4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at2. 30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator VARDON presented three peti tions from forty, nineteen, and thirteen taxpayers of South Australia, praying the Senate to reject the Land Tax Assessment Bill.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether the Government have any objection to lay upon the table of the Senate, before the close of the session, a tabulated statement showing the number of cable messages which passed between Tasmania and the mainland during the five years ending 30th June last, together with the amount of revenue received ?
– I will refer the matter, through Senator Findley, to the Postmaster-General, and if the return asked for can be compiled without any extraordinary delay or expense, I do not think that the Government will object.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whe- ther he thinks that the Defence Department can take any portion of the Adelaide Park lands without a special Act of Parliament being passed either by the State or the Commonwealth Parliament?
– The question is one that should be addressed to the Minister representing the Department of Home Affairs. The Defence Department does not acquire lands. The Home Affairs Department undertakes that function, and I suggest that the honorable senator should address his question to the Minister representing that Department.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice - la view of the abolition of bolder Customs, is it the intention of the Government to dismiss the officials hitherto employed at border Customs Houses,or to give them employment of equal value in other branches of the Public Service?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
The officers hitherto engaged in recording Inter-State trnde transfers will be found employment suitable to their abilities and qualifications in other branches of the Department.
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are - x and a. As already indicated in my reply yesterday to the honorable senator, it is not intended to include any such question in the Census paper, a copy of which will be laid upon the table of the Senate to-day.
Senator FINDLEY laid upon the table the following papers : -
Defence Acts. 1903-1904 -
Regulations for the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth. - Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 74. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 87.
’ Provisional Regulations for the Entrance Examination to the Military College of Australia. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 88.
Copy of Householders’ Schedules for the Census of 191 1, containing all questions pro- posed to be asked of householders in that ensus, together with Instructions, Envelope, and Explanatory Note.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 27th September, vide page 3742): - Clause 12 -
Provided that the regulations shall be so framed as to allow any holder of an engineer’s certificate to serve in such ships, and for such voyages, and in such capacities, as will enable him to qualify for a -certificate of the ‘ next higher class.
Upon which Senator Guthrie had moved that the following words be added : -
Provided also that these regulations shall have due regard to a sufficiency of sea service in lieu of apprenticeship, and a reasonable efficiency ia’ the use of engineers’ tools.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following words be added to the clause - “ Provided also that in the case of an applicant for a third engineer’s certificate, no indentures of apprenticeship to the engineering trade shall be required.”
I wish to repeat my objection to legislating by regulation, particularly in a matter of this kind, where such a radical departure is proposed to be -made. The Minister has already declared that the Government desire that the way shall be open to a person occupying the humblest position in the stokehold of a vessel, to rise by gradations ro the top of the engineering profession. That being so, we should place the position beyond all doubt by specifying our intention in the Bill. We are all anxious to remove obstacles from the path of those who desire to qualify themselves as engineers. Why, then, should we not express our intention in the Bill in clear and unmistakable language? Why should we leave it open to any Minister, by means of a regulation, to defeat the will of Parliament? Senator Sayers has referred to the great danger which would result from allowing incompetent persons to take charge of machinery at sea. I quite agree with him in his contention. But I would point put that breakdowns frequently occur at sea with which engineering skill is powerless to cope. For instance, none of the steamers of less than 8,000 tons, trading to Australia, carry a lathe aboard, so that all repairs which may have to be effected upon them while at sea must be effected by the use of the hammer, chisel, and file. If the propeller shaft of one of these steamers be broken it cannot be repaired. That is what happened to the Monowai the other day, and we all know that she had to be towed into Sydney Harbor.
– -Does this clause make any reference to apprenticeship?
– No. Yet the regulations may do so. Of course, it has been urged that these cases can be met by regulation. But I recognise that we may have in power a Minister who is a strong believer in craft unionism - that is, of making one particular branch of trade a close preserve for the persons who follow it. Seeing that the Committee wish to provide means of promotion to persons who choose to qualify themselves as engineers, we ought not to leave this matter to a regulation which may be altered at the whim of a Government, or of a Minister. We should be courageous enough to plainly declare our intention in the Bill. Under this measure the sphere of employment of a third-class engineer will be circumscribed. He will not be able to take charge of any steam vessel of more than fifty nominal horsepower.
– Where does the honorable senator find that?
– In the schedule. Up to the present time the bar to his progress has been that shop service has been insisted upon.
– There is no mention of shop service in this clause.
– But shop service has been required, ai.d that circumstance has prevented men from rising to a higher grade than that of third-class engineers. Like the low-caste Brahmins of India, they have not been able to step out of the groove into which they were bom. The opponents of my amendment appear to attach a lot of virtue to the proviso to this clause, which reads -
Provided that the regulations shall be so framed as to allow any holder of an engineer’s certificate to serve in such ships, and for such voyages, and in such capacities as will enable him to qualify for a certificate of the next higher class.
I hold that the words “ next higher class,” are fatal to that provision, because they presuppose that a person must possess an engineer’s certificate before the clause becomes operative.
– So he must.
– Surely the honorable senator would not grant a certificate to a man without any qualification ?
– I am not suggesting any such foolish arrangement. I repeat that the proviso presupposes the possession of a certificate before the clause becomes operative.
– The honorable senator wishes to open that avenue to persons who have no certificates.
– But not to an entirely unqualified man?
– No. I wish to remove the obstacle under which he has laboured hitherto, and under which he was required to produce indentures that he had served a certain period in the engineering trade. My object is to safeguard the interests of those persons who are endeavouring to obtain a third-class engineer’s certificate. My proposal is a very simple one, and will merely express in plain words the intention of this Committee.
– Senator Lynch’s amendment, if adopted, will impose a distinct bar upon the man who has become qualified by being indentured to the engineering trade. Why should we say that a man who has sacrificed time in order to learn that trade shall be subject to a disability? The idea of the Government is that there shall be two methods of securing a third-class engineer’s certificate. In the case of a man who has sacrificed time and money to learn the engineering trade we will dispense with an examination so far as engineering knowledge is concerned. But if he has not served a term of apprenticeship to that trade we shall subject him to an elementary examination of a practical character. I am in a position to indicate, roughly, what that examination will be. He will have to be able to weld a piece of bar or round iron, to file a key way, or fit a key, to screw a bolt and cap a nut, and also to turn a pin or a small shaft. That is the examination which the Government have in draft in the form of a regulation under this provision. Senator Lynch may say that the Ministry are not in earnest.
– I do not say anything of the kind. The Minister may say that.
– I can assure the honorable senator that that is the examination which the Government contemplate adopting. In New Zealand they have adopted this alternative method. Senator Lynch entirely loses sight of the fact that we are arranging in this Bill, not merely for promotion from third engineer to chief engineer, but for a gradation by means of certificates from the position of a trimmer to that of chief engineer. If the honorable senator will look at clause 39, he will find that it provides for certificates for seamen, and reads -
No seaman shall be rated -
as “ greaser “ who has not served six months as fireman at sea; or
as “ fireman “ who has not served six months as a trimmer or fireman at sea.
Provided that persons rated as firemen or greasers before the commencement of this Act shall continue to be entitled to be so rated.
After a man has become -a fireman, provided he can show that he is qualified, he will be entitled to apply for a certificate as third engineer.
– How would he go from third to second engineer?
– By examination. It has been generally admitted that under the proviso to this clause, . once a man becomes a third engineer he will, subject to regulations to be framed, be enabled to go right on. Senator Lynch’s amendment really proposes a prohibition, and casts a slur upon what ought to be regarded as a very desirable qualification. It might reasonably be admitted that it would be an advantage to an engineer to have served an apprenticeship as such. Why should we discourage indentures or refuse to recognise an apprenticeship as a qualification? The Government propose by regulation, in the way I have indicated, to secure that a person who has no certificate of indenture or apprenticeship to present shall be possessed of a certain amount of engineering knowledge.
– What do the Government purpose doing in the case of marine engine-drivers in Victoria who hold a certificate equivalent to that of a thirdclass engineer in the other States?
– The marine enginedrivers of Victoria are recognised and provided for in this Bill. They will be eligible to apply for a Commonwealth third-class engineer’s certificate.
– They have already as good a certificate.
– No j they have not a Commonwealth third-class engineer’s certificate.
– In any case, clause 21 secures all existing rights. Under that clause no man can be deprived of any right he possesses at the present time.
– That is so. The marine engine-drivers referred to by Senator E. J. Russell will be placed in no worse position than that they at present occupy under this Bill, but will be given an opportunity to obtain a Commonwealth third-class engineer’s certificate.
– Will they be placed on the same level as the thirdclass engineers in the other States, which is really their qualification now ?
– This Bill will neither raise nor lower their existing qualifications, but it will be possible for them under the proviso to this clause to obtain a third-class engineer’s certificate for the Commonwealth, which will be a better certificate than they hold at present. I trust that Senator Lynch will not press his amendment. I have given him an assurance as to what the Government propose to do. I remind the honorable senator that if carried his amendment would take the matter no further, whilst it would impose a. limitation which would not otherwise be imposed. The honorable senator proposes that indentures of apprenticeship shall not be imperatively required, but it would be open to the Government by regulation, even though his amendment were carried, to require a thousand and one other things. They might require proof of four years’ shop experience, which would be the equivalent of a certificate of apprenticeship. I appeal to Senator Lynch to trust the Government in the matter, now that he has their assurance that they will do what is right.
.- If Senator Lynch had moved to provide that the large ships he has mentioned that are without lathes and other appliances for effecting repairs at sea, should in future be supplied with them, I should be disposed to support such an amendment.
– The honorable senator thinks they should carry a foundry.
– No ; but they should be supplied with the material and tools necessary to repair damages at sea. I may give the Committee a little personal experience in this connexion. On one voyage I made in the Loongana to Tasmania, something went wrong with one of the turbines just as the vessel got outside Port Phillip Heads, and, if we had not had men on board with shop experience, the damage could not have been repaired. One of the turbines was disconnected, and the ves’sel resumed her voyage at a slow speed. The second turbine was taken out, the necessary repairs effected, the turbine replaced, and the ship was back in Melbourne within her contract time. If we had had on board men who had only had sea-going experience, they would never have seen such work done, and would have been unable to effect the necessary repairs.
– In what shop in Melbourne would men get experience of turbines ?
– I have told the Committee what actually took place. Some honorable senators would appear to think that men should receive certificates as engineers who would be unable to effect such’ repairs. In my opinion we cannot put men through too strict a test when the lives of crew and passengers may depend upon their qualifications for the positions they fill. The test which the Minister of Defence has explained men seeking a thirdclass engineer’s certificate would be required to go through if they had no certificate of apprenticeship, is a very simple one indeed.
– We are all agreed as to the necessity for having fully-qualified men.
– If a man could not pass the test ‘mentioned by the Minister of Defence, he should not get a certificate as a third-class engineer.
– No one is asking that he should.
– I understood from the Minister of Defence that if an applicant for a third-class engineer’s certificate, had not had shop experience, he would have to pass the simple test which the Minister describes.
– The honorable senator makes a mistake if he supposes that the cutting of a key-way is a very simple operation.
– It is not a difficult operation. I have known men who did not claim to be engineers to cut a key- way in a shaft with a drum and it remained sound for years. We have no reason to believe that the Government are deceiving the Committee, and the Minister of Defence has plainly stated the test which a man applying for a third-class engineer’s certificate would be expected to pass if he had had no shop experience. I like to see men rise if they possess the necessary qualifications, but I do not wish to see men foisted into positions for which they are not qualified. I cannot support the amendment.
– There is a considerable amount of misunderstanding in this matter. The question is not how a man is to become a third-class engineer. That is well-known throughout Australia under existing regulations. We are proposing in this Bill to make two new grades, with a first and a second-class coastal certificate, and the question before the Committee is how men at present holding a third-class certificate in the States shall be able to secure a second or a first-class coastal certificate.
– Senator Lynches amendment affects only the initial certificate.
– I do not understand that. That is what I tried to bring about by the amendment which has just been rejected. I have here the regulations relating to the examinations for engineers in South Australia. With respect to engineers of vessels trading on the River Murray within the limits of a port or between the ports of St. Vincent and Spencer Gulfs, a candidate for a third-class engineer’s certificate must be twenty-one years of age. He must have served at least one year at sea in the foreign-going or intercolonial service in the capacity of fireman, stoker, greaser, or donkeyman. He must have served at least eighteen months at sea in the coast trade as a fireman or as a fireman or assistant engineer on the River Murray or within the limits of a port. He must have had at least eighteen months’ experience in a factory or other works as an engine-driver, or as the driver or stoker of a locomotive. These are alternative qualifications required.
He will be required to explain the use and position of the principal parts of steam engines and boilers, and the position and use of the various valves, cocks, pipes, &c, in connexion with the machinery of a steam-ship ; state the causes and effects of and the usual remedies for preventing incrustation and corrosion ; also to write legible and correct answers to a number of elementary questions, and work out certain arithmetical questions put to him by the examiner.
– That is for the Murray River?
– Yes ; and within the limits of a port. The same thing applies to a marine engine-driver in Victoria and to a third-class engineer in Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia.
– That is really the whole alphabet as against the “A B C “ which the Minister has proposed.
– The Minister will also impose a practical test in the use of engineers’ tools, a condition which I contend the Committee rejected when it refused to accept the previous amendment.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The proposal made was to exempt a man from a test in the handling and use of tools and machinery. The Minister has stated that the Government intend to make a regulation which the Committee decline to enact in the form of a provision.
– I said so then, but the honorable senator would not accept my assurance.
– I heard no such assurance. The only thing I had to guide me was a test to be passed by a man who wished to rise from the third class to the second class - a test which, as I said yesterday, not 50 per cent, of the Board of Trade chief engineers sailing on our coast could pass. I want to show the reason why men should not be debarred from qualifying. In every State the possession of a third-class engineer’s certificate enables the holder to take charge of a vessel within certain limits, but service in such capacity does not in any way qualify a man for a certificate of a higher grade, the qualifications for which are laid down in clause 22.
– We do not repeal them.
– We are revising the conditions and bringing into existence three classes of engineers who have not existed previously. The whole point with me is, How are men who have qualified as third-class engineers to rise to the second class, and afterwards to the first class? Certainly the proviso says that every man shall be given an opportunity to rise, but I do not know how it is to be done, because, if we compare the clause with the manning scale, it will be seen that there is no possibility, especially if we adopt the regulations of the Board of Trade for second-class and first-class Board of Trade certificates.
– May I suggest that it would simplify the discussion, and enable us to understand the position more clearly, if, instead of relating what happens after the initial certificate has been obtained, the honorable senator would confine himself to the amendment, which deals with what is to take place before a certificate is issued at all ?
– We have to recognise positions as they are. Clause21 says -
All uncancelled and unexpired certificates of competency for masters or ship’s officers, issued under any State Act, shall continue as if issued under this Act -
– That has no reference to the amendment.
– It means that those who now hold third-class State certificates will continue to hold them.
