22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation inform the Senate whether live-artist shows at the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord in New South Wales, which formerly were held on Sunday nights, have been discontinued? Will he say whether he personally has reviewed the decision and what his final opinion is?
– I have prepared a statement on this matter which I should like to read to the Senate.
– I rise to order. The Minister’s statement covers about four sheets of foolscap. The reading of it will occupy time that should be occupied in asking and answering questions.
– Order! The Minister is replying to a question. The reading of the statement certainly will occupy part of the time allotted to questions without notice; but the Minister desires to reply to the question in this way, and he is in order in doing so.
– The statement refers to the cessation of live-artist shows at the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, on Sunday nights. The decision to discontinue these concerts was made by the Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation in Sydney after very careful consideration following consultation with the medical superintendent and the senior medical officer. In view of the widespread publicity that has been given to this matter, I should like to bring to the notice of the Senate the following extract from a report submitted to the Deputy Commissioner by Dr. Taylor, the medical superintendent of the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord -
Tt is my opinion that in a general hospital the emphasis should be on treatment rather than on entertainment, and I feel that the live-artist shows on Sunday nights provide no real therapeutic benefit in the case of the vast majority of the patients in this hospital.
The bulk of the patients treated at the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, are short stay patients: the average overall length of stay at present is around three weeks. The short stay patient usually spends the greater part of his time while in hospital confined to his bed. At this time he is unable to attend such functions and, in any case, it is not considered the necessary or proper function of a hospital to provide elaborate and highly organized entertainments such as the liveartist shows for this type of patient.
For the long stay patient there is every justification for the provision of entertainment within the hospital. However, live-artist shows do not fill this need for the following reasons: -
Long stay patients may be divided into two sections -
Section (a) Tuberculosis cases (these comprise the majority of long stay patients).
Section (b) Cases other than tuberculosis. At the present time there are 60 patients in section (b) who have been in-patients for three months or longer. This section may be further subdivided - (i) Cases of severe or terminal illness confined to bed. (ii) Cases of senile or arteriosclerotic mental deterioration. (iii) A relatively small number of cases (a dozen or so) with chronic disablement such as paraplegia or joint or nervous system disease who retain some mobility but remain in hospital because they either have no home, or because their home conditions are unsuitable
Live artist shows in a central hall are of no use to section (a) (the tuberculosis cases) because for obvious reasons they cannot attend. Neither are these shows of any use to patients classified in section (b) (i) and (ii). The only group of long stay patients who benefit is the very small group (b) (iii). Apart from these few long stay patients, the only persons likely to attend the shows are patients about to go home, resident hospital staff, patients’ visitors and relatives and, at times, strangers. The provision of over-generous entertainment and amenities in this hospital aggravates the very real problem constantly faced by the administration, of the existence of a substantial minority of “ regular “ patients who, whilst not in need of in-patient treatment, constantly seek readmission because the above conditions make hospitalization attractive to this particular type of patient.
Apart from the lack of benefit derived from the live artist shows, there is active interference with the well-being of sick patients due to the late and noisy return to the wards on Sunday nights of patients who have attended these shows. Discussion with the Matron and senior sisters confirms the fact that grave inconvenience is caused to the ward nursing staff by these functions.
I am convinced that the entertainment needs of patients at this hospital are adequately provided for, apart altogether from Sunday night live artist shows, by the entertainment and amenities otherwise provided.
Briefly, these include -
Cinema entertainment as set out below: -
Monday - 1.30 p.m. to 3 p.m. (approx.). 16-mm. documentary films in theatrette.5.30 p.m. to 8.15 p.m. (approx.) (Occasionally extend to 9 p.m.) 35-mm. general films in entertainment hall.
Tuesday - 1.30 p.m. to 3 p.m. (approx.). 16-mm. documentary films in theatrette.
Wednesday - 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (approx.). 7.15 p.m. to 9 p.m. (approx.). 16-mm. general films in theatrette (2 sessions).
Thursday - 1.30 p.m. to 3 p.m. (approx.). 16-mm. general and educational films in theatrette.
Friday - 5.30 p.m. to 8.15 p.m. (approx.). (Occasionally extend to 9 p.m.) 35-mm. general films in entertainment hall.
Each tuberculosis ward has one screening per week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday.
Band recitals - normally 3 per month from approximately 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Bowls, tennis and mid-week visiting by bowling clubs.
Personal calls to patients and playing of musical items requested by patients during hospital sessions by broadcasting stations.
Wireless headphones to all beds with a choice of three channels.
Sporting gear and games sets issued to patients.
Television sets; at present only two sets are installed, but this number will possibly be increased in the near future.
It is anticipated that the development of television will lead to its much greater use in hospital entertainment. It is envisaged that small individual sets with headphones will ultimately solve the problem.
I consider the discontinuance of live-artist shows is fully justified on the following grounds: -
that no real need exists for them;
that they interfere with the welfare of sick patients and cause unnecessary inconvenience to the nursing staff;
that they aggravate certain administrative problems.
The following is an extract from a report by the Senior Medical Officer, Repatriation Department, New South Wales: -
I am in complete agreement with the report from the Medical Superintendent, Repatriation General Hospital, Concord.
There is no justification for continuing an activity which gives so little benefit to so few in need, and which at the same time carries with it embarrassment to the nursing staff and added burdens to the seriously ill. That this latter is a very real factor I have personal knowledge.
It is worthy of comment that adverse criticism of the decision to discontinue the live-artist shows is conspicuous by its absence from the bulk of the patient population at Concord. What is voiced comes from that section described in paragraph 4 of the Medical Superintendent’s report. Criticism generally has come from the entertainers rather than the entertained and the voice of the press is a continuation of the age long cry “ Great is Diana of the Ephesians “.
This has not been a sudden and isolated decision but is part of a line of action over the last five or six years designed to concentrate the activities of the institution on those things in hospital life which really aid the sick, whether they be “ straight “ medical and surgical treatment or ancillary entertainments and amenities.
I have given careful consideration to the whole matter, and I agree with the decision of the deputy commissioner.
I might add that the Repatriation Commission has approved of seven additional television sets being installed for patients at the hospital, and the deputy commissioner has been advised accordingly.
Mr. President, I took the opportunity last Sunday of visiting the Concord Repatriation Hospital. I should have liked to visit the hospital on the previous Sunday, but engagements in Queensland prevented me from doing so. I deemed it just for me actually to see this live-artist show before a decision was made. Last Sunday night, approximately 250 people attended the show, which was Brigadoon. Of this number, 140 were patients. Nine of them - orthopedic cases and the like - were in wheelchairs; the patients themselves could wheel the chairs. The remaining 131 patients were walking cases. Some of them were about to be discharged and were waiting to leave the hospital this week. In addition to those 140 patients, the show was viewed by 60 members of the hospital staff and 50 visitors. I point out that only 140 patients out of a total of 1,050 who were then in the hospital attended the show.
You will see, therefore, Mr. President, that only a relatively small number of patients attended the live-artist show last Sunday night. It might be thought that the attendance of such a small number of patients would not cause any great disturbance when they were proceeding to and from their wards. I asked the superintendent about this aspect of the matter, and he told me that the patients who attended the show came from 25 or 30 wards. I should not think that there would have been much more disturbance had the number been larger. I formed the impression that the relatively small number of patients attending the show would cause the same amount of disturbance as a larger number.
While I was at the hospital, I talked this matter over with the amenities staff, which comprises one officer and his assistant, one orderly and one hospital assistant. I asked for a report as to the time spent in producing these concerts every Sunday night. The matter was investigated thoroughly and it was found that not less than 70 per cent, of the time of the amenities staff was occupied in that way. In effect, 70 per cent, of the time of four persons was occupied in entertaining about 150 patients, and the great bulk of the other patients in the hospital consequently received the benefit of a small percentage of the time of the amenities staff.
I have given this matter a great deal of consideration and have visited the hospital and investigated every question that has been raised. In addition, the branch office in Sydney referred the matter to the Repatriation Commission which comprises Sir George Wootten, Mr. H. G. Roy, and Mr. J. C. Neagle who was nominated as a member of the commission by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. Those officers strongly support the action that was taken.
We are not banning these live-artist shows completely; we are discontinuing their appearance every Sunday night. The practice has been for a show to be given every Sunday night, willy-nilly. If a very good professional show is playing at one of the theatres in Sydney and the company of that show is prepared to perform at the Repatriation Hospital, that matter will be carefully considered by the Deputy Commissioner. If the show is thought to be suitable and if it is convenient to stage the show, I have no doubt consideration will be given for the show to be performed. I stress that we have not imposed a total ban.
As a result of my own inquiries, and the information I have received from members of the commission and the medical superintendent and senior medical officer in Sydney, I must uphold the decision that was made by the Deputy Commissioner that the present practice of putting on these shows should be discontinued.
– In addressing my question to the Minister for Repatriation I am not seeking the same privilege extended to the Minister of making a speech when he attempted to answer a question. Will the Minister state whether objection by patients al the Repatriation General Hospital to the staging of a live show by the Japanese girls appearing in the Cherry Blossom show influenced the officials who suggested the discontinuance of all live shows? Is it a fact that after a period of forty years it has been discovered that the paltry expense of a few cups of tea to some of the entertainers has been responsible for the discontinuance of the shows which were patronized to the extent of capacity houses - a lot more than 250 as stated by the Minister - and enjoyed by the patients? I suggest that there is evidence of an atmosphere of senile deterioration, too. Will the Minister ascertain why the department refused to permit the installation of six television sets last Friday? They were to be installed, free of cost, to enable patients who were unable to leave the hospital to view their comrades marching. Did this offer prompt the latest suggestion that additional sets are now to be provided?
– I can assure the honorable senator that the answer to the first part of his question is certainly in the negative. The objection by the patients did not have any influence on the final decision. Here I point out that a short time ago it was stated in the press that the Deputy Commissioner himself was the person who objected to this show. That, too, was absolutely untrue. Now we find the position reversed. The press is saying that the patients are the ones who objected to the Japanese artists appearing at the hospital. I assure the honorable senator that these things had no influence whatever on the final decision. This matter has been running on for some time now, and, if the honorable senator wishes, I shall read again the list of amenities at the hospital which were not available to patients 40 years ago. Further, the honorable senator is quite right when he suggests that additional television sets are to be provided. An order has been placed for seven more of these sets and they will be installed at Concord as soon as they are available.
– My question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport concerns the time-table for the services on the new Port Augusta-Marree standardgauge railway line which was opened comparatively recently by Sir Arthur Fadden. Perhaps I should mention here that most of the information which prompts me to ask this question is gleaned from correspondence appearing in the local press. I understand that the fast passenger trains in service on this line do not stop at the main population centres along the way. I refer in particular to the coal-bearing centres of Leigh Creek and Telford. This schedule means that the people of those areas have to travel on the slower train which takes approximately twelve hours to make the journey between Port Augusta and Marree, compared with four hours taken by the fast passenger trains. Will the Minister have an investigation made into the time-table operating on this line with a view to enabling the people at Leigh Creek and Telford to enjoy the convenience of travelling on the fast passenger trains?
– Whenever Senator Hannaford asks me a question, there is a 90 per cent, chance that it relates to railways. I cannot give him any information about the time-table for the services on this line, but, as he has asked, I shall ascertain what time-table operates and whether any alterations are necessary or desirable. I shall get the information for him as soon as possible.
– I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer to a statement, recently made by Mr. Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, in addressing a group of Asian journalists. It was to the effect that Australia was high on the list of countries in which capital was being invested. Mr. Bolte said, further, that the growth of socialism had narrowed the field for international investors and industrialists, and laid stress on the value of political stability in this regard. In view of the recent outstanding success of the 25,000,000 dollars loan floated by the Commonwealth with the International Bank, in America - (1) Will the Treasurer consider raising in America a further loan of 100,000,000 dollars or even 200,000,000 dollars, for Australian development? (2) Alternatively, will he use his good offices to sponsor a similar loan there for investment in selected projects in Australia?
– First, as usual Mr. Bolte, the Liberal Premier of Victoria, was on the target when he expressed those views. Secondly, the possibility of raising further money on the American loan market is, I am sure, constantly being considered by my colleague, the Treasurer. I would remind Senator Wardlaw that the recent loan was the first raised by Australia on the New York market for a number of years, and it is a great tribute to our financial standing that it was so quickly subscribed. It is a matter for individual judgment as to when, like Oliver Twist, the Treasurer may ask for another helping.
– I propose to ask the Leader of the Government a few short questions. Is it a fact that Lombard Banking Limited, of London, has bought a 60 per cent, shareholding in Consolidated Finance Corporation? Is it further a fact that Lombard Banking Limited has also acquired extensive hire-purchase interests in New Zealand, Rhodesia, Uganda, Singapore and East Africa? Is it not about time that the Australian Government took a keener interest in the hire-purchase racket, with a view to reducing interest rates and safeguarding the purchasing public?
– My information on this matter is limited to what I have read in the press - doubtless to the very report which the honorable senator has in mind. Whether the report is true or not, I do not know. As for legislating in relation to hire-purchase activities, the honorable senator will appreciate that there are constitutional limitations to what the Commonwealth Government can do.
– I desire to direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, in his capacity as chairman of the Australian Road Safety Council. Has the Minister seen a press report crediting
Mr. W. W. D. Harrison, the secretary of the New South Wales Road Safety Council, with the following remarks: -
Many motorists are driving potential death traps. . . . Last year through defects undetected or passed over in cars 37 people died, and 1,457 were injured in the 3,262 recorded accidents. . . . These statistics do not give a complete picture of the part played by unsafe vehicles - far from it.
In view of these most frightening statements which, presumably, relate to New South Wales, will the Minister, after examining the report, consider calling an urgent meeting of the Australian Road Safety Council of which, I understand, all State Transport Ministers are constituent members, and seek from them some urgent assurances or guarantees concerning the tightening up of existing regulations governing periodical vehicle inspections?
– First, I should like to correct the impression, which Senator Anderson apparently has, that I am the chairman of the Australian Road Safety Council. I am the chairman of the Australian Transport Advisory Council. The Road Safety Council is a subsidiary body of the Australian Transport Advisory Council- I saw, fleetingly, the report to which Senator Anderson refers. I noticed that it emanated from the New South Wales branch of the Road Safety Council. I shall draw the attention of the chairman of the Road Safety Council to the report and I shall confer with him as to the progress which has been made in the various States in the improvement of vehicle standards - a matter in which the council, within its constitutional limitations, has interested itself.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. I have been advised that tools and equipment used in the engineering branch of the Postmaster-General’s Department in Victoria - this may apply to other States also - are either obsolete or in a dangerously unsafe condition. In view of the fact that a profit of about £3,000,000 was made by the department in the last financial year, will the Minister urge the Postmaster-General to see that the engineering branch is supplied with up-to-date tools and equipment to replace the obsolete and unsafe tools and equipment now being used?
– I feel sure that the Postmaster-General’s Department has good, up-to-date tools. However, if the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper I shall have the matter investigated.
– Has the
Leader of the Government in the Senate seen the statement made by Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner - a theologian, physician and writer - in which he demands an end to nuclear bomb tests for the sake of the yet unborn, and claims that no world power has the right to test nuclear weapons if such tests will be harmful to future generations? Will the Minister assure the Senate that the Australian Government will do everything within its power to bring to a speedy end the mania for testing nuclear weapons, which can have such vast and unforeseen effects on future generations?
– I have not read the report referred to by the honorable senator, and I am not in a position to give him the assurance for which he asks.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the fact that tractor tyres used exclusively for agricultural purposes are exempt from sales tax, will the Minister ask the Treasurer to exempt from sales tax rubber now used in the comparatively new process of reconditioning tractor tyres for agricultural purposes? The new process is said to save the expenditure of a large amount of dollars for the importation of new tractor tyres. I believe that, in view of this Government’s policy of assistance to primary industry, the exemption asked for is reasonable.
– On the face of it, the request made by Senator Marriott is reasonable and worthy of consideration. However, one does not deal with matters such as this in answers to questions. This is a matter that will arise for consideration during the preparation of the Budget. It might be that, whilst the principle that Senator Marriott advocates is sound, in practice it would prove difficult, in the administration of the act, to differentiate between rubber used for one purpose and rubber used for other purposes. I shall not attempt to deal with the matter now. I will bring it under the notice of the Treasurer and discuss it with him when I have the opportunity to do so.
– I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who represents the Minister for External Affairs in this chamber, a question in regard to recent alarming reports about flights of American planes carrying atomic bombs towards Russian territory. I refer to a most interesting article in this morning’s Hobart “ Mercury “ which, in purporting to set out the facts, stated that the communications governing these flights are so arranged as to require the return of the flight unless a confirmatory message is received and to require that the message shall originate only from a group of defence personnel after the personal approval of the President or, in the event of his illness, of Mr. Nixon, is obtained. In view of the transcending importance of these operations, I ask the Leader of the Government whether a Minister of the Australian Government has made a factual statement upon these important matters for the information of the Australian people. If the appropriate Minister has not made such a statement, will he consider doing so? Will he also give us an assurance that these projects, which are undertaken by the leading democratic nation of the earth, are the subject of consultation with the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia or, if not, of their approval?
– I understand that my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, has made a statement on the matter raised by the honorable senator; but, to put the matter beyond doubt, I suggest that he place his question on the notice-paper. I shall then bring it to the attention of the Minister for External Affairs.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, relates to the report of the Tariff Board on the timber industry. In view of the extreme importance of this matter, can the Minister inform the Senate when it is expected that the report will be tabled?
– I can do no more than undertake to speak to my colleague, the Minister for Trade, about the matter and let Senator Vincent know the result.
– I address a question without notice to the Minister for National Development in regard to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Bill 1958, which is now being considered by the Senate. In Tasmania, when a bill in relation to Tasmania’s precious hydro-electric system comes before the Parliament, the Hydroelectric Commission submits a model so that diagrammatically the inter-relation of the various physical features and engineering projects may be understood. I ask the Minister whether he has considered presenting such a model to this Parliament in order to facilitate a better understanding of the measure to which I have referred.
– From the viewpoint of parliamentary procedure, the suggestion is novel; but I do not see why that should daunt us. There are in existence plenty of maps and models of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. Perhaps I could confer with you, Mr. President, as to whether we could place one of those models in King’s Hall or some other suitable place where it could be readily seen by all who are interested.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer: -
There have been references in the press recently to Post Office proposals to express automatic telephone numbers entirely in numerals instead of as a combination of letters and numerals, and some explanation of these proposals may be in order.
