficult to control and regulate standards of purity for new drugs. This means that drugs are imported info the country and are used without the responsible authorities being in a. position to control and regulate them by reference to appropriate standards.
It is the consensus of opinion of both the Commonwealth and State authorities and of the medical and pharmaceutical professions that means ancillary to the British Pharmacopoeia and other standard authorities be inaugurated in this country. Quite apart from the absence of appropriate standards in some cases there are the mechanical and technical problems associated with the testing of certain types of therapeutic substances. For example, many of the new drugs are not susceptible to analysis only by chemical means. For instance, such drugs may be sera, vaccines, glandular products such as insulin, or antibiotics. It is apparent, therefore,, that there is a necessity for properly equipped and staffed testing laboratory facilities capable of determining standards on a national basis.
In 1935, Great Britain passed a. therapeutic substances act for the control of these substances, and Australia-‘ passed somewhat similar legislation in 1937-38. This Australian legislation, however,, has never been proclaimed to come into operation and so the control of drugs for all purposes in this country has been dealt with by the States and, because of some dissimilarity of the provisions and. requirements existing in State law, complete uniformity in this field has not been achieved on a nation-wide basis.
An expert committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, which is the technical body to which both Commonwealth and State governments look for advice on these matters, recommended in 1951 that the Commonwealth should pass an amending act dealing with, therapeutic substances. As a result of that recommendation, the Australian and State governments agreed that a conference of their representatives should be held. That conference subsequently deliberated on the matter on 17th November, 1952. It passed a number of important resolutions concerning the regulation and control of therapeutic substances and of other matters incidental thereto, one of the most important of which was that the Commonwealth Government should enact legislation to the limit of its constitutional powers relating to the standard of purity of such substances, that is to say, drugs which are used as therapeutic substances. Though I will discuss the precise meaning of the term “ therapeutic substance “ when I deal with the various clauses of the bill, I mention at this stage that, generally speaking, “ therapeutic substance “ means any material or substance that is used in the treatment of disease or sickness. This recommendation from the expert advisers of the Commonwealth and State governments was of particular importance to the Commonwealth because the great proportion of life-saving and diseasepreventing drugs used in Australia are paid for by the Commonwealth Government under the provisions of its pharmaceutical benefits legislation.
I may be pardoned :lf I interpolate here a reference to the significance of proper standards for drugs in relation to control of the expenditure which the Commonwealth incurs for pharmaceutical benefits. It will be agreed, I am sure, that it would be false economy on the part of the Commonwealth to lay out large sums of public money to provide lifesaving and disease-preventing drugs if such drugs did not achieve the purposes for which they were provided. Tha quality of the drugs that are provided is of paramount importance. If no standard exists for certain drugs, no person, whether with guilty or innocent intentions, can be accused of supplying sub-standard drugs o:r drugs which have little or no therapeutic use. Steps are being taken in other directions to eliminate waste and extravagance in the prescription and use of drugs, but such action will ‘be robbed of its efficacy if a proportion of drugs that may be legitimately used are. of sub-standard quality. It may be truthfully said that even financial considerations are secondary to the overriding consideration that drugs which are provided to safeguard and restore health should be of the highest standard, and the Government must ensure that only drugs which are capable of achieving the purposes for which they are prescribed shall be made available to the- people. I regret to state that, at present there is evidence to show that drugs are being supplied that do not conform to the requisite standards and so are incapable of carrying out the job which the medical profession believe thai they will carry out. It would be criminal to allow such a state of affairs to exist and to continue merely through lack of appropriate action.
The Commonwealth Government decided to accept and act on the recommendation of the conference referred to above and, in its approach to this matter, it took cognizance of the fact that in addition to having constitutional Dower to make laws with respect to the provision of pharmaceutical and sickness benefits and medical services and so on, and other matters incidental thereto, it also has power to deal with imports, interstate trade and exports. As will be seen from an examination of the bill, the Commonwealth has made useof such powers to deal with certain aspect? of the matters comprised in this bill. It must be remembered that laws relating to the manufacture of therapeutic substance? in Australia lie within the constitutional responsibility of the States. It is considered that in order to round off the overall scheme for the proper regulation and control of drugs in this country, the several States will need to enact the necessary complementary legislation with respect to the manufacture of drugs and their purely intra-state distribution and use. Of course, the States have to a large degree covered this field so far as it is within their power to do so, and any further legislative action on their pan will probably have to be of a limited character only.
One of the recommendations made to the Commonwealth and State governments was -
That the Commonwealth and States should jointly, within the limits of their respective constitutional powers, take the necessary legislative and administrative action with respect to the marketing and labelling of therapeutic substances as is from time to time deemed necessary.
Owing to the complex nature of modern therapeutic substances the tests employed to determine their purity, both chemical and biological, have become more difficult and exacting. In this respect, the assistance that has been given in recent times by the staffs of several of the Australian universities in the testing of drugs is gratefully acknowledged. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to extend, both numerically and qualitatively, the tests of purity of medicines used by the sick people of this country, and arrangements will be speedily completed after the passage of this bill to give full effect to this responsibility. It will be realized that the successful carrying out of the policy of the Government with respect to the establishment and maintenance of high standards for therapeutic substances will not be achieved only by the passage of this bill. The constant vigilance and assistance of technical experts will be necessary in the various ways and means that are employed to determine and maintain standards. The governmental experts at their conference recommended that an expert committee be set up to advise the Commonwealth and the States on suitable standards for drugs not yet included in either the British or other recognized pharmacopoeia and on the related matters which are incidental to such standards. The Commonwealth has accepted this advice and it is proposed that such an expert committee will be set up. Provision is being made under the bill for that purpose. In conclusion, I should like briefly to state that this bill empowers the Commonwealth to establish standards for therapeutic substances so far as it may do so, and to prescribe testing facilities to ascertain whether such standards are being maintained. Also, if the Parliament passes this measure, and complementary legislation is enacted by the States, the collaboration of those parties will result in uniformity of packaging and labelling of therapeutic substances throughout Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator MCKENNA) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 11th November (vide page 70), on motion by Senator McLeay -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This measure seeks to effect substantial amendments to the principal act, which is a voluminous statute. Very few of us have much knowledge of the details of this legislation, and fewer honorable senators still can claim to be experts in this field. A number of amendments, equally substantial, were made to the principal act last year. I recall that the debate on that occasion was somewhat acrimonious, due to the fact that so little time was allowed to the Opposition to consider that amending measure. Those amendments related to the parts of the Navigation Act that cover such matters as the settlement of industrial disputes, the engagement of seamen and the provision of amenities for seamen. The amendments proposed on this occasion relate to a different category and involve different principles. The purpose of the bill is to ratify a maritime convention that was concluded in 1948 and to which Australia is a party. The method of ratification is the incorporation in legislative form of the provisions of the convention together with regulations that are set out in annexures to the convention. That, apparently, is the mode of adoption and ratification followed by this Parliament. In 1929, there was the first maritime convention dealing with the matters which are dealt with again in the 1948 convention and are the subject of this amending legislation. The terms of the 1929 convention were incorporated in legislation presented to the Commonwealth Parliament in 1934 and passed in 1935.