– The amendment before the Committee deals with a previous time - that is, with a lad who comes from a workshop and seeks a certificate.
– These men may be in that very position.
– Their certificates are quite safe.
– Where is a marine engine-driver of Victoria under this clause ? He is wiped out.
– No ; he is just where he is to-day.
– In clause 5 we have defined “officer,” and a marine engine-driver is not an officer. I take it that, unless an amendment lis made in clause 22, the marine engine-driver of Victoria will have to start de novo, and go up for a third-class certificate.
– Where does the honorable senator get the idea that a marine engine-driver is not an officer under this Bill?
– The whole thing is governed by the words “ masters or ship’s officers,” in clause 21.
– But clause 12 says -
Certificates of competency …. shall be granted in accordance with this Act for each of the following grades of officers (that is to say) : -
First class marine engine-driver.
Second class marine engine-driver.
– In clause 5, we have defined, for the first time, that an officer in relation to a ship means “ the master, mates, and engineers of the ship,” not marine engine-drivers.
– Under clause 12, marine engine- drivers are officers.
– They are certainly enumerated at the bottom of a list; but they are not designated as officers.
– If the honorable senator will read sub-clause 1, he will find that it contains the words “the following grades of officers.”
– What is your marine engine-driver here ? He is in charge of a vessel which is not propelledby steam.
– Still, under clause12, he is an officer of the vessel.
– The clause deals with quite a different matter. A marine engine-driver in Victoria is not a man in charge of a steam-ship.
– Under which head is he at present ?
– In my opinion, he is wiped out under the Bill. There are hundreds of such persons in this State. A third class engineer is recognised by the Bill; but how is he to rise to the second class, and afterwards to the first class, and, after he has received a first class coastal certificate, how will it be possible for him to get a Board of Trade certificate ? The manning scale shows that he will never be in charge of a ship with horse-power sufficient to enable him to go up for a second class certificate. That is the position which we have to face. I am sorry that the last amendment was not passed.
– Senator Guthrie’s remarks would have been very interesting and appropriate on the second reading of the Bill; but I fail to see that they have any bearing on this amendment limiting the conditions which are to be prescribed when a person who holds no certificate seeks an initial certificate. Senator Guthrie wandered away to deal with the hard fate of a man who, having one certificate, wants to get a certificate of a higher grade. We are not dealing with that class of man at present. His interests are covered by another clause. I believe that last night w’e gave to him all the consideration which he could reasonably expect, in smoothing his path to the second class, and afterwards to the first class. Senator Lynch has raised an entirely different point, and that is practically the position of a lad who is seeking for the first time to enter the profession of engineering. He may be leaving a school or a shop ; he may have been at sea for a little time, but he goes for the first time to the authorities and says, “ I wish to present myself for examination in order that I may obtain an initial certificate.” The whole point is whether or not we ought to adopt the amendment, and so proclaim to the world that we attach no value to the systematic training of our tradesmen. Of late years, in Australia, there has been a general lament that many employers have not thoroughly taught their lads and younger hands, but have turned them . on to the market as half-finished workmen. The difficulty of obtaining thoroughly-trained mechanics and workmen has been a general complaint on the part of many leading trade unionists and employers. If we adopt the amendment, we shall say that we do not believe that there is any advantage in having a boy thoroughly trained to his work. I do not think that we ought to adopt that standard. The Minister has indicated the character of the examination which will.. have to be passed by a person who desires to get a certificate. To my mind, it is ridiculously liberal. I could find, throughout the bush, dozens of men who could . pass it. I undertake to pass it myself, if that is all that is necessary to enable a man to obtain a third class certificate. If the examination is to rest at that, it is ridiculously incomplete.
– As a test of his knowledge of engineering?
– It needs to be supplemented. Senator Guthrie read some regulations showing that a candidate is- required to prove that he possesses a general knowledge of the parts of an engine. As regards the use of tools. I venture to say that any person with a limited experience could soon demonstrate that he possesses the necessary skill. I am not out of sympathy with what Senator Lynch desires. I am quite willing to smooth the path of any one who, by energy and ability, seeks to rise. But there are certain steps which, in the public interest, and in the interest of the service itself, ought to be taken in regular order.
– The engineers covered by clause 12 are described as first class, second class ; first class coast engineer ; second class coast engineer ; third class coast engineer ; and also, first and second class marine engine-drivers for vessels propelled by other motive power than steam. In some States, there are what are called third class engineers. In Victoria, a man with a similar qualification is classed as a marine engine-driver.
– It is just the same thing under a different name.
– I want to know how a Victorian marine enginedriver is designated under this Bill. If he is designated a third-class marine enginedriver he is qualified to drive vessels “ propelled “ by other means than steam.
These men in Victoria are qualified to take charge of a boat under a certain tonnage running in the bay or on rivers, and ar’j permitted to take those vessels something like six miles outside the Heads. I understand that men in New South Wales or Queensland, holding similar certificates, will fall under the heading of third-class coast engineers, whilst the Victorian marine engine-driver is absolutely ignored under the Bill. These men will” probably desire to give up their State certificates and secure Commonwealth certificates.
– They will get third-class coast engineers’ certificates.
– Will there be merely an exchange of certificates, or will it be necessary for the men to submit to an examination which may, or may not. be more severe than the examinations whico ttiey have already passed ?
– While I am glad to have the honorable senator’s assurance I should feel more confident if a statement were made by the Minister. Then, again, I wish to know whether, if the Vic^ torians will have to go up for examination, the engineers from the other States will have to do the same? It is unfortunate that one State named a particular class or men in a certain way whilst another State gave a different designation to men doing the same work. I have a great deal of sympathy with Senator Lynch’s object. A statement has been made in regard to apprenticeships. What Senator Pearce has said was not quite clear. He stated that applicants for the third-class certificates will have to weld a bar of iron, screw up a bolt, and do various other things. It seems to me that a man who has served years driving an engine on a ship might fail in an examination of that sort, whilst a boy who had worked twelve months in a blacksmith’s shop would be able to pass the examination because he could comply with the practical test. There may be third-class engineers who may have been driving engines on vessels for twenty or thirty years, but who have never served any term of apprenticeship. Nevertheless, such men may have had plenty of every-day experience in actually meeting difficulties. No qualification of this description is required of men who drive locomotives on our railways. The usual practice is that a man entering the Railway Department starts as a cleaner. He learns the various parts of an engine, and after a few years’ service becomes a fireman. In this way he acquires experience on the road. It is not an uncommon thing when an enginedriver becomes ill for his fireman to take charge of the locomotive and become responsible for the lives of several hundreds of passengers. He runs all the risks and takes all the responsibility attached to this duty, although he has had no shop experience. Why it should not be the same in regard to the qualifications of an engineer on board a ship I do not know. The question arises whether we require men whose duty it is to drive engines to know also how to build them. Undoubtedly the man who can do both is a better man than he who can only do one or the other. But, at the same time, we may make the standard too high, so that it will be impossible for the average man, or -even for a thoroughly qualified man, to obtain the certificate. I do not speak as an expert, but I am anxious to have a statement from the Minister with regard to the Victorian marine enginedrivers. I want to insure that they shall not be overlooked, and that the qualifications which they already have will not be ignored.
– If Senator E. J. Russell will turn to clause 21 he will find a full explanation of the position of marine engine-drivers under this Bill. Clause 21 deals with State certificates of competency. It provides in sub-clause 1 that-
All uncancelled and unexpired certificates of competency for masters or ships’ officers issued under any State Act shall continue as if issued under this Act, but shall be valid only for the purposes for which, and to the extent to which, they would have been valid in accordance with the provisions of the State Act under which they were issued.
The honorable senator has pointed out that a. marine engine-driver’s certificate in Victoria enables a man to drive a marine engine inside Port Phillip Bay, or to take the vessel outside the Heads. When this Bill comes into force he will be able to do precisely the same.
– Suppose that a man wanted to obtain a certificate under the Commonwealth?
– His status would not be interfered with by this Bill. He would retain all that he has at present. The next two sub-clauses make the point still clearer -
If the honorable senator’s contention that marine engine-drivers’ certificates in Victoria are equal to third class engineers’ certificates be correct, then, under subclause 3 of clause 21, they will be able to surrender their marine engine-drivers’ certificates and get third-class engineers’ certificates for them; but, of course, if their certificates are not of equal value the honorable senator would not hold that they should be able to get a certificate of superior value in exchange.
– - If the marine engine-driver’s certificates mentioned by Senator E. J.Russell are certificates held by “officers” in the State of Victoria, the same persons will clearly be officers under this Bill, and their privileges are safeguarded under clause 21. But the question arises as to whether they are or are not officers under the Victorian Mercantile Shipping Act. I agree with Senator Pearce that if the statement be correct that they are equal to what are termed third-class engineers in other States, they must be officers.
– I am sorry that the Minister is not favorably inclined towards my amendment, and am also surprised at the inference that he draws from it. He states that it would debar a person having shop experience from presenting himself for examination for a third-class certificate. I do not see how that could occur. We are now recasting the whole method whereby . marine engineers can qualify on our coasts. The proviso at the end of clause 12 is ample for those engineers who are already possessed of third-class engineers’ certificates. I am only concerned at present with the case of persons who may apply for the thirdclass engineer’s certificate; and I still contend that the clause, as it stands, gives no safeguard whatever to such applicants against the condition that has always been insisted upon in respect to shop experience. In the past the possession of a third-class certificate debarred a man from progressing any further. Take my own case. I have had a little experience in this line. I hold a third-class engineer’s certificate, issued under the Marine Board of New South Wales. As the law of that State stands, it tells me in plain language that I cannot apply for a first or second-class engineer’s certificate, for the reason that I have not served the scheduled time in an engineer’s shop. Any person holding a third-class engineer’s certificate, even if he had the inventive skill of a James Watt, or the ingenuity to make a watch, could not present himself to obtain a certificate in the higher grades of the engineer’s profession. It is in order to remove that traditional bar that has been placed in the way of every person holding a third-class engineer’s certificate that I am pressing this very simple amendment. My proposal will not have the effect of reflecting in any way upon the ability of any person who has served his time in the engineering trade, nor would it debar him from presenting himself for examination. My complaint is that the law hitherto has looked upon me as being incapable of presenting myself for an examination for a second-class certificate because of my not having had shop experience.
– The honorable senator’s amendment would not deal with his own case. It deals with the case of a man who has not got his third-class engineer’s certificate.
– The concluding words of the clause warrant me in saying that it will not become operative until a person is possessed of a certificate.
– Let the honorable senator take his own case. He has a thirdclass engineer’s certificate. Under this clause, he will have a right to get a secondclass certificate when he has qualified for it.
– But in the past, an obstacle has been imposed upon persons desirous of obtaining a third-class engineer’s certificate by requiring them to possess shop experience.
– The honorable senator’s amendment would not remove that barrier.
– It would. The Minister has declared that the effect of my proposal would be to . debar persons who have been indentured to the engineering trade from presenting themselves for examination for a third-class engineer’s certificate. It would do nothing of the kind. It would cast no reflection upon those who have served their time to the engineering trade. But it would allow the person who in the past has not had shop experience to offer himself for examination. We have the assurance of the Minister that the obstacle of which I complain has been removed from this Bill. I accept his assur ance, and in that, connexion, I do not need to be reminded of my loyalty to the Government.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake by persisting with his amendment.
– I am not. I merely wish to make it plain that the bar of which I speak has been removed.
-I have read section’ 63 of the Marine Act of Victoria, and I find that it absolutely justifies the declaration of the Minister of Defence that the status of third-class engineers in this State is amply safeguarded. That section makes it abundantly clear that they are officers under this Bill. There can be no doubt about that.
– - If Senator Lynch will look into the matter for a moment, he will see that his amendment will scarcely accomplish what he desires. His proposal, if adopted, will certainly mean the imposition of a bar upon those who have served an apprenticeship to the engineering trade.
– How can it do that, seeing that it will merely lift up the bottom man?
– But no bar is imposed upon the bottom man. Under this Bill, the Victorian engineer, with his inferior certificate, will occupy a better position than he formerly occupied.
– Although his certificate is inferior, his qualification is higher.
– In t’.iat case, he will be able to prove his competency, and to secure a higher certificate without any trouble. We all know that the third-class engineer in Victoria is not allowed to take a ship as far as is a third-class engineer in New South Wales. Iwould remind Senator Lynch that this Committee owes a duty to those who have served their time to the engineering trade as well as to those who have not. Why should we cast a stigma upon engineers who have been apprentices and who have learnt their trade in the usual way ? I fail to see how any man can obtain a first-class engineer’s certificate unless he be a thoroughly skilled mechanic, and how can he become a thoroughly skilled mechanic without shop experience? Certainly he cannot get the necessary experience on board ship. We- have no right to place obstacles in the way of men who have served their time in an engineering shop.
– This discussion has shown that, under the Bill, in order to obtain a thirdclass engineer’s certificate, a man must possess a practical knowledge of engineering, gained in a workshop. Hitherto, candidates for that certificate have only been subjected to an oral examination, besides being required to furnish a sample of their handwriting, and to do simple sums in arithmetic.
– Have they been required to use no tools at all ?
– They have not.
– Does the honorable senator think that that is right?
– I will answer that question presently. For a lad to qualify himself to pass the examination which has been outlined by the Minister of Defence, he will require to possess shop experience, and I know that one of the largest engineering works in Queensland demands a premium of . £200 before it will take a lad into its employ. The examination for a third-class engineer’s certificate ought not to consist of blacksmithing or turning operations. The idea of asking a man engaged upon a steam launch to turn a pin or a small shaft, when there may be no turnery within 100 miles of him, is ridiculous. What he should be asked is to pack a valve, or pull a pump to pieces, or to secure a steam joint. Such an examination as the Minister has foreshadowed may be necessary in the case of a third-class engineer in New South Wales, who is empowered to take vessels under a certain nominal horse-power from one end of its coast-line to another. But it is certainly not necessary in other cases. In the future candidates for a third-class engineer’s certificate will be subjected to an examination in the use of tools. To enable the holder of a first-class coastal engineer’s certificate to secure the second-class engineer’s certificate of the Board of Trade, we must comply with the Board of Trade regulations. The examination which has been suggested by the Minister in the case of candidates for a third-class engineer’s certificate is not such as would be recommended by experts. I think that Senator Lynch is perfectly right in contending that a lad should not be asked whether he has served an apprenticeship in an engineering shop before he is allowed to take charge of a launch on Lake Wendouree,” or it may be on the Albert Park. Lagoon. The honorable senator is asking that sea service shall he regarded as an equivalent for shop service. It is possible for a man employed in the engine-room of one of our big steamers to-day to acquire all the knowledge which might be acquired in any engineering workshop in Australia. On one of our modern steamers there is not one. but twenty or thirty engines, almost every one of which is overhauled at every port, and the men in the engine-room of the steamer assist in the work. I repeat that, for a third-class engineer’s certificate, no shop experience should be insisted upon. Senator St. Ledger, in quoting from the Victorian Act, referred to the marine enginedrivers of Victoria as third-class engineers, but the Victorian Act provides only for first and second class engineers, and engine-drivers. I should like to point out that this Bill, in the definition clause, defines engineers as officers, and it makes provision for the issue of certificates to masters or officers. It is important to remember that a marine engine-driver in Victoria is not an officer. Under the Board of Trade and the Imperial Act, a chief engineer is not an officer, nor are engineers regarded as officers under any of the Australian Acts. They are so regarded under the New Zealand Act, as the result of the insertion of a special section, section 30 of the Act of 1903, which provides that -
On all steam-ships the engineers shall be rated as officers, under the designations of chief, second, third, and fourth engineer.
