4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator VARDON presented a petition from six taxpayers from South Australia, praying the Senate to reject the Land Tax Assessment Bill.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, when the papers in the case of the officer Widdup, who was tried by court-martial, will be laid upon the table of the Library, as promised ?
– I understand that a case in which the officer mentioned is concerned has lately been concluded. The inquiry took place in Brisbane. Some papers were sent up to Queensland for the purpose of the inquiry. Immediately on their return the file will be laid upon the table of the Library.
– I desire, by leave of the Senate, to make a statement on behalf of the Postmaster-General.
– On behalf of my colleague, I have pleasure in making the following statement: - Instructions have been issued to-day to all Deputy PostmastersGeneral that, from and including to-day, postage stamps now issued in the various States are to be valid for the prepayment of postage at all post-offices in the Commonwealth, so that from this date letters can be posted in any State, prepaid by the stamps of any other State, and State boundaries, therefore, no longer exist so far as postage stamps are concerned. Honorable senators will understand, of course, that this does not affect the rates of postage, which must of necessity be continued pending legislation.
– I understand that that regulation operates from to-day?
– Yes. I desire also to announce that, as a slight memento of the occasion; the Postmaster-General has issued instructions that every member of the Federal Parliament shall have a complete set of Australian stamps presented to him.
-I suppose that postcards are included?
– I propose to ask for leave to follow the course suggested by the honorable senator. I am informed by the
Acting Clerk, who has looked up the practice on the subject, that previously when this course has been followed leave has been obtained to refer two Bills having a cognate character to the same Committee. I propose to ask for such leave in this case. If leave is granted, I shall refer to the two Bills in the one speech, and, of course, other honorable senators will have the same right.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - That statement is very satisfactory.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Post and Telegraph Act 1901 -
Amendment (Provisional) of Postal Regulations (Electoral Papers).- Statutory Rules 1910, No. 91.
Amendment (Provisional) of Regulations relating to Payment of Postage by the Receiver, and of Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules1910, No. 92.
Quarantine Act 1908. - Repeal of Regulations 44, 138, 139, and 140, and substitution of new Regulations 138, 139, 140, 140A, 140B, and 140C (Provisional) in lieu thereof; and new Regulation 143 (Provisional). - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 93.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and, on motion (by Senator McGregor), read a first time.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a first time,
I wish to intimate to honorable senators that this is a measure on the motion for the first reading of which they are at liberty to discuss any subject. But seeing that the session is so far advanced, I suggest that in would be better to allow the Bill to be read a first time without debate and to discuss this Bill and the Land Tax Assessment Bill together on the motion for the second reading. That would be following a practice which it has been suggested by Senator Gould should be adopted with respect to the Sugar Bounty Bill and the Excise Sugar Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators will find that the Bill now presented to them, dealing with the naval defence of the Commonwealth, has to be read in connexion with, the main De-, fence Acts of 1903 and 1909. I desire to intimate that, for general convenience, I have obtained supplies of the Act of 1903 as amended by the Acts of 1904 and 1909. It will be found to be more convenient for reference in this form than as separate Statutes. The aim of the Government in connexion with naval defence is that, whilst the Navy that we are establishing shall be, in some respects, separate from the British Navy, it shall at the same time be auxiliary to that Navy. We think that that is by no means a contradictory position. It is a position that has always been recognised in the policy of our party ; and, although it has at times been fiercely assailed, especially by those who have argued that, as the sea is one, the Navy must be one, nevertheless, in recent years we have witnessed a considerable revulsion of feeling on the question, and it is now generally admitted by leading naval authorities in the Mother Country that by building up in Australia a separate Navy, auxiliary to the British Navy, we shall be adding a fresh source of strength to the Empire. We also wish to emphasize the fact that our Navy will be under complete Commonwealth administration and control. Just here I should like to quote from the proceedings of the Conference with the representatives of the self-governing Dominions on the naval and military defences of the Empire, 1909. On page 28 of the proceedings will be found set out the agreement reached between the representatives of the United Kingdom and the representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in regard to the position of our naval unit. The second paragraph reads as follows : -
In peace time and while on the Australian Station this fleet unit would be under the exelusive control of the Commonwealth Governnent as regards their movements and general administration ; but officers and men should be governed by regulations similar to the King’s Regulations, and be under Naval discipline, and when with vessels of the Royal Navy the senior officer shall take command of the whole. Further, when placed by the Commonwealth Government at the disposal of the Admiralty in war time, the vessels should be under the control of the Naval Commander-in-Chief.
That agreement, we believe, safeguards the principle of Commonwealth control over our own Navy. It recognises that the placing of the Fleet unit under Admiralty control must be the act of the Commonwealth, and that the vessels should be so placed by the Commonwealth Government. This will call for the sympathetic co-operation of the British Navy in time of peace as well as in time of war. We need this, because, in time of peace, we must see that our standard of efficiency, discipline, and control is equal to that of the British Navy. The only way in which we can accomplish that is by having the most complete, thorough, and sympathetic cooperation established between ourselves and the Mother Country. I quote the following paragraph from page 29 of the Proceedings of the Conference -
When desired, officers and men of the Australian Service might be sent for training and service to vessels and training schools of the Royal Navy, and their places taken by officers and men of the Royal Navy, who, with the approval of the Admiralty, should volunteer for service in vessels of the Australian Navy. Great stress was laid upon the maintenance of the same general standard of training, discipline, and general efficiency, both in ships and officers and men.
These are merely general principles. They do not bind the Commonwealth or the Admiralty to anything. They are expressions of general principles to which the parties represented at the Conference gave their adhesion. Of course the working out of these principles will take time, and the Commonwealth Government, and through them, the Parliament, will have to give their assent to each proposal as it is made. These principles are not definitely dealt wilh in this Bill, but provision is made in the measure to give effect to them. They will be given effect as the result of acts of administration from time to time, and possibly of Imperial, as well as Commonwealth, legislation. As I said when speaking a few days ago, we are in the unique position of being a nation within a nation. We are part of an Empire, and there has never been a case before in which, within an Empire, there has been a country with a separate navy, having independent control, and possibly a separate flag, and yet in a position to impose responsibilitiesupon the whole of the Empire. It may be,, as the position develops, that it will befound necessary for the Imperial Parliament, and also for the Commonwealth Parliament, to legislate in order to give full’ effect to the idea. On the question of/ officers, for instance, we hope eventually to have our own naval schools and colleges, in which we shall be able to thoroughly equip and train our officers. But in the earlier years of our Navy,’ and until we have had time to thoroughly establish and equip such institutions, we must have recourse to the - Admiralty, and must rely upon their generosity and good feeling to provide us with a certain number of officers, in order that we may have the instructors necessary for the training of our officers and men, and to bring them up to the standard of the British Navy. We have no reason to doubt that this service will be freely rendered by the Admiralty. In all the despatches, the authorities of the Admiralty have shown the most cordial desire to co-operate with : us in every way. Already we have offers to place several” expert officers at our disposal, and in connexion with the recent despatch of our torpedo-boat destroyers from Great Britain, the Admiralty lent us every assistance in training the officers and men we sent lo the Mother Country, and in lending officers and men to assist in bringing the ships to Australia. In time of war, or of the imminent danger of war, it would be unsound and disastrous to have divided naval control. Whatever wars the Empire may become involved in, we shall be involved” in also. If those wars are of a naval character, we shall be concerned in them, even though they should :be wars which we may have done nothing to bring about. That is one of the disabilities attaching to our position as part of the Empire. It brings us many advantages, but some disadvantages, of which this is one. Obviously, in the conduct of such a war, there should be only one control at sea. It would be clearly unsound to have divided control, with two or three fleets acting -independently, and so enabling the enemy -to meet and defeat each in detail. We recognise that undivided control at sea in such circumstances is absolutely essential. The time of placing our fleet, the circumstances in which it shall :’be placed, and the manner in which it shall be disposed of when it has been .placed, will, of course, rest largely upon -the Naval ‘Commander-in-Chief of the forces engaged in the war. But there is no reason to believe that the Admiralty would disregard any representations made to them by -the Government of any of the Dominions as to the disposition of their fleet. The “Imperial . Defence Confer<ence agreed to the establishment of a naval unit in the Pacific, of which Australia and Canada are to find separate parts, New Zealand contributing to the British Navy an armoured cruiser and some torpedo-boat destroyers, and the British Admiralty finding the other vessels to complete the unit in China, waters. This unit will be intrusted with the control and defence of British interests in the Pacific. The various parts of the unit will, in time of war, of course be under one command for this purpose. The Australian unit agreed upon consists of one armoured cruiser of the new Indomitable class, three unarmoured cruisers stipulated to be of the Bristol class - but, since the Conference, it has been decided that they shall be of what is known as the Improved. Bristol or City class - six destroyers of the Improved River class, and three submarines. That is the unit which the representatives of Australia at the Conference undertook to provide. In order to meet the requirements of that unit, we need to commence educational establishments for officers, and we propose to establish a naval college. A site has been chosen at Middle Head, in Sydney Harbor, and a sum of money, which was collected in New South Wales during the now historic Dreadnought agitation, and amounting to ,£45,000, is to be handed over to the Commonwealth Government for the establishment of the college there. Under this Bill, we take power to establish that college. This, also, was part of the agreement entered into, as will be seen from the following quotation which I make from the summary of the result of the Proceedings of the Conference -
Training schools for officers and men should be established locally, and arrangements made for the manufacture, supply, and replenishment of the various naval ordnance and victualling stores required by the squadron. Until stores and munitions of war are manufactured in Australia, the vessels of the Australian unit should be supplied, as far as possible, with stores, ammunition, and ordnance stores in the same manner and at the same cost as other vessels of His Majesty’s Service.
What I particularly wish to refer to is that it was agreed at the Conference that these training schools should be established. The establishment of a training school will be a work of some years, and it must be some years before we can hope that officers will be turned out from it. In addition, we shall need naval, gunnery, and torpedo schools for experts and the ordinary schools for the personnel. In a discussion of the matter elsewhere, objection wa* urged to the establishment of schools for these purposes on land, but the person who made the objection seemed to be oblivious of the fact that all these schools exist in the Mother Country, and are established on land at places contiguous to the sea, and, of course, at times the students at the schools are taken to sea. At Deptford and other places in Great Britain these schools are established on land. They are found to be economical, and to afford the best method of training youths for this work. The sites for these schools have not yet been chosen. This is a matter on which we are asking Admiral Henderson to report. The Bill merely gives power to establish the schools. In connexion with Admiral Henderson’s visit to Australia, I wish to say that, in the establishment of a navy, we must provide for a main naval base, where ships can be refitted’.; ‘where, if necessary, construction and revictualling can be undertaken at a place where the ships may lie safe from the attack of any possible enemy, and at which they may take shelter after an engagement whilst the work of refitting is being carried out. In addition to this main base, we require subsidiary bases at different parts of the Commonwealth, which must be selected for their strategical value. Whilst these subsidiary bases will not contain the main workshops and construction works, they will need to be, on a smaller scale, a duplication of the main naval base. In addition, it may be necessary to have torpedo depots at different places, where torpedoboat destroyers, submarines, and similar craft can be refitted and obtain extra stores, but they will need to be protected by land defences or be in positions difficult of access to the vessels of an invading fleet. On all these questions we are obviously ill-prepared to decide. We have a small naval force, but, as honorable senators are aware, it is not up-to-date. For many years, the Commonwealth Naval Force has languished both for want of funds and lack of experience. The Government feel that all these matters should be determined absolutely independent of any local or parochial considerations. They should be decided solely on the ground of the strategical value of the places selected for the establishment of these bases. With that idea in view, we asked the Admiralty to recommend an officer to give us advice. After consideration, it was arranged that Admiral Henderson should be invited to come out to Australia. We invited him, and he is at present engaged on this mission in Australia. He is in possession of the highest recommendations, both from Lord Fisher, the late First Lord of the Admiralty, and from Admiral Wilson, the present First Lord, for the work in which he is now engaged. We have invited the co-operation of the various State Governments in placing at his disposal all the information he may require about the various ports of the States. We have given Admiral Henderson an absolutely free hand. We have merely indicated in our instructions to him the points which we regard as of special importance, such as the capital cities and other places that are obviously of commercial importance. Otherwise, we have left him an absolutely free hand to take the map of Australia and mark upon it the places where these bases should be established. It is the intention of the Government, so far as they can, to be guided in their action in this regard by Admiral Henderson’s report. We confidently appeal to Parliament to back us up in what we believe .to be the only sound way in which to commence the establishment of naval defence in Australia. In regard to the question of administration and control, it has to be remembered, first of all, that an undertaking has been entered into by the Conference agreement which we adopt, that our unit shall be kept in an efficient state, which means that all the ships shall be kept fit for war at any time, even though an emergency should suddenly arise. That being so, the vessels of the unit must be provided with permanent crews and ‘officers. It is advisable also, following the example of the Mother Country, that administration should be -divided from command. So there will be appointed in command of the unit a naval officer who, of course, in the first instance will probably be a British officer, but who we hope, eventually, when our own men have had the advantage of training and experience, will be an Australian officer. At any rate we propose to appoint in command of this unit an officer who will be separated from the duty of administering the Naval Act. In this measure provision is made for that officer^ appointment. These officers will be appointed by the Governor-General in Council. Even the British officers who are appointed at the outset will be recommended by the Admiralty, and appointed by the GovernorGeneral in Council, in other words by the
Minister charged with administering the Act. We propose to copy, as far as we can, the British Admiralty, and taking into consideration the smallness of our force, to establish an administration commensurate with our requirements. Consequently, we take power in this Bill to establish a Naval Board of Administration. Under the existing Defence Act reference is made to a Naval Director. That officer has been, and will be until this Bill becomes law, associated with a small Board for administrative purposes. But to all intents and purposes, our small Naval Force has hitherto been under his control. The reason why we have omitted from this Bill provision for a Naval Director is that we propose to replace that officer by a Board of Administration, of which he will probably be a member. That does not mean that we” are either abolishing that officer’s duties or the officer himself, but merely that we are establishing a different system of control which is more in accord with the new requirements. Upon this Board there will probably be the head of. each sub-Department. For instance, we shall have a Construction Branch. We hope to construct one of the protected cruisers, and the remainder of the torpedo boat destroyers and submarines. The officer, at the head of the Construction Branch will have a seat on the Board. I wish honorable senators to understand that the scheme which I am now outlining is of a tentative character, because we have yet to receive the advice of Admiral Henderson on the subject. But it is the scheme which we at present contemplate. Some alteration may be made in the constitution of the Board ; but there will certainly be a Board of Administration. Then, there will be an officer in charge of the Naval Intelligence Branch, including the disposition of ships, and he will occupy a seat upon the Board. Another officer will have control of the personnel and training of our Naval Forces, and he, too, will have a seat upon the Board. Still another officer will deal with contracts, and he also will have a seat on the Board, as will also the paymaster or accountant, who will be responsible for the financial side of our Naval Forces. Then we shall have representatives of the sub-heads upon the Board.