The Australian telephone dial provides for ten letters and ten numerals, and most subscribers’ numbers are expressed and published as a combination of both. In a six-digit number, two letters usually represent the exchange calling code and four numerals the individual line number. As local networks grow, the department must use seven digits for subscribers’ numbers and, with the application of the automatic system to trunk line working, employ more digits still to represent the codes of cities and areas to which access must first be obtained by the caller, whether subscriber or telephonist. Up to possibly nine digits may be necessary for a completely national subscriber dialling system in Australia.
Some subscriber-to-subscriber trunk dialling has already been introduced in Australia and further extensions are planned, although the ideal of a completely mechanized trunk line service is many years from achievement. However, there is much to be gained from smoothing the way for the mechanization process as opportunity offers. Conversely, much can be lost in time and money if action is deferred until it becomes more difficult, more complex and more costly.
Experience overseas has shown that with the longer numbers involved in national dialling, combinations of letters and numerals become confusing. The confusion is aggravated when, as is the case at present, wrong numbers are quoted and given because of the similarity in sound between certain letters and numbers as, for example, “ A “ and “ 8 “,” B “ and “3 “, “ U “ and “ W “. With seven digit working and the need to use, possibly, three letters, if letters were to be retained, the position would be worsened since phonetic troubles are increased when such combinations as “U “, “ WU “ or “ WUU “ have to be employed. If difficult and embarrassing three-letter combinations are to be avoided, the range of possible codes and combinations is reduced substantially.
The proposals do not involve any fundamental change in the numbers themselves but merely call for a different way of showing them in telephone directories and on letterheads, posters, &c. The change-over can be made without expense or inconvenience either to subscribers or the department.
For example, whether a particular number be dialled by a caller as FJ7691 or 34 7691 does not affect in any way the actual progress of a call since the finger hole on the dial opposite the figure “ 3 “ is the same as that opposite the letter “ F “ and the hole appropriate to “ 4 “ the same as for “ J “. Consequently, industry and business generally can change its letterheads and so on at its leisure and make use of all existing stocks.
Some of the more important advantages which will flow from the adoption of the all-numeral presentation of numbers are as follows: -
The dialling process will be simplified, since the number of characters on Australian telephone dials and on press button sender devices used in exchanges can be reduced from twenty to ten. This can be done progressively and virtually without cost.
This reduction will result in faster and more accurate dialling which, in turn, means shorter holding times for calls and fewer wrong numbers, with consequent savings because of more effective use of plant.
The automatic processing of trunk-line call dockets and the preparation of subscribers’ accounts will be facilitated. With the letter-numeral combination, the sorting of trunk-line dockets is made more complicated and demands more in the way of equipment and space for the sorting plant.
Automatic telephone numbers in the Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania telephone directories will be shown wholly in figures in the next issue of these publications later this year. In the case of the directories in the other States, it is proposed to proceed gradually as opportunities occur due to the insertion of entries for new subscribers, the changing of numbers because of cut-overs of existing services to new automatic exchanges and where sections of the directory are being re-set because of worn type.
Most overseas countries have adopted the allnumeral method of showing automatic telephone numbers; other countries are anxious to do likewise. Although London, Paris and New York have retained three-letter and two-letter prefixes to their numbers, this is only because they have a considerable investment in plant and any change to the all-numeral presentation would be extremely costly.
On the other hand, for Australia to extend the use of the letter prefixes in the same way as has been done in London could cost more than £2,000,000 merely to change all the automatic dials in use and involve expenditure of the order of £3,000,000 in Sydney and Melbourne alone for new exchange plant.
The department is mindful of its obligation to improve the service to maximum efficiency at the lowest possible cost and is satisfied, after exhaustive investigation overseas, that this will best be done by making a start now as is intended in progressively converting all automatic telephone numbers from a combination of letters and numerals to numerals only.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has now furnished me with the following information in reply - 1 and 2. The Treasurer has advised me that under present policy the whole of the current net earnings in respect of the exhibition in Australia of American motion picture films is remittable in dollars to the United States. Prior to July, 1957, film remittances to the dollar area were subject to quota arrangements. The Commonwealth Statistician has estimated that film earnings remitted to the dollar area in the financial year 1956-57 amounted to the equivalent of £A2,600,000.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has now furnished me with the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s questions -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
The implications of export rebate payments have been raised with the Japanese Government.
The honorable senator will appreciate that export rebates require the co-operation of Australian importers and that such co-operation may involve the breach of Australian law.
The particular practices on which information has been supplied could bring participating importers into conflict with the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations and the Customs Act. Although neither of these measures is administered by my department, I have no doubt that appropriate action will be taken in any case in which sufficient evidence of a breach of the law is obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice: -
Having in mind the frequent filching of park land for building and commercial purposes in the metropolitan area of Sydney, New South Wales, and the inadequate provision of parks and recreation area, will the Minister give an assurance that the Maroubra rifle range and other Crown lands under the control of his department will not be sold, leased, or allowed in any way to pass under private, municipal, or State government control, unless and until he has the approval of Parliament?
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer: -
It is assumed that in referring to the Maroubra rifle range, the honorable senator refers to that area in which the Long Bay rifle range is located. Negotiations have been proceeding and are still in course with the State Government for the release to them of approximately 67 acres of land from the Long Bay rifle range. The remainder of the land forming the Long Bay rifle range proper is a military requirement and will continue as such for some time to come. The Department of the Army has no power to dispose of any Commonwealth holding. This applies to all property whether it be a rifle range area or other Crown land. The competent authority for this purpose is the Department of the Interior, and in all cases where there is no further requirement by the Army, the property is declared to that department for subsequent disposal action. If the land was acquired by the Army within the seven years preceding its declaration for disposal, the former owner has first option to purchase.
Otherwise, under existing provisions, the Department of the Interior is required to offer it initially to other Commonwealth departments, then to State governments and/or finally effect disposal by auction or tender.
asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
How many industries exceeding £200,000 in value were established in Australian States (a) from 1949 to 1953 and (b) from 1953 to 1957?
– The Minister for Trade has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
The information sought by the honorable senator is not available in my department. Nor is information held by the States. However, the following information may be of interest to the honorable senator: - The increase in the number of factories during the period 1948-49 to 1952-53 was - New South Wales, 3,164; Victoria, 2,452;
Queensland, 985; South Australia, 412; Western Australia, 499; Tasmania, 158; total, 7,670. The increase from 1952-53 to 1955-56 (the latest year available) was- New South Wales, 2,351; Victoria, 899; Queensland, 310; South Australia, 569; Western Australia, 447; Tasmania, 90; total, 4,666.
Information held in my department indicates that for the three years ending June, 1957, the numbers of known projects costing over £200,000 undertaken by manufacturing industry in Australia were as follows. - New South Wales, 159; Victoria, 138; Queensland, 23; South Australia, 33; Western Australia, 12; Tasmania, 26; total, 391. The honorable senator may also be interested in figures provided by the Bureau of Census and Statistics, of new capital expenditure by private businesses in Australia subject to pay-roll tax. Although these figures do not show all investment, it is estimated that they cover investment by firms employing 80 per cent, of all employees in private industry, excluding rural industry and personal domestic service. The figures are - Investment in manufacturing industry - 1949-53, inclusive, £533,000,000; 1954-57, inclusive, £526,000,000; investment in non-manufacturing industry, 1949-53, £303,000,000; 1954-57, £515,000,000.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has now supplied the following information: -
The recent statement to which the honorable senator refers was to the effect that in future more assistance is to be given residents in rural areas by the department in the erection and maintenance of privately-owned sections of telephone lines, the object being to help applicants and existing subscribers to up-grade the standard of their construction so that the quality of transmission on the trunk-line system will be improved for users generally.
Telephone services are provided in country districts under most generous terms which were introduced in 1950. Briefly, each new applicant is entitled to 60 chains of new poles and wires representing 96 units of line construction after allowing for units expended for the running of wires on any existing poles from the exchange. In those cases where the full allotment of 96 units of construction is involved in providing a service, departmental assistance to the value of about £500 is entailed. Prior to the introduction of the present basis, the maximum expenditure allowed in providing such assistance was £100.
Although more than 44,000 telephone services were provided wholly at departmental expense in the country districts of the Commonwealth during 1957, because of the distance of their premises from the exchange and the absence of line plant in some 2,000 cases, the subscribers concerned were required to erect and maintain portion of their lines. In keeping, therefore, with the Government’s aim to develop rural areas, it is intended further to assist subscribers in erecting and maintaining their telephone lines.
Summarized, the proposals provide for the following revised procedures: -
It has been departmental policy for many years to extend automatic facilities as widely as practicable to country areas in order that improved service will be available to subscribers and to ensure that the telephone system is developed along the most economical lines. However, there are certain country areas which are not suitable for automatic telephone facilities, such as those where no power supply is available, or where long privately erected exclusive and party-line services are installed. In these cases the manual system is often the only solution.
It would not be possible to accelerate the automatic conversion programme to any marked degree without prejudice to the needs of many areas where telephone facilities are not available at present. In effect, therefore, it is necessary to compromise between the need to improve existing services and the requirements of areas entirely without facilities. Nevertheless, much progress has been made in providing automatic exchanges in rural areas, as is reflected in the growth in the number of such exchanges from 170 in 1949 to the present figure of 1,147.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following information: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has now furnished me with the following information in reply: - 1. (a) During 1956, the Australian Trade Commissioner in Hong Kong, Mr. H. C. Menzies, visited mainland China at the invitation of the Chinese Communist authorities. (b) I have seen a statement on this subject in the April issue of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures publication, “ Canberra Letter “. The statement suggested that it might be desirable for the Government to re-examine the subject of trade representation in mainland China.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has informed me as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has provided me with the following information: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has now supplied the following answer: -
– On 25th March, Senator Laught asked a question without notice relating to the establishment of an office of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation in Adelaide. The Minister for Trade has now advised as follows: -
The Export Payments Insurance Corporation, whose head office is in Sydney, has recently opened a Victorian branch office in Melbourne and has also arranged for the regional directors of the Department of Trade in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to act for the time being as the corporation’s representatives in those cities. It is intended to make a similar arrangement in Hobart. However, as and when the volume of business justifies it, the corporation will open its own branch office in every State, but this is unlikely to occur for some time yet. In the meantime, the acting commissioner and officers of the corporation will continue to make, as they have already done, periodic visits to other capital cities for discussions with policy-holders and exporters interested in the corporation’s facilities. I am very pleased to inform honorable senators that the response of exporters to the scheme continues to grow and already amply justifies its establishment by the Government. What is particularly gratifying is the support the corporation is receiving from all organizations interested in increasing Australia’s export. The trading banks and the chambers of manufactures and commerce have been especially helpful.
– On behalf of the committee, I bring up the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Thirty-sixth Report - Northern Territory Administration - Part I. - and move -
That the report be printed.
Honorable senators may recall that the committee presented to the Parliament in December last an interim report explaining the nature and scope of its inquiry into the Northern Territory Administration. As part of its inquiry, the committee found it necessary to study the history of, and the arrangements for, the government of the Northern Territory, in order to be able to judge better the operations of the Administration, and to appreciate the existing situation in the Territory. Although the committee originally had intended that its final report should be presented as one document, in the light of recent developments we have considered that we should present, in advance to the Parliament, the results of our studies into the constitutional and administrative aspects of Northern Territory government. These are contained in the report.
Part II. of the report will deal more with the financial and executive problems of government in the Territory, particularly with the shortcomings that have been revealed in the administration. The committee hopes to present Part II. of the report to the Parliament before the termination of the current sittings.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to seek approval of Parliament for the payment of an additional £5,000,000 to the States in the financial year 1957-58. It will be recalled that in the Budget for this year provision was made for tax reimbursements and supplementary grants to the States of £190,000,000, which was approximately £16,000,000 greater than the comparable payments in 1956-57. Notwithstanding this large increase in the grants, most of the States budgeted for deficits in 1957-58; in aggregate, their estimated deficits exceeded £9,000,000.
There was a meeting of the Australian Loan Council in February last, when the States sought to have the total borrowing programmes for 1957-58 increased. However, it should be remembered that the governmental borrowing programme for the year was fixed by the Loan Council last June at £200,000,000, which was £8,000,000 greater than the programme for 1956-57. Furthermore, the semigovernmental and local authority borrowing programmes approved were, at £89,000,000, £7,000,000 greater than in 1956-57. The Commonwealth undertook at the time to make monthly advances to the States at the annual rate of £200,000,000 pending a review of the position early in the new year, by which time it would be in a better position to decide upon the amount of special assistance which it could provide. As Parliament was informed when the Budget was introduced, support of a programme of £200,000,000 would clearly necessitate a very large amount of assistance from Commonwealth resources to the State government programmes. In the light of these facts the Commonwealth, while it undertook to continue making advances for the remainder of the financial year to complete the original programme, found itself unable to agree to an increase in the programme, the effect of which would have been simply to increase the amount of supplementary aid which it will have to find. It did, however, agree that a useful purpose would be served by increasing the borrowing programmes for the year in the local government field and in the upshot the Australian Loan Councilagreed on a £3,000,000 increase. However, since it was apparent that some further support should be given atthis juncture to theoverall financial positionof the State governments, the Commonwealth offered to make an additional £5,000,000 available to them during the remainder of the financial year.
The Commonwealth proposed that the amount of £5,000,000 should be allocated, on the basis that £4,000,000 be distributed according to the tax reimbursement formula and £1,000,000 be divided equally between New South Wales and Queensland, those being the States that were most severely affected by the drought and in which the recent increase in the number of unemployed had mainly occurred. In detail, the proposed allocation is as follows: -
In offering to make this additional £5,000,000 available, the Commonwealth was concerned that it should be used to give most help in those areas which had been affected by adverse conditions. The Commonwealth also had in mind that the grant could assist the States to take measures which would stimulate homebuilding activity.I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 16th April (vide page 531), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- When I addressed myself to this measure on 16th April,I said the things that I mainly had in my mind about it, andI wish now only to deal with some outstanding points. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) referred in his second-reading speech to certain factors which, over the years, had operated to prevent the Commonwealth Government from introducing laws that it may have thought necessary to deal with navigation in a general way. When discussing those factors, he said -
Still another factor is the work of the International Labour Office, set up under the auspices of the League of Nations after the 1914-18 war, but now an independent organization.
I think that Ministers should submit accurate information to the Senate about international organizations. The International Labour Office is not an independent organization, and it is inaccurate to describe it as such. I think that the Minister should have used words such as “ but now a specialized agency of the United Nations “. That puts the organization in a different light and gives it an altogether different standing.
This organization derives money for its maintenance from the United Nations. It will be seen from the Estimates that, from its vote, the Department of External Affairs contributes to the cost of the United Nations and that a portion of the amount so contributed goes towards keeping the International Labour Office functioning. Although this may be a relatively minor matter, the Minister referred to conventions and recommendations of the International Labour Office. Unfortunately, he did not submit to us a statement concerning the recommendations of the organization that have not been fully observed by the Commonwealth Government and the reasons why they cannot be observed. Honorable senators are entitled to this information when such an important bill is being dealt with by the chamber; we are entitled to all the information that the Minister can supply to us.
I pass now to another matter. Proposed new section 82, which appears in clause 55, provides - (1.) Subject to this Act, a seaman’s right to wages begins -
When we look at the existing section 82, in order to assess the significance of the proposed alteration, we find that this is how it reads -
The words “ and provisions “ are omitted from the proposed amendment. I shall want to know the reason from the Minister later, ls it proposed to omit completely the supply of provisions to the employees who will be governed, to some extent, by the operation of this act? I shall want to know also the meaning of the words “ at the time at which he commences work “. I know that a day is generally accepted as being from midnight to midnight, but in industrial law a day may be any period more or less than 24 hours.
The Queensland Government recently passed legislation relating to a similar matter, and the relevant act comprised 266 sections. The Commonwealth act we are now discussing comprises 425 sections.
– What is the date of the Queensland legislation?
– The bill is- dated 11th March, 1958, and probably is in operation now. When I read the Queensland bill and the Commonwealth bill now before us, 1 thought we must be in the midst of an epidemic of amendments to the navigation legislation because they both have a certain amount in common. The Minister probably will state that such things cannot be avoided, but I should like to have from him later answers to the questions I have raised.
.- The Navigation Bill now before the chamber represents a monumental work on the part of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) and the department under his control. I congratulate him warmly on the extensive codification proposed in the legislation. All too often in these days of jet aircraft, rocket missiles and electronic miracles we are inclined to forget that Australia, being an island continent, is dependent in the ultimate for its very life and standards of living upon sea navigation and transport.
The history of this legislation traverses the years almost since federation. As the Minister stated in his second-reading speech, the original legislation had a chequered career. Although first submitted to Parliament in 1904, the first portions of the legislation were not brought into operation until 1921 owing to the chain of circumstances outlined by the Minister, and it is very strange indeed that legislation which was first propounded and agreed to in 1904 should not reach the statute-book of the Commonwealth - and then only in part - until 1921.
In approaching this legislation the limited constitutional powers of the Commonwealth Government to enact laws in relation to shipping must be borne in mind. The Commonwealth has no direct placitum of power relating to shipping as such, but its power, like the right to control monopolies, is derived from the control given it over trade and commerce between the States and with other countries. With these limitations in mind we pass to some further consideration of the constitutional position because it will be remembered that it was not until the adoption of the Statute of Westminster that we were able to legislate in a manner which was repugnant to the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act 1894. We have presented to us now in a comprehensive fashion in this bill, which I strongly support, a charter for the Australian maritime industry. A great number of new sections have been inserted in the act. It is pleasing to see that immigrants are given the right to serve as officers on merchant ships, provided they have made their permanent home in Australia and are able to speak the English language well.
