2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.36 p.m. and read prayers. 2 e
– Is the honorable senator asking a question without notice?
– I wish to ask a question without notice, but I wish to preface it by drawing attention to the fact that in several Acts that have been, passed by this Parliament - I am particularly referring to the Defence Act - -there is a power to make regulations, and either House of the Parliament has a right to disallow any of the regulations within a certain number of sitting days.
– The honorable senator cannot ask a question without notice, and at the same time move a motion, though he is perfectly in order in asking a question on a matter of privilege.
– Am I to understand, that the ‘time for giving notices of motion has gone?
-Gol. NEILD.- I thought that a question of privilege could be raised at any time?
– After notices of motion. .
– This is a” very small matter, indeed.
– I want to know whether the honorable senator is asking a question without notice? If so, he must not argue the question. If he desires to raise a question of privilege he must wait until the notices of motion have been, given..
– The whole question is this, if you will allow me to explain. As there are very few days left within which it is possible for the Senate to discuss the disallowance of any regulations formulated under the Defence Act, I want to know from the representatives of the Government whether they can tell me on Avh.it day a’ motion for the disallowance of three of the regulations can be entertained.
– The. honorable senator ought not to argue the question. He can ask a question, but he cannot argue the matter.
.- Then I cannot state it.
– The honorable senator will see, if he looks at the Standing Orders, that they provide that in asking’ a question -
No argument shall be offered … nor any facts stated except so far as may be necessary to explain such question.
– That is exactly the Standing Order . that I thought I was complying with. As there are only a few days left during which it is possible for the Senate to take into consideration the Defence regulations, I want to know from the representatives of the Government what day would be convenient for me to give notice? I have the notice of motion prepared.
– This will be a convenient day. The honorable senator can give notice of motion for tomorrow. The matter is one which can then be discussed, as Thursday is private members’ day. On the quest-ion of the disallowance, by the Senate of regulations that have to be laid upon the table for a given period - it may be for fifteen days or longer - it is always understood that if a Member of Parliament gives notice that he will take, action, that notice is quite sufficient in itself, to enable the matter to be dealt with, without an absolute decision of the House. That has been the practice in the Parliament of South Australia. There, although the fifteen days may have elapsed within which a House of the Legislature could disallow a regulation, still, if notice of motion has been given within the fifteen days, the. action of the House is considered to be legal, and no objection is taken to it
– That would all depend on the Act under which the regulations were framed.
– Very possibly. ‘
– I hope I shall be permitted to point out that if discussions on the disallowance of regulations or the acts of the Government ‘are to be restricted to the few hours allowed for private members’ business, it may possibly never be possible to bring such a matter forward.
However, I will give notice now, so that my motion may appear upon ‘the businesspaper. It is as follows : -
That this Senate, in terms of section £24, subsection 4, of the Defence Act 1^03, hereby disallows the following regulations issued under the said Act, namely, part 3, regulation 72, portion objected to (g); part 3, regulation 83, portions objected to (e) and (i) ; part 5, regulation 27, portions objected to (20), (21), (30), and (44); part 5, regulation 28, portions objected to («), (d), (a) and
The President laid upon the table his warrant, appointing Senator Dobson and Senator Lt.-Col. Neild to act as Temporary Chairman of Committees, when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman is absent.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Provisional regulations under the Electoral Act.
Transfers df amounts approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council, financial year 1903-4, under the Audit Act.
Notification of the acquisition of land at Mosman, New South Wales, for a post and telegraph office.
New regulation and addition to .regulation under the Post and Telegraph Act.
What was the strength of the Naval and Military Forces of the different States respectively when taken over by the Commonwealth,’ specifying such Forces in each State separately ?
What was the strength of the Naval and Military Forces of the Commonwealth on the 1st’ January, 1902, giving the particulars similarly?
What was the strength of the Naval and Military Forces of the Commonwealth on the’ist January, 1904, giving the particulars similarly?
What number of efficients were there on the last-mentioned date?
– The replies to the foregoing questions are given in the form of a return. It is as follows : - ‘
With reference to question No. 4 the General Officer Commanding states : - “ Officers and soldiers of the Militia and Volunteer Forces are classified as efficients on the 1 st of July of each year on having carried out certain specified drills and trainings during the previous twelve months. It will, therefore, be seen that the number of efficients on the 1st of January last cannot be stated. I have, however, shown the number of efficients of the Militia and Volunteer Forces in each State on the 1st July last, which probably will meet requirements.”
The reasons for the small number of efficients on the date named are that recruiting had been stopped for over a year, and that the Forces generally throughout the Commonwealth were in a condition of re-construction.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I do not think that that is a question of privilege. It is a question of the conduct of the business of the Senate. .
– It appears that the documents to which I refer are not in the custody of the officers of the Senate, and when application is made for them to the Government Printing Office, or to the Government, as the case may be, they are not always .forthcoming. In one .case I referred the matter to the Minister - the PostmasterGeneral - and have not received the courtesy of a reply. Members of the Senate, as also members of the House of Representatives, are entitled, under various Acts which Parliament has passed, to veto, if they so please, or at least to take into consideration, the regulations framed by the Government. Upon applying to the proper authorities for copies of these documents, they are simply not forthcoming. I have here a letter from the Government Printing Office, with reference to my application for a copy of the regulations under the Defence Act. It is as follows : - .
I regret that I am unable to supply you with a copy of the regulations for the military forces. The only copies in this office of the latter are required for sale purposes, and must therefore be accounted for.
– Is that from the Government Printer?
– Has the paper in question been printed ?
– Then why did not the honorable senator apply to the Clerk of the Senate? 2 e 2
– I understand that the paper ,is not in the possession of the Clerk. I was applying for three days without receiving a copy. When I applied to the Post and Telegraph Department with regard to another document, I met with exactly the same treatment; and when I wrote to the Minister no notice was taken of my communication. I think that such a state of things should not be permitted to continue, and I have taken action in order that attention may be directed to it. I have no objection to pay the few pence Or few shillings required. This, however, is not a question of expense, but a question of delay. The point is that there are only a few days in which notice can be given to disallow regulations, and when difficulties are placed in the way of honorable senators or members of another place by Government Departments and Government officials, the time passes before they can give the necessary notice. I bring this matter forward simply in order that such instructions may be given by you, Mr. President, or whoever is the proper authority, as will prevent what I have described from occurring again.
– I did not stop the honorable senator in his remarks, because he was dealing with a matter relating to the conduct of the business of the Senate, though, strictly speaking, he was not in order. I am very sorry that the honorable senator did not apply to me or to the Clerk of the Senate, because, undoubtedly, every member of the Senate ought to be placed in possession of papers which are laid on the table and ordered to be printed. If Senator Nield had applied to me or to the Clerk I should have seen that he was supplied with a copy of the document.
– - Senators ought to be supplied with such documents, without making application.
– Undoubtedly; papers ordered by either House to be printed ought to be circulated at once, and why, that was not done in this case I cannot say. This is the first I have heard of the matter. I am at this moment informed that the paper was not ordered to be printed.
– That is the fault of the Printing Committee.
– It is the fault of the Senate; the Printing Committee cannot order papers to be printed ; they can only recommended to the Senate. If papers are of such importance that they ought to be printed, the Senate should give the necessary order when they are laid on the table.
– All the regulations have appeared in the Gazette, of which honorable senators received copies.
– The honorable senator is mistaken; these regulations have not appeared in the Gazette.
– I knew nothing of the matter, and I am taken by surprise; but if the state of affairs is such as that laid before- us by Senator Neild, it ought at once to be altered.
Bill read a third time. .
– I move
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill relates to shipping, navigation, seamen, and kindred matters, with special regard to the protection of the mercantile marine of the Commonwealth. The magnitude of the subject is, I think, sufficient justification for asking the Senate to bear with me while I endeavour to lay before them the aims of the Government, and the provisions in this Bill, by which we hope to succeed in those aims. As to the importance of the subject, no doubt can, I think, be entertained. The producers, merchants, the travelling public, as well as shipowners, and those actually engaged in the shipping trade in the Commonwealth, are all interested in the enactment and enforcement of laws to insure the safety of vessels, and the welfare of those who are compelled to spend a portion of their lives, on the sea. In discussing this measure, I hope it will always be borne in mind that, as a people, we are yet in our infancy - an , infancy, however, which we believe, will be followed by a vigorous youth, and a maturity involving responsibilities which will make the uninterrupted use of the ocean highways an absolute necessity. The magnitude of our trade, even now in our infancy, is sometimes a matter of surprise to those who have not given the subject their careful consideration. When we remember that we have a coast line of 8,500 miles, with between eighty and ninety more or less developed ports; that we have a_ shipping, the value of which is estimated at about ^3,000,000, and which entails an expenditure of about 500,000 per annum in equipment and maintenance, we must see at once that our mercantile marine, even at the present time, is worthy of the fullest consideration that can be given to it by the Government and Parliament. I almost hesitate to quote from Coghlan a comparison of the shipping tonnage of the Commonwealth as compared with that of Great Britain. I am inclined to think that there must be some error in the calculation, because Coghlan shows that while the tonnage of Great Britain is only 2.4 per head of the population, the tonnage of the Commonwealth is 3 tons per head.
– That includes the Lund and the Archibald Currie lines.
– I hesitate to accept the comparison, because I am not sure of the basis of the calculation. According to Coghlan, however, the Commonwealth shows an excess of tonnage per head when compared with Great Britain.
– The long coast line may to some extent account for that.
– That may be so, but I take the opportunity to warn honorable senators against some of the calculations made, because in Australia there is unavoidably a certain amount of duplication, vessels arriving at one port and clearing at another being counted twice and sometimes oftener. This shows how necessary it is to be careful in accepting statistics on the point. However, there is sufficient to show beyond doubt that for a country of the population of Australia there has already been developed a very substantial mercantile marine, which we hope in the future will be much extended.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral referring to the registered tonnage in the Commonwealth?
– I refer to the tonnage per head of the population.
– The registered tonnage?
– Not the inandout tonnage.
– Many honorable senators may be inclined to say that there is nothing particularly original in this Bill ; and I have to admit, of course, that the measure is to a very great extent compiled from existing legislation. The Government prefer to adopt legislation which has been already tried and proved rather than strike out into fresh paths, unless, of course, it can be shown that an alteration of the existing law would be an improvement. Where we find that the law as it exists can be improved we shall not hesitate to endeavour to improve on it ; but I may say at once that the basis of the Bill is the Merchants’ Shipping Act of 1894 - the great measure which codified the law relating to merchant shipping in Great Britain up to that date. The Government have also had the assistance of the New South Wales Seamen’s Act of 1898, and the Shipping Act of about the same date. Then many of the new provisions in the New Zealand Shipping Act have been adopted ; but the Marine Act of Victoria, which is not a measure of very great importance, has been very little drawn upon. These Acts form the basis of the Bill which I now submit to the Senate. We have endeavoured, wherever possible, to simplify the phraseology of the preceding legislation and to avoid technicalities.
– And in many cases to alter the meaning of the previous legislation.
– Probably in some cases the meaning has been altered, and, I hope, to good purpose. That is a matter, however, which Senator Guthrie will be able to deal with when he addresses the Chamber. I shall, be only too happy, speaking for the Government, to receive any suggestions of a valuable nature during the passage of the Bill. The Government introduced the measure with the bond fide intention of making, as good a law as possible for the. Commonwealth, and we rely on members of both Houses to assist us in that work. The subject, as I have said, is a vast one. and if the Senate will allow me, I should like, for the purpose of simplification, to deal with it in divisions. I have always found, in the preparation of a Bill, that the first and most important matter is to know what it is desired to achieve, and, having ascertained that, to draw the Bill according to design. In the same way, it will be of some assistance if I state, first of all, under separate headings, what is the object aimed at by the Government, and then the provisions by which we endeavour to carry out our intention. I do not desire to go unnecessarily far back historically, but, in connexion with some of the subjects dealt with,, it is desirable to show that the ideas which are at the basis of the measure are not modern, but have bean current for many centuries past.
– In the dark ages, some of them.
– Some of the ideas of what the honorable senator calls the “ dark ages “ are much the same as those which animate the people who are now most desirous of making our shipping laws what they ought to be.
– Only they have become darker as time has gone on.
– I think not, and we will test that by a very brief extract from the laws of the Hanseatic League - that league of northern towns, which, in the twelfth century had more to do with navigation than any body of men had had previously. I find that the master was “not to give the seamen any cause of mutiny,” nor “ to provoke him by calling him names”; nor “wrong him; nor keep from him that which is his, but to use him well, and pav him honestly that which is his due.”
– It sounds like a bit from the Old Testament.
– Could either the Old or the New Testament more concisely state the idea that the seaman is a human being, who ought to be properly treated? The just and humane treatment of seamen is not only not inconsistent with .the interests of honest shipowners, ‘ but, from a national standpoint, is the highest wisdom. From that time, not to go further back, there has prevailed always the same idea, namely, that if a seaman is to be expected to act as a man, and do good work, he must be treated as a man.
– That is not provided for in the Bill.
– We shall see whether there is anything of a humane character in the Merchant Shipping Act, which it is not proposed to re-enact in the measure before us. At all events, I shall be able to show - whether Senator Guthrie can prove his point or not - that, in many instances, the alterations that have been made - in fact, all the amendments made in the Merchant Shipping Act - have been in the direction of securing that humane treatment which we think is so absolutely necessary. I must” in this connexion refer to the reports of one or two bodies which have dealt with this matter. I am, perhaps, more .completely justified in doing so, when I see that there is some disposition in the Chamber - and, possibly a quite justifiable disposition - to doubt the weight of remarks made by me, unless they are supported by authority. I shall quote from the valuable report of the Committee on the Manning of British Merchant Ships, of the quite recent date of 1896, although, I suppose, some honorable senators have already seen the document. In paragraph 10, that Committee set out the impressions made on them by the evidence, and give their reasons why they claim, as they do, that the seaman is entitled to fair and just treatment. It will be seen that a comparison is made between the treatment accorded to workers on land, and to workers on sea. The report states -
In introducing to the House of Commons a very comprehensive and greatly ramified extension of our factory legislation on the 1st March, 1S95, the Home Secretary said : - “ The Bill is framed in what the Government believe to be the spirit which has animated the whole of our factory ‘‘legislation, the aim and intention of which, I understand, to be to provide for all classes of workers to whom it applies those reasonable conditions for the safety of life and health which are, in fact, observed by wise employers and well-conducted undertakings.” This view was readily acquiesced in by the House of Commons, irrespective of party, and we accept it as furnishing us with a guide, if guidance be necessary, in the preparation of this report, and in framing the proposals which it will be found to embody. Our inquiry has developed no reason for attempting to do more than to secure for seamen and firemen in our mercantile marine “ those reasonable conditions for the safety of life and health, which are, in fact, observed by wise employers and well-conducted undertakings.” To do less than this for our’ countrymen, whose lives are spent afloat under the supreme control of the master of the ship for the time being, and far away from those opportunities of. selfprotection which life ashore affords, would be to withhold from men who run great risks, and to whom redress is difficult, that legislative protection which is freely accorded to men whose risks are smaller, and who have the means of redress always at hand.
That passage, I think, makes it clear that it is , our duty to give those engaged on the sea as good protection as is given to those who work on land. If we turn to the Bill, we find in Part II. nearly all the provisions which have special reference to the welfare and well-being of those who are employed on board ship, not only as seamen, but as officers and masters. Clauses 20 to 26 are taken from the Merchant Shipping Act. The clauses 26 to 29 deal with the subject of what is here called “ Supplying seamen.” The technical term used in the past has been, I believe, “ crimping,” which I find described- thus by Sir Henry Calcraft, the Permanent Secretary of the Board of Trade, in connexion with the Royal Commission upon Labour, 1894 -
A system by which certain boarding-house keepers, if not checked, take advantage of certain weaknesses of seamen, or of the peculiar circumstances of their lives, to obtain complete control of their liberty of action, and practically control the supply.
We say that taking into consideration the peculiar circumstances of a sailor’s life, it is desirable that he should have some protection from unscrupulous persons, who might endeavour to make a profit out of the means by which he has to earn his living. Clauses 30 to 34 deal with apprentices. I shall have something further to say with regard to apprentices, because by provision for an increased number of apprentices, in the course of time the proportion of British seamen upon British ships may be increased. I am referring to these clauses now, merely in order to show the effect they will have on the welfare of young fellows who may desire to become apprentices, with a. view to adopting a sea life. We provide in the Bill that they must have given their consent before they can be required to go to sea; it must be shown that they are in a fit state of health for the performance of the particular class of work they will be asked to perform; and further, that the master to whom they are to be bound, is a suitable person for the purpose. I am merely glancing at the clauses, assuming that honorable senators will study them, so that they may have a full knowledge of them by the time we arrive at the committee stage. Honorable senators will find that clauses 35, 36, and 37 deal with the subject of rating. These are very important clauses for the reason that in the present state of the shipping law there is nothing whatever to prevent any person shipping as an A.B. The consequence is that all sorts of persons, who may have had very little knowledge of sea life before, are enabled to fill up the complement on board ships. It is here proposed that in future a man shall not be rated as an A.B. unless he has served four years at sea, either as an apprentice or before the mast. In this way there will be some guarantee in the future that an A.B. Will really be a seaman fully qualified for the discharge of his duty. Clause 38 deals with the complement of men required, according to the tonnage of the ship. We have dealt with the subject in this way : we have provided a schedule showing the number of men required in the different classes of ships, according to tonnage. I speak subject to correction, because I can hardly believe it ; but I understand that at the present time ships can be sent to sea without any regulation whatever as to the number of the crew, except that the number shall appear upon the articles. That is to say, that ships can be sent to sea undermanned to any extent.
– They can sail with only the certificated men.
– Under this Bill we provide that no ships shall be sent to sea without a crew equal to the number provided for in schedule 2. We hope by this means to put a stop to the systematic undermanning of ships, and we think that the matter is better dealt with by a reference to a schedule than by incorporation in a clause of the Bill. I desire to refer to one other passage dealing with this subject in the report upon the manning of British ships, from which I quoted just now. It will be noticed that in clause 36 we make provision, that a man shall not be rated as a “greaser” until he has served for three months as a fireman at sea, or on land ; nor shall he be rated as a fireman until he has served three months as a trimmer at sea, or on land. Complaint has been made that sometimes after steam-ships have gone to sea firemen are taken off duty to perform other duties, with’ the result that the number of firemen employed has been reduced below the number which safety requires. ‘
– A man could serve his three months as a “ trimmer “ on land.
– I presume that his work upon land, though it might not entirely qualify him, would, at all events, be better than no qualification whatever. Section 103 of the report, to which I have referred, is as follows: -
Our reason for the separation, which we advise, of boiler-room and engine-room work is to be found in the evidence that we have received of the practice that has hitherto existed in many, ships of the signing on of all hands in the engine department other than the engineers as firemen, and the withdrawal of a man or men from among the firemen so signed on to serve as greasers and attendants in the engine-room, or as donkeymen, thus casting the whole work of trimming and firing upon a less number of men that have been shipped as necessary for that work, to the grave and reasonable dissatisfaction of those left to do all the work.
