4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– presented two petitions from thirty six and twenty three taxpayers in the Stateof South Australia praying the Senate to reject the Land Tax Assessment Bill.
Petitions received. .
asked the Vice-Pre sident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will he inform the Senate of the persons, firms, or papers who applied for, or have been granted the Press Cable’ Subsidy, and also the terms of the arrangement under which such payment is to be made?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
The Independent Press Cable Association of Australasia Limited, of Sydney, was the only applicant for the Press Cable Subsidy, and the subsidy is to paid to that Association from1st October.
A document is now being drawn up embodying the terms of the arrangement, which willbe the same as those set out in the Commonwealth Gazette of10th September.
– Arising out of that question, may I point out that the reply which has just been given by the VicePresident of the Executive Council does not supply the information for which I asked. I desire to know what newspapers or individuals are covered by that mysterious term “ The Independent Press Cable Association “ ?
– I will endeavour to get the information, and if the honorable senator will ask his question, without notice, to-morrow, I shall be glad to furnish him with it, if it is then to hand.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Is it intended to appropriate for Defence purposes any part of the Park Lands surrounding the City of Adelaide without the authority of an Act of Parliament passed by both the Commonwealth and State Parliaments?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
Negotiations are being conducted with the Government of South Australia with a view to exchanging the valuable city parade ground and head-quarters offices at Adelaide for less valuable lands lying back from the West Terrace.
– I desire to point out that the reply which has been given by the Minister of Defence is in no sense an answer to my question.
– The question put by the honorable senator was, “ Is it intended to appropriate?”
– It was, “Is it intended to appropriate, without the authority of an Act of Parliament, passed by both the Commonwealth and State Parliaments?”
Senator FINDLEY laid upon the table the following paper : -
Transcontinental Railway : Copy of further communication received from Mr. Jas. Thompson, Engineer-in-Chief , Department of Public Works, Perth, in connexion with water supply, dated 15th September, 1910.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That Senator William Russell be appointed a member of the Printing Committee.
InCommittee (Consideration resumed from 28th September, vide page 3822) :
Clause 37 -
A seaman shall not be entitled to the rating of A.B., that is to say, an able-bodied sea- man, unless he has served at sea for at least three years before the mast or as an apprentice, but employment in limited coast-trade ships under thirty tons shall only count as sea service up to the period of two years of that employment :
Provided that any seaman who has been lawfully rated as A.B. before the commencement of this Act shall continue to be entitled to be so rated……
– Although the Navigation Commission made a recommendation regarding the qualifications of ordinary seamen, the Bill makes no provision in that connexion.
– Can the honorable senator refer me to the page in the report of the Royal Commission upon which its recommendation appears?
– I cannot But I know that the Commission recommended that an ordinary seaman should not be rated as such until he could prove that he had served twelve months at sea. I should like to know whether there is any reason why that recommendation has been ignored.
– Division IX. of the Report of the Navigation Commission deals with the rating of seamen, and from page 33 of that report I extract, the following -
As to what length of sea-service should be sufficient to qualify a man for the rating of A.B., your Commissioners see no reason to depart from the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, and recommend four years’ seaservice before the mast, while the qualifications of O.S. should be those recommended by the Imperial Manning Committee, i.e., that he should be seventeen years of age and have had at least one year’s sea-service before the mast.
If that recommendation were adopted, a man could become an ordinary seaman only in one of two ways. Either he would have to be an apprentice, or he would have to be shipped as an extra hand.
– As a boy.
– I am speaking of an apprentice as a boy. The second schedule to the Bill specifies how many ablebodied seamen, and how many ordinary seamen, a vessel shall carry. If the recommendation of the Commission were adopted, we should entirely prevent a man from becoming an ordinary seaman, except in the ways I have mentioned. He would either have to serve an apprenticeship as a boy, or be carried as an extra hand for twelve months. I do not think that that is a desirable state of things to bring about. I presume that the manning scale in the second schedule to the Bill is based upon a satisfactory principle. If it is not, I should like to hear reasons advanced why it is not. But I understand that the manning scale follows the recommendations of the Royal Commission. That being so, it is extremely improbable that vessels will ever carry extra hands.
– What is an ordinary seaman ?
– He is a man who goes to sea as a seaman. After he- has had so many years of sea service, he becomes an able-bodied seaman. The Government considered that, under the recommendation to which reference has been made, a man would be prevented from becoming an ordinary seaman unless he shipped as a boy. Therefore, they did not follow that recommendation.
.- The Bill says that employment in limited coast trade ships under 30 tons shall only count as sea service up to the period of two years of that employment. But the Bill of 1908 mentioned coast trade ships under 80 tons. That is a remarkable departure, and I do not know the reason for it. I should like the Minister to tell us why the alteration was made from 80 to 30 tons. There may be an advantage in reducing the tonnage; but on the coast of Queensland there are ships under 30 tons trading between various ports.
– The reason for the alteration is to make it easier to qualify by including a larger number of ships.
– The difficulty that I see about this matter is that, under this Bill, a manning scale would be provided for every ship. The question arises, as to what would be the qualification for an ordinary seaman. Suppose that a ship has to carry twelve A.B.’s and four or five OiS.’s. The efficiency of the. manning of that vessel will depend largely on the definition of “ Ordinary seaman.” Otherwise a ship might take up halfadozen men who knew nothing about work at sea, and the lives of the rest of the crew and the passengers might be endangered. In the Royal Commission’s report it is laid down distinctly that an ordinary seaman should be one who had served twelve months at sea. Before we depart from that standard, we should have a full explanation from the Minister. There is a great deal of force in Senator Guthrie’s contention. Unless we adopt some stan dard, a ship might pick up half-a-dozen men anywhere and call them ordinary seamen.
– I consider that the Minister’s reply on this question was absolutely unsatisfactory. He referred us to the schedule to the Bill. Schedule 2 provides that, in ships between 50 and 100 tons net register^ not less than two able seamen, two ordinary seamen, and one boy are to be carried. What is the qualification required for those ordinary seamen? The Minister says that any one who wants to go to sea should be qualified as an ordinary seaman. But the recommendation of the Royal Commission was that a man should have had twelve months’ sea service before he should be rated as an ordinary seaman, and should also be not less than seventeen years of age.
– That is the English’ standard.
– That was also the recommendation of the British Manning Commission. Unless we have a better reason for this change I shall be prepared to move an amendment. It must be remembered that, under the proposed manning scale, two ordinary seamen are to be reckoned as equal to one able seaman in the effective manning of a vessel. Would it be justifiable for a ship-owner to pick up a cab-driver in the streets of Melbourne, put him on a ship, and call him an ordinary seaman? Would two such men be the equivalent of one able seaman who had served four years at sea, could steer, hand the lead, reef, and do all the other necessary things that an able seaman is trained to do? The proposal is absolutely pre:posterous on the face of it. I believe that the importance of the point has been overlooked by the Government.
– - Looking to the second’ schedule of the Bill, I wonder whether there is really any necessity for Senator Guthrie to propose an amendment. The schedule lays it down that in ships between 100 and 200 tons net register, not less than four able seamen, one ordinary seaman, and a boy should be carried. In ships between 1,000 and 1,500 tons net register, not less than eight able seamen, one ordinary seaman, and a boy have to be carried. So that the schedule provides that there shall be an increasing complement of able seamen to ordinary seamen. It occurs to me also that if a restriction is placed upon a man being classed as an ordinary seaman, it will be difficult for an apprentice to become an ordinary seaman, One object of the Bill is to afford facilities for apprentices to serve a certain time and then become able seamen. It seems to me that the manning scale laid down is quite sufficient.
– An ordinary seaman under this Bill approximates to what on shore is called an improver. He is a man who is learning his trade. Probably he is a man who goes to sea after reaching adult age. He has to serve a certain number of years at sea before becoming an able-bodied seaman. The schedule provides that the proportion of ablebodied seamen to ordinary seamen shall be large in regard to steam-ships, and in no case is more than one ordinary seaman provided for.
– No. Two ordinary seamen are provided for in vessels between 50 and 100 tons.
– That is so, but in vessels between 1,500 and 2,000 tons, only one ordinary seaman is permitted to be carried.
– There are no ships of that size now.
– No ships under 2,000 tons? There are any number of them. The steamers running between Victoria and Tasmania are under that size.
– What about the Zoongana ?
– I believe that she is under 2,000 tons. The steamers trading in the Gulfs are under 2, 000. tons.
– They do not carry ordinary seamen.
– A Beck hand is an ordinary seaman. The ordinary seaman is the handy man. After a time he becomes, by reason of his sea service, an able-bodied seaman. Practically the whole of schedule 2 provides for the employment of ablebodied seamen. The manning scale prescribed under this Bill is higher than that under the New Zealand Act, which is, I suppose, the most liberal and up-to-date measure in existence. Our manning scale, for instance, as to ships between 1,000 and 2,000 tons requires nine able seamen, whilst a similar ship in New Zealand would only be compelled to carry eight. Therefore, we compel the ship-owner to carry one more able-bodied seaman than the New Zealand Act provides for, whilst, in addition, we say that he shall carry one ordinary seaman. I again point out the reason why we have not thought it advisable to impose any sea service as a condition in regard to ordinary seamen. If we do that, we practically shut the door on men becoming seamen, unless they enter as boys,’oi are. shipped as extra hands. If the Committee think, notwithstanding that we have made these liberal manning provisions in comparison with the New Zealand scale, and far exceeding the scale of any other country in the world, that ordinary seamen must have sea service, although they can only be carried in the proportion of one to nine able seamen, an alteration can, of course, be made. But 1 do not think that it would be a wise amendment to make. When we are compelling ship-ownyrs to carry one more able-bodied seaman than the New Zealand Act requires, I think that we are going far enough.
– I feel that in this matter an important point has been overlooked. It will be seen from the schedule that ships of a certain size will have to carry a certain number of able seamen, ordinary seamen, and boys. But there is no machinery provided in the Bill to enable a . person going to sea to qualify as an ordinary seaman. I think this is a mistake, and the omission may prevent people from taking to the seafaring life. If a youth of fourteen years of age takes it into his head to go to sea, he cari serve three years and qualify as an able seaman. But if a lad were seventeen years of age when he thought of going to sea he would be twenty years of age before he would be qualified as an able seaman, and would, therefore, be compelled to work as an apprentice at apprentices’ wages, when to all intents and purposes he was an able-bodied man. One of the objects of this Bill should be to make a seafaring life attractive to our people.
– The honorable senator is shutting the door.
– I am endeavouring to see that a second door shall be opened. Under this Bill there is only one door open, and marked in plain letters above it are the words, “ You shall serve for three years as an apprentice before you can become an able seaman.”
– If the honorable senator will look at clause 37 he will find that he is making a mistake. v
– That clause provides -
A seaman shall not be entitled to the rating of A.B., that is to say, an able-bodied seaman, unless he has served at sea for at least three years before the mast, or as an apprentice -
I see that three years’ service before the mast is required.
– What is the seaman during that three years?
– That is just the question which we have to consider. We ought to make some provision for a lad who takes to the seafaring life at sixteen or seventeen years of age. Under this Bill he would be compelled to serve for three years before the mast before he would be qualified as an able seaman, and to ask a young fellow sixteen years of age to work for three years longer for the wages of an apprentice is to ask too much.
– We do not ask that.
– I should like to be satisfied that that is so. There is no provision made in this Bill for the qualification of an ordinary seaman, and I think we shall be making a mistake if we do not accept the recommendation of the Royal Commission and provide that a seaman shall serve one year before the mast to qualify as an ordinary seaman.
– I think that this matter is greatly misunderstood. Those who know anything of the matter recognise that a person taking to the seafaring life must start as a boy. That is recognised in the schedule to this Bill, which makes provision that certain ships shall carry a boy. After a boy has served for twelve months at sea he should be entitled to the rating of an ordinary seaman, and after he has served for three years as a boy and as an ordinary seaman he should be entitled to the rating of an able seaman.
– Not unless he is over seventeen years of age.
– I agree that he should not be rated as an ordinary seaman until he is seventeen years of age. An apprentice is something entirely different. He may be trained only to become an able seaman ; but he will have to serve four years, and, according to a decision arrived at by the Committee last night,’ he may, under this Bill, have to pay a premium. A lad whose parents cannot afford to pay a premium of £60 to have him apprenticed on board a ship must ship as a boy, and provision is made in the manning scale for such a lad. Provision is also made for an ordinary seaman, but will the Minister tell me what is an “ordinary seaman” under this Bill?
– Yes; look at the definition clause.
– An “ ordinary seaman “ is not defined in the definition clause, but a “ seaman “ is defined to include a stewardess, a cabin man, a mate, an engineer, and, in fact, every person on board a ship but the master or an apprentice.’ Three ratings are provided for in the manning scale, an able seaman, an ordinary seaman, and a boy, and we are now asking for what is provided for in every other Act of the kind. The British Manning Committee recommended a rating of an “ordinary seaman,” and our Royal Commission made a similar recommendation. I ask why the Government have omitted the provision from this Bill ?
– Because it is not necessary.
– That is the honorable senator’s opinion. I hold that it is absolutely necessary. The Government have themselves admitted it by including a rating of “ ordinary seaman “ in the manning scale provided for in this Bill. What persons are to be regarded as ordinary, seamen? Are navvies to be considered ordinary seamen?
– Yes; or bootmakers - any one who goes to sea.
– Then the policy of the Government is that ships shall be manned by navvies, cab-drivers, or any other persons who go to sea?
– Would they not make as good seamen as others after a couple of years at sea?
– The Bill does not say that they shall not be regarded as seamen until they have been at sea for a couple of years.
– How many people are we going to drown in the meantime?
– That is the position. Is it the policy of the Government to drown people? I intend to fight this matter out, and I shall submit an amendment to provide that a seaman shall not be entitled to the rating of an ordinary seaman unless he has served at sea for at least one year, and is seventeen years of age. I remind the Committee that under the manning scale two ordinary seamen are supposed to be equivalent to one able seaman. Will honorable senators say that two cab-drivers, who have never been to sea in their lives, would be equal to one able seaman?
– The honorable senator is misreading the scale.
– If Senator Stewart will refer to the schedule, he will find that on a steam-ship of from 50 to 100 tons net register, there must be engaged not less than two able seamen, two ordinary seamen, and one boy.
– It does not matter much on such steam-ships, so long as there are a sufficient number of engineers.
– It does matter. Who is to take the wheel, and who is to keep a look-out?
– A 50-ton steam-ship will only ply in a harbor?
– The honorable senator should remember that shipping traffic is more congested in a harbor, and therefore a better look-out must be kept, and a thorough steersman must be employed. Under this Bill, we may have on deck only one man and a boy. If it is necessary to use the lead, is an ordinary seaman to be put to that work?
– Most ships of the size referred to are employed running about the bays.
– Where it would be possible to measure the depth with a stick.
– Would it surprise the honorable senator to learn that most of the traffic between Tasmania and Melbourne, and Tasmania and Adelaide, is carried on by small ketches?
– When I said that half-an-hour ago, the honorable senator shook his head in superior wisdom.
– I did not do anything of the kind. I repeat that the Committee in Great Britain, composed of experts, recommended a rating for ordinary seamen, and our Royal Commission, on which the Attorney-General and the Government Whip in the Senate sat as members, made a similar recommendation. Now the Government tell us that there is no necessity for it, and they gave us no reasons for the omission. They only told us that they, wanted to fill up a ship with navvies, cab-drivers, &c.
– They did not say anything of the kind.
– That was the honorable senator’s interjection.
– Move the amendment, and let us take a vote on it.
– I prefer to state my case without any interference from the Government Whip.
– Surely that is a reasonable request, if the honorable senator wants to get the matter settler] .
– I do not want to be provoked into saying anything unpleasant. I move -
That the following new sub-clause be inserted : - “ (1a.) A seaman shall not be entitled to the rating of O.S., that is to say, an ordinary seaman, unless he has served at sea for at least one year and is seventeen years of age.”
Not only the principal members of the Commonwealth Government, but a Select Committee of experts in England has approved of this proposal.
– How will a person get twelve months’ service under the Bill? That is the trouble.
– He cannot, because there is no provision to that effect.
– During the first twelve months, a lad will be rated as a bov ; after he has served for that period he will be rated as an ordinary seaman; and after he has served for three years he will be entitled tothe rating of able seaman. That has always been the practice in the British mercantile marine. To allow any person to ship as an ordinary seaman in order to make up the complement of a ship will not only interfere with the rights of seamen, but put in jeopardy the lives of traveller s.
– It is not nonsense. A ship of 50 tons burden will have to carry two able seamen and two ordinary seamen.
– I have seen plenty of ships of that size with only two men on them.
– Does the honorable senator want to continue that sort of thing ?
– Does not the honorable senator believe in the eight hours system with two men on board a ship? Will it be possible to observe the eight hours system? No. Why the Government should object to my proposal I am at a loss to understand. Probably, if it had emanated from the other side no objection would have been made. I am not submitting the amendment out of any spirit of opposition to the Government, but in order to continue arecognised practice, which has been approved of by a Select Committee of. the House of Commons and a Royal Commission in Australia.