We provide in this Bill that an engineer shall be an officer, and I wish to prevent any injustice being done to the marine enginedrivers of Victoria. We shall be to blame if they are left out as the result of a technicality under this Bill. I should like to know from the Minister whether the marine engine-drivers of Victoria will be rated as officers under this Bill ?
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added (Senator Lynch’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 13 -
Examinations of candidates for certificates shall be held at such places, and under such rules as are prescribed.
. -There is more government by regulation here.
– We could not set out the details of the examinations in the Bill.
– I am not so sure that we could not. We are giving a great deal of power to Ministers, and I do not believe in government by regulation. I think we should have something more definite than is contained in this clause.
– Would the honorable senator have the places at which the examinations are to be held inserted in the clause ?
– Then what is the honorable senator growling about?
– Is that parliamentary? I was not aware that I was growling. The Minister’s colleague compared me the other day to a flea, a fly, and a bee, and now the honorable senator is comparing me to a bear. Between them they will shortly have exhausted the animal and insect creation. We know very well how and by whom regulations are framed. We know that Ministers are largely in the hands of the permanent heads of their Departments. In such cases as this, these men are saturated with professionalism, and raise all kinds of artificial barriers -against any one encroaching upon their preserves. It should be remembered that regulations made under Acts of Parliament are being so continually altered that I defy any man to keep in touch with the regulations issued weekly, and almost daily, from every one of the Government Departments. Acts of Parliament are altered in this way and in that by means of regulations until it is impossible, I believe, for the departmental officers themselves to know just what the law is at any given period. While I agree that it is not possible to dp away entirely with regulations, they should be reduced to a minimum. We are here given an Act of Parliament in skeleton, and we are asked to cover it by means of regulations. I do not know what to suggest here. I have not given the matter very much consideration, but I find that clause after clause provides that such-and-such shall be done, as prescribed by regulation. There is too much of that sort of thing.
– Let us have the honorable senator’s amendment.
– I am giving the honorable senator what I please. I am not paid for drafting Bills, and, if I were, there would be more Act of Parliament and less regulation. If the Committee is satisfied with government by regulation, that is its business. I believe in government by legislation, not by regulation.
– While it may be true that Senator Stewart is not paid to draft Bills, he is certainly paid to read them.
– I do.
– I venture to say that if the honorable senator had read the clause, and read it with some intelligence, he would not have made the remarks to which he has just treated the Committee. What does it deal with? -
Examinations of candidates for certificates shall be held at such places and under such rules as are prescribed.
Does the honorable senator want to set forth in the measure the places and the dates for holding the examinations? What ridiculous nonsense he has talked. The fact is that he is looking for faults, and if he cannot find them, he will manufacture them. His last criticism was nothing more nor less than factious opposition. There was neither point nor sense in his objections to the clause. If he is a practical man, he ought to know that it is absolutely ridiculous to put in the measure the places and dates for holding an examination. Obviously, the idea of leaving the matter to be dealt with by regulation is to fix places and dates which will suit the convenience of candidates. The honorable senator talked about putting the regulations in the Bill. The book of regulations which I hold in my hand contains over 200 questions to be put to a candidate. For what purpose? Simply to test his qualifications for an engineer’s certificate. Will the honorable senator say that we ought to embody those questions in the Bill ? He talked about a measure containing 419 clauses being a skeleton. I venture to say that this is the most substantial skeleton which the Senate has ever had to deal with. I hope that in future we shall deal with practical questions.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 -
No person shall be admitted to examination for a certificate unless he is a British subject, and speaks the English language fluently, and possesses the prescribed qualifications.
– I move -
That the word “ fluently “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ intelligibly.”
Quite recently, an honorable member was addressing the other House, and, in his usual way, clearly enough, but with an Irish accent. After the conclusion of his speech, the Attorney -General told him that he did not understand one word he had said, inasmuch as he had spoken in a foreign language.
– That was only said in a joke, though.
– It is very difficult to understand whether the insolence or the stupidity of an answer like that was the more marked. It is possible that the administration of this measure may pass into the hands of men who are -either insolent or stupid, or who do not understand what the Act may mean. I submit this amendment so that there shall be no mistake made. Neither in the New Zealand Act, nor in the Canadian Act, does such a provision find a place. But it is right that we should see that officers and seamen know the English language. The object of my amendment is not to prevent a test of their knowledge, but, whilst not going too far, to give reasonable elasticity. I hope that it will be accepted, because there may be a very grave distinction as to who does or who does not speak the English language “fluently.” And, after all, what does it mean? The word “intelligibly” is capable of being easily understood; but we may all differ - and examiners too - as to the meaning of the word “ fluently.” It will meet the intention of the Bill, and of . the Government, to substitute the word “ intelligibly “ for a word which is most indefinite.
– I do not think that there is a very great deal of dif ference between the words; but I . consider that “fluently” is preferable to “intelligibly.”
– A man may be fluent, but not intelligible.
– I take it that “ intelligibly “ means that a candidate shall be able to speak English sufriciemly to convey his meaning to the intellect of a listener.
– A fluent man might not do that.
– He would do that in every case.
– No; very often a fluent man hides his meaning.
– What is meant isthat a man shall be able, not to speak “ pigeon “ English fluently, but to speak English fluently. Under the amendment, a man might be able to speak “pigeon” English intelligibly. One might be able to understand what he said, but, for all that, one could not say that he spoke English fluently.
– Do you want seamen, or orators ?
– Occasionally you want orators. When it is a question of giving a signal or an order, a man needs to be able to speak with all the clearness, of an orator, especially in a time of danger. I think that the word “fluently” is sufficient, and I propose to stand by it.
– I hope that the Minister will accept the amendment. There is a very strong distinction between the words. I need not go farther back than an experience I had within the walls of this Parliament. On one occasion, I had the opportunity of introducing some ladies to certain gentlemen who occupy the floor of a House. With regard to one of them I said to a lady, “ Do you know so-and-so?” and she replied, “Yes, fluently.” Whether she would have been prepared to add the word “ intelligibly “ I cannot say, but there is certainly a very strong distinction between the words. I do not think that it matters to the serious portion of the Bill whether one word or the other is used, but we all desire that every measure should leave the Senate in the best possible foim. I think that the word “ fluently “ is incorrectly applied in the clause, and that the other word might be very well accepted by the Minister.
– I am willing to us*> the words “fluently and intelligibly.”
– I have no doubt that Senator St. Ledger would be only too pleased if the Minister would take up his amendment.
– If he will use the words “ fluently and intelligibly “ I shall not mind.-
. -I prefer “intelligibly” to “fluently,” but I do not see that either word is necessary. The use of any adverb after “ language “ is superfluous. It ought to be quite sufficient to use the words “ and speak the English language.” Men who go up for examination as officers or engineers are not usually so ignorant that they cannot speak the English language, unless, of course, they happen to be Scotchmen, and very often their English is of a most defective kind.
– But the honorable member would not -debar Scotchmen from getting a job.
– The greater number of our engineers are Scotchmen who speak with a very pronounced accent, and whose English is of a very doubtful character, but who, I am afraid, would be ruled out under the Bill.
– So long as they could be understood that should be sufficient.
– Yes. These men are always capable of making themselves understood. If they cannot do it with their tongue they do it with a hammer or something of the kind.
– Surely the Minister ought to see that “intelligibly” is the better word to use.
– I am prepared to accept it coupled with the other word.
– I do not think that the use of the word “fluently” is necessary. According to Chambers’ English Dictionary “intelligibly” means -
That may be understood ; clear ; capable of being apprehended by the understanding only. “ Fluently “ is defined to mean
Ready in the use of words; voluble; marked by copiousness.
– That is ‘absolutely necessary at sea.
– A man may need to be fluent in the use of slang or forcible words, but here we are asked to say what a candidate ought to be able to do with the English language. If he can make himself understood that ought to be sufficient. We do not expect a man to be voluble. We ought to use language which is easily understood. What we really require is that a’ man should have an intelligent understanding of the English language, and not the ability to speak it fluently.
– Surely the Minister in charge of the Bill will not force the Committee to a division on a little matter ? I do not think it can be disputed for a moment that the sense of the Committee is against the use of the word “fluently.” According to Webster’s dictionary it means “ smooth speech.” Is a candidate who aspires to take command of a vessel required to be a man of smooth speech before he can obtain a certificate? The idea is too absurd. I venture to say that no honorable senator would more readily detect its absurdity than would Senator Pearce in one of his humorous moments. In the circumstances I suggest that in order to make a little progress he should accept the amendment which unquestionably has been moved to improve the language of the measure.
– I will accept the addition - “fluently and intelligibly.”
– The addition of the word “ intelligibly “ would make the clause more ridiculous than it is now. I have no doubt that Senator Pearce has known many a man who has been anything but fluent, but who, nevertheless, was quite fit to take command of a ship. All that is required is that a man shall be able to understand those who speak to him, and to convey his meaning to those to whom he speaks.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 15 -
– In this clause there is an error of draftsmanship, which probably has occurred in this way : Clause 14 has been taken from the New Zealand Act ; but clause 15 has been taken from the Merchant Shipping Act j and there is an overlapping. Clause 14 states that no person shall be admitted to examination for a certificate unless he is a British subject and “ pos- sesses the prescribed qualifications.” He cannot go up for examination at all unless he does possess the prescribed qualifications. Then clause 15 goes on to say that, having passed his examination, and proved that he possesses the qualifications, he is to give “ satisfactory evidence that he possesses the qualifications prescribed.” That is to say, having demonstrated that he possesses the “ prescribed qualifications “ under clause 14, the moment the examination is over, and he goes up for his certificate, clause 15 says to him, “You are now entitled to your certificate provided that you show that you possess the prescribed qualifications. “ His answer would naturally be, “I have already shown that I possess the prescribed qualifications.” The reason for the overlapping is that, under the New Zealand Act, from which clause 14 was taken, the qualifications have to be demonstrated before the examination ; but under the Merchant Shipping Act, from which clause 15 was taken, a man is allowed to be examined first, and to prove the possession of the qualifications afterwards. We do not want a man to prove the possession of the qualifications both before and after the examination.
– Senator Millen is not quite right in saying that an oversight has occurred. Clause 15 deals with successive examinations. That is to say, there are stages of examination for various grades. For instance, we lay down certain conditions in regard to the granting’ of a third engineer’s certificate, and the regulations may not prescribe any particular conditions as to shop service. But there may be conditions laid down in regard to the second engineer’s certificate. Therefore, at each stage, the applicant has to show that he possesses the necessary qualifications.
– The Minister overlooks the fact that, under clause 14, the applicant would have to show that he possessed the necessary qualifications before he could be examined.
– Under clause 15 we say that the person having obtained one certificate has to satisfy the examiners when he goes up for a further certificate.
– He cannot go up for any examination until he has satisfied the examiners that he possesses the necessary qualifications.
– It must be remembered that this is a progressive measure. Under it a man can go from one stage to another. It is, therefore, provided that at each stage he shall show that he possesses the “prescribed qualifications.” Even if there were any doubt about the matter it is better to repeat the words than to strike them out and find afterwards that we have to put them back again.
– The Minister’s contention is that clause 14 deals only with the initial certificate, and that clause 15 deals with subsequent stages. But clause 14 says that no person shall be admitted to examination “ for a certificate.” That means any certificate, and not merely the first one. The candidate cannot enter for an examination at all until he has demonstrated that he possesses the necessary qualifications. Having demonstrated before examination that he possesses them, it is ridiculous after the examination to ask him to demonstrate it again. The fact is that this Bill shows all the faults of a measure that has not been originally drafted. It is a pasteandscissors Bill. It contains pieces chopped out of one Act joined to pieces chopped out of another, and there has been no attempt to digest the purpose of various Acts so as to produce an original measure. Here we have an instance in which a clause has been chopped out of the New Zealand Act, and placed next to a clause chopped out of the Merchant Shipping Act, without any attempt being made to remedy the overlapping. I move -
That the words, “ that he possesses the qualifications prescribed for the holder of the certificate, and,” be left out.
– I think it is perfectly clear that before a man can go up for examination at all he has to prove certain things. He has to prove that he is a British subject, that he can speak the English language, and that he has sufficient money to pay the examiners’ fees. He has to produce evidence of his service if he is going for a second mate’s certificate. These things have to be proved prior to the examination. After the examination he has to show the possession of certain other qualifications which are necessary before he can be recommended for a certificate. After the examination, he has to prove sobriety, experience, ability, physical fitness, and general good conduct. That is exactly the procedure of the Board of Trade.
– We do not desire duplication.
– But a necessity exists for it. Regulations have to be framed as to qualifications. Those qualifications require an applicant to have had sea service, to be a British subject, and to speak the English language. Then regulations will have to be framed prescribing what a candidate must prove after he has passed his examination.
– He proves his qualifications before he goes up for examination.
– If he passes his examination, he will have to furnish proof of the whole of his sea experience, of his ability, his physical fitness, and general good conduct. Under the Board of Trade regulations no man is eligible to be examined until he has proved these things. But under this Bill, although a doubt may exist regarding his ability and good conduct, he will be eligible to be examined.
– It does not seem to me that there is very much in the amendment which has been moved by Senator Millen. The words to which he takes exception are an amplification of those which appear in clause 14.
– They are not an amplification; they are exactly the same words.
– If we omit those words, the only evidence which a candidate will be required to furnish will relate to his sobriety, his physical fitness, his ability, and good conduct.
– Because he must give evidence of his other qualifications before he is examined.
– We know that in the process of examination, evidence of his sobriety, physical fitness, ability, and good conduct is presented simultaneously with the evidence of his other qualifications. If we leave out the words to which exception has been taken, the clause will appear only in skeleton form. The Leader of the Opposition objects to the repetition of words which directly affect the qualifications of a candidate as such. Yet he is quite willing to agree to a repetition of the words in regard to a candidate’s sobriety.
– The Leader of the Opposition has endeavoured to make it appear that these words have crept into the clause inadvertently. Nothing of the kind. Clause 14 deals with an applicant before he submits hirriself for examination, and clause 15 deals with him after he has emerged from that examination. Let me take the case of an applicant for a first class engineer’s certificate. After he has passed his examination, he may be called upon to produce his second and’ third class engineer’s certificates.