That is the reason why these clauses have been adopted.
– The Government have not adopted the recommendation of the Committee in this Bill.
– We have adopted part of it.
– The Government have not adopted the principle the Committee recommended for manning.
– We have adopted the principle of preventing firemen from being taken away from their duties as firemen by requiring that men must have a qualification for that particular kind of work. Section 104 of the report reads -
In submitting this view, we have not been unmindful of the desirability of keeping open the door, so to speak, by which good and clever men may in the course of time pass from the ex-* hausting labours of the stoke-holes to the less trying service of the engine-room.
In order to insure that seamen shall be properly treated it is of the very greatest importance that there shall in each case be an agreement governing their employment. The Bill provides that there must be an agreement drawn up and signed before the vessel sails, and that it must be exhibited on board the ship. There is also an implied obligation in every agreement that the ship shall be seaworthy. It is highly desirable that there should be some protection of that nature provided for.
– The insurance companies will look after that.
– In connexion with this matter a number of clauses have been taken from the New South Walles Act to meet cases in which Islanders are engaged on board ship. I need not refer particularly to the clauses; but in such cases the agreement is in every case to be made before the superintendent. It is desirable that special provision of that kind should be made where we are dealing with races who must, to a certain extent; be considered as being incapable of looking after their own interests. I am referring particularly to clauses of the Bill which are original, or which involve alterations of the form in which they appear in other Acts. Cause 85 deals with discharge before completion of term. In all these cases full wages are to he paid. Under clause 91, in the case of discharge abroad, a man may sue for his wages abroad with the consent of the master, or without that consent if he proves that he has been the victim of ill-usage. Honorable senators will notice that clause 93 deals with the subject of desertion, and provision is made that a man charged with desertion may give proof that he has had sufficient reason for leaving the ship. That is to say, if satisfactory reason is shown to the Minister for his leaving his ship he is not to be adudged guilty of desertion.
– Clause 93 deals with evidence of desertion.
– That is so; but the honorable senator will find that under subclause 2 it is stated that the desertion shall thereupon be deemed to be proved - unless the seaman or apprentice can show to the satisfaction of tha Minister, 01 the Court, that he had sufficient reasons for leaving his ship.
– Why the Minister ?
– It may be the Minister or the Court. The reference is to the Minister administering the Act.
– Which Minister ?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs.
– Is he to be the Minister? We should have a Minister for Navigation.
– There is no special Minister for Navigation. Clause 6 provides that -
This Act shall be administered by the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the Department of Trade and Customs shall be the Department to carry it into effect.
I am not going through the Bill clause by clause, as that would be too great a task, and I could not say when I should finish. With regard to the discipline clauses, there are a number of offences and punishments provided for. Every honorable senator will admit that it is impossible for the business of navigation to be carried on unless offences against the discipline of a ship are subject to punishment. This is in the interests of the men who are well behaved, in the - interests of the passengers, and of everyone else. I think it will be found that in the offences and the scale of punishments every consideration has been shown for the men, and every effort made to insure their proper treatment.
– Absence without leave, two months’ imprisonment ! Is not that nice?
– I anticipated that there would be objection to some of the penalties provided. The matter is one for the Senate to consider ; but surely, when the lives of the passengers may be in danger
– It does not say at sea. The absence may be while the ship is in port.
– It may be in port, and it may still endanger the ship or the crews. I anticipated some objection to these provisions, but some of the questions we have to deal with now have had to be dealt with Jin times past. There ar2 such things as duties and discipline. All have duties. The ship-owner has duties, the master has duties, and the men have duties. The only way in which we can possibly get along in life is by the observance of some sort of discipline, which means the methodical and orderly performance of duty.
– Where the Merchant Shipping Act provides for imprisonment for twelve weeks this Bill provides for imprisonment for twelve months.
-. - That is detail, to which the honorable senator can refer at the committee stage of the Bill, and from what I know of the Senate, I have not the slightest doubt that, if he can show that any of these penalties are more severe than those provided for in the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, honorable senators will assist him to alter the Bill. I am dealing now with clauses 104 to 108. Clause 108 provides that no assault shall be committed on any seaman -
No master or officer of a ship shall assault any person belonging to the ship.
– What is an “officer”? There is no definition of the term in the Bill.
– No; I have to make an alteration in the Bill with regard to that. There is no definition of an officer of a ship in the Bill.
– The definition is of a “ public officer.”
– That is so. It is not the correct definition.
– Is not what the honorable and learned senator has read the law now?
– It is the law under the Merchant Shipping Act. I did not say that there was any novelty about that. I am saying merely that we should endeavour to maintain discipline on both sides, the discipline of masters and men. The men must behave themselves and do their duty, and the masters must respect the men in the performance of their duty. I propose to refer to a few old provisions which are rather interesting as showing how the shipping law has grown up. .1 can go back as far as the beginning of the thirtenth century to Les Roles d’Oleron. as they were called, “The Laws of the Sea,” which are supposed to date from the first crusade, when there was a great movement of western nations to the east. I find that article 12 provides that -
The master having hired his crew was to be invested, in the first place, with the duty of keeping the peace.
That is the magisterial authority which the master of the ship has to-day.
If any man gave the lie to another at table, where there was bread and wine, he was fined four deniers, but if the master himself offended in that way he had to pay a double fine.
If a sailor impudently contradicted the master, he was fined eight deniers. If the master struck him, he was required to bear that blow, but if the master struck more than one blow, the sailor might defend himself ; whereas if the sailor committed the first assault, he was fined one hundred sous’, or condemned to lose his hand. It would appear that the master might call the sailor opprobrious names, and in such case the sailor was advised to submit, or to hide himself in the forecastle out of sight; but if the master followed the sailor, he might stand upon his own defence - for the master ought not to pass into the forecastle.
By article 13, it was enacted -
That if a difference arose between the master and the seaman, the former might not deny the seaman his mess thrice before he was turned out of the ship; if the latter offered satisfaction and was refused, and then turned out of the ship, he could follow the ship to the port of discharge, - and claim full wages’.
The master not taking any seaman in his stead, in such case rendered himself liable for any damage occurring.
It will be noticed how little we have changed in the course of centuries. There is in these provisions of olden times the same idea of reciprocal duties and their performance by both master and man. I do not know that we are really very much in advance of them at the present, time. At all events, we hope, not only in the interests of the men but of all classes of the community, that we shall have a code of laws for our ships which will be as humane and as effectual as the code of laws we have for our workers upon land. I have pointed out before that there are several provisions in the Bill making it clear that a man is entitled to get the. wages he has earned.
He is not under any circumstances to be deprived, of them. There is a new provision in the series of. clauses from 109 to 119, which makes it perfectly clear that in a case where a seaman has committed an offence, and is convicted and imprisoned, he shall still have secured to him the fullamount of his wages.
– Objection has been made to the master’s lien for wages coming after the lien of the men. Is that in accordance with the Merchant Shipping Act?
– There is a provision that the master’s rights, liens, and remedies shall be the same as those of the men.
– Look at clauses 80 and 96. Clause 80 says that the lien for seamen’s wages shall have priority over all other liens ; and clause 96 similarly protects the master. . Is that in. accordance with the Merchant Shipping Act of England? I have heard objection taken to it by mercantile men.
– I have not compared this Bill with the’ Merchant Shipping Act section by section, and am only pointing out where there is any deviation from the Merchant Shipping Act. But it is made perfectly clear that the claim of “the seamen has priority. That is so in the Merchant Shipping Act, and we have made it so in this Bill.
– The officers also have a prior claim.
– Officers are seamen.
– There is an alteration in section 80, sub-clause 2 of which provides that -
The lien for seamen’s wages shall have priority over all other liens.
That is, I believe, an original provision, Senator Dobson. - But, read clause 96. Senator DRAKE. - That clause says that the master of a ship shall have -
The same rights, liens, and remedies for the recovery of his wages as a seaman has by law or custom.
But that cannot override clause 80. There cannot be two priorities. That, I think, is what Senator Dobson means.
– The Bill gives no effect to the prior claim of the men. The seamen must come in first, in my -humble judgment.
– I think the seaman does come in first. There are also several clauses to insure that the ship shall be properly supplied with provisions, and there is a clause enacting that, in case the provisions are not sufficient in quantity, or of good quality, from some preventable cause, the master of the ship shall compensate the men in cash. That is about the best safeguard that the men could possibly have against any deprivation of provisions, or against any deficiency in quality.
– But where does the Bill insure that the provisions shall be a matter to be covered by the agreement ?
– The clause says that any conditions may be put into the agreement.
– But the Merchant Shipping Act contains a scale of provisions.
– Which has to be put in the agreement?
– Yes, but there is no provision in this Bill with regard to the quantity of the provisions..
– I thank the honorable senator for pointing that out. It is left to the parties to put any provision in the agreement with regard to that matter, but I have no doubt there is a great deal to be said in favour of such a condition as the honorable senator mentions being put in the Bill.
– The Bill does not say anywhere that the provisions shall be specified in the agreement.
– It is left open. In clause 124 provision is made for the appointment of medical inspectors. That is an important matter which has not hitherto received proper attention The clause is inserted to insure that proper medical stores shall be kept on board, and that seamen shall be provided with such medicines as they may need. I also draw attention to clause 131, which provides that in case of a seaman being left behind at anyforeign port the master of the ship shall leave with him not only the amount of his wages, but also a sum which may be fixed by the superintendent at anything up to £50, as a deposit to cover the cost of his maintenance, or medical attendance if he is sick, or the payment of his passage back to the port of his engagement, or of his burial in case of his death in Australia.
– There is provision for medical inspectors under the Merchant Shipping Act.
– It is one of those provisions that is never complied with because it is permissive.
- Senator Guthrie says that it is a waste-paper provision, because it is not acted upon. I have referred in _ h_ __ general terms to. the administration of this Bill. I think the honorable senator approves of the ‘proposal . that, instead ‘of having Marine Boards as we have had in the past, the measure shall be under a central administration. We shall thus be able to see that its provisions are given effect to. We do not want to have anything in the Bill that would simply be waste paper. We desire that all these shall be living provisions, and shall be given effect to. Clause 133 is) I think, new. It provides that clothing, blankets, and tobacco, and things of that sort, of which the seaman is in need when he is at sea, should be kept on board every ship. The clause reads -
The owner of any British ship proceeding to sea from any port in Australia to any other port outside the limits thereof, shall cause to be carried in the ship a supply of all articles of clothing ordinarily required for a seaman’s use, having special reference to the voyage then entered upon, and also a supply of woollen blankets, and of tobacco sufficient for the wants of the crew. All such articles, shall be of good quality, and shall be sold to the crew at a price not exceeding 10 per cent, advance on the wholesale price at the port of shipment.
– Does the honorable and learned senator think that provision can be enforced against an English registered ship coming to an Australian port?
– If registered in Australia.
– The Bill makes no provision for registration in Australia.
– It is not necessary, because registration is provided for in the Imperial law.
– Does this conflict with Imperial law?
– I think not. We may not be able to enforce this provision upon British ships registered in other parts of the world.
– Then what is the use of putting it in ?
– To make it applicable to our own ships.
– Then why not say so?
– We say nothing to the contrary. We say -
The owner of any British ship proceeding to sea from any port in Australia.
– The Government could not enforce this against the P. & O. Company.
– I think that the honorable and learned senator once had an opinion that we could not enforce another provision, but we did’ enforce it successfully.
– Why should it be enforced against a British ship and not against any other ship?
– Why . ‘ should not French and German vessels provide clothes, blankets, and tobacco as here required?
– I think they ought to, but at present we could not enforce it against them. In clauses 134 and 135 provision is made for the proper accommodation both . of officers and men aboard all ships.
– Does the honorable and learned senator consider that 72 cubic feet per man is sufficient accommodation ?
– I think that in the past the seamen on many ships have had even less accommodation than that.
– 1 am quite sure they have. Clause 136 provides that seamen shall be allowed in all cases to go ashore if they have any complaint to make.
Any seaman or apprentice may demand permission to go ashore at a convenient time in order to consult a superintendent, or collector, or jus- lice.
That is a very fair and proper provision. The object of clauses 143 and 144 is to insure that seamen shall not be improperly charged with maintenance. It is also provided that where other countries have similar provisions, and agree to their enforcement, they may be made applicable to the ships of those countries. I am informed that up to the present time the following countries have agreed to enforce provisions of this character, namely : - Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, United States, and Austria-Hungary. I do not think that it. is necessary for me to go in detail into all the other clauses of the Bill. I prefer that at this stage honorable senators should look at the provisions for themselves. There’ are, for instance, clauses with regard to deceased seamen : whether they make wills or die intestate, their effects are to toe disposed of, and the proceeds are to go to their relatives or to the persons to whom they would naturally go under ordinary circumstances if the men died on land. There is also a provision with regard to the families of seamen that is of very great interest to people interested in the welfare of sailors. If a man goes to sea, and leaves his family on land, he can make provision that the family may receive relief, and whatever is expended by the Government on behalf of the family becomes a charge upon the man.
– I notice that the fines are £,10, ^50, ^500, and so on. Are all these fines arbitrary?
– They are the maximum lines. There is a general provision in the Acts Interpretation Act that where a penalty is put at the foot of a section it means that an offender may be fined any sum up to that amount. I have now run through all these provisions - hastily, I know, because time does not permit me to go through them at greater length. I think that the remarks I have made cover generally the alterations in the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, with regard to the welfare of officers. and seamen at sea. I wish to deal now with another branch of the subject that may be described as the general safety of a ship. Of course, it will be understood that I regard the safety and well-being of the men as of the first importance in connexion with shipping. Unless we have proper provision for the welfare of the crews we shall not be, likely to attract to our mercantile marine a class of men who will be reliable in saving a ship in an emergency, and in saving life in case of shipwreck. But there are a number of other provisions which are necessary to insure the safety of ships - provisions with regard to signals, provisions for insuring that a vessel shall not be sent to sea in an unseaworthy state, and provisions affecting appliances for saving life at sea in case of shipwreck. The difficulty experienced in framing provisions to insure the safety of ships, is this : that when such provisions are onerous to the ship-owner, they have the effect of placing him in a worse position in competition with the owners of vessels in countries that do not insist upon any such regulations. That is one very great’ difficulty in connexion with the enactment of any shipping law. We desire that our law shall be as complete as possible in all its provisions for insuring the safety of ships, and for saving life at sea. _ But we have to bear in mind that there is a continual competition with ships owned in countries that do not enforce similar provisions. Of course the difficulty would disappear if there were some international tribunal which laid down .regulations with regard to -shipping. But we have to deal with things as they are, and I propose now to show the attitude that we have adopted with regard to those matters in this Bill. We say that we ought to take all the steps that we possibly can take to protect our own shipping against the unfair competition of other countries that will not adopt similar safeguards. The protection of British shipping, as compared with foreign shipping, has, of course, been proceeding for a very long time past. Indeed, if we go back to what are called the dark ages, we shall find that very often the statesmen of those times had more regard for national interests, if I may use that expression, than some statesmen had in more modern times. Going back to the time of Charles II.. we find that when the Dutch were anxious to regain that supremacy at sea which to a large extent they had been deprived of, since the time of Cromwell, provision was made in England to insure to a greater extent that British goods should be carried in British ships.
– Cromwell made such provision also.
– He di’d; and in doing that he placed the position of British shipping above that of Dutch shipping, and it was when the Dutch were trying to regain their supremacy that an Act was passed in the reign of Charles II. - 12 Charles II., cap. 18 which provided that no foreign built ships should have British privileges, although owned by Englishmen, and further steps were taken to encourage the building of ships of. large tonnage. The particular authority whom I am quoting goes on -
These Acts were so effective that they are said to have destroyed the Dutch commerce, and at the peace of 1667 the Dutch struggled’ hard to get them rescinded. There was great diversity of opinion as to what would be the ‘effect of these Acts, and the following statements are of interest. Sir Joshua Child, who wrote “ Discourses on Trade” in 1666 to 1668, writes- “ Without these Acts we had not now been owners of one-half of the shipping or the trade, nor should we have employed one-half of our seamen.”
And Anderson, in his History of Com merce, says -
So vast an alteration had these Acts brought about, that’ in a few years we were at length become, in a great measure, what the Dutch once were - that is, the great carriers of Europe, especially within the Mediterranean Sea.
Subsequently when, in spite of these provisions, the Dutch began to creep in again, an Act of James II. imposed a duty of 5s. per ton on all foreign vessels engaged in the coasting trade. Then, in the reign of George II., an Act was passed providing that all ships engaged in the coasting trade of Great Britain and Ireland should be registered. All these provisions were designed to benefit British ships, as against foreign ships.
– It is to hoped the Attorney-General will not mention the “ dark ages “ in connexion with wise provisions of that kind.
– When I used the words “ dark ages “ I was making a somewhat sarcastic reference to a remark made by Senator Guthrie. In some respects I think, as I said before, that the people of those times showed stronger national instincts than do the statesmen of the present day. About the commencement of the second half of the last century legislation was passed which repealed all those enactments designed to encourage British shipping as against foreign shipping. By an Act of 1853 all restrictions were removed, and the employment of foreigners indiscriminately was permitted. The latter were admitted to equal rights with British seamen of all classes. I do not want to absolutely condemn what was done at that time, but the effect of the removal of all restrictions was to a great’ extent the transference of British commerce to foreign ships.
– British shipping is half the shipping of the world.
– But to a great extent British ships are manned by foreigners.
– The AttorneyGeneral is confusing two matters.
– I know the extent to which the trade of Great Britain at the present time is carried by foreign ships.
– It is possible to tell a British ship only by referring to the register; the fact cannot be ascertained by looking at the crew.
– Britishers cannot be got to man all the ships.
– In 1853, as I say, all these restrictive provisions were repealed, and the coastal trade of Great Britain was thrown open to Britishers and foreigners alike.
– Hear, hear ! Look at the result.
– We shall see what the effect has been. In 1862, an Act, xxv. and xxvi. Victoria’ was passed, requiring the examination of engineers, providing for wreck inquiries, and making rules for the prevention of collisions at sea. In 1876 a very valuable Act was passed, which made it a misdemeanour to send an unseaworthy ship to sea. I now proceed to show the effect of repealing those laws which restricted the carriage of British goods in British ships. I shall quote from . the report of the Committee on the Manning of British Merchant Ships. At page 10, .paragraph 23 of that report, we read -
At the same time we have been much impressed with the evidence which has been laid before us with reference to the effect of foreign competition. It has been stated that British ships which have been transferred to foreign flags are worked more economically after than before the transfer, and that consequently foreign ships are superseding British ships, owing to their ability to accept lower freights.
That is the gist of the whole matter. We endeavour to make provisions in order to insure the safety of ships and the comfort of crews ; but -ship-owners have objected in many cases to accepting onerous laws of the kind, because, as they point out, foreign shipping companies have not to comply with similar conditions, and, consequently, with their less working expenses, can afford to carry cargo at lower freights.
– Very well.