It is interesting, merely as an incursion, to trace the constitutional power of the Commonwealth to deal with matters such as this. There is, of course, section 98 of the Constitution, the general power over navigation, which extends to international and interstate trade, but not to intra-state trade. However, this matter is slightly different in principle because it is the adoption of an international maritime convention, and we have to look not only to the Commonwealth’s general power over navigation, but also elsewhere for the authority residing in the Commonwealth to write into legislation the terms of the conventions to which we have subscribed. To find that authority, we go first to the external affairs power, but that is not altogether conclusive. There has been some doubt on the interpretation of that power in relation to the adoption of conventions. This matter was considered by the High Court of Australia in 1936 in the case Rex v. Burgess, also known as the Goya Henry case. Honorable senators will recall that Goya Henry was an aviator who wanted to take off from what is now the Kingsford-Smith aerodrome, and that Burgess was a departmental inspector. The High Court gave a majority decision in that case. There were two dissentients, Mr. Justice Evatt, now Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, and Mr. Justice McTiernan. They expressed the joint opinion that the Commonwealth could legislate to give effect to a convention of the International Labour Office, but not to a. convention that was merely in draft. They held the Commonwealth to have that power even though the subject-matter of the convention was not otherwise within the legislative power of the Commonwealth. In other words, they put the power of the Commonwealth on an extremely high level. But that was a minority judgment and, to that extent, obiter dictum. The important thing is that the court did uphold the power of the Commonwealth to adopt these conventions and to act in pursuance of them. The majority of justices declared that before upholding Commonwealth legislation based on a foreign treaty in a field not mentioned in the Constitution, they would look at each, such treaty on its merits and apply certain tests. The tests were -
The significance of each of those tests is apparent.For example, the significance of the last test is that an agreement between Australia and one nation could hardly be called an international matter ; yet somebody might rest on that in seeking constitutional sanction for taking certain action. Applying what I call the lower level tests of the dissentient judges, the power of the Commonwealth to incorporate a convention such as this is apparent.
– Absolute power?
– That is the effect of the judgment. Even applying the higher level tests of the majority judgment, it is obvious that the adoption of these conventions is completely within the constitutional power of the Commonwealth. I merely make those observations as an interesting incursion into matters that are pertinent to the discussion.
Another point that I wish to make is that whereas the 1935 and 1942 amendments of the principal act had to be reserved for Royal Assent, the amending legislation passed last year did not have to be so reserved. That was because the Statute of Westminster had come into complete operation after 1942. Apparently the necessity for the reserving of earlier amendments for Royal Assent stemmed from the Colonial Laws Validity Act and sections of the British Merchant Shipping Act. The position now, however, is that there is ample constitutional power for the Commonwealth to adopt these conventions without reserving the amending legislation for Her Majesty’s consent.
This bill seeks to embody in the principal act the terms of the 1948 convention which, in effect, has been substituted for the 1929 convention. The 1948 convention is entitled, “ Articles and Regulations of the International Convention for the Safety of Lives at Sea, 1948”, whereas the 1929 convention had the somewhat shorter title, “ International Maritime Convention, 1929 “. In view of the complexity of this measure, particularly to men who are not skilled in this field, I believe that the Minister should have given a more detailed historical review in his second-reading speech. He might also have drawn attention to a few more of the important implications of the bill. I do not think that a bill, merely because it is big or technical, should be introduced into the Senate without an adequate explanation of it being given to members. In the course of my research, I was interested to discover that when the 1929 convention was embodied in legislation, the Minister of the day introduced a bill of the kind we have seen more recently in our banking and income tax legislation. It was, in effect, a copy of the principal act into which the proposed new sections had been written in black type so that the intention of the measure could be clearly discerned. I concede that whereas that was probably the first occasion on which we were writing a convention into our legislation, this bill substantially carries forward existing provisions. Nevertheless, I still believe that a. bill in the form to which I have referred would be of considerable assistance to the Senate. Any one who has gone to the trouble of examining this amending legislation in detail will appreciate the tremendous amount of work that is necessary to understand the difference between the 1948 convention and the 1929 convention. Although I have given the matter considerable time and attention, I cannot claim to have been completely successful in achieving that aim. The Minister, I believe, could have assisted other honorable senators as well as myself much more than he has done, and so could have ensured a more interesting and satisfactory debate than we are likely to have in the present circumstances.
I understand that as Australia has agreed to this convention, we are not able tn depart from it in any major or even in in or direction. Otherwise, our participation may be invalidated. As I have said, the convention was signed in 1948 and here we are in 1953. I do not know whether the terms of the draft convention were widely circulated. The Minister may be able to tell us that. So far as I am aware, the terms of the convention are being publicly displayed now for the first time, yet we cannot query any of them to the point of having them p winded without invalidating our support of the convention and perhaps Mongering the whole agreement. Thirty hh Hons were represented nt the con- ference at which the convention wassigned and I understand that twentythree nations have «ince ratified it. I believe however that the ratifications have not necessarily come from among thenations that were represented at the conference. I invite the Minister to inform the Senate which of the nations represented at the conference have ratified the convention. I should also be interested to know whether the convention has been ratified by any minor nations of littlemaritime significance, and whether any major nations such as Russia, whose maritime significance is great and is increasing, have not ratified it. Obviously,, the great nations have an international responsibility in matters of this kind. I query whether Australia should allow itself to be tied up in a convention with major nations which, while contributing nothing themselves, might take advantage of our care and solicitude for those whogo down to the sea in ships. I should be pleased therefore if the Minister would tell us what nations were participants in the conference, the participants who haveratified the convention, the participants who have not ratified it, and the nonparticipants who have ratified it.
– -Russia has not ratified the convention.
– I thank the Minister for that interjection. I also wonder what obligations rest on nations that have neither participated in the convention nor ratified it. “What is our maritime relationship with Russia in connexion with these matters? That is another matter on which I should like the Minister to inform the Senate ‘when a suitable occasion presents itself. ‘ The 1929 convention of course required administrative guidance and a secretariat. Presumably, as no such organization was available at that time, Great Britain, the great maritime power with a tradition of leadership in maritime matters, became the repository of the 1929 convention. It is now proposed under Article 16. that “ the Government of the United Kingdom and Nothern Ireland “, shall remain, in an interim capacity the repository of this convention also. . The idea is apparently that, at a later stage.’ there will be a permanent organization set up for the control and administration of the maritime: convention of 1948. That organization will be a functionary of the United Nations but it has- not yet come into being. It bears, the rather long title “ The Inter-Governmental Maritime. Consultative Organization”,, but I am sure that with the United States of America participating in the convention as I understand it is, the title will very 30on be shortened to “I.M..C.O.”’. The important point,, however, is that a new technique has been adopted under this convention for the amending of. its terms and conditions. At present, amendments must be unanimously approved^ and that is a very ponderous procedure. Knowing the difficulty of getting the Australian States to agree even on matters which are not. normally the subject, of political controversy, one can readily imagine, how hard it is to secure: agreement in the international field.. The intention now however, is that beneath: “ I.M.C.O.” there will be a body called the. Maritime Safety Committee, und that any suggested amendment, which emerges from that committee with the support of a twothirds majority and is subsequently approved by “ I.M.C.O.”, by a two-thirds majority, shall be binding on the participating nations. The Minister said that a two-thirds majority of “ I.M.C.O.”’ would be adequate to secure amendment of the convention,, but he omitted to refer to the preliminary step which is the- recommendation of an amendment by a two-thirds majority of the Maritime Safety Committee. I do not know exactly how this minor body is to be constituted.
Sitting suspended from 12.U5 to 2.15 p.m.