– They must be demanded under clause 14.
– There is no obligation to demand them’ laid upon us under that clause. I may tell the Committee of a similar case in connexion with the university examination of candidates for civil engineering degrees. After a candidate has passed his examination, and before the degree is conferred, he may be required to produce his books to show what work he has clone. I repeat that clause 14 deals with an applicant for a certificate prior to his examination, whereas . the provision under discussion provides that, after he has passed that examination, he may be called upon to produce his antecedent certificates. If a candidate for a first class certificate cannot produce his second class certificate he will be granted only a second class certificate. If he cannot produce his second class certificate he will be granted only a third class certificate.
– Surely it is fair to put before him all the conditions with which he must comply, prior to his examination?
– That is so. But if he submits to examination, despite those conditions, he must accept the risk. He will know that he may be called upon to show that he possesses the necessary qualifications. After an applicant has passed his examination he may be kicked out if he cannot produce evidence that he possesses theprescribed qualifications.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.55]. - I do not know whether T am getting more obtuse than I used to be, but the explanation of the Minister has quite confused me. Clause 14 prevents any candidate from submitting himself to examination unless he is a British subject, who speaks English fluently, and possesses the prescribed qualifications. Those qualifications may cover anything. They ought to include the necessary evidence that a candidate for a first class engineer’s certificate already holds a second class engineer’s certificate, and that a candidate for a second class engineer’s certificate already holds a third class engineer’s certificate.
– In other words, they ought to prescribe that if he can pass the examination the matter will be at an end.
– Exactly. The woids 10 which exception has been taken by Senator Millen are identical with tiiose which are contained in clause 14. I think that the amendment which he has moved is a very proper one. The Min ister of Defence says that, after a candidate has passed an examination which entitles him to a certificate, he ought to be called upon to produce his antecedent certificates. The position which he takes up is based upon the assumption that the prescribed qualifications under clause 14 have not been complied with. If a candidate has satisfied the examiners that he possesses all the prescribed qualifications I cannot see what more should be required of him. The Minister has instanced the case of a university examination in this connexion. He has pointed out that a student, after examination, may be required to produce the books in regard to which he has been examined. I happen to know that that is often clone. But the production of the books does not evidence a qualification. It is merely an element in the examination. As a part of the examination the student has to satisfy the examiners that he has read a certain course of books, and their production is merely intended to show the extent of his reading. The Minister must recognise that the words to which attention has been directed are superfluous. Even his great skill has proved unequal to the task of showing that their retention is desirable.
– In considering this clause we must recollect that we are legislating for men who are constantly on the move, and who do not remain in one place for any long period. It may happen that an engineer who is engaged upon a vessel trading between Western Australia and New South Wales may find it convenient to present himself for examination in Adelaide. He may not be able to prove all that is necessary at the time, but he may say to the examiners, “ I possess the necessary qualifications. Here is my fee. Will you examine me ? “
– The honorable senator is assuming that the regulations will deal only with those subjects in which the applicant is ready to be examined.
– Exactly. That is what 1 take the regulation to mean. If a man makes an application for examination, he has to pay a prescribed fee. There is nothing then to prevent him going up for examination at any convenient time, but if he is successful at the examination he must give proof of other things required under the Bill. If he is unsuccessful, it will be unnecessary for him to write to his previous employers for a reference, or to get a discharge from the master of his ship in order to prove his service.
– Is he to be required to provide a reference as well as his former certificate?
– Yes, he has to give satisfactory evidence of his sobriety,, experience, ability, physical fitness, and general good conduct.
– There is no objection to that.
– I say that that evidence can be given after the examination. Under clause 14, the applicant must prove that he is a British subject, and speaks the English language intelligibly, be- fore he can present himself for examination. He must show, also, that he possesses the prescribed qualifications. Those qualifications will be laid down by the regulations. After examination, if he is successful before the new certificate is delivered to him, he has to give evidence of sobriety, physical fitness, and so on.
– He may also have to produce his certificate.
– No doubt he will.
– Ought he not have to give up his second-class certificate ?
– No; and Senatoi Guthrie has given good reasons why the applicant should not be called upon to give certain evidence required prior to the examination.
– If the applicant were required to produce his certificate before the examination, he could not be asked to give it up, because the examination might not take place for a considerable time after he put in his application to be examined. I suppose that even in Sydney and Melbourne examinations of this kind will not take place more often than once a month”, and it may be a month after a man has put in his application before he can be examined for the new certificate. When we are prepared to give him the new certificate, it will be time enough to call upon him to produce his old certificate. I think it would be a mistake to alter these provisions.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.5]. - I admit the force of what the honorable senator has said. No one desires to throw obstacles in the way of a man being examined at any port where an examining body is constituted. I think it would be better to make the clause read -
Subject to the condition in the next sub-section mentioned, a certificate in the form prescribed shall be delivered to every applicant who passes the prescribed examination satisfactorily on production of his previous certificate and satisfactory evidence of his sobriety, experience, ability, physical fitness, and general good conduct.
The clause, as it stands, may be misleading to the examinee, and may prevent a man going up for examination. It may have the very opposite effect to what is intended. He may say that he does not know what other qualifications he is expected to prove. If he has only to produce these documents, it seems to me that it would be better to say so in the Bill.
– In the Merchant Shipping Act there are two sections somewhat similar to those now under consideration. Section 97, for instance, provides that -
An applicant for examination, whether as master, mate, or engineer, shall pay such fees, not exceeding those specified in the fourth Schedule to this Act, as the Board of Trade directs, and the fees shall be paid to such persons as the Board appoints and carried to the Mercantile Marine fund.
Under this Bill, the fees are to be as prescribed, whilst under the Imperial Act they are set out in a schedule. Section 98 of the Imperial Act provides that -
The Board of Trade shall, subject as hereinafter mentioned, deliver to every applicant who is duly reported by the examiners to have passed the examination satisfactorily, and to have given satisfactory evidence of his sobriety, experience, ability, and general good conduct on board ship, such certificate of competency as the case requires.
We provide that the examination shall be as prescribed, and that after the examination is passed the applicant shall be called upon to prove sobriety, experience, physical fitness, and so on. I must say that I prefer the provisions of this Bill to the provisions of the Imperial Act in this regard.
– In confirmation of what Senator Guthrie has said, I may quote the following from the regulations governing the examination of engineers for certificates of competency under the Marine Board of Victoria. Regulation 12 provides that -
If after a candidate has passed the examination it is discovered on further investigation that his services are insufficient to entitle him to receive a certificate for the grade for which he passed, the certificate will not be granted.
That is quite in conformity with the provisions of this Bill. It bears out what I have said, and what Senator Guthrie has confirmed from practical experience, that officers must undergo these examinations whenever they can, and it would very often be inconvenient for them at the time of the examination to produce the necessary proof of qualifications. We provide that ari officer may undergo the examination in the meantime, but under clause 15 he will be called upon before the new certificate is handed to him to produce whatever evidence is required. Senator Symon will agree that there might be something more than the old certificate required. I trust that the Committee will accept the clause as it stands.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.13]. - I agree that it would not do to prevent a man going up for an examination at some port because he might not have the necessary documents with him, and so delay his advance in his profession. But I venture to think that what the Minister has just quoted from the Victorian regulations is opposed to what is provided for in this Bill. Under clause 14, the applicant for examination is required to show that he possesses the prescribed qualifications. It will be perfectly competent in the regulation to prescribe the qualifications, but some such regulation as the Minister has quoted under the Victorian Act is necessary, as it might later be shown that the applicant’s services were insufficient to qualify him, or there might be some other defect in his application, or in his qualifications, for which the new certificate ought to be withheld. In fact, the regulation would be incomplete unless it had what lawyers call a defeasance. A man, for instance, might believe that he had filled up all the time of service required, but he might be mistaken. But that can all be provided for by regulation.
– Even in the legal profession, this is done.
– I think not.
– I have here the rules of the High Court, which show that it is done.
– I should like to hear them. I admit that they are a little difficult of apprehension. I think it is obvious, on the face of the clause, that the amendment would be an advantage if made.
– I cannot make out why an objection should be taken to the wording of the clause. According to the Board of Trade regulations -
No candidate will be examined in a colour vision test until he has passed the. form vision test, or in the colour ignorance test until he has passed the colour vision test.
All these things have to be done before a man can go up for examination. Any man in the mercantile marine can go to the Mercantile Marine Office and get a certificate as to whether he is colour blind or otherwise. But, before a man can go up for his certificate as an officer, he must pass the vision test. I take it that that will be prescribed to be done before an examination is held. Then the Board of Trade regulations say that candidates for examination must fill up a form of application. It is a pity that we have not the forms here. We are in this awkward position, that we have no Marine Department -
Candidates for examination must fill up a form of application (form Examination 2) at a Mercantile Marine Office. The form, properly filled in, together with the candidate’s testimonials and discharges, must be lodged with the Local Marine Board if there is a Local Marine Board at the port, and if there is not, with the Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office, not later than the day before the day of examination, except in the case of London and Liverpool ; and the candidate must conform to any regulations in this respect which may be laid down by the Local Marine Board or the Board of Trade. As discharges and testimonials may have to be forwarded to the Registrar-General of Seamen for verification, it is desirable that they should be handed in, together with the form of application, as many days as possible before the date of the examination which the candidate desires to attend. In the absence of the necessary verification,- the candidate cannot be examined.
– That has all to be done before the examination is held.
– Yes ; as to the discharges. Probably the head-office of our Mercantile Marine Department will be in Melbourne or the Federal Capital ; and, unless the amendment is made, the discharges of a man who wants to go up for examination at Fremantle will have to be sent to the central office. Surely honorable senators will see the necessity of regulations being made before the examination as well as afterwards. Why should a man be put more than once to the trouble of getting references as to conduct and ability ?
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.22].- lt seems to me that the regulations which Senator Guthrie has quoted contain the conditions which have to be observed before a man is admitted by the Board of Trade to examination; and that after he is admitted to examination, and gets his certificate
– No; before that time.
.- Then the Board of Trade has no option but to give the man his certificate. There is no prescribed qualification required to be shown after that.
– Yes, there is.
– Section 98 of the Merchant Shipping Act reads -
Clause 15 of this Bill is couched in almost the same words, but with an interpolation -
Subject to the condition in the next subsection mentioned, a certificate in the form prescribed shall be delivered to every applicant who passes the prescribed examination satisfactorily and gives satisfactory evidence that he possesses the qualifications prescribed for the holder of the certificate, and of his sobriety, experience, ability, physical fitness, and genera) good conduct.
In our provision the words “ and give satisfactory evidence that he possesses the qualifications prescribed for the holder of the certificate” have been interpolated, but in clause 14 we have provided that he must possess the prescribed qualifications before he is admitted to examination, just as the Board of Trade require a man to show that he possesses satisfactory vision and length of service. Having done that before he goes up for examination, surely there is no necessity to require him to do it again? Our measure may be wrong in requiring a man to show that he possesses the required qualifications before he is admitted to examination, but the provision has been made, and then we require him to show that he has had his period of service before he goes up to bc examined for his second class certificate.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 1 6 agreed to.
Clause 17 (Incapacity of certificated person.)
– I have a slight amendment to submit for the consideration of the Committee. Briefly its object is to give power to retire from active service a certificated master, or mate, or engineer, when he has reached the age of sixty years.
– Good Lord ! Make it twenty-one years.
– It may operate a little harshly in certain cases, but it is our duty to insure the safety of the travelling public as far as possible.
– Does the amendment put a compulsion upon a man to cease to act after he has reached sixty years of age?
– Yes. I move it, as follows : -
That the following words be added : - “ Provided that no person holding a certificate or licence issued under the provisions of this Act, or accepted as lawful by this Act, shall, on reaching the age of sixty years, continue to carry out the duties which such certificate or licence might otherwise entitle the holder to perform.
Penalty : Fifty pounds.”
– When the honorable senator is ten years older he will be ashamed of having moved it here.
– Quite so. dare say that it might come hard upon me if my lot happened to be cast at sea, but there is a greater purpose to be served, and that is to insure the safety of the travelling public. When it- is remembered that a ship is in charge of a captain or .1 mate, or an engineer/ that its safety depends entirely upon the ability with which an officer discharges his duties, and that the ability of the average man declines as he advances in years, I think it will be recognised” that it is proper and safe to fix 1 limit when we have the opportunity to do so. If it can count for anything in th,: discussion we have the precedent of the pilots who are employed in Port Phillip. Those who are licensed under the Act of 1904 are retired compulsorily when they reach the age of sixty years, whilst those who hold licences issued prior to that year are allowed to continue in service until they are sixty-five years old.
– Is there any superannuation for them?
– Yes; but that is provided by themselves. They are not civil servants, but independent pilots.
– There is no necessity to mention the names of persons who have been responsible for unfortunate occurrences, but we are all aware that one or two notable maritime calamities were distinctly traceable to the employment of men who had long passed the ordinary period of active service. When a person reaches the age of sixty years, it is about time that he gave place to a younger and more capable man. It has to be remembered that a seafaring life makes severe demands upon the nervous system, and when the nervous system of a person becomes impaired, it is certainly time for him, in the public interest, to make way for a younger man. The Defence Department makes no delicate distinctions in this matter. It compulsorily retires officers at ages varying from forty-eight to sixty-two, according to the rank they hold. There is always a delicacy about casting a duty of this kind upon a public department. People are actuated by the venerable superstition which prompts them to say, “Oh, he is an old man, let him go on for a little bit longer.” An officer in charge of. a ship is responsible, not only for a valuable pieceof property, but for hundreds of human lives. He needs to be alert in every respect. No sentimental consideration should stand in the way of retiring a man whose physical condition is highly impaired by reason of advanced age.
– Why put a man aside who is fit for his work merely because he is sixty years of age? The clause gives ample power to put an officer aside at any age if he is unfit.
– I admit that the amendment would operate arbitrarily in many cases, but, nevertheless, I am of opinion that a man following a seafaring life when he reaches the age of sixty has attained a period when his usefulness is impaired. If we allow him to continue indefinitely, we do not act fairly by the travelling public. I have been told that two nautical calamities have occurred in Australian waters owing directly to the employment of men who ought long before to have been retired. In the Defence Department a captain who reaches the age of forty-eight is compelled to retire, even though he may still be an excellent captain.
– If he is still a captain at forty-eight, that is a good indication that he ought to be retired.
– My object is to insure that ships engaged in the Australian trade shall be under the command of men in the prime of life, and in perfect health.
– There are two points to be considered in connexion with Senator Lynch’s amendment. One is that, in the service in question, there is fierce competition. Officers occupying positions on steam-ships generally hold certificates of a grade higher than the rank they are filling, and the companies have no difficulty in filling their positions. The second fact is that the steam-ship companies themselves are naturally anxious to protect their own property. They take care to safeguard their interests by employing active men in full possession of their faculties. There would be a danger in fixing an arbitrary age. Some men are in a condition of senile decay at fifty, whilst others are comparatively useful at sixty-five. The Commonwealth has fixed- the age at which an old-age pension can be obtained at sixty-five. Senator Lynch’s amendment would say to seafaring men, “ We will turn you out of your employment at sixty, knowing that you will have to wait five years before you can get a pension of 10s. a week.”