– Some honorable senators may regard that as a good result, but I do not. I wish now to quote a passage from the report of a Select Committee which ‘inquired into the subject of subsidies to steam-ships and sailing vessels under foreign Governments. That Committee reported in 1902, and at page 20, paragraph 4, they stated -
As regards Board of Trade regulations, complaints have been made to your Committee that in home ports great interference is practised! with British ships, while foreign ships competing with .British ships are subjected to less searching inspection, and thereby have a very distinct advantage. This applies especially to the load line (Plimsoll) regulation. That suggestive cases do occur cannot be doubted. An illustration was given of a British ship, the carrying capacity of which, as a British ship, was 1,825 tons. She was sold to the Germans at a very heavy depreciation on her cost, and under the German flag she came to Liverpool actually carrying about 2,100 tons; therefore, under the German flag she carried about 275 tons more than she was allowed to do when British-owned, being an increase of about 15 per cent., and, in addition, she carried a smaller crew at less wages. The Board ‘ of Trade, however, has no power to insist upon a foreign ship being marked with a load line mark ; the most it can do is to stop a foreign ship which is overloaded and unseaworthy, although any surveyor may have difficulty in judging by the eye whether a ship is overloaded or not. It is true that many foreign ships have voluntarily introduced a load line of their own, but much depends on where the load line is placed. At the same time there is no real dissatisfaction with the load line regulation; the desire rather is that it, and other British regulations, which certainly contribute, with foreign subsidies, to affect British trade, should be enforced against foreign ships in British ports equally with British ships, so that all legislative restrictions applied to British ships should be made applicable to all foreign ships coming to British or Colonial ports, and competing with British ships.
We have done what we can in this connexion, and, at all events, we can protect our own ‘ coastal trade. To show how British shipping is handicapped by subsidies to foreign shipping lines. I would point out that the North German Lloyd Company receive £115,000 per annum, or at the rate of 6s. 8d. per mile travelled ; that the Messageries Maritime Company receive an amount which I do not exactly know; but which means 8s. 4d. per mile travelled, while the total amount paid by the French Government for postal services of the kind is £1,067,271, of which ,£124,317 is paid to the vessels in the Australian trade; and the Japanese subsidize their vessels to the extent of .£50,000 per annum. These sub,sidies, combined with the absence of the onerous conditions .to which British ships are compelled to comply, give an unfair advantage to the foreigner.
– :Great Britain gives subsidies to shipping in connexion with the mail services.
– The British Government pay £85,000 per annum to the P. and O. Company, and a similar sum to the Orient and the Orient-Pacific companies respectively.
– Do the figures referring to foreign subsidies include the payments for postal services ?
– Yes. It is unfair that foreign shipping should compete with British shipping while not being called upon to comply with the conditions imposed on the latter. It is, of course, impossible to compel foreign countries to adopt the same regulations, but still we think that for the safety of shipping and life, it is necessary to make provision to protect British trade from unfair competition. I propose now to turn to the Bill again in order to refer to some of the provisions re lating to this branch of the subject. Clause 12 provides : -
No ship shall proceed to sea unless she is provided with a duly certificated master and officers, according to the scale set out in Schedule I, or as prescribed.
If honorable members turn to Schedule I., they will see the number of officers required for each ship.
– This provision does not apply to foreign ships.
– There is no power to make it applicable to foreign ships. Clause 13 provides that officers shall possess certificates of competency. Clause 15 states that no person shall be admitted to examination unless he is a British subject, and speaks the English language fluently, and possesses the prescribed qualifications. This is one of the measures proposed in order to insure that British ships, so far as we have the power, shall be officered and manned by British subjects.
– But the clause does not apply to the manning of the ships.
– But there is a new provision- in clause 18 in reference to manning.
– There is a lot that is new in clause 13 ; the provision as to the engineers is absolutely new. There is no provision of the kind in the Merchant Shipping Act.
– I think it desirable that engineers should pass an examination.
– But why make this new departure?
– Why should we not make the departure, if it is proper that the engineers should show their proficiency.
– There were formerly two grades of engineers, and now, according to this clause, there are five or six.
– The engineers are divided into first-class, second-class, thirdclass, and then “ in the second, and third classes there are grade A for steamships and grade B for vessels propelled by any- other motive power than steam. Is that what the honorable senator refers to?
– The probability is that in the near future we may have vessels propelled by a motive power other than steam or sail.
– Is that, the only reason for having six grades instead of two?
– - We think it advisable to have ,the engineers graded in this way. It may perhaps not be necessary at present to have grade B, but I suppose we shall see vessels propelled by electricity some of these days, and a law of the kind will be necessary. The honorable senator is drawing me into details which are rather out of place in a second-reading debate.
– There is a principle involved.
– The principle is that we want to insure that the officers of a British ship sailing from Australia shall be British, competent, and with a good knowledge of the English language. That, surely, will be a great point gained. In the United States there are navigation laws which confine the American coastal trade to American vessels, the coasting trade being interpreted so as to include a voyage from San Francisco to New York. The United States Government are extending the operation of this law to the American possessions, and I do not think that, they are at all likely to complain about a provision of this kind. I should like now to refer to clause 18. I have no doubt that Senator Guthrie is aware why power to re-examine is required. A man may happen to become colour-blind, and at present there is nothing to prevent his being employed without those employing him having any knowledge of the defect. In order to meet such cases this clause is inserted, and if a man be found afflicted in the way I have indicated, the fact is indorsed on his certificate, so that future employers engage him with full knowledge.’ There was a case, I believe, a little time ago, in which a vessel was lost owing to the colourblindness of one of the officers. As to the crew of a vessel, it was remarked a little time ago that a knowledge of the English language was not’ insisted on.
– What I pointed out was that there was no provision that the crew should be British subjects.
– What is provided is that there shall be a certain, proportion of able seamen on each ship, according to the tonnage, and each member of the crew must have served for four years as an apprentice, or for four years before the mast. Under such circumstances I think we may fairly assume that a man would acquire a fair ‘ knowledge of the English language. It is not perhaps all that might be required. We need to proceed somewhat slowly in this matter. I am prepared to hear the views of honorable senators on the subject, but I think it would be almost too much to enact all at once that none but - a British subject should be allowed to serve as a seaman upon a British ship. I propose to deal separately with the question of the manning of British ships by British seamen.
– What clause deals with the subject?
– Clause 38, and the second schedule. Honorable senators will find, if they turn to Part IV. of the Bill, that it is devoted almost entirely to the subject of ships and shipping, commencing with clause 185, which provides -
This part of this Act shall apply to -
All British ships, and
All foreign ships carrying passengers or cargo shipped in any port in Australia to any port in the British dominions.
In this part of the Bill we follow, to a great extent, the Merchant Shipping Act, and I shall point out the provisions which are taken from the New Zealand and Victorian Acts. I call attention to clause 186, which provides that all .ships shall be liable to inspection and survey. Clause 189 provides for the survey of steam -ships. Clause 205 is not original, but it is so important that it is worth while to draw special attention to it. This is the clause under which it is made an indictable offence to send an unseaworthy ship to sea. This provision was first enacted in 1876, and was re-enacted in the Merchant Shipping Act. It is, of course, a most important provision.
– Only it is spoilt by the insertion of the ‘word “knowingly.” lt must be proved that the master knew that the ship was unseaworthy.
– The clause provides -
Any person who sends any British ship to sea - there is no word “ knowingly “ introduced there - and any master who knowingly takes any such ship to sea in an unseaworthy state.
And so on. The honorable senator will admit that the master might possibly be perfectly innocent in taking an unseaworthy ship to sea. It might fairly be assumed that the master did not know that the ship was unseaworthy, because he would be risking his own life. I think it is right, therefore, that it should be proved that the master knew the ship to be unseaworthy before he could be held to be guilty of such a serious offence. Clause 206 gives the definition of “seaworthy,” a definition which is the result of a recent English case.
No ship shall be deemed seaworthy under this Act unless she is in a fit state as to condition of hull and equipment, boilers and machinery, stowage o£ cargo, number and qualifications of crew, including officers, and in every other respect to encounter the ordinary perils of the voyage then entered upon.
It is very useful to have that in the Bill, because it may save a lot of trouble in proving the conditions necessary to maintain that a ship was unseaworthy. Clause 214 contains a provision with regard to unsafe foreign ships. If a foreign ship is unsafe she can be detained.
– What is the difference between “ unsafe “ and “ unseaworthy.”
– A ship might be unsafe through having dangerous cargo on board.
– The provision with respect to unsafe ships applies to foreign ships, but not the provision with respect to unseaworthy ships.
– The honorable senator will see that the clause refers to an unseaworthy ship that is unsafe.
– One provision is to deal wilh a ship which may go “ down,” and the other to deal with a ship which may go “ up.”
– A ship might be unsafe and not unseaworthy. It is all provided for. Clause 207 provides that the Minister may detain an unseaworthy ship, and there are other provisions following with regard to dangerous cargo.
– Clause 207 does not cover the case. The honorable and learned senator will see that it says: -
The Minister may order any unseaworthy ship (in this Act referred to as unsafe) -
There is a special provision for ships that are unsafe, and unseaworthy foreign ships evidently escape altogether.
– I thank the honorable senator for his reference’ to the matter. I shall look into it. Clause 217 has reference to dangerous goods. Dangerous goods may be declared to be so by proclamation or by regulation, and then certain conditions have to be complied with before such goods can be shipped, and their . carriage may be prohibited. The clauses in Division IX., commencing with clause 231, deal with deck and load lines, and are taken almost without alteration from the Merchant Shipping Act. This provision is part of the recent legislation in Great Britain, and it seems to work fairly well; but if honorable senators can suggest any amendments I have no doubt they will do so. Clause 248, dealing with boat drill, is taken from the New Zealand Shipping Act. It provides ‘ that -
The master of every ship shall -
Exercise his crew in boat drill at such intervals as are prescribed.
Enter full particulars of each drill in his official log book.
– In what part of the Bill is provision made for boats and equipment?
– That is left to regulation.
– The honorable senator says “ unfortunately,” but a number of matters connected with the Bill are left to regulation. They could all have been included in the Bill, but that would have very much increased its bulk It is, of course, a matter for consideration whether any matter left to regulation shall be included in the Bill
– The question is whether we are here to legislate by Act or by regulation.
– That is not the question involved. It is usual to allow special subjects to be dealt with by regulation, for the simple reason that to include them all in a Bill would greatly increase its bulk, and make its administration inconvenient.
– We can alter regulations.
– And we can hang up legislation by their, means.
– We can talk about that later. Clause 249 and some other clauses are taken from the Victorian Act, and deal with the testing of anchors and cables. Some of these provisions will hardly be operative now, but I hope that the time is not far distant when we shall be able to manufacture many of these things in Australia, and it will be necessary to have some provisions of this kind. In the different States up to the present time there have been constituted Marine Boards, but thev do not appear to have worked verv well.
– Some of them.
– The provisions with regard to Marine Courts will be found in Part X. of the Bill, commencing with clause 367, We have had Marine Boards in most of the States, and, generally speaking, I think they have not given satisfaction.
– The Marine Boards are not Courts in the sense in which the word is ordinarily used.
– I have a report from a Royal Commission dealing with the Marine Board of New South Wales in 1897. This was the recommendation it made -
Marine Board be separated from the administrative functions ; (that a Court of Marine Inquiry be constituted to be presided over by a District Court Judge, assisted by two or more assessors of nautical engineering, or other special skill or knowledge, nominated by the Government, -%nd paid by fees, and that the judicial functions of the Marine Board be vested in such Court of Marine Inquiry.
There was another report upon Marine Boards, a special report of official representatives, made in April, 1903, in which this passage occurs -
Re establishment of Marine Boards in each
State. lt was suggested to us that in our new legislation it is desirable to continue a modification of the present system which prevails in the States of local Marine Boards. We beg to express our unanimous and emphatic opinion that any institution of local Marine Boards will be a serious and grave mistake. We maintain that the past experience of the States has conclusively shown this.
– That was a report by public officials.
– Yes. The passage to which I refer continues -
As an instance of this, in New South Wales, where formerly matters relating to navigation were under the control of a Marine Board, it was found necessary to re-organize the administration ; the unopposed abolition of the Marine Boards took place, and was followed by the inauguration of the Department of Navigation.
The provision we have made for a Marine Court is as follows. We propose under Clause 369 -
A Court of Marine Inquiry shall be constituted by one or more County Court Judges, or Police, or Stipendiary, or Special Magistrates, of the Commonwealth, or part of the Commonwealth, or of a State, or part of a State, or by one or more Judges or Magistrates specially authorized by the Governor-General to sit as members of a Court of Marine Inquiry.
Then under clause 370 -
Every Court of Marine Inquiry shall be assisted by two assessors appointed under this Act, who’ shall advise the Court, but shall not adjudicate on a matter before the Court.
And by clause 371 -
The Governor-General may appoint persons of nautical, engineering, or special skill to be assessors to assist Courts of Marine Inquiry.
Subject to the opinion of Parliament, we think that in that way a Court may be constituted which will be efficient and competent to deal with all matters which may properly form the subject- of a marine inquiry.
– Will existing Courts be asked to do the work?
– If the honorable and learned senator refers to the ordinary law courts, I think not. For the purpose of a marine inquiry, it is much better to have a special Court.
– There must be assessors.
– Only one member of a Court is necessary under clause 369, and the assessors will be persons specially skilled in the subjects dealt with by the Court.
– I hope we shall be able to make use of some of the Judges, and officers engaged in existing Courts.
– I do not know where we are to get them. They seem to have plenty of work to do at the present time.
– There will be no new appointments, I hope. That is what we are afraid of.
– I wish to refer now to the nationality of the men employed on British ships. I have pointed out already that the tendency for some time past has been for the crews of British ships to be constituted more and more of people of foreign nationality, whilst the British element has been growing less and less.
– Because the patriots have, found it cheaper.
– If honorable senators will bear with me, I will go back again to the past to show the view of this subject taken by Englishmen formerly. My desire is to show how far back we can trace the desire that British shipping should be worked by British people. I find, for instance, in an Act of Richard II. - 5, Richard II., Chapter 3, it was enacted -
That for increasing the shipping of England, of late much diminished, none of the King’s subjects shall hereafter ship any kind of merchandise, either outward or homeward, but only of the ships of the King’s subjects, on forfeiture of ships and merchandise ; in which also the greater part of the crews shall be the King’s subjects.
Then showing how there has always been a forward and backward movement in this matter, it would appear that that provision was thought a little too severe, and in the next reign an Act was passed which permitted the merchants, where no English ships were to be had, to export or import in foreign ships. Nine years later it was enacted that all English merchants should freight only in English ships, always provided that the freight was reasonable and moderate.
– They evidently had some experience of rings even in those days.
– Yes; that was a good protection against rings.
– There is nothing new under the sun.
– Then Elizabeth repealed all restrictions’ placed- by her predecessors on shipping, and allowed all merchants to use whatever ships they pleased, subject only to the necessity of paying aliens’ duty if they used the ship of an alien, but the coasting trade was reserved for British ships. T’l the reign of Cromwell, I find that there was a Navigation Act, called Scobele’s Act, which stopped the Dutch trade with England, and declared their presence on the fishing grounds illegal. This is the wording of the Act -
That no merchandise, either of Asia, Africa, or America, including also our own plantations, should be imported into Britain in any but Englishbuilt ships, or belonging to English or English plantation subjects, navigated also by an English commodore, and three-fourths of the sailors to be Englishmen ; excepting, however, such merchandise as should be imported directly from the original place of their growth or manufacture in Europe solely. Moreover, no fish thenceforward be imported into England or Ireland, nor exported thence to foreign ports, nor even from one of our own home ports to another, but what shall be caught by our fishers only.
– We have made wonderful progress since then, on the other tack.
– That is true, but I am pointing out that the constant tendency of late years has been to make the proportion of British seamen employed on British ships less and less; and I desire only to show that even in these early times they laid down a general rule that there should be, at all events, a certain proportion of British sailors on every ship doing British trade.
– They were truly patriotic in those days.
– I am endeavouring to show that there is nothing novel in what is proposed in the Bill. I am reminded by Senator Findley that the provisions to which I have referred were truly patriotic, and it is patriotic now to require that there shall be a certain proportion of British sailors on British ships.
– There is a strong agitation on the subject at present in the House of Commons.
– Half the Newcastle shipping will be destroyed by the provision.
– Then coming down to the reign of George IV., J find that there was a new Act in which the general restriction as to British crews was maintained, viz., three-fourths of the crew to be British seamen; but if one British seaman for every twenty “ tons was carried, the rest of the crew might be foreigners. At a later date it was re-enacted that threefourths of the crew were to be British seamen. In 1834, an Act was passed restricting the qualifications for the British ship-master to the naturalborn subjects of the Empire, and to persons naturalized by process, according to law. That was the state of the law, until about 1850, when all those restrictions were swept away, and since that time there has been no provision requiring that any proportion of the crew of a British ship should be British. What has been the result of that system? Unfortunately, I cannot state exactly the number of foreigners employed, except in the year 1901. But the total number of personsemployed, including foreigners, was 247,448; in 1900, 247,973 in 190.1, and 253,540 in 1902. What I wish the Senate to remember is that out of the 247,973 persons employed in British ships in 1901, 37,630 were foreigners, and 37,431 were lascars
– Cannot the Government leave England to look after her own interests ?
– We are going to look after our own interests.
– By laying up half the shipping.
– We think that it is to the interest of the whole of the British people that the British trade should not be monopolized by foreigners. We consider that we should have a much larger proportion of British hands on British ships, and we hope that the people of Great Britain will see the matter in the same light.
– In this Bill we are not legislating for Great Britain.
– No, for the Commonwealth.
– What remedy do the Government propose?
– This Bill is going to set a good example.
– In order to give honorable members an idea of what is the present state of things, I propose to quote a passage from the report of the Committee on the Manning of British Ships.
The case of the lnchborva, which stranded near Cape Fontana in March, 1894, affords a good illustration of the way in which some crews are composed. The master, purser, and second engineer were Welsh, the second mate and third engineer were English, the first engineer was Scotch, the first mate was Danish, the boatswain and one fireman were German, two A.B.’s and three firemen were Turkish, three A.B.’s and one fireman were Greek, the carpenter and one fireman were Italian, the donkeyman was Swiss, and the cook, steward, and cabin boy were French. The Superintendent of Mercantile Marine, at Dundee, reported that he “ found it impossible to communicate with them, except through an interpreter. With the exception of three, and they could not be made to understand what was said, the men had not been in an English ship before.” An inquiry was ordered, but abandoned, owing to the difficulty of getting the necesary witnesses together in this country. An inquiry was, however, held into the subsequent stranding of the lnchborva, in February, 1895, when the Court found that the vessel was undermanned, and .that the stranding was due to bad look-out.
That is a long way off, but here is. an instance which ocurred in Australia, if not during the present month, at the end of last month.
A British ship now in port has the following crew : -
I am not looking at this matter from the point of view of the desirability of finding employment for our own people, but from the point of view of the necessity of insuring the safety of ships. A ship cannot possibly be considered to be safe where it has such a mixed crew; it is difficult to make the men understand any orders.