– It will be a pretty numerous Board if all these officers are placed upon it.
– I am merely pointing out that the officers who will administer these sub-Departments will occupy seats on the Board, and be. responsible for bringing before that body the matters affecting those sub-Departments. When the Board meets, it will make a joint recommendation which will be forwarded to the Minister, who will either approve or disapprove of it as he may think fit.
– Then the Board will have more than advisory powers?
– Only in respect to small matters will it possess executive power. Its powers in that respect will be delegated to it by the Minister.
– Relatively speaking it will have less powers than will the Lords of the Admiralty?
– Yes, because in England the conditions which obtain are not similar to our own. In the case of a great force such as the British Navy, which has a number of half-pay officers who are quite as good as are the officers who are in full commission, and where officers can be called up and discharged, there is a much simpler method of control than we have at present. We have not the numbers to choose from that they have in the Old Country. We have not the officers at our disposal. But bearing in mind our altered circumstances, I say that this scheme is modelled somewhat on the lines of the British Admiralty.
– But the “Minister will accept responsibility even for the executive actions of the Board?
– Certainly. The Minister will have a seat on the Board. T come now to the forces which are to man the Navy. In the first place there will have to be a permanent force sufficient at all times to keep ready for service the vessels of the unit which I have outlined. It may be that some of those vessels may not at first have the full complement of crew, and that they may be used around our coast for the purpose of training the naval militia.
– There will be a peace footing all the time?
– Yes, and the idea is that that peace footing shall very nearly approach war conditions, at any rate in the case of the first vessels of the unit. It is considered desirable by the Admiralty that those vessels shall be in full commission. Upon page 28 of the report of the Imperial Naval Conference, honorable senators will find the following:-
These vessels should be manned, as far as possible, by Australian officers and seamen, and the numbers required to make up the full complement for immediate purposes should be lent by the Royal Navy.
It is obvious that for a year or two we shall be unable to make up the full complement. At present our Naval Forces number only 800, and our resources were pretty well exhausted when we sent Home the crews with which to bring out the three destroyers.
– But we have a strong reserve.
– That is so, but its members are chiefly engaged in civil avocations. During the next financial year the Government contemplate recruiting for this new force, and arranging with the Admiralty to have these recruits trained either on the ships of the Australian Squadron or on some other vessels, so that in 1912, when the vessels of the unit arrive, we shall be able to fill up, at any rate the lower ratings, with Australians. The Imperial authorities are now intimating to all persons in Australia joining the British naval service that they will be liable to be transferred to the Australian unit.
– They will cease recruiting them.
– They will, when we take up this other scheme. At present they are giving each recruit to understand that in 1912 those recruited in Australia will be transferred to the Commonwealth unit. Under this arrangement there is an obvious disadvantage to the Imperial authorities in that each year they have to bring before the Imperial Parliament provision for the maintenance of their establishment of 133,000 officers and men. The Australian unit will be an addition to their ordinary establishment, and unless we make provision for meeting the requirements of 1912, the Imperial Government will have to provide either for an increase of their establishment or for a decrease of it. They do not wish to do that if it can be avoided. Consequently, the Government have in contemplation the taking of early action to commence recruiting, and we are informed that within two years men can be sufficiently trained to enable them to fill the lower ratings of our prospective Fleet-unit. As regards the other ratings, a much longer time will be required. Indeed, from ten to twelve years’ training is necessary before gunners become proficient in their calling. Of course, some may become fairly proficient in about seven years. Then we have made provision on the Estimates for the establishment of schools in which boys ranging from twelve to fourteen years will be taken and trained for the personnel of the Navy. These lads will require about three years to get through their land course, and to fit them to go to sea. We hope to commence the establishment of these naval schools towards the end of the year, but it is very unlikely that the lads trained in them will be fit to go to sea on any of the ships of the Australian unit, which will be in commission, before 1913. I come now to the Citizen Forces - that is, to those who are not permanently employed in our Naval Forces, but who are recruited from the ranks of our citizens. These will consist of two classes. Clause 21 of the Bill reads - (1.) The Citizen Naval Forces shall be divided into the Naval Reserve Forces and the Naval Volunteer Reserve Forces. (2.) The Naval Reserve Forces shall consist of officers and seamen who are not bound in time of peace to continuous naval service and who are paid for their services as prescribed. (3.) The Naval Volunteer Reserve Forces shall consist of officers and seamen who are not bound in time of peace to continuous naval service and who are not ordinarily paid for their services in time of peace.
Section 125 of the principal Act provides for compulsory training, and sub-section c states -
All male inhabitants of Australia (excepting those who are exempted by this Act) shall be liable to be trained, as prescribed, as follows : -
From eighteen to twenty years of age in the Citizen Forces;
From twenty to twenty-six years of age, in the Citizen Forces.
Then sub-section 3 of section 126 provides -
The training in the Citizen Forces shall be gin on the first day of July in the year in which the persons liable reach the age of eighteen years, and shall continue for two years.
Section 127 provides-
The prescribed training shall be, in each year ending the thirtieth day of June, of the following duration : -
in the Citizen Forces, sixteen whole day drills or their equivalent :
Provided that, in the case of those allotted to the Naval Forces and to the Artillery and Engineers in the Military Forces, the training shall be twenty-five whole day drills or their equivalent.
So that those who are allotted to the Naval Forces will be liable to twenty-five days’ continuous training annually. They will be the first line of our Naval Reserve Forces. Then we have in each State naval militia; that is, partially-paid men who are liable to
– Will our local officers take the place of the Imperial men later?
– As we begin to draft local men into the ships, the Imperial men will be withdrawn ; and the same course will be pursued with the officers. The capital cost of the unit is estimated at £3,695,000, namely, the armoured cruiser at ,£2,000,000, the three protected cruisers at .£1,050,000, the six destroyers at £480,000, and the three submarines at £165,000. These are, of course, only approximate estimates. At present, we have no means of ascertaining the cost of construction here. All sorts of estimates have been submitted to me. The cost has been estimated’, in some cases, at 12 per cent, above the British price, and in others at 25 per cent. When the third destroyer is put together in the Fitzroy Dock, we shall be able to ascertain how our people shape at this work. The estimated cost of the upkeep of the unit is about £500,000 a year. That is based on the assumption that we shall give higher rates of pay than are allowed in the British Navy..
– Is it not also based on the assumption that Great Britain will contribute ,£250,000 towards the cost ?
– No; as I shall show presently. After giving a general estimate of the capital cost, the Imperial Conference, in their report, estimate the total upkeep as follows : -
The annual expenditure in connexion with the maintenance of the Fleet Unit, pay of personnel. and interest on first cost and sinking fund, was estimated to be about £600,000, to which amount a further additional sum would have to be added in view of the higher rates of pay in Australia and the cost of training and subsidiary establishments, making an estimated total of £758,000 a year.
That, I would point out, includes interest and sinking fund. As we do not intend to borrow for the purposes of the Navy, we shall not require to make such a provision. The report continues -
This annual cost should be disbursed by the Commonwealth, except that the Imperial Government, until such time as the Commonwealth could take over the whole cost, should assist the Commonwealth Government by an annual contribution of £250,000 towards the maintenance of the complete Fleet Unit.
– Will they have any say in regard to our unit when they contribute half the money?
– The honorable senator has already been told, in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, that’ we have no intention of asking the British Government for that contribution. We propose to bear the whole cost, because we consider that it is only our duty to do so. We also intend to continue the annual subsidy of £200,000 to the British Government until this unit is provided. The question of discipline is, perhaps, one of the most difficult matters tq deal with in this connexion. I again draw attention to a paragraph which I quoted, and in which the Imperial Conference say -
In peace time and while on the Australian Station this Fleet Unit would be under the exclusive control of the Commonwealth Government as regards their movements and general administration, but officers and men should be governed by regulations similar to the King’s Regulations, and be under naval discipline. . .
Clause 37 of the Bill reads -
The Naval Discipline Act and the King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions for the time being in force in relation to the King’s Naval Forces shall, subject to this Act and to any modifications and adaptations prescribed by the regulations, apply to the Naval Forces.
Clause 46 contains this provision - (j.) The Governor-General may make Regulations …. in relation to … the discipline of persons receiving instruction or training in or employed in or in connexion with Naval establishments;
According to the definition clause - “ The Naval Discipline Act “ means the Imperial. Act called The Naval Discipline Act as amended from time to time and includes any Act for the time being in force in substitution for that Act.
The effect of these provisions is to adopt, in globo, the Naval Discipline Act, and the King’s Regulations as applied to the Royal Navy, but to reserve to ourselves the power to make, from time to time, such adaptations of them as may be necessary for our particular conditions. I have taken the trouble to look through the Naval Discipline Act, which, I may remark, is as large as an ordinary volume of our Hansard. Previously, I had the idea that the punishments allotted to various offences in the Royal Navy were altogether harsh, and out of keeping with modern thought; but what I read in the Act was a revelation to me. I found that, after all, the punishments, in comparison with the offences, are neither harsh nor drastic. I am given to understand that in the Royal Navy, a much more humane system of administering the punishments has been adopted. There is a general impression that flogging is still practised.
– It has been abolished for years.
– Some honorable senators know that flogging has been abolished, but others do not. I want to draw attention to the fact that it is not prescribed as a single punishment throughout the calendar of offences. All the harsh forms of punishment which at one time were characteristic of the Royal Navy were abolished a long time ago. Of course, serious punishments are provided for certain crimes. The punishment of death extends to other crimes than that of murder. In the civil code that is the punishment for murder and some sexual offences; but in the Naval Discipline Act it is the punishment for treason, for cowardice in the face of the enemy, for giving information to the enemy, for refusing duty in the face of the enemy, and for desertion in the face of the enemy. I think that most of us will admit that, in such circumstances, the punishment of death is well-deserved ; that a man who deserts in the face of the enemy is as bad as a murderer, because he leaves his comrades to their fate, in order to save his own skin. The object of the Government in adopting these regulations is to keep as near as possible to the code of the Royal Navy. In time of war our ships will have to co-operate with its ships. If our standard of discipline were different, if our system of control were less effective, the result would be disastrous not only to our ships, but also to the whole Navy which might De engaged in an action. We, therefore, have to keep up the effective standard which we are adopting. I hope that honorable senators will not be unduly alarmed ar this proposal. A large number of young Australians - 600 or 700, I think - are at present serving in British ships on the Australian Station. They are taken to the ships at an age when a lad is generally most restive under control. But I have not heard that the Australian has been more obstreperous than his British confrere in the ships. I have not heard any complaints from them as to the treatment to which, they are subjected. That is a good indication that we can safely adopt this code for our ships; of course, with the safeguard that, if necessary, we have the power to make an alteration. In conclusion, I would remind the Senate that, as Australia is an island, it can be reached by no foe except by sea, and that if war has to take place, it is far better that it should be conducted on some other land than ours. If we can prevent a landing, a war can never take place on our shores. It is a very risky undertaking to bring ships across the sea, even when the defending fleet is small, if the invader knows that the ships of that fleet are effective, vigilant, and courageous. So I think that this unit, small as it is, will afford a very good guarantee that Australia will be safe to pursue her peaceful career. Another point is that almost every one of our principal commodities depends absolutely for its stability in price upon keeping open the great sea routes. If those routes were blocked or threatened* for a single week, the effect upon the prices of our products would be disastrous. Therefore, in passing this Bill, we shall not merely safeguard the peace of Australia, but also the trading interests and the well-being of her people.
Debate (on motion by Senator Lt.Colonel Sir Albert Gould) adjourned.
– I move - That this Bill be now read a second time.
As this measure is intimately associated with the Excise (Sugar) Bill, which appears next on the notice-paper, I ask the leave of the Senate to refer to that measure in making my explanation of its provisions.
– The Sugar Excise Tariff Act and the Sugar Bounty Act of 1904 fixed the Excise on sugar at £4 per ton up to the year 1910, the amount decreasing from that date by £1 per annum in the years 191 1 and 191 2, and thence ceasing. At the same time, the import duty was fixed at £6 per ton, and the bounty at £3 per ton, a gain to the farmers of just over £3 per ton of sugar; the idea being that, at the end of the same period, the bounty also should lapse. For some time past in Queensland there has been acertain amount of uneasiness in regard to the proposals of the Government. It has been felt that the producers of sugar were not yet in a position to do without the bounty.
– Will they ever be able to do without it ?
– I think so. We also have to remember that there is still in Queensland a very large floating coloured population, and it is not the desire of the Government that these people should again be attracted to the sugar industry.
– Can the Minister furnish us with an estimate of their number?
– I believe there are about 1.0,000 coloured people, who might again, if the bounty were withdrawn, be attracted to the sugar industry.
– They must be employed in some industry, and why not in the sugar industry as well as any other?
– We desire them to leave Australia altogether, and certainly do not wish to open up avenues of employment for them.
– The Minister includes Chinese and Japanese?
– Yes; I include the whole number of coloured people. 1 understand that there are some who object to this legislation. To them I desire to put this position. The Commonwealth Government has a desire to see proper labour conditions obtaining in all indus tries. We are hampered in giving effect to that desire by the provisions of the Constitution ; but we have been able, by the use of our powers in regard to Excise, to effect a very considerable alteration in connexion with one industry at least - namely, the sugar industry. We are hoping that ber fore very long the Commonwealth will be given full power to legislate in regard to the industrial condition of the people in all industries.
– In all States, too?