– Senator Lynch’s amendment would also apply to second class marine engine-drivers.
– Of course; it would apply to all indifferently. In view of the fact that the competition in this calling is so keen, I would suggest that there is no need to press the amendment. I have even known men to dye their hair and beards so as to disguise their age, knowing that old men had very little chance of employment.
– I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that this clause deals, not with any wrong-doing on the part of the holder of a certificate, but with failings in the nature of infirmities. But sub-clauses 4 and 5 speak of “ the charge.” 1 admit that there is not very much in the point, but it is not usual to “ charge “ a man simply because his eyesight is failing. Incompetency might arise from any mental or physical failing, but that would not constitute anything in the nature of what we usually call “ a charge.” When a charge is made against a person, he is usually accused of having done something wrong. The clause itself recognises the desirableness of avoiding that term in the first part, where the word “ unfitness “ is used. It would be more in accordance with the spirit of the Bill to use the word “ unfitness “ throughout.
– We could not very well speak of an inquiry into unfitness.
– It is hardly correct to speak of a charge being made when an unfortunate man breaks down in health. I do not like the term at all. However, if the Committee see no objection to applying such a harsh word to a man’s infirmity I cannot help it.
– I promise that I will have this clause considered with a view to seeing whether it can be altered in the way that has been suggested. At the same time, I do not feel prepared to accept any amendment to it at the present juncture. When the question of a man’s unfitness comes before the Minister ithe latter has to make a “charge” before it can be investigated by a Court. He prefers a charge and calls upon the person whose fitness is in question to deliver up his certificate. The charge which is usually laid against him is that he is incompetent because of some physical infirmity. When the matter has been inquired into his certificate is either returned to him or is permanently withheld.
– The word “ charged “ used in that connexion has altogether too criminal a flavour.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 18 to 21 agreed to.
Clause 22 -
No person shall -
engage as an officer unless he is duly certificated ; or
take into employment as an officer any person who is not duly certificated.
Penalty : One hundred pounds.
– Two separate offences are provided for in this clause, and I wish to know to which of them the penalty of £,100 is applicable.
– To both. The Acts Interpretation Act provides that where a penalty is set out at the foot of a clause it shall apply to the whole clause.
– It is not clearly laid down whether this provision applies exclusively to Australian-trade ships or also to British ships. Clause 8 reads -
The provisions of this Act relating to ships and their owners, masters, and crews, shall, unless the subject-matter requires a different application, apply only to British ships and to their owners, masters, and crews.
The clause which is now under consideration is governed by that provision. I should, therefore, like to know whether this clause is intended to apply to Australiantrade ships only, or also to British ships.
– To both.
– When the Navigation Bill of 1908 was being considered the Board of Trade drew attention to this matter. It pointed out that -
Clause 23, which deals with the employment of uncertificated persons as officers, is more stringent than the corresponding provisions of the Imperial Acts, and it is suggested that it should be applied only to ships registered in Australia and ships engaged in the coasting trade.
That clause, I may mention, corresponds with clause 22 of the Bill which we are now discussing. To that communication the Department of Trade and Customs replied -
The limitation of the operation of this clause would, it is submitted, bc manifestly inequitable. For example, “ A “ (an Australian shipowner) could register his ship in New Zealand (a very easy and inexpensive proceeding), and so escape the requirements of our Acts, while “ B,” who retained his ship on an Australian register, would be subject thereto. To allow one ship to go to China, load there, and come back to Australia with her cargo and passengers, having an uncertificated officer, and to require an Australian ship doing exactly the same thing to have a certificated officer, would be a distinction which could hardly be defended.
I submit that that memorandum does not meet the position. What the Board Of Trade really desired was that we should treat British ships holding Board of Trade certificates, during the time that they are trading along our coast, as that body itself would treat them. In effect, it said, “ As we think that our ships comply with all our requirements, surely you will do the same.” We must recollect that the Board of Trade has just as much regard for
British ships as we have for our own vessels. When, therefore, they reach our coast, we ought to assume that, from the stand-point of their seaworthiness, they are fully equipped. But under this clause we could stop a British vessel which had uncertificated officers on board while she was on her way, say, from Adelaide to Melbourne. In other words, while she was trading along our coast we could practically wipe out the Board of Trade certificates, and say, “ You shall man your ships according to the conditions which we lay down.” That is what the Imperial authorities apprehended. 1 notice in a marginal note the reply of the Government to the statement of the Board of Trade which I have already quoted. That reply reads -
The suggestion has apparently not been adopted, as the clause in the present Bill is in substance the same as that contained in the 1907 Bill.
The Ministry also remind lis that -
In a cablegram sent on 28th October, 1908, the Deakin Government said that they were prepared to recommend Parliament to modify the clause in a manner which it was thought would meet the views of the British Government.
I believe that the clause under consideration is identical with clause 23 of the Bill of 1908, to which exception was taken by the Board of Trade. At the Imperial Conference, when a clause of this nature was under consideration, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Lloyd George, in effect, said to Australia, “ You have control over your own shipping, and, to a large extent, over British and foreign shipping, while it is engaged upon your coast. All we ask is that you shall not place our shipping upon a worse footing than you place foreign shipping.”
– We place it on a better footing.
– The Imperial authorities do not think so.
– They place their own shipping in a worse position than foreign shipping.
– I know that an Act was passed in 1 906 in which ‘the British Government materially improved the conditions of the British seaman.
– And sanctioned the deeper loading of vessels.
– Ever since 1.894 the British Government have consistently improved the conditions of the employment of British seamen. They have established a standard which is quite equal to our own. They contend that under this clause disabilities are unfairly imposed upon them. It is only fair to (he present Government to say that their predecessors also refused to accede to the representations of the Board of Trade.
– The honorable senator ought to know that in this Bill we propose to give British ships a preference which Australian ships are not given on the coast of Great Britain under the Merchant Shipping Act. Oar ships, under the Merchant Shipping Act, are placed on the same footing as ships of foreign countries.
– That may be so. My point is that the Board of Trade and the Parliamentary Shipping Committee, that sat to consider the Bill of 1907, did not hold the view which the honorable senator holds.
– They could not possibly deny that we give in this Bill a preference to British ships on our coast which they deny to our ships on the coast of Great Britain.
– The question 5.5 not whether the reciprocal advantages are equal. The question which concerned them, and which must concern us to a great extent, is whether under this clause, and its administration, we shall not be imposing an unfair disability on British shipping. Under this clause, a British ship trading from port to port on the Australian coast might be prevented from going to sea by reason of the fact that she had not on board the number of certificated officers required by our legislation. We know that for a reason, arising from circumstances of which we are all aware, the Government propose, if they can do so constitutionally, to give at least one, or it may be two, ports of the Commonwealth an advantage, under this Bill. If a British ship, leaving Albany, is not, in the opinion of our Department, officered up to the standard required under the Bill, she may be detained.
– The honorable senator is dealing with another clause now.
– If that be so, I shall not detain the Committee fur.ther, but I should like to ask the Minister if he can give the Committee some further explanation than that he has given in the marginal note to which I have referred, as to why the Government do not propose to accede to the request of the Board of
Trade and the Parliamentary Shipping Committee that considered the Bill of 1907.
– This clause applies to British ships, but it does not apply to foreign ships. Surely it will not be contended that it is imposing an unfair disability upon the owners of British ships to say that they shall not have on board officers who are not duly certificated or employ men who are not duly certificated.
– But British ships would not be bound to comply with the provisions of this clause under the Merchant Shipping Act.
– We recognise the Board of Trade certificates in this Bill, and all that we say is that a ship shall carry so many certificated officers. This clause provides that a ship shall not have on board as an officer a man who is not duly certificated, or a man who is not certificated.
– We are not compelling them to engage any complement of officers.
– Not by this clause. I fail to see how it can be said that we place British ships in unfair competition with foreign ships. A foreign ship cannot take part in our coasting trade under this Bill. In order to” do so, the foreign ship-owner must register in Australia, and if he does so his ship becomes an Australian ship, liable to all the provisions of this measure. The only competition between the foreign and the British ship is a competition over which we have no control. We cannot control a foreign ship coming from a foreign country to Australia and taking goods from Australia to that foreign country. Surely we are not to be told by Great Britain that, because we cannot control that trading, we must not control the operations of our own trade and ships of our own Empire 7 . I ask the Committee to consider what would happen if we were to give way and accept the Board of Trade’s suggestion. The owner of a British ship would need only to register his ship in New Zealand, and he might then evade these provisions altogether. We would apply these provisions to foreign ships if we could, and when we apply them to our own ships we ought, in common fairness, to apply them also to British ships.. The competition referred to could only arise in the case of foreign-going trade, and not in the case of Australian trade. It may be unfair as between the foreign and British ship-owners, but it is a matter over which we have no control, and to attempt to remedy it by exempting the British ship, while making the Australian owner subject to these provisions, would place the British ship-owner in a better position as compared to his foreign competitor, but would place the Australian owner in a very unfair position as compared to both.
– It is all a question of the manning scale.
-It is the introduction of the manning scale which it is complained gives rise to the unfair competition. To exempt British ships from these provisions would be unfair to Australian shipowners who desire to take part in the foreign trade.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales). [6.9].- Under this Bill we propose that a ship, according to her tonnage, shall carry a certain number of certificated officers. Under the Merchant Shipping Act a foreign-going ship carrying more than one mate must have a master and first and second mates duly certificated; but she may have two or three other mates who are not certificated.
– As a matter of fact, all the officers are certificated men.
– I am quoting from . the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, under which a ship engaged in the foreigngoing trade may have four or five mates if she carries a certificated master and first and second mate. The difficulty is that under this Bill such a ship would be unable, out here, to replace any of the extra mates except by a certificated officer. Under this measure, such a ship, employing a mate who is not duly certificated, would be liable to£100 penalty, and a man who is not duly certificated engaging as an officer would be liable to a similar penalty. If the Minister could discover some way in which to overcome that difficulty it would materially smooth the way to assent being given to the Bill. We must bear in mind that this Bill must have the sanction of the Imperial authorities before it becomes law.
– I direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that, clause 8 provides that this part of the Bill shall apply only to British ships and to their masters and owners, whilst clause 22 applies to any Australian ship.
– Australian ships are always referred to in the Bill as ships registered in Australia, and they are also British ships.
– Clause 8 seems to contemplate a distinction between British and Australian ships. If that be so, and clause 22 is to apply only to British ships, serious complications might arise.
– The honorable senator is aware that it cannot be applied to foreign ships.
– I am aware of that ; and, to some extent, that bears out the contention of the Board of Trade that, by reason of the fact that we cannot apply the provisions to foreign ships, we are treating British ships somewhat unfairly in applying it to them.
– Does the honorable senator contend that we should exempt British ships and penalize ships registered in Australia?
– What would happen under clause 22 would be this : It could not be applied to foreign ships; but we impose a certain manning scale which would be applied to a British ship, trading on the coast of Australia.
– The coasting trade is dealt with in other provisions. This provision would apply to a British ship engaged in the foreign-going trade ; and we saythat such a ship, equally with an Australian registered ship engaged in the same trade, should not carry an officer who is not duly certificated.
– Why can we say that that should apply to a British ship, and not to a foreign ship?
– Because we have the power to deal with British ships.
– Is it not because we are relying on the tolerance of the Mother Country ?
– Take the case of a British ship leaving London for Australia, and calling at Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney ; and assuming, for the sake of argument, that, after leaving Australia, she proposes to go to New York. She is trading on our coast-
– That would not be trading on our coast, unless she took in passengers or cargo at one port in Australia, to be transferred to another port in Australia.
– If she is registered in Australia, she can only take part in the coasting trade.
– The position is now quite clear to me, possibly with an exception which is mentioned in a later clause. I shall not press the point further. I understand now more than I did when I rose. All that we on this side can do is to point out possible dangers, and to hope that, as compared with foreign vessels, British ships will not be unduly handicapped.
.- I ask the Minister to seriously consider if the point is worth testing. Is it worth while to risk a rupture with the Imperial authorities, and perhaps to delay ‘ the giving of the Royal assent to the Bill over a matter which might never arise?
– It was threshed out at the Navigation Conference.
– No doubt it was; but our representatives did not get the Imperial authorities to agree with them.
– They agreed to differ.
– Probably they will continue to differ. If they thought that the matter was of sufficient importance that they could not come to an agreement then, and they still disagree, is it likely that they will come to an agreement later? I advise the Minister not to run the risk of delaying the giving of the Royal assent to the measure by adhering to a provision which does not seem to be of very great importance.
– It ought to be emphasized that, according to the Minister’s admission, what we are doing is to impose upon the tolerance and good nature of the Mother Country. He has said, not once, but twice, that the reason why the Government do not propose to apply this and similar clauses to foreign vessels is that we have not the power to do so. We have the power to pass the legislation, just as we have the power to legislate against British ships; but the Government know that, if we did that, complications would arise, which would mean that, willingly or unwillingly, we should have to rescind that portion of our legislation. We have no greater power to legislate against Great Britain than we have to legislate against France or Germany. Why, then, do the Government seek to legislate against British ships when they dare not do so against foreign vessels ? The answer is clear. The Government know that, whilst foreign countries would not put up with such legislation at our hands, they can rely upon the good nature and tolerance of the Mother Country not to object.
– It would not be legal. It could not be enforced in the Courts.
– It could not be enforced in the court of last resort.
– We have no jurisdiction over foreign vessels.
– We could enact that no foreign vessel should enter or leave a port unless she complied with our conditions ; but the Minister knows that we could not punish any foreign vessel which disregarded our law ; and so the Government prefer to play a discreet part. So far as foreign vessels are concerned, they art a civil part right through.
– Does nol the honorable senator want to be discreet?
– I do not want to deceive myself; but to make quite clear what is being done. The Government are not game to impose upon foreign vessels the restrictions which they impose upon British vessels, knowing that, in the interests of the Empire, the Imperial authorities will tolerate what we do. That is the position which is brought to the front by this clause.
– I do not think that there was any need for Senator Millen to enlarge upon the magnanimity of the Mother Country in this matter; because, at the Navigation Conference which was held a few years ago, and at which Australia and New Zealand, as well as the Old Country, were represented, the following resolution as to manning was unanimously arrived at -
No ship shall be deemed seaworthy unless she is in a fit state as to number anc! qualifications of crew, including officers, to encounter the ordinary perils of the voyage then entered upon.
That resolution was intended for incorporation in our law. So that it was mere moonshine for the honorable senator to talk about the tolerance of the Mother Country.
– I am amazed to hear that this clause puts a handicap on British ships, as compared with foreign ships.
– Oh, that yarn is played out.
– I am surprised at the honorable senator.