– I shall now men tion the slightly different drafting methods’ that were adopted in the framing of this convention, compared with the 1929 convention. The bulk of the 1929 convention was embodied in the articles, and regulations were attached’ to the articles. Consequently, in the 1929 convention there were 6(5 major articles and quite a host of regulations. Many of the technical matters could more properly and conveniently have been incorporated in regulations under the convention. On this occasion many of the articles of the convention have been translated into regulations. Whereas in the 192ft convention there were 6& articles, under the new convention there are- only fifteen articles, which deal with the general principles,, and substantive regulations have been added. This is. a. much more convenient and logical method of presentation.. When we proceeded to adopt the principles contained in this convention, wc followed, the same pattern. The provisions of the previous convention in relation to life-saving appliances and fire protection occupied two pages of the principal act. Sections 215 and 216 have been replaced by a very short proposed new section 215,, which comprises only eleven lines. In place of two very long technical sections, there wall now be only a very short provision, regulatory in character. This is a sensible and much more modern method of drafting. An examination: of the bill shows that it is rather like ona of the ships with which it deals.. It is rather severely compartmented. The principal act i3 divided into Parts, including Part I., Introductory; Part II., Masters and Seamen; Part III… Foreign Seamen: Part IV.,. Ships and Shipping; Part V., Passengers; Part VI., The Coasting Trade; Part VII., Wrecks and Salvage; Part VIII., Pilots and Pilotage; Part IX., Courts of Marine Inquiry; Part X., Legal Proceedings; and Part XI., MiscellaneousThe major part of these amendmentoccurs in Part TV., Ships and Shipping, which in turn is divided into divisionsClause 7 of the bill now before the chamber provides for a new list of divisional headings. This, in itself, is an indication of the nature of the amendments.
Proposed new section 193 reads -
Subject to this Part, a steamship shall bc surveyed at least once in each period o( twelve months.
This amendment gives effect to one of the most important features of the 1929 convention, that relating to- the survey of ships. Under Australian law, all ships are required to be surveyed. Passenger ships are subjected to physical surveys,, but we have relied on classifications in Lloyd’s Shipping Register in relation to cargo ships. In addition, we have insisted on equipment surveys. The new convention goes a part of the way towards the adoption of the Australian practice, inasmuch as equipment survey* are now internationally conducted, thus raising the international practice to the Australian standard in connexion with cargo ships. However, the participating countries did not see fit to adopt wholly our practice in regard to the survey of cargo ships. We still maintain a standard higher than the international standard. We shall adhere to our standard. It has been our practice to require physical surveys of passenger ships once in every twelve months, and additional surveys following accidents. That practice will be continued. When a survey certificate is issued in relation to a ship, that is not the end of the matter as far as the convention is concerned. What the convention requires and contemplates is the issue of certificates that ships comply with the international convention standards. When a certificate is granted in the manner that r have mentioned application is then made for the granting of a convention safety certificate. Proposed new section 306c sets out the categories of safety certificates that will be granted by the Minister in relation to ships. The safety certificate is the internationally recognized certificate. There may be issued qualifying safety certificates, short voyage certificates, and qualifying voyage certificates, according to exemptions that may be granted by the Minister under the provisions of the act. As I understand the matter, a ship must have a safety certificate. However, the Minister may, in certain circumstances, grant an exemption to a ship for a short international voyage, or for other specific voyages, and when a ship receives an exemption certificate there will be issued a qualified safety certificate which, pro fanto, will be internationally accepted. A cargo ship must also be issued with a safety equipment certificate. Under the convention a qualified safety certificate in respect of a passenger sHip must include the terms of the exemption granted by the Minister. A passenger ship also requires wireless telegraphy and survey certificates. All these certificates are directed to the safety requirements of the ship, and its compliance with international standards. Quite a number of machinery clauses do not warrant mention at the present time.
As the Minister mentioned in his second-reading speech, we now have an opportunity to bring our navigational legislation up to date, in the light of our experiences during the period of World War II. Quite properly, the rapid scientific advances that have been made, particularly in the field of radio telegraphy, should be embodied in the law in relation to maritime services. The bill provides that cargo ships must be equipped with a radio telephone, if a radio operator is not carried, and all passenger ships exceeding 1,600 tons gross must be equipped with radio navigational aids or direction finders. This is an extremely desirable provision. I think that the people of this country will be very pleased that steps are being taken, in co-operation with other nations of the world, to ensure the maintenance of the highest standard of efficiency and safety in our ships.
I come now to the provisions in relation to the loading of dangerous goods, and the loading and handling of movable cargoes, such as grain. In the principal act there is a provision in relation to dangerous goods. The convention goes into greater detail than before in defining dangerous goods, and in prescribing the care that should be taken in connexion with the handling of them. According to my understanding of the relevant clause, a much greater onus is now imposed on the master or owner than formerly. If that is so, I think that this is a very desirable provision. The penalties have not been altered, but the degree of responsibility has been increased. In terms of modern practice, the penalties provided throughout the bill are not very high. In one instance, a penalty of £100 is provided, and in addition a penalty of 5s. a head for excess passenger loading. This could not be regarded as an excessive penalty; it could scarcely be called a deterrent penalty. This is an aspect of the matter on which I quarrel. I think that the penalties in relation to the overloading of passenger ships and the carriage of dangerous goods should be reviewed. Wherever the carriage of dangerous goods is mentioned, reference is made to pig iron. This commodity seems to attract special mention. There has always been provision in our law in relation to movable cargo, such as grain, but detailed provision has been made for this commodity in the convention. The relevant section of the legislation has been strengthened, and the new convention provisions have been incorporated. The existing section 257 cif the principal act will be replaced by another section. From my reading of the principal act, the master or owner is required to take reasonable precautions in connexion with the stowing and handling of certain kinds of ballast. . Proposed new section 257 strengthens the requirement by prohibiting the master from taking a ship to sea unless action has been taken to prevent ballast or cargo from shifting. ‘ This is a recognition of the new approach to the danger aspect of navigation. Honorable senators will recall that during the last few years a number of ships have turned over off the Australian coast because of loose loading, bad ballasting, or bad stowage of cargo such as pig iron. I am pleased that steps have been taken to bring this matter under control.
Proposed new section 258 refers to collisions, lights and signals. I am not quite clear about the part of the 1929 convention in this connexion that has been re-enacted. As far as I can see, article 40 of the 1929 convention was incorporated in our legislation. I do not see any reference to this matter in the bill before the Senate. Such a provision was contained in the 1929 convention. I should like the Minister to state whether this provision will be retained in accordance with the 1929 convention.
Section 265 of the bill deals with distress signals. It refers to a matter which was sufficiently important to be embodied in the 1929 convention and which was written into our principal act but which has now been omitted. Under the principal act, a ship in distress was entitled to call on another ship for assistance. A responsibility then rested upon the master of the ship called to assess hiposition and decide whether he would go to the assistance of the other ship. If he decided to go to the assistance of the vessel in distress he was under an obligation to inform the master of that vessel that he was coming. If he decided tha; he could not go he had to inform the master of the distressed ship that he could not give assistance and he was liable to a penalty for failing to enter his decision in his log. Failure to so inform thi? master of the distressed ship rendered him liable to .prosecution on indictment, and failure to enter his decision in the log rendered him liable to a fine of £100. Under the bill, a master who intends to go to the assistance of a distressed ship must still communicate tha1, fact to the master of the distressed ship but he is no longer obliged to communicate if he doe3 not intend to give assistance. I do not know whether the omission of this provision is important. All I know is that such a provision was contained in the 1929 convention, that it does not appear in this convention and that, therefore, it has been, omitted from the bill. , There may be a reason for its omission. Senator Willesee told me that if every ship that picked up a distress signal communicated with a distressed ship in order to say that it was not coming to its assistance, that would interfere with the reception by the distressed ship of any message saying that a ship was coming to its rescue. However, if the omission of this provision represents a weakening of our requirements I think that the matter should be rectified, even at this stage, by amending the section.