– In all States. When that time arrives, it may properly be argued that there is no reason why any particular industry should be picked out to receive a bounty, because we can frame our protective Tariff on whatever lines we choose, with the object of keeping out foreign competition. We can then proceed to stipulate the conditions which shall” apply to the production of various articles in Australia. But until we have secured an amendment of the Constitution, we are, unfortunately, without that power. We have done something, however, in regard to the sugar industry, and I will give a few figures to show what has been effected by Commonwealth legislation. In 1902 the number of sugar-cane farmers who employed white labour in Queensland was 1,521, and the number of those who employed black labour 975, the total being 2,496. The percentage of farmers employing white labour was 60.9, and the percentage employing black labour was 39.1- In New South Wales the number of sugar-cane “farmers employing white labour was 1,005 > those employing black labour numbered 115, the total being 1,120. The percentage who employed white labour was 89.7, and the percentage employing black labour was 10.3. The acreage under sugar cultivaHon, cultivated respectively by white and black labour, in Queensland in 1902 totalled 95,697. In New South Wales the area under cultivation was 24,057, of which area 21,591 acres were cultivated by white labour and 2,466 acres by black. The percentage in New South Wales was 89.7 cultivated by white labour, and 10.3 by black. I turn to the figures for a year which affords us a more adequate means of making an effective comparison with the year 19 10. In the year 1904 there were in Queensland 2,429 farmers employing white labour, and 993 employing black labour, the total being 3,422. The percentage employing white labour was 71, and the percentage employing black labour sg. In New South Wales 1,304 farmers employed white labour, and 222 employed black labour, the total being 1,526. The percentage employing white labour was 85.5, and the percentage employing black labour 14.5. In Queensland, in 1904, 45,424 acres were cultivated by -white labour, and 74,375 by black labour, the total being 119,799. The percentage cultivated by white labour was 37.9, and the percentage cultivated by black labour 62.1. In N ew South Wales 19,114 acres were cultivated by white labour, and 2,411 acres by black labour, the total being 21,525. The percentage cultivated by white labour was 88.8, and the percentage cultivated by black labour n. 2. I come to the year 1.910. In this year it is estimated that in Queensland 4,630 farmers are employing white labour as against 322 employing black, the total being 4,950. The .percentage of farmers employing white labour is estimated to be 93.5, and the percentage employing black labour 6.5.
– It is fair to say that the majority of those employing coloured labour are coloured persons themselves.
– I believe that is so. In New South Wales, in 1910, the number of farmers employing white labour is estimated at 1,078, and the number employing black labour at 80, the total being 1,158. The percentages are 9,3 employing white labour, and 7 employing black. The acreage cultivated by white labour in Queensland this year is estimated to be 116.550, and the acreage cultivated by black labour 8,869, the total being 125,419. The percentage cultivated by white labour is estimated to be 92.9, and the percentage cultivated by black labour 7.1. The acreage cultivated by white labour in New South Wales is estimated to be 12,507, and the acreage cultivated by black labour 875, The percentage cultivated by white labour is estimated to be 93.6, and the percentage cultivated by black labour 6.4.
– The acreage cultivated by black labour has dropped to nearly onehalf.
– Yes. I have another return before me which shows the increase in sugar produced by white labour, ranging from 12,254 tons in 1902 to 170,684 tons in 19 10, whilst the sugar cultivated by black labour has dropped from 65,581 tons in 1902 to 15,492 tons in 1910. So that honorable senators will see that it can be claimed that the policy inaugurated by the Commonwealth has had the effect of turning the sugar industry practically into a white man’s industry.
– What has it cost to do that?
– It has cost a large amount of money to the taxpayers of Australia. I am free to admit that. But I also urge that what has been done was worth the money. The figures show that a large number of the farmers who are now employing white labour were farmers who formerly employed black labour. I venture to say that we cannot estimate the value of this great alteration in the conditions of the sugar industry in hard cash.
– Has not the industry paid a great deal of the bounty itself?
– I know that that is argued. It was said at one time that it was impossible, no matter what was done, to have the industry conducted by white labour. At any rate, that argument has been shown to be fallacious. I have before me reports as to the labour supplies in the various districts of Queensland. The State is divided for the purpose of Commonwealth legislation into four districts. The reports for 1909 show that in No. 1 district the labour supply was adequate; in No. 2 district, ditto; in No. 3 district, ditto; in No. 4 district, ditto, except at Nambour, where labour was a little scarce at the close of the crushing. There was in the previous Act a provision regarding labour conditions. I was responsible for that provision, having moved -the amendment in the Senate. Unfortunately, however, we had not at that time much experience of this kind of legislation. The provision was somewhat clumsily drafted, and it has not altogether effected the desired purpose. It was laid down that the Minister should have power to withhold the whole or part of the bounty payable if he found that the rate of wages paid by growers was lower than the standard rate ruling in the district. As, however, there were no standard ruling rates, the Minister had to adopt a standard for himself. That standard was fixed at from 22s. 6d. to 25s. for adult workers, 25s. per week for youths, and found, or an allowance for rations in lieu of found of from 4s. to 5s.
– The trouble was that the rates were not made for various districts, but applied to the whole coastline.
– I believe that that is so. In 1907, some alterations were made. The Minister had a scale prepared, fixing the wage of adults at from 22s. 6d. to 25s. per week, and found; boys, from 10s. to 15s., and found; youths, from 16 to 18 years of age, at from 15s. to £1 per week, and found ; old, infirm, and nonable bodied men, at from 15s. to £1 a week, and found. When we compare those wages with those formerly paid to kanakas, they are princely, but it has to be admitted that improvements are still desirable in connexion with wages conditions in the sugar industry. We have inserted in this Bill provisions i.1 this respect that will bring it into conformity with those inserted in the Iron Bounty Act. Although Australia has been fairly successful in the sugar industry, it is singular to note that the imports of sugar are still considerable. I have a return which shows that in .1902 there was an importation of 93,100 tons of sugar, valued at ,£1,120,512. The importations dropped, until, in 1907, they were 6,167 tons, valued at ,£77,259. But in 1909, owing to the failure of the crop in Queensland-
– Owing to what they speak of in the sugar districts as a drought, because there were only 40 or 50 inches of rain.
– The imports rose in 1909 to 99,698 tons, valued at £1 122,863.
– Where did the sugar come from?
– Mainly from Fiji, Mauritius, and China.
– I understand they came chiefly from Fiji, Mauritius, and Java. Any one looking at the returns must see that 1909 was an abnormal year, and they indicate a general, but steady, decline of imports, proving that the Australian grower is gradually, but surely, capturing the- Australian markets.
– This year we hope to be able to supply all our requirements within a few thousand tons.
– That is so. There is a weak link in this chain with which the Government are determined to deal if they *rn given the power. We have yet to discover some means by which the grower shall obtain a fair return for his cane from the miller.
– That is where he sells to the private miller?
– That is so. Where cane is sold to co-operative cane-mills thematter can be more readily dealt with.
– The State mills pay the lowest prices, as a matter of fact.
– We have to consider the operations of the miller and therefiner. We are of opinion that there is still a lack of justice in the terms between the miller, refiner, and grower. Our policy is that, where a monopoly exists, it should be owned by the Government. There is undoubtedly a monopoly in the sugar refining industry of Australia. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company has, undoubtedly, a very big control over the sugar industry. Speaking for myself, I am of opinion that, so long as that monopoly exists, no matter what Acts Parliament may pass, it will rob the .grower of a very great deal of the-, benefit of our legislation.
– May I mention the fact that at the particular place from which complaints are received that the farmers are not paid enough for their cane, is where they are selling it to refiners who have nothing to do with the monopoly referred tor but who, I admit, get the full benefit of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s prices.
– Even the cooperative and State mills do not fix the prices of sugar, and they are, to some extent, as helpless as the grower himself. It is the Colonial Sugar Refining Company that fixes the prices of sugar. The doubt in my mind, as well as in the minds of many other persons, is that, in view of the price which the public generally are paying -for sugar, the grower is not getting a fair deal. When one considers the enormous price which the public have to pay for sugar in Australia, it is evident that the grower is not getting a fair deal.
– The public are paying an enormous price for sugar all over the world.
– Is there only one sugar refining company in Australia?
– To all intents and purposes there is only one.
– I think the honorable senator is mistaken.
– There are the Yengarie Millaquin refineries.
-We know that monopolies are not so foolish as to buy out these little firms, to which they are able to refer when they are charged with having a monopoly.
– Surely the honorable senator does not call the Queensland National Bank a little firm-, and. it owns the Yengarie. Millaquin refineries?
– I know that there is a strong agitation for an inquiry into this question. Some people are demanding that the inquiry should be made before these Bills are proceeded with. But the Government take up the position that the sugargrowers of Queensland, New South Wales, and any other part of the Commonwealth, should be given a definite assurance of what their policy will be for the next few years. We think it only reasonable that before they embark further capital in the industry they should have some assurance of stability in the conditions which will apply te it. We say that, so far as the bounty, Excise, and Tariff are concerned, these Bills will give that assurance. But we add that, if the Commonwealth Parliament is endowed with the necessary power, this Government is prepared to exercise it, in order that we may give those engaged in this industry further relief, and we are prepared to say that the business of refining sugar shall not continue to be a monopoly.
– The Government put the cart before the horse in this matter.
– The inquiry should be made at once.
– The question of having an inquiry is under consideration at the present time, and I can inform honorable senators that if there is an inquiry the Government will take good care that one of the subjects of the inquiry will be the refining business.
– The last Government proposed the same thing.
– I believe that when this becomes known, some of those who are now crying out for an inquiry will not be so keen about it. We believe that the two Bills we have introduced will deal with the question effectively, so far as we are in a position to do so at the present time. They will give an assurance of stability and permanence of policy, and we hope that the time will come when the people of Australia will endow us with the power to deal effectively with the other matter to which I have referred.
Debate ‘ (on motion bv Senator Chataway) adjourned.
Royal Commission on Sugar Industry - Kanakas - Semi - Official Post - Offices : Salaries.
Debate resumed from 12th October (vide page 4388) on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– - I do not intend to detain the Senate at this stage, because both these Bills can be sufficiently debated on the second reading. I should like, however, to say that the conduct of the Government in this matter justifies very severe comment. On this vexed and important question, affecting the whole of Australia, and one State in particular, and involving a great social and economic policy, we should have had a full and searching inquiry before we were called upon to modify or confirm the policy of the past. We have had the advantage of the operation of our legislation during the past six or seven years, and I consider that it is a blot upon the present administration that we should be asked either to confirm or modify the legislation of the past without the advantage of the light and information upon the subject which might have been afforded us as the result of a searching inquiry into the whole of the questions involved.
– May I suggest to the Minister that, in discussing these Bills, honorable senators should be in possession of reliable information regarding the number of South Sea Islanders who received certificates of exemption from the Queensland Government a few years prior to Federation? It is true that they have not the right to vote; but they have a right to remain in Australia for all time. I should like to know how many of them are in the Commonwealth. If they are here legitimately, they have a right to employment, the same as has everybody else. I would suggest to the Minister that he should communicate with the Queensland Government with a view 1o obtaining the information which I seek.
– Our opportunities for discussing grievances are so rare that one is almost compelled to take advantage of an occasion such as the present. The matter which I wish to bring under the notice of the Senate is one which concerns the good name of the Commonwealth. It has been the ideal of every member of this Parliament that, in the Commonwealth Service, there should be nothing in the nature of sweating. We have done a good deal towards realizing that idea ; but I am sorry to say that much still remains to be done. Unfortunately, I cannot discover, in the present Postmaster-General, any disposition to proceed further in the direction indicated.
– How can the honorable senator expect him to do all these things within a few days?
– I do not expect him to do anything of the kind. The persons to whom I refer are those who conduct the semi-official post-offices throughout the Commonwealth. I have had quite a number of communications from officers filling these positions, whose remuneration is the handsome sum of ^78 per annum, -with quarters. That is equivalent to 30s. per week, with house rent. One might almost put it down as the wage of a ploughman. Indeed, there are many ploughmen who are much better paid. The ordinary labourer is in receipt of a better wage.
– Why should not the ploughman be as well paid?
– I do not say that he should not. These persons who occupy responsible positions - very much more responsible, if I may say so, with all due deference to the honorable senator who interjected, than that occupied by a ploughman, although I do not say that they are more useful-
– Some of them do not do an hour’s work in a day.
Senator- ‘STEWART.- Here .we have the Labour agitator. He has been transferred from the labour market to Parliament, and he begins to talk in that fashion. These men, I repeat, are at the call of every person from 9 o’clock in the morning till 6 o’clock in the evening.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I am stating facts. I know of one case in which the officer has not only to be on duty from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m., but is also required to work on Sundays. These men have to be expert telegraphists, they have to issue and pay money-orders, and generally to transact the whole business of the particular office in which they are employed. At the very least, they ought to receive the minimum wage of £110 per annum, instead of which a large number of them receive only £78 per annum in cash, with free quarters. These free quarters are an imposition, pure and simple. The Commonwealth rents a building from some private individual for which it pays a rental of perhaps 15s. or 20s. per week; and then charges die postmaster rent for occupying a portion of it. I say that it is to the public advantage that the officer should reside in the building ; and, consequently, he should not be charged rental for it. These officers should be paid at least £110 per annum, which we have declared shall be the minimum wage.
– No matter what may be the volume of business?
– What has that to do with the question? I am sure that the Honorary Minister, as an old Labour agitator, has always claimed that if a man’s time is at the beck and call of his employer, he ought to be paid for it. At any rate, I have always claimed that. There is no difference between the attitude which I take up now and that which I assumed when I was not a member of Parliament. I said then that if a man’s employer kept him from 6 o’clock in the morning until 6 o’clock in the evening doing nothing, he was entitled to his wages just as if he had been working the whole day. That is the practice which is recognised in quite a number of employments. For example, wharf-labourers are paid waiting time. The officers in charge of these semi-official post-offices are employed from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. They would not be allowed to engage in any other work. If they did so, . they would immediately lose their positions. Consequently, the Commonwealth is in duty bound to pay them a decent wage. Thirty shillings a week is not sufficient for a man occupying a responsible position - a man who is responsible for the due delivery of the correspondence of, probably, a very considerable population, and through whose hands perhaps hundreds of thousands of pounds pass annually.
– The Commonwealth should pay a living wage, irrespective of whether the business transacted at the office pays?
– Exactly. If the Commonwealth establishes a post-office at a certain place, puts a man in charge of it, and demands the whole of his time, it should pay him a living wage, namely, £1 10 per annum. But the principle which obtains in the Service is that the remuneration of these officers depends very largely upon the volume of business transacted by them. I say that that is a false basis. They ought to be paid for the time which they devote to the service of the Government. Thirty shillings per week is not a living wage. It would not be a living wage for any ordinary workmen, much less is it a suitable wage for persons who have to shoulder the responsibility which these officers have to shoulder.
– And who have, perhaps, a large family to maintain.
– That is not a matter of which we can take cognisance. We cannot pay a man with a big family more wages than we pay to a man with a. small family.
– The man . with & large family ought to be paid a bonus upon every child.
– That would be a most excellent thing.
– Would the honorable senator agree to such a proposal?
– Most certainly.
– And we should tax the bachelors to make up the bonus.
– A most excellent idea. /Senator Walker. - If a man who has fourteen children came to the honorable senator for employment, and another man who had no children also sought employment from him, would he give a preference to the former?
– The man with fourteen children deserves some recognition at the hands of the community. But we are not discussing that question now. I ask honorable senators to stick to the text which we have before us, namely, the desirableness of effecting some improvement in the conditions of those unfortunate persons who are in charge of semi-official post-offices throughout the Commonwealth. I hope that the Government will give this matter their early and favourable consideration.