– The Minister has admitted it.
– The honorable senator’s sense - indeed, more than his sense - is played out. What does he expect from any foreign country? Does he expect protection? He will not get it if he does. I would commend him honestly and zealously to rely upon Great Britain, who has been a good mother to us. I trust that the Minister will see his way to make some alteration in the clause if it handicaps the Mother Country.
– I do not desire to delay the passage of the Bill, but to let the country know that it is intended, and that the Government admit that it is intended, that, as regards our export trade, British ships shall be handicapped as compared with foreign ships, and that Australian’ vessels shall have a preference in our coasting trade.
– I wish to point out to Senator St. Ledger that, in certain circumstances, we should handicap our own ships if we did not enact this provision. Suppose that a fleet of British ships started to run between the Commonwealth and New Zealand. Although their manning might be superior to that of a foreign ship, still it would not be up to our standard, and, in the absence of this provision, a preference would be given to those British ships as against our own ships.
– Suppose that a line of foreign ships started to run between the Commonwealth and New Zealand, how should we stand then?
– We should have to take other means to prevent that.
– You would not take any means at all.
– There are other means which could be adopted, and other means have been adopted.
– Why do you not take them?
– We shall do so by-and-by.
– I desire to know if the Minister is prepared to tell the Committee the “ other means “ which, according to Senator Guthrie, can be taken in dealing with foreign vessels ?
– He referred to the measure which was introduced last year by the late Government.
– I know of no measure which was introduced last year to take other means than those which were covered by the Navigation Bill. Senator Guthrie has sprung upon us the intimation that it is proposed to take some “other means” of dealing with foreign vessels.
– I said that other means could be taken.
– The honorable senator went a little further, and said, “ We will take the means.” I think that, in fairness, the Commonwealth ought to be told what other legislation he contemplates for the suppression of the wicked foreigner.
– I suppose that he intends to sink the ships.
– I do not know whether Senator Guthrie will sit quietly under an accusation of that kind.
– Make the water hot for them.
– If there is anything in the statement of the honorable senator, who apparently is familiar with this Bill, the Committee ought to know what is intended to be done before this measure passes. It is rather” desirable to ascertain what it means. As the Bill stands, it is admitted, on all hands, that it places a disability on British and Australian ships as compared with foreign ships. Does anybody want to do that? Will any one here say that if a preference is to he given, he would prefer to give it to foreign vessels?
– Certainly not.
– Will a German mail steamer be in a better position than an English mail steamer?
– Under this measure, any foreign vessel trading to Australia will be in a better, position than a British ship. What the Government seek to do is to bring British ships to the level of Australian ships, but to leave foreign ships free from the obligations which the Bill imposes upon British and Australian ships.
– Foreign ships run under their own law, and we cannot say what it is. Take, for instance, the question of officers.
– Let us apply that argument to British ships.
– We know what their law is.
– The honorable senator’s argument is that the laws of a foreign country may impose greater obligations on its ships than our Navigation Bill can do. Let us apply the same rule to Great Bri- tain, and say that British vessels are under the British law. At some time or other the British Parliament may place greater obligations upon them. Why not leave them outside the scope of the Bill?
– The honorable senator is not prepared to do that, but by assenting to this clause he affirms that, because we as a nation are not in a position to do what we like, we allow foreign vessels to remain outside our legislation, but, relying upon the good will and toleration of the Mother Country, we impose handicaps on British ships.
– If we exempted British ships, all Australian vessels would be registered in London.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to8p.m.
– I should like to know whether this clause would interfere with uncertificated officers who come ouf in a British ship, or whether it applies simply to the engagement of officers in this country? As I read the clause, it is possible that under it all officers on board a British ship might be required to be certificated, although the ship might have been brought out. with some uncertificated officers on board.
– Did the honorable senator ever know a ship to come out with uncertificated officers ?
– It appears that a ship might come out with uncertificated officers on board. I want to know how the clause will operate.
– If Senator McColl looks closely into the clause he will find that it would not apply as he imagines. It would only apply to the engagement of officers in Australia.
– I notice that a cablegram was sent on the 22 nd October, 1908, in which the Deakin Government said that they were prepared to amend the Bill so as to meet the views of the Board of Trade.
– It the honorable senator will read the despatch a little further he will find that the opposition of the Board of Trade weakened almost to vanishing point. The correspondence indicates that there will be no serious objection to this proposal from the Board ot Trade.
– It is pleasant to know that the opposition of the Board of Trade has weakened almost to vanishing point, but the Government are now faced with another opposition, which is endeavouring to ascertain the true purport of this proposed legislation. The Minister has stated that the clause would not apply to British ships having on board uncertificated officers. But to my mind it would apply. The clause says that no person shall take into his employment as an officer any person who is not duly certificated. When a British ship enters our waters she is under our jurisdiction.
– The clause does not affect those who are already in employment. It relates to those who enter employment.
– It is impossible to proceed against a man ‘intil an offence is committed, . lt is after an offence has been committed that the prosecution is initiated. If a vessel entered our waters, and a person was found on board who was carrying out the duties of an officer, and who had not a certificate, it” would be competent for the Government, under this Bill., to proceed against the ship-owner. If the clause has any meaning we are enacting legislation that will enable a prosecution to be instituted against a. ship-owner if his ship er-ters our waters having on board a person acting as an officer who is not certificated.
– The Leader of the Opposition is endeavouring to make a great deal out ofvery little. In the first place, there is . a very small probability of any British ship coming to Australia with uncertificated officers on board. Why raise a bogy that is never likely to materialize? But even if such a case should arise, I am informed on the best authority that this Bill would not apply. If, however, officers were engaged in Australia the penalties imposed under our law might be inflicted if a person were engaged as an officer who was not certificated.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.6].- Under the Merchant Shipping Act it is not necessary that all officers should be ceilificaf-ed. It is only necessary that a certain proportion of them should be. A British ship might come out to Australia having officers, some of whom were certi-nea ted, while others were not. The ques-lion raised by Senator McColl is whether the continuance of the uncertificated officers on board that ship would be regarded as an offence, although the ship was fully manned as required by the Merchant Shipping Act. The point is important.
– A vessel would not be permitted to leave the United Kingdom if her officers were uncertificated.
– A vessel would be allowed to leave the United Kingdom if she had the proper number of certificated officers’ on board. There might be four mates and a master on a ship. Two of the mates might be uncertificated. Under our law, that ship could not go to sea, although a master and two certificated mates might be all that she was required to carry under the Merchant Shipping Act. We are’ here making a difference between ships registered in Australia and those registered in Great Britain. Suppose that the two uncertificated mates were to leave the vessel at an Australian port, or were to be discharged. It might be necessary to engage two others. Then, although the vessel, under the Merchant Shipping Act, was not required to have more than two certificated mates, her owners would be liable to a heavy penalty if they engaged two uncertificated officers here. Whatever we may do with our own ships, we should not attempt to increase the requirements of the Merchant Shipping Act in respect, of ships registered in England. It has been pointed out that, in the first place, the Board of Trade protested strongly against this provision, which subsequently was altered to meet the requirements of that authority. Why should we not make the clause inapplicable to foreigngoing ships seeking to engage officers in Australia ?
– Australian foreigngoing ships would be compelled to comply with this measure.
– That cannot be avoided. Australian ships are registered in this country, and have to comply with our laws. But a ship registered in Great Britain should be required only to comply with British law.
– It is right that she should comply with our law if she comes here and engages men or officers at our ports.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. The proper course is to respect the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act as far as British ships are concerned, while they are not engaged in our coastal trade. As a matter of fact, we have no right to exercise jurisdiction over them in the way contemplated. Why put an embargo upon a British ship wishing to engage officers in Australia by making her endure a disadvantage that she would not suffer if she engaged her officers in Great Britain? We might just as well say that if a ship comes from Great Britain with a master and three mates, whilst our law provides that a ship of her tonnage shall carry a master and five mates, we will compel her to engage two additional certificated mates.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council; [8.14]. - It is gratifying to see the great anxiety displayed by honorable senators opposite for the dear old Empire.
– I do not despise the grand old Empire. The honorable senator ought not to sneer at her.
– The volubility of some honorable senators is almost beyond endurance. It has already been stated, on the best of authority, that a vessel coming out to Australia with her proper complement of officers, as required by the Board of Trade, would not be interfered with. But if she loses one or two of her officers and requires to engage others in Australia, the principle applying is this : In the Commonwealth we have no uncertificated officers, to be engaged on British or any other ships. We do not make uncertificated officers. If vessels have to obtain officers here, they must accept Australian officers who are certificated. That is the point. The honorable senator might just as well argue that if a British ship comes to Australia, and in passing round our coast bumps against a rock, which necessitates repairs being effected, those repairs ought not to be made in Port Melbourne, or in Mort’s Dock, Sydney, because they could be made cheaper in Great Britain, where men work longer hours, and for less wages than do our own artisans.
– That is nonsense.
– If British vessels trading to Australia engage officers here, they will have to respect Australian conditions just as they do in the matter of repairs.
.- Since the sitting was suspended I have made inquiries as to what this clause really means, and I find that it is intended to apply to ships coming to Australia with uncertificated officers. The concession proposed by the late Government in 1908 was that they would not interfere with uncertificated officers on board these vessels, but that they would compel them to accept certificated officers if they engaged them here. In the circumstances, would it not be well to make the position perfectly clear?
.- I think that this clause must be considered quite independently of the schedule to the Bill which lays down the manning scale. Senator Gould has said that a vessel leaving England is required to carry a certificated master and two certificated officers. As a matter of fact, most vessels carry more than that number of certificated officers. It is very rarely that a man out of the forecastle is to be found acting as an officer on a ship at sea. But it used to be a regular practice. The man from the forecastle would not do any navigating work, but would perform duties which Would relieve the mates of a portion of their duties. He would not possess a certificate, because the ship would be complying with the law by carrying the number of certificated officers that she was obliged to carry. Exactly the same thing applies here in connexion with the manning scale. The first schedule to the Bill provides that foreign going ships and Australiantrade ships not exceeding 300 tons net register, shall carry a mate holding a first mate’s certificate, and that sailing ships exceeding 300 tons net register, shall carry one first and one second mate, the latter holding a certificate not lower than that of second mate. But if after a vessel is at sea the master chooses to pay a man to do a portion of the work of an officer, he will be at liberty to do so, so long as he is complying with the law.
– Steamers have to carry more.
– That is so. A large ship trading from the Old Country will probably carry about five mates. Most likely she is compelled to carry a certificated master and three certificated officers. But probably four out of the five officers which she carries will hold masters’ certificates. So that even if one or two of these officers were to die on the voyage, she would still be complying with the law, and, if necessary, a man could be procured from the forecastle to do a portion of the work of one of the mates.
– Then the honorable senator’s contention is that clause 22 will be inoperative.
– The large vessels trading with Australia from England usually carry more officers than they are required by law to carry. Almost any man upon them could act in the capacity of third and fourth mate if it were necessary for him to do so.
– The assertion has been made that under Imperial law no ship is required to carry more than two certificated officers. That is a myth, because the ships trading to Australia are chiefly governed by Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act. These vessels are not manned in accordance with their tonnage. Under Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act a vessel of 600 nominal horse power is obliged to carry seven engineers, or six engineers and a boilermaker. She is also required to carry a fireman for every 18 square feet of firegrate surface in her boilers. The vessels of the Orient Company and the White Star Company are chiefly governed by the provisions of the Passenger Act. Here are the latest instructions to emigration officers in regard to manning. They read -
The accompanying amended scale of deck hands for emigrant steam-ships will come into operation on 1st June next in lieu of that contained in clause 84 of the “ Memorandum on Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894.” Emigration officers are requested to make the amended scale known as soon and as widely as possible among the owners and masters of emigrant ships in their districts. ‘
They further say -
Section 305 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 requires generally that emigrant ships shall be manned with “ an efficient crew,” but it docs not prescribe any ratio of men to tonnage.
The emigration officer will, of course, understand that there is no statutory power enabling him to interfere with the manning of “ short ships “ unless they are so undermanned as to be “ unsafe “ under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act 1897. As regards ‘steamships, the following scale has been prepared of the basis of the minimum cubic contents of the boats and rafts which are required to be carried by such vessels under the provisions of the rules relating to life-saving appliances. In the case of vessels having such a number of passengers as to necessitate the carrying of the maximum cubic capacity of boats and rafts required under division (a), class 1, of the rules according to the gross tonnage, the scale will show at a glance the number of deck hands to be carried. In the case of vessels carrying only a limited number of passengers, and being entitled to a reduced boat capacity, sufficient only for the number of persons carried on that particular voyage, allowing ten cubic feet for each statute adult, the number of deck hands shall bc ascertained by the following method : -
Add to the number of passengers to be carried the total number of crew, calculating the deckhands at a minimum of twenty-five men. Then allow ten cubic feet of boat capacity for each statute adult and apply the scale accordingly.
Thus, if the number of passengers to be carried be three hundred, and the total crew, including twenty-five deck-hands, be ninety, this will give a total of three hundred and ninety, which, allowing ten cubic feet for each statute adult, gives 3,900 cubic feet of boat capacity. The number of deck-hands due to 3,900 cubic feet in the scale is twenty-eight, the minimum number to be carried. The following, and no others, shall be counted as efficient deck-hands, viz., the master and four mates; all others to be bond fide A.B.’s, except that of the total number of deck-hands carried, one in five may be an O.S., and, if boys be carried, two boys may be taken in place of each O.S. so allowed. Any additional mates, the boatswain, quartermasters, and other petty officers who have served or are fit to serve, in the capacity of A.B., may also be counted as such.
Then the scale of manning for steam-ships provides that a vessel of under 2,500 cubic feet of boat capacity shall carry twentyfour deck hands, including the master, mates, and petty officers, and that a vessel of 9,300 cubic feet of boat capacity but of less than 9,700 cubic feet - which would be equivalent to a vessel of about 10,000 tons - shall carry forty-eight deck hands, including master, mates, and petty officers. The instructions continue -
In applying this scale the emigration officer is to bear in mind that the number of hands proposed therein must be insisted 011 in the case of all new ships, and as far as possible in ail other cases.
Honorable senators will note how elastic the provision is. It continues -
But if any particular ship has been prcvio.usly allowed by the Board of Trade 10 clear with a less number of deck-hands than that shown by the scale, he may, for the present, take that less number as the minimum foi- that ship.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Those provisions apply to ships carrying third class passengers, but not necessarily to any other ships.
– That is so; but, with the exception of the ships of the Peninsula and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, most of the ships bringing passengers to Australia carry third class passengers.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Will the honorable senator say that these ships must have four mates duly certificated ?