The schedule which embodies the main convention ,3 under six headings. There is a general section, and sections relating to the construction of ships, life-saving: appliances, radio telegraphy and radio telephony, safety navigation, and carriage of grain and dangerous goods. It embodies most of the features of the old convention and brings some of them ip to date. Article 12 of the convention provides renunciation powers under which a nation may withdraw from the agreement within twelve months of a document of renunciation being received by the controlling body. An obligation is imposed on the participating powers to inform the controlling organization of any major marine disaster. This is a wise provision because the evidence obtained at an inquiry into such a disaster might provide reasons for redrawing parts of the convention.
In conclusion I wish to stress the importance of navigation to this country as an island continent and to the world. Most of the transportation of goods throughout the world, particularly from one continent to another, is effected by sea and I think that it must continue to be effected by sea in the foreseeable future. We hear of the giants of the air moving increasingly large freight loads and, no doubt, in time, those loads will become greater, but in the foreseeable future a nation such as Australia will depend on sea traffic. Over the years, there has been a trend towards better industrial conditions for those who make possible the carriage of goods by sea. Their safety must always be our concern. These conventions are not directed solely at the protection of property but also at the protection of people. In. keeping standards high, we protect all those who are interested in this great industry, whether they have money invested in it or earn their living by it. Consequently, our aim must be to maintain the highest standards. I hope that by adopting this convention and assisting world maritime commerce other nations which have not ratified the convention will be induced to do so and therefore this action- will result in increasing worldwide interest in maintaining safety standards at sea.
Senator KENDALL (Queensland)
Plimsoll then became president of the Sailors and Firemen’s Union, and continued to work for that body and for sailormen almost until his death. It was during that period that, primarily owing to his very hard work, the British Merchant Shipping Act was passed. It is on that act that the present British merchant navy legislation is based. Plimsoll’s death is one of the few dates which I have no difficulty in remembering. He died just six days before I was born, leaving a memorial in the heart of every sailor for all time because of the work that he had done.
I shall try to link my remarks with my own life, not for personal gain, but to try to show the very short period of time that has passed since these happenings took place. For the benefit of many honorable senators who do not really understand what the load line is and what it signifies, I shall endeavour to explain it. Only the other day some one asked me whether the red line along the side of a ship is the load line. He referred to the dividing line between black topsides and red under water. The load line originally was a simple circle with a line through it. The line through the circle indicated the deepest depth to which that ship safely could be immersed by the loading of cargo, stores or fuel. In other words, it was the deepest safe draft that she could have. Since that time, as those who have studied the Navigation Act will know, a number of other marks have been placed beside that circle and line. Each of those marks has been scientifically worked out to indicate certain depths to which the ship can be immersed. For instance, on the top of the centre there are the letters FW, which indicate “ fresh water “, T, indicating “ tropical S, “ summer “, W, “ winter “, and WNA, “winter North Atlantic”. In addition, certain trades have particular marks.- Freeboard is the distance from the main deck line of a ship to the loaded water line. To give some idea of what it might be, a ship of 100 feet in length would have a freeboard of a little less than 1 foot, whereas a ship of 750 feet in length would have a freeboard of 13 feet or 14 feet.
When I had been speaking about Plimsoll, I had arrived at approximately the turn of the century. In the first decade of this century a great many improvements of the British Merchant Shipping Act were made. There were, for instance, the introduction of the “ Pules of the Road “ and the International Code of Signals, which were approved by all maritime nations of the day. The rules of the road, of course, are rules governing lights observed by vessels at sea or at anchor, and the use of sound signals in fog, mist, falling snow or heavy rainstorms. They indicate which ship should give way if two ships are approaching one another so that if they continue on the same course they will be involved in a collision. The International Code of Signals comprises a set of 26 flags, each coloured flag representing a letter of the alphabet. They are so arranged in the code book that there are four sections of one, two, three or four flags, two flags signifying serious, urgent and important signals, four flags signifying geographical signals, and so on. The code is so arranged that it is easy for a ship of any nationality to speak to a ship of another nationality.
In the latter part of the first decade of this century, wireless communication was being introduced into a number of ships. In 1909, we had the first occasion on which lives were saved at sea by the use of wireless. That was when the White Star liner Republic was sunk after a collision off Nantucket. Owing to the fact that she was able to send out an SOS signal, or a CQD as it was then known, other ships were able to come to her assistance. Only six people of a complement of approximately 500 were lost. It was not until the loss of Titanic in April, 1912, that the nations of the world really said to themselves, “ We must do something to ensure the safety of live3 at sea “. If I might again stress the period in history during which these events were taking place by comparisons with happenings in my own life, I point out I was at that time a second-year cadet on a training ship, H.M.S. Worcester. I remember the chief instructor assembling the ship’s company and informing us of this tragedy.
An interesting point in connexion with the sinking of Titanic, in which more than 1,500 lives were lost of a complement of 2,600, is that a ship called Californian was within a few hours steaming of Titanic when she struck the iceberg. Although Californian was equipped with wireless, she carried only one wireless operator , who operated his set at certain periods throughout the day. Those periods coincided with the times when the shore stations sent out traffic messages, such as meteorological reports. Obviously, it was impossible for the operator to be on watch for 24 hours of the day. However, the operator on
Californian had been on watch until two o’clock and had been listening in until that time. At about ten minutes past two in the morning he decided to go to bed. It was twenty past two when Titanic struck. But for that ten minutes lag in time, it is possible that everybody in Titanic would have been saved. I do not in any way suggest censure of Wireless Operator Evans, who was there at the time, but rather of the system under which ship-owners, in order to save the £4 a month which wireless operators were paid in those days, employed only one operator instead of two.
These matters were dealt with very successfully by inquiries which took place subsequently. Immediately following the loss of Titanic there was an inquiry under Lord Murray in England, and also a congressional committee in the United States of America inquired into the same matter. It was as a result of those inquiries that the first suggestion of a conference of all the nations to discuss the safety of life at sea was made. It is amazing to think that all of this happened only 39 years ago, well within the life of most of us in this chamber to-day. It is equally amazing to think back and to recollect that within a few months of the conference of January, 1914, many of the nations represented at that conference were engaged in a war in which some 4,000 ships were sunk% After the war was over and a period of reconstruction had ensued, in 1927 the British Board of Trade again issued a momorandum to the maritime nations of the world suggesting that the 1914 conference be revived in the. light of what the nations had learned during the war. The result was a convention which was signed in May, .1929, nineteen nations applying their signatures. The prime consideration at that conference was the scantlings of a ship; that is to say, the sizes of the various plates, and beams, the number of rivets to be used, the types and the strength of the sub-divisions of the watertight bulkheads, and so on. In addition, the naval architects gave prime consideration to stability curves, because, like all members of her sex, a ship must watch her curves. Of course, a vessel built for fast work would have far more slender lines than her sister ship, which might perhaps have more top decking. It is easy to see that much of the language of the sea has come to be part and parcel of the English language. As I have said, prime consideration was given to the actual ship herself, the strength of construction and the stability. Second only to that, consideration was given to life-saving appliances, such as lifeboats, distress signals and wireless, which, in the event of an accident, would be necessary.