– Nonsense. Senator DRAKE.- The honorable’ senator says “ nonsense,” but it does not appear to be nonsense to me. In the report of the “ Committee on the Mercantile Marine, I find this passage -
We think that an increase in the number of British seamen in the Mercantile Marine may be looked for rather in the improvement of their conditions than in the increase of facilities for training boys for the sea. At the same time, we think that the system of such ships as the Indefatigable deserves every commendation and such assistance as can properly be given. We think that the efforts of ship-owners might be profitably devoted, as, to a considerable extent they are at present, to the support and extension of the system of training-ships. It is a difficulty connected with such ships that the boys trained in them do not invariably take to or remain in the merchant service, and we think that a keen interest taken in them by ship-owners would be the most hopeful means of insuring such training as would be practically useful, and also of insuring the employment of boys on leaving the training-ship.
The Committee recommended, amongst other things -
– Do the Committee state that, in their opinion, the wages are inadequate ?
– I do not think that the Committee say anything about the wages.
– They say that improved conditions will secure an increased number.
– The Committee recommend improved conditions, improved first to attract a better class, and secondly to encourage boys to go in for a sea training in order that they may be ready to take the places as they become vacant. From the report of the Committee on the Manning of British Merchant Ships, I wish to Quote a few paragraphs on -the subject of foreign competition.
In this connexion, it must be remembered that the foreign competition which “many owners so greatly fear is a competition to which the British seamen and firemen employed in our ships are already exposed in its acutest form. Since the final repeal of the navigation laws, which required that the master and three-fourths of the crew of every British ship should be British subjects, and reserved the coasting trade entirely to British ships and British seamen, the whole world has been open as a recruiting ground to British ship-owners, who have not been hampered in their selection by any restriction as to colour, language, qualification, age, or strength. Consequently, the British-born seaman has had to face competition with foreigners of all nationalities, not excepting negroes and Lascars - a competition more keen than any trade ashore has had to contend with, and all the more keen because employment on board ships is more accesible to foreigners than is any other description of British industry.
We are informed that, except with regard to certificates, which must he held by masters, officers, and engineers in certain cases, and which, moreover, may be obtained by men of any nationality, there is at present practically no bar to the employment of any person of any nationality in any capacity whatsoever on board any British ship. Having regard to the lower scale of wages and living amongst the foreigners, with whom our seamen have thus been brought into competition in British ships, it is not surprising that there has been a disposition on the part of British-born seamen to escape from such competition, and find employment ashore.
– Who composed the Committee?
– It consisted of Sir E. J. Reed, M.P., chairman; Right Hon. A. B. Forwood. M.P.; Sir Francis H. Evans, M.P. ; Mr. J. Havelock Wilson, M.P. ; Sir Digby Murray, Mr.*Ingram B. Walker; Mr.
– The Committee could find no direct evidence that the foreigner absolutely displaced the British sailor.
– I thank the honorable and learned senator for that remark, because it is very appropriate.
– I have read the report, and I do not think that the Minister will find that the Committee could obtain any direct evidence on that point.
– The Committee say -
It is true that, from statistics which have been laid before the Committee, it would appear that the percentage of foreigners amongst all hands, excluding Lascars, employed in the home and foreign trades of the United Kingdom was only 1 5 ‘6, which is less on the whole than the proportion of aliens permitted by the laws of foreign countries to be carried in foreign ships. It is also less, on the whole, than might have been carried under the old navigation laws in British ships in the foreign trade. But it is impossible to correctly estimate the extent of the foreign element amongst British seamen, by a comparison of the totals. It would appear that in 1891 thewhole number of seamen employed in the foreign trade of the United Kingdom was ^1,375, of whom 22,052 were foreigners, and 21,322 were Lascars, nearly 33 per cent, in all being nonBritish. The number of A.B’s. in the foreign trade was 40,625, of whom 12,226 were foreigners, and 6,953 were Lascars, or over 47 per cent. nonBritish, excluding Lascars; the percentage of foreigners among A.B’s in the foreign trade was 42’7 in sailing vessels, 304 in steamers, and 363 on the whole number. The number of petty officers was 9,309, of whom 2,154 were foreigners, and 1,377 Lascars, or nearly 38 per cent. nonBritish. The number of firemen was 24,733, °f whom 3,224 were foreigners, and 7,475 Lascars, or over 43 per cent. non-British.. The number of ordinary seaman was 3,431, of whom 489 were foreigners (none being Lascars), or over 14 per cent. non-British. The number of boys was 1,207, of whom 104 were foreigners, and 143 were Lascars, or 20 per cent. non-British. The number of apprentices was 3,619, of whom an unascertained, but very small, number were foreigners. The proportion of foreigners amongst all hands in the foreign trade, excluding Lascars, was 26*8 per cent, in sailing ships, 17 per cent, in steamers, and 20 per cent, on the whole number. The percentage of foreigners in the foreign trade amongst masters was 3^5, mates 4’6, and engineers a’S.
A return of seamen and firemen engaged at certain ports in the first six months of 1S94, showed that the percentage of foreign A.B’s engaged varied between 33 and 67 per cent, in sailing ships, and 13 and 38 per cent, in steamers.
An inquiry which was made in iS36 (Parliamentary Paper, C. 4709) showed that of 276 vessels distinguished by their preference for foreigners, 23 carried over So per cent, of foreigners, 33 between 70 and 80 per cent., 60 between 6b and 70 per cent., 53 between 50 and 60 per cent., 37 between 40 and 50 per cent., 29 between 30 and 40 per cent., 18 between 20 and 30 per cent., and 23 under 20 per cent. Remembering that the percentage of foreigners amongst masters, officers, apprentices, and boys are very low, it may be assumed that a very large proportion of the A.B’s. employed in these 276 selected vessels were foreigners.
The foregoing figures illustrate the extent to which British-born seamen are already brought into competition with foreigners in our own mercantile marine.
It should be remembered that the navigation laws, which limited the proportion of foreign seamen, secured the preponderance of British subjects in the crew of every British ship. Under that law, as it formerly existed in this country, and under the present laws of nearly every foreign country, a vessel carrying, say, 24 hands, should have, at least, eighteen national seamen ; but under the existing law of this country, British vessels may be, and often are, manned almost exclusively by foreigners.
However undesirable it may be that British sailors should thus be ousted by foreigners from British ships, and however dangerous this change may prove to the State in time’ of war, the fact must be recognised that the existing unrestricted admission of, foreigners and Lascars may eventually result in further diminishing, outside of the Royal Navy, the number of British seamen. The qualified British seaman, enjoying no preference of employment over even the unqualified foreigner, and receiving no better pay, may abandon a competition in which the conditions are decidedly unfavorable to him.
While, therefore, it is impossible to conceive any state of things more unfavourable to the British sailor than the present, it is equally impossible to conceive any state of things more favourable to the British ship-owner, in so far as concerns a cheap and perfectly open market for the labour which he has to employ. The shipowner may select his employes from all nationalities at any rates of wages, and may also (as the law now stands) at his discretion or caprice, either require or dispense with proofs of qualification. On the other hand, the British sailor, having, perhaps, qualified himself for the rating of A.B., by four years’ service before the mast, may present himself at a shipping office and sign articles - on no better terms as regards food, berthing, and pay - with Scandinavians, Germans, French, Italians, Greeks, Turks, and Negroes some of whom may possess no proof of qualification, and no adequate knowledge of the English language, but who are protected as regards employment in vessels of their own nationalities, wherever such vessels exist. It is the opinion of the committee that any deterioration of British seamen, which may now exist, is not owing to the decadence of our countrymen, nor to their dislike for the sea, but to the lack of sufficient attraction in the sea service as at present conducted to draw and hold the best class of British workmen, and in a great measure to an insufficient number of boys being trained to supply the necessary waste in the number of A.B’s.
I think that most honorable senators who have any knowledge of this subject will agree with the last paragraph. The report goes on to say -
We feel constrained, therefore, to emphasize the fact that whatever grounds there may be foi fearing foreign competition in the ownership of vessels, as the result of manning legislation, we owe, as we have just seen to the absence of legislation on the subject of manning, a form of competition so aggravated as to threaten to drive the British able seaman and fireman out of our merchant ships. We do not for a moment profess that the existence of this destructive foreign competition against our seamen offers any justification or excuse for furthering foreign competition in the ownership of merchant vessels. But seeing that the majority of our merchant vessels are at” present properly manned, and that any increase of crew would only be imposed upon undermanned vessels, we regard the transfer to a foreign flag, because of proper manning being insisted upon, as a thing unlikely to happen in more than a few cases, and one of little consequence by comparison with the disappearance of the British seamen, which is being brought about by the indiscriminate employment of foreigners in British ships.
– Does not that report also show that relatively to population the number of British sailors is as great as, or greater than, the number of sailors in other nations ?
– That proves nothing at all. If the number of British sailors is diminishing it appears to me to be not at all to the point to say that the proportion of British sailors relative to the population is greater than the proportion of foreign sailors.
– It shows a decreasing percentage all the time.
– Yes ; it shows a decreasing percentage. I will quote a couple of paragraphs with regard to rating. They are paragraphs 58 and 59. The report says -
This law (see Merchant Shipping Act 1894, section 126) placed in the owner’s hands the power to select experienced seamen, but for some reason which has not been satisfactorily explained to the committee, some ship-owners have ignored the provision, and have indiscriminately engaged seamen with or without proof of qualification. It is obvious that the law prohibiting seamen without four years’ service from claiming the rating of A.B. is valueless, and even unfair to seamen, whilst owners are permitted to employ unqualified men as” A.B.’s. If, however, the law were to prescribe the minimum number of persons which a ship should carry, it would be absolutely necessary to go further, and prescribe the qualifications which such persons should possess, otherwise a ship-owner might man his ship with the minimum number allowed by law, without satisfying himself whether the men had any knowledge of the sea.
We are complying with that by insisting upon rating, and also by insisting that a certain number of qualified men shall be employed on each ship, according to tonnage.
Having come to the conclusion that the State should fix such minimum number, we are of opinion that no man should be employed as A.B. who cannot prove his title to that rating. The “ Able Seaman “ would thus become a convenient unit of effectiveness in the manning scheme which we propose to recommend. It would consequently be requisite to determine precisely what qualifications an A.B. should be required to possess; and, as examination is scarcely practicable, the best alternative would be ‘-‘ service.”
We have adopted that principle of service. Now I should like to say one or two words about apprentices. Under the British law, at the” present time, the employment of apprentices is not compulsory. It used to be compulsory, but that system was abolished in 1850. I contend, and I have these reports to support me, that the reason why the number of boys coming forward and offering themselves for life at sea is continually diminishing, is that the life of a sailor no longer offers any inducement 10 boys to go to sea. I have here some Board of Trade figures which show what has been the result in Great Britain, and from these figures honorable senators may get an idea as to what is likely to happen to British shipping unless some steps are taken to induce a better state of “things. I quote from the Board of Trade return dated 17th June, 1895. It gives the number of apprentices in the mercantile marine from the year 1845 to 1894. . There are blanks in some of the earlier years as to the number of apprentices who were employed at the time ; but the report for those years gives the number enrolled. I will give the number enrolled, and the number employed, so far as the report furnishes particulars. In the year 1845 the number of apprentices enrolled was 15,704; in 1850, when the law was passed abolishing the compulsory employment of apprentices, the number was 5,055; in 1855, 7,461; in i860, 5,616; in 1865, 5,638; in 1870, 4,241; in 1875, 4,379; in 1880, 3,501; in 1885, 2,504; in 1890, 2,167 J in 1894, 2,164. Those figures show how the numbers dropped. Then the return gives the number of apprentices employed from 1870.
– Would not the increase in the number of steam-ships account for the diminution of apprentices?
– There should be apprentices on steam-ships as well as on sailing vessels. I do not think that accounts for the decrease wholly. The number of apprentices actually employed in 1870, was 18,303; in 1875, 16,004; in 1880,. 14,667; in 1885, 10.437; in 1890, 8,650; in 1894, 8,455. That shows the steady decrease in the number of apprentices coming forward, and would indicate that, if something is not done to raise the number, the time will come when there will be still fewer apprentices to take the place of able-bodied seamen.
– This Bill gives the ship-owner the right to demand a premium for apprentices.
– It leaves the matter open.
– That will not encourage boys to go. to sea.
– Sometimes boys go as apprentices with a view of rising to higher positions.
– Is not the apprentice system diminishing in all lines of business?
– Not _ to the extent shown by these figures, certainly. As to the employment of apprentices, the report of the Committee on the Manning of British Ships says -
The boys who are trained in sailing ships are often premium apprentices, who are intended to become officers. It is hardly to be expected that a boy who has ambition only to become an A.B. would pay a premium, or bind himself for a term of years, when at the end of his apprenticeship he would have to compete for employment on equal terms with men of all nationalities, having more or less knowledge of the sea, but not necessarily possessed of indentures of apprenticeship, or of any other proofs of competency ; nor would he be likely to serve his time as an apprentice on little or no pay alongside a boy -or an ordinary seaman who would be receiving higher pay, and who would probably be rated as able seaman before himself; nor would he be likely to serve four years’ apprenticeship with the object of securing £2 15s. per month, whilst the carpenter, who’ had not served a more arduous apprenticeship, received £$ The truth is, that the absence of any substantial test of qualification for sailors, and the system of crimping, have led to the deterioration of the calling of British seamen in nearly all its grades, until it has almost fallen to the level of unskilled labour. Seamen of long service and experience have to serve in British merchant ships alongside inexperienced tramps and loafers, or with foreigners of no experience, and scarcely with a word of English at their command. .
That is the trouble. There is no doubt that the calling has been so reduced that now it is only about on a level with unskilled labour. Consequently parents having boys for whom they want to provide a means of earning a living are not inclined to send them to sea. There is no inducement. Proper inducement to sailors to go to sea would take the form of good pay and fair treatment, and if sailors had that, a better class of men would be recruited for service on board ship, and boys would be willing to qualify themselves to fill such positions eventually. I have already referred incidentally to the rating of seamen.
– ls there any clause in the Bill prohibiting the employment of foreigners at sea?
– No ; with regard to the crews of vessels we require that a certain number of A.B.’s shall be employed in every ship, according to tonnage, and that a man. cannot be an A.B. until he has served four years as an apprentice or before the mast. We do not prohibit the employment of foreigners, but we hope, by requiring the employment of a certain number who are qualified as A.B’s., and have passed an examination, and also by improving the conditions of life at sea, to attract more men of a better class to a sea life. ‘We hope that if these improvements are made there will be a greater inducement to boys to serve as apprentices. That is how this measure proposes to deal with the difficulty. Now I come to the subject of the coastal trade. In reference to that we are in a somewhat better position. There is great difficulty, as has been pointed out by the authorities I have quoted, in dealing with foreign competition in shipping. Those difficulties do not apply to the coasting trade,, where we are on very strong ground in insisting upon our absolute right to control. In doing that we are only following the example of nearly all other countries, Great Britain being about the only country at the . present time that absolutely throws open her coastal trade to the world. From the earliest times the coasting trade has been reserved for the vessels of the country concerned. Going back to the days of Queen Elizabeth, we find that in England at that time, the coasting trade was strictly reserved to British ships. In the time of Cromwell the British coasting trade was reserved for British ships. In the reign of James II. a duty of 5s. a ton was imposed upon all foreign vessels engaged in the coasting trade. In the reign of George II. the coasting trade was further considered, and a measure was passed requiring the registration of all ships employed. From the time that the. coasting trade of Great Britain was thrown open, the United States and nearly all other countries specially reserved their own coastal trade for their own ships. I refer honorable senators to the British Subsidies Report, paragraph
The next contributory cause with foreign subsidies affecting British trade is the reservation by foreign nations of their coasting trade to their own ships.
That is an instance of the unfair competition’ which British shipping has to meet - that while the British coasting trade is thrown open to all, foreign countries preserve their coasting trade to themselves.’-
Indeed, in many quarters this is regarded as an indirect subvention or subsidy. AlthoughBritish coasting trade is absolutely open to vessels of all nations, many nations reserve the trade between their own ports to their own vessels. A list of foreign countries, with particulars whether their coasting trade is reserved or open to British vessels, prepared by the Foreign Office, is printed in Appendix (1902) 3.
The appendix shows which countries reserve their coasting trade.
This class of restriction appears, to be on the increase, so that the field for British trading throughout the world is becoming gradually but surely circumscribed.
– And yet British trade is increasing every day.
– That is begging the question again. I do not think that the honorable senator can prove that the British trade in British hands is increasing.
The United States extend the doctrine so as to declare a voyage from New York round Cape Horn to San Francisco, or from San Francisco to Honolulu, to be a “ coasting voyage,” and as such they restrict it to vessels carrying the United States flag. Similarly France refuses to allow any but French vessels to trade between French ports and Algeria; and Russia, in reserving its coasting trade to its own flag, includes in this restriction the navigation between Russian ports in the Baltic and the Black Sea, and between all Russian ports and Vladivostock in the far east of Siberia. Such restrictions have seriously affected British trade. The idea naturally occurs, what would be the effect of reserving to all British ships the Imperial “ coasting “ trade within the British Empire? Several witnesses spoke in favour of it, one of the most emphatic being resident in Australia.
The appendix of which I have spoken is very voluminous, and I do not suppose that honorable senators desire me to read it.
– We should like to have a comparison between the trade done in those countries and British trade.
– I am afraid such a comparison is not given. The appendix, however, shows the conditions under which the trade is reserved - whether it is reserved wholly, or only to certain ports. The countries which reserve their trade are: - Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chili, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Portugal (colonies), Russia, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.
– Germany does not wholly reserve her coastal trade to herself.
– The appendix in regard to Germany is as follows: -
Coasting trade reserved, except where granted by Treaty.
– Then the German coasting trade is perfectly open to British vessels?
– Subject to reciprocity _
– But the British coasting tirade is open to ali.
– At the Conference of the Premiers of the self-governing Colonies in 1902, the following resolution was agreed to -
That it is desirable that the attention of the Governments of the Colonies and the United Kingdom should be called to the present state of the Navigation laws in the Empire, and in other countries, and to the advisability of refusing the privileges of coastwise trade, including trade between the mother country and its Colonies and possessions, and between one Colony or possession and another, to countries in which the corresponding trade is confined to ships of their own nationality, and also to the laws affecting shipping, with a view to seeing whether .any other steps should be taken to promote Imperial trade in British vessels.
– But according to this Bill, the restrictions are applied to British shipping. That is not what the Colonial Conference meant.
– We have a perfect right, just as those other countries have, to protect our coasting trade, and I do not see how we can do that except by insisting on all vessels, which trade on the coast, observing the same conditions as are’ observed by our own vessels.
– Do you think your proposal will carry that object out?
– I do.
– Subject to railway limitations.
– Until the railway to Western Australia is made, and a bridge to l Tasmania is erected.