– I will not swear to it, because I do not know. The regulations are silent on the point. They do not say how many mates must be certificated, but we can, I think, fairly assume that the emigration officers would insist that all the officers on these vessels should hold certificates. In case of fire, a leak, or the breaking down of the engines, it may be necessary that the boats should be manned, and the reason why such a number of officers are required for these ships is that each boat must be in the charge of a person able to navigate it. That is why the boat capacity is taken as the basis of the manning scale for these vessels. We are only following the example of the Board of Trade in this matter in making provision for additional officers. I am aware that the old “ tramp “ may, and does, come to Australia with only two mates. But, is that something to be desired ? Is it in the interests of the safety of the ship and crew that two men should have the responsibility of keeping watch and navigating a ship twelve hours on and twelve hours off in every twenty-four hours? We are all agreed here that no man should be asked to work more than eight hours a’ day, and the least we can ask is that a ship shall carry three navigating officers as well as a master. That is in accordance with a principle laid down in Australia for years, not only as affecting the officers on deck, but the engineers also. So far, the only men in the Australian shipping trade who have not received the benefit of the eighthours day are the sailors, and they are getting nearer to it every year. No shipowner who has any respect for his property or the men who work for him will ask navigating officers to keep watch at sea four hours on and four hours off day after day, in addition to the work which they have to do when the vessel is in port.
– The honorable senator refers to boats engaged in the costal trade?
– No. An Orient boat may be coming into the outer harbor at Adelaide, and an hour before she arrives all hands are called and kept on deck until she leaves the port again. The same thing may happen when she arrives in Melbourne. Men and officers who have been working and keeping watch during the night before the arrival of the vessel in port are called upon to work throughout the following day, and the officers may have to take their watch again the following night. It is true that the Merchant Shipping Act makes provision for only two certificated officers in addition to a master, but under the provisions which I have quoted, the Board of Trade require a vessel carrying third class passengers to carry many more officers than she would be required to carry under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.35].- Senator Guthrie has referred to the provisions enforced on ships carrying third class passengers, but those provisions are given effect by virtue of the powers given to the emigration officer, whose duty it is to see that a ship leaving the Old Country with passengers shall be sufficiently manned and properly equipped before she gets her clearance. While I am in entire sympathy with* much that the honorable senator has said, I cannot overlook the fact that we are not legislating in the Parliament of Great Britain for the British mercantile marine, but in Australia for our own mercantile marine. It is perfectly true that passenger ships carrying third class passengers have to comply with provisions which do not apply in the case of all British ships under the Merchant Shipping Act, but, in this Bill, we deal with all classes of ships. I take the case to which Senator Turley referred, of the practice of taking a man from the forecastle to perform the duties of third or fourth mate.
– That was in the days long ago.
– It can be done to-day
– If such a vessel comes into an Australian port with four mates, and requires an additional officer, or to substitute an. officer for one of those she has, although she would be efficiently manned, according to the Merchant Shipping Act, with a master and two certificated mates, any officer put on board here would, under this clause, have to be certificated. I say that we are attempting here to deal with British ships in a way we are not entitled to do.
– A man taken on here need not be signed on the articles as an officer at all.
– The honorable senator means to say that an officer taken on here might not be put on the articles as such, in order to avoid the possibility of a prosecution under this Bill. I do not. believe that the Board of Trade would have made any stand against this proposal, if they had not considered that it would operate injuriously to British ships.
– They have not made a very strong stand against it.
– I am not so sure of that. They protested against it, and did not give way. We promised an amendment which would meet their objection, but no such amendment has been proposed. If we intend to deal with the matter fairly, we shall carry a provision which will not operate to the detriment of ships registered in Great Britain and trading here. A ship may come from Great Britain to Australia on a round voyage to China and back to Great Britain. She may lose one or two of her officers, and may require to engage others here. Why should we demand that she should engage certificated men because she happened to be in Australian waters when she required their services, when, if she had been in Great Britain when she required extra officers, it would not be necessary that they should be certificated ?
– She would not have to put on a certificated officer here above her manning scale.
– She would if she were a ship’ that required to have a master and three officers under our manning scale.
– If she lost a certificated man, she would be anxious to replace him with a certificated man.
.- That may be so; but I hold that we have no right to interfere with a ship registered in Great Britain, so long as she complies with the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act.
– A good deal of light has been thrown on the clause, and I confess that it seems to me to somewhat clear up the. difficulty. The confusion has arisen out of clause 8, which applies the provisions of this part to ‘‘British ships only. It is no wonder that when British ship-owners saw that clause, and turned to clause 22, they said, “If that is so, the Australian Act is going to control our officers ‘ ‘ ; but further consideration will show that in clause 22 we are dealing with only our own officers. Therefore, in 99 per cent, of the cases of
British ships which come to the Commonwealth and depart, the provision cannot apply. For all practical purposes it will apply to Australian registered ships. Suppose that a British ship comes out here with a complement of officers which is more than up to the Board of Trade regulation, and suppose that some of the officers are disabled or get away from the ship, and that she requires a complement of officers to leave Australia on the return voyage. No doubt the men will be engaged, but they will not be engaged as officers within the meaning of this measure. That is, I think, the probable construction and application of the clause. If that is the position, it will come very nearly within the. remark applied by Senator Millen, that it will be’ almost inoperative. After the explanation which has been given I think that that remark is very nearly correct. But it should be remembered that it is always the unexpected case which crops up and causes trouble.
– If they are engaged as officers they must go on the articles.
– That I understand. It is quite possible that that is the reason why the Board of Trade and shipowners in Great Britain ceased their resistance to the clause. I quite agree now that most of the trouble is probably eliminated, but there may be, and no doubt will be, some trouble if we have stupid administration.
– Since the resumption of the- sitting the discussion has turned on the position of British ships. Suppose that a French or German boat with passengers calls at Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney, will the same law apply to her?
– Not unless she is carrying passengers from port to port in Australia.
– She can come here without any officers at all.
– But suppose that she drops some passengers at Fremantle and takes up others there.
– She cannot take up any passengers at that port. She can only carry passengers on a through journey from her first port of clearance.
– Can she call at these ports and leave without a sufficient number of officers?
– Why is that distinction made? From time to time we have mail-boats coming here from Continental countries. Why are they to be permitted to trade to Australia at a less cost than British ships?
– Because they are engaged in the foreign trade.
– If we have power to enact that if a foreign ship engages an officer in an Australian port he shall be a certificated officer, I see no objection to a provision of that kind. But if we cannot do that, I very much doubt whether we can make a special provision for British ships any more than we can for foreign ships. I do not think that we have power to legislate with regard to the former if we cannot deal with the latter.
– In the case of a foreign vessel the shipping of officers and men is done through the Consul, but in the case of a British ship it is done at the Shipping Office.
– The honorable senator admits that in spite of us these ships can come here undermanned and trade with Australia ?
– Yes, but we ought not to do any trade with them.
– And they can leave our ports undermanned with passengers.
– No, I question whether they can. If they are not seaworthy they can be stopped.
– I think that the only thing we can do if a ship is not seaworthy is to stop her from leaving port.
– I believe that if a ship is undermanned we can stop her.
– When I put that question 4.0 the Vice-President of the Executive Council he said exactly the contrary. If we cannot 3o that I wish to know from the Minister in charge of the Bill where our power to make laws for British shipping comes in.
– Under the Constitution.
– The Constitution does not give us any such power except whilst they are in our waters. When this question was discussed on a previous occasion it was admitted that we had not the power to control British shipping, but honorable senators now appear to’ think that we can. Whether they are afraid to deal with foreign ships, or they think that Great Britain will overlook our faults, as those of naughty children, I do not know. But such a provision appears very invidious to me, as I think it will do to a great many persons. Ever since we re-assembled after dinner the phrase “ British ships “ has been used, and it seems that we are to have a law specially directed against them, but not against ships from any other country. That is, I think, a very invidious position to take up. The British Parliament is quite competent to deal with British shipping. If an attempt were made in the Old Country to interfere with our manning scale, to say that it was not sufficient from the British point of view, and to penalize an Australian ship on that ground, we should be the very first to raise a storm, and justly so, too. I cannot understand why the Government adhere to this clause,, and specially mention British ships. I hope that they will consent to waive the point and leave the Parliament of Great Britain to decide what is sufficient manning for British ships, without any interference on cur part. If we cannot compel foreign ships to comply with our law, surely we cannot compel British ships to do so.I listened to this discussion until I began to think that this Parliament had a specific idea of legislating against British ships; in fact, of helping to throw the trade of Australia into the hands of foreign competitors. That is not fair or right, and, therefore, I hope that the Minister will reconsider the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 23 -
No person shall engage or go to sea as an officer, in any ship registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade, who is not -
a British subject; and
thoroughly conversant with the English language.
.–I ask the Minister to consider whether “thoroughly conversant” is not a term which might have a very wide application.
A man would need to be a university graduate to be “thoroughly conversant” with the English language. Is it not sufficient to require that a man shall be able to speak the English language intelligently?
– This clause applies only to a ship registered in Australia.
– “ Thoroughly conversant “ is a pretty strong term to use, and a man who possessed a pretty fair knowledge of the English language might be unable to pass a test. For instance, he might fail to define the parts of speech. I suggest to the Minister that the term should be modified.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 24 agreed to.
Clause 25 -
This Division shall apply to all ships, British and foreign.
– - This provision was not contained in the previous Bill, and I should like to know why it is framed in such explicit terms.
– So that crimping shall not be carried on in connexion with the manning of any ship.
– It will be remembered that on previous occasions there have been earnest discussions here with respect to crimping. We do not want any crimping to be carried on in ‘connexion with any ships, whether Australian, or British, or foreign. That is why this provision is made. It is applicable to all ships, no matter where they come from, and I think that it oughtto be agreed to.
– So far as crimping is concerned, very little fault can be found with Australian ships. It has been principally confined to foreign ships.
– To foreign and British ships.
– Yes. There has been very little, if any, crimping done in connexion with Australian shipping.
– There is none.
– I have not heard of any. The necessity for applying this division of the Bill to foreign and British ships must be very apparent when we recall the notorious state of affairs which obtained at Newcastle. The Navigation Commission discovered there what very few persons would imagine could be permitted to exist. The extent of this evil was very fully debated on a previous occasion, and I feel sure that every honorable senator thought that stringent steps should be taken to put it clown. It had become a scandal which, I think, no one could justify, and if it is to be put down we must have an effective law.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.0].- I can indorse a good deal of what Senator de Largie has said in regard to crimping.
We are all prepared to use our utmost endeavours to discourage such a deplorable state of affairs as existed in some of our ports some years ago. I notice that under the Merchant Shipping Act, provision is made for a person to be entitled to supply seamen under licence from the Board of Trade. Why is it considered desirable to make the clause so restrictive? Would it not be possible to extend it so as to take power to grant licences to selected persons to supply seamen?
– That matter arises rather under clause 26.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 26 -
Penalty : Fifty pounds or three months’ imprisonment.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.2].- I again direct attention to the fact that under the Merchant Shipping Act, licences may be granted to persons to supply seamen to ships. Why has it been considered undesirable to do the same under this Bill? It ought not to be made more restrictive than is absolutely necessary to prevent crimping.
– The clause under consideration, which is specific and clear enough, provides that “ no person other than a superintendent,” apart from the owner, master, mate, or engineer, shall engage or supply a seaman; whilst the next clause provides that a seamen’s inspector may supply seamen. The one clause says that a certain thing shall be done, and the other says that it shall not be done, and that if it is done, a penalty of £50 shall be imposed, or - what is very much better, seeing that a Government officer is concerned - three months’ imprisonment. I should like to know how the Minister reconciles two clauses, one of which says that a thing shall be done, whilst the other says that it shall not?
– Senator Gould wishes to know why it is not proposed to permit authorized persons to supply seamen to ships. Great evils have arisen in the past under the licensing system, and we do not think it desirable that any person except a Government officer should be charged with the responsibility of supplying seamen. With regard to the appointment of a seamen’s inspector, Senator Millen will find that such officers are to be appointed in certain places for the convenience of shipmasters and seamen. The inspectors will be under the control of the superintendents.
– The question is that one clause says that the seamen’s inspector may engage seamen, whilst tne other clause says that he shall not.
– No person is to be permitted to engage seamen unless he has been appointed . for tne purpose. If honorable senators are in earnest about the prevention of crimping, they should have full sympathy with the attempts being made to put an end to it.
– - I might resent the appeal that has been made by Senator McGregor to the natural inclination of honorable senators to do nothing to encourage crimping. No one would be stronger than I, who have some knowledge of what has taken place at Newcastle, in putting a stop to such objectionable practices. But that is not the point. We are now dealing with officers who are to be permitted to engage seamen for ships. 1 again point out that one clause provides that a certain officer only shall have authority to engage seamen, whilst the next clause says that other persons shall have that authority. In clause 26 there is an absolute prohibition against any one other than a superintendent or the owner, master, mate, or engineer of a ship engaging seamen, but the next clause provides that some one else may engage them. There is a flat contradiction. Here, again, I point out that this Bill manifests the weakness of its paste and scissors construction. Its authors have taken one idea from one source, and, being desirous of amplifying that idea, have put another into the borrowed clause without making any attempt to regard the proposal as a whole.
– The idea simply is that a superintendent may engage seamen by deputy.
– When, under an Act of Parliament, you give a special direction to a person that he is the only person who shall do a certain thing, no one else has the legal right to do that thing without specific authority. I have no desire to destroy the evident intention of the
Bill, but, as there is a contradiction upon the face of it, I move -
That after the word “ person,” line 1, the words “ except as hereinafter provided “ be inserted.
– I do not think that there is any real difficulty about this matter. The clause commences by providing that no person other than a superintendent, apart from the owner, master, mate, or engineer of a ship, shall engage or supply a seaman. In the definition clause “ superintendent “ is defined to mean, first, the superintendent at a mercantile marine office, and, where not otherwise provided, the superintendent for the port where the ship in reference to which he is acting is; and, secondly - a deputy of such superintendent in respect of any acts or duties which such deputy is authorized to perform.
The deputy is generally a Customs officer. Then we come to the seamen’s inspector. What are his duties? They are altogether different from those of a superintendent or a deputy superintendent. Probably there would be a superintendent and seamen’s inspector only in the larger ports. There would be only a deputy in a small place like Cooktown.
– The duties of a deputy superintendent or seamen’s inspector have nothing to do with the argument.
– Except that the deputy superintendent is the person who has to do the work of the superintendent in the outlying ports. The seamen’s inspector is appointed to keep a register of persons who desire to be entered as seamen or apprentices on board vessels, and to supply seamen. He is a sort of registrar. He can be intrusted with this duty, because he is an officer of the Crown.
– But clause 26 says that he shall not supply seamen.
– No, it does not. It simply says that there are certain persons who shall perform this duty; and under a subsequent clause seamen’s inspectors may be appointed who will act for the superintendent in this matter.
– I notice that some honorable members do not desire anything in the form of repetition or of surplus words to appear in this measure. In order to meet their wishes - although I think that the clause in its present form is perfectly clear - I am prepared to move -
That after the word “ superintendent,” line i, the words “a seamen’s inspector” be inserted.