The object of the bill is to give a fair go to the three bodies concerned in navigation - shipowners, officers and seamen. The bill appears to be impartial and places disciplinary obligations upon employers and employees alike, without fear or favour, and seems to be aimed at the greatest good for the greatest number. The bill provides for the crew establishment required for passenger and cargo vessels, which is desirable from the point of view of safety and working conditions. Tn the past many ships have been held up, causing grave inconvenience and hardship to passengers, and heavy financial loss to shipowners, exporters and the whole community, because a few discontented crew members have taken it into their heads to absent themselves and delay the departure of a vessel. The Communists have gained important positions in the Australian Seamen’s Union, and we know that whenever they obtain power in an industrial organization their sole purpose is to bring about industrial strife and foment trouble and difficulties.
Proposed new section 43, re-enacting the legislation of 1952, provides that in case of industrial dispute a master may take his ship to sea with four-fifths of the engineroom staff and four-fifths of the deckhand staff, provided that the Director or Deputydirector of Navigation approves of such departure.
The most stringent provisions are enacted to protect a seaman’s rights to his wages. For example, proposed new section 75 provides that wages must be paid in the presence of a superintendent, thus protecting the seaman from any attempt to chisel him out of his just wage. In certain circumstances, even if he is not working, his wages run on. Proposed new section 78 makes his wages inalienable. They cannot be taken in form or pledged, and in no set of circumstances can he be deprived of his right to payment for his labour, with one possible exception. That exception is covered in the bill and refers to the case of a seaman who deliberately refuses to do his duty in time of shipwreck. Since such a person may compass destruction or loss of life or valuable property, that would appear to be a very reasonable exception. Proposed new section 100 provides a salutary penalty for failure to join a ship.
The health provisions of the bill, commencing at clause 78 and proposing the enactment of a new section, 1 23, go to great lengths to provide healthy and safe conditions for the operation of vessels. They are certainly a far cry from the conditions obtaining in the days of the old explorers, and well they should be. There is one provision which I think the fathers of many families will envy. I refer to section 134 of the principal act, which clause 83 of the bill seeks to repeal. It provides for the sale to seamen of clothing, blankets and tobacco at cost plus 10 per cent. Proposed new section 142 is designed to deal with a common difficulty experienced by seafaring men. When they go ashore and take lodgings, the date upon which they will be returning to sea is not always certain, especially if their articles expire while they are ashore and they are awaiting further employment. Very often they are charged for a full week, or a full month, when the lodging and accommodation have not been for the whole period. Section 142 of the principal act makes it an offence for a lodging house keeper to charge a seaman for accommodation for a longer period than that for which he has actually received lodgings.
– That is section 142 of the existing act?
– It is repeated in the bill. The bill includes provisions which were originally launched in the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act of 1894.
Part IV., proposed Division 6a deals with the provision of radio equipment. The first penalty referred to in the existing section 231a is £250. That is imposed for failure to have the radio equipment in proper working order, and the fact that the fine is so heavy is adequate indication of the importance which the authorities place on this most valuable equipment as a navigational aid. Provision is also made - here again we have the re-enactment of an existing provision - for the carrying of a doctor by all vessels carrying more than 100 passengers. I should like to see a similar provision inserted to cover the installation of radar navigational aids. I suggest that the Government could well consider the possibility that if a ship is compelled to carry a qualified medical officer because it carries 100 or more passengers, it could well be compelled also to carry at least surface warning navigational radar equipment. I notice from current advertisements that this type of equipment is available from commercial houses for from £2,000 to £3,000 depending upon the power output of the equipment. As is now commonly known, this equipment is invaluable for navigation at night, in fog, and close to shore when ordinary forms of navigation might be useless, or impossible.
The stories of experiences during wartime when surface-warning radar equipment was used as a navigational aid by warships are legion. For example, I remember reading the report of the experiences of two British destroyers off the coast of Scotland. They were steaming in company, and one was making direct for one of our own minefields. Its course had been plotted by the shore-based radar which was used purely for navigational purposes. The destroyer was called up by radio and diverted. The motor torpedo boats operating in the waters round New Guinea were fitted with this type of equipment, largely for navigational purposes. lt was not used solely for the detection of enemy craft; it was used very largely to enable trips to be made which would have been impossible under ordinary circumstances. I repeat that I should like the Government to make inquiries into this matter to see whether financial and technical difficulties involved could be overcome so that cargo and passenger-carrying vessels operating round Australia could have this added protection.
There are some miscellaneous provisions at the end of the bill and, whilst they are no doubt important and sensible, they are perhaps a little unexpected. For example, the original section 280, which is a re-enactment of an earlier provision from the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, provides that no person shall pay for a passage for a lunatic or send a lunatic on board as a passenger without notifying the owner, master or agent of the vessel that the person is a lunatic. There is no reference to the type of lunatic. For instance, there is no reference to whether the section refers to a lunatic, so found by inquisition, or whether it applies to a person of unsound mind. It is probably not a matter of great practical importance because of the very few times upon which such circumstances would arise, but as I went through the bill it occurred to me that it was a matter upon which we should have amplification.
I do not criticize section 317a, but merely remark that it is somewhat unusual. There is much to commend the spirit behind it. It places an obligation on seafarers to act in a humanitarian way and do whatever is possible to save life at sea, “ even if such person be a subject of a foreign State at war with the King, who is found at sea in danger of being lost “. I assume, apart from anything else, that the word “ King “ should be changed to “ Queen “.
T wish now to refer to a rather technical matter which the Minister may explain in detail later. There is no great novelty about it for it is only a re-enactment of earlier legislation. I have in mind Schedule VT., which sets out the requirements for the safety of passengers. so far as compartmentation is concerned. We are told that the “ Criterion of service “ shall be -
For a ship of given length the appropriate factor of subdivision shall be determined by the
Criterion of Service Numeral (hereinafter called the Criterion Numeral) as given by the following formulae (III) and (IV) where: -
I had very great difficulty in forming an opinion as to whether an adequate margin of safety had been provided. Frankly, I do not understand it, and perhaps the Minister will enlighten us at a later stage.
The waterside workers form another group of maritime workers touched on obliquely by this bill. It is, of course, useless to carry a cargo from one place to another unless it is adequately, safely and speedily loaded and unloaded. I have in mind the disturbance which has occurred in the Waterside Workers Federation, on the Hobart waterfront. Unfortunately, this particular union is controlled by top-ranking Communists who have less than no interest in the industry and whose sole mission is to disrupt it. I hope that the Government, in making navigational provisions, will get round to dealing with the position which obtains in Hobart.
I shall make no reference to the muchpublicized Hursey case because legal writs have, I understand, been issued in that matter. However, I should like to refer to a man named Colrain who also works on the Hobart waterfront and has been subjected to all kinds of Communist intimidation and thuggery, simply because he has dared to express a political opinion of which the Communist heads of his union do not approve. A few years ago we gasped in horror when Hollywood showed us Marlon Brando fighting gangster control of an
American stevedoring union. We saw one of Brando’s colleagues in the film crushed to death by falling whisky cases - a fall deliberately caused. The individual in question was about to expose a racket in his union. I have been informed on credible authority that an almost identical accident was planned in Hobart, with Colrain as the projected victim. Fortunately, it was unsuccessful. I repeat, it is pointless to navigate ships from place to place unless the men who load and unload them are free men, and not in bond or pawn to a few strategically placed Communists. As Dr. Evatt, in a recent television interview implied his approval of what has been going on at Hobart, the workers of this country can expect no help whatever from the Australian Labour party. They can get it from this Government alone and I sincerely hope that it will be forthcoming.
I should also like to refer to an insulting letter which has been received by me and, presumably, by other Liberal members of this Parliament. It is dated 8th April, and is from men who sign themselves “ R. D. Golding” or “ Solding “, “J. Hazelhurst” and “ N. Fagin “ and call themselves seamen’s union delegates. The letter threatens a national maritime strike unless the Government prevents the Australian National Line from proceeding with a log in the Arbitration Court.
– Are they speaking for one ship only?
– The ship in question is “ Tarinna “. The fourth paragraph of the letter states -
The attack on our weekend conditions is based on the fact that we are a seven-day industry, so naturally we will receive the assistance of workers in other seven-day industries if and when we are forced to take industrial action. We have not been forced into industrial action on a national or port scale for 23 years, but shipowners’ profits, at the nation’s expense, have grown to indecent heights.
That is a form of intimidation and blackmail with which we should have no truck.
– Does that come from a union?
– They call themselves Seamen’s Union delegates. They come from one particular vessel and threaten a national strike.
– Do you consider that they have any right to do that?
– They have no more right to do it than has the secretary of the union. It is a form of insulting, political blackmail to which I take grave exception. The letter continues -
Your party, elected by a minority of voters, allows our A.N.L. to be a party with C.S.O.A. in attacking our conditions. You would serve your friends, the Australian capitalists, better by assisting A.N.L. to break the grip of overseas shipping monopolies. Such a course would assist our national economic stability to the benefit of ali Australians.
In our campaign for the ousting of your party at the next elections we will play hard on the fact that it is responsible for the emasculating of the A.N.L. and that by crawling to overseas’ monopolists, especially shipping monopolists, you are placing a knife at the heart of Australian capital. Your misuse of A.N.L. will swing many voters to Labour.
That does not appear to me to be the proper way in which to submit a reasoned opinion to the representatives of the people. In conclusion, I repeat that the Minister and the department he administers are worthy of the heartiest congratulations for their herculean effort in compiling and codifying the legislation which is now before us. I hope it will be of much benefit to the shipping industry and, obliquely, to the stevedoring industry of this country.
– I agree with all those who have spoken in this debate so far that this is an important bill. It goes to the very foundations of the well-being of Australia, having regard to the multiplicity and importance of the matters with which it deals. It deals, first, with the regulation of the qualifications, terms of contract and the behaviour of the masters, the officers and the crews of ships. It is important to them. It is also important to the many passengers who are carried on ships. It is the basis of our overseas trade. That trade is of enormous proportions. It is a twoway trade. Ships carry our produce abroad and bring back the imports that we need to sustain our economy, improve our living conditions and maintain many of our manufacturing industries.
The bill covers also a very large, although a diminishing, part of the interstate trade of Australia. It certainly covers a great part of the interstate trade carried on by ships. In that way, it will have an effect upon the welfare of the whole community.
For these reasons, it is important in an economic sense and, to many people, in a personal sense. As has already been observed, it is a very big bill. It covers 85 pages and has 208 clauses. It seeks to amend an act which has 435 sections. I think I am correct in saying that the bill now before us has been some years in the course of preparation - at least three or four years.
– Three or four!
– I said at least three or four years. It deals with a diversity of matters that are both complicated and technical. Frankly, I approach my consideration of the bill with great diffidence, because it takes me into a field in which I have had no practical experience, and with which I have not had very great concern. Some of my diffidence in approaching the bill arises from the fact that the matters with which it deals are very diverse, complicated and technical.
I offer congratulations in three directions. 1 join with Senator Hannan in offering to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) my warmest congratulations for the energy and industry he has displayed in at last bringing an amending bill before the Parliament. I think it is probably due to the personal interest that he has taken in the matter that its advent has not been further delayed. With very great respect, I congratulate the draftsmen of the bill. Having regard to its nature, I think the purposes are expressed with a great degree of clarity. One does not always encounter such clarity in a measure of this nature. Finally. I congratulate the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Senator Kennelly, on the speech he made when he opened the debate on behalf of the Opposition.
Now, putting congratulations aside, I come to the critical aspects of the comments T have to make. T shall base that criticism on two grounds - firstly, the absence of adequate consultation, and secondly, the form in which the measure comes before the Senate. On the subject of the absence of adequate consultation, I point out that, under section 424 of the principal act, there is in existence a committee of advice appointed for the purposes set out in that section. It is mandatory upon the Minister to refer certain matters to that committee. It is not mandatory for him to refer to it proposed amendments of acts, but a clear permission is given by subsection 3 of section 424 for him to do so. The sub-section reads -
The Minister may refer to the Maritime Council foi advice any questions as to the making or altering of the Regulations, or the administration or amendment of this Act.
It is clear from those words that it was in the mind of the Parliament that the door should be wide open for consultation of that type. I understand that the Minister so referred earlier drafts of the bill. Earlier drafts were before the committee of advice two to two and a half years ago. The bill now before the Senate is not in accordance with the drafts that were considered by the committee of advice. I understand that the present bill was not submitted to the committee. I am informed that the committee, on being made aware last week of the bill now before the chamber, communicated with the Minister and asked that he defer consideration of it until such time as the committee had had an opportunity to look at it in detail. I am told that the decision of the committee was unanimous. The committee comprises both shipowners and those engaged as employees, and is accordingly representative of the whole functional part of the industry. There was no dissentient from the request to the Minister. I am informed reliably that there was a very strong feeling on the part of all members of the committee at having been by-passed in relation to the final draft. I am also informed that a reply was received by telegram from the Minister, and I have been handed what purports to be a copy of the Minister’s telegram. He will be able to say whether it is when I read it. According to the document that was placed in my hands, the Minister said -
It is not function of committee of advice as such to consider proposed amendments of navigation acts unless specifically referred to by me.
That is technically right, but I put it to the Minister that that is rather a firm rebuff to a committee of advice that had been led to expect it would have an opportunity to consider such drafts as were in course of preparation. The Minister also said -
Have not referred current proposals to committee for reasons that parties on committee acting in their separate interests had ample opportunity to present their views at conferences held during drafing of bill. 1 pause for a moment to say that my information is that nothing had been heard by the committee of advice for approximately two years about the changes that were being made in the draft. I invite the Minister to comment upon that piece of information. The Minister’s telegram continued -
It is pertinent to point out that separate parties took advantage of this opportunity and full consideration was given to views expressed by them. Bill introduced in Senate March 29th and it cannot be said that interested parties have not now had time to study it. In response to request on behalf of maritime unions I agreed to receive their representations and made appointment for Tuesday last in Canberra which however union representatives failed to keep. Should any other parlies wish to make representations to me I would be pleased to receive them and if as result their representations any amendments are considered necessary by Government they can be introduced when bill is before Parliament.
All I can say - at the moment, I am dealing solely with the committee of advice - is that I think it is unfortunate that the Minister has not had the benefit of the consideration by that committee of the latest draft, despite consultations which took place about two and a half years ago. I understand that it came as a complete surprise to the committee that this measure should have been introduced without reference to the committee.
Now I come to the question of consultation with the maritime unions. I am informed that the last draft which the unions saw was in October, 1955. I understand that the Minister told them some months later that no further draft would be referred to them, and they certainly did not see the final draft of the bill before it was presented. The Minister, in his telegram to the committee of advice, pointed out to that body that the bill was introduced on 27th March and that there was ample time for it to be considered. I controvert that with the Minister from the viewpoint of my own party. It is true that the measure was introduced on the last day of the sitting prior to the Easter recess, but on that day the Senate adjourned until 16th April. It was not possible to have meetings of committees of the Opposition until such time as the Parliament reassembled. Because of the holidays and their nature, there was no opportunity for consultation with the unions. In short, that fortnight was rather a dead period for a close examination of the bill.
I put it to the Minister on 16th April that, because of those facts and because of the size of the bill, further consideration of it in this chamber might be deferred. The Minister agreed to defer consideration of the bill until to-day, 29th April, and, of course, required something from me. It was that, so far as the matter concerned the Opposition, the Senate should complete its consideration of the measure this week. I agreed to that, and I am bound by it. I confess, however, that if I had made a complete study of the bill before entering into that agreement, I would never have made it.
Although I, the unions and others who are interested badly needed time for further consideration and consultation, my real fear now is that the many matters which ought to be considered in detail will not be adequately considered this week, and that some of them will never be considered. I acknowledge that I am completely bound by my agreement with the Minister and that I have bound the Opposition, but I hope that if the Minister finds that the Opposition is approaching this bill objectively with a view to its improvement, he will consider not holding me to the obligation that I am under but give us some extra time extending into next week so that all matters which the Opposition has in mind for discussion and the various amendments that are contemplated may have adequate consideration. I throw myself entirely upon the mercy of the Minister in that matter.
The Minister commented, not to the unions but in his telegram to the committee of advice, that he had arranged an appointment for the unions on Tuesday last at Canberra, at their request, which they did not keep. I think he will agree that that is not quite the whole story. First, an appointment was made for the Monday, and then the Minister, at very short notice, found it necessary to postpone it till the Tuesday. I am advised by the members of the maritime council that they could have come on the Monday, that it was impossible for them to come on the Tuesday, but that they did in fact come on the Wednesday. However, the Minister was not available. So it is only fair to put their viewpoint in the matter - that they could have kept the original appointment with the Minister.
Because many of them had court appointments, they were unable to keep the second appointment, which was arranged at fairly short notice. The unions have asked that the bill be deferred for a further period, but the Minister has indicated that he is not prepared to meet that request. So we must proceed with the debate.
The second head of criticism of the bill which I voice is the form of presentation. As Senator Kennelly said, the Minister’s second-reading speech occupied exactly twelve minutes. One half of that time was devoted to a very important and useful consideration of the history of the legislation in this matter. The balance of the time was concerned with an indication in the broadest terms of the main matters dealt with by this very extensive bill. Frankly, I am not complaining about the brevity of the Minister’s second-reading speech. I think this measure is essentially one for consideration in committee. I should say it would be impossible to discuss the bill adequately in the course of a second-reading debate, and 1 repeat that I voice no complaint about the brevity of or the absence of information from the second-reading speech. But, on behalf of the Opposition, I complain most strongly about the fact that a bill of the magnitude of the one before us is presented without one word of explanation of its 208 clauses.
The Parliament has before it an example of the procedure that is followed by the Commissioner of Taxation. Accompanying each of the measures that originate in his branch is an explanatory memorandum which obviates the need to refer back to principal acts, and which enables one to see at a glance the effect of the amendments that are proposed. When some explanation is called for, that, too, is furnished. If a section is repealed and nothing is put in its place, the reason for that action is set out. I invite the Senate to consider the plight of anyone who addresses himself seriously to a consideration of the Navigation Bill 1958. He must pick out each of the 208 amending clauses, many of which are subdivided into many proposed new sections, and before he can have any understanding of their purpose, the effect of each of them must be examined against the original act of 435 sections. I do not care how bright any particular honorable senator is; he will not be able to do that examination without days and nights of work and consideration. On top of that comes a great deal of consultation with the parties who are interested on the industrial side. He must then address himself to framing amendments and deciding upon a course of action. That is a most laborious process.