– It has been said that the British trade carried in foreign ships is small as compared with the British trade carried in British ships. The proportion of the trade carried in foreign ships appears to be 9 per cent, or 10 per cent. ; at all events, it has been quoted at 9 per cent., and that by some people is regarded as very small. Others, however, take a different view, as is shown by the following extract from the report to which I have already called attention. Sir Robert Giffen replied -
That 9 or 10 per cent, was a considerable advantage, that he did not fear reprisals, and that as foreigners already reserved their coasting trade, they would have no cause for complaint. Sir Robert Giffen’s evidence as to the reservation of British Imperial coasting trade to British ships deserves very careful attention. He suggests that (i) either foreign ships, and especially foreign subsidized ships, should be altogether excluded from the coasting trade - in the widest sense - of the British Empire, that is, trade between the United Kingdom and Australia, or between the United Kingdom and India, or between Australia and India, and so on ; or (2) that such ships should only be admitted to these trades on condition of their complying with the same rules as to construction, equipment, and inspection as English ships, and paying a fine for the privilege of coasting equal to and exceeding any subsidy (presumably trade-navigation or constructionsubsidy)they receive.. It should be explained, he says, that this second suggestion would not prevent foreign ships coming to our ports from abroad, or going to foreign ports from our shores, which is all the privilege most foreign countries give to our ships in their waters. It would only prevent foreign ships doing coasting trade or interprovincial trade within the British Empire itself, or would prevent them doing it except on proper terms. The suggestion would require the assent and co-operation of our self-governing Colonies, which there is reason to suppose will not be wanting, for if foreign ships trading between two British Imperial ports, that is, London to Sydney, are to be required to pay a fine, or take out a licence, as far as possible, equal to the varying subsidies from which they benefit, the licence must clearly be demanded for inspection at both ends to prevent evasion.
It. strikes me as being only fair dealing to require foreign vessels who trade on our coast to submit to the same conditions as are observed by our own shipping, and this point is dealt with in Part VII. of the
Bill in clauses 294 to 306. I have here some figures on this point which may be interesting to honorable senators. This return shows the number of coastal passengers carried by oversea companies in 1903, to and from Melbourne, and is as follows : -
Number of Coastal Passengers Carried by Oversea Companies During Year 1903 10 and from Melbourne.
– Some of the passengers may have been counted twice..
– Four or five times.
– Twice only, I should think; but it is on the .score of duplication that I doubt all these statistics.
– Does the return show that a passenger is from Sydney to Melbourne, or Melbourne to Adelaide, and so forth?
– I only give the figures for what they are worth.
– It would be very valuable if correct.
– It is evidently incomplete. I am aware of the difficulty of getting information on these subjects. I cannot pretend that the return I have quoted is entirely reliable, and I shall seek further information. My object was to show the extent to which these oversea vessels compete with vessels engaged in the local trade. Another matter which it will be -interesting for the Senate to discuss is the rate of wages. The view we take is that it is not fair that these, oversea ships, paying much lower rates of wages, should be allowed to come in and compete with local ships paying higher rates of wages. If a proper rate of wages is to be maintained, it can only be by insisting that all vessels doing trade of the same character shall pay the same rates of wages. I quote a statement with respect to rates of wages from Coghlan. I give the wages paid per calendar month in 1903, stating, first, the wages paid to white crews in British sea-going steamers trading to the Commonwealth, and, next, the wages paid to white crews engaged in steamers in the coasting trade.
In calculating the average wages paid to seamen, regard must be had to the fact that shipping companies, in some instances, take into consideration personal qualifications and length of service of employes, when fixing rates. The following table shows the average wages, per calendar month, in 1903, paid to white crews of British ocean-going steamers trading with the Commonwealth, and also the rates for white crews of steamers engaged in the Inter-State trade. The rates were obtained from the ships’ articles deposited with the State shipping officers : -
The most important point in this connexion is, I believe, the difference in the wages paid to the A.B. on the ocean-going steamers, as compared with the wages paid to. the A.B. on the Inter-State boats, namely, £4 on the ocean-going steamers, and £6 10s. on the Inter-State steamers. It will be seen that such a difference may run into a large amount of money.
– Can the honorable and learned senator quote the fares charged ?
– I have no statement of the fares charged, they are fixed by the shipping companies. The proposal of the Bill is that where these ocean-going ships compete for coasting trade by taking passengers or cargo from one port to another, they shall comply with the same conditions as are enforced against our own ships. That does not seem to me to be an unreasonable thing. There is one exception to which I have referred with regard to Western Australia. It must be remembered that the distance from Fremantle to Adelaide is 1,370 miles. No doubt the United States is at the present time very well furnished with railroads, and the people of that country are able in their navigation laws to provide that a voyage from any port of the United States to any other port, or to any of the Colonies of the United States, shall be held to be a coasting voyage. Probably, under similar conditions, we should be’ able to do the same. If every part of Australia were internally connected by railroads, we might be able to say that any trip from any one part of Australia to -another should be considered a coasting trip. We have to face the difficulty that owing to the absence of railway communication with the eastern States, Western Australia is at the present time as. much isolated from those States as though it were a separate island or a separate country, and we are therefore justified in making an exception in the case of boats trading with Western Australia.
– What about the lower rate of wages we shall be making the men take.
– We shall not be making the men take any lower rate of wages, but if I may use the expression we shall suspend the operation of the provision, which requires all ships to comply with our conditions, in the case of ships trading with Western Australia^ on account of the great distance from the other States of the Commonwealth to Western Australia, and the absence of railway communication.
– Then the English sailor may be injured for the benefit of the Western Australian people?
– I should point out that the side note to clause 297 is misleading, and requires to be altered. That clause deals with the trade to the Northern Territory. The exception is made to apply in that case only where there is no other ship trading. If none of our local steamers trade to the Northern Territory, any of the ocean-going steamers doing that business will be exempted from these special provisions.
– At the discretion of the Minister, for five years.
– We cannot be logically correct in all these matters:
– Why is not clause 296 applied to Tasmania?
– It is not necessary in the case of Tasmania.
– Why is it necessary in the case of Western Australia ?
– As I have already explained, it is necessary in the case of Western Australia, because of the enormous distance of that State from the Eastern States, and because there is no other means of communication.
– There are several splendid lines of steamers.
– Tasmania enjoys very fair means of communication by means *of its own local ships, whilst Western Australia, on the other hand, is dependent to a great extent upon the ocean-going steamers.
– What about North Queensland ; is not that territory also isolated by the absence of railway communication ?
– No; they have a splendid local service.
– There is a better service to Western Australia.
– Up to Rockhampton there is railway communication, but from that port to the north of Queensland I think there is a very good local service.
– It is not so good as the service to Western Australia.
– At all events, the figures which I quoted just now, show that very few passengers are carried in oversea ships from Queensland ports, and when the honorable senator says that there is a better service between Western Australia and the eastern ports, I think he must be taking into account the oversea steamers that we speak about.
– I must differ, then, from my honorable friend. I do not think there is a better service to Western’ Australia than there is on the Queensland coast.
– Would the increased wages only start when the ship commenced to trade?
– Yes, and would only apply during the voyage, when she was taking part in the coasting trade.
– So that if the ship went right up to Sydney without trading, and started to trade back, she would have to pay the Australian rate?
– I take it that she would.
– Suppose that a steamer is here for 28 days, that she spends seven days in bringing passengers from Adelaide to Sydney, and seven, days in going back from Sydney to Adelaide, and that she is engaged for fourteen days in discharging and taking in European cargo, will she have to pay Australian wages all the time ?
– I do not know whether my honorable and learned friend is trying to puzzle me, but I should say that if a ship is engaged in the coasting trade, she will have to pay the Australian rate all the time. Local ships have to spend time in port as well as others.
– Suppose that a ship takes cargo as ballast, will she be held to be engaged in the coasting trade ?
– I should think that she is not engaged in the coasting trade if she is in ballast only.
– She might take cargo, say stone, as ballast from Sydney to Newcastle.
– If she takes cargo, certainly she is engaging in the coasting trade.
– Suppose that she takes cargo as ballast?
– If she is .carrying cargo she is engaged in the coasting trade ; but if Senator Gray means to ask me - Can a ship come from England with a full cargo, discharge part in one port, go to another port, and there ship a cargo for Great Britain? - my reply is that she would not then be engaged in the coasting trade. She must not take cargo or passengers from one port to another.
– She could not load stone for ballast to take her to Newcastle?
– The honorable senator is speaking of something else when he speaks of ballast.
– I am speaking of cargo which is ballast.
– I only know cargo as cargo. I do not know that I am able on the spur of the moment to answer all these questions. In its main lines the Bill is perfectly clear, very fair and equitable. I f we are to maintain any conditions in our coasting trade it can only be done by insisting that all ships which come in and participate in the profits of that trade shall comply with our law. Perhaps I owe an apology to the Senate for the imperfection of my attempt to explain the principles of the Bill. It deals with a subject of very great magnitude. I have done my best to make clear to honorable senators what is the law on the subject, the difficulties in the way, and how they are proposed to be met by the Bill. I hope that all honorable senators will assist us to make the Bill as perfect as possible.
– The subject with which this Bill deals is an extremely important one. The speech of the Attorney-General has been worthy of it. I think I am expressing, not merely my own opinion, but that of nearly every one who has been present, that the honorable and learned senator has devoted very great attention to the subject, and expended upon it a degree of research which has enabled him to bring under our notice a great deal of information. The Bill is a remarkable one. It is remarkable for its great length. If it were as good as it is long, then its length would certainly be no defect, and there would be no particular harm in it. We cannot have too much of a good thing, and we cannot perhaps have a good thing too long. Personally, I prefer a comprehensive measure. I like the law on any subject, as far as possible, to be embodied within the four corners of one Act of Parliament, rather than that it should be spread over perhaps a score of Acts of Parliament - principal Acts, substantive Acts amending, and very often explanatory Acts to declare the meaning of the Legislature as attempted to be expressed in the principal Act. There is good example for its length found in the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, which contains between 700 and 800 provisions - nearly twice as many as in this Bill - but which, I am glad’ to say, does not in all its length contain the blemishes I find in this measure. I do not intend to follow my honorable and learned friend through all the details of the clauses to which he has referred. In all probability that will be better done in Committee. I believe we shall find that the information from the practical side which Senator Guthrie, judg ing by his various interjections, will be able to give, will be of value, and assist the Committee in dealing with a number of the clauses. Nor do I intend to follow my honorable and learned friend through his eulogy on the dark ages. I do not know that the investigation of that subject, or of the agreements entered into by the Hanseatic League, in the year of grace 1200, will assist very much to determine the very important matters which are before us in this Bill. Nor do I intend to follow him through the figures and in- . formation with which he has supplied us in regard to foreign subsidized ships, because even if it were possible for us - which it is not - there is nothing in the Bill that interferes in the slightest degree with the oversea trade - which is the most important trade in which these ships compete with British ships. It is not within the ambit of our legislative power to deal with that great subject, and whilst we may be very desirous of setting ourselves up as an example, and holding ourselves as a kind of moral lesson to the t mother country, it is the mother country that must legislate, if she intends to prohibit within the Empire competition by subsidized foreign ships to the detriment of British ships throughout the Empire. Therefore, I hope my honorable and learned friend will not think I am overlooking a very interesting portion of his remarks on that subject if I pass that by as a matter with which we have no concern on the present occasion. Nor do I intend to be led into the question of free-trade or protection ; but I shall have an observation to make as to what is proposed in the coasting trade provisions of the Bill, out-Heroding Herod in the matter of protection, when I come to that particular provision. Nor do I intend to follow my honorable and learned friend through that very interesting portion of his address dealing with the manning of British ships. The proportion of foreign seamen employed in English ships - or rather of European seamen, because the question of coloured crews is another and very debatable point - is a matter with which we have nothing to do. As my honorable and learned friend admitted in answer to an interjection from me, it is not proposed in this Bill to prohibit, even upon ships owned and registered in Australia, the employment of foreign seamen. Whilst, therefore, we may be thankful for the figures which my honorable and learned friend gave, and which, by their comparative- -I will not say insignificance,but by their comparative smallness, surprised me a little, I may be forgiven if on that subject I do not attempt at this moment to address the Senate. That will, I hope, abbreviate the remarks which, with the forbearance of the Senate, I shall offer on this subject. The figures were, for 1901, 247,973 seamen on British ships, of whom 37,630 were foreigners. Whilst I, in common with, I think, every member of the Senate desire that every British ship shall be manned by seamen of British birth and British blood, we are not called upon to deal with that subject now, or to legislate with a view to putting an end to what may be, from a sentimental, if not from any other, aspect, an undesirable condition of affairs. 1 have never heard it suggested - always leaving the British seamen at the top of the scale - that a German or a Frenchman, or a Scandinavian, or for the matter of that, judging by recent events, a Japanese, was not a competent seaman - subject always, of course, to his ability $ to. understand the orders given to him and his sufficient knowledge of the English language to enable him to do his duty. But. as I say, we are not called upon now to deal with that. The figures which the Attorney-General gave us were not figures in connexion with the Australian trade at all, but were figures concerning British shipping, as understood in its strict sense - that is, shipping which, in spite of all the disadvantages which have been pointed out, in spite of the repeal of the Navigation Laws, in spite of the fact that the Hanseatic League expressed those noble sentiments from which an extract was > read, and in spite of the fact that in the time- of Oiiver Cromwell there were laws affecting navigation of a particular kind - in spite of all that, British shipping at the present moment is nearly half the shipping df the whole world. That is a striking . and unanswerable argument, I will not say against the consideration of this subject, but against our being troubled with a discussion as to what is best for the shipping of the British Empire. The attitude which the Government take up, as expressed by my honorable and learned friend, and as shown by this Bill, is that they clio not propose to alter that condition of things one iota, but to continue the undesirable state of affairs, if it is undesirable, by permitting the engagement on Australian owned and registered ships, just as upon British ships, of foreigners as able seamen.
And as my honorable friend Senator Guthrie interjected at an earlier stage oi the Attorney-General’s speech, the qualification for an able seaman is not examination, as the Attorney-General inadvertently said it was. There is to be no examination, of able seamen at all. The qualification is that he shall simply have passed four years before the mast - it may be upon a ship owned by any other country under the sun. Therefore I pass by all these considerations. I admit, as we all admit at this time of day, that when we are considering the condition of the workers, whether as seamen or as engaged in any other kind of labour or employment, we ought to legislate on lines that are just and- humane. I agree entirely with my honorable and learned friend in that respect. The time has long passed when legislators were animated by any other principle. The time has passed when any body of men were animated by a desire to cut down the conditions or rewards of the men employed in any particular walk of life. The principle that now actuates our Legislatures is that of the New Testament - “ Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.” So far as my experience of legislation goes, there are few indeed, if any, in Australia who are not animated by that desire, and who are not guided by principles which are humane with regard to legislation affecting any class of the industrial community. My honorable and learned friend started with that excellent principle. But it is a truism - I do not use that expression in a disparaging way - at this time of day. I have a few criticisms to offer on the Bill itself. It is a Bill in regard to navigation and shipping. It is a measure, like many other measures we have had to deal with, which, in so. far as it deals with the marine laws of Australia, is contemplated by the Constitution. Therefore, to that extent it is no party measure. The Constitution contemplates that we shall make laws with regard to trade and commerce just as it contemplates that we shall, at some time or other, make laws with regard to conciliation and arbitration within the limits prescribed by the Constitution. I say this because I am not binding any one but myself by the views I express or the criticisms I offer. We must at some time or other deal with laws affecting trade and commerce, and the only question is the Way in which that provision of the Constitution shall be carried out, the extent to which our legislation shall go, and the departures which we are to make from the existing law, or from what has hitherto been believed to be best in this particular regard. This Bill is manifestly intended to supersede every State- Act. Of course, it must necessarily have that effect, because this particular branch of legislation is taken over by the Commonwealth.
– Only part of it.
– Trade and commerce are taken over.
– Harbors are not.
– Of course the jurisdiction over harbors is not taken over by the Commonwealth. Therefore the jurisdiction of the local Marine Boards remains as before. But I am not dealing with harbors, which are local. I am dealing with trade and commerce as understood in its largest sense. Those are matters for Commonwealth legislation; and every marine board and State Navigation Act to the extent to which they affect trade and commerce will be superseded by this Bill. The measure proposes to re-enact in our legislation a great many of the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894. In many instances it appears to me to do . so unnecessarily and in such a way as to create possibilities of conflict and difficulty, which it would be well for us very gravely to consider. There are possibilities of conflict between this measure as it now stands and Imperial legislation. For instance, in sections 261 and 264 of the Merchant Shipping Act there are provisions which make the law upon many of these subjects applicable as well to our own shipping as part of British shipping as to the shipping which is registered in the oI3 country. I mention these considerations, not with a view of going into a critical analysis of the provisions of this Bill and comparing them with the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, but as being some among many reasons why the greatest care should be taken in dealing with it. That should be pre-eminently so in dealing with such a Bill as this, because, as honorable senators are aware, the fundamental principle of English law in relation to shipping is that every British ship is in theory part of the soil of England. We are very apt in legislating to forget that, and also to forget that, speaking generally, it is the Merchant Shipping Act that governs all British shipping throughout the Empire, except so far as the power of legislation is delegated. Honorable” senators will see, therefore, the great importance of a most careful comparison of the provisions that are re-enacted from the Merchant Shipping Act, or that are proposed to. be so re-enacted, by this Bill, but also a careful consideration of any new provisions or changes’ that are made or purported to be made in the provisions of the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act, and which are introduced into this Bill, Fortunately we have in the margins to the Bill references to the corresponding sections of the Imperial Act ; but unfortunately it will be found - I will point to one or . two instances, so that honorable senators may appreciate the warning; I am putting it really as a warning - that there are departures from the language of the Imperial enactment, and sections are introduced which do not correspond with the similar sections of the Merchant Shipping Act:
– A number of them.
– There are a number of them, as my honorable friend says. I am afraid that that kind of thing is eminently misleading. It is a pity 5, that where departures are made in framing a Bill on other legislation, there should not be notes in the margin showing how far the clauses are modified as compared with the original provisions.
– It would be almost impossible to do that in side-notes.
– I do not think that it would be impossible ; at any rate, an effort might have been made to do it. With very few exceptions, none of us are experts. I know that Senator Guthrie has made himself an expert on the subject ; but I do not profess to have done so, and to me the Bill, as presented, is, in this connexion, misleading. I have devoted some time to making a comparison between the sections of the Merchant Shipping Act and ‘ the clauses of the Bill ; but I have not been able to complete the work, and it will be difficult for us to know, unless we are most careful, in what respect we are deviating from the Imperial Act. This Bill is dominated - and must be dominated, in spite of whatever may be said - by the Merchant Shipping Act in so far as the clauses which deal with British ships are concerned.
– Within our jurisdiction?
– The Merchant Shipping Act is the great shipping code of the Empire in regard to those matters for which it expressly provides.
– We are given power to regulate our own coasting shipping.
– I am not speaking of that matter.
– And the covering provisions help us a little.
– Whatever in this Bill conflicts with the provisions of the Imperial Act to the extent I have indicated will, in my opinion, be “inoperative. Our whole system for the regulation of shipping does not depend on local, but on Imperial laws.
– That has been recognised.
– It is only recognised by what is omitted from this measure. Many people are under the impression that our system of registration is under the control of local law.
– The honorable and learned senator is not overlooking the fifth covering section.