– I do not desire any amendment which emanates from the Vice-President of the Executive Council in the spirit which he has just exhibited to be made in the Bill. If he does not really believe that an amendment effects an improvement in the measure, he has no right to bring it forward.
– It will improve it.
– Then, his proposal has not been made with a view to placating those who entertain a different opinion from himself. Senator Turley has entirely overlooked the fact that clause 26 does not say that a superintendent “ may “ engage or supply a seaman to be entered on board a ship. It says, “ No person other than a superintendent or the owner, master, mate or engineer of a ship, shall engage or supply a seaman.”
– Look at the marginal note.
– The marginal note does not count in an Act of Parliament. This clause does not merely empower the superintendent to engage or supply seamen. It imposes a prohibition upon other persons engaging them.
– Except the persons who are mentioned in the clause.
– The clause might bc- paraphrased to read, “ No other person except the superintendent,, captain, or mate of a vessel, shall engage seamen. If he does so he shall be liable to a penalty of j£5°> or three months’ imprisonment.” I am quite prepared to accept the amendment of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to prevent the Committee from assenting to ridiculous legislation.
– I do not think that Senator Millen has properly studied the clause in referenceto a seamen’s inspector, otherwise he would agree that there is a necessity for the amendment. The provision states that no person other than the superintendent shall engage seamen until the Governor-General has notified by proclamation that a register has been established at any port.
– It does not say that.
– Clause 28 does. lt provides that -
When the Governor-General has notified by proclamation ‘hat a register has been established at a port in pursuance of the last preceding section, the provisions of this section shall, until the Governor-General by proclamation otherwise declares, apply with respect to the engagement anil supply of seamen at that port.
The intention of the draftsman is perfectly clear. He wished to provide that until a proclamation has been issued by the Governor-General for the establishment of a register at a port, nobody but the superintendent shall engage and supply seamen.
– Then the draftsman should have made the clause under consideration read, “ No person except as provided in clause 28, &c.”
– I think that the clause is perfectly clear, and that the adoption of the amendment will serve only to complicate matters.
– Surely Senator Guthrie has overlooked the fact that what it is intended shall be done under clause 28 is absolutely forbidden by clause 26. Even the GovernorGeneral cannot by proclamation annul an Act of Parliament. Either the amendment which has been moved by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, or that which I have put forward, will overcome thedifiiculty. The draftsman has evidently made a slip by failing to reconcile the provisions of clauses 28 and 26. I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments (by Senator McGregor) agreed to.
That after the word “ superintendent,” lines 1 and 8, the words “a seamen’s inspector” be inserted.
– I move -
That the word “ Fifty,” line 10, be left out, with a view to insert the words “ One hundred “ in lieu thereof.
In my opinion, a penalty of£50 or three months’ imprisonment is altogether an inadequate one to inflict upon persons who are convicted of crimping. In New South Wales it has had very little effect. The evidence which the Navigation Commission collected there shows that crimping operations are most profitable. If we wish to put down this practice, we can accomplish our purpose only by inflicting a severe penalty.
– - The position of seamen under this measure will be very different from that which they have hitherto occupied under the different State Acts. Seamen and officers will be so hedged about by provisions in this Bill for their protection, and the protection of the shipping of the country, that offences of this kind are not at all as likely to be committed as they have been under the imperfect Acts that have been in existence up to the present. For this reason, and in view of all the restrictions imposed by this measure, a penalty of £50 under this Bill has been considered as equivalent to a much higher penalty under the State Acts. If the Government thought it necessary they would not hesitate to propose a penalty of , £500 or . £1,000 for this offence.
– We might omit the money penalty, and provide for a penalty of imprisonment only. That would be more effective.
– No doubt it would; but in all the circumstances the Government consider that the penalties proposed in this Bill will be found to be quite sufficient.
– - I find that in the Merchant Shipping Act the penalty provided for this offence is a fine not exceeding £20, and there is no mention of an alternative of imprisonment. It is, therefore, evident that the penalty proposed in this Bill, for the prevention of this offence, is a very drastic one.
– It cannot be too drastic to prevent crimping.
– It is possible to be too drastic. A man named Draco went in for legislation at one time, and killed a place with this kind of thing, as a warning to all the world afterwards, though I should, perhaps, make an exception in the case of some people, who will never learn anything. There is included in this clause a penalty of imprisonment, which should prove a very powerful deterrent. If later, by experience, the penalties here proposed are found to be insufficient to prevent crimping, it will be possible for us to increase them. It is not wise to pass legislation of too drastic a character.
– I am not much concerned whether, for this offence, the penalty proposed is £50or £500,but. I point out to Senator Guthrie that the penalty imposed under this
Bill for an offence of the kind may amount to ^£150. First of all, he will see that under clause 26 there is a penalty of ,£50 for a man who engages seamen in contravention of the law, and there is a penalty of £50 for the other party to the business. Those who engage in the practice of crimping are not philanthropists, and will expect to receive payment for their services, and the honorable senator will see that if they do receive payment they will render themselves liable, under clause 30, to a further penalty of £50. There is, therefore, a double penalty provided for under this Bill for those who engage in the practice of crimping.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has assured us that seamen will be so hedged round by protection under this Bill that offences of this kind are not likely to occur; but I am afraid that they will occur under’ this Bill as they have occurred under the State Acts.
– Does the honorable senator not think that this measure will be more effective in preventing crimping than are the State Acts?
– I believe it will be. In order to make it effective, an inspector may be appointed in some ports; but in other ports it would not pay to appoint an inspector, and the enforcement of the law will depend upon a superintendent. The difficulty is that under this Bill a master is, in certain circumstances, allowed to sign on men on board ship. That is where the trouble will arise. We had a case of the kind in Melbourne not long ago. A ship wanting men was lying outside, and an attempt was made to take men out of a foreign ship lying in the river. In that case, the men were not put on board, and the attempt was not successful. There is a danger that men may be taken out of boarding-houses and taken off in a tug to where a vessel is lying ready to put to sea. There will be no time to take them to the shipping office; blood money will be demanded and paid, and we shall know very little about it. I want to put the fear of the law into people who engage in crimping by providing for a penalty which will make it worth their while to give up this work altogether. They would be able to meet the penalty of £50 with the money received for supplying one crew. I may be told that the men may be proceeded against for receiving the money. But from whom are we to recover the penalty? If the reply is that we may recover from the captain, the answer is that the ship will have cleared out.
– We can proceed against the owners of the ship.
– They may be in England.
– They will have representatives here. We can recover from a ship anywhere.
– That is not so. A foreign ship may leave no agent behind, and, though it might be said that we could recover from her when she came into Australian waters again, she might never come here again. I ask the Minister to provide a stringent penalty for this offence. I should be prepared to strike out the money penalty, and make the penalty six months’ imprisonment. If we are in earnest in our professed desire to put down crimping, we should make the penalty for the offence a very severe one.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 27 agreed to.
Clause 28 (Engagement and supply of seamen at ports where there is a seamen’s inspector).
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [9.36’J. - Consequential amendments are required in this clause, inserting the word “ superintendent “ in two places.
– I think that the Minister must be under some misapprehension. We have provided that seamen shall be engaged only by a seamen’s inspector at certain ports, and superintendents are prevented from engaging seamen at those ports. If the VicePresident of the Executive Council desires that a superintendent at such a port should have the same opportunity to engage seamen as an inspector, I have no objection, but I point out that the amendments he suggests are really not consequential upon what we have already done.
– I am willing to lel the clause go without amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 29 and 30 agreed to.
Clause 31 -
Nothing in this division shall refer to any premium or apprenticeship charged by any shipowner.
– I thi.,k that this clause should be deleted. Honorable senators will agree that it is an absolute farce to charge a premium for permitting a lad to go to sea and serve for four years at a very small remuneration indeed, when he will subsequently be able to earn no more than £3 or £4 a month . We should not countenance the charging of premiums in such cases. It is an old custom, but one which should be abolished. A boy is sent to serve as an apprentice on board a steam-ship, and under this clause the owner is to be permitted to charge a premium for giving him employment.
– No, for teaching him navigation.
– He would not be taught navigation.
– He would on many of the bigger ships.
– This will apply to midshipmen, not to ordinary apprentices.
– The clause states that it will apply to apprentices. It will give a ship-owner the right to charge a premium for every apprentice who goes on board his ship. The custom is a bad one and ought not to be encouraged in any way. I need not thresh the matter out, as honorable senators know as much about apprenticeship as I do, and are aware that apprentices seldom get any value for the premiums they pay for being allowed to go to sea. I leave the matter in the hands of the Committee.
– There are some old customs which, because of the good which may be derived from them, ought not to be unnecessarily set aside. We know that any employer in Melbourne can demand a premium from an apprentice, but would he always get it? Honorable senators must see that the parents or guardians of a lad must believe that some reasonable inducement is held out to them before they will agree to pay a premium for his apprenticeship on board a ship. If a lad desires to go to sea and learn navigation, and a ship-owner or a shipmaster is prepared to take him as an apprentice with a premium, it may be to his interest to pay such a premium. Honorable senators need be under no apprehension that premiums will be charged indiscriminately without any return being made for them. A lad would not pay a premium to go to set in order to learn to be an A.B., because it would not be worth his while. But if a youth were given an opportunity to become a navigator, and rise to be a mate or master of a vessel, it might be a great advantage to him if he were able to secure an education in navigation by the payment of a premium.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 32 agreed to.
Clause 33 -
Before the execution of the indentures, the superintendent shall satisfy himself that the intended apprentice -
freely consents to be bound ;
– I wish to ask the Minister in charge of the Bill if it is quite certain that paragraph a of this clause does not conflict with any law ? It will be seen that the superintendent is required to satisfy himself that an intended apprentice freely consents to be bound.
– He has to do that now.
– Is he required so to do in these exact words?
– No; he has to ask the parents if they consent.
– Suppose that the parents desire to apprentice a boy, and that he is determined not to be bound?
– Then he cannot be bound.
– That applies to all indentures, whether on sea or on land.
– The question of parental authority still exists in this country, although, perhaps, it is more honoured in the breach than the observance. If the Minister is satisfied, through his advisers, that the provision will not come in conflict with any other law, I have no more to say.
– Under this clause, a boy can be indentured either to a ship-owner or to a ship-master, but the lad is liable to be discharged at any time during the term of the indentures. I think that a youth ought to be apprenticed to a ship-owner, because if the latter ceases to have an interest in a vessel he has to provide for the former in some other ship, or to do something else. On the other hand, if the master of a ship is suddenly discharged, the apprentice will be left to the mercy of somebody else.
– No. Any engagement entered into by the master of a ship must be honoured by her owner.
– It would be better to provide that a boy shall be bound to a ship-owner, and not to the master of a ship.
– A ship-owner cannot teach anything to an apprentice.
– In some cases, an owner is the master of a ship.
– Not always.
– Ashore, a boy is not apprenticed- to the foreman or manager of a company, but to the company, who are responsible for teaching him. I ask the Minister to consent to the addition of the words “to a ship-owner, who is a proper person.”
– Sometimes the master of a ship is a part owner.
– If he is a part owner, it is all right.
– Sometimes a conflict arises. If the provision is to be limited, I ask the honorable senator to consider that the limitation will be hard and fast. In this clause, we are dealing with Australian ships, and giving to the superintendent a discretion as to the person to whom a boy shall be- bound.
– He will satisfy himself that a boy is to be bound to a proper person.
– In Australia, we have not many big lines of steamers. We have some owners who are masters of comparatively small steam or sailing ships. It might be quite proper to allow a person of that class to have a lad apprenticed to him if the authorities should think proper. The clause will allow a great deal of liberty to the superintendent; but why should it be limited in the way suggested? I think that it ought to remain as it is.
– It is all right as it is.
– I see that it is of no use to move an amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 34 and 35 agreed to.
Clause 36 -
Where the owner of any ship carrying an apprentice dies, becomes insolvent, or ceases to have any interest in the ship the indentures shall cease, and a proportionate port of the premium paid (if any) shall be repaid, and until repaid shall be a charge upon the ship :
Provided that the name of the person by whom the ship has been acquired may, with the consent of the apprentice and of the- superintendent, be . inserted in the indentures as the master of the apprentice in lieu of the previous owner, in which case the indentures shall continue.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) when a ship is acquired by a person, his name may, with the consent of the apprentice and of the superintendent, be inserted in the indentures in place of the previous owner. I take it that, under tie proviso, the superintendent is to act as the youth’s guardian. But the change of ownership may take place at a port distant from his home, and, therefore, it is desirable that the words “ parent or guardian “ should be inserted after the word “apprentice.” I think that the parent or guardian of an apprentice ought to be afforded an opportunity to say whether he consents to the indentures being continued with . the new owner in lieu of the last owner, - who is cither dead or has turned insolvent. Therefore, I move -
That after the word “ apprentice,” line9, the words “ and parent or guardian “ be inserted.
– This seems to be a very harmless amendment, and one which will appeal to the sympathy of a great many persons. Before a lad can be apprenticed, his consent, and that of his parent or guardian, must be obtained.
– If the boy is apprenticed to McGregor, will his parent or guardian be willing to allow him togo with Guthrie?
– The boy may be quite willing to continue his apprenticeship with the new owner. He has taken an interest in seafaring. He may see that there is a future before him; but in the meantime his parent or guardian may have changed his mind, and wish the boy to be employed nearer home at something else, and against his wishes. If the amendment is made, a boy can be prevented from continuing in a profession to which he has taken earnestly. I think that whenever a parent or guardian has given his consent to a boy being apprenticed to the sea,’ and the boy has displayed an interest in his work, the apprentice and ‘ the superintendent should be the only parties whose consent should be really necessary for his continuance in the profession under the new owner.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - But the new owner might be regarded as very objectionable by the parents.
– But he might be all right so tar as the other parties were concerned.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - In the New Zealand Act, the consent of- the parent or guardian is required to be obtained.
.. - At first sight it almost seemed that the amendment might reasonably be accepted, but the clause may have been designed with a specific object. Perhaps it is considered that a transfer may take place at the other side of the globe, far away from a boy’s home, and therefore it is provided that for the time being the superintendent shall stand in the place of the boy’s parent, who may not be available.
– Who will be the superintendent then?
– Suppose that an Australian vessel were to change ownership in the port of London, what is to happen ?
– The consent of the shipping master must be obtained.
– I see that the consent of an official must be obtained wherever the change of ownership is made. My inclination at first was to support the amendment, and I suggested that the object of the provision was to avoid the possibility of a boy being left stranded abroad, and that it was really framed in the interests of the boy himself.
– They cannot leave a boy stranded.
– The matter may be tied up for a period until the consent of the parent or guardian, who may be living, at a distance, can be obtained.
– They will have to bring the boy back to Australia.
– The parents of the boy may be dead.
– I admit that it may take four or five years to prove who is the guardian of the boy, but there is always a guardian for a boy under the age of twenty-one years, even if it be only the State.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator- Guthrie’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10. 1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 September 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100928_senate_4_57/>.