– It is hot in the New Zealand Act.
– Surely we ought to be guided by a Royal Commission of our own rather than by the New Zealand Act. I hope that the Government will reconsider their position. I shall be quite content if they will take the responsibility of moving the amendment.
– I think that the amendment is a right and proper one, but I wish that Senator Guthrie, when he finds that any part of the Bill needs improvement, would not get quite so warm on the question.
– I did not get hot until the honorable senator interjected.
– It is quite true that the Royal Commission suggested a provision for ordinary seamen, but it wasnot made very much of. I do not know that even if the Bill were to pass in its present form any great harm would be done. It is regrettable that Senator Guthrie did not approach the Minister, and give him a reasonable amount of time in which to consider his proposal.
– He was approached three months ago, and he left out the provision:
– In view of the fact that the ‘scale provides for a certain number of ordinary seamen, I think that unless some alteration is made we might have a dispute as to what an ordinary seaman is. In my opinion, the amendment would be an improvement to the Bill, and consequently I intend to support it.
– I am not quite clear as to what the intention is in respect of the man who is not clearly defined as an ordinary seaman. I am in a difficulty regarding the amendment, because I cannot see how a man is to get twelve months’ service at sea.
– As a boy.
– Will that be allowed?
– If he is to be an improver, as Senator Pearce has suggested, why should he not be defined as an improver, and given a certain standing under the Bill? Let us know what he is to do and regulate the time which he shall remain in that capar. city. To-day practically all trades are. regulated by Arbitration Courts or Wages. Boards. In Victoria there are over fifty awards under Wages Boards, and I cannot recall a trade which recognises a man of this description. Either he is a seaman or he is not. It seems to me wrong to make provision for men who are incompetent to carry out their duties. Shall we or shall we not regard a seaman as a man possessing some skill? Evidently we have determined that he is to be” a man with some skill, because we require that he shall have served an apprenticeship and acquired a certain amount of experi-. ence. In any other trade there is no recognition of this sort of incompetent individual, who seems to me to have no standing at all. Is there not sufficient provision made in the measure for apprentices?
– No; a boy cannot become an apprentice without paying a premium of £60. What boy is going to pay that premium in order to go to sea ?
– To become an ordinary seaman?
– No, to become all able seaman.
– Is a boy required to pay a premium of £60 in order to become an A.B. ?
– Yes, and then get £3 10s. a month.
– If that is the position, we are dealing with the wrong end of the subject. Because, after all is said and done, due provision should be made for apprenticeship to sea life the same as to any other trade. If there is not a sufficient number of apprentices growing’ up, or sufficient provision is not made in that direction, it should be made. No other skilled trade that I know of is-
– This is not a trade, but a profession.
– I do not know of any skilled trade or profession in which special provision is made in an Act of Parliament to enable a man to become a. sort of inferior tradesman or inferior professor.
– The honorable senator forgets that while a man is an ordinaryseaman he is still qualifying.
– Why not define the man as an improver? If it is not considered necessary for a man to serve a definite apprenticeship; if it is considered that by the mere act of going to sea for a short period a man can gain sufficient experience, it is not so difficult to become a seaman as I thought it was. I should like to see the position of an ordinary seaman defined. Either he should be a seaman or an. improver, but nothing between those ratings, and the nature of his duties and the period of his service should be laid down in the Bill.
– I am entirely with Senator Guthrie in this matter. On looking over the Bill we find that regulations may be made which will make it quite clear what an able-bodied seaman is. The term “ ordinary seaman “ is used in several places, but there is nothing to show what it means. Senator Long. - Yes ; the interpretation clause deals with seaman.
– It defines “seaman,” but not “ ordinary seaman.” We are using an expression which may lead to much litigation. In their report, the Royal Commission expressed quite clearly their opinion. They recommended for an A.B. four years’ service before the mast, and added - the qualifications of an O.S. should be those recommended by the Imperial Manning Committee, i.e., that he should be seventeen years of age, and have had at least one year’s seaservice before the mast.
If we are to lay down in the schedule that ordinary seamen shall be employed in certain capacities, I think that the person who was responsible for the drafting of the Bill has simply by an oversight forgotten to include a definition of “ ordinary seaman.” In the absence of a promise from the Minister to recommit the clause or to take the necessary steps to give effect to Senator Guthrie’s contention, I intend to support his amendment.
– I think the Committee recognise that if a ship is permitted to carry two ordinary seamen as the equivalent of one able seaman, the matter is an important one.
– No such equivalent is provided for in the Bill.
– It is to be found right through the Imperial Act.
– Can the honorable senator point to any clause in this Bill which contains such a provision ?
– Under every Navigation Act with which I am familiar two ordinary seamen may be employed in substitution of one able seaman. An ordinary seaman is virtually an untrained man, who possesses very little experience, whereas the able seaman is required to pass an exv amination to prove his ability to steer, to reef a sail, or to handle the lead.
– Is the employment of the ordinary seaman necessary at all ?
– I do not know that it is. Our system of apprenticeship has practically been dispensed with, inasmuch as nowadays owners insist upon a premium of £60 being paid for every apprentice whom they employ. As the outfit of an appr entice costs at least another£40 it is obvious that no boy can go to sea in that capacity unless his parents are prepared to pay£100 for him. Patents who can afford to do that are not likely to send their boys to sea.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Is the ordinary seaman a skilled man?
– No. But an ordinary” seaman has to serve three years before he can become an able seaman. During that period he must learn to steer, to reef a sail, to use the hand-lead, to row a boat, and to perform a great many other duties. In fact, his duties can scarcely be specified. In this connexion there is a story told of an old admiral who went ashore one day to a spot where his crew were erecting a building for stores. One of the men was handling a shovel rather awkwardly, whereupon the admiral remarked to him, “ You call yourself a seaman, and yet you are not able to mix mortar. “ Although two ordinary seamen may be carried on a vessel as a substitute for one able seaman, they may not have the skill of an able seaman.
– These considerations do not affect the Bill, which does not allow vessels to replace an able seaman with two ordinary seamen.
– The point has been taken into consideration in connexion with’ the manning scale.
– It has not.
– Are these ordinary seamen able to take a hand at the wheel, or to reef a sail ? Can the captain put them in the chains to heave the lead ?
– For the performance of those duties ample provision has been made for the employment of able seamen.
– No. Only last evening I quoted. from the. Passenger Act of Great Britain for the purpose of showing that emigration officers there have been instructed to see that emigrant ships carry a great many more able seamen than are provided for in this Bill. I maintain that, if we do not provide in the measure for the employment of ordinary seamen, more able seamen will be carried. Of what use would ordinary seamen have been on the occasion of the wreck of the Carnarvon Bay? 1 ask leave to amend my amendment by substituting ‘” eighteen “. for “ seventeen.”
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
– - I feel disposed to support the amendment of Senator Guthrie. 1 take it that there are two points involved, namely, employment and rating. The honorable senator has objected to a provision under which men may be taken from a cab rank and called ordinary seamen, and I quite agree with his contention. At the same time, he does not desire to prevent a man from obtaining employment at sea for the purpose of gaining experience.
– I should like to know what is the definition of “ ordinary seaman “ under this Bill ?
– Anybody who has served less than three years at sea.
– Where is that specified ?
– In clause 37.
– There is a definition of “seaman” in that clause j but I wish to know where the definition of ‘ ordinary seaman “ is to be found. Until such a definition is forthcoming, I shall support Senator Guthrie’s amendment.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.40].-! quite agree that it is desirable that a man who goes to sea, except in the capacity of an apprentice, ought to have some knowledge of the duties which he will be required to perform. Under the manning scale laid down in the second schedule to the Bill, every ship will be compelled to carry a certain number of able seamen. She will also be required to carry so many ordinary seamen and a boy. But, under the Bill, if a man of twenty-five or thirty years of age wishes to go to sea, he will have to go either in the capacity of a boy or of an extra hand, in order that he maygain a knowledge of sea service. We must take a practical view of this question. The point which occurs to me is, “ Is sufficient provision made in the manning scale for the employment of able seamen?” If there is, an ordinary seaman need not possess any experience of the sea. But have we a sufficient number of men with which to supply crews for our ships, if we provide that no man shall be rated as an ordinary seaman until he has had twelve months’ sea experience? I agree with Senator Guthrie that we ought to provide an age limit, although eighteen years strikes me as being rather a low one to apply to an ordinary seaman. I think we shall be making a mistake if we require a man, before he can be rated as an ordinary seaman, to possess twelve months’ sea experience. Many a man of twenty-five or thirty years of age may wish to go to sea.
– He may want to throw up his profession.
– I doubt whether we shall be in a position to man our ships properly if we place the restriction that is proposed in this Bill upon an ordinary seaman.
– What is an “ ordinary seaman “ under the Bill ?
– Any man who chooses to accept service at sea may call himself an ordinary seaman. That has been the practice hitherto.
– And he can be disrated by the master at any time.
– Yes, he may be reduced to a boy’s position. But I wish to put before the Committee another case. If a man has been employed upon boats year after year, will he be eligible to be rated as an ordinary seaman, or will he first be required to go to sea for twelve months? I fear that if we insist that before a man can be rated as an ordinary seaman he shall have twelve months’ experience, we shall be placing an undue restriction upon him.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 38 (Discharge or permit to be produced).
.- I notice that in the Bill of 1908 there was an addition to this clause, providing that on a seaman signing articles, the superintendent should cancel his discharge “ in the manner prescribed.” Why has that provision been struck out?
– The answer is that under this Bill a seaman gets a discharge each time; and, therefore, it is unnecessary to cancel the discharge in any manner. There is a difference of procedure.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 39 - (1.) No seaman shall be rated -
Provided that persons rated as firemen or greasers before the commencement of this Act shall continue to be entitled to be so rated. (2.) No person shall give a discharge to a seaman as fireman or greaser, unless the seaman has served in the capacity in which the discharge is given for the time specified in such discharge.
Penalty for breach of this sub-section : Fifty pounds.
– I wish to know why the term of service under this clause has been extended from three months to six ? Under the New Zealand Act, only three months’ service is required to qualify. I should also like to know why, if a man has had experience on land, it should not be permitted to count as part of his service? That is permitted under the New Zealand Act. Why compel a man to have had six months’ service at sea before he can qualify as a fireman? Is not three months’ service long enough?
– This clause is the same as the corresponding clause in the original Bill in respect of the matter mentioned by Senator Vardon. It is to be remembered that, under this Bill, occupancy of the posts of fireman and greaser is the commencing stage, and that the man can go right through to the position of engineer. I do not know whether that is the case under the New Zealand Act. Probably that is the reason why a longer term of service is here required.
– If a person has had service on land as a fireman or greaser, why should not that count?
– Service on land would not be of much value to a man who went to sea. If he did not get his sea legs quickly, he would not be of much use.
– It is only a matter of a few days.
– Some people take much longer than that to get their sea legs. 2 speak from personal experience.
.- I fail to see why we should shut the door against persons with land experience as firemen or greasers who desire to go to sea. The work of a fireman or greaser on a ship is not purely marine work. A man need not necessarily have had sea experience to grease machinery or to stoke the firehole. There are many junior mechanics and shop hands who have been used to firing and greasing who might like to get employment at sea. Why should they be debarred ? The New ‘ Zealand Act contains the following proviso : -
That is a common-sense provision. Firing and greasing are precisely the same on land as at sea, and, as Senator Vardon has said, it would only be a matter of a day or two before the man would get his sea legs, when he would be just as competent as one who had been at sea before. I move -
That the following words be inserted after subclause 1 - “ Provided also that junior mechanics and persons who have served six months on shore as greasers or firemen shall be entitled to be rated as greasers or firemen.”
– In the first place it is absolutely unfair to a Minister in charge of a Bill of this description that an important amendment should be sprung upon him at a minute’s notice. I have had no opportunity of consulting the advisers of the Government on this matter, which would involve a drastic alteration of the clause. For instance, under this Bill we contemplate that for the position of greaser a man shall have been a fireman, and that for the position of fireman he. shall have been a trimmer, for sis months. We have provided that sea service shall he taken in lieu of shop service in qualifying for a third engineer’s certificate. Now Senator McColl wants a “ junior mechanic “ who has never been to sea at all to be qualified to serve as fireman or greaser. What is a “junior mechanic”? I am a mechanic, but I do not know what a “junior mechanic” is.
– I mean a person who has had shop experience.
– I have a pretty good knowledge of mechanics, but I never heard such a term used before. 1 know what a young mechanic is; but 1 do not think that the term “junior mechanic” would be recognised in any court of industrial arbitration, as a definition of a tradesman. Then, again, Senator McColl’s amendment speaks of service “ on shore.” I am not in a position to say that a greaser on’ shore gets to know anything about the duties of a greaser on ship.
– Of course he does.
– Imagine a man who had worked in a shop and never been to sea having to look after the turbines of theLoongana! He would become sausagemeat in a very short time !
– The wording of the amendment is ambiguous. I should not like to offer an opinion off-hand as to whether a greaser on shore would be competent to carry out the duties of a greaser on board ship.
– The New Zealand Act says that he is.
– The honorable senator’s amendment is far more drastic than the New Zealand provision. That Act contains no reference to a “ junior mechanic,” nor do I think that under it a man who had been a greaser on shore could go to the position of greaser on a ship. The New Zealand Act enables a man who has served on land as a fireman to serve as a greaser at sea, but that is not quite what Senator McColl purposes. I cannot accept the amendment.
– I hope that Senator McColl will see that no good purpose is to be served by his amendment. My knowledge of engineers on the Australian coast and of engineers on foreign-going vessels, convinces me that not one of them would for a moment dream of putting an absolute greenhorn who had never been to sea in the engine-room as a greaser. The position is a responsible one. Even experienced men are generally maimed in some way. You will meet one man who has lost a finger or two, another who has lost a thumb, and others who have been knocked about in various other ways. To put a man who had merely worked in a shop to grease engines on a ship which was tumbling about and falling into all sorts of positions would be absolutely ridiculous. There is a great difference, too, between wheeling coal to a furnace on land where a man can go into a corner and throw something up if he feels ill, and carrying coal to a furnace on a ship, where it is not possible to lie down when on duty. No engineer that I know of would think of taking a man into his engine-room as greaser who had not had three or four years’ sea experience. I hope Senator McColl will not press his amendment.
– I think Senator McColl must recognise that it is unnecessary to press his amendment, as, if agreed to, it could only bea superfluity. The Bill recognises a long-standing practice, and we all know that an engineer would not dream of asking any man who had not a fairly lengthy experience at sea, and especially in an engineroom, to assist him in this position. Any practical man would refuse to give a landsman, no matter what experience of engines he had had ashore, the care of the complicated machinery of a ship’s engine-room. If carried, the amendment would be inoperative, and I hope it will not be pressed.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 40 to 42 agreed to.
Clause 43 - (1.) Except as prescribed, a member of the crew of a foreign-going ship (whether British or foreign) shall not be employed in handling cargo in connexion with the loading or unloading of a ship.
Penalty (on master, owner, agent, or charterer) : One hundred pounds. (2.) The regulations may forbid the employment, except as prescribed, of members of the crews of Australian-trade ships in handling cargo in connexion with the loading or unloading of ships.
– There is an effort made in the first part of this clause to remedy a longstanding grievance. But I am afraid that what is proposed will not entirely meet the case. In remote and small ports, where the local labour can only be regarded as casual, there may be very little objection to the crew of a foreign-going ship working the cargo; but in well-established ports, where there is available the labour of men who depend for their livelihood upon the work of loading and unloading cargo, it is a positive grievance that permission should be given to have the work done by a vessel’s crew. It really means that the crews of foreigngoing ships, in working their cargo, take the bread and butter out of the mouths of local men. I think it will be agreed that we should put a stop to that. If we always had such a Government in power as the present, who would rigidly administer this clause,. all would, no doubt, be well. But we have no guarantee that we shall always have in power a Government prepared to see that this provision is given effect to in the spirit as well as in the letter. I think we should make definite provision that in every port where there is a sufficiency of local labour to work the cargoes of foreign-going ships, that work should be reserved for the local people.
– Who is to be the judge of the sufficiency ?
– That should not be a difficult matter to decide. Ministers might discover, through Government officials, the state of the local labour market in every port. We know that attempts that have been. made by the owners and agents of foreign ships to have their cargoes worked by their crews have constituted a grievance with local men, who have thus been left idle. I think we should say that, if, in any port, there is a sufficiency of local labour available to work the cargo of a .foreign-going ship, no Minister administering this Act should have power to permit the cargo to be worked by the vessel’s crew.- That would leave it open to the Minister to give permission for the working of the cargo of a foreign-going ship by her crew at places where there is not a sufficiency of local labour to carry out the work.
– What is the objection to submitting these amendments in time to enable the Government to consider them?