– The remarks with which Senator Stewart introduced this question conveyed the idea that he ‘was more anxious to get in a shot at the Postmaster-General than to make a genuine attempt to remove a grievance. He knows full well that this matter, with quite a number of others, has been receiving attention at the hands of the Postal Commission for a considerable time, and that the report of that body has but recently been presented to Parliament.
– Its inquiry has cost the country ^8,000.
– And the result of its investigations is well worth ^8,000. I repeal: that the report of the Commission has only just been made available. A reference to the report will show that the Commission has reported on the matter in such a way as will remove the grievances complained of. It was rather unfair, I think, for the honorable senator to assert that the present Ministry is responsible in any way for the delay which has occurred. It was equally unfair on his part to state that the present PostmasterGeneral is no more anxious about these matters than was any of his predecessors, and is doing nothing to remedy the grievances that exist. It was also unreasonable for him to contend that it has been possible to act upon the report, or that the present session has afforded an opportunity to take any step in that direction. I believe that it will be acted upon by the present Government as soon as time will permit. A quotation from the report will be a satisfactory reply to the remarks of Senator Stewart. I can afford to ignore the charge he made against myself and others when he said, “ Look at the difference it makes to oldtime Labour agitators when they get into Parliament or on to the Government bench,” because I feel quite sure that my record will bear very favorable comparison with his own as regards the remedying of grievances when an. opportunity presented itself outside. I doubt very much whether he was ever in a trade union, let alone took the part of an agitator. And as regards the redress of grievances, I think it is only Parliament which has known him in that capacity. I had a very early training in that class of work. The honorable senator should not therefore throw any sneers across the floor at me, lest he may get a few remarks thrown at him.
– Does the honorable senator look for them?
– I am quite ready to deal with any sneers. I am prepared on any occasion to place my record in comparison . with the honorable senator’s. As regards the other persons whom he mentioned, they are as capable as myself of giving an effective reply. I propose to quote an extract from the report of the Postal Commission to show that this section of the Public Service has not been ignored. I believe that when an opportunity presents itself there will be a few alterations in their position made. On page 117 the Commission say -
Your Commissioners recommend that the principle which should guide the Department in scheduling semi-official offices should be the amount of business transacted, and not on the revenue receipts. Offices that are important as line repairing or repeating stations should not be classed as semi-official. The minimum salary of the person in charge of a semi-official office should be £110 per annum, and a stipulation should be made that messengers employed should not be under 15 years of age, arid should be paid the full amount of salary granted by the Department for this position. Persons engaged in semi-official offices should be permitted to qualify for staff appointments on passing the prescribed examination for appointment as telegraphists.
It will be seen that Senator Stewart has made no suggestion which had not previously been made by the Postal Commission.
– One would imagine from the remarks of Senator Stewart that the present Government are responsible for the conditions which obtain at different postoffices.
– I never suggested such a thing.
– Every honorable senator knows that so far as the Postal Department is concerned, the conditions are governed by the regulations which have been operative almost since the inception of the Federation. Post-offices are divided into four classes, namely, receiving offices, allowance offices, semi-official offices, and official offices. When the revenue of an allowance office reaches £200 a year it is made a semi-official office. When the revenue of a semi-official office reaches £400 a year it is made an official office. It was to the latter class that Senator Stewart mainly directed his criticisms. I am informed by my colleague that the persons in charge of semi-official offices get an equivalent of the amount which Senator Stewart desires they should get, namely, £110 per annum. It may be that in some parts of
Australia officers do not receive that sum in hard cash, but the salary and the rent which they would otherwise have to pay for premises total£110 per annum. On that point the honorable senator cannot find very much fault, surely.
– I do.
– If they get what the honorable senator is anxious that they should get?
– But they do not.
– I am assuring the honorable senator that they get, if not£110 in hard cash, the equivalent of that sum.
– No. I have dealt with the question of rent. Does the Minister want the officers to pay rent for the Government’s premises ?
– In some cases they get as low as£78.
– Yes, but then they get the premises rent free.
– I know of an office where the salary is £60 or £65, and the postmistress has to pay herown rent.
– What kind of an office is it?
– I understand that it is a semi-official office.
– According to the regulations governing such offices, the officers get either £110 in hard cash, or the equivalent in salary and rent. Senator Stewart said he was anxious that they should be paid irrespective of whether they were fully employed while they were on the premises in which they lived.
– They are employed all the time.
– The honorable senator said that in some spheres of activity “ industrians “ were paid whether they were employed or not, and he cited the wharf labourers as a case in point. These, as he knows, are not infrequently on the wharfs and piers hour after hour, waiting for employment, and never getting a penny.
– I know that.
– It is only when wharf labourers are called upon to do work that they are entitled to monetary consideration.
– These persons are called on to do work.
– They are liable, as the honorable senator knows, to be called on to do work. But surely he, as a fairminded man, will not say that between 6 a.m. and 7 or 8 or 9 p.m. they are fully engaged in conducting and attending to departmental work?
– They are not allowed to do anything else.
– It is true that when persons are in charge of semi-official offices they are not allowed to do anything else, because a minimum wage is prescribed by regulation.
– Their whole time is at the disposal of the Government.
SenatorFINDLEY.- It is.
– Then the Government ought to pay them.
– I do not know of any offices where these persons are fully engaged during the hours which the honorable senator cited. But, in any case, the matter which he has mentioned, and other postal matters, are receiving, and will continue to receive, the earnest consideration of the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 12th October, vide page 4422) :
Clause 223 -
Provided that, in ships laden with coal, the position of the disc shall be, at all seasons of the year, not higher than that prescribed, by the Board of Trade Regulations, for the Winter load-line.
Upon which Senator Guthrie had moved, by way of amendment -
That after the word “ coal “ the words “ or dead-weight cargo “ be inserted.
– This is an amendment which, I think, the Committee can accept. The reasons for making this special provision as regards coal can be applied as strongly to any other deadweight cargo, such as, for example, ore or wheat ; and, therefore, the Government propose to accept the amendment.
– The remarkswhich I intend to make will apply even though the amendment has been accepted by the Government. I think the Minister will agree that the custom in Australia has been that the summer load-line has been adopted for vessels carrying coal.
– In some States only.
– It is evident that it is unnecessary to have the winter load-line for vessels in those Australian waters which, in winter time, are comparatively calm.
– The clause says “ shall not be higher.”
– I presume that the load-line will be determined by the surveyors.
– They will decide according to the trade the ship is engaged in.
– I want to know whether that is really so. It is unnecessary to require a ship to adopt the winter load-line if she is going north. There are five or six different load-lines, and under the Board of Trade regulations the load-line is fixed according to the season and the trade in which the ship is engaged. In Australia, the winter season in certain parts of our seas is the calm season. I think that the Government are going against the weight of evidence in fixing the winter load-line for all vessels carrying coal. The evidence goes to show that the load-line should be determined, to some extent, by the season, but also by the nature of the trade.
– The Minister may prescribe anything below the winter loadline. He would not adopt the North Atlantic load-line, for instance.
– I do not suppose the Minister would attempt to do anything of the kind.
– If I had a chance I would try.
– The honorable senator is fairly drastic in some of his proposals.
– There is good reason for being so.
– It has been suggested to me that the Government intend by this clause to hamper the coal trade unnecessarily.
– That is nonsense. What have the Government to gain by hampering the coal trade?
– No one has anything to gain, but I am justified in drawing attention to the matter.
.- I wish to know whether the term “ deadweight cargo “ is understood to apply to a special kind of cargo?
– All dead-weight cargo is taken by weight, not by measurement.
– Last night the honorable senator did not mention wheat as dead-weight cargo, though he mentioned ores. If the term is well understood, so that there can be no dispute as to the meaning, I have no objection to the amendment.
– There is absolutely no doubt in the minds of shipping people as to what is dead-weight. All cargo that is carried by weight, and not by measurement at 40 cubic feet to the ton, is dead-weight cargo. Wheat, therefore, is dead-weight cargo. I confess that I should have liked this clause to go a good deal further than it does. It might with justice be made much more strict. I have tried in the past to secure an alteration, but the Board of Trade has stood up against me. Let me point out what occurs. Ships load up with wheat in Australia, we will say, in the months of November and December. They load up to the summer mark, being allowed to do so because they load in the summer months. They go round the Horn. It is true that a ship leaving Australia in November or December gets round the Horn in the summer, but when she gets into the western seas she runs alongside ships coming from Montreal and Chicago loaded with exactly the same cargo, though they are only allowed to load up to the winter North Atlantic mark. I shall not present an amendment on the present occasion, because I know that the Board of Trade would be “dead up against” me. I have tried to get an alteration made on two previous occasions. I am not going to block this Bill by an amendment now ; but, if I am spared, and occupy a seat in this Parliament, I shall take an early opportunity of bringing this matter up again at an early date by an amending Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 224 to 233 agreed to.
Clause 234 -
The regulations may require the masteror owner of every ship registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade, and of every foreign-going ship carrying passengers from Australia, which carries passengers to the number prescribed, to cause the ship to be fitted as prescribed, before going to sea, with apparatus for transmitting messages by wireless telegraphy.
That after the word “ every,” line 2, the word “passenger” be inserted.
I think the clause as it stands includes more than we can reasonably expect at the present time. It means that every ship engaged on the Australian coast must be fitted with a wireless telegraphic installation. I have no objection to every passenger ship being so fitted, but the clause in its present form goes rather too far. It would meet all reasonable requirements if the operation of the clause were confined to passenger ships. It has to be remembered that nineteentwentieths of the coasting trade is conducted on the eastern coasts, where there are many lighthouses and settlement is close. Consequently, there is not so much necessity for wireless telegraphy on vessels in that trade as is the case in some other parts. I hope that the Minister will be able to accept my amendment. Every foreign-going ship carrying passengers from Australia should be fitted with wireless telegraphic apparatus. We know that, as a matter of fact, for the safety and convenience of their passengers, nearly all such ships are now supplied with this apparatus. But the reasons which would justify the Government in compelling this to be done in the case of foreign-going vessels show that there is not anything like the same necessity for this provision in the case of nineteen out of every twenty vessels engaged in the coastal trade of Australia. I hope the Minister will see his way to accept the amendment.
– The Government are putting up one or two land stations for wireless telegraphic communication at the present time, and they hope to erect more later, but, for some years, the number of land stations on our coast will necessarily be limited. Obviously, it would be foolish for the Government to impose these conditions generally and indifferently unless there were some means by which a vessel having wireless telegraphic apparatus might communicate with another ship or with the shore. I take it that the regulations will be framed with a knowledge of this fact. On the other point, I ask why we should exempt cargo ships. The lives of the crew and officers of cargo ships are as precious to their friends and the public generally as are the lives of the passengers on a passenger ship, and the property in each case may be said to be equally valu able. The idea is to enable a warning to be given, or an appeal for help to be made, in order that life and property may be saved. One can imagine that where a ship is trading close to the coast, and might easily communicate by signal with the shore, the Minister would not impose this condition, but in the case of ships that go to sea, it may be very necessary for the protection of the lives of crews and passengers, as well as of property, to provide that they should carry wireless telegraphic apparatus. In such cases, the provision ought to be enforced whether the ships carry passengers or not.
– I admit the force of what the Minister has said, and I agree that many of the matters dealt with in this Bill must be administered by regulation. Though I shall not press my amendment, it seems to me that nineteen out of every twenty of the ships engaged in our coastal trade would be in a position to communicate with the shore. In North Queensland, we are developing trade with the Gulf ports, and I hope that with the growth of the Commonwealth we shall develop trade with the Northern Territory and the north-west coast of Western Australia. I admit that a comparatively small vessel engaged in that trade might meet with an accident in circumstances in which it would be well if wireless telegraphic communication could be availed of. ‘ With the assurance of the Minister as to the spirit in which the provision will be administered, I shall not press the amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 235 - (1.) The compasses of every sea-going ship must, except as prescribed, be properly adjusted as prescribed by an adjuster of compasses licensed in the prescribed manner. (2.) The last preceding sub-section shall not apply to a British ship, not registered in Australia, in respect of which a compass certificate has been issued by the Board of Trade of the United Kingdom and is still in force. ….
.- I should like some explanation from the Minister to account for the omission of a somewhat important clause, which appeared as clause 226 in the Bill of 1908, and which provided, to some extent, for reciprocity where the laws and regulations of any foreign country relating to overloading and improper loading are equally effective with the provision proposed in our law, on proof that a ship of that country had complied with those laws and regulations.
– That does not come under signals of distress.
– That is so, but perhaps the Minister will answer the question.
– We left the clause to which the honorable senator refers out of this Bill because we did not see any necessity for its inclusion. If the laws and regulations prescribed in the foreign country are the same as those which we prescribe, there is no reason why the foreign ship should not register in Australia. Our information, however, is that there is no country that does prescribe the same laws and regulations as we prescribe in this Bill.
– A similar clause appears in the Merchant Shipping Act, and, in the interests of international reciprocity, I thought it might be advisable to insert such a provision in this Bill.
– The only way in which we can recognise international reciprocity is by treaty. There are a number of countries with which the Mother Country has reciprocal arrangements, and these are recognised in another clause of this Bill. We do not consider it wise to go any further than that in the matter.
– I had not noticed the omission to which Senator McColl has called attention.
– The honorable senator cannot discuss a clause which does not appear in the Bill, unless he moves its insertion.
– I wish to ask the Government to reconsider the matter. We know that where the Mother Country has entered into reciprocal treaties they must be respected, and we might gracefully recognise that by the insertion of the clause referred to. I hope that before we reach the recommittal stage the Government will upon reconsideration take that view. In view of the pressure of business, it would be wrong to delay the passage of this measure unnecessarily, but the provision referred to by Senator McColl is an important one, and its omission from this Bill is at least ungraceful.
– I think the Government are well advised in dropping the clause referred to. Since this matter was first discussed the Imperial Parliament have altered their law under the Act of 1906. I have here a work by Sandford D. Cole, on the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906, in which he says -
After the “ appointed day “ the British loadline regulations will apply to foreign ships while they are within any port in the United Kingdom.
The appointed day referred to was 1st January, 1909, or such other day, not being more thanin twelve months later, which the Board of Trade might appoint. The appointed clay has therefore passed by, and there is now no reciprocity in this matter. Any foreign ship coming into a British Dominion has to comply with British laws and regulations with respect to load-line. That is a good reason why there is no necessity for the insertion of the clause referred to in this Bill.
– There is reciprocity in other matters besides the load-line.