Another most interesting point dealt with at that conference was the continuation of the ice patrol in the North Atlantic. That patrol had been operated for some years by the United States of America. That is to say, the patrol was physically operated by ships of that country. Its object WES to let other vessels in the North Atlantic trade know the proximity and position of ice during the period when it came down from the north. The patrol was paid for on a contributory basis, contributions being based on the amount of tonnage of each maritime nation contributing. For example, at that time Great Britain contributed approximately 30 per cent. .of the total amount, whereas Denmark, which was one of the smaller maritime nations, contributed only about 2 per cent. Other nations contributed percentages which varied between those extremes. It was noticeable, after that conference, that the nations accepted their obligations to a very marked degree. A great deal of good work was done by other nations, such as Germany, France; Belgium, the United States of America, and particularly the Scandinavian countries, which have always been to the forefront in maritime work.
During the period of peace which we enjoyed between the two world wars, many improvements came about. For instance, the gyro compass came into general use, and also the automatic steering device. There was also a more genera] application of tons ail inch immersion scales by the builders of ships. Those scales are used for the purpose of establishing by inspection rather than by computation exactly how many tons of cargo it takes to immerse a ship one inch at any particular draft. Owing to the underwater shape of a ship, a different amount of tonnage is required to immerse it at each draft. If a ship is very light in the water, only a small amount is required to put her down at one end, but when she is deeply laden, a considerable amount of cargo is required to do so. Other scales were also brought into use. It is interesting to note that the bill before the Senate makes it compulsory for all these scales to be supplied. Although that has been common practice by decent ship-builders, it has never been compulsory. The Ralston stability device came into use about that time. It is a fiat plate of brass about 5 feet by 3 feet on which is inscribed an outline plan of the ship showing compartments, tanks, sub-divisions and other details. Supplied with that plate are a number of small brass weights representing from 5 to 100 tons and various quantities in between. If it were desired to discover what the ship would be like when loaded, one would put certain tonnages into different compartments. For example, one might desire to put 400 tons in number 1 hold, 300 tons in the double bottom and so on. Allowance would be made for passengers at the rate of sixteen passengers to the ton because if a ship carried 1,600 passengers, that would be equivalent to 100 tons, and all those matters must be taken into consideration. When the small weights are placed in the appropriate positions, there is a method of raising the whole plate and balancing it from each end. By lifting and balancing the plate, one can discover whether the ship would be by the head or by the stern. There are also methods of balancing athwartships and by such tests one can ascertain what the stability of a ship will be.
Honorable senators might be interested to hear a few points upon stability. A ship or vessel floating upon water has a centre of buoyancy, and if a straight line is drawn from the centre of buoyancy upwards it will pass through the centre of gravity. If the ship is inclined, the centre of gravity will remain in exactly the same place, but the centre of buoyancy will shift owing to the different underwater shape of the ship. If a line is drawn vertically from the. new centre- of buoyancy it will, cut the line previously mentioned) at; a certain point. That; is: the. metacentre.. If the centre of gravity is. below the metacentre the. shi]* is; stable.. If it. is- above it, the ship will tara over. The: problem involves: a good deal of mathematical computation, and for that purpose, mariners now have) the stability curves-, and tha trim indicator- that I have mentioned.
In the period between the two warswe lost only five ships- of. 10,000 vessels of all tonnages at sea at that time. That was a great, improvementover the period 30 years- ago to which I have referred. In World War II., again we had terrific losses but they amounted to only 2,500 ships. It seems- a travesty to say, “Only 2,500 ships’”, but compared with World War I., the losses represented a marked improvement. World War II. was much longer than World War I., and as well as submarine attacks, we had to. cope with aircraft bombing and new types of mines and other weapons. During that period, we. were able to study their effects upon badly damaged ships in the. seaway. Indeed,, owing to the greater sub-divisional strength and , various improvements that were achieved during the period between the two wars, a great many more ships were able to struggle into port and we:-e available for examination. The results of those examinations were tabulated and retained. When the war ended there was another period of reconstruction before another conference was called, and those connected with the work were able to tabulate all that had been learned from the loss of ships during World War II.
The next conference was held in 194S. Again it was designed to take up the threads where they had been left in 1939. An observer from the United Nations was present. Australia was represented by the Director of Navigation, who is now in the Senate chamber, and three others, and altogether about 400 persons attended. The schedule to the bill that is before the Senate contains the findings of that conference. The convention that was adopted is slightly different from the previous one, as Senator Byrne has pointed ©»% because, the first part, is taken- up with government arrangements and tha second with more technical particulars.
In November last year, the- United Nations- agency, known as the International Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, was brought into being although it is not yet fully operative. That agency was mentioned by Senator Byrne.. It will take over the bureau work that has always hitherto been performed by Great Britain. When it. comes: into, operation fully, a settlement will be reached by the. votes- of twothirds of the- members, as opposed to the previous necessity for a unanimous vote-. I.M.C’.O. is not redundant, because it deals with other matters-. la conjunction with the International Labour Organization, it will deal with working- conditions, also with maritime law, health and other matters connected with life at sea. I believe that 30 nations were -parties to the 1948 convention and about 26 of them have since ratified it. Australia will be the twenty-seventh nation to do so.
On the technical side of the bill, the Minister referred to some of the alterations, in his second-reading speech. Those that I, as a sailor, consider to be most important are the provisions relating to the stability of a damaged ship as distinct from a ship that is whole and ready for sea. Particular attention has been paid to the formula in that, connexion. Other matters also art important. In passenger vessels over 1,600 feet in length, either a motor boa.t or a lifeboat propelled by mechanical means must be carried. The latter has small levers on the thwarts of the boat that go backwards and forwards and turn a propellor at the stern. All vessels over 1,600 tons must be fitted with directionfinding gear by which they can locate- a wireless station ashore and obtain a bearing. If the ship’s officers can pick up two stations, they can get a cross bearing and determine precisely where they are.. That is a big advance. All vessels will now have to carry at least one lifeboat fitted with wireless. That also represents a marked advance because it has not been general hitherto in the smaller ships. All vessels over 1,600 tons must now keep a continuous watch on the distress frequency of 600 metres or have an automatic alarm that will pick up prescribed signals of three to four seconds duration. When the instrument picks up the distress signal it will sound an audible signal on the bridge of the ship. That is important because, as I have said, a ship may be within an hour’s steaming of the vessel in distress, and its presence would not be known unless there was a continuous watch.
One of the most important advances is the discarding of the old type of radial davit. That was in the form of a steel bar bent at the top. There was a davit at each end of the boat. A pulley was fixed to the curved bar of the steel or iron post with two arms holding the boat. Getting a boat away from such davits was a frightful job. It was necessary to lift the boat free of the chocks and swing it forward. Then the stern of the boat had to be pushed out, and it would have to be swung aft in an endeavour to get it free. Any one who has tried to do that in a rolling sea or with a. list opposite to the lifeboat will know the difficulties. It was appalling work. Many accidents have occurred in attempts to handle boats in those conditions. Even if nothing else were done in drafting the convention, the abolition ofthose davits would be a worthwhile achievement. All vessels over 150 feet are discarding them. The davits that are to be used have been common in large passenger ships for 25 years. Two skids run from the centre of the ship to small davits, each on four wheels. One man alone can apply a brake on the wire drums and lower a boat into the water. That is a big step towards safety of life at sea and will contribute to the personal safety and the good temper of sailors.
