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Wednesday, 7 July 1920

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) .- On the question raised by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), I think, speaking from memory, it was over twelve months from the time the Navigation Bill was passed by this Parliament before we received notice that the Royal assent had been given to it. The reason for the delay is, I think, to be found in the fact that its provisions wereso radical when compared with other navigation laws in existence at the time. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the Board of Trade and the shipping people placed every obstacle possible in the way of its acceptance. I do not know what communications were received by the Department of Trade and Customs in connexion with the matter, but I have no doubt that the Board of Trade and the shipping people at Home desired that some of the stringent provisions of our Act should be watered down. As I have stated, it was the wreck of the Titanic soon after the passing of our Navigation Bill in 1912 that made it plain to the Governments of other countries that it was necessary to bring their navigation laws into line with that which we had passed. If the honorable member for West Sydney will compare our Navigation Act with the report of the Convention, which I handed to him this afternoon, he will see that the articles of the Convention are in line with the measure we passed in 1912. A statement was made by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) this afternoon concerning the Navigation Commission that considered the measure. I think the Commission sat from 1905 to 1907, and there was subsequently a Navigation Conference held in Great Britain, which was attended, on behalf of Australia, by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the late Sir William Lyne, and Sir Harry Wollaston. The Navigation Bill was .before every Federal Parliament from 1904 to 1912 on more occasions and in more various forms than even the Bill for the creation of an Institute of Science and Industry.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - The Navigation Bill was reserved for the Royal assent on the 24th December, 1912, and was proclaimed in Australia in October, 1913.

Mr TUDOR - As the amendments contained in this measure are very slight, nothing like the same length of time should elapse before assent is given to it. But I am anxious that the provisions of the original Act should be put in operation. Of course, we have to take over certain marine services from the States; that work must be done.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - A vast deal of work has been done already.

Mr TUDOR - I know that. I believe that the Navigation Act is twice as long as is any other measure that has been passed by this Parliament, and the regulations made under the Imperial Merchant Service Act are almost as numerous as those made under our own War Precautions Act. We ought not to wait for the Royal assent to this amending measure before giving effect to the provisions of the original Act.

Mr Gregory - Can the Act be put in operation in sections?

Mr TUDOR - Under the amending Act previously passed by this Parliament, that can be done. This Bill does not make many material alterations in the existing law, which should be put in operation without delay.

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