– That is the question raised by the clause to which Senator McColl has referred. Cole further quotes the section from the Imperial Act of 1906, as follows -
Sections 437 to 443 of the Principal Act (which relate to load-lines), except sub-sections 3 and 4 of section 440, shall, after the appointed day, apply to all foreign ships while they are within any port in the United Kingdom as they apply to British ships, without prejudice-
to the power of His Majesty previously to apply those provisions to the ships of any foreign country, if the Government of that country so desire, under section 734 of the Principal Act : and
to any direction of His Majesty in Council given under section 445 of the Principal Act in the case of ships of any foreign country in. which the regulations in force relating to overloading and improper loading are equally effective with the provisions of the Principal Act.
So it will be seen that our inspectors have the power now to detain any foreign ship that does not adopt our marks. If she submerges marks fixed in accordance with British regulations, she is liable to prosecution. The result of this has been against the Britishsailor, because under these regulations the load-line has been to a considerable extent modified.
– I ask the honorable senator not to elaborate the matter. We are dealing with clause 235, and the honorable senator is referring to a matter which is not dealt with in the Bill.
– The matter was referred to in the wrong place, and I desired only to show that there was a good reason for the omission of the clause referred to in the Bill.
– I am obliged to the honorable senator for his explanation.
– In dealing with clause 235, I think we should recognise New Zealand legislation as well as the Merchant Shipping Act, and I therefore formally move -
That after the word “ Kingdom,” the words “ or by the Marine Department of New Zealand “ be inserted.
– Why not include Fiji ?
– Why not New Zealand ?
– Why not Guam?
– Because Guam as compared to New Zealand is as a molehill to a mountain. It is very desirable that every facility should be provided for trade between Australia and New Zealand. I cannot imagine New Zealand failing to recognise our certificates relating to the adjustment of compasses ; and I think that, in this Bill, we should declare our desire to grant reciprocal treatment to that Dominion.
– The Board of Trade certificate covers the lot.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. The Board of Trade certificate covers a very large number of ships; and, as Senator Guthrie has very properly pointed out, if we specially provide for New Zealand in this Bill, there is no reason why we should not make similar provision for the other British Dominions.
– We do not need to provide for them, because they are not so close to us as is New Zealand.
– There is a regular line of vessels, some Australian and others New Zealand, trading between the Commonwealth and the Dominion. It can doubtless be arranged between the Minister of Customs here and the Minister of Navigation there, that the New Zealand authorities shall recognise our certificates, and that we shall recognise theirs. No doubt an arrangement of that kind will be made. But I do not think that we ought to pick out one British Possession and specify it in this Bill.
– Does the Minister of Defence forget that, for a long time, the Australian States attempted to induce New Zealand to join the Commonwealth? It is absolutely certain that, as New Zealand and the Commonwealth increase in population and importance, they will come closer together - almost as close as England and Ireland.
– New Zealand, in her legislation, did not recognise our certificates.
– How could she do so, seeing that we have never had a Navigation Act?
– There was a Navigation Act in operation in each of the States.
– The position then was entirely different from what it is now. The Minister has said that he has not the slightest doubt that, if the adjustment of compasses in New Zealand is in accordance with the Board of Trade regulations, and is scientifically accurate, the Commonwealth authorities will recognise certificates issued by the Dominion. In these circumstances, what objection can be urged to my amendment?
– Has New Zealand any legislation in regard to the adjustment of compasses?
– I cannot find it.
– A section of the New Zealand Act states that the matter is subject to regulations.
– So that, whilst New Zealand has dealt with this matter by regulations, the Commonwealth intends to deal with it by Statute.
– The same section appears in the New Zealand Act as appears in this Bill.
– It would be a gracious act on the part of the Commonwealth to extend the recognition which I desire to New Zealand, as an indication that we wish to develop trade relations with that country. But it is evident that, no matter how harmless may be any amendment which may emanate from this side of the Chamber, it will not be accepted by the Government.
– What advantage would flow from the adoption of the amendment ?
– That is not the question which should be addressed to a member of the Opposition.
– Surely, when the honorable senator wishes to amend a clause, he ought to be in a position to show what advantage would result from his amendment !
– It is for honorable senators opposite to show what disadvantage would result from it.
– It is like the fifth wheel of a coach, in that it is not necessary.
– Is it not necessary that our trade relations with New Zealand should be as free as possible? The only reason why the amendment is being opposed is because it emanates from a member of the Opposition.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 236 to 248 agreed to.
Clause 249 (Using gear not tested, &c., as prescribed, or unsafe).
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “ Every ship shall be provided with an independent chain connexion with the rudder of the boat ready for immediate adjustment in case of emergency.”
This matter did not receive the attention of the Navigation Commission ; but if I had been called as a witness before that body, I could have given it some striking testimony regarding the need for a provision of this character, as the result of my own personal experience. I was on board a steamer off the Australian coast when, during the course of a heavy gale, the rudder snapped in the post-hole. We immediately found ourselves in a difficulty. The ship had on board a full complement of passengers, and a fair cargo, and there was no means of controlling her. The opinion generally expressed at the time was that, but for the fact that she had yards on her foremast, the vessel would have gone to the bottom. I quite recognise that a number of exercises, such as boat drill and similar obligations which are cast on shipmasters by regulations, have never been observed, and have, fallen into desuetude. I think it is highly necessary to provide for an independent chain connexion to the rudder body, so that in the event of a similar accident occurring, the crew could still have command of the ship. Sometimes the chains that are attached to the rudder are rusty, or hang idly down the stern, and there is no means of attaching them, and sometimes they are not connected at all. In the case of a break, such as that which occurred on the ship in which I was employed,it, was very necessary in the interests of the crew and the passengers that an independent chain connexion should be established at once. At the time Ireferred to, competent seamen expressed the belief that ifour ship had not yards on her foremast, to enable her to lay to the wind, she would have foundered very quickly, simply because there was not an independent chain connexion with the rudder, which would have enabled the man at the wheel to control her in the heavy gale which was blowing. We should have been only too glad to have had such a connexion as is provided for in my amendment. We had to wait nearly three or four days in a raging hurricane, because it was most dangerous to out out a boat to establish a connexion, and even when a boat was launched with the greatest possible amount of risk, it had to be kept clear until the sailors could get close enough to the rudder body to attach the chain, and so give command of the rudder to the man at the wheel. I had a very narrow escape on that occasion, and this amendment is submitted with a view to prevent other persons from findingthemselves in a like predicament. I feel sure that the Minister can offer no objection to its insertion.
.-I would remind Senator Lynch that this clause deals with the loading and discharge of cargo and that his amendment, if made therein, would be somewhat incongruous. The words of the amendment do not actually express what he is aiming at. I was under the impression that what he wanted to provide for was a chain connexion with the wheel; that is. a chain running along the deck. It is certainly open to that construction.
– It will be connected with that chain of course.
– The honorable senator wants a separate chain running along the deck?
– We will accept the amendment if it is moved as new clause 249A, though I think it will have to be redrafted.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the following new. clause be inserted; - “ 249A. All ships registered in Australiaor engaged in” the coasting trade shall be provided with, an independent chain connexion to the rudder body ready for immediate adjustment in. case of emergency.
Penalty :Fifty pounds.”
– My experience in travelling has been that quite apart from the steering gear the coasting ships have connexion with the rudder.
– Some have, but others have not.
– Judging from my observations, most of them have. I suppose that all vessels from 1,000 tons upwards are steered by steam, and have a hand-steering gear which can be brought into use in an emergency. I presume that that is the case with a large proportion of the coasting ships. In that way, double provision is made for controlling a ship. The effect of this amendment will be to impose this precaution on every ship which is engaged in the coasting trade.
– Why not?
– Is there not such a thing as a limited coast- trade ship.
– Why should she not be provided with an independent chain connexion with the rudder body?
– Take a vessel of 20 or 30 tons.
– This amendment, if made, will not take anything off her tonnage.
– My advice is that an independent chain connexion will cost a very small sum.
– In the case of the largest ship going, it will not cost over £1.
– I can quite understand that in comparison with the earnings of a big ship, the cost will be a trifle, and that it is a just claim to make upon her owner.
– On a small vessel, the cost would be 5s., which is less than the cost of a legal opinion.
– If that is so, I shall not object to this additional precaution being taken, if the Government is satisfied.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 250 agreed to.
Clause 251 -
No person shall send by or carry in any ship any dangerous goods, unless -
the description of the goods, and the name and address of the sender and consignee, are distinctly marked on the outside of the package containing them ; and
notice in writing (in addition to ordinary shipping documents) of the description of the. goods has been given to the owner or master of the ship, at or before the time of carrying or sending the goods to be shipped-.
Penalty : One hundred pounds.
– Is it not desirable that an intimation of the fact that dangerous goods are on board a vessel should be posted, so that passengers may be warned?
– It will be declared in the manifest.
– An ordinary passenger does not read the manifest.
– No; but the Customs House officials see it.
– I think it is desirable that passengers should know if there is any dangerous commodity on the ship.
– Or a dangerous person.
– When I resumed my seat, sir, I thought that the Minister might submit an amendment compelling owners to intimate to passengers on a vessel that dangerous goods were on board.
– I do not want to be hoist with my own petard.
– I have not had time to draft an amendment.
– Some of the passengers might jump overboard.
– No, they need not travel by that ship. They would know exactly what they were travelling with.
– The honorable senator must remember that in clause 256 the Minister has power to prohibit the carriage of any dangerous cargo.
SenatorFraser. - The honorable senator is running dangers every day of his life, so he need not bother.
– It might interfere with the profits of shipping companies to require such a notice to be posted. I cannot think of an amendment at present, otherwise I should move one.
– I do not know whether if Senator Stewart could draft an amendment it might not have the opposite effect to that which he intended. We all know that there are types of people floating around who do the most strange things. If some of these apparently harmless lunatics knew that there was a load of kerosene on board the steamer in which” they were travelling the places which they would choose for having their daily pipe would be the hatches. On land we see people doing remarkable things, and the place of danger is the very place to which they resort. If a passenger wanted to send himself and a few friends to eternity, he would be afforded a splendid opportunity if it were notified that she was carrying gunpowder. Clause 256 empowers the Minister, if he thinks that the carriage of explosive goods will interfere with the comfort and the safety of the passengers, to prohibit them from being sent. That gives sufficient power, I think, to meet the case suggested by Senator Stewart. The shipper has to give notice that he is going to carry dangerous goods, so that the authorities may decide whether to allow them to go by one ship or another.
. -This is no laughing matter. Clause 253 enables any seaman or apprentice to decline to go to sea in a ship carrying dangerous goods. We look after the seaman, and surely passengers have a right to know that they are travelling in a perfectly safe ship. It is all very well for Senator Pearce to say that the Minister has certain powers in regard to the shipping of explosives, “but in practice the Minister knows nothing whatever about these things. He leaves the management to his officers. If a ship comes into a port laden with explosives care is taken to keep her away from the wharfs, and to make her discharge her cargo in a safe place.
– We do not compel the railway authorities to tell their passengers when they are carrying explosives.
– As far as I know explosives are not carried on passenger trains.
– They are carried on mixed trains.
– They are generally carried by goods trains, at night. If dangerous goods are to be carried on passenger ships, the fact should not be kept a secret from every one, except the officers and crew, who have the right to refuse to sail.
– I hope that the Minister will stand by the clause. It is a well-known fact that most explosives if properly handled and safely stowed are absolutely harmless.
– Cordite is, for instance. You can burn it like a candle.
– Quite so. Some people are so nervous that if they knew that a ship was carrying a few pounds of cordite or dynamite they would not go to sea, although it might be as safe to do so as to travel in a Melbourne tramcar. 1 have seen, on some ships, large iron tubes filled with compressed carbonic acid. Being carefully stowed and securely lashed, they were perfectly safe. If they were improperly handled, however, there would be danger of an explosion. Passengers know that the officers will see to it that they are carefully stowed. It is useless to multiply imaginary dangers. There is no precedent for declaring publicly at the ticket-office that dangerous goods are to be carried. Ship-owners incur heavy penalties, if they do not stow their cargo properly. Furthermore, all goods are shipped under the supervision of Government officers. The seamen and officers on a ship are self-compelled watchmen, in their own interests, as well as for the safety of the passengers.
– I am surprised to hear Senator St. Ledger say that there is no danger from carrying explosives such as dynamite.
– Perfectly correct.
– I have handled more dynamite than the honorable senator has, and know something about it.
– The honorable senator has seen a man take a dynamite cartridge between his teeth; but he was a fool.
– I know a case where a plug of dynamite fell into a blacksmith’s tub, and the man lost his life through it. That was at Charters Towers. I know another case where a commercial traveller in New South Wales had a packet of dynamite in his possession. It was not supposed to go off, but he got wet and brought bis things into the club-room of an hotel, where there was a fire. Shortly afterwards there was an explosion which blew the hotel to pieces. If dynamite and other explosives are put in a hot place the fumes from the nitro-glycerine will readily cause an explosion.
– The same danger attaches to coal and oil.
– I know of another case where a waggon, containing dynamite, was exposed to the hot rays of the sun all day. The man in charge of it lit a fire a few yards from the waggon, at which to boil his billy. Immediately afterwards the waggon was blown to pieces. The heat brought the fumes into the atmosphere and an explosion resulted. There are also acids which, if left on deck, are liable to cause an explosion. No harm can possibly result from accepting Senator Stewart’s suggestion.
– If we were to take the advice of Senator Savers I am afraid that we should have to order a notice to be put up at the gangway of every ship in the Australian coastal trade that carried coal. Coal, under certain circumstances, is just as dangerous as dynamite. If Senator Savers has never heard of spontaneous combustion he ought to have done. Several ships have been destroyed through spontaneous combustion. Senator Guthrie, who is interested in the question of the proper ventilation of ships, is well aware that if coal is not properly stowed, and the bunkers are not ventilated, there is grave danger of an explosion. If honorable senators who support Senator Stewart had their way vessels would have to go to sea without coal, which is very dangerous under certain conditions.
-Colonel Cameron. - So is oil.
– Senator St. Ledger mentioned oil when he was speaking ; and it is a more dangerous commodity for a ship to carry than is dynamite. If honorable senators will read the Bill, they will find that provision is made for every precaution to be taken. If those who are supporting the proposal had their way, we should have to prevent ships from carrying coal.
– I should like to add to what Senator Needham has said, that if we are to be so exceedingly careful, we should require a notice to be posted informing passengers that there are knives on board a vessel, which, if properly used, might cut throats. So we might go on ad infinitum. If Senator Stewart has no better amendment to suggest, I would ask him to rely upon those who will haveto define what are dangerous goods. If it is necessary to be so careful as the honorable senator suggests, there ought to be a notice at the top of a ship’s companionway, “ Please do not fall down this ladder.” When the honorable senator has been shown how ridiculous his suggestion is, I hope he will not press it.