I wish to deal with some other matters, but I shall refer to them when the bill is at the committee stage. I congratulate the Minister on a clear second-reading speech in spite of Senator Byrne’s remarks. Had the Minister gone to greater lengths, I believe that he would have only confused the issue. Honorable senators can always ask questions in committee if they want further information. I am pleased that the Government has ratified this convention and I look forward to interesting discussions in committee. Obviously Great Britain has played a major part in the arrangements about which I have been speaking and in bringing them about, and I might conclude by quoting the words of an author whose name I forget -
Others may use the ocean as their road.
Only the British make it their abode. .
.- Senator Kendall knows more of the practical side of ship construction and the operation of ships than any other honorable senator does. I freely concede to him a greater knowledge than I have upon these matters. I welcome the bill for the simple reason that it aims at bringing the Australian legislation in connexion with the safety of life at sea up to date. I believe that that is a very worthy action on the part of the Government. I congratulate it on introducing this bill, although I remind honorable senators that it is exactly five years since the conference decided upon this convention. Five years have elapsed since the conference decided that certain action should be taken in connexion with ship construction and equipment to ensure a fair measure of safety for those who travel on the sea. That delay may be explained by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), but many persons in Australia believe that greater speed could have been shown in bringing the matter forward. The conference that preceded that which was held in 1948 took place in 1939. I do not know when legislative effect was given to its decisions. However, we are only now giving effect to the decisions of the last conference that was held five years ago. That delay is significant when we remember that in most countries extensive ship-building programmes were undertaken after World War II. had ended. Many of the provisions of this convention could have been put into operation more appropriately when those programmes were being undertaken. I believe that at. this stage many of them will never be implemented, particularly those that involve the redesigning of old ships. Yet, the object of those provisions is to ensure the safety of passengers and crews. The shipping industry as a whole is a vital unit of our transport system.
It is essential that these convention? should inspire widespread confidence. We send to these conferences technical men who meet the representatives of other countries. The majority of those representatives are highly skilled experts awl they deliberate, not only upon existing conditions but also upon new features that are likely to be introduced into the construction of ships. I, personally, have not a great deal of confidence in conventions of this kind. I recall that about fifteen years ago a conference of the International Labour Office decided that private labour exchanges should be abolished. Australia was a signatory to that convention, and the Parliament ratified it. Nevertheless, many private labour exchanges still operate in our capital cities and continue to batten upon unfortunate persons who are unemployed and whom, in many instances, they send hundreds of miles to jobs which those persons find do not exist. Having regard to experiences of that kind, I have little confidence in conventions of this nature. The conference from which this convention emerged was attended by representatives of 30 nations who agreed to the convention, but only 23 of those nations have yet ratified it.
– Twenty-six have ratified it.
– The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said that only 23 nations had ratified it. If that statement is incorrect, the Minister may correct it. Seven of the signatory nations have still to ratify this convention. Even supposing that the Parliament ratifies this convention, what assurance have we been given that the Government will implement its provisions and force the ship-owners to adhere to them ? The real value of a convention of this kind is that its purpose is to save lives, and unless its provisions are implemented we may as well scrap this measure. Perhaps, those nations that have not yet ratified the convention are more honest and sincere in their attitude towards it than are many of the countries that have ratified it. As I have said, I know very little about ship-building. However, 1 know that in many shipyards throughout the world men are engaged on a piecework basis. For instance, rivetters are paid according to the number of rivets that they weld. Under their conditions of employment the men are worn out physically at the age of 45 years and are then thrown on the scrap heap.
– That happens in China, not oil the Clyde.
– That happens on the Clyde. I have met many Scotsmen who have told me that workers in the shipyards in Great Britain are worn out at the age of 45 years. I realize that the engineering problems associated with shipbuilding call for the highest standards of skill. From that viewpoint, conventions of this kind are useful if their provisions are actually applied in the construction of new vessels. However, when any attempt is made to persuade ship-owners to re-design or to effect major improvements on old vessels in order to conform to these conventions, those interests invariably oppose such measures. The ship-owners have adopted that attitude right down the years. The coffin ships about which” Senator Kendall spoke were scrapped only because their owners were forced by law to scrap them. Unless such laws had been enacted, coffin ships would probably still be plying on the high seas.
– That is one of the objects of the convention which is to be ratified under this measure.
– I appreciate that fact. Australia has done much under the Navigation Act. Thanks to that fact, ship-owners who come within the ambit of our legislation will probably find that they will not be required to undertake alterations so extensive as they otherwise would be obliged to take in order to comply with this convention. To that degree, those ship-owners may find themselves in a comparatively favorable position due to the operation of the Navigation Act.
However, in this matter we should look farther afield than legislation and international conventions. Many improvements have been effected solely as the result of strikes and direct action by the seamen with the object of obtaining justice. The maritime strike in the 1890’s in this country gave an unprecedented impetus to the Australian Labour party. The Chief Justice of Victoria at that time subscribed to the funds of the Seamen’s Union in order to enable that organization to continue its fight for just and fair treatment by the ship-owners. The seamen wore obliged to ask the arbitration court to amend awards in order to ensure that hatches shall be secured prior to vessels leaving harbour. In those days, the main concern of the ship-owners, regardless of the safety of crews, was to get their ships loaded a:ad on to the high seas as quickly as possible. The owners were always out to make profits. I am reminded of the black-pan days. I thought that Senator Kendall would refer to that phase of the history of the shipping industry. However, he failed to do so. I remind the Senate of the days when a black pan Was used as a receptacle for scraps from the dining tables after the passengers had finished their meals, and those scraps were supplied to members of a ship’s crew as their main meal. That practice had to be corrected by the arbitration court. Senator Kendall is smiling, but he must have knowledge of that practice. It was a common thing for the ship-owners to allow hatches to remain open, and in such circumstances many seamen in the course of their ordinary duties on shipboard fell down the hatchway. In that way, many seamen were maimed and, indeed, many lost their lives as a result of such accidents. Furthermore, no action was taken to make derricks secure until the seamen persuaded the arbitration court to make provision in awards for that purpose. Having regard to those facts, it is well for us, when considering this matter, to look beyond conventions and legislative enactments and to realize that seamen were obliged to act on their own initiative in order to ensure their own safety on shipboard. Although conventions of this kind provide for safety measures on a broad scale, the seamen had to approach the arbitration court in order to ensure that they would be actually implemented. As 1 have said, they were obliged to strike for that purpose. Another practice of the ship-owners was to force seamen to clean the boilers when ships were on the high seas. That practice was abolished, not as a result of an international convention, or an act of Parliament, but by an alteration of industrial awards. Imagine a seaman, when his ship was on the high seas, being obliged to crawl into a boiler and chip the scales off its sides! Very often, the passageways leading to the men’s quarters on board were blocked with cargo. That practice also was abolished as a result of an alteration of the appropriate award. The resistance that was shown by the ship-owners to those essential improvements and alterations will continue, because the shipowners have always opposed progress. I recall that Sir Willam Symons, who was Surveyor of the Royal Navy in 1836, when the propeller was being introduced, said, in effect, that even if a propeller had the power to propel a vessel il would be found to be altogether useless in practice because if the power was applied at the stern it would be impossible to steer a vessel. Undoubtedly great progress has been made in shipping. Sailing ships have given way to steamships, first coal-fired and later oil-fired. Now we are approaching the atomic age and whilst the legislation now before us may bring such matters as safety precautions up to date, it is still somewhat backward.