– I am not. Our Admiralty jurisdiction is all derived from Imperial legislation, and discipline’ on board British ships is under the Imperial Act. Senator Drake will understand that I am not saying that it is undesirable to have before us upon our own statute-bork the very provisions of the Imperial Act, but we must be careful to see that we do nothing to destroy the constitutional force of the Bill, and thus render it ultra vires in respect to the importation of provisions regarding discipline and wages and so forth, professing to be but not actually being transferred bodily from the Imperial Act. Whether the provisions are transferred bodily will require an examination to determine. All the provisions regarding health, the wills of deceased seamen, and so forth, are presumably in the identical terms of those in the Merchant Shipping Act, the latter being applicable to British ships registered in England or in Australia. Senator Drake referred to clause 38, in which it is provided -
All ships registered in Australia- shall, and all other ships, when carrying passengers ot cargo, shipped or taken on board in any port in Australia to be carried to and landed or delivered at any other port therein ot to New Zealand shall carry as crew the number and description of persons specified in the scale set out in Schedule a, or as prescribed.
Not content with attempting to legislate for ships carrying goods to any port in Australia, the Government, in this Bill, seek to legislate for vessels proceeding to any port in New Zealand. We have no more right to legislate thus in regard to any port in New Zealand than we have to legislate in regard to any port in Europe. New Zealand is not amenable to the Commonwealth, and it would be equally justifiable to legislate similarly with regard to a P. and O. steamer carrying passengers or cargo from Australia to London. I ask Senator Drake to give this clause his careful consideration, because it is absolutely in conflict with Imperial law. We are asked to impose on British ships, like those of the P. and 0. Co. and the Orient Co., obligations and duties altogether at variance with what they are required to do under the Imperial Act in their port of registration and departure.
– This only applies to Australian registered ships.
– The clause applies to all ships. If this Bill becomes law it will be many a day before we may expect to have Australian registered ships doing oversea trade. My object is to impress on honorable senators the necessity for the very greatest care.
– Under the English law there is provision for the extension of the jurisdiction between the Elbe and Brest.
– That provision is for a particular purpose; but that is not the matter with which I ‘am now dealing. ‘
– Why cannot we extend our jurisdiction to our coastal trade at New Zealand?
– What right have we to do that? What would the Right Honorable Richard Seddon say if the Commonwealth were to legislate for the coast of New Zealand ? Why, we should have him sending his navy over here !
– Perhaps he would ask for reciprocity.
– I think that Senator Guthrie, in whose judgment I have every confidence, will on consideration favour the striking out of the words “ to New Zealand,” if, indeed, he does not ask that the clause shall be altogether recast, in order to bring it into conformity with the Imperial Act, and to prevent its application to British ships carrying the complement of officers and crews required by that Act. I should like now to draw attention to clause 177, which deals with the apprehension of deserting seamen belonging to foreign ships. T think Senator Drake will find that this provision is different from the corresponding section in the Merchant Shipping Act, and he would do well to consider whether those differences are such as we are justified in introducing, not in relation to our own coastal trade, but in relation to foreign seamen on foreign ships, which happen to come to our shores. I also call attention to clause 185, which is a general provision in regard to British and foreign shipping. This part of the Bill, which is very important, is made to apply to all British ships registered in any parts of the King’s dominions, quite irrespective of whether they are engaged in the coasting trade. Honorable senators will see the absolute necessity of observing very carefully any departure- from the Imperial Act, so far as British ships are concerned, when dealing with Division 16, Part IV. of the Bill. And not content with dealing with British ships there is a sub-clause b, which provides that this part of the Bill shall apply to all foreign ships.
– Does the honorable and learned senator say that that cannot be done ?
– I say you cannot do it ; and, what is more to the purpose, the Imperial Parliament has noT attempted to do it. The part of this Bill dealing with foreign ships is not . to be found in the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act. The section is 267, and, so far as I am aware, it has never been attempted to apply it to foreign ships. Of course, the difficulty would be very serious, because honorable senators will find that these provisions cover surveys, re-surveys, all questions of seaworthiness, and unsafe ships, life-saving appliances, light signals and sailing rules, and deck and load lines. My honorable and learned friend has just read from a most interesting report that it is held in England that these cannot be ap- plied to foreign ships.
– It has not been done so far, but surely they can be applied if it is thought desirable, and they come into our ports ?
– We cannot do anything of the kind. Senator Playford could not have been listening to Senator Drake when he was reading that report. You can prevent a ship going to sea in an unseaworthy condition if she is in your own waters, but you cannot make hard and fast lines legislating for foreign ships.
– Can we not prevent overloading; can we not prevent a ship going to sea that is loaded over the line ?
– We can prevent that by our right to prevent an unseaworthy ship going to sea, but we cannot legislate for foreign ships with respect _ to these matters, which affect our own shipping and our Own subjects, and the land of which the British ship is supposed to form a part.
– We can prevent an unseaworthy ship going to sea, and a survey may be necessary to prove that she is unseaworthy.
– It may or may not be necessary ; but here it is proposed to go a great deal further. This part of the Bill contains something like sixteen different divisions.
– Senator Pearce has taken up the honorable and learned senator on his own instance. The honorable and learned senator referred to an unseaworthy ship, and a load line, and when Senator Pearce replies to his particular instance, he says that we must look at something else.
– I say nothing of the kind. I say that what we are proposing here to legislate for is the imposition of a load line, and we can do nothing of the kind as the report to which my honorable and learned friend has referred has shown.
– It did not show that.
– It states in effect that they could not impose a load line, and the only remedy they had was to prevent an unseaworthy ship going to sea. They had to be guided by observation merely, to tell whether she was overloaded or not.
– That is qualified by the words “ as the law stands now.”
– As the law stands at all times, because it is a question of legislation. My honorable, friend must know perfectly well that we cannot legislate for foreign shipping. Just as we can proceed against a man who is an officer on board of. a foreign ship if he commits an assault, and can prosecute him in the Courts of the country within whose territorial waters he may be, so we can prevent a ship, no matter to what country it belongs, going to sea if it is in an unsafe condition. But honorable senators will find that what is proposed to. be done here is to impose practically our municipal laws upon foreign ships to an extent which at any rate my honorable friends
I will admit has never yet been attempted by Imperial legislation, although the same difficulties and the same occasion for action have existed in Great Britain.
– Perhaps the honorable and learned senator will permit me, in support of the view he urges, to draw his attention to section 5 of the Constitution, the covering section, which says - and the laws of the Commonwealth shall be enforced 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.
– I am very much obliged to Senator Best for having again called my attention to that. It enables me to point out that we are not merely limited to British ships, but, as my honorable and learned friend has shown, that we are practically limited to ships engaged in the Australian trade. My honorable friend, Senator Walker, and the President, were members of the Convention, and they will recollect that, as the Constitution was laid before the Convention, it contained that provision in somewhat .different words.
– Does the honorable and learned senator say that this covering section was before the Convention?
– Yes, the whole of these covering sections were before the Convention. Section 5 now refers to British ships - whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth.
But as it originally stood the section read - whose port of clearance or port of destination are in the Commonwealth.
It will be found, on looking at the proceedings of the Convention, that it was the subject of debate as to whether this was not altogether beyond our power, and whether it could possibly have been contemplated. It was then with unanimous consent agreed that the word “ or “ had got in by mistake, and- that the section must be limited to o’ur local shipping. There are two things which follow from the covering section of the Constitution to which the attention of honorable senators may well be directed. One is that our Commonwealth laws only prevail upon British ships, and the other is that they prevail only upon British ships whose trade is between one part of the Commonwealth and another.
– Then we could not stop a foreign ship trading between one port of the Commonwealth and another ?
– Of course ‘we could.
– And we could not make them pay duty upon their stores?
- Senator Playford proclaims himself a patriotic and loyal citizen of the empire, who desires to knit still more strongly the ties existing between this and the mother land, and yet he is going to apply these restrictive provisions to British ships. That is all I propose to say with regard to these provisions, and I say it merely with a view of emphasizing the necessity for the very utmost care in dealing with these clauses, and of pointing Out a course which I think would have been more advisable. Some greater consideration should have been given to the introduction of some of those provisions, and to their enlargement, than appears to have been given. Two other provisions to which I shall call attention are, I think, very distinct blemishes on the Bill. I object very strongly to the power given under this Bill to the Minister, whoever he may be.- It introduces an element which is altogether foreign to the scope and object of the Bill, and it will be found to be most mischievous. I am speaking now in the interests of seamen, whether officers or men, and the mischief is exemplified by clause 93 to which the Attorney-General refers. The clause provides -
That professes to be a copy of section 231 of the Merchant Shipping Act, but it is not.
– I specially pointed that out.
– The words “of the Minister” are newly introduced. I say, without fear of contradiction, that it would be a monstrous thing to substitute the Minister for the Court for the investigation of a question upon evidence as to whether or not there should be .a forfeiture of wages. It would destroy the benefit of this Bill, and it would substitute a man who had not heard the evidence, who had not seen the witnesses, and who had no opportunity of determining whether justice was on one side or the other, for the Court which heard both sides, and was sworn to deal judicially between the two, whilst it would place in his - hand the power of perhaps doing injustice on the one hand to a seaman or on the other to a master or owner. If honorable senators will refer to page 626 of the official Hansard of the Adelaide session of the Convention, they will find that the original clause read as follows : -
The laws and treaties ‘ of the Commonwealth shall .be in force on board of all British ships whose last port of clearance or whose port of destination is in the Commonwealth.
That provision would have had the effect of putting the laws of the Commonwealth in force on all British ships registered in England that visited Australia, and left an Australian port on a return voyage to England which, on the face of it, would have been absurd. Sir George Turner read the words, and appealing to the leader of the Convention, said -
Does he expect that the Imperial Government will pass that?
After a very short discussion - it was felt by everybody that a mistake had been made - the word “ and “ was substituted for the word “or,” and the original draft of the Bill, amended in committee, shows the alteration.
– That restricted the powers which we had under the Federal Council of Australasia Act.
– There was a general consensus of opinion that that Act had given more power than could possibly be conferred upon the Federal Council.
– The Queen’s assent was given to that Act.
– The word “ or “ was inserted by inadvertence. In the Adelaide Convention attentionwas called to the error, and it was rectified, so that the Commonwealth laws, specifically in relation to shipping, are only in force on British ships whose trade is between port and port in the Commonwealth. I ask the Attorney-General whether he thinks that the provision inserted in clause 248, with regard to boat drill, could possibly be made applicable to a foreign ship?
– We have taken that from the New Zealand Act.
– I do not know where it is taken from.
– I do not say that it is right on that account
– All I am pointing out is that legislation of this kind is not to be dealt with in that slapdash fashion, and that some consideration 2 f should be shown to the constitutional position we are in. Do not let it be said that we suffer, even in relation to shipping, from what, to use a common expression, I may call “ swelled head,” and think that because we are the Commonwealth of Australia, we are not: under the British Crown, and the British, flag, and that we can legislate as though we were the United States in relation towhich, of course, Great Britain is a foreign country: We are not in that position at all, and it is misapprehension on that point that has misled many persons in relation to all these shipping questions; they seem to forget when they look for parallels in other countries, that they are foreign countries.
– To New Zealand.
– Does the section as to boat-drill apply to foreign ships in New Zealand ?
– I do not know. I am directing atention to these matters, not with a view to invite the Senate to express a definite opinion on them one
Way or the other now - happily we are not the tribunal to settle constitutional questions or questions of ultra vires - but, by way of precaution, and ‘in order that the representatives of the Ministry here- may give them a little more consideration than they perhaps have been able to do before they invite the Senate in Committee to occupy a great deal of time in dealing with the provisions of the measure in detail. I also wish to invite their attention to the clause relating specifically to load-lines and to ask my honorable and learned friend whether lie will take the trouble to compare that provision with section 444 of the Merchant Shipping Act, from which I should humbly infer that we have no power to legislate as to load-lines on British ships, that we have no power to legislate in respect to loadlines except on Australian registered vessels. The Merchant Shipping Act is the law of Australia, as well as the law of England, in relation to the subject matters covered by its provisions, and section 444 expressly says -
Where the Legislature of any British possession -
The Commonwealth is a British possession within the meaning of this Act. - by any enactment provides for the fixing, marking, and certifying of load lines on ships registered in that possession.
That is the only power we have, and it can only be exercised subject to the confirmation of the Imperial authorities, - and it appears to Her Majesty the Queen . that that enactment is based on the same principles as the provisions of this part of this Act relating to load-lines, and is equally effective for ascertaining and determining the maximum load-lines to which those ships can be safely loaded in salt water, and for giving notice of the load-line to persons interested, Her Majesty in Council may declare that any load-line fixed and marked, and any certificate giving in pursuance of that enactment shall with respect to ships so registered have the same effect as if it had been fixed, marked, or given in pursuance of this part of this Act.
What does that mean? It. means that we have no power except a delegated power to legislate for load-lines on our own vessels registered in Australia, and that if we do seek to register so as to prescribe a load-line on our own Australian registered vessels His Majesty in Council, if he so chooses, declares that enactment operative if he is satisfied it is efficient.
– Then we are not a self-governing community at all?
– Of course we are. My honorable friend. I am sure, knows that the underlying principle of that one department of legislation is that it is the Imperial Parliament whose legislation is to dominate British shipping throughout the British dominions. That is ingrafted on our self-governing powers, and that is shown by the instance I have referred to as to our Admiralty jurisdiction. In Australia there is not an Admiralty Court which depends on Australian law ; its procedure may be affected by Australian law, but it derives its power and its status from Imperial enactment. We must remember that we are not legislating as a sovereign power in relation to this matter as the United States might do, but we are legislating as a British dependency.
– Is not the Constitution an Imperial Act?
– That does not alter the position.
– lt gives the power to deal with navigation.
– It gives the power to deal with trade and commerce, and in the covering sections it gives the power to deal with trade and commerce so far as ships . trading between the ports in Australia are concerned, but all that is subject, so it seems to me, to the Merchant Shipping Act. The Imperial Parliament has declared what the load-line shall be on all
British ships, and we cannot alter that load-line by making it a foot higher or a foot lower without the approval of His Majesty in Council. My honorable friend referred to clause 133, which enacts that the owner, of any British ship is not to allow his vessel to go to sea from a port in Australia to any port outside its limits unless she has a plentiful supply of clothes, woollen blankets, and tobacco - what is known as a slop-chest. Why should it not be made applicable to foreign ships if they are under our jurisdiction? Is it not much more necessary that it should apply to foreign ships? In fact, as my honorable friend said, it is the foreign ships which require the greatest care and the greatest scrutiny in regard to the conditions of life on board.
– Yes, but there are no foreign ships which make Australia their first port of clearance.
– What does my honorable friend mean?
– They make their agreements in their own country.
– So does a British ship.
– Not by a long way.
– Surely there is not an oversea British ship that does not make its agreement in its own country - in England.
– They make them here sometimes.-
– How many ?
– Many of them do.
– My honorable friend can show that. I take leave to say that the Orient liners, the Lund liners, the White Star liners, the P. and O. liners, enter into their agreements with the seamen in their own country.
– There are tramp ships on this coast to-day which are registered in England, and which make their agreements in Australia.
– Let me tell my honorable friend that we are dealing with clause 133. All I ask is, why should we not make this provision for a slopchest and tobacco apply to foreign ships if we have jurisdiction over them. Does the Attorney-General tell me that we are at liberty to make this provision as to a P. and 6. or Orient liner, or any other ship registered in England ?
– If she makes her’ agreement here, yes.
– Nothing of the kind. This is not the tribunal to deal with that question, to legislate for a British ship which is registered in England, and comes out here so as to prescribe that all the articles shall be of good quality, and sold to the crew at a price not exceeding io per cent, on the cost price. Whoever Heard of such a preposterous and ridiculous notion as that this provision could be enforced on board a vessel which was sailing under the Merchant Shipping Act, with a crew articled under the Merchant Shipping Act, which is the dominant legislation. How on earth is that to be carried out? That is before we come to the part which amends the Merchant Shipping Act, by making applicable all the succeeding provisions to Britain and foreign ships. I ask my honorable and learned friend why he should not apply the salutary provisions with regard to ships furnishing tobacco at io per cent, above cost price, to foreign ships in our territorial waters ; and why, if he cannot do that, he should apply it to British ships that are working under the most beneficent law - the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act ?
– I thought the honorable and learned senator was suggesting that we ought to make the provision applicable to foreign ships.
– I say, why should we not do so if we make it applicable to British ships? We might just as well make that applicable, as the provisions of clause 185 ; and could just as easily do it as we can compel a foreign ship to give boat-drill to her ship’s crews, when she was at sea. I referred to the criticism - which is obvious, it seems to me - as to the power given to the Minister under this Bill. The Minister is introduced a great deal too much. I have looked through a great many of the clauses, and the references to the power of the Minister run right through the measure. They are like peas in a pudding. The Minister can do anything. For the first time in legislative history Ave find the Minister dragged in at every point and at every turn. He is put in the position of doing the work of the Court without hearing the evidence, and without knowing the rights of the parties. We have in the provision as to forfeiture, the provision that the whole proceeding comes before the Court which hears the evidence ; and then the Court - surely the proper body - is given power to say whether or not the circumstances warranted the desertion of the seaman. If the man has been abused or ill-treated, or for some other cause which the Court thinks adequate has deserted, then in the same way as desertion - not using the term as implying any impropriety, but as referring to the workman absenting himself from his work - may take place in any employment, it may take place from a ship. I do not know of any principle of law that is better established than that is. The Court, having the whole of the facts before it, has power, under the Merchant Shipping Act, to say whether the desertion was excusable or not, and if it is excusable it has power to say that the man may have his wages although’ he has deserted. But under this provision the Minister is to have jurisdiction to say whether the man shall have his wages or not. It is to depend upon the Minister of the day, or upon outside influences, which may be brought to bear by a particular shipping company, to say that, in spite of the fact that the Court has declared that the man shall have his wages, those wages shall be forfeited. It seems to me that that provision deserves my honorable and learned friend’s most serious consideration.
– Is that by Executive act?
– No. It depends on the Minister’s own individual action. It depends upon the .gentleman who for the time being is Minister, not upon the Governor-General, with the advice and consent of his Executive Council. The Minister, simply on his own ipse dixit, without having heard the evidence at ail, may, under this Bill, if passed in its present shape, have the power of forfeiting a man’s wages.
– Which go to the shipowner.
– I say frankly that it has been impossible for me to investigate this Bill as my honorable friend, Senator Guthrie, has been able to do in every detail and ramification. The tilings I have referred to are examples of I do not say more than the want of care that has been exercised in chipping in the powers of the Minister whenever there was a possibility of doing so. Much as I love Ministers, I think there ought to bs some little care exercised in respect to the powers to be given to them under such a Billas this. My honorable friend will find if he turns to clauses 10, 11, 16, 18, and 202, other examples of what I have complained of. There are other cases in other parts of the Bill. Indeed, their name is legion. 2 f 2
We cannot read these clauses without seeing the grave impropriety of conferring the powers I have referred to upon the Minister of the day, not to be exercised as an executive act, but simply to be exercised by him as Minister in relation to the multitudinous and grave matters dealt with by this measure. Then there is also too much of the words “as prescribed.” I say, let us legislate in the daylight. Let us put into this Bill everything we possibly can - certainly every important matter that affects the welfare of the shipping interests; of the seamen on the one hand and of the owners on the other.