– I think that, in providing that a satisfactory description of goods shall be given when they are being shipped, we have done all that is necessary. So far, I think there has been no cause of complaint in connexion with the carriage of dynamite in ships. I agree with Senator Needham that more ships have been destroyed as the result of carrying coal than as the result of carrying dynamite.
– There is a good deal more coal than dynamite carried in ships.
– That is unquestionable ; but none of our authorities has, so far, mentioned a single case in which a vessel, trading to or from Australia, has been lost through an explosion of dynamite or any other explosive that has been referred to. So far, shippers of explosive goods have been careful to ship them by sailing ships.
– No; most of the dynamite that comes here from South Africa is brought in steamers.
– If honorable senators will make inquiries, they will find that almost the whole of our supplies of explosives are brought here in sailing vessels. I admit that sailing vessels are fast going out of use ; but the Bill provides for such a description of goods when they are being shipped, as will enable those in charge of a vessel to stow any explosives in such a way that they may be carried as safely on board a steamship as on board a sailing ship. In view of the precautions provided for, the Committee should allow the clause to go as it stands. If we are to accept the view of some honorable senators, we should demand that passengers should be notified, in the case of a vessel carrying coal, that it may develop gases which may take fire and lead to an explosion. That is what actually occurred once in Sydney. A vessel called the Argot, lying at the side of a dock, laden with coal, had her deck blown into the air, as the result of an explosion. Honorable senators will see that it is, therefore, absolutely dangerous to carry coal in a ship; and if they are not prepared to say that no coal shall be carried in a ship, without a notification to passengers, they should accept the clause as it stands.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 252 -
The owner or master of any ship may -
refuse to carry any dangerous goods;
open and inspect any package suspected of containing dangerous goods; and
throw overboard any dangerous goods shipped without his knowledge, and shall not be subject to any liability of any kind for so doing.
– I moye -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ and) when dangerous goods are carried, shall exhibit a notice to that effect on a conspicuous portion of the ship, and at the office where tickets are issued to passengers.”
– The honorable senator should specify what are dangerous goods.
– I refer Senator tie Largie to clause 250, which says -
In this division “dangerous goods” means goods which have been declared by proclamation to be dangerous.
All that I am asking for is that passengers shall be informed when goods which have been proclaimed dangerous are carried upon a vessel.
– And the quantity?
– Yes. Clause 253 provides that -
Any seaman or apprentice may decline to go to sea in a ship carrying dangerous goods, and any seaman or apprentice who so declines, shall, if he so requests, be granted a discharge from the ship.: ,
Provided that this section shall not apply where the carriage ‘of the dangerous goods is in accordance with express stipulations in the agreement.
All that I desire is that a passenger shall be placed on exactly the same footing as a seaman ‘or apprentice.
– The honorable senator’s amendment will not accomplish his object.
– Then Senator Needham can move to amend the amendment. I desire that when a passenger makes his contract with a shipping company he shall do so in the full knowledge that the company proposes to carry dangerous goods on board the ship in which he wishes to travel. Honorable senators have tried to be witty in connexion with this matter, but really it is one of some consequence. We hedge about the handling of explosives on shore with a great many precautions. There are magazines established in the neighbourhood of almost every town where explosives are stored, and access to them is permitted only to certain individuals. Some passengers might not care to travel on a vessel that is carrying dangerous goods.
– Why not notify passengers that there is a possibility of a shipwreck ?
– They do not require to be told that. Though, in some cases, man has some control to prevent a shipwreck, in many instances shipwrecks are beyond the control of man, and are regarded as the act of God. I should not care to travel in a railway compartment with a case of dynamite, or a few kegs of gunpowder. If I knew such explosives were in the compartment, I should change to another if I did not decide to leave the train altogether. I should have that much respect for my own skin. I hope the Committee will agree to the amendment.
: - Senator Stewart has neglected his opportunity. If he had been present when clause 250 was being dealt with he might have moved an amendment setting out what he regards as dangerous goods. We should then be in a position to understand what is involved in the amendment he has now proposed.
– Dangerous goods will be denned by proclamation.
– It is on that account that I object to the present amendment. We ought to know what the dangerous goods are, concerning which passengers should be notified. Senator Stewart does not attempt to tell us what they are.
– That is not my business.
– I think it is. When an honorable senator submits an amendment, he is in duty bound to justify it, and to say what its effect will be. Senator Stewart has had sufficient opportunity to do that, because no end Of objections have been urged to this proposal. But he has failed to do it. I say that he is in duty bound to tell us what are “ ‘dangerous goods.” He should do so iri fairness to the ship-owners, because, in the absence of such a definition, they may take on board articles which some persons might regard as “dangerous,” but which others might view from quite an opposite standpoint. As has already been pointed out, ho ship “with a cargo of dynamite or explosives on board has ever been lost while on a voyage to Australia. Oh the other hand, we know that quite a large number
Of what are generally regarded as harmless, commodities-
– Such as wool.
– We know that a large number of harmless commodities have been responsible for accidents at seaIt is a well-known fact that numerous fires have resulted from wet wool. Spontaneous combustion may occur in the case of quite a number of articles. I would further point out that if we are going to specify what are “ dangerous goods,” so far as cargo is concerned, it is equally incumbent upon us to specify who are dangerous persons. We might specify such articles as vitriol, benzine, aqua fortis, and explosives as “ dangerous goods.” But Senator Stewart has not taken the trouble to indicate a single article which he regards as coming within that category. He has asked the Committee - probably without a moment’s consideration - to make an amendment in the clause. Doubtless, he feels that having remained silent for half-an-hour he must do something. He has urged no reason why his amendment should be adopted, and, in such circumstances, it is altogether ridiculous to expect a deliberative assembly to accept it.
.- Senator Stewart has adopted the definition contained in the Bill.
– There is no definition.
– Yes. Clause 250 provides that “ dangerous goods “ means goods which have been declared by proclamation to be dangerous. It is only to such goods that the amendment would apply. When Senator de Largie asks an honorable senator to come here possessed of all the knowledge of a Customs officer, he is asking an impossibility. The marginal note to clause 253 reads, “ right to decline to sail in ships carrying dangerous goods.” Why do not the Government specify what are “dangerous goods” there? If Senator Stewart’s amendment be a ridiculous one, clause 253 is equally ridiculous, inasmuch as it does not specify what are “ dangerous goods.” If it be right to allow a seaman or apprentice an opportunity of declining to proceed to sea in a ship carrying “ dangerous goods,” it is equally right that a passenger who has paid his fare should be afforded a similar opportunity.
– The seaman may have to pay his passage back to his home, a distance of 10,000 miles.
– I merely ask that the passengers shall be placed upon the same footing as the seamen. If a passenger, who has paid his fare, finds that the ship by which he intended to travel is carrying “ dangerous goods,” he should have the right to decline to sail in her, and his fare should be refunded to him.
– I think that the difference between Senator Stewart’s amendment and clause 253 is the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. By his proposal, Senator Stewart seeks to obtain a definition of “ dangerous goods.”
– I do not seek anything of the kind.
– My honorable friend need not get angry. In moving his amendment he compared it with clause 253, in which there is no definition of “ dangerous goods.” He also accused the Committee of approaching the consideration of this question in a spirit of levity. I have no intention of approaching the consideration of any clause of the Bill in that spirit. Senator Sayers has said that dynamite is carried by sailing ships to a far greater extent than is coal. I would remind that honorable senator, who is about to resume his place-
– I have not been out of my place.
– The honorable senator is out of it now.
– I wish the honorable senator would not make such misstatements. I have not been outside the chamber.
– I do not know why the honorable senator should get so wild. I merely said that he was out of his place.
– That remark was disorderly.
– The honorable senator was not then sitting down, but was about to sit down. Leaving that aside, my honorable friend is getting very fidgety.
– I do not like a man to stand up and make a false statement.
– No; the honorable senator reminds me of a blow-fly. He blows a lot, but there is nothing in it.
– What about a sandfly?
– The honorable senator makes much more noise than does a sand-fly.
– But a sand-fly stings.
– The honorable senator was talking about dynamite and coal.
– I rise to a point of order. I do not wish the honorable senator to put into my mouth words which I did not use. I spoke about dynamite, but not about coal.
– What is the point of order?
– My point of order is that Senator Needham has made a misstatement.
– If Senator Needham has stated that Senator Sayers used certain words which he did not use, I have no doubt that Senator Needham will withdraw.
– I have yet to learn, sir, ihat I put into the mouth of Senator Sayers any_ words which he did not use.
– An interjection about coal was made across the chamber; but I only spoke about dynamite.
– If I have offended the honorable senator by saying that he used the word “ coal,” I withdraw that word and substitute the word “gas.” Until we reach that period of civilization when vessels can be propelled by means other than coal, I contend that the amendment moved by Senator Stewart, and supported by Senator Sayers, is absurd, because it would necessitate the posting of a notice at the head of her gangway or at the booking-office that coal was on board the ship. Neither honorable senator has refuted any of the arguments adduced. I hope that the amendment will be rejected.
– It is not at all likely that coal will be proclaimed to be dangerous, and, therefore, it need not be referred to in connexion with this clause. In my opinion, the amendment does not go far enough. Suppose that a passenger leaves Australia for London on a steamer on which there is a proclamation that no dangerous goods are on board, and such goods are shipped on her arrival at Capetown. What is to become of the poor passenger? I think that Senator Stewart ought to propose either that the passenger should be returned to his port of embarkation or that the steamer’s owners must pay his passage to London in a vessel which is not carrying dangerous goods. I am afraid that the poor passenger is likely to be left stranded somewhere. An amendment of this kind, if it is to be made, ought to be complete. For instance, it ought to empower a passenger to claim his passage money if he finds that some dangerous goods are on board. I hope that Senator Stewart will endeavour to make thorough provision for securing the safety of passengers. I do not know why this amendment ought to be confined to dangerous goods. There- may be dangerous passengers on a steamer.
– And sometimes dangerous women.
– I am surprised at Senator McColl, because I do not think that any woman would be a danger to Senator Stewart. Passengers ought to be protected from the possibility of coming in contact with a person afflicted with a dangerous disease.
– I think so.
– There is the Quarantine Act to do that.
– We should provide for the safety of not only the crew, but also the passengers. The latter ought to be protected against every possible danger, and if Senator Stewart will extend the scope of his amendment I shall support it.
– Vote for this amendment, and we can deal afterwards with the other matter.
– No; this provision cannot be made in a piecemeal way. If the honorable senator will extend his amendment so as to provide that a passenger shall not only be taken on board free from danger, but delivered at his destination without coming into contact with any dangerous goods or persons. I shall be quite prepared to support him.
– We have heard a lot about coal, though I have not mentioned it before, simply because it is not proclaimed as dangerous.
– It may be.
– I do not look upon coal in that light. Every passenger who goes on board a steamer knows that coal is carried for the purpose of propelling her, so that there is no necessity to proclaim coal as dangerous.
– So far, there are no goods proclaimed as dangerous.
– No. We really do not know what the proclamation will contain when it is issued ; but according to Senator de Largie and others, it will include coal as a dangerous commodity.
– How could a ship be taken to her destination without coal?
– Exactly. The whole of the argument about coal has been absurd. I do not think that the present Government are so far gone in lunacy as to proclaim it a dangerous commodity for a steamer to carry.
– It has been pointed out that far more ships have been lost through carrying coal than Rave been lost through carrying other goods. We know that, without ventilation, coal is a dangerous cargo.
– I hope that the honorable senator will induce the Government to provide that there shall be plenty of ventilation in ships. Almost without exception sailing ships have been lost because the hatches had been battened down, and no ventilation had been provided.
– It is possible for spontaneous combustion to take place where there is good ventilation.
– Very rarely. If there is a means of escape for the gas which rises from the coal, there will be no spontaneous combustion.
– Oh, yes, there will.
– Not until a light is brought in contact with the gas.
– It is always possible.
– It is very rarely with coal, when it is properly ventilated, that spontaneous combustion occurs, or a ship is destroyed. The whole object of this argument about the coal business has been to throw ridicule on the amendment of Senator Stewart.
– Or on him.
– Perhaps so. It is it fair and reasonable amendment, which the Government ought to consider. They have not yet told us what they intend to proclaim as dangerous commodities. They have made no reference to the matter, so that we are practically left in the dark. Are we going to pass the clause without the Government signifying whether they intend to accept the amendment or not? They ought to tell us why they put in clause 253, and refuse to accept this amendment in clause 252.
Silting suspended from 6-ji to 8 p.m.
– In my previous remarks I referred to dangerous goods that might be carried on board a ship. I never mentioned coal as one of the dangerous articles, and the references that have been made to that commodity do not affect my argument. I hope that the Minister will see his way to accept Senator Stewart’s amendment. Otherwise we have no hope of carrying it. I shall not discuss the various goods that might be combustible, but remembering that the next clause provides that seamen and apprentices may leave a ship if there is combustible material on board, the least we can do is to give passengers an opportunity to leave if they do not think it safe to travel.
– I have given further consideration to Senator Stewart’s amendment, and am still of opinion that the clause as it stands gives all the protection to passengers that is requisite. Senator Stewart seemed to think that I was joking when I stated that the insertion of such a provision might cause an individual to do something to the detriment of his fellow passengers. But I was never more serious in my life. I really think that the knowledge that there were dangerous goods on board might suggest to some person to do things which were dangerous to themselves and to the other passengers. We have all heard of cases where persons supposed to be sane have committed rash acts, regardless of consequences. The best protection we can give to passengers is to intrust the authorities with full power to deal with explosives and dangerous goods, and to prevent their being shipped except under proper conditions. Merely to indicate that dangerous goods were on board, might needlessly alarm the passengers, and, perhaps, cause some not to travel by the ship. The shipping companies are not too anxious to carry explosives, and charge higher freights for them, even though they may be perfectly safe. Some time ago the Defence Department wished to send some shell from one State to another. They were absolutely harmless, lt was impossible to explode one of them unless a certain mechanism was fitted, and they were fired from a gun. But, though we were prepared to pay an unusually high freight, we experienced difficulty in getting a ship to take the goods. Eventually we had to charter a sailing vessel for the purpose. Another source of protection is that ali ships are insured, and the underwriters employ agents who keep their eyes open as to the class of goods carried on board ships.
– In the next clause provision is made for the protection of the crew; why not protect the passengers?