– I admit the force of the honorable senator’s objection, and apologize for submitting an amendment at this stage, but the difficulty in connexion with this clause occurred to me only to-day.
– I do not even know the wording of the proposed amendment which the Government are to be asked to accept.
– If, on the brief explanation I have given of it, the Minister sees anything in the proposal, I make an appeal to him to- give it favorable consideration. I know that it is unfair to the honorable senator to propose such an amendment without notice. My object is to draw a distinction between places where there is an assured supply of local labour and places where the local labour available is only casual. I think the Minister should not have power to permit the working of a cargo by the vessel’s crew at places where there is a sufficiency of local labour to carry out the work. The .amendment I propose to move is -
That after the word “ ship :’ the following words be inserted - “ this section to apply only to places where a sufficiency of local labour is not available.”
– I am in sympathy with the object of the amendment, but a serious objection to it is that I think it will have the opposite effect to what Senator Lynch intends. The clause provides that -
Except as prescribed, a member of the crew of a foreign-going ship (whether British or foreign) shall not be employed in handling cargo in connexion with the loading or unloading of a ship.
That is to say, that unless the Government prescribe an exception to the proposed rule the crew of a foreign-going ship, whether British or foreign, are not to be employed in the loading or unloading of the vessel-. Now the honorable senator. sub,mits an amendment to prohibit that prescription,’ and to say that ‘ it shall apply only to places where a sufficiency of local labour is not available. What he really wishes to ‘do is to provide that the Minister shall not have the power to prescribe an exception unless where local labour is not available. But his amendment would apply the prohibition to the whole of the clause, although it is clear from his speech that he intends that it should be applied only to the power of the Minister to make an exception”. The Government are always willing to give the services of their draftsman to honorable senators on both sides in the preparation of clauses and amendments, even though they may be opposed to their own policy, in order that, if carried, they may give effect to the intention of the Committee. I invite honorable senators to avail themselves of the services of the officers of the Government for this pur* pose.
– I admit that the words in the first part of the clause make the matter a little confusing.
– The honorable senator’s intention is quite clear, but I am satisfied that the amendment he has proposed would not give effect to it.
– This is an entirely new clause, and is not to be found in any previous Navigation Bill submitted to the Senate, or, so far as I know, in any other measure dealing vith the subject, including the Merchant Shipping Act. It ma)’ have very far-reaching effects. I agree that where there are local men competent and willing to undertake the work of loading and unloading ships they should be given that work to do. But there are many ports where such labour is not available. I understand that many foreign-going ships carry extra men in order that they may be able to assist in the handling of cargo. Take the case, mI instance, of an A.B. who is a winch-man. Under this provision such a man would not be allowed to do any work in the loading or unloading of cargo. We know that very often troubles arise with wharf labourers, and, without saying who is right and who is wrong in such disputes, the result very often is that ships are unable to get the labour they require for loading or unloading cargo. This clause would impose a very great responsibility upon the Minister administering the Act. He would have to decide whether permission should be given to allow the crew of the vessel to work her cargo. I do not wish to see this work taken from local men if they are prepared and willing to do it, but we know from reports in the press that, on what have appeared to be very slight grounds, local men have refused to work cargo, and as a result ships and passengers have been delayed. This kind of thing may give a port a bad name and prevent trade.
– On the other side, a ship may be lost through bad stowage.
– The ship-owners will see that the cargo in their ships is properly stowed. There can be no doubt’ that this clause was introduced for the specific object of keeping this work in the hands of the local unions. I do not object to that if the men are available and willing to do the work. But under this clause I think the administrator of the Act will often be placed in a difficult position if he is to do absolute justice. There may be labour available but unwilling to do this work, and in spite of that fact the owners of a ship may be prevented from working the cargo with the crew of the vessel. I doubt whether the Imperial Government would assent to any measure containing such a clause.
– I do not intend to raise any objection to sub-clause i. I look at the matter, not from the aspect which was put by the last speaker, that this provision would give increased labour to Australian workers, but from the aspect of the safety of ships. The principal cargo which a foreign-going ship loads in Australia is either wool or wheat.
– Or meat.
– In the case of steam-ships with refrigerating plants, the principal cargo is meat. I want to deal first with the case of sailing ships.
– There are not many of them now.
– There is a large number. At least two-thirds of the wheat production of Australia is sent away in sailing ships Their crews have no experience in stevedoring. Experienced men are needed to load a cargo of wheat, because there is no more dangerous cargo afloat than a cargo of wheat, unless the bags aire placed as they ought to be. It is of no use to put the bags one on top of another, as is done in the coasting trade. Bags which are put into a ship which has to go round Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope, have to be jammed one on top of the other, and stowed, in stevedore language, “ bilge and cantling.” The crews of foreign-going ships have no experience in the stowing of wheat. If the stowing is done by the crew of a ship, what is the result? The cargo shifts, and the ship is never again heard of. The most important thing in connexion with foreign-going shipping is the stowage of this article. A large quantity of wool is still sent away in sailing vessels, because there is no rush to catch a market. The wool is jammed, in fact screwed into the ship. She makes’ a threemonths’ trip, the value of the wool is growing all the time, and the freight has been earned by the time it reaches port. No crew of a foreign-going ship that I ever knew could stow away a cargo of wool to the advantage of the owner; and no ship-master whom I ever knew, would attempt to load his ship with his crew. A “ scrap “ ship is one which carries wheat, wool, tallow, hides, and other articles. That is a worse cargo to load than either wheat or wool. There is no -hope of the captain of a foreign-going ship attempting to load our primary products. In Western Australia, where jarrah is loaded, the captains of Norwegian and Swedish ships do attempt to load with their crews. The result is a great many broken toes and lost fingers. It really costs the owners more to repair the damages than they save by employing their crews. As regards un- loading, that can only be done by trained men. Very often crews are used to discharge ballast. It is an uncommon thing throughout Australia for a foreign-going ship to discharge its own cargo. A stevedore takes a contract to discharge it, and he employs labour. The question raised by Senator Lynch is, perhaps, the most delicate one of the lot; and that is that, in particular ports, labour is not available. Now, labour can always be obtained from elsewhere. There is no State in Australia which has more loading ports than has South Australia, because, virtually, every farmer has a loading port at his back door. The ships go along our western coast and Spencer’s Gulf, and fill up. They do not load with their own crews, but with men who are taken from Port Pirie or Wallaroo or Port Adelaide. As .regards sub-clause 2, I gave notice of my intention to move the insertion of the words “other than able-bodied seamen,” after the word “ crews,” because I contend that, virtually, it is the business of able-bodied seamen in the Australian trade, and the limited Australian trade, to load and unload as well as to work the ship. I think that that amendment will meet all that Senator McColl wants.
– Could not the honorable senator also apply it to subclause 1 ?
– Not to foreigngoing ships, because the crews have not had the necessary training. In the case of coastal ships, the cargo is not stowed, but put in in such a way that it will not roll about; but, in the case of a foreign-going ship, everything has to be stowed. The loading of no coastal ship is finished in a stevedorelike manner. It is the practice in Australian-trade ships for the crews to work the winches and assist in the loading and unloading; and in the limited coast trade the position is peculiar. Take, for instance, the river trade in New South Wales, where men are not available. A steamer carries virtually a double crew for the purpose of working the cargo. My amendment will meet that position.
– Under this clause, they would not be allowed to work the cargo.
– We cannot tell until the regulations are issued. They may forbid the employment, as prescribed, of members of the crew ; but they should prevent the able-bodied seamen of ships in the Australian trade from working cargo.
I think that that will meet the requirements of the whole trade; and I believe that the Committee will agree that it is absolutely sufficient. Let me state one of the strong objections which are taken along the Australian coast to-day, more especially in Queensland ports. When a ship arrives there is not a sufficiency of labour to take in her cargo, and the whole crew, including the firemen and stewards, are employed in that work. The firemen are not competent to handle cargo, and the work is distasteful to them. The stewards do not want to work cargo, but they are pressed into it. If the words “ other than ablebodied seamen” are inserted, it will relieve firemen, stewards, and others from being called upon to work cargo in out-ports, but it will give the ship the advantage of the help of the able seamen. I do not think that there is a single honorable senator who would wish that boys should be included, as they are not competent to handle heavy weights.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Would the able-bodied seamen be sufficient to load a ship in the circumstances which the honorable senator has mentioned ?
– It all depends upon the number carried and the quantity of cargo to be taken in. If there are only roo tons of cargo, and ten able-bodied seamen on board, they can load it easily in five hours, but if the ship wants to take in the cargo in two hours more men must be employed. It is all a question of men being available at a rush. It is a curious thing that throughout our ports, men may be employed one day and unemployed the next day. To-day you may go to Port Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Brisbane, or Sydney, and not see a single man unemployed, but to-morrow you may find 600 or 700 men unemployed, simply because there is no work for them that day. In Port Adelaide, for instance, there are a thousand men who look for . work on the wharfs, and nowhere else. On some days every man is employed, but on others not 200 are employed, and 800 are looking for work. It is only where a rush takes place that a provision of this sort is necessary. I do not know whether the Minister intends lo accept my amendment, but I think that if it is accepted it will get over all the difficulty, there will be no trouble experienced anywhere, and it will be a safeguard for the men on board ships.
.- In dealing with a clause of this kind, one feels. in a great difficulty in not- having a thorough knowledge of the conditions, such as Senator Guthrie has. I quite recognise the intermittent character of the employment of the men. I do not wish to see a single man deprived of the work which ought to fall to him, but I ask the honorable senator if it is not a fact that in many ports labour cannot be obtained, and that ships put on additional men specially for this work. If they do that, are they not to be allowed to employ those men ? I do not think that any shipmaster or owner would desire to see his ship loaded in a- careless, slovenly manner, which would cause disaster and loss. I am sure that every one of them would like to see his ship’s cargo properly stowed. I am almost afraid that this provision will have the effect of depriving many men of work, because I can conceive of no provision which would tend more to hasten the introduction of the elevator system in this country for loading wheat ships. I do not intend to fight the clause. Further, I call attention to it because it is a new provision, and is not to be found in any shipping Act. It ‘seems to me that it contains an element of danger which will work adversely to the men whom it is intended to serve.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.29]. - I do not know it would be a matter very much to be regretted if the clause should have the effect of inducing persons to use machinery for the loading of ships. I am under the impression that if owners find that they can load more conveniently by using machinery they will do so.
– It is a question of the supply of the wheat, though.
– I think that ship-owners will use machinery to load wheat, or anything else, if they find that it is to their advantage to do so, irrespective of what our legislation may be unless our legislation prohibits it. But my objection to the clause is not only that it is entirely novel, but that it will have a. tendency to interfere with the popularity of our ports with foreign ships. At the present time the unions are strong enough to protect themselves in the matter of loading and unloading, ships. Senator Guthrie has already pointed out that the services of skilled men are required to load wheat and wool. I have no doubt that a man skilled in the loading and unloading of vessels is a far better workman than one who is lacking in that experience.” But I cannot forget that strikes sometimes occur amongst the wharf labourers at our ports. Thus it may happen that a ship may arrive at one of our ports when a strike is in progress,- and although its owner may be absolutely prepared to concede the demands of the strikers, the latter will refuse to load or unload his vessel because all the ship-owners will not agree to their demands. Under this provision, the ship-owner will be compelled to incur considerable expense, which might be avoided if he were permitted to employ his own crew in loading or unloading his ship. To my mind, it is dangerous to insert such a provision in the Bill.
– All ship-owners employ skilled labour to load and’ unload their vessels.
– If a strike be in progress when a vessel arrives at one of our Australian ports, the position will be a very serious one to the owner of that vessel.
– Has the honorable senator never known the ship-owner to go upon strike?
– No. All our ports” usually provide the skilled labour required for loading and unloading vessels there. Senator Guthrie has advanced very good reasons why that labour should be employed. But if a strike occurs at one of our ports, I fear that this Bill will be used by the strikers as an instrument with which to bring the ship-owners to their knees. Thus our ports will speedily earn a very bad name. The ship-owners, in accepting cargo, will naturally take that circumstance into consideration.
– - -They will carry the cargo cheaper than the other fellow.
– They will not. Some time ago Senator Guthrie complained of trusts and combines.
– The honorable senator is absolutely wrong.
.- Then I have heard it stated by others that combines in the Old World have increased freight charges to Australia for their own purposes.
– And the German or Frenchman comes in and smashes those combines.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I repeat that ship-owners, in accepting cargo for Australia, will naturally regard a strike at one of our shipping ports as a contingency which they must take into consideration. The Minister should certamly assign some reason for the insertion of this provision in the Bill. I can conceive of no reason for it, other than that the Government desire to place in the hands of men who go out upon strike in defiance of the law a weapon by which they may bring the ship-owners to their knees. We have no right to do that, especially as strikes are illegal. It is unfair to insert this, provision in the Bill, unless adequate reason can be assigned for the adoption of that course. We must also consider its probable effect upon the trade of our ports. I for one will not assist to pass a clause which will strike at the very root of justice.
– Senator Gould is entirely mistaken if he thinks that the Government have inserted this provision in the Bill with the object of aiding strikers. Atthe port of Bunbury, in my own State, a considerable quantity of jarrah is exported in foreign ships. Now, in a sense, a ship is a floating factory, and we have already provided either by State or Federal law that certain labour conditions shall be observed by every factory owner throughout Australia. These foreign ships go to Bunbury, whence the timber of which I speak, which is the birthright of the people of Australia, is shipped to foreign countries. Surely the benefit of shipping that timber - so far as it can be secured to the people of Australia - ought to be secured to them.
– That is very frank, but it is a new doctrine.
– If the Leader of the Opposition were to visit Bunbury he would find that it is not merely the wharf labourers who ask for this provision. Every shopkeeper, land-owner, and resident, from the State Premier downwards, is an enthusiastic believer in it.
– Because the wages which are paid for stowing that cargo will be circulated in Australia.
– A good Protectionist doctrine.
– It may be selfish from one point of view, but it is certainly patriotic, and in the best interests of Australia. Therefore, when Senator Gould says that the clause has been inserted to assist men who, in defiance of the law, have gone upon strike, he is mistaken.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Now let us have some other reasons.
– Numerous similar cases have been brought under the notice of the Government, and these have impelled us to insert the clause in the Bill.
– What we have just heard from Senator Gould must’ impress us with a sense of the range of his lively imagination. When he tells us that the clause is likely to bring discredit upon our ports, my reply is that ships, like men, will go anywhere’ where they can obtain employment. Their owners arenot likely to be influenced by the consideration that there may be labour troubles looming in thedislance, if they can get work for their vessels at our ports. Senator Gould is perfectly consistent, although he belongs to a dying school in politics - the old Cobdenite school.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - At any rate I am not afraid to express my opinions.
– The honorable senator comes from a State which has been wedded to the policy of dragging all its trade to one centre, whereas other States have made an effort to distribute their maritime trade around their coastal fringe. Seeing that the men who are engaged in the loading and unloading of ships in Sydney are sufficiently powerful to make their voices heard, the necessity for this clause does not exist in New South Wales to the extent that it exists in Western Australia. It has been introduced for the purpose of protecting those ports in States that have not been wedded to the foolish policy of New South Wales. I can understand that Senator Gould has not much sympathy with the unfortunate wharf labourer who wants a job.
– It is unfair to say that.
– There is the Pharisee again !
– If Senator Gould’s idea be carried to a logical conclusion, what does it mean ? It simply means that the agent or master of a ship coming from some foreign country can employ the crew wherever it is deemed desirable - and that would be always - to unload her, and thus deprive a number of unfortunate men living on shore of work. Australians-, for all Senator Gould cares, can go and whistle for their morning meal. If the honorable senator had a larger experience of our coast-line he would know that foreign ships have been allowed to come here, use their crews for loading and unloading, and take the bread out of the mouth of our own people. We desire to stop that sort of thing. The honorable senator, however, wants to keep the way open for it to continue. I do not blame Senator Gould. He is perfectly consistent. He is a true disciple of Cobden. But he reads into this clause a motive that certainly has not impelled its authors. He has said in plain words that the object is to coerce ship-masters to keep their crews standing idle while wharf labourers do the work which the seamen might do. I have no such desire. I am quite prepared to give the Minister power to give permission for the crew of a ship to load or unload cargo when there is no other labour available. Other labour cannot be available when there is a strike.
– We ask for nothing more than that.
– There is nothing more than that in the proposal. But Senator Gould wants to read into it a desire to take advantage of the helpless position of a ship-master, and to keep his crew idle in order to help a strike. I say again that there is no such object. The motive exists simply in Senator Gould’s imagination. This provision is simply intended to insure that our own people, living in the outlying ports, shall have the work that comes from the loading and unloading of ships. It is quite a common-sense proposal. An enactment of the kind has long since been required. But when it is submitted to the Legislature we find that, quite consistently, men like Senator Gould oppose it. I hope the Government will stand by the provision, in the interests, not only of those who are earning their livelihood in the outlying ports of the Commonwealth, but also in the interests of business people - the friends of Senator Gould - in order that they may benefit from keeping in the country the money that properly belongs to it.