Surely, as this bill has been under consideration for years, it would not have been too much effort to have prepared an explanatory memorandum to save all the heavy spade work. 1 venture to say that there are honorable senators who, with all their other commitments, have abandoned the bill as requiring far too much effort and that it has not had, necessarily on the part of many honorable senators, the detailed consideration that it deserves. My real attack upon the Minister under this head of my criticism of him is that the presentation of such an important and useful bill has been marred by the fact that proper facilities have not been afforded to honorable senators to understand it, to examine it critically, and to determine the course they should take in relation to the various amendments.
I have circulated early, for the convenience of the Senate, some 26 amendments that I propose to move on behalf of the Opposition. Some of them are, in turn, subdivided. That means that 30 or more divisions may be called for. In addition, in the absence of acceptable explanations, there are some thirteen clauses that the Opposition wishes to oppose.
– Does not the honorable senator think that a lot of that opposition will disappear when the explanations are made in committee?
– I readily agree, but that is the very point about which I complain. Had explanations been furnished, it might have been that I need not have listed many of the matters, nor need I have addressed my mind at great length to them. It may be that the clauses will fall into position. I ask the Senate to note that the Opposition has not indicated that it is voting against the clauses blindly. The qualification at the head of the note I have circulated is, “Clauses to be opposed by vote of the Opposition if explanations unacceptable”. It is a pity that, in the circumstances, explanations are not readily available to us. Had they been available, I and my colleagues would have been saved a lot of work. In addition, much work would be saved at the committee stage of the bill.
With the consent of the Senate, I shall have incorporated in “ Hansard “ the list of amendments that I propose should be moved on behalf of the Opposition, together with a list of clauses which it might be thought fit to oppose, and a third list, which I have circulated, under the heading, “ Clauses to be discussed if time permits “. They are as follows: -
CLAUSES TO BE OPPOSED BY VOTE OF THE OPPOSITION IF EXPLANATION UNACCEPTABLE.
CLAUSES TO BE DISCUSSED IF TIME PERMITS.
Clause 2, Page 1.
Clause 3, Page 1.
Clause 4, Page 1.
Clause 5, Page 2.
Clause 7 (6a), page 8.
Clause 12 (15), page 13.
Clause 13 (17), page 14.
Clause 26(39), page 18.
Clause 52 (78), page 34.
Clause 62 (100), pages 36-7.
When we reach the committee stageI have it in mind to propose that amendments which have been circulated by any honorable senator should be dealt with first - including the clauses I have indicated that we will not oppose, as well as those that we want to amend - before consideration of other clauses. In short,I am proposing the postponement of all clauses until such time as all amendments, of which notice has been given, have been discussed. I submit to the Senate that that would be a commonsense matter, since it seems that we shall have only, so far as I can control the position, about two and a half days at the most to cover some 45 matters that the Opposition alone wishes to raise.
– I am not suggesting that. My suggestion is that honorable senators who wish to move an amendment, or completely to oppose a clause, should move into the picture equally. I have no knowledge of whether my friends on the left, in the corner party, wish to move any amendments, nor have I any knowledge of whether Government senators wish to do so. My proposal is, not that the Opposition alone should have the right to proceed with the amendments that I have indicated, but that any honorable senator should share that right and take precedence according to the number of the clause in which he is interested. In other words, if honorable senators care to indicate that they are seeking amendments of particular clauses, those clauses should be listed, irrespective of who proposes them, and be taken in the order in which they appear in the bill.
I am giving advance notice of this matter so that some thought may be given to it.
The idea that actuates me is that we may thus be able to get down, in the limited time available, to the real issues between the parties in the Senate. I say quite frankly that 1 find enough in the early portions of the bill to keep me talking probably for the whole of the two and a half days. I .find it a very fascinating bill. 1 am interested in getting information about many clauses, but I see no purpose in moving amendments in respect of those clauses. If we are to go through the bill in the normal way, a great deal of time will be wasted on interesting and informative matters about which there is no issue. I am merely proposing to the Senate that I shall move, at a later stage, certain amendments. I am indicating now, in fairness and in order not to take anybody by surprise, what I propose to do. I do so on the basis that I have adopted, first, a commonsense approach and, secondly, the fairest approach. I have indicated the circumstances in which I am bound by the time limit to which I have agreed with the Minister. I do not blame him if he holds me to the stipulated time. I shall not complain. All that I say is that I hope he will watch the progress of the bill and the various amendments that we propose, and that he might find it in his heart - and also within the realm of practical possibility, having regard to the progress of the bill in another place - to extend the time.
The Minister, in a very interesting way, has dealt with the history of the legislation. I should like to carry that discussion back a little further and refer to the history of the constitutional power which the Parliament enjoys in this matter. It appears that when navigation and shipping were considered during the Convention Debates, away back in 1891, they appeared as an express head of power in the main powers section, section 51. That head of power survived all the vicissitudes of the Convention until 1897, and during the Convention Debates at Adelaide in that year it was still there. Then, when the Convention moved to Melbourne in the same year, a new section, which is now section 98 of our Constitution, was proposed and accepted. It provided that the trade and commerce power should extend to railways the property of a State. The Convention merely dealt with the matter of railways to clear up a doubt as to whether State railways were comprised within the concept of trade and commerce. At that point, some bright mind thought it would be a good idea to cancel the broad power over navigation and shipping that appeared in section 51 and put those terms in the new section 98, to provide that the trade and commerce power of the Commonwealth should extend to navigation and shipping, and to railways the property of any State. That was finally determined upon, and in that way the section was written into the Constitution. There was no express power over navigation and shipping in section 51, where it formerly resided; it was merely put into a declaratory section, which is now section 98.
The effect of that change has been to tie down the Commonwealth’s power over navigation and shipping to the trade and commerce power. In other words, the power over navigation and shipping is restricted to the part that those two things play in overseas trade and in inter-State trade. The Commonwealth entirely lacks power in the intra-State field. It is now commonly acknowledged by constitutional authorities that it was a mistake and an oversight, in the hurried last days of the Federation Convention, that led to navigation and shipping being taken out of the Constitution as a substantive power and referred to merely in a declaratory section. Had the power been left where it was - in section 51 - this Parliament would enjoy complete power in those fields. As it is, we have the spectacle of six States with rights in their territorial waters, and the Commonwealth with rights outside those waters and in overseas and interstate trade. This leads to many troubles. It leads to different bases of registering ships in this country according to whether they are engaged on overseas and inter-State trade or, on the other hand, in intrastate trade. We finish up without a uniform law for the registration of Australian ships. Again, when collisions occur and difficulties occur, there is an argument as to where the difficulty or collision took place, whether in waters under the control of a State or in waters under the control of the Commonwealth. There is an argument as to which marine court, whether of a State or of the Commonwealth, has jurisdiction. All in all, it has been unfortunate that that change was made from the original intention of the convention and that our power over navigation and shipping should be expressed in a way that has these limitations.
– Is the Constitution Review Committee doing anything about it?
– lt is giving special consideration to this particular matter. On the question of powers, the Minister made two comments. The first was that we now know better where we stand by reason of High Court decisions. I thought I might, without boring the Senate, make a reference to the particular case, which he did not list. It is the case of the “ Newcastle and Hunter River Steamship Company Limited and others against the Attorney-General for the Commonwealth and another”, which appears in “ Commonwealth Law Reports “, Volume 29, at page 357. It has a bearing upon what I have just said regarding the history of the matter. I propose to read a brief extract from the head note. It says -
The effect of sec. 51 (i.) and sec. 98 of the Constitution is to endow the Parliament, not with a substantive power to deal with navigation and shipping at large, but only with power to deal with that subject in so far as it is relevant to inter-State and foreign trade and commerce.
Held, therefore, that the provisions of the Navigation Act 1912-1920 and the Schedules thereto and of the regulations made thereunder as to the manning of, and accommodation on, ships, to the extent that they purport to prescribe rules of conduct to be observed in respect of ships engaged solely in the domestic trade and commerce of a State are beyond the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament, and are to that extent invalid.
I thought I might be pardoned for putting on the record the interesting case which has conditioned Commonwealth activity in the interim. It was referred to by the Minister. He also referred to the effect of the Statute of Westminster. It is rather interesting to find that since 1941 our Navigation Act has purported to deal with situations that arise entirely outside Australia. The present act and this bill, for instance, purport to lay down the conditions under which crew can be engaged at ports outside Australia, and under which crew can be discharged outside Australia. Our present act deals with the position of wrecks abroad, and the payment of wages in circumstances where a ship registered in Australia never touches Australia but trades between two foreign countries. We purport in this act to legislate in respect of that situation - as to wages when wrecks occur, and as to the property of seamen who die abroad. Whilst so far as I know it has never been the subject of judicial decision, the Minister may feel that we have taken a rather brave step in seeking to carry our legislative power in fact as far as we have done. It might well stand up under the Statute of Westminster, but it is worthwhile noting the fact that we have moved in this legislation - and we are still proposing to do it - a long way outside the ambit of what we know as Australian or territorial waters.
After a perusal of this bill and of the act I find that going to sea is a most complicated business indeed. I thought it was a very simple procedure until I began to look at the act, the bill, and the vast pile of regulations almost as big again as the act and the bill dealing in the utmost detail with matters of the greatest moment concerning navigation and shipping. I must confess that I sympathized with the masters of vessels when I saw the provision in the act requiring them to keep the act by their side at all times. I could not imagine a more necessary provision. This is like our Standing Orders. We use them for reference only. Nobody carries all their provisions in his head except our remarkable Clerks and others who specialize in them.
– What about Theo Nicholls?
– In that matter, I would say that he is the complete freak. I venture to suggest that no other honorable senator can claim that his powers of memory are near those of Senator Nicholls.
One finds altogether a frightening array of legal provisions in the act, in the bill and in the regulations. I must confess I would sooner have the job I have than be the master of a ship obliged to look at all these things.
I regret to say that the Opposition intends to vote against the motion for the second reading of this measure. We shall do so for three reasons. First, we feel there has not been adequate consultation between the Minister’s committee of advice and the maritime unions, six of which are concerned with this particular field. Secondly, there has been a very inadequate presentation of it for consideration at the proper stage in committee. Above all, this is a Senate bill. We have the rare privilege of having a major bill introduced in this chamber, yet it comes to us without one word of real explanation of the effect of the provisions and how the new law will work out. The third reason why we shall oppose the bill is because, on our first glance at it and with the limited opportunities for consultation we have had, we find many matters that demand explanation and, it would seem, many matters that demand amendment. They are the three reasons that actuate the Opposition in determining to oppose the second reading of the bill.
For the reason that we think it essentially a committee bill, I inform the Minister that no other member of the Opposition will address himself to the measure at this stage. The Opposition is anxious to speed the time when we shall take the bill into committee and get down to a consideration of what we feel are the real issues in it.
– I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that this is a bill that should be considered most carefully in committee, and for that reason I shall speak very briefly indeed. I congratulate the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge), the draftsman, and all the officers concerned on the admirable clarity with which the various provisions have been expressed; but I confess, like Senator McKenna, that, having attempted to master the provisionsI found myself almost in a mood of bewilderment, not because I failed to understand what I had read, but because I do not know how adequate some of the provisions are, well expressed as they are.
In fact, the measure reminds me of the story told of an impecunious but studious Scot who used to borrow books from his neighbour. He read them so quickly and borrowed them so frequently that the neighbour at last gave him Webster’s dictionary. This kept him quiet for a fortnight. When he returned the dictionary the neighbour asked him whether he had read it. He said that he had read it from beginning to end, from alpha to omega. The neighbour asked him what he thought of it, and he replied that it was very interesting but a wee bit disconnected.
I must confess when I find this list of headings in the bill appalling, and when I go into one particular part of it, I really do not know whether adequate provision has been made to prevent either seamen or passengers from suffering from unseaworthy ships. I know that we are infinitely ahead of what we were, and I know that the conditions of crews to-day under this act must be far better than they were on a. certain transport that I once sailed on, which gave one an idea of the conditions that the seamen in the very worst days had to put up with. The following lines come into my head; they were published in a Sydney newspaper about that time -
Oh ‘im who sails in a transport, e can tell ‘e aint in ‘eaven,
For its bully, breakfast, dinner and tea,
At six and one and seven.
When the same old cow in the same old fat, and camouflage undeceivin’, turns up again,
I tell you flat there’s more than ocean ‘eavin’.
Those conditions have continued.
I do not know whether the safety provisions and the jurisdiction of the Marine Court are adequate, and I shall reserve my further remarks for the committee stage.
I notice that the Minister appears to be supported in this chamber by one officer of his department. When we debate the Budget several officers are present in the event of information on particular points being required. If it is necessary to obtain technical information to enable honorable senators to deal with this matter adequately, I ask the Minister to have such information available.
I promise my support for the second reading of the bill. In the committee stage I shall listen attentively to the many points that will be raised, and if I am not satisfied on any particular matter I shall again rise to my feet. I ask the Minister to give full and adequate replies to the questions raised so that, it cannot be said that this Senate, like Pilate, has washed its hands and trusted to the experts. With those remarks I support the second reading of the bill.
– This is a very important bill and for that reason I strongly support the remarks of other honorable senators as to the urgent necessity for the bill receiving full and proper consideration. I am grateful, as no doubt are other honorable senators, that we had the past week free in which we could make some inquiries in regard to the questions raised by this legislation, because I yield to no one in admitting that the bill deals with matters upon which I am far from being an expert. To the best of my knowledge only two honorable senators can claim to have an expert knowledge of the industry. I refer to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge), who has been concerned in the preparation of the bill, and Senator Kendall. In the circumstances I was compelled to utilize the past week in endeavouring to obtain information, in regard to matters covered by this bill, from persons of experience in the industry.
For what they are worth, my investigations suggest that the bill does not provide for very wide or considerable changes but, in fact, merely tidies up the existing legislation. People engaged on the employees’ side of. the industry, after a careful examination of the bill, have said that it contains a number of worthy provisions and some that are not quite so worthy, but, on the balance, is a commendable attempt to introduce some improvements in the industry. However, the people to whom I spoke have urged that I should oppose certain provisions in the legislation, and I propose to do so because they are not in the interests of the employees concerned.
Senator Hannan said that this bill is very important because it deals with an industry that is vital to this country. Australia is an island, and we all appreciated during the last war the extent to which we depended on our sea lanes, shipping and Australian seamen for the success of our economy as a part of the allied front. I pay particular tribute to the heroism and efficiency of Australian seamen who are covered by the provisions of this bill. They did an excellent job for their country during the war, and the bulk of them at present is continuing to do so in peace.
Because Australia is an island, shipping is an industry that we should encourage and regulate in the best possible way. This bill, therefore, is highly desirable insofar as it attempts to improve the conditions of the shipping industry. We depend upon sniping, not only for our security in time of war, but also for our prosperity in time of peace. Without shipping it would be impossible to transport our primary goods overseas and other goods between the States.
I feel some concern over the clause which I understand seeks to amend portion of section 286 of the principal act, and 1 shall appreciate more information from the Minister. The section to which I refer deals with the conditions under which licences may be granted to British ships to engage in the tourist traffic between the ports of the Commonwealth or the Territories under the control of the Commonwealth. Under the provisions of the existing act preference was given, in the matter of passenger and tourist traffic, to Australian ships and in certain instances, licences were given to British ships to carry passengers and engage in the tourist traffic. The proposed legislation goes a step further and suggests the elimination of the restriction on the granting ot such licences to British ships and provides that foreign ships - ships not British and not Australian - may be granted a licence. The provision which was intended to favour Australian shipping, in the first place, was broken down by the provision for the granting of a licence to British ships, and is now being further broken down by the provision for the granting of a licence to foreign ships.
Adequate reasons may exist for the proposal, but 1 am concerned because one of the Victorian newspapers suggests that behind the elimination of the existing restriction to British ships, and the opening of the tourist traffic to foreign ships, is the fact that Australian shipowners intend to get out of the passenger trade as between States. The newspaper suggests that the proposed provision prepares the way for the granting of licences to foreign ships. If the suggestion is correct, a rather serious blow will be dealt to the Australian shipping industry. I should like the Minister to state whether any information is available on that matter. 1 noted a statement in the press to-day that Howard Smith Limited, a company which has been closely associated with the industry, has decided not to build any more ships until the position becomes clearer. 1 wonder whether there is any connexion between the fact that this company shows reserve in regard to the building of new ships, and the possibility that the passenger trade between Australian. States is to be opened up, and perhaps handed over almost completely, to overseas shipping companies.
Possibly the shipping companies are actuated by strong reasons in their decision not to build any more ships for the present. They obviously must be faced with serious competition by rail, road and air transport. In addition, they have also experienced a great deal of industrial trouble and, on occasions, have been involved in the payment of money to passengers who were kept on board when industrial trouble arose just prior to the sailing of the ship. In spite of all these facts, I would regret any suggestion that Australian shipping companies might be getting out of this trade and leaving it to the overseas companies, and I trust that the suggestion I have made will be disproved by evidence that will be given later.
I realize that the companies have had difficulties in connexion with the present control of the union. It is well known that the seamen’s union in this country is under Communist control. I have referred on a number of occasions in the Senate to the very undesirable features of that control. For instance, I have referred to the attitude of the union in connexion with indemnity payments. The other day in the Senate, we had an impressive list given to us of payments that have been made to this union in return for permission from union officials to overseas shipowners to employ, on ships brought to this country or going from this country, crews at cheap overseas rates of pay. That is entirely wrong, and it is regrettable that the seamen’s union should have endeavoured to enrich itself in that way. However, it has met with well-merited condemnation for what it has done. Part of that condemnation is to be found in Sydney to-day. The seamen’s union has just bought a very large building for its future headquarters and the trade union movement suggested to the union, before the union had thought of it, that the building ought to be named Indemnity House.
While the seamen themselves are doing a good job generally, the job that is being done by the seamen’s union under its present communist control is the sort of job that one would expect. As a splendid example of this, I quote the case of the “ Afrique “, a British steamer which was held up in Brisbane some time ago in most remarkable circumstances. This was an almost new ship. It had done only about three trips. One day, certain members of the crew suddenly produced one or two small items of vermin and alleged that the ship must be vermin-infested. It was suggested to them that every endeavour would be made to fumigate the sections they had complained of, but, in some way or another they were induced to leave theship without referring their case to the British Seamen’s Union, the proper body to cover British seamen.