– Honorable senators will agree that the debate on this measure has been on a high plane. The measure is rather technical and much valuable information has been given to the Senate by some speakers, particularly Senator Kendall, who has a wide knowledge of maritime matters, and Senator Byrne, who has brought a legal and logical mind to bear on the provisions of the bill. Most of the information that honorable senators have sought can best be provided in committee. Senator Byrne has asked about our relations with countries that are not signatories to the 194S convention. I understand that those relations will be governed largely by the terms of the previous convention. I am informed that Russia has not ratified the 194S convention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) to something which I think should be done before the next amending legislation is brought before this chamber. Throughout the principal act, last year’s amending legislation, and this bill, one finds the word “ steamship “. Section 4 of the Navigation Act provides -
The provisions of this Act relating to steamships shall apply, with such modifications as are prescribed, to ships propelled by electricity or other mechanical powers.
If one were to be strictly technical one could take the point that electricity is not a mechanical means of propulsion. However, I know of no ships that are propelled by electricity in the ordinary sense, other than submarines. We have diesel-electric and turbo-electric ships but no electric ships in the strict sense. I suggest, therefore, that when the opportunity presents itself, the words “ ship3 propelled by electricity or other mechanical power “ should be deleted and the words “ other power-driven vessels “ inserted in their stead. I realize that my suggestion would involve a considerable amount of alteration, but I point out to the Minister that the principal act with its many amendments is becoming a real trial to masters and officers of ships, and to others engaged in its administration. I have no doubt that consultation will have to take place soon for the purpose of consolidating the law so that people aboard ships may know what they are expected to do. Departmental officers with whom I have discussed this matter have pointed out that the deletion of the word “ steamship “ would still leave some other alterations to be made as sailing ships would have to be included. That could be done by defining the words “ power-driven vessels “ as meaning any vessel driven by power. Any other vessel could be referred to as a ship, as was the case in the old days. It is purely a technical drafting matter upon which perhaps I have not the legal knowledge to make a reasonable suggestion, but I am sure that a way out could be found. Suppose for instance we had an act in which the word “ coal “ appeared 300 or 400 times and then”, with the advancement of science, oil came into use instead of coal. Surely we would not insert a qualifying provision that unless otherwise expressly stated, “ coal “ should be taken to mean “ oil “. I think the existing provisions of the Navigation Act could be considerably simplified.
– Clause 3 of this amending bill proposes that the definition of “ passenger “ which appears in the principal act should be altered to conform to the terms of the definition appearing in regulation 2 of part A of chapter 1 of the 1948 convention. I am wondering why that new definition is being inserted in the principal act whilst other definitions mentioned in the same regulation of the convention, such as the definition of “ tanker “, are not being inserted in the principal act. I should be happy if the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) would examine that matter and provide me with an explanation, at a later stage if necessary.
.- The Government appreciates the careful attention that Senator Kendall has given to this bill. I am informed that a consolidation of the Navigation Act is now being made and that the honorable senator’s suggested amendment will receive very careful consideration and will probably be accepted. The department holds the view that there may- be a need for improved definitions in the light of modern conditions. I shall obtain the information that Senator Byrne has sought and make it available to him.
– Honorable senators may be interested to know the explanation of proposed new section 202, which states -
The owner or master of a steamship shall not receive or have on board the ship a number of passengers in excess of the number specified in the certificate of the ship as the number of passengers which the ship is authorized to carry. . .: .
For the purpose of saving life at sea the owner or master of a vessel is hot bound by this restriction. The intention is merely to regularize the existing practice. I should not like it to be thought that at any time in the history of the merchant service the master of a vessel has been prevented from rescuing people from the sea or from another wrecked ship by some legislative restriction. That is not so, as I well know from my own experience. In 1937, I was in charge of a small ship which was authorized to carry 46 passengers, but I had 200 women and children aboard as the result of the eruption in Rabaul. I can assure honorable senators^ that I was not disciplined for that action. As I have said, this provision will merely regularize the ordinary practice of seamen.
Honorable senators will find that under clause 20, the provisions of the act relating to helm orders is deleted. I should like to congratulate the people who brought this about. Helm orders were inserted in the Navigation Act in 1932. ^ In my opinion they were most insulting orders. They provided for the imposition of a penalty of £100 on the master or the mate of a ship who gave a wrong order, such as to proceed hard to port instead of hard to starboard, or vice versa. That was a reflection on the examiners of the Navigation’ Department who had certified that the men were competent to take charge, of ships. I point out that the section also provided for a penalty of £20 to be imposed on the master or mate of a f oreign ship in Australian waters who did the same thing. I am glad that the Government has repealed that provision.
– During the second-reading debate I directed attention to the provisions of section 265 of the principal act, and the proposal to relieve the master of a ship from an obligation to inform the master of a distressed ship that he was not proceeding to his assistance. I understood the Minister to say that if the international standard were slightly lower than our standard, our standard would be maintained.
– The departmental officers have considered the matter that the honorable senator has raised, and they believe that it is not necessary to retain the existing provision, as it affects only Australian ships, and is not required by the new convention. It is desirable for us to keep in line with the practice followed by other nations.
– I submit that the desirability of maintaining uniformity is not a valid reason for the removal of the existing provision. We should not reduce our standard because the world standard is lower than ours. I presume that the alteration would be justifiable from a technical point of view, as this is not a necessary safety precaution, but I do not think that that is a sufficient reason to alter the existing provision. This seems to me to be a departure from the Minister’s assurance that we will maintain our standard, irrespective of world standards. Before the bill is transmitted to the House of Representatives I should like the Minister’s assurance that this aspect of the matter will be given farther consideration.
– I undertake to ensure that the honorable senator’s suggestion will receive further consideration.
– Article 1 of proposed new Schedule VI. reads -
The rules of the road appear to have changed since I learned them about 40 years ago. The rules that I learned are quite different from the rules that are set out in the annexure. From memory, the rule that I learned in relation to steaming lights was worded, “A steam vessel under way shall carry on or in front of the foremast - or if the vessel be without a foremast - then in fore part of the vessel, at a height above the hull of not less than 20 feet, or if the breadth of the vessel exceeds 20 feet, then at a height not less than such breadth, a white light, and so on “. The new regulations make no reference to the measurements of the ship. Will the Minister inform me why the rules of the road have been omitted ? Has it been included in a regulation?
– The amendment repeals the old schedule in the 1929 convention. The 1948 convention altered the 1929 convention ; the alteration was not made by the department.
– Clause 30 relates to the carriage of dangerous goods. It provides that regulations may be made and promulgated. Proposed new sub-section (2.) of section 253a provides -
A person shall not send by, or carry in, a ship any dangerous goods which do not, or the packing, stowing or carriage of which does not, comply with such requirements as are prescribed or are determined by the Minister in accordance with the regulations.
Apparently there will be provided an opportunity to substitute a Ministerial determination for a regulation. Is there any practical reason why that should be done? Attention has been drawn on many occasions to the practice of intervention by ministerial determinations instead of the issue of a regulation. Attention was directed to this practice when the customs legislation was amended recently. We have also seen evidence of it in connexion with the explosives regulations. Ministerial orders and determinations are not usually subjected to as much scrutiny as regulations, which may be disallowed. I submit that, in the absence of compelling reasons, this practice should not be tolerated.