– We have ‘had from the Minister in charge of this Bill a declaration that is rather startling in itself, though welcome in its frankness. He has given as an explanation for the inclusion of this provision that it is inserted for the purpose of securing to the labourers of Bunbury and other places a measure of work which would otherwise not accrue to them. The Minister went on to refer to the jarrah timber industry, and to speak of it as being “the birthright of Australians.” Well, are not the grain trade and the wool trade equally their birthright?
– Of course they are.
– Then why does not my honorable friend be candid and admit that the real object of the Government is to secure that a ship shall not be permitted to leave our shores until every penny in the shape of wages has been extracted from it? If this policy is to apply in regard to jarrah, why should it not be extended to wheat and wool ? It has frequently been stated that the object of the party opposite is to place additional imposts upon the producers of this country.
– What additional impost is proposed now?
– The Minister has admitted it. The object of the Ministry is unquestionably - to use the words of Senator Lynch - to keep the crews of vessels standing idle-
– No, I simply quoted those words from Senator Gould.
– Their object is simply to keep crews standing idle in order that Bunbury workmen may receive more employment than they would otherwise get.
– We want the crews of vessels to do their own work, and the wharf labourers of Bunbury and other places to do theirs.
– I ask my honorable friend to follow that argument out to its logical conclusion.
– Why does not the honorable senator do me justice, and acknowledge that it was Senator Gould who made the remark about keeping the crews idle, and that I simply repeated it?
– I have such a kindly regard for my honorable friend that I do not want to do him justice !
– We do not want to cause shipwrecks through crews of vessels being worn out by doing what is not their proper work.
– We now have the frank avowal that the purpose of this provision is not to increase the safety of the seamen, or to create additional facilities for our producers in shipping their produce abroad, but is simply to safeguard the interests of one single class - those who may be called upon to do thewharf labouring. If we were dealing with our own money, or even if we were voting public money, there might be something said, in certain circumstances, for such a proposal. But we are dealing with the interests of other sections of the community, who now learn that the only people who can hope to receive consideration from honorable senators opposite are those who work in an industry and get a daily wage. We learn that in this matter they are only prepared to think of the interests of the wharf labourers and those engaged in kindred employments.
– The wharf labourers ought to be considered.
– I have never said anything to the contrary. I am simply dealing with the reasons given by the Minister in charge of the Bill. We have the frank avowal that the policy of this Bill is to insure that, no matter how much the producers may be penalized, the interests of the wharf labourers must be safe-guarded.
– Why fight shadows?
– Is it a shadow?
– Why object to the protection of labour, which has already been secured in other directions?
– All that I want to have understood in this connexion is thar the objective aimed at is the protection of the interest of one class only. The logical result is that, sooner or later, honorable senators opposite must propose to prohibit the export from this country of any commodity so long as it is possible, by retaining it here, to spend more labour upon it
– Ships are not allowed to carry cargo on the coast of the United States unless they are owned and built in that country.
– Is my honorable friend expressing his approval of that policy ?
– It would not be a bad idea.
– All these remarks prove what I am saying, that the real objective of this provision is, by methods such as these, to insure that everything possible shall be done to conserve the interests of those who labour, and that the interests of all other sections of the community are to be sacrificed.
– Is it not to the interest of everybody in the country to secure all the work and all the remuneration for Australians that we can?
– Unquestionably ; but I consider that I am not gaining additional work for the people if I destroy opportunities for work in the wheat-fields in order to secure more employment for labourers on the Bunbury wharf. If my honorable friends are to carry out this policy, they ought to impose a duty on wheat, to secure the grinding of wheat into flour in Australia. Similarly, they ought to try to prevent a single bale of greasy wool leaving Australia, and to say, in the pathetic language of the Minister of Defence, ‘ ‘ This wool is the birthright of the Australian people, and, therefore, we insist that the grease shall be washed out of it, and all the work in connexion with it done before it is exported.” Again, why should there be men looking for a job in Australia while we are sending quantities of refractory and other ores to be treated abroad ? See the immense employment that would be given to labour if those ores were treated here.
– Where would the honorable senator draw the line?
– For my own part, I draw the common-sense line. I was at first inclined to support the proposition of the Government. That proposition is not objectionable in itself, but because I now regard it as the thin end of the wedge, and that wedge, when driven home, will mean an absolute impost on . every producer in this country in order to throw a little additional work, in the way, not of the great body of the workers of Australia, but of a few workers earning their living in our ports. I am strongly opposed to it.
– If Parliament can cause work to be given to some of our people, why should it not do so?
– The same remark would apply to the cleaning of greasy wool.
– Let us stick to one thing at a time.
– I am going to ask my honorable friend now to tell me whether exactly the same argument does not apply to wool as to jarrah timber? There are men in hundreds who know how to scour wool, and are quite willing to do it.
– Why should they not ?
– From the way the honorable senator is speaking one would conclude that he was in favour of such a proposal.
– From the way I am speaking, the honorable senator ought to infer that I am diametrically opposed to it. My objection to this proposal is not so much because of what it states in itself, but because of what I see lying at the foundation of it. I can see that the entire policy of this Government is in the direction of that prohibition of the exports of our producers of which we have already had some signs. It is for that reason that I have spoken as I have done.
– Volubly !
– “ Volubly,” par- haps, but I hope also “ intelligibly.”
– I fail to see why Senator Millen should base his remarks on this clause on questions affecting wool or timber, or any other product. An attempt has been made to saddle honorable senators on this side with an endeavour to handicap and hamper our exports. This is not a question of wool or timber, but of men. Surely it is the policy of Australia to-day to give preference in employment, if not to unionists, at least to residents of the Commonwealth. I have a personal knowledge of what has taken place in the past in this connexion. I shall instance, not Bunbury, but Fremantle. I know that, at Fremantle, white men have stood idly by whilst Asiatics were doing the work they were waiting to do. I instance Fremantle, because what occurred there came under my own observation.
– Where they employ coloured labour?
– No; the people of Western Australia do not employ coloured labour, but foreigners on a foreign ship were employed at Fremantle to do work which white residents of Australia ought to do. I dare say that a . similar state of things has existed in the other States. If we are to give encouragement to Australian products, we should not refuse to encourage the employment of Australian residents. I dare say that honorable senators opposite pride themselves on being supporters of the White Australia policy ; but, in view of the adoption of that policy in Australia, is it not humiliating that we should see white residents of the Commonwealth, depending upon their labour for the support of themselves and their families, standing idly by while Mongolians are doing the work which they ought to be doing? Will honorable senators opposite defend that? Senator Millen has tried to distract the attention of the Committee by saying that if we pass this clause we shall be endangering our exports, and the trade and commerce of Australia. But let us view the facts as they ought to be viewed. Honorable senators are aware that white men are left standing idle on our wharfs while foreigners are doing work which they might do.
– The honorable senator said that coloured labour was employed in the work in Western Australia. I do not think that any such thing takes place in any port in Queensland.
– I am not speaking now of Queensland as a State in which coloured labour is employed. If this clause is given effect to, the white residents of Australia will not have to stand idly by whilst Chinese and Afghans are doing the work they ought to do. We should discuss the clause upon its merits ; and it must be admitted that, by passing it, we shall be doing justice to white Australian citir zens, while to reject it would be a travesty on our professed support of the White Australia policy. I can submit proofs of what I say I have seen done at Fremantle. If we carry out the spirit of the White Australia policy, we shall see that that work which is now given in some ports of Australia to Asiatics, is given to white Australian citizens.
– It is quite characteristic, and part of the tactics of debate on the other side that, when honorable senators are pressed for arguments, they drag in the White Australia policy. That policy is not concerned in this matter. Why do not honorable senators opposite propose that we should pass a law that no one but a white Australian shall handle a single ton of cargo brought to any port in the Commonwealth ? Are the Government prepared (o go as far as that ? We know that they are not. Because while honorable senators opposite are willing to talk as they do about the Chinese, and say that one of the objects of this clause is to prevent Chinese from handling cargo, they dare not make a simijar proposal in the case of a ship manned by Germans. If the Government were to make a proposal consistent with the lines of policy formulated by Senator Needham, they would say that no German or other foreigner, or even a Britisher shall handle a ton of cargo in any port i« Australia.
– That was not ray argument.
– The honorable senator dragged in the Chinaman, because he knew he could not touch the German in this matter. What happened when Senator Gould was putting his objection to the clause before the Committee? The honorable senator was accused, as honorable senators of. this side are always accused, of a desire to deprive the wharf labourer of Australia of a chance of employment. How long will it be necessary for honorable senators on this side to expose the Pharisaism of that kind of argument? When the Minister of Defence was asked to give some reason for the introduction of this clause one would naturally have presumed that he would be armed with a gun, which, when fired, would silence us, but he gave an answer which showed the difficulty of his position. He said it was in order to protect jarrah timber-getters. When such a reason is given the clause should be kicked out.
– Yes, if that were the reason.
– If there is no other reason for it, the clause stands selfcondemned. The Minister, when asked, for an explanation of its appearance in this Bill’, went to his own State, Western Australia, for a reason, which he, no doubt, intended to be convincing.
– Not a reason, an excuse.
– Perhaps I too highly compliment the Minister when I say that he gave a reason for the introduction of this clause. I should like toask the honorable senator this question, which he may, or may not, answer.
– Am I on mv oath?
– No, butI put the question in a useful form, which the Minister, no doubt, quite understands. Will the honorable senator, as the’ Minister in charge of the Bill, say that representations from the Seamen’s Union or the Wharf Labourers’ Union have not been made to him or to the Government since the Navigation Bill was last before the Senate, for the insertion of this clause?
– So far as the Seamen’s Union is concerned, I say, absolutely, no.
– I accept the answer. The Minister says that he has received no communication whatever from the Seamen’s Union or the Wharf Labourers’ Union to insert in the Navigation Bill such a provision as that which we are now considering. Do I understand- the honorable senator to say yes or no, to. that question?
– I say that I have re- ceived no such communication.
– It is not necessary that a Labour Government should receive such communications.
– A little gathering is all they need.
– Is this another illustration of the old proverb that “ A wink is as good as a nod to a blind horse?” Let me direct attention to a remarkable change of opinion on the opposite benches during the last few . minutes. A few moments ago Senator Guthrie proposed an amendment with his usual force and clearness, which would take a good deal of the sting out of this new clause, whoever its father or godfather may be. it is a little suspicious that we cannot ascertain anything more definite about the parentage of this clause than a reference, to the difficulties of some timber-getters at Bunbury. It has a mostextraordinary parentage, any way.
SenatorGuthrie. - Read the Commission’s report.
– I compliment the honorable senator upon the’ assistance, which he is giving to enable us to understand the Bill. I ask him or the Minister to explain why it is sought to give to Australian shipsa privilege which they will not extend to British or foreign ships. He has still an amendment to move in this clause, and that is part of our objection to this differential legislation.
– We will make them all alike if the honorable senator prefers that.
– Very well; I shall take them in that form.
– I object to an arrangement being made between Senators St. Ledger and de Largie.
– I take it that, after the speech I have made, Senator de Largie is prepared to treat British and foreign ships on the same lines, and to the same extent, as Senator Guthrie wishes to treat Australian coasting ships.
– Now let me move my amendment.
– I want to give the honorable senator time to think about his amendment. WillSenator Guthrie or. the Minister give some reason why, if the
Government admit the former’s amendment, a difference should be made in this way? Because the value of the coasting trade of Australia, as compared with the foreigngoing trade, is but as a molehill compared with a Himalaya. Our great prosperity depends upon the volume of our export trade, and the value of the latter depends, to some extent, on the cost of getting it into the markets of the world. Surely, if my honorable friend is going to give consideration to the Australian coasting trade, he will not hamper the foreign-going trade ?
– The honorable senator wants cheap labour.
– There is the refuge ! It is always, “ Do you want cheap labour?” or “Do you want a White Australia?” My honorable friends on the other side will never meet an argument without intruding every time their shibboleths or their Pharisaical expressions. Will Senator Guthrie tell me on what ground, economical or national, he proposes to make an exception in favour of the Australian coasting trade? I shall join with him if he will extend the privilege to British shipping.
– I am not here to protect the Britishers but to protect the Australian.
– I waited for the honorable senator’s answer. What he is here for is as patent as the light shining in front of us. There has been a combination between the Shipping Combine and the Seamen’s Union, in order to get this privilege. Otherwise, why does the honorable senator display so much anxiety about his amendment? It is to give an advantage to a shipping combination which has been denounced time and again by honorable senators on the other side. I do not know whether they are right or wrong in asking for this privilege ; but it is an extraordinary thing that when this new clause is reached we should find the secretary of the Seamen’s Union, in the person of Senator Guthrie, hand-in-glove with the Australian shipping combination to get an advantage which they will deny to British vessels.
– What part of Great Britain does the honorable senator represent here?
– I hope that until I go to another, and, I hope, a better place, I shall be a Britisher, the representative of everything that is good anr? worthy.
– And a great many who are here now will not be there to interject.
– Probably. The Minister’s answer was loaded from top to bottom, but he did not know it, and the attitude of Senator Guthrie shows what the public can see by reading the Bill. It is, as regards some of its important clauses, very largely the result of a joining of hands by two powerful combinations, capital and labour, to secure legislation in their interests, and in some aspects to let the producers and Australia go hang, so long as capital can draw its dividends, and labour make its own terms and conditions for employment.
– That shows how little the honorable senator knows.
– Let us have no hypocrisy about the matter. Let us clear the Chamber from cant while we are considering the Bill. Let the honorable senator admit right away that, whether directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, he and those behind him have been hand in glove with these combines for a particular purpose, and in order that that purpose may be effected, they intend to exclude the competition of foreign and British ships from the coast trade of Australia.
– There are absolutely no grounds for the honorable senator’s assertion.
– Then, will the honorable senator state the reason for this amendment, to give an advantage to one of the most powerful combines on the earth, comparatively speaking? Will he give me an explicit answer to my question?
– The question is explicit, and from a public stand-point, important. I hold no brief for the Shipping Combine, or for the Seamen’s Union, or other body. It is a most extraordinary thing that in one portion of the clause we have British and foreign ships almost expressly excluded from the coasting trade, and that when the Government have more or less veiled that intention, we find Senator Guthrie stepping in., and saying “ Let us make it clear, at any rate, that the Australian ships shall not be prejudiced.” Once more I ask the honorable senator to give a reason for making this distinction.
– Senator O’Keefe-
- Senator de Largie..
– I was standing on my feet before Senator de Largie rose from his
– Order ! The honorable senator’s remark is distinctly a reflection on the Chair. I saw Senator de Largie, and called him. I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the remark.
– I was on my feet, and had mentioned your name, before Senator de Largie rose.
– Order. I repeat that I saw Senator de Largie. I did not see Senator Sayers, and I called Senator de Largie. The remark of Senator Sayers is a reflection on the Chair, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– In the circumstances, sir, I accept your statement.
– Will the honorable senator withdraw the remark?
– I simply said that I was on my feet before Senator de Largie rose, and now you state that you saw Senator de Largie first. I therefore withdraw the remark.
– That is sufficient.
– I wanted to move a prior amendment, otherwise I should not have cared whether I was called upon to speak now or later. I am sure that Senator Sayers will see that the amendment ought to be moved at once.
– I would have given way willingly to the honorable senator.
– After the word “cargo,” I want the Committee to insert the words “ or ballast,” for reasons which I think must be obvious to every one. A large proportion of the foreign-trade ships which come to Australian ports, more particularly to Newcastle, come in ballast. Thus there is a considerable amount of work of which our shore labourers are robbed. I think that every honorable senator wishes to see as much work as possible given to Australian labourers. We do not desire that it should be given to the crews of foreign vessels, who might be more profitably employed in effecting necessary repairs which can be undertaken only when those vessels are in port. I move -
That after the word “ cargo,” line 4, the words “or ballast” be inserted.
– I see no objection to die amendment, which appears to be in conformity with the principle underlying the clause.
– From the point of- view of policy, ballast occupies the same category as does cargo. Seeing that the ships of foreign nations are subsidized by their own Governments to come to Australia and take away our products, in competition with our own vessels, the question of discharging ballast becomes one of importance.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The honorable senator should bear in mind that this provision will apply equally to British ships.
– But a British ship cannot afford to come to Australia in ballast as do German and French vessels. The first-named has to earn its way.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Is it necessary to employ skilled men to take out ballast?
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - That was the honorable senator’s contention in reference to the loading and unloading of cargo.
– Exactly. If unskilled men are sent down a ship’s hold, they may easily do serious damage within a very few hours. I regret that Senator St. Ledger should have made unfounded charges which will appear in Hansard, in reference to an alleged combination. Speaking, not merely as a member of the Senate, but as President of the Seamen’s Union, I say, unhesitatingly, that no arrangement has been made by that organization with any shipping company in regard to one point of this Bill. When the Navigation Bill of 1908 was under consideration, the Shipping Federation supplied each honorable senator upon the opposite side of the Chamber with 300 amendments to it; but it did not supply me with a copy of them.