After the men were induced to leavethe ship, the British Seamen’s Union, I understand, experienced great difficulty in finding them because measures were taken by the Australian seamen’s union in Brisbane to see that they were billeted with certain people, and information regarding their whereabouts was refused to the union that was supposed to cover them.
I do not want to go generally into the case, except to say that as a result of interference by the Australian seamen’s union, not only was the ship held up but a number of these deluded seamen were taken to court. Some of them were imprisoned, others are to be tried when they get back to England, and the seamenwere faced with a bill of about £360 to be paid out of their own wages. Under an agreement with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the British Seamen’s Union alone covers its own seamen in Australia, and all this trouble has happened because the Australian seamen’s union in Brisbane,, took action in defiance of this agreement and so involved some of these unfortunate men in imprisonment and others in considerable loss of money without any result to themselves.
I say that, in those circumstances, one of the big obstacles to the development of the Australian shipping industry and to carrying it on in the way it ought to be carried on to-day is the attitude that is frequently adopted by the communist leaders of the seamen’s union.
Coming now to the bill itself, I believe we must all admit that in quite a number of instances it does a good job in tidying up the provisions of the present act. One thing we are pleased to see is that the bill’ recognizes the status of Australia as a member of the British Commonwealth. The original act referred to the King’s Dominions. This bill refers to Australia as a Commonwealth country, and brings in the other Commonwealth countries as self-governing dominions in preference to referring to them under the old title of King’s Dominions. _ One part of the bill on which I hope the Minister can give us more information than we have received to date is that which deals with punishment for seamen who may be absent without leave from their duties, or who may be involved in desertion. I have been amazed quite a number of times in recent years to read in the press that seamen who have been absent from duty without leave have been taken before the courts and imprisoned. I understand that in certain cases there is no provision under which the magistrate is given an option to fine them. In certain cases he has no option other than to imprison them. I have always felt that this was entirely wrong in a British community, that a provision should exist under which anybody could be imprisoned for absence from work. I have endeavoured to find out what alteration is proposed by this bill. In many ways it is an improvement, but I should like assurances from the Minister in connexion with certain parts. I hope that he will be able to give them to us when we are discussing the bill in committee.
One of the most serious and most important parts of the bill is that which deals with this power to punish seamen for absence without leave, or for desertion. Those provisions need very close scrutiny because, as I have stated, I think it would be entirely wrong that in a British community we should give any approval, other than may be shown to be absolutely necessary, to the imprisonment of people for their absence from work.
I have been pleased to notice a tendency in the bill to tighten up safety provisions. The bill contains some very good measures in that respect. For example, under clause 217 it is proposed that the penalty for not having adequate life-saving gear shall be lifted from £100 to £1,000. I think that is entirely right. Obviously, the £100 penalty was imposed at a time when the value of money was much more than it is to-day and the Government has done a very good job indeed in seeking to increase these penalties and in taking action to tighten up the regulations.
People of experience in these matters advise me that certain provisions should be included in the regulations. For instance, a suggested regulation embodies power to call for a muster of the men on the ship for the purpose of boat drill. I shall be glad if I can be shown differently, but these people of experience to whom I have referred have suggested that the proposed regulation does not state definitely that any boat drill is necessary. If the men on the ship are merely to be assembled to answer their names, it does not appear to me that that does very much. It has been suggested to me that there should be added to the regulation that the men muster a provision that the lifeboats should be lifted from their chocks and swung out, if mechanically operated, unless there are special reasons such as the ship being in port, or that the exercise cannot be conveniently done owing to weather conditions. It is obviously necessary that proper lifeboat drill be carried out, and if the Minister can show that this provision is made elsewhere in the regulations I shall be very glad to have the information.
As I said, I have endeavoured to rely on the knowledge of people who have experience in these matters. Another point that has been suggested to me is that at least every six months all wooden lifeboats should be put into the water and sunk to the level at which they would be if there were a full complement in them. I understand that no provision is made for that.. I am told that the boats, being constantly exposed to the heat and weather, have a tendency to warp; that placing them in the water restores their normal condition. I am told that frequently boats which have not been put in water for a long time fill up, because the seams have warped.
I hope that provision will also be made for smaller vessels of up to 2,000 tons to carry rafts, as they did during the war. I am told that in some ways they need them more than do larger vessels because there is a greater danger of their life boats being stove in. If that position is already adequately catered for I should be glad to learn of it, but I am told that it is not.
– You are referring to the regulations?
– My suggestion is aimed at obtaining amendment of the regulations if they do not sufficiently deal with the situation I have described. Turning now to the new proposal in regard to the examination for the certificate of ablebodied seaman, I would suggest that the Government take a look at the United
Kingdom provision which permits classification “ Efficient Deckhand “ to be made in certain cases. It may be impossible to qualify as an able-bodied seaman because of insufficient age or experience at sea, but in the merchant marine of the United Kingdom the classification “ Efficient Deckhand “ may be given after eighteen months’ experience if a certain standard of efficiency as reached. In such circumstances the rate of pay is the same as for an able-bodied seaman.
Under the act a ship may be taken to sea without its full complement. 1 understand that the United Kingdom legislation provides that where the complement is two men short the wages of those two men shall “be divided among the other members of the crew as compensation for their extra work. That practice seems to have much to commend it.
– The companies usually adopt it in regard to ships’ officers.
– That is all the more reason why it should apply to the men
– Is the honorable senator able to give us information concerning present rates of wages?
– Not off-hand.
– Surely that is relevant.
– I would say that the officers would receive much higher salaries than would the men, and that if it is found possible in their case it could be done for the men also.
I regret the attempt in the bill to repeal the requirement that persons under eighteen years of age be medically examined before they are allowed to go to sea. A reason for it may perhaps be found elsewhere in the bill. There seems to be a suggestion that such people “ may “ be medically examined, but I do not think that is good enough. I should like to know why the provision is being removed. It seems to me to be an excellent one, and its removal should not be agreed to unless we are shown that the matter is covered elsewhere.
I will only say in conclusion that this legislation deals with a very important industry. Unfortunately, most honorable senators do not possess either the experience or the personal knowledge that they would like to have regarding it. We can merely do our best to ensure that the bill offers a fair deal to all sections of the industry. I hope that we will be reassured concerning the threat of a decline in the Australian shipping industry. Having said that, I leave any further remarks until the committee stage.
.- In common with other honorable senators, I do not propose to speak at length on the second reading. I was rather staggered at the size of the measure and perhaps am not so advantageously placed as are those who have been associated, in a technical sense, with the working of the industry, or as is the Minister, who has the benefit of advice from his officers. For that reason my attitude to this bill, so far as I have studied it, is to hear the propositions advanced by both sides and vote for or against particular clauses or amendments at the committee stage. I feel that that will be the general attitude of honorable senators - to the extent that they are not tied, by prior party considerations or deliberations, to any contrary course. I do not find myself in that particular position.
– You seem to make a commonplace assumption that all senators are tied in some way.
– Whether a senator is tied to a party, or merely acts as if he were, is a metaphysical question only. I am referring to what I see happen, in practice, in this chamber.
It is significant that, at the time this bill is before the Parliament, the Government of Queensland should also be considering a substantial bill dealing - within its competence as a State government - with shipping on the coast of that State. I refer to the Queensland Marine Bill. It comprises almost 300 clauses and has not yet proceeded beyond the committee stage. As I looked through it I noticed that it relied in large measure upon the existing Commonwealth Navigation Act, including sections which are being abandoned by the bill before us. It seems very stupid that there should be such a complete lack of cooperation between the two governments that the Queensland Treasurer, Mr. Hiley, could say, in the course of his second-reading speech -
In preparing the bill, the Parliamentary Draftsman has considered the relevant acts of other States, New Zealand and Great Britain, and drawn largely upon the Commonwealth Navigation Act.
Indeed, the Queensland legislation adopts 80 per cent, of sections that are being abandoned entirely under the proposals before us in this chamber. If the deliberations of the Commonwealth Government have led it to put forward these amendments in the belief that the existing law is inappropriate, ineffective, unjust or outmoded, it seems a shame that the State of Queensland with such widespread intra-state shipping, should be tied to such provisions. This may have happened because the marine authorities of that State have not the same opportunities as the Commonwealth of considering the introduction of up-to-date legislation.
– There are inconsistent laws operating as between interstate ships and intra-state ships.
– I have no doubt that Senator Wright means not that they are constitutionally inconsistent, but rather that they are inconsistent in practice. For instance, Senator McManus referred to the deletion of the requirement that every person under eighteen who wishes to go to sea must undertake a medical examination. Clause 43 (1.) of the Queensland Marine Bill preserves that requirement - at the very time when the Commonwealth is abandoning it. It is extraordinary that a boy who registers on an intra-state ship in Queensland should have to comply with certain conditions as to age and medical inspection that are not specified in Commonwealth legislation.
The only other quick point that I should like to make is that at least the Queensland Government appears to have embarked upon the complete consolidation of its marine shipping code. I would have wished that the Commonwealth Government had done the same for the Commonwealth Navigation Act.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was discussing the apparent lack of co-operation between the Commonwealth of Australia and at least one State - Queensland. We are seeking to amend in a most substantial way, in great detail, the Commonwealth Navigation Act. The presentation of the bill in this chamber coincides almost completely with the presentation in the Queensland Legislative
Assembly of the Queensland Marine Bill, which purports to do in a major degree for intra-state shipping - there is a great deal of it in that State, with its vast coastline - what the Commonwealth Navigation Act and these amendments purport to do for interstate and overseas shipping. I had commented upon the fact that the Queensland Government, working from the existing Commonwealth Navigation Act, has carried into its legislation a great number of the existing provisions of the Commonwealth Navigation Act at a time when this Parliament is being asked to render them obsolete, to take them out and substitute amending provisions, or to remove them completely. 1 understand that the Queensland Marine Bill has passed through the Queensland Legislative Assembly, but that it is a bill which, by its nature and under the State constitution, is reserved for the Royal assent.
I do not know by whom the approach should be made in cases such as this. I do not know whether the State Government should consult with the Commonwealth Government or whether the Commonwealth Government should make known, so far as that can be done, to the State government what it has in mind. If we are going to have a number of codes written in the various States and also to have a code for the Commonwealth, I think that those codes should, as far as possible, be identical, so that we can avoid the confusion which seems likely to be perpetuated by the existence of the Queensland and the Commonwealth legislation.
I also made the point that, with a great deal of skill, the Queensland Parliament and the Queensland parliamentary draftsman’s office have created a code of marine law in Queensland, and I mentioned that I would have preferred the same approach to be made in the Commonwealth legislation. I have given the Commonwealth act a great deal of attention, but no more, perhaps, than time has allowed and certainly not as much as it warrants, deserves or requires. It appears to me that, even after this amending legislation is passed, we will still have the type of numbering where we go from section 128 to section 132, the intervening sections having been dropped. Surely this would have been an opportune time to re-number the whole of the sections of the Commonwealth Navigation Act, so- that no longer would we have to refer to any preceding legislation. The legislation could have been a complete statute, easy of consultation, easy of reference, and standing as the code of a branch of law. If the Queensland legislation has not yet become law, I suggest that even at this stage the Commonwealth might think fit to acquaint the Queensland Government with the provisions of this legislation as they finally emerge and to ask the Queensland Government whether it considers it would be worth while to reconsider, and perhaps re-present, its legislation in the light of Commonwealth knowledge, experience and action as embodied in this amending legislation.
By its very nature, this is a bill that warrants close consideration in committee rather than long and discursive speeches at the second-reading stage. That has been the attitude of honorable senators, and I do not purport to depart from what I think is a good approach to the measure. I shall make only one or two points. The shipping industry has made a tremendous contribution to the advance and spread of Western civilization. Unfortunately this has often been done at the cost of the lives, welfare and happiness of those engaged in it. That is an unfortunate blot on the otherwise proud record of this industry. However, with the advance of time and the development and acceptance of new ideas, those engaged in shipping have had applied to them, at least in a larger measure, the principles of social justice. This, of course, is not purely one-sided.
The shipping industry, above all, is a co-operative industry. Every person affected by it has a particular interest in efficiency, security, safety and the happiness of those who are engaged in it. Those who travel on ships as passengers are necessarily interested in safety and comfort. Those who send freight by sea are interested in its safe arrival at the port of destination. Those who serve in ships as crew members or employees are interested - or should be - in the economic security and safety of the industry. There is a tremendous joint concern for the efficiency and safety of the shipping industry. Gradually these principles have been written into our legislation. Provisions for the security of ships, for the security and comfort of employees, for safety at sea, for salvage and for all those other things that go with shipping have gradually emerged in a code of shipping practice. That is all to the good, but unfortunately we cannot say that the highwater mark has yet been reached or that complete social justice has been given, within the economic competence of the industry to those who are engaged in it. There will always be pressure - and rightly so - for the application to ships of the modern techniques that provide comfort in our homes and in our transport. There will always be such pressure by those who are forced by the exigencies of their employment to sail round the world. There will be claims made from time to time. They will be resisted, finally accepted and then codified. This will be done as a result of pressure and experience over the years.
– We have passed that peak now.
– I do not know that we have.
– The sailors are demanding to be put into two-berth cabins because single-berth cabins are too lonely.
– That does not necessarily signify that we have passed the peak. That means only that some people prefer not to be in isolation. It does not mean that the first demand was unwarranted, but that psychologically it was not wise. However, these new ideas are gradually receiving legal acceptance.
This shows one thing. We regarded seamen, unfortunately, as a class of beings who did not have educational advantages and who were not used to the cultural refinements of life. Now, as the result of a gradual process, seamen are seeking that degree of refinement and comfort which we have in our ordinary homes. The seafarer is now a participant in the wave of demand for culture that is sweeping over the civilized world. That is all to the good. Intelligent men who are able to appreciate the refinements of life are not necessarily poor seamen. On the contrary, they should be happier and more competent in their jobs. The seafarer’s life is necessarily an itinerant life and there are many provisions in the maritime code that provide for seamen who find themselves at ports, other than their home ports, ill, disemployed or unemployed. Seamen in that plight must be provided for. There is no class of people who should receive our continued solicitude so much, because they very often find themselves in foreign’ countries in circumstances we all dread - sick, lonely and abandoned. There is a responsibility on governments, shipowners and the framers of the law to ensure that they are provided for. It is good to see that such provision now exists in the maritime lav/; but I am somewhat concerned at the fact that the amendments contained, in the bill, some of which have been proposed by the Government;, appear, to eliminate what seemed, to me- to be. just and. salutary, provisions which have stood for some time. That is- my approach to the legislation generally.
I am: somewhat confused and-, in the absence- of information,, somewhat dismayed by the fact that some of- the- existing provisions are to be removed, by this amending bill. I» look forward* therefore; with- tremendous interest to- the explanations that will, be offered by the Minister in charge of the measure when we deal, with it in committee clause by clause. I say quite clearly and frankly that my opinion and’ decision on any clause that is debated in this chamber must be based on the argument that is presented and the explanations that are given. In that way at least, my approach to this bill will perhaps be in the best sense of parliamentary tradition - where the ebb and flow of argument finally convinces one who is in a position to exercise a vote. That will be my attitude towards the motion for the second reading of the bill and, if the motion is agreed to,, towards the consideration of the bill in committee. Having expressed’ those thoughts, B shall not prolong the second-reading debate any further. I shall follow the committee stage with great attention.
– in reply - A number of honorable senators, in addressing themselves to the bill, have commented upon the magnitude of the task that has been undertaken. One or two have graciously paid tribute to the officers of the Department of Shipping- and Transport, who have been responsible, in- the main, for the preparation of the measure. I appreciate that tribute very much because, as the responsible Minister; I- know the amount of work which departmental officers necessarily have had to put into the preparation of the- bill over a long period of years.
– I hope their policy isright - both for the industry and theworkers generally.
– For the- benefit; of Senator Cooke, L make it quite clear that: the policy decisions are the decisions of the Government. Apart- from the question, of policy decisions, I am sure honorablesenators will perceive in the bill an immense, amount of re-arrangement, of tidying up as it has been described; and of the elimination of anomalies and, in some cases, anachronisms. I pay my tribute, too; to the officers of the department for the work they have d’one. It has not been a lighttask, nor has i’t been easy.
I regret very much, that the Opposition - the official Opposition, I take it - has seen fit to oppose the motion for the second reading, The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), in commenting on the bill, spoke of its scope, diversity and comprehensiveness. Indeed, it covers a wide area in the field of navigation and shipping law. I should have thought that that fact in itself would be sufficient inducement for the official Opposition to vote, in favour of the motion for the second reading, no matter what it cared to say about the bill in committee. I am not impressed by the reasons that have been advanced by Senator McKenna for the decision of the Opposition not to support the second reading.
Senator- McKenna said that there had been an absence of adequate consultation between the Government and the parties that are affected” by the legislation. I reject that assertion outright! It simply is not true. A series, of conferences, were: held* by officers of the department with members of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia-, members of- the Merchant Service Guild of Australasia, and the shipowners. Those conferences took place over a long period. It i» quite- true;, as- Senator McKenna said, that fon nearly two years nothing has been heard of the bill by those parties, the reason being the.- immense amount of work that has been necessary subsequent to those consultations in- the preparation of the measure.
In May, 1956, the parties that had been consulted, were- informed) that there, would Be- noi further consultations, in the- form that had- obtained until; that? time: But I must point out that since then interested parties have by letter, and in some cases by personal deputation, asked for further amendment of the bill. Although the formal consultations, if 1 may so describe them, which took place until May, 1956, or a few months before then, have not been continued, there has been a continual presentation of views by the parties concerned. I think that in my second-reading speech I referred to the fact that the Government had encouraged, not discouraged, that exchange of ideas.
Senator McKenna said that one draft of the bill was referred to the Committee of Advice. He has been wrongly informed. No draft has been submitted to that committee, the reason being that all the parties represented on the committee have had an opportunity to present their separate cases to the Government in the manner I have indicated. They have all taken advantage of that opportunity. The draft was not submitted to the Committee of Advice either early in the piece or as recently as last week for that reason and for the rather more practical reason, with which I think most honorable senators will agree, that many of the proposed amendments which will attract the attention of the Committee of Advice as such would not draw from the committee anything like a unanimous decision. Indeed, in those circumstances the committee would merely become a forum in which each interested party presented its own viewpoint. So, I entirely reject the criticism that the interested parties have not had adequate opportunity to approach the Government and state their case.