– We should make a big Bill of it then.
– It would be better to have a Bill of 50,000 clauses than to leave such powers to be exercised by regulations, of which we know nothing.
– There may be 500,000 regulations.
– All I say is that I pity the seaman who is left to the tender mercies of fluctuating regulations, which may be made from day to day, and changed from day to day.
– What is worse than the regulations is that too many powers have to be exercised by proclamation.
– I will mention one in il lustration of what my honorable friend says. It appears in clause 38 under which all ships registered in Australia and all other ships - when carrying passengers or cargo shipped or taken on board in any port in Australia to be carried to and landed or delivered at any other port therein, or to New Zealand, shall carry as crew the number and description of persons specified in the scale set out in Schedule 2, or as prescribed.
The Government put a scale into a schedule of their Bill, and then they give power to alter it “as prescribed.” Senator Drake. - By regulation.
– I in- vite’ my honorable and learned friend to look at the next paragraph of the clause. Apprentices and seamen, owners and all the rest of them will never know where they are. After we have legislated, as we think, with precision and clearness -
The Minister may exempt any ships from the operation of this section in regard to boys or apprentices.
What is the good of our legislating at all? The elasticity of this measure is something marvellous. Everything is put upon the Minister. If that is to be the case, let us have a Bill of one clause providing - “ It is hereby enacted that all ships, shipmasters, apprentices, seamen, and others shall conduct themselves and carry on their business as the Minister may from time to time prescribe.” I have referred to these matters, which are details, with a view to their consideration when this Bill gets into Committee. It will give us plenty of material for legislative digestion for a good many weeks to come.’ If the principles to which I have ventured to allude are well founded, as I believe them to be, their consideration may assist in the progress of the measure, and in making it not merely conform to the Imperial legislation with regard to all these matters, but consistent with what is right and proper and definite, so that every one affected by it, and every one engaged in this immense enterprise of shipping, which involves trade and commerce, from the humblest boy on board ship to the most experienced master, shall be able at any moment to tell exactly what the law is, what his duties and obligations are, and what his rights are. But really these are matters of detail, which may be better dealt with in Committee. Now I come, however, to that part of the Bill which is linked on to part. 10 of the Governor-General’s speech. It says -
A Bill relating to navigation and shipping will be submitted to you, specially providing for the regulation of our coasting trade.
Part VII. of this Bill would appear to be the real object of the measure. The rest simply professes to re-enact provisions from ^ the Merchant Shipping Act, which would be operative without re-enactment at all. But they are put in as a kind of fringe - a heavy fringe, it is true - or ornamentation round about what is really the gist of this measure. And here we come to a matter which is one of principle. It is spoken of as “regulation.” To me it ap-, pears as revolutionising the existing trade, and it is certainly the most conspicuous, if it is not really the only piece of original legislation in the Bill. Now I take the view that these provisions represent what, if placed upon the -Statute Book, will be an inconceivable legislative blunder on the part of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. My honorable and learned friend the AttorneyGeneral has expressed, what I think we shall all agree with, that this nation of Australia - I like to think of it as and call it a nation - is in its infancy. But the provisions contained in Part VII. of the Bill are really the deliberate effort of a nation in its infancy to cut off its nose to spite its face.
– To start on proper lines.
– My honorable and learned friend - I am sure he will accept my assurance that I do not want to do him any injustice - seemed uncommonly half-hearted in his advocacy of Part VII.
– There was not that fine strenuous eloquence and earnestness which marked his dissection of the rest of the measure ; and when he said at the finish, “ Well, you cannot always be logical- “
– But it is an exception that the honorable and learned senator is speaking of.
– The exception which proves the rule.
– A very different thing.
– I am glad to have the admission that the exception is a very different thing, and that it is not defensible.
– It is only temporary.
– I will regard it as a temporary expedient, though it is equally indefensible, notwithstanding that it is short-lived ; it is no better, and, perhaps, no worse, because it is a “ little one.”
– It is easily defended.
– It appears to me that the combined result will be to tend to legalize monopoly.
– It is in the interests of the Australian “fat man” - the shipowner.
– It will tend to make the path easy for the establishment of a gigantic shipping ring, which might, and certainly could at present, prey without let or hindrance on Inter-State commerce, and exact what rates the combination might please from the -Australian producers and the travelling public. It will not merely tend, but will in fact lessen the facilities of communication between one part of Australia and another. It discriminates between the people of one Australian port and of another.
– It is un-federal.
– It is un-federal, but whether it is unconstitu tional or not, is a question to be settled elsewhere.
– The present conditions are un-federal.
– Not at all. I shall deal with the particular provision in a moment, and then Senator Pearce and I can get to close quarters as to the methods adopted to secure discrimination. While we are legislating thus on what we are told are the highest of moral principles, and in order to maintain the wages rate in the coasting trade, wc are asked to abandon these principles in regard to two-thirds of the coast line of Australia.
– But not as to twothirds of the coasting trade.
– All this is to be done in a round-about, indirect, and sinister fashion. Surely the plain and honest way would be to prohibit all vessels, whether British or foreign, not registered in Australia, from carrying a single passenger or an ounce of goods from one Australian port to another.
– Would the honorable and learned senator help to pass such legislation ?
– No, I would not.
– Go straight.
-I should go straight against such legislation. If it is desired to reserve to ourselves the coasting trade, to which it is declared we have an absolute right, why have the humbugging, one-sided, obnoxious method of giving the cake to’ one and the tin in which it is baked to another ? Show your loyalty to the mother country - show your Imperialism and vindicate all your sentiments of love and affection to the old land, and your desire to give commercial preference by - I do not like the expression, but it is appropriate - blacklegging the mother country’s ships the moment they approach your shores !
– We only ask that British ships trading in Australia shall pay Australian rates of wages.
– It is asserted that we have an absolute right to oi.r own coasting trade, and if we desire to assert and secure that absolute right, our duty is to place our -determination directly on the statute-book, and not attain our end by indirect means, which may be equally effective, but will place British ships on the same footing as foreign vessels. If this proposal be carried out we shall fetter and circumscribe the sea-borne traffic and trade of our own people. If ever there was a piece of indefensible legislation, it was legislation of this character. I am filled with astonishment when I see such legislation supported by men like the Prime Minister, and by that even more Imperialistic gentleman, the Minister for Home Affairs, who on platforms and at luncheons - chiefly luncheons - has declaimed about strengthening the links which unite us to the mother country, and asked us, for Heaven’s sake, to give the old land commercial preference by admitting British goods on better terms than those on which we admit foreign goods. At the same time the honorable gentleman asks us not to allow British vessels to carry a single Australian passenger from Fremantle to Adelaide - I have not forgotten the exemption - or from Adelaide to Melbourne. It is infamous. I am sorry that those gentlemen, for whom I have the highest esteem, should be so recreant to their patriotism as to father such provisions.
– The Bill does not contain such a proposal.
– We will see what the Bill contains. The object of the Bill is to limit, or to put it another way, to shut out all ships except those Australianowned and Australian registered, from carrying passengers or goods from one port to another. If that is not the object, it must inevitably be the result. Senator Drake justifies the proposal on two grounds. The Attorney-General does not say that there is any necessity for discriminating, but contends first that we have an absolute right to our own coasting trade, and in the same breath he tells us that under this Bill we are to surrender, as I have said before, two-thirds of the coast line of Australia, and exempt it from the application of this most beneficent principle. In the second place, he rests his proposals on the ground that the wages on British ships must be elevated to the rates which prevail on Australian registered vessels in the coasting trade, and yet two-thirds of the coast line are to be exempt.
– That is the weak point in the Attorney-General’s argument.
– Weak ! It is a colander through which the whole proposal drops.
– The legislation is not necessary on that part of the coast.
– Is it not ? There is a place called Port Darwin.
– There are none but Chinamen there.
– We are now dealing with matters of trade, and I am calling attention to the principle on which the Attorney-General rests the proposed legislation. The honorable and learned senator asserts our absolute right to the coastal trade, while he at the same time surrenders two-thirds of the coast line.
– Only in regard to passengers is there any concession made. We do not surrender two-thirds of the coast line.
– The coast line referred to extends from Cape York to Adelaide.
– How much of the coast line is that?
– Not far short of twothirds of the whole.
– When in any difficulty with regard to the geography of Australia, I have no hesitation in referring to Senator Guthrie, and I am satisfied if he tells me I am right.
– And I say that the honorable and learned senator is wrong, not geographically, but as to our surrendering two-thirds of the coast-line.
– The Attorney-General has said- that the principle by which we ought to be guided is not to apply the provision to the coast-line from Cape York-
– I do not say that.
– From Cape York on the north-east, right round to Fremantle, and from Fremantle to Adelaide on the south; and I say that that is very nearly two-thirds of the coast-line.
– We are not exempting two-thirds of the coast-line.
– If it is a sound principle to apply to one-third of the coast-line it is an equally sound principle to apply to the other two-thirds.
– We are applying the principle all round with an exception.
– Will not British ships be exempt under clause 306?
– It is difficult to decide such a question off-hand. I ask the Attorney-General how he justifies his proposal, and he anticipated the request by reading some extracts, one of which was from the report of the Conference of Premiers. He quoted that extract to justify what? This provision? Nothing of the kind. The Conference decided and recommended a sort of shipping Zollverein. British ships registered in any part of the King’s dominions were to trade in all parts of the King’s dominions, and, therefore, to have the same right as an Australian owned or Australian registered ship, to engage in the coasting trade of Australia. Does the quotation from the report justify the exclusion of British ships from the coasting trade of Australia? If not, the quotation has no point.
– It is not proposed to. exclude British ships.
– Why keep the promise to the ear, and break it to the hope?
– British ships can trade on the coast on the same conditions as Australian ships.
– Surely the honorable senator has not read the clauses. It might surprise some people to know that the Vice-President of the Executive Council who is supporting these provisions was a. very distinguished AgentGeneral in England, and is no doubt affected by the same patriotic desires as are other members of the Ministry. Yet he supports a proposal that if a British ship carries a passenger from Adelaide to Melbourne, a voyage of about thirty-six hours’ duration, she shall immediately come under the operation of the Bill. The whole accounts in regard to the wages, anl all arrangements with regard to the manning of the ship, must be disorganized for a thirty-six hours’ trip. Is it to be supposed that the seamen on such a vessel would obtain any benefit. The idea is preposterous. They have not enacted it yet. I say that quotation had no more to do with this matter than “The flowers that bloom in the spring.” My honorable and learned friend next quoted from a report referring again to the coasting trade j but to what coasting trade? The coasting trade of the Empire ; in other words, the Inter-Imperial coasting trade? That report recommended that some consideration should be given to the possibility of arranging that the trade of the Empire should be carried on under the British flag.
– That is the ideal, -.»f course.
– As my honorable and learned friend says, he quoted the ideal. But we are not legislating for Utopia, but for Australia, where we have to deal with practical human beings.
– We are going to do what we can.
– We are going to do what can be done to reach what my honorable and learned friend admits is an ideal, and, therefore, not practicable.
– The report was the practical outcome of the Premiers’ Conference.. They did not look upon what they recommended as merely an ideal.
– We aim at what can be obtained.
– So long as we know that it is all right. My honorable and learned friend will not press it; the Senate will throw it out ; and I dare say nobody will be more delighted than will the honorable and learned gentleman, who tells us that so far as these exceptions are concerned, they are neither logical nor good sense.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable and learned senator did not, it is true, discuss the sense of it. Now as to the provisions which embody this principle. These are the only clauses to which I propose to invite the attention of honorable senators specifically, as they are too important to be passed over. What is the definition of “ coasting trade “ ? Clause 295 defines it in this way -
A ship shall be deemed to engage in the coasting trade if she takes on board passengers or cargo at any port in Australia to be carried to or landed or delivered at any other port in Australia.
What does that mean? I- am not dealing with the exceptions now. This is the assertion of the principle. It means that a vessel coming down from Singapore to Derby, in the north-west of this continent, cannot take a passenger from Derby to Geraldton without coming absolutely under the whole of these provisions, and upsetting the whole of the conditions on board, so far as the questions of wages, the number of seamen, and so on are concerned.
– As soon as she competes she must do so on fair conditions.
– Further, as to the duration of this condition, she is to be in the coasting trade for how long? For the time she occupies in going from Derby to Geraldton, and no longer. If she lands the man at Geraldton she is to be out of the coasting trade. She is to be in the coasting trade at Derby, and to pass out of it again at Geraldton. What is the sense of that? I could understand that there might be some reason in declaring these conditions to apply to all British registered vessels, whether registered in Australia or not, regularly taking part in the coasting trade. I say that the taking of a passenger by an oversea ship from one port of the Commonwealth to another for the convenience of a passenger is not taking part in our coasting trade. It is a sham and a farce to call it so.
– Where would the honorable and learned senator draw the line ?
– I shall tell my honorable friend where I should draw the line. This definition is a perfect farce. If it applied, and we were to assume that the taking of a passenger at Derby would bring this vessel into our coasting fleet, whenever she was on the coast of Australia, I could Understand it. We should then be saying that once she touched, so to speak, the unclean thing, she should be considered contaminated for ever. But if we are to make it apply only whilst a passenger is on board who is travelling from Derby to Geraldton,
Or from Geraldton to Fremantle, that I say would be absurd. A ship would be in the coasting trade one hour and out of it the next. How could such provisions be worked ?
– We have all the machinery here for it.
– There is no machinery here for it. We might put 50,000 such definitions in the Bill, and I should still deny that a vessel doing this kind of thing was engaged in the coasting trade of Australia in any sense in which we understand it.
– The bringing of a passenger from Hobart to Melbourne by a P. and O. boat would bring her into the coasting trade.
– It might be an absolute convenience to the passenger, and he pays for it.
– It might be a matter of urgency for him to go by an oversea boat.
– Taking the other side, a vessel coming down from Hong Kong to Port Darwin would not be permitted to take one passenger from Port Darwin to Townsville, or to Sydney, without coming under these provisions. Whom would it hurt ? Not the ship. As my hon orable and learned friend has said, there are about 2,000 Chinamen in the Northern Territory. They would not desire to travel under the conditions desired by the highlevel European, who is prepared to pay for the extra comfort provided. It would be these Europeans who would be inconvenienced and injured. The effect of such provisions would be to prevent these vessels from taking any passengers from Port Darwin to other ports in the Commonwealth. This would be particularly the case in regard to foreign vessels, under clause 298, under which a Japanese vessel, for instance, might not be licensed, and might be prevented from taking any passengers at all. The result would be that we should have a prohibition - we cannot disguise the fact - preventing these vessels from taking passengers from Port Darwin to Townsville, Sydney, or any eastern or southern port. I quite agree with Senator Givens that this would be a gross injustice, not merely to the Northern Territory, but to the northern portion of Queensland, which is nothing like so well served with commodious comfortable steamers as is Western Australia.
– It has not one-tenth of the population.
– It is not a question of population, and the population of Queensland is three times, or thereabouts, that of Western Australia.
– The honorable and learned senator was speaking of one corner of Queensland.
– We are entitled to nine members of the House of Representatives, and Western Australia gets five.
– The absurdity of the whole thing is admitted by the two exceptions. The Government has pasted on the face of this measure the condemnation of their own principles.
– They justify them.-
– Fremantle would be exempt, but the apple trip
Would be abolished.
– That is where the line is drawn.
– Over-sea ships might take passengers all the way from Fremantle to Adelaide, but from Adelaide to Melbourne, or Sydney to Hobart it would be “ taboo.” Senator Drake rather hurried over the provisions of clause 297. The Western Australian representative of the Ministry was not satisfied, and in that clause power is to be given to the GovernorGeneral by proclamation - that is, the Executive - to make certain exemptions whenever it is desired to conciliate the Western Australian friends of the Government, and of course it will never be necessary to do that in Parliament, or out of it.
– That clause refers to Port Darwin and South Australia.
– That is so.; Port Darwin conies in there.
– We shall see about South Australia. I do not know how Senator Playford is going to face South Australia after this. I remember his next election is two years off yet. It may by proclamation be ordered that all trade from Fremantle, north-west, and round by the north-east to Thursday Island, shall be exempt. What would be the effect of that? Might it not be a delicate way of getting the whole of the trade of that part round to Fremantle.
– It might go to Port Darwin, and round to Fremantle.
– That is what I say - it will go to the one centre.
– The honorable and learned senator said it would go westward, but I say it might go eastward.
– Where to?
– Eastward round to Fremantle.
– All roads are right roads that lead to Rome. My honorable friends- have been under the spell of the magician in the Ministry. I say that these exceptions establish two things, first the hollow mockery of the whole business, and secondly that the magician, our friend the Minister for Home Affairs, Sir John Forrest, bestrides the Ministry like a colossus, or sits on their back as did the Old Man of the Sea on the back of Sinbad the’ sailor. Were not these provisions inserted at the point of Sir John Forrest’s bayonet? We should never have had them here but for the right honorable gentleman. I congratulate my honorable friend Senator Playford upon being a man of great firmness, but in this instance he has shown that there are powers of persuasion which can operate even upon him.
– This is unconstitutional also.
– It may be unconstitutional. I am reminded that the passenger traffic by these big ocean steamers is very much larger between Fremantle and the eastern ports than it is between any of the other ports of the Commonwealth. Why should we, fortified by this noble principle, to which my honorable and learned friend, Senator Drake, has given such eloquent expression, of maintaining wages and asserting our right to our own coastal trade, swallow the camel in this way while we strain at the gnat? I have not the statistics before me, and Senator Drake has frankly admitted that those he has quoted are not trustworthy. But I have no doubt that the passenger traffic by these boats from Adelaide eastward is comparatively insignificant as compared with that between Adelaide and Fremantle.
– Because passengers between Adelaide and Sydnev have the alternative of a railway, which Western Australian passengers have not.
– I think the passenger traffic by these boats between eastern ports is very considerable.
– Of my own knowledge I know that the passenger traffic by these boats between Adelaide and Melbourne is a mere bagatelle. I shall not say what it is between Adelaide and Sydney, as I am not prepared to make any reliable comparison.
– It is verv expensive, too.
– As the honorable and learned senator says, it is very expensive. The higher rates prevent unfair competition with local steamers. It is really surprising to me that an exception of this kind should be sought to be introduced to keep open to over-sea ships the traffic where it is largest, whilst shutting them out from where it is least. Surely the populous eastern parts of Australia should be considered. One would think, as Carlyle once said, speaking generally, that the people of the east of Australia must be mostly fools if they submit to such legislation as this.
– They are trying to legalize a grossly unfederal act.
– It is unfederal. The curious thing is that the moment the ship comes to Adelaide these passengers-
– We make them get out at Adelaide.
– My honorable friend rejoices that the moment the passengers come to Adelaide the Government make them get out. The moment they reach Adelaide they are contamination; they are treated like contraband goods; and my honorable friend thinks that that is a fine thing for South Australia.
– Then you take them in.
– They touch the railway.