– The honorable senator forgets that a crew has to travel with a ship on which dangerous goods are allowed to be placed. The officials administering this measure would not allow such goods to be placed on ships carrying passengers. Inasmuch, however, as they can be placed on other ships, it is only right to give the members of a crew an opportunity of leaving. First of all, dangerous goods will be proclaimed”; and, secondly, the person sending dangerous goods has to give notice in writing that he is sending them. Those are two safeguards. Furthermore, clause 256 provides, that, if, in the opinion of the Minister, the carriage of any particular cargo would endanger the safety of a ship or interfere with the comfort of the passengers, he may prohibit its carriage. In view of there precautions, I appeal to Senator Stewart to withdraw the amendment.
. -While every care has been taken in this Bill to protect seamen who may desire to leave a ship upon which dangerous goods are carried, no concern whatever has been displayed for the passengers. Several honorable senators have complained that I have not defined what dangerous goods are. It is no part of my business to do so. It is left to the Government to issue a proclamation stating what goods are dangerous. All that I desire is that an opportunity shall be given to passengers not to travel by a ship carrying dangerous goods, if they do not feel disposed to do so. The Minister has referred me to clause 256 ; but if we had a Government in power which was favorable to shipping companies, the probability is that that provision would not be enforced, and vessels would be allowed to carry dangerous goods as often as they pleased.
– The honorable senator means that one Government might be humane, whilst another Government would be altogether inhumane?
– I do not say that.
– Even in the States I have known an instance where a section equivalent to clause 256 was enforced in connexion with a Defence Department.
– I am well aware that I cannot carry the amendment if the Minister insists upon his opinion, and therefore I ask leave to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 253 -
Any seaman or apprentice may decline to go to sea in a ship carrying dangerous goods, and any seaman or apprentice who so declines, shall, if he so requests, be granted a discharge from the ship :
Provided that this section shall not apply where the carriage of the dangerous goods is in accordance with express stipulations in the agreement.
– I believe that there is no precedent for clause 253 in this form. I suggest to the Minister that, if he desires to retain it in the Bill, and to secure the effect intended, it should be placed after clause 254. As it stands, a seaman or apprentice might decline to go to sea simply by declaring that there were dangerous goods on board.
– The meaning of “ dangerous “ is defined in clause 250 ; the term means “ goods which have been declared by proclamation to be dangerous.”
– Clause 254 contemplates that, if the owner or master carries dangerous goods, they may be forfeited; and I presume that the meaning is that if a seaman or apprentice knows that such goods are being carried in contravention of the law, he may be allowed to walk ashore and claim’ his discharge. I suggest the transposition of the two clauses, making clause 254 come before clause 253; and then we should, I think, insert in clause 253 the stipulation “ on satisfactory proof of such contravention shall, if he so requests, be entitled to his discharge.”
– What is the difference ?
– We should not allow an apprentice or seaman to walk off a ship at his own sweet will merely by declaring that there are on board goods which are dangerous within the meaning of the law. The Minister and his officers are the proper persons to interpret the law, not the apprentice or seaman.
– It is not a question of walking off a ship, but of the legal termination of the agreement.
– But, as a matter of fact, as the clause stands, the seaman or apprentice will be allowed to leave at his own sweet will. That is not what is intended. The seaman or apprentice ought not to be the judge of the matter.
– If it is stipulated in the articles that dangerous goods are to be carried, the seaman or apprentice will have no right to walk off.
– I shall not labour the matter, but if the course I propose .were adopted, it would make the measure more intelligible, and more easy of interpretation by the Courts.
– Would the clause not be in its proper sequence, where a seaman discovers, before he begins a voyage, that the ship is going to carry dangerous goods ?
– No ; I think it should come after clause 254.
– The honorable senator would have the seamen wait until the Admiralty Court had decided the matter?
– That would not be necessary. A magistrate’s Court can deal with deserters, with claims for wages, and with many other matters arising under this Bill. If this clause were put into its proper place, magistrates would more readily understand its object, and its relation to a breach of his articles by a seaman.
– I think the honorable senator is making a mistake. If this clause were inserted after clause 254, there would be nothing for the seamen to leave the ship for, because, under that clause, an Admiralty Court might have ordered the destruction of the dangerous goods. I take the case of a seaman signing articles in Great Britain on a ship voyaging to Australia via South Africa. There is no stipulation in the articles that the ship may carry dangerous cargo, but when she reaches South Africa she takes in a cargo including dangerous goods. I say that in that case it is right that any seaman should be in a position to say, “I am not prepared to risk my life on a vessel carrying dangerous goods, and I want my discharge.” Of course, if, in the first instance, the seaman signed articles with a knowledge that dangerous goods might be carried on board the ship, he could not break his articles. In the Merchant Shipping Act dangerous goods include gunpowder, benzine, lucifer matches, nitro-glycerine, and any explosives within the meaning of the Explosives Act of 1885. If a man is asked to sign articles on a ship that is going to carry any of these dangerous goods, it is a matter of bargaining for wages. The seaman would say that if he was expected to run such risks he must get more wages. Senator Henderson has said that most of our supplies of explosives are brought here by sailing ships, but, as a matter of fact, most of the explosives imported now for the Broken Hill and other mines are brought from South Africa in a special steamer continuously employed for the purpose by the South African Explosives Company. We had reason to know that in Adelaide a few weeks ago, when the vessel, with 250 tons of dynamite on board, was found to be on fire, and a very little concussion would have resulted in a disastrous explosion. I think this clause is a good one, and that it is in its proper place in the Bill.
– I think it will be found that it will lead to trouble.
– There need be no trouble about it at all. For instance, a man’s articles may stipulate for a voyage from London to Australia, Australia to New Zealand, and back to London. When the ship reaches Australia, instead of continuing the voyage to New Zealand, it may be proposed that she shall go to China, and the seaman has then the right to leave the ship, because she would not be going where he stipulated to go under his contract. The position would be exactly the same under this clause if a seaman had not agreed to serve on a vessel carrying explosives.
– I understood Senator Guthrie to say that if a ship left England for Australia, and calling at South Africa, took in a cargo, including explosives, the seamen would be able to walk ashore. Surely the honorable senator does not think that our law would apply in that case? Under this provision the seamen could only leave the ship when it arrived in Australia. If we pass laws like this, we shall be very likely to get into trouble. I say that a Bill containing such a provision is likely to be reserved for the Royal assent. If we provide that seamen engaging on a British ship may, on its arrival in Australia, leave the vessel for one pretext and another, the Imperial authorities will veto the measure.
– It would not be a pretext. It would be because of a breach of contract.
– The honorable senator quoted the case of a British ship calling at South Africa, and taking in explosives there. But the seamen could not leave that ship in South Africa for that reason. This provision would not be recognised there.
– The South African law would recognise the terms of a contract.
– I admit that, under this clause, if the ship proceeded to Australia, after taking in explosives at Cape Town, the seamen would be able to walk ashore.
– Not walk ashore. They would be able to ask that they should be legally discharged.
– But I am supposing a case ot an agreement made outside of Australia, and no law that we can ,passwould make that agreement null and void. We should be careful not to overreach ourselves by trying to do too much.
– We have already passed a similar provision in connexion with unseaworthy ships.
Sen’ator SAYERS.- This provision is not included in the Merchant Shipping Act.
– No ; but a similar provision regarding unseaworthy ships is contained in that Act.
– If men sign articles on a ship leaving London, Dublin, Cork, Glasgow, or any other port in the United Kingdom, does the Minister mean to tell me that, immediately she arrives at an Australian port, the crew can break their articles under such a provision as this, and that nothing will be said about it?
– In the case of a foreign ship, no.
– I cannot understand the contention that men engaged in the Old Country to serve on a British ship may, when they reach Australia, leave the ship because a provision which is not to be found in the Merchant Shipping Act has not been complied with.
– If the honorable senator will look at clause 189, he will see that it provides that the whole of this part of the Bill shall apply to all ships, British or foreign.
– Does the Minister think that that is right?
– Why not?
– A minute ago, the honorable senator said that the clause would not apply to a foreign ship.
– I was wrong; but even Jove nods.
– I do not find fault with the honorable senator for making a mistake, because we all make mistakes. I take the case of a German ship loading at Hamburg, a port from which a great quantity of dynamite, lithofracteur, and other explosives used in mining, is exported. The crew sign articles at Hamburg for a voyage to Australian ports, and does the Minister mean to tell me that, under our law, they would be able to break their agreements if explosives were carried on the ship? If that be so, we may find Australian ships, when they get outside of Australian waters, taken in hand by the authorities of some foreign nation that will take no notice of our law. What are we to do in such a case, are we to declare war ? This kind of legislation is only inviting retaliation by other nations. I wish to see the Bill pass in such a way that there will be no difficulty in securing the Royal assent to it. If the Minister thinks this clause satisfactory, I shall not divide the Committee upon it; but the Government must accept the responsibility for it.
– I am surprised that Senator St. Ledger should attach so much importance to the order inwhich this clause appears. As a lawyer, he ought to know that the order in which a clause appears in an Act has absolutely no effect upon the law.
– That is so.
– This clause inserted in this part of the Bill will be just as effective as it would be if it were inserted where the honorable senator suggests. With respect to the amendment he has suggested, it appears to me to involve merely an alteration of verbiage, and I prefer the clause as it stands.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 254 and 255 agreed to.
Clause 256 -
– Apparently this clause has been drafted with a view to prevent the carriage of dangerous goods in passenger ships. But I would point out to the Minister that goods which may menace the safety of the crew may be carried upon a cargo ship. With the object of preventing this, I move -
That after the word “ passengers,” line 4, the words “ or crew “ be inserted.
– I am willing to accept the amendment..
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 257 to 259 agreed to.
Clause 260 (Rules for collisions, lights, and signals).
– I notice that a very important provision which appeared in the Navigation Bill of 1908 has been omitted from this measure. I refer to clause 256, which reads -
This division shall apply to all foreign ships when within the limits of Australia, or of the territorial waters thereof, in the same manner and to the same extent as to British ships.
I should like to know why that clause has been omitted ?
– Clause 189 governs the whole of these clauses, so that the provision to which the honorable senator has directed attention is not required.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 261 to 267 agreed to.
Clause 268 (Regulations as to passenger trade).
– I move -
That the following proviso be added : - “ Provided that the Regulations relating to the accommodation of passengers shall provide that not more than four persons shall be accommodated in each cabin, and that each cabin shall have a cubic content sufficient to provide for not less than one hundred and forty cubic feet for each passenger.”
I do not think that any exception can be taken to the amendment. I take it that regulations will be framed dealing with ships travelling from port to port, and carrying passengers, and that those regulations will not apply to ferry boats or to vessels trading within the waters of Hobson’s Bay or Port Jackson.
– Will the honorable senator’s amendment apply to all classes of passengers - both second and third?
– The honorable senator is aware that at the present time there are no cabins for third-class passengers ?
– I am. My amendment will apply to both saloon and steerage passengers. Of course, the Minister may by regulation provide more accommodation than that for which I ask. I merely ask that 140 cubic feet shall be allotted to each passenger, which is the space that has been allocated to each seaman.
– But not when there are only four in a cabin.
– I pointed out on a previous occasion that only half the seamen are in the forecastle quarters simultaneously. I would remind the Committee that, whereas the crew of a vessel are in daily intercourse with each other, the passengers are mostly strangers to each other. It is wrong to jamb eight or ten passengers into a cabin in a confined space. A man may be travelling from one port to another who is afflicted with a serious complaint, and he may be placed in a cabin with eight or ten other passengers. I have known persons who were suffering from contagious diseases, such as consumption, to be huddled in a stifling cabin in the tropics, with insufficient air-space. I think that the amendment is a reasonable one, and I ask the Committee to accept it.
– If this Committee attempted to frame regulations under the Bill. I have no doubt that it would frame quite as liberal regulations as would any Government. Therefore, I do not oppose the amendment upon the ground that it is unreasonable. But I do say that it is not advisable for the Committee to draft regulations at the present time.
– We are not attempting to do that.
– The honorable senator is seeking to do it. It must be recollected that different regulations may require to be framed for different classes of ships. There may be vessels upon which the cabins would not be used by passengers.
– That difficulty may be overcome.
– Of course it may. But it is not advisable to attempt to overcome it in the Bill itself, because in making the attempt we should probably tie our hands in some other direction. It is much better that we should leave matters of detail to the regulations. The honorable senator draws a parallel between this accommodation and that provided for seamen ; but the two things are quite distinct. On many ships, where passengers never use the cabins, the seamen have to live, and there is a reason why a hard-and-fast rule should be laid down in that case. The honorable senator ought, to understand that the Government will not give to passengers less accommodation than is allowed to the crew. The amendment is not complete in itself. A few more regulations will require to be put in the Bill, if it is carried, in order to meet the case. I ask the Committee not to accept it.
– The Minister has adopted his usual method of dealing with an amendment from this side. On this occasion we are met with a very peculiar argument, but it was not used by the honorable senator when he pointed out that it might be inadvisable to require 140 cubic feet of air space for each member of the crew and each apprentice. My amendment, if carried) will not curtail his hands at all. He can make as many alterations as he thinks fit to suit the various classes of ships; but he cannot give a passenger less than 140 cubic feet of air space. It is very peculiar that he should object to the proposal. Perhaps he does so because it comes from this side.
– Oh, no.
– I have noticed that the honorable senator has not yet adopted a suggestion from this side, but has adopted several suggestions, without any hitch, from the other side.
– I can assure the honorable senator that he is incorrect. I have adopted more than one suggestion from his side.
– Well, I was not here when it was done.
– I am going to adopt a suggestion from an honorable senator in the case of the next clause.
– Perhaps 1 have made a mistake, and, if so, I am sorry. I shall not ask the honorable senator to interfere with any regulations which he may choose to make. Although he admits that it is not likely that any Minister will give less than 140 cubic feet of air space to a passenger, still he refuses to make such a provision in the Bill. It is another case of government by regulation. When Senator Guthrie moved the previous amendment, the Minister did not say that its subjectmatter should be dealt with by regulation, and that an attempt was being made to tie the hands of the Government. But when I ask that a similar provision for passengers shall be put in the Bill, he immediately says mat it is inadvisable to do so. One thing is prescribed in the Bill, and the other is to be dealt with by regulation. I am not asking that the regulations shall he framed now, but that they shall provide for that amount of air space to. each passenger. The Minister is dealing with the amendment very harshly. Surely the Senate ought to be allowed to exercise some control over the subject-matter of the regulations. Are we to be governed by regulations when it suits the Minister, and by a provision in the measure in other cases? i do not know whether Senator Pearce wishes to leave a loophole for another Minister, if not for himself, to make a regulation which will give a passenger less than 140 cubic feet of air space. I submit that it is as reasonable to make this provision in respect of passengers as it was to prescribe the accommodation for the officers and crew.