– And they are silent upon this occasion. For what reason?
– I do not know. No doubt they are closely following the discussion upon the Bill. But they are not in communication with any honorable senator upon this side of the Chamberin regard to it. I hold in my hand a copy of the articles of the Inter- State steamship Ferret. Those articles provide -
All members of the crew shall mutually assist each other in the general duties of the ship, and shall work cargo and all coal if required and also ballast.
To urge that an arrangement has been made between the ship-owners and myself in regard to this measure, is absolutely nonsensical, seeing that I wish to restrict their rights under those articles. Theproposal whichI have outlined provides that only able seamen shall be permitted to work cargo. Are the ship-owners likely to agree with that? I will undertake to. say that, before the amendment which I have suggested has been disposed of, some of them will interview honorable senators opposite, and request them to oppose it. 1 have already said that firemen are not cut out for working cargo, and yet, especially in Queensland ports, they are frequently required to carry sugar.
– Why does not the honorable senator defer his remarks until he moves his amendment?
– I shall do so; but I thought it well to deny the accusation that has been made, at the earliest possible moment. I shall support Senator de Largie’s amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That after the word “ ship “ line 5, the following words be inserted - “ Provided that no permission shall be given to such ship to employ the crew thereof in handling cargo where a sufficiency of other labour is available.”
My object is to insure that, in ports round the Australian coast, where a sufficient supply of labour is available for the purpose, it shall not be open to the Government of the day to grant the agents or owners of foreign ships permission to employ their crews in handling cargo. My intention is to draw a sharp and rigid line between those places where a sufficiency of labour is available to handle the cargo of these foreign vessels, and those places where it is not.
– The honorable senator need not argue the matter for the purpose of convincing me. I am prepared to accept his amendment.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Perhaps Senator Lynch may wish to convince the remainder of the Committee.
– In ports other than the capital cities of the Commonwealth, where a small portion of the population is composed of wharf labourers, it is most unfair for the masters or owners of foreign ships to employ the crews of those vessels in working cargo, whilst our own men remain idle. Of course, in places where sufficient labour is not forthcoming to efficiently handle the cargo of these vessels, the Government of the day should be free to grant the necessary permission to the masters or owners to employ their own crews for that purpose.
– Who is going to decide whether there is a sufficiency of labour available?
– The Minister has the Customs organization at his disposal, and can inquire from his officers as to the condition of the local labour market at any particular place. It is unfair to deprive our own people of a livelihood simply because foreign ship-masters want to use their crews tor doing work which our own men have been in the habit of doing.
– The idea seems to be to protect Australian labour in regard to work that can be done in Australia. But why pick out one small section of the community for this protection ? Why not protect labour against foreign competition in every direction ? Why allow produce to be sent from Australia in the raw state, and have it brought back in the manufactured state, if the process of manufacturing can be done in the country ?
– We are doing all we can in that direction.
– The Government are strong enough to do as they like. They could provide in this Bill that all wool leaving Australia must be washed before export. But, of course, honorable senators opposite have only one idea, and that is to suit their own immediate ends and purposes. Instead of carrying out their policy piecemeal, they should in a proper manner bring down a proposal applicable to all industries in Australia. Their present object is to bener fit a few people in Bunbury. All the talk we have heard about ballast is “buncombe.” When a foreign ship is coming to Australia she bundles overboard a quantity of her ballast before she gets within the 3-mile limit. We have been told that Chinese and Afghans do this loading work in Western Australia. 1 am sorry for that. I do not think there is another State in Australia where the work is done by coloured labour.
– There is one port in Queensland where loading is done by coloured labour every day in the week.
– Where is that?
– At Lucinda Point, by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– I have passed that Point many times on Australian Union Steam Navigation Company’s vessels, but have never seen work done there by coloured labour. The case may be an exceptional one. Why does not the Wharf Labourers’ Union prevent the occurrence of that kind of thing? 1 should like to see any vessel attempt to employ Chinese or Afghans in Brisbane or Rockhampton, or any port where the Wharf Labourers’ Union is active.
– There is a branch of the Wharf Labourers’ Union at Bunbury, but it cannot prevent the practice.
– It must be a very poor union. There is a place in Tasmania called Huon, from which there is a large export of timber. I myself have seen in the port of Hobart the crew of a foreign vessel loading timber whilst the crew of an English ship had to employ wharf labourers.
– Not “had to,” but did.
– 1 was told that the one ship was compelled by law to employ wharf labourers, whilst the other ship, could employ her crew. Perhaps that was done under State law. It is certainly wrong that a foreign ship should be able to employ her crew on cargo, whilst a British ship lying at the same wharf was compelled to employ labourers. If this amendment will prevent a foreign ship from being placed at an advantage in comparison with an English ship, I shall support it.
– Certainly it will.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.59]- - I do not suppose that there is much use in attempting to oppose the amendment. The proviso that no permission shall be given for a crew to handle cargo whilst a sufficiency of other labour is available has been explained by the Minister. The proposal of such a proviso is a tribute to the want of confidence that honorable senators opposite would repose in any future Ministry.
– Our trouble is with regard to future Ministries.
– 1 am glad that the honorable senator recognises the possibility of another Ministry succeeding the present one. The proviso has now been made pretty tight. It would still be left to the Minister to determine whether a sufficiency of local labour was available, and he might please himself as to whether he would exercise his power under this clause. I have not yet been convinced that the primary reason for its introduction is not that which I stated when I first addressed myself to the question. I do not think any one can contend that this clause is inserted in order that a few men at Bunbury may get a little more employment. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that to carry such a provision to its logical conclusion we should apply it “to the stowage of wheat, wool, and every other product of the country. To do so would be to restrict and hamper cnr trade and commerce in order that n little benefit might be conferred upon a comparatively few individuals at the expense of our great producing interests. Would that be either fair or reasonable? I have no objection to honorable senators urging that we should protect this particular class of labour if they are willing to give the same protection to every other class of labour, and to extend the same fair play to the producers of our wheat, wool, and minerals.
– The honorable senator is putting the case splendidly from the point of view of German and Swedish shipowners.
– Senator Lynch may talk as much nonsense and make as many false charges against honorable senators on this bide as he pleases. He has charged me with having no sympathy with the wharf labourer, and has said that he might starve for all I care. I can submit my life and practice to the judgment of any working man who has worked for me. A great many have done so, and T could get a good word from them all.
– I do not know that I used the words which the honorable senators says I used, but if I did I will let’ them stand.
– If we are to do the best we can for our people, we shall not pass legislation for the benefit of one section, which will be against the interests of others. An amendment has been suggested to provide that able seamen who are members of the crews of Australian ships shall be allowed to assist in the loading and unloading of cargo. That would make the clause a little better from the point of view of the owners of Australian ships. I shall not oppose that amendment, but later on I shall avail myself of the opportunity to vote against the clause altogether, because I think it is out of place in such a Bill as that which we have now under consideration. It is our duty to see that- no unnecessary restrictions are placed upon our trade, whether oversea or coastal. Senator Guthrie, in speaking on the clause, remarked upon the danger of permitting men who are unskilled in the work to load ships with wheat and wool. The honorable senator said that because of unskilful loading ships have been lost. I should like the honorable senator to give me a list of the badly-loaded ships which he says have never been heard of after leaving port.
-i could mention eleven that were lost in one year.
– It is possible that the honorable senator might mention the names of some ships that have been lost, and of others that have got into a very bad way but have ultimately reached port ; but it would be more difficult for him to say that they were lost because they were loaded by their crews or by men unaccustomed to the work.
– My own opinion is that they were loaded too heavily.
– But they may have been loaded by stevedores - men whose occupation it is to load cargo.
– By direction of the charterers.
– The point is that this clause will not effect any improvement in that respect. It would not prevent overloading by regular stevedores, whether under the instruction of the charterers, or any one else. There might be something in the honorable senator’s argument if he could show that ships have been lost because they were loaded by their crews. It is provided in this Bill that no unseaworthy ship shall be allowed to go to sea, and unskilful loading might be evidence of an unseaworthy condition. I wish to impress upon Senator Guthrie that without this provision at all. a vessel that is not properly loaded may be deemed to be in an unseaworthy condition, and may be refused a clearance. Clause 209 reads -
A ship shall not be deemed seaworthy under this Act unless -
she is in a fit state as to condition of hull and equipment, boilers and machinery, stowage of ballast or cargo, number and qualifications of crew, including officers, and in every other respect, to encounter the ordinary perils of the voyage then entered upon ; and
she is not overloaded.
Senator Guthrie must see that with such a clause in the Bill, it does not matter by whom a vessel is loaded, because, if she is not properly loaded, or is overloaded, by her crew, or by regular stevedores, she may be detained and prevented from going to sea.
– It matters a great deal to men who get their living by handling cargo.
– Senator Needham is dealing with quite another point. I am referring to a reason given for this clause by Senator Guthrie, and I have shown that it is not a cogent reason, because the Bill makes provision without this clause for preventing a ship going to sea if her cargo is not properly stowed, whether by ordinary stevedores or by her crew.
– Does the honorable senator think that every ship that leaves Australia will be inspected as to the way in which her cargo is stowed?
– I can at least say that if a ship is loaded by her crew, the attention of the authorities will be specially directed to the possibility that her cargo may not be properly stowed. I say that the reason given by Senator Guthrie cannot be accepted as a reason for the introduction of this clause. The reason founded upon the experience of timber getters at Bunbury, is a very inadequate one, and I again ask why this clause has been introduced ? I do not expect that the Government will frankly say, “ The fact is that we believe it will prove a weapon in the hands of the strikers in the event of a strike of wharf labourers because the cargo of a ship is being handled by her crew.” But I do not forget statements we have heard made here, perhaps jocularly, perhaps not, to the effect, “ We are in power now, and we are going to look after a particular class of people.”
– Is there anything about strikes in thisclause?
– Surely the honorable senator does not think it is necessary that the words should appear to enable one to draw such an inference from the clause? Honorable senators have said what is the object in view.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– How can it be said to be against the interests of the ship-owner if the crew of a vessel are prevented from handling the cargo only at ports where there is a sufficiency of local labour available?
– Under this clause the Minister will prescribe as and when he sees fit. But it does not say what will happen if the Minister does not prescribe anything at all. What would the honorable senator do then ? He could not compel the Minister to act. If a strike were on in any port, and a vigorous battle was being fought in connexion with this question, I very much doubt whether we should find any Minister prepared to prescribe that the crew of a vessel in that port might assist in unloading and loading her in order that she might get to sea. If- any Minister did so, the men on strike would probably say, “ Here is a pretty Minister who, when we are at grips with the shipowners, permits them to use the crews of their ships to handle cargo in order that their vessels may get to sea.” I say that it would be a cruel position in which to place a Minister, to ask him to prescribe under this clause in such circumstances.
– Even if a Minister did what the honorable senator suggests, that would not be as bad as the action of the party to which the honorable senator belongs .in calling out the soldiers to put down a strike.
– What nonsense the honorable senator is talking. I might just as well say that in the old days the honorable senator would never have been able to appear as a representative of the people in Parliament, nor would I. We are living under better conditions in these days, and as the years advance we get more improved conditions.
– I was referring to modern days when the party to which the honorable senator belongs was in power.
– It is a proof of the improvement in modern conditions that Senator E. J. Russell is returned to represent the people.
– I may have misunderstood the honorable senator, but I am pleased that he should consider the fact that my presence is an evidence of the improvement of modern days. I recognise that a great many of the enlightened electors of Australia have sent to this Parliament many representatives who hold different opinions from those held by honorable senators opposite.
– The clause has nothing to do with the result of the elections.
– The fault is due to Senator Gould, who spoke of what might be done by the Minister.
– We know that Ministers, though not partisans, are at least party men ; but no Minister belonging to any party would be likely to exercise the right under this clause to enable a ship to be unloaded and loaded at a time when there was a strike of wharf labourers.
– Does the honorable senator not see that it is proposed that, when there is a sufficiency of local labour available, the Minister shall not be permitted to act under this clause? It is only when there is not a sufficiency of local labour available that he will be free to act.
– It is- a negative sort of .proposition. I do not suppose that any Minister would permit a vessel’s crew to do this work if there was plenty of local labour available for the purpose. A Minister has to respect the law which he is called upon to administer. Even a Minister with extraordinary views on the other side of the question will consider it his duty to administer the law.
– Does not the honorable senator think that public opinion will play a part?
– We know how much it plays a part when a strike is coming on. One side or the other has got the bit in its teeth, neither side is prepared to listen to reason, and public opinion only comes in after the greater part of the mischief has been done. To my mind, this clause can only be proposed with regard to one specific object, and it ought not to be enacted. If the Ministry think that a policy of that kind can be carried out in the country, let them bring down a measure, and if it meets with the approval of Parliament it must be accepted_ until public opinion is educated sufficiently to make a change.
– I desire to draw the attention of Senator Lynch and the Minister to the amendment which the latter says he will accept to insert the words “ where a sufficiency of labour is available.” I admit at once that it will mitigate the severity of the clause.
– Is it not a limitation to thi; operation of the clause?
– It may be. Everything will depend upon the administration of the law. As Pope said -
For forms of government let fools contest;
Whate’er is best administered is best.
I want Senator Lynch or the Minister to explain what is meant by the term ‘ ‘ a sufficiency of labour.” On this side we are contending that the clause might be used, and that it offers facilities, to enable strikers improperly, and I might add, unjustly, to gain their ends. Suppose that a ship came to a port. If the wharf labourers or others who might be engaged in that capacity were out on strike, and refused to load or unload the ship, they would
Still be there as workers. Would the Minister say in the circumstances, “ You cannot use your own crew to load and unload rhe vessel, because there is still a sufficiency of labour at the port?”
– It will be well for the honorable senator to say who are on strike.
– There would be a sufficiency of labour at the port not on strike. Under this clause if that is what it means, the Minister might say at once to the captain, “ You do not come within the mitigating effect of the proviso.”
– The answer to that would be: “Are men available ? “
– They might be available at an absurd price.
– The men might be available, but suppose that they remained out on strike. The Minister is now conceding that if the captain were to say that the labour was there but not available, the ship would be entitled to load or unload the cargo. Will he give us an assurance that that is . the true interpretation of the term “ sufficiency of labour?”
– It would ail depend upon the circumstances of the case.
– I thought that the honorable senator would not commit himself to a more definite reply. Will he say that if there were a sufficiency of labourers in one sense of the word, and they were out on strike, he would rule that there was an insufficiency of labour and allow the crew to load or unload the vessel ?
– It would depend upon the circumstances.
– The Minister is responsible for giving us an interpretation of the clause, while it is passing through the Senate, in order that we may thoroughly understand what it means. Let me quote an incident in point. In1910, the Parliament of New South Wales passed an Industrial Arbitration Act of a fairly drastic character. The Ministry placed great confidence in the Act, and some time after it was passed, Mr. B. R.Wise, K.C., as Attorney-General, wrote in the Australian Review of Reviews that no strike was possible in New South Wales because, he said, “ We have enacted the most drastic provisions preventing employers from resorting to locks-out, and employes from resorting to strikes.” If my memory serves me correctly, he said that strikes and locks-out wouldbe at an end.
– Rot !
– The statement may be “rot,” but it was made by Mr. B. R. Wise.
– The honorable senator knows that the Act was of no avail. It was not compulsory, but purely voluntary, and absolute rot.
– Is the honorable senator in order, sir, in referring to a remark made by Mr. B. R. Wise, who was at one time a Minister of the Crown in New South Wales, as “ rot “ ?
– It was the honorable senator’s interjection which I said was absolute rot.
- Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - I ask the Chairman if it was in order for the honorable senator to make the interjection, and whether it should not be withdrawn?
– If Senator Henderson made that reference to any statement by Senator Millen, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the remark, sir, but I still believe that it is absolutely correct ; in fact, I know that it is.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - That is not a withdrawal.
– Will the honorable senator withdraw the term “ absolute rot?’.’
– Well, I withdraw the term, but it is still true.
– Within twelve months from the passing of the Industrial Arbitration Act in New South Wales, the Australian Workers’ Union were out on strike to the number of 20,000, and breaking the law.
– There was no law.
– When the attention of Mr. Wise, as Attorney-General, was called to the fact that the workers had to define the law, what answer did he make ? He said, “ I will not prosecute - I cannot prosecute, because . the shearers have not struck. They have simply refused to go to work.” The Act was thought to be complete and perfect to prevent strikes ; indeed, to establish a sort of economic paradise between workers and employers. Locks-out were distinctly forbidden.” The leaving of work without notice was a penal offence; yet when the question came up for consideration in the Court, the AttorneyGeneral, who was the author of the legislation, made the distinction which I have mentioned. What guarantee have we as to the interpretation which shall be given to the words “ sufficiency of labour” if inserted in the clause? We are entitled to know what is the proper meaning and acceptance of the term.