The Leader of the Opposition referred also to an appointment which I made last week to meet various members of the seamen’s union. Originally, I made the appointment for last Monday. It is quite true that it was altered to Tuesday, and the unions were advised, on the Wednesday or Thursday of the week preceding, that it would not be, as originally fixed, for Monday, but the Tuesday. It was not until one o’clock or thereabouts on the Tuesday for which the appointment was arranged that I received word from the unions that they were not coming. There was a request that I see them on the following day, rather than on that day, but I am sure that Senator McKenna, in fairness, would be the first to acknowledge that a Minister just cannot arrange hiscommitments on that sort of basis.
The honorable senator referred to the fact that the bill was introduced on 27th March/ and that, in the time between then and now, there has not been sufficient opportunity to study the measure. I discussed this question with him, as he acknowledges, and at his suggestion accepted dates for this discussion of the bill. Senator McKenna will acknowledge that it was he who suggested that the bill should be discussed on three days of this week. I acceded to his request. But the criticism that the period from 27th March until to-day has not been sufficiently long to give the Labour party, or any other party, ample opportunity to discuss the bill in some detail seems to be dismissed by the fact that Senator McManus apparently has had no such difficulty. He has been able to see the people he wanted to see and to make his comments.
As to the extension of the timebeyond next Thursday, I can only say’ to the Opposition: The Leader of the Opposition, as a result of discussion with me, is aware that the Government has a pretty difficult programme of commitments. I do not want to stifle debate on thismeasure. I shall watch the progress of the bill and if it is at all possible and is found to be necessary, I shall give sympathetic consideration to seeing what we can do toextend the time for debate. I want to say also that I have had a brief opportunity to have a look at some of the amendments that are proposed. I do not want to forecast what is going to happen in committee,, but in respect of some of the amendmentsI have looked at I might find myself in a position to take a sympathetic view. I am not bringing a bill of this magnitude or scope to the Senate with any otherthought, I hope, than that, after all these years awaiting amendment of the act, the amending bill should go from this chamber the best that we can make it.
Senator Kennelly led for the Opposition, and largely as a result of his speech a number of clauses have been discussed’ which, the Opposition has informed me, it. will vote against if the explanation in respect of them are unacceptable. In an. endeavour to short-circuit the committee stages of the debate, I propose to deal now with the thirteen points raised, so that we may be able to eliminate, or at least reduce, discussion of those points when we reach the committee stage. The first one relates to clause 27, which provides that section 40b of the act, which deals with medical examination of young persons employed at sea, shall be repealed. This section was inserted by the 1934 act, to implement an international convention requiring medical examination of young seamen until they attained the age of eighteen years. A later convention, signed in 1946, required regular medical examination of all seamen and provided that seamen must produce certificates of fitness before being engaged. A new section will be inserted in Division 14 of Part II. - Health - to give effect to the 1946 convention, and there is no need to retain separate provision for the medical examination of young persons.
– Does the Minister say that the new provision is in the bill?
– Yes, in Division 14, Part II. - Health. Section 40b is therefore being repealed.
Clause 49 refers to payments by banks of sums received on allotment notes. Seclion 74 of the principal act, which the -clause seeks to repeal, provides that sums received by a bank on an allotment note shall be paid out only on application, through a superintendent, by the seaman himself, and, in the case of his death, by some person entitled under the act to receive his property. The section is out of date. There is now no reason why a superintendent should intervene between a bank and one of its clients merely because the client happens to be a seaman. It is proposed to repeal section 74.
Clause 72 relates to the statutory scale of provisions. Section 117 requires a shipmaster to supply his crew with provisions in accordance with the scale set out in schedule III., or as prescribed. Schedule III. was prepared many years ago and does not by any means reflect the present-day standard of victualling in Australian ships. It is proposed to repeal section 117 and replace it by a section requiring the master -of a ship registered in Australia, or engaged -in the coasting trade, to furnish provisions to each member of his crew in accordance with the scale which may be prescribed. It may well be that it will never be found necessary to prescribe a food scale, and in the meantime ships will continue to provide the ample and good food now being provided. By a later clause of the bill, the repeal of schedule Nl. will be proposed. The maritime unions have agreed to its omission from the act.
Clause 77 refers to refrigerating chambers. Section 122 of the act provides that every foreign-going steamship of more than 3,000 tons gross, registered in Australia, shall be provided with a mechanically cooled refrigerating chamber. With the great advance in refrigeration and shipbuilding since the section commenced to operate in 1921, it is now out-moded, and it is therefore proposed that it be repealed. A later clause of the bill will provide for amendment of the definition of “ accommodation “ in section 138b to include refrigerating chambers, so that the welfare of the crew, in regard to the storage of fresh food, will be looked after in the sections dealing with the standards of accommodation. Clause 83 seeks to repeal section 134 of the principal act. This section deals with the supply of clothing, blankets and tobacco and requires the owner of a foreign-going ship to cause to be carried in the ship, for sale to the crew from a slop chest, woollen blankets and tobacco. The section is a relic of the days of sailing ships and long voyages, and it is proposed now that it be repealed.
I come now to clause 86. Section 141 of the act refers to the recovery of debt from a seaman. This section states that a debt of more than 5s. cannot be recovered from a seaman until after the termination of his agreement. The section, however, has never been brought into operation. There has been no demand for it to operate. It is considered to be unnecessary and its repeal is proposed. Clause 110 refers to Division 22, section 176, which relates to reports on, and investigations into, deaths and accidents on board ship. There is only one section in this division. It provides for a report to be made to a superintendent of a death or accident on board a foreigngoing ship, and for investigation into the cause or death or accident to be made by the superintendent. The section is in the part of the act entitled “ Master and Seaman “, but it concerns deaths of passengers as well as seamen. It is proposed, therefore, to repeal section 176 and re-insert it in a late* part of the act, where it will have a mote general application. A subclause is added to ensure that an inquiry pending when the present section is repealed may validly proceed.
Clause 135 refers to sections 257 and 257a, relating to shifting cargoes. These two sections are being combined into one section dealing with bulk goods and ballast. Neither of the present sections, it will be observed, authorizes regulations to be made for the safe carriage of bunker’ coal, yet that is as important as if the coal were cargo, particularly in regard to ventilation. The section will enable all the necessary safety regulations to be made.
Clause 153 refers to section 293 of the principal act, which relates to the responsibility of master, owner or agents of a ship for compliance with Part VI. Section 293 provides that the master, owner and agents of a ship engaged in the coasting trade shall be jointly and severally responsible in the matter. In addition to providing a penalty for contravention, the section concludes with a provision that the ship iri respect of which the offence is committed may be disqualified by the Governor-General from engaging in the coasting trade. It is considered anomalous that, in addition to providing for the imposition of A penalty upon the person guilty of ah offence, the section should go on to disqualify a ship which meanwhile may be under a new command or even under entirely new Ownership.
– That amounts to ruling out the horse in addition to the trainer.
– Yes. So far, there has hot been any occasion to consider the disqualification of any ship, nor is there likely to be.
Clause 155 relates to section 301 of the principal act, concerning examination on oath as to wrecks. In this section there is provision that a copy of a report of interrogation of a person connected with a wreck shall be sent to the State Collector of Customs. This provision was inserted when the Department of Trade and Customs administered the act. The evidence is primarily of interest to the department administering the act although it is, of course, available to any other department interested. It will suffice if a copy is required to be sent to the Minister, as is provided in proposed new sub-section (2.).
Clause. 162 relates to section 356 of the principal act, concerning the establishment of courts of marine inquiry. The proposed amendment to that section is one of several amendments being made to Part IX to> remove possible doubts that these administrative courts may be exercising the judicial powers of the Commonwealth.
Clause 201 provides for the repeal of section 421 of the principal act, which, relates to returns as to earnings of ships. This section has never been made use of. It appears that it was taken from a somewhat similar proposal made in the United Kingdom in 1906, but not proceeded with. As the section has lain dormant for solong, and as it is difficult to see how any sound use could be made of it, we now propose to repeal it.
If any honorable senator would like a little light amusement, I suggest that he read the particular debate which concerned the inclusion of this provision in the act in 1912. Senator St. Ledger of Queensland’ asked whether it was suggested by a philosopher, a navigator, an economist or a unionist, and the Minister in charge of the bill, Senator Pearce, from Western Australia strangely enough, justified it on the ground that its inclusion in the bill could not do any harm anyway. It has neverbeen used and it is entirely unnecessary.
Clause 206 provides for the repeal of Schedule III. of the principal act, relating to provisions in the case of ships registered’ in Australia and British ships engaged in the coasting trade. As has been stated, Schedule III. was prepared many years agoand it does not by any means reflect thepresent day standard df victualling of Australian ships. It is proposed to repeal the schedule. Proposed new section 117 will’ enable regulations to be made setting out ari up-to-date scale of provisions for Australian ships if such is thought to be necessary.
I have supplied these explanations on the Various clauses of the bill with the object of cutting down debate at the committee stage; I hope that that objective will be attained. Many of the other points raised by honorable senators can, I think, be more properly covered in committee. I want to refer only to the concern expressed by Senator Byrne and also- earlier I think– by Senator Benn as to the lack df coincidence of the Queensland act recently passed but not yet proclaimed, I understand, with our own act. I merely point out that the Queensland act provides - as indeed does every other State act - for intra-state shipping solely, rather than interstate and overseas shipping. While acknowledging that it is desirable on a number of points that there should be coincidence, I do want to point out to Senator Byrne, particularly, that consultation has taken place between the Queensland authorities and our own Department of Shipping and Transport with a view to ascertaining, presumably within the policy of the Queensland Government, where the acts could be made to coincide.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title and citation).
– I take the opportunity of indicating to the committee that although I suggested earlier that the committee might confine its attention to matters that had been circulated, and to those in respect of which an indication had been given that a clause would be opposed, I am not proceeding with that intention at the moment for the reason that the Minister has indicated to me that he would like to consult his colleagues before acquiescing with my suggestion. Accordingly, in the time that remains until the committee rises, I presume we shall address ourselves to the bill in the usual way, clause by clause.
Clause agreed to.
– Clause 2 provides for the appointment of a date on which the act shall come into operation. A perusal of this clause indicates that sections 1 and 2 are to come into operation on the day upon which this act receives the Royal Assent. That leaves 206 clauses at large. It seems remarkable that a bill of this nature which has been under consideration for years should, even at this late stage, be postponed. The Minister might inform the committee of the particular considerations that justify the indefinite postponement of the various clauses and sub-clauses in the bill.
– It is not anticipated that the postponement of the remaining sections of the act shall be indefinite. As quite a number of provisions of the bill will entail the issue of regulations before they can be made effective, it is necessary to provide for the commencement of the various clauses on a date to be fixed by proclamation. I point out to the Leader of the Opposition that this procedure is not unusual, especially in respect of legislation affecting navigation. If he refers to page 2 of the act he will see a series of varying dates on which the present act was brought into being as legislation.
– Am I right in understanding that some of the provisions of the principal act have not yet been proclaimed?
– That is so.
– What is the explanation of that, particularly in view of the length of time this legislation has been under consideration? What is the use of the
Parliament passing an act in 1953 or 1956 and sections remain still not proclaimed? How long may we anticipate that the provisions this bill claimed to be beneficial, will be similarly postponed?
– I can only give the Leader of the Opposition an answer in very general terms. It is not proposed that the delay will be any longer than necessary, nor is it expected that the delay in the proclamation of the various sections will be as great as in the past. A good deal of work has been done in anticipation of the new legislation being passed, and it is hoped that we will not have the same experience in the future as we have had in the past.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Application to British ships on round voyages).
– This clause simply reads -
Section one A of the Principal Act is repealed.
Section 1a states -
The provisions of this Act expressed to apply to ships registered in Australia shall, subject to sections two and three of this Act, also apply to, and be in force on, other British ships whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are within the Commonwealth.
Why is it necessary to repeal, and not reenact, a provision of that nature? That particular power is expressed in section 5 of the United Kingdom act of 9th July, 1900, containing some eight sections which initiated the Commonwealth Constitution. Reference to section 5 of that act will indicate to the Minister the following: - . . and the laws of the Commonwealth shall be in force on all British ships, the Queen’s ships of war excepted, whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth.
The United Kingdom Parliament gave us that particular power at the time of the institution of the Commonwealth. I should like to know whether the bill, after repeal, will extend its scope to British ships. Will the Minister state, if he is able, the diference that will exist as between the act now in operation and the proposed amended act in relation to British and foreign ships? I am not asking, nor do I expect, the Minister to deal with the 206 clauses, but the committee should be informed, in general terms, of the substantive change proposed.
– The section to which the Leader of the Opposition refers was inserted in the act in 1921 before we had any experience of the operation of the act. Obviously it was not contemplated at that time that the need would ever arise to charter overseas vessels, with their crews, to assist in moving coastal cargoes and to retain those ships on the coast for a year or more. Yet, within recent years, that had to be done particularly for bulk cargoes, in order to keep great industries working. The British ships in question received permits under section 286, and, by the terms of that section, and of the permits, they were not deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade; that is to say, they did not have to comply with the provisions of the Navigation Act as to manning scales, wages, accommodation, and some other matters.
Section 1a, however, says that British ships engaged between Australian ports, as these ships were, are subject to the provisions of the act applicable to ships registered in Australia. Those provisions in many instances are the same as those applicable to ships engaged in the coasting trade, so that an exemption granted by a permit under section 286 would be nullified if section 1a were enforced. The section is of no value as a measure of protection for local shipping because the admission of overseas ships into the coasting trade is controlled by the permit system. It has never been enforced, and therefore, we propose to repeal it.
The question of the difference between the act and the bill generally in relation to both British and foreign ships is a big one. but I can possibly indicate one or two alterations that will take place. At present, under section 286, both British and foreign ships operate in this trade, the British ships under a permit and the foreign ships under an exemption certificate. It is proposed, under the new provision, that both British and foreign ships shall operate by permit, with the proviso that the British ships shall have preference.
Under the present legislation, where it can be demonstrated that the tourist trade suffers some injury or disadvantage, it is permissible to give a permit to a British ship. The same treatment will be accorded foreign ships under the amendment.
– I should like to ask the Minister why the provisions of the existing act have not been enforced. Apparently the Australian Parliament thought they had some virtue and would be of value to the Australian people. In my opinion, they have. If they were not enforced, why were they not enforced? Again, what advantage will accrue to Australia by making the position easier for foreign ships by putting them on the same permit basis as the British ships? Further, as Australia has become an almost independent nation under the Statute of Westminster, what action has been taken by the Government to make Australia independent of the shipping combines of both Britain and the foreign nations?
– Senator Cooke asks why section 1a has not been enforced. The answer is that the permits and exemption certificates used under section 286 have been the methods by which Australian shipping has been protected. Protection has been accorded through that section rather than through section Ia.
– But the section has not been enforced.
– It has been enforced. As to the more general aspect of the question about what Australia is doing with respect to establishing its own mercantile marine service, I can only point to the fact that on the Australian coast there are in existence shipping companies and government organizations which are providing a service that seems to be adequate.
Senator Cooke asks a question relating to policy. He asks why the Government does not enter the overseas shipping business. T merely point out to him that the resources of this country have been so stretched in recent years in providing all sorts of works and services that even if the Government’s policy were to provide overseas shipping services it would not have been possible, from the limited resources available, to build any more than just a few ships. 1 remind him, too, that in the overseas trade there are more than 400 ships at any one point of time between this country and England, so that just a few ships owned by this Government would not be of any value at all. Although overseas shippers do come in for criticism from time to time, the arrangements we have with the overseas shipping companies are such as to ensure that we have ships here on time to lift our valuable cargoes, especially our cargoes of primary products, which support this country on the overseas markets.
.- The Minister stated that under the new legislation it will be possible for permits to be granted to British and foreign ships to engage in the interstate tourist trade. When such ships are engaged in our tourist trade, will the men serving in them be working under the same conditions as the men serving on our own ships? If the conditions are to be different, does the Minister think it unfair that our ships have to engage in the interstate tourist trade at a heavier cost than must be borne by the British or foreign ships in respect of which the wages and conditions of both master and men are inferior to those applicable on our own ships?
– It is not proposed that foreign ships shall enter into the trade in violent or competitive opposition to the Australian ships. As has been pointed out, the Minister has to be satisfied that the tourist trade is suffering some injury before granting a certificate. Indeed, this provision has to be so implemented as to support the tourist trade. I, and I think most honorable senators, believe that to be very desirable in the interests o£ the country in general.
– I have no doubt that the Minister sincerely believes that it is in the interests of the tourist trade that permits or exemptions should be granted in certain cases, but I should like to have from him some indication as to the Government’s policy. Australia is only a young nation. It has a long way to go before reaching the ceiling in this industry. The Government does not seem to be at all ambitious to establish such a maritime service as will make Australia independent of the other nations of the world.
– It is not a question for committee discussion.
– It certainly will be if the Minister replies that, merely because we have made a small start and have a few ships, we should not compete with the shipping of the world and thus help to develop Australia.
– On a point of order, this is not a matter of general policy. Discussion must surely be confined to the clause before us.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - The point of order is not upheld.
– We are debating a bill of vital national importance. It is useless for us to sit in committee at all if the Government is not prepared to announce its policy to the people of Australia. I am asking how it proposes to make this country independent of overseas shipping interests so that we may convey our apples, our wheat, our wool and other produce’ cheaply to other countries. If we decide that, as yet, our nation is too small to compete on equal terms with other nations of the world we may never do anything about it. Is this bill a mere sell-out to overseas shipping combines? Are we always to tell those combines that we cannot answer their challenge of increased freights? If that is to be the Government’s answer, I suppose that we must accept it, but the answer we want is that as happened in America, nothing will go in and out of this country except at reasonable freights. That would enable us to withstand the demands of the combines.
Clause agreed to.
– Clause 4 reads -
Section two of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (2.).
On reference to section 2 of the act one finds that sub-section (2.) states -
This act shall be read and construed subject to the Constitution, and so as not to exceed the legislative power of the Commonwealth, to the intent that where any enactment thereof would, but for this sub-section, have been construed as being in excess of that power, it shall nevertheless be a valid enactment to the extent to which it is not in excess of that power.