– The new safety convention includes a short provision in relation to the carriage of dangerous goods. The object of the amendment is to enable regulations to bo made to carry out the requirements of the convention. For many years we have had regulations in relation to the stowage of dangerous goods, but the details were so comprehensive that we relied on certain instructions that were issued in Great
Britain. It is proposed to vest the Minister with the power to issue determinations under the regulation in book form. The second part of the clause will come into operation when the bill receives the Royal assent.
– Article II. of proposed new Schedule VI. provides -
The ships to which the present Convention applies are ships registered in countries the Governments of which are Contracting Governments, and ships registered in territories to which the present Convention is extended under Article XIII.
Has the Government considered the adoption of the whole or a part of the Schedule in relation to the territories of Papua and New Guinea?
– The Government has not done so.
– Clause 41 reads -
The regulations in force under the Principal Act immediately before the commencement of this section shall, after the commencement of this section, be as valid and effectual as if made under the Principal Act as amended by this Act.
I direct .Senator Benn’s attention to this provision, because he expressed apprehension that the standard in relation to ships of the Australian mercantile marine might be lowered to the world standard.
.- Senator Kendall is under a misapprehension. I have never at any time thought that the Australian standard would be lowered. Even a fool would understand that the effect of clause 41 is to re-enact the existing regulations.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Cooper) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Cooper) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I think that all honorable senators will agree that one of the most responsible tasks that a nation, should undertake is the training of its youths to become efficient tradesmen or journeymen. During the period of the war we were very short of tradesmen to undertake work that was necessary in order to continue our war effort. I recollect that in the early part of the last Avar a search was made throughout the length and breadth of Australia for toolmakers of whom there was such a shortage that the Australian war effort, was impeded to some extent. An apprenticeship system is now operating in the States in order to train youths to become efficient tradesmen. Under that system youths are required to serve a probationary period at a trade, and after proving their fitness to be apprenticed they are indentured for five years. They are required to attend trade classes regularly during this period. They are also required to sit for annual examinations and their employers are kept informed of their progress. The Commonwealth has no obligation in respect of the training of tradesmen and it has disregarded the efforts that are being made by the States to train their tradesmen. The Commonwealth Department of “Works has proposed to sack some of its apprentices who are engaged in the building trades in Brisbane and other capital cities. A letter which was sent out from the Department of Works in Brisbane on the 27th October, 1953, reads as follows : - Dear Sir,
The amount of work to lie carried out by this Department’s Day Labour organization has been considerably reduced and much of the work to be attended to is maintenance work or work of a minor nature.
The Department realizes that this Wass of work is not generally suitable for apprentices as it does not provide the variety or the standard of construction and finish necessary for adequate trade training.
As the number of tradesmen employed hy this Department has been reduced and further reductions may be made, it now becomes necessary to reduce the number of apprentices to ensure a more reasonable and workable proportion. It is hoped that this can be achieved by apprentices assisted by their parents or guardians making arrangements with suitable Building Contractors or other authorities to take over their indentures and their employment. Otherwise the Department may be forced to cancel some indentures and terminate the employment of some of its apprentices within the next two or three weeks.
Under these circumstances you are requested to make enquiries among Building Contractors nr other suitable authorities with a view to having them take over your indentures.
Should you make satisfactory arrangements please notify the Industrial Section immediately so that the necessary transfer can be completed.
I have a copy of the indenture form which is used for the purpose of indenturing apprentices. One clause in the form states that the indenture may be annulled by the Minister “for good reason shown After reading the letter that was sent out by the Department of Works to the apprentices of the building trade in Brisbane I have deduced that the officers of the department, apparently without the knowledge of the Minister for Works (Mr. Kent Hughes) or the secretary of the department, have formed the opinion that the “ Minister “ referred to in the indenture form is the Minister for Works whereas the Minister referred to is the Minister for Public Instruction in Queensland. The indenture is actually a four-party agreement which concerns the legal guardian of the apprentice, the apprentice himself, the Department of Works in this case, and the chairman of the apprenticeship authority in Queensland. After the form has been signed and these apprentices have been indentured, they are bound by this contract of apprenticeship which is just as legally binding as is the contract that operatesbetween the Government and the New Guinea Gold Mining Company in respect of the cutting of timber in the Bulolo Valley. I have been informed that that contract cannot be broken except under certain conditions. I submit that the Government has no authority to threaten to cancel the indentures of the apprentices in the building trade in Brisbane.
One portion of the letter to which I have referred instructs the guardians of the apprentices and the apprentices themselves to search for employment with building contractors. It states that if they donot succeed in obtaining employment elsewhere the department will be forced to cancel some indentures. The department has no authority to make such a statement. I publicly notified the apprentices and their legal guardians that the Commonwealth had no right whatever to cancel the indentures of the apprentices. I requested the apprentices and their guardians not to take the action that was requested by the department. I suggested to them that the indenture should remain in operation and that the Government should be required to continue to train these apprentices. Some of the apprentices, including apprenticed carpenters, plumbers, tilers, painters and bricklayers, have served up to four years of their apprenticeship and it is becoming more difficult every day to obtain employment in the building trade. Apparently these youths are to be thrown out on to the streets to become ordinary labourers. The Government has much work on hand at present which can be carried out by its departmental officers acting as overseers. There is no reason why it should adopt contract work for the purpose of escaping its obligations to the apprentices. As I said at the commencement of my remarks, there is not a more important task in any country than the training of sufficient tradesmen. The Government has no authority whatever to cancel the indentures of these apprentices.
– in reply - I shall bring the remarks of the honorable senator to the notice of the Minister for Works (Mr. Kent Hughes):
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Apple and Pear Organization Act - Seventh Annual Report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board, for year1952-53, together with statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Twentyseventh Annual Report of the Australian Canned Fruits Board, for year 1952-53, together with statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1953, No. 92.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land, &c, acquired for -
Defence purposes -
Bullsbrook, Western Australia.
Dee Why, New South Wales.
Richmond and Windsor, New South Wales.
Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Broken Hill, New South Wales.
Postal purposes -
Barmera, South Australia.
Mylor, South Australia.
Land disposed of under Section 63 - Return showing manner of disposal.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1953, No. 95.
Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Crown Lands Ordinance - Reasons for resumption of Berrimah Reserve.
Ordinances - 1 953 -
No. 14 - Police and Police Offences.
No. 16- Welfare.
No. 19 - Mining (No. 2).
Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinances - 1952-
No. 121 - Education.
No. 122 - Treasury.
No. 123 - Supreme Court.
No. 124 - Excise (Beer) Tariff.
No. 125 - Excise (Beer).
No. 126- Small Debts (Papua).
No. 127 - Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
No. 128 - Districts Courts (New Guinea).
No. 129 - Shipping.
No. 130 - Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (New Guinea).
No. 131 - Auctioneers (No. 2).
No. 132- Land (Papua).
No. 133 - Immigration Restriction (Papua) .
No. 134 - Volcanic and Seismic Disturbances.
No. 135 - Criminal Code Amendment (New Guinea) (No. 2).
No. 136 - Pharmacy (No. 2).
No. 137 - Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) (No. 2).
No. 138 - Business Names.
Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department -
Attorney-General - J. M. Lawrie.
Social Services - E. M. Skinner.
Supply - E. Jones.
Works - L. Mortimer.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1953, Nos. 93, 94 (Parliamentary Officers).
Science and Industry Research Act - Fifth Annual Report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, for year 1952-53.
The Senate adjourned at 4.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 November 1953, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1953/19531119_senate_20_s2/>.