.- I think that the Committee will act very inconsistently if it rejects the amendment, for many hours we fought the proposal to give 140 cubic feet of air space to an officer. That was a new provision allowing more space to an officer than is allowed in any other country. We ought at least to have as much consideration for those who find the money to work the ships as for those who work on them. Moreover, the passengers will all be in their berths at the one time; but only one-half of the officers and crew will be in their berths at a time. I shall certainly support the amendment.
– - Before a division is taken, I wish to remind the Minister that, when it was first moved, he seemed to sympathize with this amendment, and asked me to submit it in connexion with this clause. Senator Guthrie promised to support me if I did so.
– Not this amendment.
– Of course, this amendment was not drafted then, but the other one was handed to the Parliamentary Draftsman to be put in proper form. On a previous occasion, when I asked that 140 cubic feet of air space should be allowed to each passenger, the honorable senator said, “ I will support an amendment for that purpose, but let it be moved in its proper place, and that is at the end of clause 269.” I intend to call for a division in order that the public may see what, the promises of certain honorable senators are worth.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia^ [8-53l- - It has been stated by Senator Sayers that I made a promise to support this amendment.
– So the honorable senator did.
– On the last occasion, when the honorable senator raised this question. I said that it ought to be raised on the clause dealing with passenger accommodation. I told the honorable senator that I was prepared to consider any amendment in connexion with that clause, not that I would support it. Was I likely to pledge myself then to something which had not been drafted? Does the honorable senator expect that ships which are not sea-going are likely to provide this amount of accommodation ? If we make this amendment, the Government will have to frame a regulation requiring 140 cubic feet of air space per passenger and four-berth cabins in every ship afloat.
– That is a quibble.
– No. The bay ships, for instance, would be called upon to provide four-berth cabins for the passengers whom they carried down the bay. Does the honorable senator “think that I would be foolish enough to commit myself to support a proposal of that kind ? There are hundreds of boats sailing’ our coast today which make day passages, and on which berthing accommodation is not necessary.
– The honorable senator knows that none of these regulations concerns ships employed in rivers or harbors.
– If the amendment is carried, any regulation will have to be made in accordance with its terms. I do not care who the draftsman of it was, but I should like to know what instruction he received.
. -In order to meet Senator Guthrie’s objection, I am prepared to alter the amendment by inserting after the word “cabin” die words “of a sea-going ship.”
– What is a sea-going ship?
– A ship trading between Sydney and the Hawkesbury.
– After ‘ ‘ passengers, ‘ ‘ put in the words “ on ships going 300 miles or over.”
– That trip might be done in the day-time.
– Then I ask leave to insert in my amendment, after the word “ passengers,” the words “ on ships going riot less than 300- miles from port.”
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
. I have amended my amendment iri order to meet Senator Guthrie’s objection that otherwise it might apply to vessels running in Hobson’s Bay of Sydney Harbor. It will not now apply to any ferry boats.
– The honorable senator is now leaving out a big class of ships.
– I should like to know what class of ships the honorable senator refers to? He interjected just now that a trip df 300 miles might be made in the day-time. I think he said that the
Bingera, arid certain other vessels, could go that distance in a day. I do not suppose that there is a faster vessel on our coast than the Loongana, but she cannot do that distance in a day, she is a night at sea. The amendment, being a reasonable one, I hope that the Committee will see their way to accept it.
– Senator Sayers’‘ amendment will do a great injustice to a number of persons who travel by boat. There are vessels travelling on the Victorian coast between Melbourne and theGippsland Lakes, Melbourne and Warrnambool, and Melbourne and Port Fairy, all of which would be exempt under the amendment.
– They would not, because the Minister would still have powder to make regulations concerning them.
– The distance to Melbourne from Warrnambool by rail is 166 miles ; the distance by water is about the same, and at certain seasons of the year the voyage is one of the roughest and toughest propositions that a passenger could undertake. Senator Sayers wishes to give a certain section of those who travel by water facilities which he would deny to others. That is an objectionable thing, and I hope that the Committee will not consent to it.
– - On the same principle that induced me to protest against the provision granting more than 120 cubic feet of space to a seaman - because I thought that the requirement would hamper trade - I must vote against Senator Sayers’ amendment. I am of opinion that the passengers who avail’ themselves of travelling facilities on the Austraiian coast have good reason to be content with the accommodation provided for them, although I am well aware that in many instances it is less than 120 cubic feet. I have travelled in coastal-trade vessels, where I have been very comfortable, and very well attended to, but where the cubic space was considerably less than 120 feet; yet I suffered no personal inconvenience. I believe that the amendment will undoubtedly hamper trade without conferring any corresponding advantage. I intend, therefore, to support the Government, and to leave the matter to regulation.
– I shall hot discuss the merits or demerits of Senator Sayers’ amendment, but I wish to remove a misconception under which some honorable senators may labour owing to the remarks of Senator Findley. He has argued’ that the amendment would tie the hands of the Government in regard to making regulations applicable to vessels trading between Melbourne and the Gippsland Lakes or to Warrnambool. It would do nothing of the kind. The clause itself provides that the regulations may prescribe any things necessary or convenient to be done for the irriage oof passengers generally, and particularly in respect to the matters enumerated. All that Senatorayers’ aamendment would do would be to lay down a specific condition with regard to vessels making voyages in excess of 300 miles. That would be the only limitation on the power of the Government to make regulations. Consequently, the class of vessels mentioned by Senator Findley would be completely subject to regulation. Honorable senators ought, at any rate, to vote on the amendment with a clear conception of what we are doing, and should not be misled by such a statement as we have had from the Honorary Minister.
. -Evidently Senator Givens has not grasped the meaning of Senator Sayers’ amendment, which is limited to vessels making voyages longer than 300 miles. One of the largest passenger trades in Australia is carried on between Sydney and Newcastle, a trip of something like 100 miles.
– The Government could prescribe regulations with regard to the vessels in that trade.
– Why, then, limit the distance to 300 miles?
– The Government could prescribe any regulations they thought desirable for vessels making a voyage less than 300 miles.
– These trips between Sydney and Newcastle are run between midnight and six or seven o’clock on the following morning. Consequently persons leaving Newcastle at night are able to arrive in Sydney early on the following day; and vice versa. The traffic is very large, and this amendment would not benefit the passengers in the slightest degree.
.- I am surprised that the Honorary Minister should have made such a statement as he has done. He has simply been trying to mislead the Committee. My amendment in no wayffects ththe power of the Government to make regulations affecting any steamer making a voyage of less than 300 miles.
– In the first instance, the honorable senator did not propose to place- an v limitation upon his amendment.
– I consulted the Minister of Defence, and told him that I had no wish to hamper the Government, nor did my amendment in its original form do so.
– It does hamper the Government, but not in the direction that Senator Findley stated.
– The amendment does not hamper the Government, even as I have amended it at the suggestion of Senator Givens ; because they can make any regulations they please to provide for passengers an air space greater than 140 cubic feet. Senator de Largie labours under the same delusion as Senator .Findley .does, when he says that the amendment would interfere with the passenger trade between Sydney and Newcastle. My proposal, as Senator Givens has pointed out, would not in- the slightest degree limit the power of the Government to make regulations affecting that trade. But I do desire that passengers who are likely to be more than a night at sea should have at least as much accommodation as is provided for seamen. I think it only reasonable that they should have at least 140 cubic feet of space provided for them. Senator St. Ledger informs us that he has often been satisfied with less than tso cubic feet- I have occasionally travelled on a boat where such limited accommodation was provided, but I have never been satisfied with it. Senator St. Ledger might be satisfied with 50 cubic feet of space, but I am not, and I do not think that ordinary passengers are. The Government may be of the same opinion as their new supporter, and, if so. they will. I suppose, succeed in defeating my amendment. We have had some peculiar examples of political conduct lately. We have had members of the Labour party denounced by Labour Ministers because of their utterances, and now we have a new recruit added to that party in the person of Senator St. Ledger. His support of the Government is something of a novelty. Of course, they want a lawyer over there, and Senator St. Ledger may be able to assist them in the drafting of their Bills. I am getting rather suspicious of this change of front. I hope, however, that the Government are not of the same opinion as their legal adviser, and that, after all, they will accept the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be added, be added (Senator Sayers’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Provided that, if any passenger is tendered or accepts the return of the passage money paid by him, such liability shall cease.
– Senator Sayers has pointed out to me that very great hardships might be inflicted under this clause, because, if a passenger were merely tendered the return of his passage money, even though he did not accept it, he would no longer have any remedy against the owner of the ship. To overcome that difficulty, I move -
That the word “or,” line 13, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “and.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 270 to 272 agreed to.
Clause 273 -
Nothing in this part of this Act shall take away or abridge any right of action which may accrue to a passenger in any ship or to any other person, in respect of the breach or nonperformance of any contract made between or on behalf of the passenger or other person and the master charterer or owner of the ship or his agent.
– It has been brought under my notice that shipping companies are attempting to contract themselves out of every obligation which has been imposed upon them either by an Act of Parliament or by the common law ofthe country. When a passenger wishes to take out a ticket, he is asked to sign the conditions. I know of one member of the Senate who states that when he refused to sign the shipping company told him that, unless he did so, he would not be given the ticket. I think there should be some provision included in this Bill to meet this sort of bluff on the part of steam-ship companies. I do not know exactly what ought to be done, but the Government ought to see to it, because I refer to a serious grievance, and some effort should be made in this measure to remedy it.
– Nothing contained in this clause would put a passenger in any worse position than he occupies under the existing law. If anything, the clause safeguards the rights of passengers. I suggest to Senator Stewart that he should let me have the Hansard proof of the remarks he has just made, and I shall bring them under the notice of the AttorneyGeneral. So far, the point raised has not been represented to me, and I do not know that it has been represented to any other member of the Government. I doubt very much whether such a contracting-out of the law as has been suggested would hold good.
– I can supply the Minister with a written request to me from a steam-ship company to sign a contract.
– I shall be glad if the honorable senator will let me have the letter. I am of opinion that, if this provision be passed, the signing of such a contract by the honorable senator would not relieve the shipping company from their liability. I admit that the point raised is’ an important one, and I shall be glad if honorable senators will make representations to me on the matter. I shall pass them on to the Attorney-General, with a view of having some provision drafted which will meet the difficulty, if it is not already met by the Bill. Obviously, we could not, on the spur of the moment, draft a clause to overcome the difficulty.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 274 to 280 agreed to.
Clause 281 -
This part of this Act shall except where otherwise expressed, apply to all ships (whether British or foreign).
– We have now reached the clauses dealing with the coasting trade, and, as we have progressed pretty rapidly for some time, I suggest that the Minister might now agree to report progress. This part of the Bill includes some clauses which are highly contentious.
– It is only twenty-five minutes past 9 o’clock, and we might go on until we come to the contentious clauses.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 282 agreed to.
Clause 283 -
A ship shall be deemed to engage in the coasting trade if she takes on board passengers or cargo at any port in Australia, or any territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, to be carried to, and landed or delivered at, any other port in Australia or in any such territory :
Provided that the carrying of passengers who hold through tickets to or from a port beyond Australia, or of cargo consigned on a through bill of lading to or from a port beyond Australia, or of mails, shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade :
Provided further that the Governor-General may by order declare that the carrying of passengers between specified ports in Australia, by British ships, shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade.
– A constitutional point is involved in this clause, and it ought not to be passed by lightly. An amendment has been suggested for the omission of the second proviso, which would raise the whole question. I do not care to take it upon myself at this hour to deal with so important a matter, and I know that Senator Gould and other honorable senators on this side desire to speak upon it. I ask the Minister to agree now to report progress.
– The Government desire, if possible, to get this Bill through the Senate this session. A reference to the business-paper will show that we have yet to consider some highly contentious measures. If we do not avail ourselves of every opportunity to proceed with this Bill, we may find it blocking the way of other legislation. This is an unusually early hour for the Senate to adjourn, and a request for an adjournment at this hour is also unusual. The Government will be glad to hear what honorable senators have to say upon the clause, and, in the circumstances, I cannot accede to the honorable senator’s request.
– This is one of the most contentious provisions of the Bill, but there are very few of the remaining clauses upon which there is likely to be any prolonged debate. There may be some discussion of the manning scale when we come to consider the schedules. If the Minister will agree to my request, I give him my assurance that I shall do all I can to see that rapid progress is made with the rest of the Bill. This clause raises a very big constitutional question, and one which I should like to approach fresh and prepared. I ask for this concession, because the proceedings this afternoon and evening show that honorable senators on this side have recognised the desire of the Minister to make substantial progress with the Bill.
– Would not the postponement of this clause meet the honorable senator’s view?
– Will the Minister agree to postpone the clause?
Clauses 284 to 291 agreed to.
Clause 292 (Power to exempt).
– As this clause also deals with the question of exemptions, it may perhaps be well to postpone its consideration.
Clauses 293 to 300 agreed to.
– Isnotthe Minister now content?
– These are all machinery clauses.
– That may be so. But the Minister must recognise how difficult it is for the few members of the Opposition who are present to follow them.
– There is nothing contentious in them. They appear in every Navigation Act. I will consent to progress being reported when we reach . clause 327.
Clauses 301 to 323 agreed to.
Clause 324 - (1.) Where the aggregate amount of salvage payable in any case has been finally determined under this Act, and does not exceed One thou sasd pounds, but a dispute arises as to the apportionment thereof among several claimants, the person liable to pay the amount may apply to the receiverfor liberty to pay it to him. (2.) The receiver may, if he thinks fit, receive the amount, and shall grant to the person paying it a certificate of the amount paid and of the services in respect of which it is paid, and that certificate shall be a full discharge and indemnity to the person by whom the money is paid, and to his ship, cargo, equipment, and effects, against the claims of all persons in respect of the services mentioned in the certificate. (3.) The receiver shall distribute any amount received by him under this section among the persons entitled to it on such evidence and in such proportions as he thinksfit, and may retain the share of any person who is absent. (4.) Any such distribution shall be final and conclusive as against all persons claiming to be entitled to any portion of the amount distributed.
– This clause provides that where salvage of less than£1,000 is payable, the receiver shall distribute it amongst those who are entitled to it, as he may think fit ; and the next clause provides that where salvage amounting to more than£1,000 is payable, it shall be distributed by a Court of competent jurisdiction. My own idea is that all claims should be settled by a Court, and not by an individual. Subclauses 3 and 4 should, therefore, be omitted. I move -
That sub-clause 3 be left out.
A good deal of dissatisfaction exists at the present time because of the way in which salvage is distributed by the receiver. I hope that the Minister will accept the amendment which seeks to lay down one rule in connexion with all salvage.
.-I could not possibly accept the amendment off-hand ; and, under the circumstances, probably the best thing I can do is to consent to progress being reported.
Senate adjourned at 9.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 October 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19101013_SENATE_4_58/>.