Boiled down, it means that if any particular provision of the act is held to be invalid, and part of it might otherwise be valid, the valid part must stand. It seemed a counsel of wisdom to have some such provision in the principal act, and it stood the Commonwealth in very good stead in the case of Newcastle and Hunter River Steamship Company Limited and others against the Attorney-General, to which I referred in another context. It saved an appreciable portion of provisions, part of which were ultimately held to be valid.
– Is that not now generally covered by the Acts Interpretation Act?
– That may be so, and if it were it would certainty answer my question. This is but one instance of the grave disadvantage suffered by the committee in not possessing notes concerning the repeal of these provisions.
– The Acts Interpretation Act covers all sorts of legislation.
– That is true, but I cannot recall whether such a provision is to be found therein. If it is it would be a complete answer to my query. In view of the provision’s usefulness in the past my natural query was, “ Why throw away such an effective instrument “ ? If it is to be found in the Acts Interpretation Act well and good, but it merely highlights the difficulty in which honorable senators find themselves. We cannot be expected at short notice to be in possession of all the facts available to those who draw up these bills. If I had such information I should probably not be speaking on this clause at all.
– Do not apologize. You are on the right track.
– I am certainly not apologizing. I am merely justifying my earlier attack over our not being given notes.
– If he had committee notes he would be on another note altogether.
– I should certainly be on another clause.
– I thank my colleague, Senator Wright, for providing the answer. I understand that the provision sought by Senator McKenna is in section 15a of the Acts Interpretation Act.
Clause agreed to.
– Perhaps the Minister will satisfy my curiosity regarding this clause, which repeals section 3 of the principal act and inserts in lieu thereof sections 2a and 3. Proposed section 3 reads -
Except where the contrary intention appears, this Act does not apply to or in relation to a vessel belonging to the Commonwealth Naval Forces or to the naval forces of any other country, including a foreign country.
Original existing section 3 excludes application to British, Commonwealth or foreign navies. The new section repeats that provision and adds the words “ Except where the contrary intention appears “. I should like to ask the Minister where, in this bill, the contrary intention appears. To put it another way: In what parts is the bill expressed to apply to the navies of Britain or of any foreign country?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question concerning contrary intention is to be found in clauses 161 and 162, which deal with salvage and limitation of liability. I understand that there may be other instances, but cannot, without notice, say precisely where they appear. The other question was: In what respect does the bill purport to apply to ships of a British possession?
– I wish the Minister would answer that question too. Subsection (3.) excludes the application of the act to ships of any British possession. In what respect does the bill purport to apply to a ship of a British possession?
– It does not apply to naval ships of a British possession. It excludes them.
– If the Minister will refer to section 3 of the principal act, he will notice that the section does not refer to naval ships when it refers to ships of any British possession. It says -
– That includes naval ships.
– I understand that is so.
– It is a possible explanation. I understand the Minister is putting them all in the one category, in the type of ships referred to in sections 161 and 162?
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Section six of the Principal Act is repealed and the following sections are inserted in its stead: - “ 6c. For the purposes of this Act -
an officer is incompetent if he is unable, from any cause whatever, to perform efficiently his duties as an officer; and
an officer is guilty of misconduct if he is guilty of careless navigation, drunkenness, tyranny, failure of duty, want of skill or improper conduct. “ 6e. - (1.) For the purposes of this Act, subject to the next succeeding sub-section - “ (2.) Where-
a master, seaman or apprentice is at a port other than the port which is his proper return port under the last preceding sub-section;
he is entitled under a provision of this Act to conveyance to that proper return port by or at the cost of the owner of the ship; and
a proper authority at the first-mentioned port certifies, by instrument in writing, that he is of the opinion that it is desirable that the master, seaman or apprentice should be conveyed to a port (being a port other than that proper return port) specified in the instrument, the port so specified shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be the proper return port of the master, seaman or apprentice. “ (3.) A proper authority shall before issuing a certificate for the purposes of the last preceding sub-section, inquire into all the circumstances of the case, including the convenience of the master, seaman or apprentice and the expense of his conveyance.
– I draw the attention of the Minister to two definitions on page 7 of the bill. The first is - ship ‘ means a vessel not ordinarily propelled by oars only.
The second is - tidal water ‘ means a part of the sea, or a part of a river, within the ebb and flow of the tide at ordinary spring tides, but does not include a harbour;
Are those commonplace definitions which are understood everywhere, or is there some special reason for them? They appear to me to be rather odd definitions. Under the first one, the whale boat in which Bass discovered the Bass Strait would not be classed as a ship, whereas a little dinghy with a sail would be. With regard to the second definition, I know of harbours which are the mouths of rivers. Would there be any ambiguity in that definition?
– I am informed that those definitions are taken from the existing legislation, which in turn is taken from the Merchant Shipping Act of the United Kingdom.
– Before I deal with the amendment I propose to move, I desire to ask the Minister a question relating to proposed new section 6a. The section reads -
A person who, by this Act, is required to answer a question asked under or for the purposes of this Act shall be deemed not to have complied with that requirement unless he answers the question truly to the best of his knowledge, information and belief.
From my examination of the act, it appears that this is an entirely new provision. It does not appear in the principal act. What were the considerations which determined the inclusion of this proposed new section? Is the Minister in a position to indicate to the committee what particular sections of the act or what clauses of the bill require the furnishing of such answers? This is another instance where, without committee notes, I am obliged to throw the ball back at the Minister’s head. One cannot understand the import of that provision without combing both the bill and the act to see upon whom the obligation rests to answer questions. Who is obliged to furnish answers to questions? If the Minister is able to do so, will he indicate to the committee the relevant provisions of the act or the bill?
– The proposed new section is similar to a definition which appears in the act. It is half-way down page 6 of the reprinted act.
– Supposing he does not know, who is to decide whether his answer is correct or not?
– A court of law, presumably.
– The Minister referred to a definition on page 6 of the act. I think he will find that the definition is on page 7.
– Apparently we have different prints of the act. I am quoting from the 1953 consolidation. Section 413 provides -
The Minister, or any person authorized by him, may -
go on board any ship at any time and inspect the hull, boilers and machinery, equipments . ..
– I move -
Leave out paragraph (a) of proposed section 6c, insert the following paragraph: - “ (a) an officer is incompetent if he is inefficient in the performance of any of his duties as an officer; and “.
My query arises from the use in the proposed new section of the words “ from any cause whatever “. It seems to me that the use of those words would enable an officer to be declared incompetent if he were unable to perform his duties because he was unwell, because he had been delayed in reaching his ship through a breakdown in transport, or even if he were on strike, with the concurrence of his industrial organization. I think the words are altogether too wide and need some cutting down. I refer also to other words in the proposed new section 6c - namely, “ failure of duty “. Using only the relevant words, the provision reads -
For the purpose of this Act -
an officer is guilty of misconduct if he is guilty of careless navigation, drunkenness, tyranny, failure of duty, want of skill or improper conduct.
The same criticism can apply to the words “ failure of duty “. A man might fail to attend to his duty through sickness or because he was on strike. It is to cure that position that I have moved this amendment. I suggest to the Minister that that gets the pressure where it deserves to be - upon the performance of the man in or about his duties. I repeat that it should not apply, as it could under the clause as drawn, to an officer who is merely unwell and cannot perform his duties. He would certainly be unable, from that cause, to perform his duties efficiently or to perform them at all.
I had thought of proposing to the Minister that we should omit the words “ from any cause whatever “, but I was still in the difficulty that the provision would then read -
That would still have application where he was unwell, but I thought it would be better in the circumstances, having regard to the argument that I address to the Minister, if we were to re-draft the provision so that it was directed at the actual performance of the duties.
I think the Minister will see some merit in my line of argument. The draftsman may have better ideas about re-drafting the section. If the Minister accepts the principle at which I am aiming, there should be no difficulty in drafting an acceptable alternative.
.- I agree with the principle that has been enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition, but I am not sure that the word “ inefficient “, which appears in the amendment he has moved, is the correct word to use. I know what Senator McKenna has in mind, and I agree with him entirely - a situation where an officer is not able to carry out his duties for any reasonable cause. A question arises as to the proper definition of “ inefficient “. I suppose the word is derived from the Latin prefix “ in “ meaning not, and the root word “ facio “ meaning I do. Therefore, the word means if he is not able to carry out or do his duty.
If an officer is unable to perform his duties, it may be for one of the very justifiable reasons that have been mentioned by Senator McKenna. It seems to me that the words “ without reasonable cause or excuse “ ought to be included in the amendment. I think it is a question of drafting. Every one should agree with the principle; but I repeat that I am not happy about the use of the word “ inefficient “, because it does not seem to cover everything we want to do.
– I support the submissions of the Leader of the Opposition and Senator McManus. When an officer cannot perform his duties because of circumstances that are entirely beyond his control, I think the word “ inefficient “ is the wrong word to use. The inclusion of that word in the legislation may lead to his being penalized or punished in circumstances where he is willing to do in full what is demanded of him but which he is prevented from doing.
– The honorable senator should read the amendment before he speaks. The word “ inefficient “ was used by his Leader.
– That is so, but the Government must give more consideration to this provision before it allows it to become law. Despite any sentiments we express in this chamber, what is written in the law is what counts when the matter is brought up for determination. Therefore, I appeal to the Minister to have the law written in such a way that, when a man is prevented from doing his duties by sickness or any other reasonable cause, he will not be punished.
.- I rose awhile ago to ask the Minister for some information about the interpretation of proposed new section 6c (b) which reads in part - an officer is guilty of misconduct if he is guilty of . . . tyranny . . .
I should like to know exactly what the word “ tyranny “ means. Are we to understand that, if an officer speaks sharply to a seaman, he may be guilty of tyranny? Has the Minister any knowledge of officers having been charged with acting in a tyrannical manner?
– The honorable senator ought to know something about it. Has be never heard of the tyranny of words?
– Senator Kendall might know something about it. I do not believe in having meaningless words in a bill; if possible, redundant words should be eliminated. I support the amendment; it will certainly satisfy me.
– I understand and accept the principle which the Leader of the Opposition is attempting to introduce. Senator McKenna said that he had considered the omission of the words “ from any cause whatever “ from proposed section 6c (a). That course commends itself to me. A provision reading - arl officer is incompetent if he is unable to perform efficiently his duties as an officer would be capable of proper interpretation by a court of marine inquiry. I confess that 1 did not quite follow the honorable senator’s argument as to why he had discarded that proposal. I repeat that it commends itself to me,
.- We would be assisted in this discussion if we knew to what provisions of the act it is proposed to relate proposed section 6c. The section commences with the words -
For the purposes of this Act -
an officer is incompetent if he is unable . . . and certain provisions follow. Before any drafting variations are indulged in, I think that it would be wise for the draftsman to comb the act. If he has a note of the matter, perhaps we could be supplied with an indication of the context in which the expression is used that, for the purposes of the act, an officer is incompetent.
– Does the honorable senator desire that it be written into the act?
– It would be a sensible thing to do, even for the benefit of Senator Cooke, to define the contexts in which this statutory direction, to which he will be a party in a moment, are to apply.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania - Leader of the Opposition [9.31]. - The Minister asked why I still felt some difficulty about the words “ from any cause whatever “ being deleted from proposed new section 6c, paragraph (a). If those words are deleted the clause will read -
Some of the bad aspects of the provision are taken away when you omit the words, but just as the Minister said that the circumstances would be properly interpreted toy a court of marine inquiry, it would still be open to anybody to allege incompetence -against a person who is unable to perform his duties efficiently. In other words, if a man is ill and lying in bed, he is in exactly that position. He is unable to perform his duties efficiently. That is a literal interpretation of the act, even dropping the words. I should consider the omission of the words an improvement, but I do not think that that really goes to the root of my objection. I confine the objection to the one point alone, so that we shall not confuse it. I suggest that an officer is unable to perform his duties efficiently if he is lying in bed ill, through no fault of his own. He is unable to perform his duties at all, let alone efficiently. The whole purpose of my amendment is to get away from that concept and to suggest the following form of words: - “ An officer is incompetent if he is inefficient in the performance of any of his duties as an officer.” A proposal of that kind makes it necessary that the man be in fact performing his duties and that the lack of efficiency must be in relation to the performance of them.
– His performance might be bad because he was ill.
– That is what I say. That would be a bad performance, but he should not be declared incompetent unless he is in fact attempting to carry out his duties - doing something positive. My objection is that a man could be lying in his bed, sick, suffering from an illness not induced by himself and that the provision, even without the words “from any cause whatever “, could apply to him.
– But does it need a statute to say that incompetence, ordinarily understood, means inefficiency?
– I should not have thought so. I should have thought that the terms were relatively synonymous. If the honorable senator cares to suggest that the paragraph be left out altogether, I shall not be heartbroken.
– We ought to hear the context, I think.
– I agree.
– Could not the provision be read in conjunction with section 20 of the principal act?
– Section 20 deals with the incapacity of a certified person. It provides that if such a person appears to be unfit to perform the duties required of him, the Minister may require him to submit himself for medical examination. That is not in connexion with incompetence.
– It relates to unfitness.
– Sub-section (3.) states that the Minister shall thereupon causean inquiry to be held. That sub-section, of course, will be repealed by clause 16 of this bill, and it is proposed , to inserta new subsection (3.)
– I do not know where that leads me. This is the kind of paper chase that occurs when we start to deal with this matter.
-If an officer were unable to perform his duties for, say, four days owing to influenza, it would not be necessary for an inquiry by the Minister to determine that fact.
– That is right. That is why I want different words.
– The words “ by circumstances outside his control “ are necessary.
Senator McKENNA.Something of that kind is needed, and the Minister accepts that as a principle.
I wonder whether the Minister would accept the suggestion that we postpone consideration of this proposed new section for two reasons: First, to meet the point raised by Senator Wright, that weshould like to know of the context in which this provision isto be applied; and, secondly, to give all of us an opportunity to see whether we can findan acceptable amendment.
– I invite the attention of the honorable senator to section 15 (1.) of the principal act, particularly to the first three words.
– That section commences “ Certificates ofcompetency . . . shall be granted anaccordance withthis act . . . “. The section relates to one kind of certificate that is issued to officers.
– An officer is deemed to be incompetent if he is inefficient.
Senator- McKENNA. - That section relates to the holding of a certificate of competency, and we are dealing with a section which provides that an officer is incompetent if he is inefficient.
– Section 20 retains the word “ unfit “. I think that the matter should be sent back to the draftsman.
– The position makes for confusion between incompetency, inefficiency and unfitness. We have the three terms used, one might say, relatively in the same sense. I think that it might be of advantage for the Minister to accept the suggestion that we postpone consideration of the provision. We still have a couple of days to go. The Opposition is trying to be objective in this matter, and we want the best result. The Minister agrees that some change in the wording would be an improvement. I should be happy to agree to a postponement to see whether or not we could find a formula that would be acceptable.
– In order to assist the committee in its consideration, and to reply particularly to Senator Wright, I refer to section 364 of the act, especially to paragraphs (d) and (e), and also to section 372, which relates to power to cancel and suspend a certificate.
– Section 372 provides thata court of marine inquiry may cancel or suspend acertificate.
– A court of marine inquiry is the only body that can say that an officer is incompetent.
-Inthe proposed new section that we are discussing, we are applyinga test as to what constitutes incompetency. I thinkthat the provision has been drafted far too widely. That has been generally agreed. All that we needto do is to agree upon a correction. I do not think we should rush it. I think it would be better to give the matter mature consideration. Would the Minister agree to that being done? As an alternative I am willing, if I must, to consider another form.
– On reflection, I feel disposed to accept the amendment as submitted by Senator McKenna. That is, “ an officer is incompetent if he is inefficient in the performance of any of his duties as an officer “.
– 1 think that the very argument that Senator McKenna originally advanced against the provision defeats his amendment. I should like to hear his views on that, because the amendment does not cover the very thing he wanted to be covered.
– lt is a shame that any doubt should be cast on. the amendment when the Minister has indicated his disposition to accept it. However, I cannot accept “inefficient” as being synonymous with “ incompetent “. “ Incompetent “ seems to relate to ability and “ inefficient “ relates to “ not in fact doing “ and not necessarily to ability or inability. “ Inefficient “ is derived from the Latin “in “, meaning “ not “, and “ facio “, meaning “ I do “.
– “ Facio “ refers to “ doing “.
– According to the Latin, “ inefficient “ means “ you are not in fact doing “, whereas “ incompetent “ goes to the capacity or incapacity of a person to do a thing.
– Do you not accept “ incompetent “ to mean the doing of a thing badly - not refraining from doing it? If a man refrained from doing a thing, it could not be said that he did it badly. He would simply not be doing it.
– Doing a thing badly that he can do well. “ Incompetent “ means not merely that he is doing it badly. He is unable to do it. “ Inefficient “ means he is not doing it well. He may be able to do it well. Therefore, I cannot see that the terms are synonymous, although in popular parlance I think they are used as synonymous expressions. I merely make this observation at this stage because the Minister seems to be disposed to accept the amendment.
– I am interested in the elimination of the phrase “ from any cause whatever “ because that seems to be a dangerous thing. As to hairsplitting concerning the meanings of the other two words, I think we can leave that to the court. I am concerned to see the phrase eliminated, because it could lead to a man being misjudged.
– I think the phrase “ from any cause whatever “, should be eliminated. I should go further and provide explicitly than an officer shall not be penalized for making a decision based on his best judgment - not what he likes to do but what he thinks should be done in the interests of efficiency - if something occurs. Steps should be taken to obviate any officer in the merchant service from being placed in a position whereby he may be penalized through something outside his own personal control, such as a strike, illness, circumstances of weather and the like. If an officer does his best in the circumstances, he should not be liable to a penalty. Although I am not a legal man, I say that as a point of justice this is the quintessence of the argument. If an officer has done his best, he should not be penalized in any sense whatsoever. Without trying to be humorous, I apply the same argument to the Minister with respect to this bill. The position should be that if an individual has done his best in circumstances outside his control, whether an act of God or from some other cause, he should not be penalized.
– What does the honorable senator think should happen if a captain loses his ship?
– If he did his best to save the vessel, he should not be penalized.