– The illustration which the honorable senator gave has no foundation in fact, as I shall prove in a few minutes.
-I shall welcome the disproof of what 1 have said when the time comes. I ask the Minister whether he would hold a certain condition of affairs at a port to mean an insufficiency of labour because the labourers would not work, and allow the crew to load or unload the ship; but an answer to my question has not yet been given. Senator Millen has partially anticipated the answer, but the Minister has remained silent. It is most important that we should know the meaning of the term before a division is taken. It is easy for the Minister to quibble about its meaning when he has accepted the amendment.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was dealing with the difficulty that will be experienced in interpreting the words” a sufficiency of labour,” which are contained in Senator Lynch’s amendment, if that amendment be carried. In this connexion, I would call attention to the fact that, although upon three occasions the High Court, with the assistance of the most eminent counsel, has carefully considered the meaning of the simple words contained in our Constitution, “ A dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State,” it has not yet arrived at an authoritative decision. In these circumstances, I say that, before we assent to, or dissent from, either the clause or the amendment, we are entitled to know the interpretation which will probably be placed upon them. The Minister has suggested that I have dwelt too strongly upon the attitude which would most likely be assumed by the Government in case of a wharf labourers’ strike, either in any of our principal or outlying ports. But to my mind that is the kernel of the question. I have no hesitation in saying that the Minister should give us an authoritative statement of the interpretation which the Government place upon the words “ a sufficiency of labour.”
– The honorable senator might ask for a similar statement upon every clause in the Bill.
– But I recognise that this is the crucial time. Let me put the question from another stand-point. Will Senator Lynch accept the addition of the following words to his amendment, “ Provided that, in the case of a strike or lock-out occurring, that circumstance shall be regarded as evidence that a sufficiency of labour is not available.”
– My amendment speaks for itself.
– But its meaning is not clear.
– If the honorable senator moves an amendment upon my amendment, I may submit a further amendment upon his amendment.
– If the honorable senator wishes to escape replying to my question by means of that subterfuge, he is welcome to do so. Seeing how much lies behind the interpretation which may possibly be placed upon this clause, and upon the amendment, it becomes a matter of vital importance. But I recognise that there is a time when resistance to a certain course of action degenerates into an idle “ stone-wall.”
– Hear, hear.
– I did not require an approving cheer from the VicePresident of the Executive Council to remind me of my duty in this matter. Personal considerations might very well have impelled me to remain silent while this amendment was under consideration, because I recognise that my observations will not be welcomed in many of the houses of my friends. But I felt that all personal considerations should be thrown aside, and that it was ray duty to give fearless expression to my strong and deliberate convictions upon the floor of this chamber. Notwithstanding that I might have pleased my friends by remaining silent-
– The honorable senator will neither please nor annoy them.
– Nobody knows how agreeable it would have been for me to remain silent. But a sense of public duty has impelled me to focus the strong searchlight of criticism upon this matter. I ask both the Minister of Defence and Senator Guthrie to tell us the interpretation which they place upon the words “ a sufficiency of labour.”
– The honorable senator asks us to assist in “ stone- walling “ our own measure.
– I was on the point of closing my remarks when the Minister interjected. By inference, he has affirmed that if my example be followed this discussion will degenerate into a “stone-wall.” I repudiate the charge, because one has merely to glance at the faces of Ministers and their supporters to see that they realize the importance of the proposal which is now under consideration. They recognise the importance which every worker in the community will attach to this clause, which is new, and to the amendment, which really constitute the crux of the Bill. During the course of my remarks, I was reminded by Senator Guthrie that almost every clause of the Bill contains a similar objectionable feature. That is why members of the Opposition have brought it forward so prominently now. Notwithstanding that the Minister of Defence has placed an embargo upon his followers by declaring, in effect, that if they reply to hostile criticism they will be “ stone-walling “ the measure, I say that both the Minister and his suporters will stand condemned, unless they offer a reasonable explanation of the probable interpretation which will be placed upon the words to which I have directed attention. The Minister ought to be in a position to tell the Committee what the view of the Government as to this amendment is, and how they will administer it if it becomes part of the Act.
– Having some connexion with shipping, I have no hesitation in saying that this amendment is a blow aimed at that industry. I credit the present Government with bond fide intentions to the extent that if they were in power when a strike took place they would see to it that if the ordinary supply of labour were not available, what is called free labour might be used. But, unfortunately, it is quite possible that in days to come a Government’ dependent upon the trade union party may be in power ; and if a dispute took place in the shipping industry then, the consequences would be terrible to the country. A ship might come from abroad in ignorance of this law, and find that, owing to the strike, she was entirely unable to load or unload.’ The Ministry in power might be altogether unsympathetic, and might afford no opportunity for free labour to be employed.
– We hope there will be no strikes.
– I also hope so; but, unfortunately, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that we have had a Government in power a member of which took part in a procession of picketers at Broken Hill
– We do not want to forget the fact.
– What has once occurred may occur again.
– It is well that it should occur, unless there is a change.
– Suppose that a ship came into one of the ports on the north-west coast of Australia, and found that there was a strike. What would become of her cargo? She would have to take it elsewhere. In legislation of this kind, we must surely provide for all possibilities. I quite believe that if Senator Pearce were in office, he would have the moral courage to say, “ If unionist labour will not do what is necessary, the shipping authorities are justified in permitting free labour to be employed.”
– This Parliament, not the unions, will control industrial affairs.
– Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have occa*sionally been charged with being mono- .polists. There is a great monopoly in Australia at present - a Labour monopoly - that ‘is injuring the country. No doubt the unions are within their rights in trying to prevent outside people from interfering with them. But I believe in free labour. I hope that the day will never come when honest men will be compelled to belong to unions or lose their political liberty.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of free labour amongst bankers ?
– I am. The honorable senator may know something about engineering, but what he knows about banking is quite harmless. I shall pair against the amendment, but I wish to place it on record, as one who takes an interest in the shipping industry of Australia, that I think that this amendment ought never to have been proposed in relation to a Navigation Bill.
– Senator St. Ledger, in his vain effort to make good his position, has referred to a letter written, as he alleges, by Mr. B. R. Wise, to the Review of Reviews. The honorable senator alleges that Mr. Wise said that after the passage of the Industrial Arbitration Act in New South Wales there would be no more strikes. When that allegation was made, I thought I heard a “ Hear, hear,” from the Leader of the Opposition.
– I will give it now if necessary.
– I wish to contradict the wild statement of Senator St. Ledger, which I regret to hear is supported by Senator Millen. I have before me a letter written in July last by Mr. B. R. Wise to the Sydney Morning Herald, in which he makes use of the following words -
It may be well to repeat that the Arbitration Act never prohibited, nor was it intended to prohibit, strikes except before or pending an application to the Court.
– That is the Mr. B. R. Wise of this year; we were talking about the Mr. B. R. Wise of a few years before.
– In our debates it is always presumed that when an honorable senator alludes to an individual he is prepared to give chapter and verse for his allegations. Therefore, Senator St. Ledger was ill-advised in his references to Mr. Wise without giving the date of the statement. I have quoted Mr. Wise’s definite statement that the New South Wales Arbitration Act was not intended to prevent strikes. Since I submitted my amendment I have had occasion to redraft it, with a view to improve the phraseology. I therefore wish to withdraw the amendment now before the Chair, with a view of proposing it in an amended form.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the following words be inserted after the word “ship,” line 5 - “Provided that the regulations shall not allow the employment of the crew of such ship in handling cargo or ballast where a sufficiency of other labour is available.”
I do not feel inclined to reply to Senator St. Ledger’s statements, except to say as to his criticism upon the phrase “ sufficiency of other labour,” that the words have no more than their ordinary dictionary meaning. The honorable senator had a sufficiently good opinion of the amendment to praise it in some respects, and to admit that it would accomplish what it was designed to do.
– As far as I can learn, this proposal is entirely new. I am not aware that a similar provision appears in any other Navigation Act. I waited patiently in the hope of hearing the Minister of Defence explain why it was necessary to include such a proviso, but no explanation could have been more lame and impotent than that given by him. It amounted to this - that at one time there was, at some port in Western Australia,, where timber was loaded, an effort to do some injustice to the wharf labourers.
– I merely mentioned that as one instance.
– I believe that that is the only instance that the honorable senator could give in favour of the amendment. 1 am quite sure that if he couldhave given others he would not have failed to indicate them.
– I could give some instances affecting the honorable senator’s own State.
– The reason given by the Minister for his support of the amendment was certainly not a good one, nor do I believe that it was the true reason. Senator Guthrie then came to the rescue with another explanation as to why (he amendment was proposed. He stated that the intention was to preserve life and to save ships; that the labour of a crew was not intended for the stowage or unloading of cargo. I do not believe that that is the true reason for this proposal. I take it that when a master brings his ship into port his anxiety is to get her unloaded as quickly as possible and get away. It would not be cheap to employ his own crew for loading and unloading. The time. involved would be greater than if he employed ordinary labour. Moreover, ordinary labour is very largely employed for this purpose. It would only be necessary to employ the crew of a vessel in exceptional cases. My belief is that the amendment is proposed in order to play into the hands of unionism, and for no other purpose. The intention is to prevent a crew from helping to unload a ship while a labour trouble is in existence. I do not think that we ought to legislate for such a purpose. I have no objection to men striking. 1 do not object to any body of men saying that they will not work for a certain wage. They have a perfect right to do so. But they have no right to put obstacles in the way of trade, or of a master getting his ship unloaded. If they are not prepared to do the work themselves they ought not to prevent others from doing it. Therefore, I am not prepared to vote for the amendment.
.- The Minister has, by inference, charged honorable senators on this side with “ stonewalling “ this measure. When he was asked for a simple explanation Of this clause, his reply was, “ Do you want me to assist in ‘ stone- walling ‘ the Bill?” That was quite unworthy of the honorable senator. We have discussed this clause for four and a half hours, because we believe that its importance demands such discussion. We have here a provision that is entirely new, and is not to be found in any Act of this kind in this, or any other country. When the Minister was asked1 for an explanation of its introduction, he made a lame and halting statement about the hardships of certain men at Bunbury. I have made inquiries into the matter referred to since ; and I understand that on some of the limber ships visiting Bunbury, there are two or three men engaged because of their special skill in stowing timber. Winchmen, and others engaged on these ships, would be debarred from employment under this clause. We are opposing the clause, amongst other reasons, because we believe it will strike a blow at British shipping. Every reference we have made to British shipping and British interests this afternoon, has been received with a laugh and a jeer which was not creditable to honorable senators opposite. I am one of those who hold by the union with the Old Country. I recognise the great privileges she has conferred upon us, and what she has done for us. She is our best customer, and takes from us yearly products to the value of ,£30,000,000. It is on the money received for those products that we have to depend for the development of this country. The Old Country is, in a sense, our Mother., and yet honorable senators opposite endeavour to restrict her trade, and squeeze her business out in every possible way. I suppose that next year some of our honorable friends opposite will be going to the Coronation of King George V., and we shall have them flaunting their loyalty, their devotion to the Crown, and all that sort of thing. We shall judge their sentiments by the legislation they propose.
– Is it disloyal to do justice to those who have to labour?
– I do not wish to do any injustice to those who have to work. We on this side desire to see justice done all round. We object to this clause because it will be a bar to our producers - men who do work, and not men who talk of labour and never work.
– Who are the men who talk about labour and never vork?
– There are a good many.
– The honorable senator should be specific, and should give names.
– Surely Senator Russell does not wish Senator McColl to become personal ?
– The honorable senator is only lip loyal and pocket loyal.
– I am nothing of the kind.
– I ask honorable senators to refrain from interjecting. Senator McColl should be allowed to proceed without interruption.
– The honorable senator ought not to cast reflections upon this side.
– I say that this clause will strike a blow at our producers, on whom the development of this country depends. Their principal markets are not in Australia. Only a tithe of what they produce can be used in this country, and they must seek the markets of the world to dispose of their produce. We should assist them in every way we can, instead of placing embargoes upon the export of their produce. We should give our producers fair conditions to enable them to reach the widest possible market, so that they may get the best return for their labour.
– We all agree with that.
– Their interests are not recognised in this clause, which will have the effect of making our ports expensive, and, therefore, unpopular with shipowners. It will drive shipping from our ports, and lessen the means of communication between Australia and other countries.
– The argument that it would kill trade was urged against factory legislation and Wages Boards.
– Before ever Senator Barker talked labour, 1 was a member of a Government that appointed the first Commission on Sweating in Victoria.
– I think I helped the honorable senator materially at that time.
– 1 was a member of a Government in Victoria that made provision for twenty-two Wages Boards - a greater number than was established by any other Government in Australia. We do not wish to deprive our own men of work. We desire that our wharf labourers and stevedores should have all the work we can possibly give them; but when these men are unreasonable, what are we to do? If British ships come here, whose owners are prepared to concede the terms, wages, and conditions asked by our wharf labourers, is the whole shipping of a port to be hung up, and our producers prevented from reaching their markets because the owners of one .or two foreign ships will not concede the demands of the men working on our wharfs? The Minister should make it clear in this Bill that, in such circumstances, the shipping, of our ports will not be hung up ; but he is afraid “to do so, because he knows that if such a contingency arose, he could not decide the matter, and that the Caucus would have to decide it. We oppose this clause on the grounds I have stated, not - as will be thrown in our teeth - because we wish to deprive our own people of the opportunity to labour. We are prepared to do them justice ; but we are not prepared, for the sake of one class, representing but a small section of our community, to rob our producers of their rights.
– I have no intention to “ stone-wall “ this clause, but I object to the viciousness with which Senator McColl has addressed himself to the question.
– I wish to know whether that is a proper term to- apply to the remarks of a member of the Committee.
– Does the honorable senator rise to a point of order?
– I object to being termed vicious.
– I have no desire to characterize the honorable senator as a vicious man. He is not big enough to be vicious. I wish to say that the viciousness with which he addressed himself to this question has called me to my feet. I regard this clause as one which will very materially assist the shipping industry of Australia. It will be admitted that it is essential that there should be in all our ports a number of men engaged in the lumping industry. They are necessary to secure despatch in the discharging and loading of vessels visiting Australia. Every one will admit that without this class of labour it would be utterly impossible to carry on the shipping industry of Australia.
– Hear, hear.
– Having admitted that, why should the honorable senator demur to a provision which would secure to that class of labour the exclusive right of discharging and loading vessels ?
– Why should not some one else be allowed to do it if they will not?
– -When have they refused to do it?
– They have never refused to do it, except when asked to comply with conditions under which no man worth his salt would consent to do the work.
– That is to say, they will always work on their own terms?
– I have very little time for Senator Millen just now. He is so very far from the right road in discussing labour matters that 1 must pass him on one side. Senator McColl appears to be under the impression that Bunbury is a port in which only one or two men are engaged in the lumping industry. I wish to inform him, whilst I have no brief for Bunbury, that there are hundreds of men employed at that port for this particular work, and there are more winch-men on the wharf at Bunbury than there are engine drivers in the district of Bendigo. In submitting this clause, the Government are doingonly what any sensible body of men would do. They are endeavouring to give ship-owners an assurance that there will always be labour available in our ports for discharging and loading cargo. If honorable senators opposite refuse to give a special guarantee that such labour will be available whenever required, they will - to use the words of Senator McColl - be dealing a decided blow at the shipping industry of Australia. We can insure that this class of labour will always be available if we make it clear that when there is work of this kind to be performed it will be the right of our wharf labourers to undertake it.
– Why did not the Minister make this explanation?
– I am not responsible for explanations made by the Minister. I am stating my own views of the effect of the clause as it appears to me.
– The honorable senator has made the best statement in support of it that we have heard yet.
– It does not matter to me whether I have made the best or the worst statement in support of it. I have stated the position as I understand it. We have the labour required for this work, and the vessels visiting our port ; and if we are to assure ship-owners that there will always be available a supply of the labour required, we should give some consideration to a provision intended to guarantee this work to those who are ready to undertake it.
.- Whilst I believe that I have certain rights under the Standing Orders to speak, I am not sure that I have the permission of honorable senators opposite to do so. It would appear to be necessary for one to be very careful when speaking from this side if he desires to express an opinion which is not likely to be favorably received by his political opponents. It has now reached this stage, that, when one ventures to express an opinion from which honorable senators on the other side differ, one is liable to have his integrity assailed and his honesty impugned.
– No, no !
– The honorable senator is so conscientious himself in that regard.
– I have never questioned the honesty of any one in the Chamber.
– The honorable senator is so absolutely scrupulous !
– I have never used a statement against anybody, much less against a Minister, such as was used here this afternoon by Senator Henderson. I wish to pass on, always presuming that I have the permission of that honorable senator and others to proceed, and to refer to a matter which occurred earlier in the debate. A statement, made originally by Senator St. Ledger and confirmed by myself, was subsequently challenged. It was that Mr. B. R. Wise had declared that the original Industrial Arbitration Act of New South Wales would prohibit strikes. It was first challenged by Senator Henderson in the classic expression of “ rot,” or “ humbug.”