– It used to be said that the moment a slave touched British soil he became free, but the moment these unhappy passengers who come from Fremantle reach Adelaide and remain on board the ship - part of the British Empire theoretically - they become bond, because their privileges and the privileges of the ship disappear, and they can only be permitted to travel on to the next port - a thirty-six hours’ further journey-
– By rail. Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- By rail ! Does my honorable friend think that it is fair to these passengers to legislatively decoy them on board agreat oceangoing ship at Fremantle, and then, when they arrive at Adelaide, intending to go to Melbourne or Sydney, to bundle them out neck and crop?
– As is done at Largs Bay.
– That is a very nasty place for landing passengers ; and yet my honorable friend, with his humanitarian principles, is going to bundle out the passengers, to land them in baskets, as passengers have sometimes to be landed, like a bale of goods, and to get rid of them.
– My honorable friend thinks that they will travel over first class to Melbourne for the benefit of the South Australian railways.
– They will go by the local boats.
– That is about the thinnest argument that ever was invented. Adelaide, then, is to be a sort of plague spot ?
– Oh, no.
– I thought not. Let my honorable friend go and ask the people of South Australia whether they think it is fair that Fremantle should be a kind of clean port, where no “disabilities are to be encountered by the ocean-going ships, but that fair Adelaide is to be unfair Adelaide under the unfair 1 legislation which is proposed by this Ministry, and that passengers - it does not matter whether they are steerage, cabin, or anything else- are to be bundled out. Senator Playford. - The poor ones will not go by the P. and 0. boats, with their higher tariff.
– Then my honorable friend is content to prohibit them from going ; he will’ not allow the comforts to the poorer passengers. They, are to betaken on by . vessels which, so to speak, are to be warned off Adelaide. How if they do not touch at Adelaide at all ? What provision is made for that?
– They are to be drowned there.
– I believe that my honorable friend’s idea is the right one - that they are to be drowned like puppies.
– The passengers will be booked for Melbourne.
– They will book them for Melbourne ? What happens then to Fremantle? Under the Bill, as it stands, they cannot book to’ Melbourne without bringing the ship under these clauses. Is that just to Melbourne? Does my honorable friend think that the Minister for Home Affairs will stand that? Not at all. If that is mentioned to him, an amendment will be moved in the clause as soon as it is reached in Committee, to provide that if the passengers board at Fremantle they will be allowed to go on to Melbourne or Sydney as long as they go direct. This bundling out at Adelaide will have the effect of either stopping these vessels from carrying any passengers from Fremantle, or their passing Adelaide altogether. Senator Pearce. - Oh ! Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- I think my honorable friend will feel that I am just as much entitled to be interested in thewelfare of Adelaide and the fairness with which it is treated as he is entitled, pro: perly, to be concerned for Western Australia. But do honorable senators believefor one. moment that these ocean-going steamers calling at Adelaide will take one single passenger from Adelaide to Melbourne - only a passage of about thirtysix hours - with the result of “disturbing their arrangements, upsetting their accounts, altering their- wages-sheets, and perhaps opening the door to untold litigation, which would be a great boon in many quarters, but not very satisfactory to those people who are engaged in shipping? My honorable friend referred to the railway. Why should that question be dragged in at all? It is a most extraordinary provision to put in the Bill. We are asked to legislate that Fremantle-
– This is undue pressure in the interests of the railway.
– What is it there for?
– Until the conditions are made equal.
– Was not the honorable and learned senator one of those who promised the people of Western Australia a railway ?
– No; and if I did I should still object to put such a provision into any legislation. Presumably, South Australia is not to be placed in this position of favour in regard to passengers going from Adelaide to Fremantle.
– Between one and the other.
– That may ‘be so, but it is not clearly expressed. South Australia is not favorable, at present, to the construction of this railway. Why is South Australia, because she does not happen to be favorable to its construction, placed under this ban in regard to the vessels which come to her ports? The effect of it will be to place on our statutebook a perpetual statutory placard which will be a sort of salve to perhaps the people of Western Australia, or to some of their representatives in relation to this particular railway. It will keep up a sort of idea that this railway is in the near future.
– It is a very awkward reminder to some people of past promises.
– To my mind the railway is not in the very near future. I do not wish to discuss the question now. A time will arise when it can be discussed. What I wish to point out is that Western Australia has an excellent steam ship service supplied by local lines.
– Since the mail steamers commenced to call.
– It has an excellent service, quite independent of the mail steamers.
– But not until they commenced to call.
– The mail steamers are only used because of the increased comfort or luxury which they give to travellers. You do not want these ships to avoid Fremantle, for the very good reason that, if they do call, those who can pay for the additional accommodation prefer and are eager to travel by them, and small blame to them. But, if so, why are they to be treated as a kind of plague ship when they arrive at the other ports? Why is not the same condition to be attached there ? The people are travelling by sea under both sets, of circumstances, and the Adelaide Steam-ship Company, Huddart, Parker, and Co., Mcllwraith, McEacharn, and Co., and other lines possess a fleet of as fine ships as are to be found in the waters of this or any other country. The service is frequent, comfortable, and safe, and, to say that it is not sufficient is, I think, ridiculous. If the principle is good, let it be applied all round. If it is bad, as my honorable friends from Western Australia know and feel that it is, and they will not have it applied to themselves, I submit that it ought- not to be applied to any other part of Australia. My honorable and learned friend referred to America and some other countries. There is no parallel between the condition of things in those countries and that which obtains to Australia in regard to British ships. There would be some parallel if Australia were turned right round, and Sydney’ were planted over Fremantle. Vessels going from England go from Liverpool, London, or Southampton to New York or Boston, their terminal point, but they are not situated in the same way as ships coming from Europe to Australia. Here they call at Fremantle on the way out, and then pass on to the other ports. Honorable senators do not object to the ships calling with their oversea passengers or their oversea goods at Fremantle and Adelaide; and why they should object to Australians taking advantage of these big ships for their personal comfort and convenience it is impossible for me to make out. If they are to make it a condition that there must be railway accommodation, the absurdity of it is shown by an interjection from, I think, an honorable senator on the other side. We might just as well say that this provision should not. apply as between the mainland and Tasmania until there was a railway bridge from Melbourne to Launceston.
– It will be a good long while.
– It will. It must be remembered that all British ships in American waters are foreigners. The same principles do not apply when honorable senators seek to exclude British ships whose coming and trading here they desire to encourage on sentiment - trade sentiment as well as the union that is supposed to be promoted by all these additional facilities of interchange-. It must also be remembered that the law in America was passed in the year 1793, when that country was smarting from the revolutionary war; smarting from the treatment to which she had been subjected by the mother country, and smarting from the very conditions of enforced preferential trade, which was carried to an extreme in relation to the Colonies in those days, and which was one of the causes which led to revolutionary war. It was the reaction against the monstrous laws of Great Britain in dealing with her Colonies in those days - in insisting that no goods should be exported from America unless carried in English bottoms, and various other provisions of a like kind - which, amongst other causes, led to the revolutionary war.
– It was the Stamp Act and the tea duty-
– That was one of the causes ; but my honorable friend must read up his American history before lie commits himself to this chimera of preferential trade; and he will find that one of the causes of the revolutionary war was this monopoly of trade and of British shipping. The result was that in 1793 the United States shut out all shipping which was, as it is still, foreign to her. Trade between the districts of the union was declared to be coastal trade. It is on that ground that it is held in the United States that ships engaged in the trade between New York and San Francisco are just as much engaged in the coasting trade as ships trading between New York and Boston. But there is just as much, or as little, connexion between the ‘ law of the United States, which limits the Inter-State trade by water to American owned vessels, and this project for shutting out ships of the United Kingdom from our trade, as there is between Tenterden Steeple and Goodwin Sands. We have to inquire how those two things exist in America. They absolutely prohibit and refuse to . allow any ship to be registered or licensed - not upon conditions as to wages or anything of that kind - but unless it is owned and commanded by an American citizen.
– And built in America.
– And built in America. The conditions are altogether different. What we are doing, however, is to say that we will exclude ships from the very country, that we are anxious, not merely to conciliate, but to embrace in a commercial embrace - an embrace of amity and friendship. We are asked to show our friendship by kicking them out, or subjecting them to conditions which are equivalent to shutting them out around our coasts.
– We propose to subject them to -conditions which apply to our own ships.
– What is my honorable and learned friend the Attorney-General going to do to British ships? He says that foreign ships are to be licensed, and this Bill is going to make them pay the wages practically in advance during the period they are engaged in the coasting trade. How are we going to do it? They have only to pay Australian wages while they are engaged in the coasting trade.
– After they have engaged in the trade. ‘
– No; they have to pay in advance.
– Perhaps not, but I had in my mind clause 300 -
Every seaman engaged on a ship in any part of the coasting trade-shall, subject to any lawful deductions, be entitled to, and shall be paid for, the period during which the ship is so engaged wages at the current rates ruling in Australia.
What is the period? When is the ship engaged in the co.asting . trade ? Say she takes a passenger on board at Adelaide, and discharges him in Melbourne. Is not that the period ? It must be the period. She is not engaged in the coasting trade when she is not participating in it. If she does not take on board more passengers in Mel; bourne, she is no longer engaged in the coasting trade. Is that worth doing in an important Act of Parliament? It is worth doing if the object is to hamper trade. It must be remembered that it refers to British shipping. British shipping has not to be licensed. The only difference between a British ship and a foreign ship under this
Bill is this - they are both under the same disabilities, but the foreign ship has to be licensed and a British ship has not. This provision therefore applies to every British ship, and the period is the time she is engaged in the coasting trade. It is absolutely nonsensical. Then the wages are to be “current rates.” What does that mean? What are current rates ?
– The Arbitration Court decides that.
– It does nothing of the kind. The award of the Arbitration Court is made -prima facie evidence when that award is made. But what is the current rate of wages now? It is undefined. No one can tell, and until the matter is brought before the Arbitration Court in some way, there is nothing to define what the current rate of wages is. I invite the attention of the Senate to this fact - that the right honorable member of another place whose illness I am sure we all most deeply regret - the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs - made a proposal which we are all aware he has advocated with all his ability and . knowledge, not merely in Parliament, but out of it. He made a proposal which was infinitely less drastic and obnoxious than this is. He proposed to leave it altogether to the Conciliation Court to deal with as an exceptional circumstance, and he did not propose the current rate of wages in Australia. He simply proposed that the Arbitration Court should say what was a fair thing in respect of vessels participating spasmodically in Australian trade - such as from Adelaide to Melbourne, carrying, it might be, one passenger or two. He left it to the Arbitration Court to say what would be a fair condition to impose upon vessels in those circumstances. The Arbitration Court might say - “ We will not interfere.” The Arbitration Court might say- - “ The distance between Adelaide and Melbourne is so short, and the time taken up by the voyage is so insignificant, that we do not think there ought to be any alteration.” The Court was to have absolute power. I think myself that if it were necessary to .introduce a provision of this sort - and I do not think it is - if there were any occasion for the people of Australia, for the workers of Australia, for Australian seamen, to have such a provision as this, I should be found in’ favour of the proposal of Mr. Kingston, and not of such a proposal as is introduced into this Bill. It is rigid, hard and fast, absurd ; and no ship in the world would carry a passenger at the risk of having such provisions applied to it. Not only that, but under clause 38 the moment the vessel carried a passenger from Adelaide to Melbourne she would have to comply with the regulation as to the number of seamen to be carried. Suppose thai the number of seamen prescribed for a vessel of that tonnage was one more than she carried to Adelaide. She would then have to engage one more man for the voyage between Adelaide and Melbourne. Could there be a more ridiculous proposal than that in dealing with the gigantic shipping industry that we are all so anxious to encourage?
– The Bill does not even use the language, “ wages equivalent to.”
– No, it is the current rate of wages that has to be paid. From my point of view, it would be utterly in conflict with the Merchant Shipping Act, and the effect would be to raise the whole of the wages of every man on the ships’ articles from the rate to which they had agreed to that of the current rate prevailing in Australia, for thirty-six hours, between Adelaide and Melbourne. There is one change, and one only, that would result, and that would be to bring about an absolute prohibition, I do not say of those vessels participating in the trade, but a prohibition of Australians availing themselves of the opportunities of securing thai greater comfort by sea which my friends in Western Australia desire to have reserved to them in travelling from Fremantle to Adelaide. I think the funniest thing of all is that which is contained in clause 301. I invite Senator Guthrie’s attention to it, because he may be able to elucidate it ; I cannot -
If the seamen employed on any British ship were not engaged in Australia, the master, owner, or agent shall, before the ship engages in the coasting trade, make and sign before a superintendent an indorsement or memorandum on the agreement, specifying the wages to bc paid to the seamen whilst the ship engages in the coasting trade.
That has nothing to do with the intention. A vessel may engage in the coasting trade by taking a passenger on board at Largs Bay for Melbourne, but before that passenger goes on board, how is the captain to know that he is going to engage in the coasting trade?
– If the captain is not going to engage in the coasting trade he will not take the passenger.
– Will the honorable senator bring his mind to bear on the subject ? A captain engages in the coasting trade, not by the fact of any previous intention, but by the fact of a passenger coming on board. But how can he know beforehand that the passenger is coming.
– If the captain is not going to engage in the coastal trade he will not take the passenger.
– The passenger comes on board, and the captain says, “Oh, yes, I will take you on.”
– The captain does not engage until the trade offers. .
– I used one passenger by way of illustration. Suppose ten men came down an hour before the ship sails, and say, “We want to go to Melbourne,” and the captain replies, “All right; I had no intention of engaging in the coastal trade, but, as there are ten of you I will take you on the voyage.”
– Then all the captain has to do is to get his articles indorsed before an officer of Customs.
– The articles must be indorsed before a superintendent.
– According to the definition clause, an officer of Customs has the same power as a superintendent in certain cases, and this would be one of the cases.
– I think it would not be one of the cases, because a superintendent is specifically provided for. According to the interpretation clause “ superintendent “ means the superintendent at a mercantile marine office, and where not otherwise provided the superintendent for the port where the ship is, and further, it means -
A deputy of such Superintendent in respect of any acts and duties which such deputy is authorized to perform.
It will be seen that there is no provision for a deputy performing the duty with which we are now dealing.
– A deputy has the same power as a superintendent.
– A deputy has the same power as a superintendent in respect of any acts or duties which “such deputy is authorized to per form;” but he is not given the power in the provision under discussion.
– According to the interpretation clause “ superintendent “ means “ a deputy.”
– No ; that is a limited definition of superintendent, and means a superintendent at the Mercantile Marine Office, and the deputy is one “authorized to perform certain acts or duties.” Where is the deputy authorized to perform this particular duty ?
– He may be authorized to perform this duty.
– He could be if such a provision were placed in the Bill. As the “measure stands, the captain would have to trot up from Largs Bay to Port Adelaide, and perhaps delay his ship in order to sign a declaration before the superintendent before the ship leaves the anchorage, although, by the way, that would be perfectly unnecessary if the law compels increased wages. But as Senator Drake is going to amend-
– I did not say so ; I say that the provision is all right.
– I think “ that an officer of Customs ought to be given the power. I will now deal with clause 306, and finish with this collection of curiosities - marine curiosities. This is the clause which is supposed to make a concession, and is as follows : -
The Governor-General may, if he thinks fit, by proclamation, exempt ships registered in or sailing under the flag of any foreign country from the provisions of this Part of the Act requiring such ships to be licensed before they engage in the coasting trade, if he is satisfied that by the law of that country British ships may engage in the coasting trade of that country without a licence, and as freely as ships engaged in or sailing’ under the flag of that country.
That is not much of a concession. Is it a concession to British ships ? No ;- it is a concession to the foreigner. This is a Bill framed in the interests of foreign ships, and not in the interests of British ships, and the “ concession “ is a kind of final flourish, which places British ships on the same footing as foreign ships, and foreign ships on the same footing as British ships in relation to our coasting trade. That is not the kind1 of reciprocity between Australia and England that I should expectat the hands of the Government, which proclaims an ardent desire to unite the two countries in bonds of commercial harmony, concession, and preference, and to make the Empire stronger by increasing the facilities of trade. So far as I am concerned, I shall offer to this particular part of the Bill, and every line of it, strenuous opposition. Why are Australians at any port to be debarred from becoming passengers on board any ship prepared to take them ? This part of the Bill will deprive people of one more convenience for getting from one port of our common country to another. Never mind the interests of the Britisher or the foreigner - let us look at the matter, as the Western Australians very properly do, from a selfish point of view. Let us look at the matter from the point of view of the self interests of Australia. Western Australians have no objection - and from their point of view I do not blame them - to put fetters on us in the East, so long as they escape themselves. Protection- and this is the only occasion on which I shall use the expression - does not compel men to buy what they_ may think, wrongly, no doubt, the inferior local article. A person may give a higher price, and get what he may think, wrongly, of course, the better imported article. But here it is proposed to absolutely prohibit free Australians from getting at a higher price better accommodation, which he ‘desires, and for which he is willing to pay.
– Not necessarily better, but more convenient.
– I mean better in that sense only ; that is, more convenient as to speed, comfort, or in any other way. I .mean accommodation or facilities for travel which a man, in his prejudice and ignorance, may think to be. better. Why should he not be able to use that accommodation ? I call the proposal tyranny - senseless tyranny, and t trust it will not disfigure our statute-book. I say further that the provisions are unworkable. They will either amount to prohibition, which we are told is not wanted, or they cannot be carried into effect. And what are the people and workers of Australia to gain by such legislation? I say emphatically that it will be of no advantage whatever to Australian seamen, who cannot benefit to the extent of a halfpenny. Is the idea to better the condition of British or foreign seamen? If so it is an unattainable fad, Those seamen do not ask us to interfere with the conditions of their contract, even if we had the power to do so.
– Is it to get rid of thecoloured sailor?
– If it is, that will not be the effect. I do not, however, want to deal with that aspect of the subject, but to take it on higher ground. Is the object to better the position of the British or foreign seaman by giving him, for a period of thirty-six hours on the voyage from Adelaide to Melbourne, the wages prevailing in Australian registered ships? If so, I think every honorable senator will agree that we are tilting at windmills. Why should we, who have our Own large interests to look after, enter on such a hopeless, and thankless undertaking? Of course, we know that is not the motive underlying the proposal, but if it were, we should be told by those people’ to mind our own business; We should be told by the Imperial Parliament that it was very, good of us, but that we were entering on a crusade which would be entirely barren, and in regard to which we had no power. But these are not the influences which are moving us. Honorable senators, on whatever side of the chamber they may sit, who may have been rather predisposed to support Part VII. of the Bil], know right well that I am speaking correctly. I appeal to those who have been predisposed in favour of these provisions, as well as to others who do me the honour pf listening to rae, to consider whether this attempt is worth while. I ask them whether they consider such legislation will do any good to the seamen and workers of Australia ?
– Let them judge.
– I ask whether this legislation is not rather for the benefit of the local shipping interests of Australia, and whether we may not, by passing these provisions, become the unconscious tools of those interests? At any rate, I am certain that . if Part VII. passes it will be the first step to building up a huge and perhaps a crushing shipping monopoly. It w,ill give the lie to all our professions of commercial love and friendship for the mother land, and will make the civilized world wonder why God in giving Australians the great heritage of this fair country should, at the same time, have bereft them of the most ordinary common sense.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pearce) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.30 p.m. -
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 April 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19040413_senate_2_18/>.