– From a professional point of view, I object to the use of the term “ incompetent “. I and most others in my profession have been given certificates to say that we are competent. In my opinion, incompetence can only be shown if I or my professional brothers are taken before a court of marine inquiry, and I believe that it is not valid for members of the Parliament to lay down what shall be called incompetence. It is the duty of a court of marine inquiry, properly constituted and headed by a judge of the land, to go into all the evidence and to decide whether we are incompetent or not. It is not for us to decide that issue in this chamber.
– Would not the court interpret the act?
– The court has to apply the provisions of the act.
– I also direct attention to the words “from any cause whatever “. “ Any cause “ may include sudden illness, which is covered by section 20 of the principal act. I think that the words “ incompetent “, and “ from any cause “ should be looked at.
.- With regard to the idea that we can just leave a blank page or a series of inconsistent expressions and rely on the court to interpret them according to justice, I point out that the court’s duty is to interpret the expressed word of this Parliament.
– In accordance with the act-
– Please do not try to “ Cooke me up “. What I am trying to say is, that it is our duty in committee to be as careful as we can to use consistent expressions, so that a judge will be able to understand Parliament’s intention. I suggest that the fact that the wording of the provision has given rise to discussion of its meaning indicates that there has been a contrary perception of what is really intended. I am going to take just a few minutes to explain the way I see it. If honorable senators look at section 15 of the principal act, they will see that the expression “ competency “ relates to certificates issued to officers, as Senator Kendall has mentioned. The section provides -
Certificates of competency . . . shall be granted in accordance with this Act for each of the following grades of officers: -
And it goes on to classify the various officers. Then, section 18 provides -
Subject to the condition in the next succeeding sub-section mentioned, a certificate in the form prescribed shall be delivered to every applicant who passes the prescribed examination satisfactorily,-
That is the first element of competency - and gives satisfactory evidence that he possesses the qualifications prescribed for the holder of the certificate,-
That is the second element of competency - and of his sobriety, experience, ability, physical fitness, and general good conduct.
There, I suggest, the court would find the most ample expression of Parliament’s intention as to what were the ingredient qualifications of competency.
– Is the intention or the word taken?
– Please, please spare me from that! Then, when we turn to section 20 of the principal act, we see that if at any time the holder of a certificate appears to be unfit to perform the duties required of him, he may be required to submit himself for medical examination. When I first interjected and said that “ unfit “ certainly does not mean “ inefficient “ I had not read section 1 8 in context with section 15. To my uninitiated mind it would appear that the words “ unfit to perform the duties “ in section 20 are used as a synonym of incompetency. I think that suggestion derives support from a reading of sub-section (3.) because if a person is unfit to perform his duties the Minister shall thereupon cause an inquiry to be held by a court of marine inquiry into a charge of incompetency. Section 364(1.) of the principal act, to which the Minister refers, gives a court of marine inquiry jurisdiction to make inquiries, inter alia, as to charges of incompetency -
It is too late in the day to object to the use of the word “ incompetency “, but it would be a satisfaction to the mind if the draftsman took into consideration the entire group of sections into which the idea has to be co-related, and considered whether section 20 should be amended to incorporate the word “ incompetent “. The amending bill with which we are now dealing would, I suggest, then be improved if proposed new section 6C. (a) were omitted. Any charge of incompetency would then be dealt with upon the basis of sections 15, 18, 20 and 364, and a consistent indication would then be afforded of what Parliament was endeavouring to indicate were the ingredients of incompetence vis a vis an officer, under this act.
SenatorMcMANUS(Victoria) [9.53].- I have listened with interest to the remarks of honorable senatorsandI am not happy about attempting to improve the wording of this particular clause without adequate thought. I am impressedby the remarks of Senator Wright. The Minister up to date has been most helpful. Quite a number of submissions and explanations by him have been of considerable assistance to me. I appeal to him to help the committee still f urther by agreeing to the suggestion that consideration of this proposed new section be postponed and referred back to the draftsman who, after consultation with the Minister, almost certainly could produce a provision which would give satisfaction to all of us. I make that appeal to the Minister in the interests of the committee and the legislation in general.
– I am prepared to accede to the request that consideration of proposed new section 6c (a) be postponed.
– Will the Minister consider the second amendmentI have circulated, namely, that after the word “ duty “ in proposed new section 6c (b) the words “ without reasonable cause or excuse “ be inserted? I have had the opportunity of conferring with the draftsman who suggested - and I concur - a neater form of wording, so that the paragraph will read -
I ask the Minister to take into consideration the altered form of the proposed amendment.
– I shall do so.
Proposed section 6c postponed.
– Proposed new section 6e provides that in the case of a master and a seaman who have been engaged for service on a ship, the proper return port is to be such as is agreed upon between the owner and the master, in one case, and the master and the seaman in the other. In the absence of agreement, theproper return port is the port at which theseaman was engaged. That has been a cardinal principle in seafaring practice over the years.
The broad effect of proposed new subsections (2.) and (3.) is that where a master, seaman or apprentice entitled to repatriation benefits is at a port other than his proper return port, a proper authority, who might be the Consul for Ghana, for example, has the right to say, “ You are not going back to your proper return port. You are goingto some other port.” Proposed sub-section (3.) provides that a proper authority shall, before issuing a certificate to that effect, inquire into all thecircumstances of the case, including the convenience of the master, seaman or apprentice, and the expense of his conveyance.
As I understand it, proposed sub-sections (2.) and (3.) are entirely new provisions. I have been informed, and I have found nothing to the contrary, that no similar provisions appear in the present act. Will the Minister inform the committee of the reason why a consular office in some far distant port can decree, and issue a certificate to the effect, that a man whose proper return port is, for example, Sydney, may be returned to Perth? In addition, I am unable to find any provision to ensure that such a man shall be translated from Perth to Sydney. Why is this new element imported into the act? If such a man is put off a ship at Perth, is he to be required to return from Perth to Sydney under his own power and at his own expense? Will the Minister state why it is necessary that these provisions be inserted in the act at all? It will be noted that the amendment that I have circulated on behalf of the Opposition seeks to omit those two proposed subsections. I might say to the Minister that this is a provision that is regarded most seriously by the union. It has a very great fear that a man could be dropped off at Perth and have to stagger, under his own power, as it were, and at his own expense, all the way to Sydney. The matter does call for particular explanation by the Minister. To put the matter formally before the committee, I move -
Leave out sub-sections (2.) and (3.) of proposed section 6e.
.- Before the Minister replies, I should like to indicate the viewpoint upon proposed new sub-section (2.) which was troubling me. Where it is proposed to change the proper return port, as defined in paragraphs (a) and (b) of sub-section (1.), sub-section (2) contains an elaborate provision. Where a master or seaman or apprentice is at a port other than his proper return port, and he is entitled to conveyance back to his proper return port, then paragraph (c) of sub-section (2.) operates. It provides - (2.) Where-
That is, the port where the seaman is - certifies, by instrument in writing, that he is of the opinion that it is desirable that the master, seaman or apprentice should be conveyed to a port specified in the instru ment,
That is a port, specified in the instrument in writing, other than his normal proper return port. I desire to emphasize that this is almost a peculiar instrument of Canberran parliamentary draftsmanship giving final, conclusive and inexaminable authority to an official. Once the official has declared in writing his opinion as to the desirability of specifying a port other than the normal return port, nobody can override it. By this sleight-of-hand draftsmanship, his opinion is made the determining factor. The desirability of the port is no longer the determining factor. That is the very manner whereby officialdom and authority oust adjudication and prevent a court from determining what an individual is entitled to prima facie.
I am not saying that in this instance this authority should not be confided in a conclusive way to the official concerned. It may be that there are considerations about this decision of a proper return port that make it appropriate for a final and conclusive determination by an official. I rose before the Minister spoke to the amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition so that I may be afforded real assistance in assessing the justification for introducing this form of conclusiveness of the opinion of an official.
– The provision says “ proper authority “.
– Do not let us be misled by that. Let us see who he is.
– In some of the small ports, he may be just a customs clerk.
– According to the expression used in proposed section 6 (1.), “ proper authority “, in relation to a port in Australia, means the superintendent at the port.
– That is all right.
– In relation to a port in a Commonwealth country other than Australia, “ proper authority “ means a person who, under the law of that country, has, with respect to that port, powers, duties and functions similar to the powers, duties and functions of a superintendent under our act. Ghana has been mentioned as a Commonwealth country. One could cite others. Is it a matter of extreme satisfaction that the officials in those places performing duties analogous to those of a superintendent of an Australian port should have the final and conclusive determination as to which port it is desirable, in their opinion, for the master or seaman to be sent, that not being his natural return port?
– Of course, it is not.
– I am not saying it is not. 1 ask the Minister to justify it as the appropriate authority in this instance.
– Before the Minister replies, I ask one question in connexion with this matter. As the Minister knows, the difference between the home port and the outport is that the men are entitled to two days’ home port shore leave. That leave must be given in the home port. They are also entitled to four days of what is termed outport shore leave, which can be given in any port. If it is going to be possible, during the course of a ship’s articles, to change, for some reason, a seaman’s home port, how will it be possible to settle the wages bill for the month? Those charged with this responsibility will not know what home port to use if some authority has changed the home port to somewhere else overnight.
– The point at issue seems substantially to be “ What is the justification for giving to a superintendent - a proper authority - this particular power, and how is that power to be exercised? “ It has been said that this is an entirely new provision, that it introduces something which was not in the original act. As I understand the position, the implication is that this is something unknown to shipping law. In point of fact, a provision similar to this has been in the Merchant Shipping Act of the United Kingdom since 1906.
– But it is new to our own act.
– lt is new to our own legislation. Section 47 of the English Merchant Shipping Act 1906 reads -
If any question arises as to what return port a seaman is to be sent to in any case, or as to the route by which he should be sent, that question shall be decided by the proper authority, and in deciding any question under this provision, the authority shall have regard both to the convenience of the seaman and to the expense involved, and also, where that is the case, to the fact that a British ship which is in want of men to make up its complement is about to proceed to a proper return port.
We propose to write into our own act the following: - (3.) A proper authority shall, before issuing a certificate for the purposes of the last preceding sub-section, inquire into all the circumstances of the case, including the convenience of the master, seaman or apprentice and the expense of his conveyance.
– His conveyance to where?
– His conveyance to the new proper return port.
– To the new one?
– I should think to both.
– If it were clear that it was to the proper return port one would not have very much fault to find with it, but it does not say that.
– It would apply to the new return port.
– Only to getting him that far?
– Yes. It would be decided by the proper authority, after consultation with the seaman or master as to convenience and expense of transport.
– Expense to whom - to the employer or the seaman? That is very important.
– The expense to the employer of returning him.
– Is it implied that if the expense is too heavy for the employer it must be borne by the man?
– Not at all. The proper authority must take into consideration the factor of convenience.
– Would the Minister mind repeating the opening words of the Merchant Shipping Act?
– They are-
If any question arises as to what return port a seaman is to be sent to in any case . . .
– That relates to a dispute as to the return port. That is not carried through to this amendment.
– I am merely pointing to the similarity between the two acts.
– It is a matter of similarity only. There has been a very definite change in the wording.
– There is no dispute in the legislation before us as to what is the proper return port. The provision in the British act has relevance when the seaman is sent to some other port, and the location of the return port is in question. The legislation before us gives effect to a completely different principle.
– The proper authority cannot make a decision of his own volition. He must first consider the circumstances prescribed in the clause. He must heed the convenience of the master or seaman. As a practical example, it has been suggested that a seaman may ship in Brisbane and be discharged in Fremantle. His proper return port would be Brisbane, but his family may be in Melbourne and he may wish to return there. The provision will cover that kind of case.
– From what the Minister has said, the clause is intended to be wholly beneficial. In the example quoted the man would doubtless prefer to pay his fare between Perth and Melbourne. If he went to Brisbane he would have to pay his own fare down to Melbourne. If it were intended to meet the rare case in which the convenience of a seaman was involved I could understand it, but that is the first glimmer that I have had of the purpose of these two provisions.
– He need not be obliged to pay his fare between Perth and Melbourne.
– I should like Senator Kendall to show me under what provision in the bill a man so landed at Perth would be paid the cost of conveyance to Melbourne.
– He might demand the fare to Brisbane, but probably he would rather have it to Melbourne and not be obliged to travel there from Brisbane.
– I can see that he might get home quicker that way and not have to pay his way back from Brisbane. On the other hand, in certain circumstances, the provision could operate to the economic advantage of the shipowner. I support Senator Wright in the suggestion that, subject to certain conditions, it is left to the mind of the proper authority. He must first inquire into all the circumstances, including convenience and expense. I could accept the clause if there were a protective provision to the effect that no seaman should incur any greater expense than if he were returned to his original home port. In the absence of such an assurance I must persist with my opposition. I think Senator Kendall will appreciate the need for such safeguards. If you can concede that the clause is designed for the convenience of officers, master and men, you must also concede that the people concerned should be involved in no greater expense than would ordinarily be the case. Such an assurance would dispel the grave fears of the union. On the bill before us, those fears are justified. If I had been informed earlier of the purpose of this provision I would have drafted the amendment along the lines that I have just indicated.
– I should not think that any master would attempt to put over the sort of thing you are afraid of.
– It is not a question of what happens in the field, but of what can be done under the legislation. If we leave a gap some day a shipowner will go through it. I would certainly support the provision if it contained a safeguard such as I have indicated. Otherwise, I should have to support the amendment seeking the exclusion of these two subsections.
.- I have obtained a copy of Temperley on the Merchant Shipping Act. Section 47 of the 1906 act was read by the Minister. Senator Byrne’s interjection indicated that he, too, detected a strong divergence between the draftsmanship of that act and the legislation before us. I propose to occupy a little time in stating the provisions of section 45 of the Merchant Shipping Act. The section reads -
For the purpose of this Part of this act, either the port at which the seaman was shipped or a port in the country to which he belongs, or some other port agreed to by the seaman, in the case of a discharged seaman, at the time of his discharge, shall be deemed to be a proper return port.
Provided that in the case of a seaman belonging to a British Possession who has been shipped and discharged out of the United Kingdom the proper officer may treat a port in the United Kingdom as a proper return port.
There you have, in the old English tradition, the statement of a rule of law, not to be varied by the opinion of an official, but a rule of law to be interpreted by an official, that interpretation being capable of subsequent adjudication by a court. Note the complete change when the British progeny is transplanted in Canberra. We state a rule in paragraphs (a) and (b) of sub-section (2) of proposed section 6e, but then, by this peculiar draftsmanship, we give to an official the power to say that in his opinion it is desirable that the proper return port shall be other than that which the Parliament has prescribed in paragraphs (a) and (b). We give him complete power to substitute another port as the proper return port. That is entirely different, as I read it, from the position under sections 45. 46 and 47 - particularly section 47 - of the British Merchant Shipping Act. Under the British act, if any question arises as to the return port to which a seaman has to be sent, or as to the route by which he should be sent, the question has to be decided by the proper authority, not according to his view that some other port, perhaps on the African coast, is desirable, but according to the true interpretation of section 45 and section 46 of the act. It does not give the official authority, as does sub-section (2.) of this proposed new section, to substitute, according to his own opinion - an unexaminable opinion - another port which he believes is desirable.
Whereas under the British act the official, in his interpretation, is required to have regard to convenience and expense - I emphasize the word “ expense “ - subsection (3.) of this proposed new section states -
A proper authority shall, before issuing a certificate for the purposes of the last preceding sub-section, inquire into all the circumstances . . .
The legal obligation is to inquire into the circumstances, but the bill does not say that he shall have regard to them. There is no legal requirement that can invalidate his specification of an opinion in the instrument in writing if he inquires and ignores. This is a perfect instance of the new brand of officialdom that is becoming inveterate in the federal statutes, and which is the hallmark of those who seek to displace British courts of justice by the opinions of officials.
I have risen because I feel that it is necessary to consider the context from which these provisions have been taken - namely, sections 45 to 47 of the Merchant Shipping Act. I do not want to use the word “ twist “, but 1 have something like that in mind when I say there is a complete divergence between the British idea of the interpretative function of an official and the Canberran legislative idea of a substitutional function to override paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of sub-section (2.) of proposed section 6e, which contain the rules of law laid down by the Parliament.
– I desire to ask the Minister a question. Is there any good reason why a man should be returned to any port other than his proper return port unless he himself wishes to be returned to another port?
– I do not think so. I have paid particular attention to what Senator Wright has said.
I would be prepared to accept an amendment to the effect that the superintendent shall be required to inquire into and have regard to the circumstances.
.- It would be rather difficult to frame an amendment off the cuff. I am most grateful even for any audience for my point of view. As we are postponing proposed new section 6c, would it be convenient for the Minister also to postpone the consideration of proposed new section 6e?
– I support what has been said by Senator Wright. I was associated for some time with a gentleman who, during the last war, had a position of authority in the Civil Constructional Corps. On one or two occasions he regaled me with details of how he had fixed certain people to whom he was opposed. He told me how he shot them off to certain undesirable areas and went down to the railway station to smile as they went away.
This clause would enable an official at a certain port, if he had reason to be hostile to a certain seaman, to say to him, “ I have inquired into your circumstances, and I have decided that instead of your going back to Melbourne, which is your home port, I shall send you up to Darwin”, or Broome or somewhere of the sort. I think that is a most undesirable power to give to any public functionary. If anybody says that an official probably would not use the power in that way, I say to him .that I know of instances where such a thing has been done. In -the fixe and excitement of an industrial dispute, it is quite likely such a thing could be done. The British act, which refers to agreement by .the seaman in regard to the place where he is to go, is more in conformity with the principle of justice than is a provision which appears to give to a public authority straight-out power to decide to send a seaman anywhere he likes to send him.
– I was very impressed with the answer that the Minister gave to the question asked by Senator McCallum. I think Senator McCallum put his finger on the point at issue when he asked the Minister whether there would be any circumstances in which a man would be returned to a port other than his proper return port, unless the man agreed to that. The Minister replied that he did not think so. If a man will not be returned to a port other than his proper return port without his concurrence, we do not want these provisions at all. Why cannot they be replaced with a provision which states the simple proposition that a man will be returned to a port other than his proper return port only with his concurrence? That is the present position. I am assured by the unions that that is the way the system operates at present. A man is not returned to a port other than his home port unless he asks for that. Why cannot we leave it as it is? A change from that position will cause much concern among the maritime unions.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Chairman having reported accordingly,
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 April 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1958/19580429_senate_22_s12/>.