– That is absolutely correct.
– A little later we had Senator Lynch reading a few lines from a letter of this year, in which Mr. Wise declared that the Act never was intended to prohibit strikes. Knowing that on innumerable public occasions, when the measure was first before the public, Mr. Wise did represent it as a measure which would stop strikes and industrial disturbances, I have taken the trouble to see exactly what he did say on that occasion. I refer to the Mr. Wise of 1901, and not to the Mr. Wise of 19 10.
– He has grown wiser since then.
– The question as to whether he has grown wiser or not does not affect the accuracy of the statement made here this afternoon. It has been said that when any one uses a quotation, or attributes a statement to a public man, he ought to give chapter and verse, and I propose to do so. The quotation I am about to make is to be found in an article written in 1901, and appearing in volume 19 of the Review of Reviews, at page 551, column 1, paragraph 4. Is that particular enough for honorable senators? Unfortunately, magazines do not follow the excellent example which is followed in Acts of Parliament of numbering the lines, otherwise I should be in a position to enable honorable senators to place their fingers on the exact lines. Tn this article, Mr. Wise says -
It will be seen at once that, in agreeing to this clause, trade unions have deliberately, in the interests of industrial peace, abandoned their most powerful weapon of industrial strife.
– That is as to one’ clause, and not as to the Act.
– My honorable friend need not quibble in that way, because I have not yet finished.
– It does not matter what he said.
– The Minister now says that it does not matter what Mr. Wise said, but he did not rebuke the senator in that way when the statements from this side were challenged.
– I did. I said, “ What the dickens do we care what Mr. Wise said ? “
– It appears that some honorable senators did care very much indeed. So fierce were they to rush to his rescue and champion his cause, that we had that classic expression which emanated from Senator Henderson.
– That was not used in championship of Mr. Wise, but in contradiction of the statement that strikes were abolished.
– Nobody said that strikes were abolished.
– Yes; you did.
– Nothing of the kind ; because we have had a strike in New South Wales practically every year since then. What was said was, not that strikes were abolished, but that Mr. Wise had said that, under his Act, strikes would be abolished.
– What did he have to say about clause 43? That is what I am concerned with.
– Surely this is pertinent to the clause? The connexion is so very obvious to every honorable senator that I think that I might be allowed to continue without interruption. After referring to strikes which had occurred in New Zealand, though it had a Conciliation and Arbitration Act, Mr. Wise went on to say -
By the New South Wales Act this could not happen.
That surely is a further confirmation of the statement from this side.
– He is referring to strikes during the pendency of a case.
– Surely these lines are proof that Mr. Wise then represented his Act as one prohibiting strikes? If not, I ask if the next line will do so -
These two provisions, namely, the prohibition of strikes and locks-out.
When the gentleman refers in 1901 to these provisions prohibiting strikes and locksout and writes a letter to a newspaper in 1 9 10 declaring that the Act never prohibited strikes, it represents just such a paradox as I should expect to come from the brilliant author who is now under discussion.
– Surely it is not a remarkable attitude to take up.
– He is clever enough for the honorable senator, anyway.
– Read us what Mr. Ashton said at that time.
– When I do not wish to take up much time, surely this incitement from the honorable senator to quote the views of another public man is altogether unreasonable.
– I have allowed the honorable senator to quote Mr. Wise, because his name was introduced into the discussion, but I now ask him to keep to the clause.
– I am not aware, sir, that I have been far away from the clause, but in any case I have concluded what I desire to say.
.- In all seriousness I appeal to the Committee to come to a division. I recognise that there is room for a difference of opinion on the clause. But when I recollect that it has been under discussion for four hours, I think it is time to make an appeal to honorable senators. I recognise that there are sinners on both sides of the chamber in this regard, but I trust that the Committee will now come to a division and make some progress with the Bill.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Lynch’ s amendment)- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– In order to continue a custom throughout the Australian coast trade, which has been threshed out here at considerable length to-day, I move -
That after the word “ crews,” line 10, the words “other than able-bodied seamen” be inserted.
– I draw the attention of the Cornmittee to the fact that the crews of Australian-trade ships are practically composed of able seamen. If honorable senators refer to the manning scale, they will find that for steam-ships of from 1,500 or 2,000 tons, the crew provided is no less than nine able seamen, one ordinary seaman, and one boy.
– The firemen and stewards are part of . the crew.
– I do not think that the firemen are usually called upon to do this work.
-Very often they are.
– I think that, as a rule, it is done by the seamen. I cannot see why an exception should be made. 1 do not know that the seamen are anxious to do the work.
– They do not want to lose it.
– Why are they anxious to do the work? Do they get extra pay?
– Of course they do.
– If they do why should we debar the firemen and allow the able seamen to do the work?
– Because it is not their work.
– I do not think that it would be just to make that distinction.
– Do I understand that the seamen would get extra pay if they handled cargo?
– Yes, between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.
- Senator Guthrie says that they do.
– Why not allow all the crew to do it?
– Why should we pick out one section?
– Let the Minister consent to the whole of the crew doing the work.
– That would be in contradiction of what we have done. Furthermore, sub-clause 2 says -
The regulations may forbid the employment, except as prescribed.
Where there is not a sufficiency of shore labour the master will be allowed to use the crew, but where shore labour is available it will be called upon to do the work.
– The whole thing is thrown upon the Government.
– It is thrown upon the Government to . oay at what places and under what conditions the crew of an Australiantrade ship shall be allowed to engage in this work. 1 hold that we should not make a distinction between one part of the crew and another, and, therefore, I ask the Committee to reject the amendment.
– There is a misunderstanding as to the purpose of the amendment. We do not want to bring about a violent revolution in work. On every Australian-trade ship to-day it is part and parcel of the men’s duty to assist wharf labourers in loading and discharging her. We ought, therefore, to provide that able seamen shall be permitted to work cargo under any circumstances. Let me take the case of a vessel which leaves Port Adelaide en route to Port Pirie or Port Augusta, and which has to call at intermediate Gulf ports. At these intermediate ports sufficient shore labour is not available to handle the cargo, and, therefore, the vessel has to carry additional labour. When she reaches the terminal ports, more shore labour will be required to work with the able seamen. The same practice is adopted by the vessels which trade to the Richmond, Clarence, and Hunter rivers.
– Are not the services of plenty of shore-men available at the intermediate ports?
– No men are available at some of them.
– The provision for which the honorable senator is asking is a perfectly reasonable one.
– I have not heard of a single individual who has asked for an alteration of the established practice in this connexion. I would further point out that the men who put cargo into a ship’s hold at the different ports know exactly where it is stowed when it has to be taken out. When they discharge that cargo, there is thus less likelihood of any portion of it being miscarried. I hope that the Minister will reconsider the matter, and agree to my reasonable request. It is not customary for firemen, trimmers, greasers, donkeymen, or stewards to handle cargo, but occasionally they have been forced to do so. Earlier in the day I remarked that on vessels employed on the Queensland coast the firemen on the off watch have been compelled to work cargo. They strongly object to that, although they have been paid overtime rates.
– I hope that the Minister will stand by the clause in its present form. The practice to which Senator Guthrie has referred has been the cause of a good deal of friction in the case of British vessels between one set of workers and another set. Indeed, I know of nothing which has engendered more bad blood between waterside workers and ships’ crews. We have already laid down a definite principle in respect of British and foreign ships, and that principle, I think, ought also to be applied to Australian ships. I have seen cases in which longshoremen have had to stand idly by and watch the crews of vessels discharging cargo.
– And cursing them.
– Yes, and cursing them for doing so. 1 would . further remind the Committee that wharf labourers never know when they will obtain a day’s work. I admit that during the time they are working they receive a fair wage. But their employment is so intermittent that their weekly earnings do not aggregate a large sum. Surely we ought to conserve their interests as far as we can consistently do so? I trust that we shall embrace the present opportunity to make their calling a more constant one. The seamen do not re quire this work. At any rate, they can do without it very much better than can the wharf labourers.
– I have listened attentively to the discussion of this question, and I confess that I have found it necessary to revise ‘the opinion which I formed when the clause first came under review. It then appeared to me that there was no reason why we should discriminate between British or foreign ships and Australian vessels. It seemed to me that if the physic which we have prescribed for British ships was good, it could not be bad for our own vessels. But the statement of Senator Guthrie has thrown a new light upon the matter. He affirms that in Australia the custom has grown up on vessels calling at ports where shore labour is not available, of carrying extra hands for the purpose of efficiently handling their cargo. If trade has been developed upon those lines, we ought to be rather slow to deprive some men of their means of livelihood. I should not like to think that, by any law which we enact, we practically sign the death-warrant of any man so far as his employment is concerned.
– But the clause is of a purely permissive character.
– I am quite aware of that. But we may take it for’ granted that the Minister will frame a regulation under the second sub-clause of this provision which will entirely square with the first sub-clause of it. For that reason I am inclined to support the amendment of Senator Guthrie.
– Senator de Largie has said that considerable friction has occurred between waterside workers and the crews of vessels owing to the latter being allowed to work cargo. I admit that there has been some friction, but it has not been considerable. I would remind the Committee that this very question ‘ was raised on the Pacific Coast of America, and along the lakes of that country, and that a big conflict took place there between the longshoremen and the seamen. The dispute was referred toan arbitrator, in the person of the president of the Federated Seamen’s Union, Mr. Gompier, who put the position in the light in which I have already presented it. I am not so anxious to preserve the work to the seamen-
– But where there are no longshoremen available the seamen will be allowed to do the work..
– If a vessel has to call at six ports, there may be three at which there is not sufficient shore labour available, whilst at the other three there may be more than a sufficient supply of such labour available.
– Then the crew which such a vessel will be required to carry will be either too large for some ports or too small for others.
– I would also remind the Committee that many of our able seamen are graduating for positions as officers. One of the qualifications for a second mate is that he shall be thoroughly seized of the best methods for stowing all sorts of cargo. If we prevent him from supervising this work on a vessel, he will have to acquire the necessary experiT ence on the wharfs. If the clause be passed in its present form, I feel sure that we shall experience a repetition of the trouble which occurred on the Pacific Coast of America.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Guthrie’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That after the word “cargo,” line 11, the words “ or ballast “ be inserted.
– Take the case of a vessel carrying water ballast. Would it be necessary to call in a separate set of engineers and firemen to pump out the water?
– I invite the Minister to consider the point. I am not opposing the amendment if it merely applies to ballast which requires manual labour to remove it.
– Water ballast will be provided for by regulation.
– I am sure that the Minister does not want to pass a law which would have a ridiculous result.
– It would be absurd; I guarantee that water ballast will be provided for.
– The Minister’s guarantee is very comforting, but it would be much more comforting to ship-owners if we made provision in the Bill. Take the case of a vessel going from Sydney to Newcastle with water in her tanks. VVhen she reached Newcastle she would, under this clause, have to put aside her own engineers and immediately call in a separate staff to pump out the water, because the Bill provides that ballast shall only be shifted by others than members of the crew.
– If the honorable senator likes to move as an amendment to insert the words “except water ballast,” I shall have no objection.
– A vessel would not require a man at all to remove water ballast. It is done by machinery.
– What piece of machinery ever worked without the aid of a man?
– All that is necessary is to turn the water on or turn it off, as may be required.
– Some manual labour is required for every piece of machinery.
– If the honorable senator has any doubt about the matter being provided for by regulation, he can move an amendment.
– If the Minister is satisfied of the absurdity of the Bill as it stands, I invite him to move an amendment to remove it.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the clause, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 44 - (1.) The master of a ship, other than a limited coast-trade ship of less than fifteen tons gross registered tonnage, who engages any seaman in Australia, shall enter into an agreement with liim in the prescribed form, in the presence of the superintendent.
– There seems to be a conflict between this clause and another provision in the Bill. It has probably occurred owing to the fact that the provision with regard to seamen’s inspector has been introduced since the Bill was originally drafted. Under this clause a seaman when engaged has to sign an agreement in the presence of the superintendent. In view of the fact that the seamen’s inspector is authorized to engage seamen, is it also intended to allow the inspector to act as a witness to the agreement?
– The inspector is not allowed to sign any one on.
– Nor is the superintendent. The agreement is merely signed in his presence. We have introduced a new official, called a seamen’s inspector.
– That is for another purpose.
– The seamen’s inspector is authorized to engage seamen and assist the superintendent.
– The inspector merely keeps a register.
– He is also to engage seamen. I am merely trying to prevent a possible ambiguity. It was said, when we were discussing a previous clause, that the superintendent might be at one place and the inspector at another. Suppose an agreement has to be entered into at a place where there is no superintendent?
– There is a superintendent at every port.
– What use, then, is the inspector?
– There will be inspectors only at the main ports.
– What is the inspector wanted for at a port where there is a superintendent ?
– The two officers discharge different duties.
– They are both authorized to engage seamen. That is the same duty. What is the use of having two officers discharging one duty?
– Engaging seamen and signing articles are two different things.
– But both the superintendent and the seamen’s inspector are authorized to engage seamen, is it desirable that we should have two officials at one port authorized to do the same thing? The effect will be confusion, as one body of seamen may go to one official, and another body to the other. I think that there is overlapping in the Bill in this connexion. I believe it has arisen from the fact that, as originally drafted, the ddea was that there should be a superintendent only, and that later it was suggested that the other official might act where there was no superintendent. Perhaps the Minister will take advantage of the interval between now and to-morrow to remedy the overlapping, if I am right in my contention.
– I think that the clause as it stands will serve every purpose. Crews will be engaged in the main ports of the Commonwealth, where they can be signed on in the presence of a superintendent. In case of emergency, should a shipmaster require to employ a substitute, he may be able to do so without the presence of a superintendent.
– What would happen at a port where there is no superintendent, and there is a seamen’s inspector?
– A difficulty might arise in that case, but it is obviated by the fact that it will be impossible for a ship to get a crew in a small port.
– What is the use of having a seamen’s inspector to Register men, where there are no men to be registered ?
– There would be a superintendent located at a port like Newcastle, who could do all that is required to be done under this clause; but in small ports like Maryborough, Rockhampton, and Cooktown, in Queensland, and Geraldton, in Western Australia, there would be a seamen’s inspector.
– Then he should be able to witness the signing of articles.
– A later clause makes provision for the signing of articles without the presence of the superintendent where a master requires to employ a substitute. We know that no crews are engaged in any Queensland port but Brisbane, and I suppose that there are no crews engaged in any port in New South Wales but Sydney and “Newcastle. I cannot imagine crews being engaged at Twofold Bay, or any of the ports on the northern rivers of New South Wales.
– Crews have been engaged in ports of New South Wales other than Sydney and Newcastle.
– I think it will be found that the clause will meet every purpose we’ have in view, and that crews will be engaged only in the principal ports of the Commonwealth, where there will always be a superintendent to witness the signing of the articles.
– The Leader of the Opposition apparently does not understand the duties which are to be performed by superintendents and seamen’s inspectors. They will, under this Bill, be charged with entirely different functions. There will be a superintendent of mercantile marine in every port of the Commonwealth. 1 may say that seamen’s inspectors are known to the Board of Trade. In ports like London, Liverpool, and Shields, there are often twenty or thirty seamen’s .inspectors. Their duties are to assist the superintendents and the masters of ships, who are in want of crews. They have to keep a register of the addresses of seamen out of work so that whenever a master is looking for a crew, a seamen’s inspector may be able at once to put his hands on the men required. That will be one of the duties of a seamen’s inspector under this Bill. He will be expected to supply seamen or apprentices, but not to engage them. When they are supplied by the seamen’s inspector, they will be brought before the superintendent, whose duty it will be to put them on the ship’s articles. The main object of appointing a seamen’s inspector is to do away with crimping.
– He is to be a licensed crimp ?
– No; he will be a Government servant under a penalty if he is found taking a tip from a seaman, or anything of that kind, and he will, of course, know that, if he does anything crooked, he may lose his position under the Government. A seamen’s inspector may be required, after he has supplied men, and they have been signed on, to see that they are put on board the ship. This work is done by seamen’s inspectors every day in London. They are on the pier heads, and if it is found that a ship about to go to sea has not a full complement of men, the seamen’s inspector may have two or three men with him, who can be put on board at once. The duties of a seamen’s inspector will be altogether different from the duties of a superintendent, who will be required to read the ship’s articles, see that they are properly signed, and the provisions of the law carried out. When the ship returns to port, it will be the superintendent’s duty to see that the agreement entered into between masters and men has been carried out, and that the men have had their money paid over to them in proper time. I think the clause as it stands is perfectly clear.
– There is a further point which Senator Millen has overlooked. I am afraid that he is getting into the habit of reading the Bill only so far as we have considered it. If he read the Bill throughout he would find that there are a number of other duties which the superintendent will be called upon to perform besides those imposed upon him in this clause.
– That does not affect my argument.
– I think it does. Senator Guthrie has pointed out that a seamen’s inspector is appointed specially for the purpose of supplying seamen to masters requiring crews, or, as the Leader of the Opposition has put it, as a licensed crimp. The witnessing of the signing of articles is only one of the multifarious duties imposed under this Bill on the superintendent. The keeping of a register, and the supply of seamen will be the sole duties of the seamen’s inspectors.
– I find that the words “ in the presence of the superintendent “ do not appear in the similar clause of the last Navigation Bill considered by the Senate.
– They are inserted to do away with crimping.
– That is a reflection upon those who were responsible for the drafting of the last Bill. The honorable senator has really said that those who framed the last Bill did not sufficiently provide for dealing with the evil of crimping.
– That is so. They did not make provision to effectively deal with it.
– Why did not the honorable senator say so straight away ?
– I thought that every one could see that.
– I wish to ask another question, but I do not know whether I should make a salaam before asking it. I believe it is the practice to sign on a crew on board ship.
– No, at the Shipping Office. It is exceptional to sign on on board ship.
– As it is admitted that crews are sometimes signed on on board ship, it will be seen that I had a reason for asking my question. I wish to know from the Minister whether the effect of this clause would be to interfere with the usual practice of signing on men at a shipping office, or with the exceptional practice of signing them on on board ship ?
– My amendment deals with that. I propose the insertion of the words, “ at the Mercantile Marine Office.”
– Will the clause, if amended as suggested by Senator Guthrie, ‘have the effect of limiting the places at which men can be signed on to two?
– If my amendment” is accepted, it will be possible under the clause to sign on men only at the Mercantile Marine Office.
– Then, I ask, why should the oppportunity to sign on men on board ship be taken away?
– Because it has been proved to be a bad practice.
– If that be so, how does it happen that the New Zealand Act of 1908 specially provides for the signing on of men on board ship?
– Surely the honorable senator does not hold us responsible for the legislation of New Zealand.
– I have very often, here and elsewhere, heard the legislation of New Zealand referred to as a model and a pattern for us. I should like 4o know why it is being departed from in this instance. Assuming that the amendment is not accepted, I should like to know from the Minister whether the clause, as it stands, will interfere with what is called the exceptional practice of signing on men on board snip?
– The clause would not prevent that being done.
– Then I shall stand by the clause.
– For good and substantial reasons I move -
That the words “ at the Mercantile Marine Office “ be added to sub-clause 1.
The Mercantile Marine Office is established for certain purposes. If the superintendent is to be called away to sign men on on board a ship, perhaps 3 or 4 miles away, most of the office business will be hung up, and other persons who wish to transact business will have to await his return. A considerable amount of business- other than the signing on or off of men is transacted there. Persons, for instance, have to go there to get discharges. The office is also a savings bank, where men lodge money and withdraw it. It is charged with a hundred and one duties. It deals with the affairs of deceased seamen, and a number of questions which crop up. All the documents connected with the port are kept there. An agreement can be made better at the Mercantile Marine Office than on board a ship. One matter which was strongly commented upon by the Royal Commission was the necessity to prevent desertion. Suppose that men present themselves on board a ship before the superintendent for the purpose of being shipped. He has no documents with him, and, therefore, he does not know the ships which the men have left, or whether they have deserted or not. He is handicapped to a very considerable extent. It is sometimes a convenience, I admit, for men to be able to sign on on board the ship, but what happens? As a rule the superintendent says, “Yes, I will come down after 5 o’clock,” and the ship has to pay overtime rates to him for coming down after his office hours.
– That is only fair, is it not?
Senator GUTHRIE. What I complain of is that the business is kept over until then. I do not know what is the practice here; but in some States the overtime has been a perquisite of the superintendent.
– It is not a perquisite if he does the work in overtime.
– The business is put off, and some superintendents prefer to do the work after office hours, for the purpose of adding to their salaries. It is a bad practice. An agreement between a shipmaster and his crew is made in a public office, and it is there that any additional seamen ought to be signed on. In the case of any other public office, whether State or Commonwealth, it is not provided that business may be transacted at an individual’s house. If any man wishes to transact business with a Government office, he has to go there. Why should a difference be made in this case? It is in the best interests of the seamen and the ship-owner that the business should be done properly and in order, and that can only be done at the Mercantile Marine Office. In England the shipping on the home trade is done anywhere, and by custom the Coast Shipping Office, as it was called, for a great many of the ships sailing out of London, was a low public house near Lower Thames-street, in Billingsgate. That was where the men made their agreements for the coast, and that is probably what will happen in Australia. As our shipping increases, we shall find men hanging about public houses in a place like Lower Thames-street, instead of attending at a Government office, where accommodation is provided while they wait for ships. That is the evil which has grown up in England, where it is optional to sign on elsewhere than at a Mercantile Marine Office.
– They are not going to sign on under this clause elsewhere.
– I think so.
– Certainly not !
– The Minister of Defence said that the same practice would be adopted as in the past, and that is that men can sign on on board ship or anywhere else.
– No ; at the Customs House.
– At the present time in Melbourne men can be taken to the owner’s office to sign articles, so long as the superintendent will go there and witness the signatures. Wherever the superintendent likes to go and read over the articles, and witness the signatures, he can go, under the clause. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has interjected that it can only be done at the Shipping
Office. That is exactly what I want. But I wish it to be definitely provided, for the benefit of everybody concerned, that this public business shall be done at a public office.
– The Minister is going to accept the amendment.
– I hope so. Is it fair to take a single man on board a ship, read over the articles to him on the deck, and ask him to sign on, when at the Shipping Office the superintendent could explain the articles, tell him the voyage on which he was going, its duration, and in what capacity he was to be engaged?
– The Navigation Commission took a large body of evidence on this question, and dealt with it very effectively. I think that Senator Guthrie will admit that the Bill is framed largely on their recommendations. After going very thoroughly into the whole question, this is what they recommended to meet the evil -
Practically everything recommended there by the Commission has been embodied in this Bill.
– We have adopted what the Commission said would prove an effective means of preventing “ crimping “ and “ shanghai-ing. “ Senator Guthrie has stated that it is absolutely necessary that we should have all this business completed at the Mercantile Marine Office, because the marine superintendent at the chief port of a State will go on board a ship and accept payment from the master.
– For overtime?
– Under the regulations, he is allowed to do that.
– The superintendent will probably be a sub-collector of Customs, in receipt of a salary of about£700 a year. Senator Guthrie wants the Committee to believe that an officer of that standing is going to chase round for the convenience of a shipmaster.
– They do it now.
– Under the Public Service regulations, no official is allowed to accept any payment from anybody, in addition to his salary. The acceptance of such payment by an officer is a contravention of the regulations, and is liable to lead to his dismissal.
– We all know that.
– I only want to point out that the statement made by Senator Guthrie is not one which should be made to influence the decision of the Committee.
– Do not Customs officials receive overtime now?
– Cannot we well believe that there may be occasions when it would cause great inconvenience, not only to the shipmaster, but to the crew, to be dragged, perhaps for miles, to the Customs House, when perhaps, through a subcollector, the whole business could be conveniently and safely transacted in the neighbourhood of the ship? A Customs officer is not likely to accept a bribe to allow anything shady to be done. Surely Senator Guthrie does not believe that a Customs officer would descend to the nefarious practices which “ crimps “ resort to?”
– He did not suggest that at all.
– He spoke as though an officer would go to a public house, and that something shady would be done there. In all cases, the. superintendent and his deputies will be Customs officers under pur control, and liable to dismissal for improper conduct. The average public servant with whom I have had occasion to deal will do his duty in most cases. At any rate, he is not likely to harass himself for the convenience of people more than is necessary in the performance of his duties.
– He is not looking for more overtime than is necessary.
– He is not looking for trouble. When honorable senators consider the distance which the docks extend to the south and west of the Melbourne Customs House, they can realize that the amendment, if made, might cause verygreat inconvenience, not only to ship masters, but also to the crews. For these reasons, I ask them not to accept it.
– With regard to the Minister’s last point, I would remind honorable senators that, throughout its provisions, the Bill imposes some inconvenience on shipmasters. It provides, for instance, that, within a certain time of his arrival in port, a shipmaster shall deliver his articles at the Shipping Office.
– Apart from the Minister’s arguments, are his facts correct?
– The Minister has given no facts. He has merely said that the amendment, if made, would cause inconvenience to shipmasters as well as to crews. I admit that it would cause some inconvenience j but, in every clause, that is done. Within a certain time of his arrival, a master has to go to the Customs House and enter his ship in. He has to go, lodge his articles at the Shipping Office, and, before he departs, he has to go back and get them. And he has to go to the Customs House to clear his ship out. No matter in what part of the harbor his ship may be laying, his whole business is centered round the Customs House while he is in port.
– If it is so manifestly convenient to go to the Shipping Office, they will go there.
– They have to go to the Shipping Office when they are paying off. Take the case of a man who is about to be paid off after a three months’ voyage. He has obtained a number of articles from the slop chest, and deductions have been made for tobacco, and one thing and another. Scarcely a ship is paid off without a dispute arising as to the amount due to a man. Is it fair that such disputes shall take place on the ship, dr on the wharf, rather than in the public office? Why is the office established, if it is not to transact the business in? A good deal has been said about the inconvenience which the acceptance of my amendment would cause. We might as well require the superintendent to go on board a ship to get the articles when she arrives, and to take her clearance on board when she is about to depart, as pass this clause. The Shipping Office is established for the protection of the men, who are making agreements which are to last, in some cases, for six months, and in others for three years. Surely a serious business of that description ought to be transacted in a place where it can be fairly, and well carried out. The Minister has pointed out that provision has been made in the Bill to protect seamen against crimping. But my amendment has no relation to crimping. It merely seeks to insure that the agreement with a seaman shall be properly drawn, and that it shall be fairly understood by him. As a matter of fact, some ships’ articles require a lot of explanation. In many instances the agreement into which a seaman enters is for a period of three years. If some members of this Committee were about to sign an agreement which would bind them for three years, they would get a solicitor to explain its provisions to them.
– It is the duty of this Parliament to see that the seamen are properly protected.
– Are many agreements entered into for three years?
– All deep-water agreements are for that term. As a matter of fact, some agreements cover voyages to any ports in the world. Under these circumstances, surely their nature should be fully explained to the seamen who are about to sign them. If Ministers had experienced the trouble which I have experienced in connexion with ships’ articles, they would not object to my amendment. Let me remind the Committee that a dispute may occur on board ship between a seaman and the captain, in regard to a question of wages, and the captain may order the man to leave his vessel. If such a dispute occurred in the Shipping Office, the superintendent would be in full control, and the seaman would not leave the office until he had received justice. But on a ship the superintendent can exercise no control over the master.
– A Government officer has control over a ship while she is in port.
– No. There is no law which prevents a master from putting a man ashore. In my opinion, the business of the superintendent should be transacted at the office which has been established for the purpose, and not elsewhere.
. -I shall support Senator Guthrie’s amendment. When the Bill of 1908 was under consideration, this very matter occupied our attention for some hours. When the supporters of the proposal which is now put forward by Senator Guthrie endeavoured to get it embodied in that measure, some honorable senators argued that great inconvenience would arise if the superintendent were prevented from signing men on articles on board ship. I have signed ships’ articles upon a few occasions, but I have never signed them outside a shipping office. In large ports, if we except the British coastal trade, men are rarely asked to sign articles on board ship. It is just as well that I should speak frankly upon this matter, and, therefore, I ask honorable senators to allow their minds to revert to the year 1900, when we experienced a big maritime trouble in Australia. At that time our maritime engineers complained that incompetent men were employed in the stokeholds, and that vessels were sent to sea with deck hands who were destitute of experience, and who, probably, would never have been engaged had they been required to sign articles at a suitable place. Every one of those men were signed on by superintendents in the ships’ cabins. If we do not agree to the amendment, we shall be playing into the hands of persons who may again use this power to endanger the lives of passengers by sea, and to threaten the safety of valuable property. 1 repeat that many of the vessels at the period of which I speak were manned by incompetents.
– But under the amendment the same superintendents would have witnessed the signing of articles in the Shipping Office. They appear to have been negligent.
– I do not say that they were negligent. But I do say that permits were issued to men many of whom had never served on board a vessel before.
– If they had signed articles at the Shipping Office that circumstance would not have made them better seamen.
– I do not suggest that it would. But it would have enabled other persons to enter an objection to their engagement upon the grounds that they were incompetent, and that their employment constituted a danger to the lives of the seatravelling public. It seems to me necessary that the work of signing seamen on articles ought to be above suspicion. There should be no possibility of the use of back-stairs influence. Consequently, it should be done on shore. In 1900, it was supposed to be the duty of the State Governments to see that only competent seamen were engaged. But in many instances the maritime engineers had to perform a good deal of the work which ought to have been performed by men who formed a portion of the crews. Senator Guthrie is asking nothing unreasonable when he asks that all seamen shall be obliged to sign articles in the office which has been established by the Government for the purpose. Take the position which exists in Melbourne to-day. Are seamen signed on articles in the cabins of ships? Certainly not. Every man is signed on at the shipping office. The same practice obtains in Sydney and Brisbane, and all that we ask is that provision for this shall be made in the Bill. If that be done, we shall have the comforting assurance that in time of industrial trouble the lives of the seatravelling public will be just as adequately protected as they are at any other time.
– I would point out to Senator Turley that either the New Zealand Parliament must have been very oblivious of its duty, or else it could not have regarded this matter in the same serious light as he regards it, otherwise it would not have included in its Navigation Act a distinct provision under which seamen are allowed to sign articles on board ship.
– The Legislative Council of the Dominion is principally composed of ship-owners.
– What I have stated is absolutely true.
– I am informed that even to-day there are cases in which seamen are allowed to sign articles on board ship. For example, where a seaman has been engaged in the coastal trade for six months, and desires to renew his engagement, the practice is for him to renew it on the ship.
Question - That the words proposed to be added to sub-clause 1 be added (Senator
Guthrie’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 45 to 47 agreed to.
Clause 48 - (1.) An agreement may be made for a voyage, or, if the voyages of the ship average less man six months in duration,’ may be made to extend over two or more voyages, and agreements so made to extend over two or more voyages are in this Act referred to as “ running agreements.” (2.) A running agreement shall not extend beyond six months from the date thereof :
Provided that every such agreement snail, in any case, remain in force until the ship reaches a port of destination, and the crew shall be considered engaged when the agreement is first signed, and discharged when the employment ends.
– This clause relates to running agreements. Running agreements are made by ships on the Australian coast, and it often occurs that a ship may not retrrn to her home port until after a period of six months. Such agreements are, however, usually made for six months. Take the case of a ship signing on in Melbourne, and going to Western Australia to trade on the north-west coast. The agreement may stipulate that the port of discharge is Melbourne. She may be kept in Western Australia on a rotation of voyages up and down the coast for twelve months. This clause as it stands would mean that the men on board would have to continue beyond the six months of their agreement, and until such time as the shipowner liked to bring them back to the port of discharge. I intend to submit an amendment the effect of which will be that such an agreement shall remain in force, in the case of a foreign-going ship, but that at whatever port the ship is when the term of the agreement ends, the men shall be. able to claim their discharge; and be sent by the ship-owner to the port of destination. Articles are often signed on in
Melbourne, when a ship comes here for her overhauling. But though the articles are for six months, the ship is kept on the Western Australian coast for eight, nine or ten months, and sometimes for even longer than that. Very often there is no intention on the part of the ship-owner to bring the men back at the end of the six months. She enters upon fresh voyages without any attempt to return to the port of destination.
– Does the honorable senator say that the port where the articles are signed on is the only port of destination?
– In most cases.
– Does the honorable senator say that in such a case as he has referred to, -the port of destination is Melbourne?
– The articles are drawn out in such a form that the port of destination is the final port of the ship. These articles are drawn for six months, but when that term expires, the men are not paid off. If they were paid off at the port which the vessel reached at the nearest date to the termination of the six months, they would have to pay their own passages back to Melbourne. They’ would thus spend all their savings in getting back home.
– Under this clause the agreement does not terminate at any particular port. It is a running agreement. The determining factor is time, not a port.
– If the proviso were struck out I should agree with the honorable senator. But the port of destination is where the agreement terminates. That has been the custom for a long period. I move -
That the words “ any case,” line 10, be struck out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the case of a foreign-trade ship.”
– This is another instance of the unfairness of springing upon the Committee an amendment of a highly technical character, without giving the Minister an opportunity of considering it. I dp urge honorable senators who have important amendments to submit not to keep them up their sleeve, but to let us know of them some time before they are moved. It is ‘but fair to a Minister in charge of a Bill of this description that that should be done. I am not prepared to deal with Senator Guthrie’s amend ment in the dark, and if we were to sit on I should have to oppose it. Under the circumstances we ‘had better report progress.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 September 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100929_SENATE_4_57/>.