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Monday, 30 March 1987
Page: 1500


Senator HAMER(9.45) —in reply-I close the debate by commenting on the remarks and assertions made by honourable senators who took part in this debate. I regret to say that I found Senator Sanders's remarks incomprehensible. He was talking, I thought, about Two Years Before the Mast but I doubt whether he had ever actually read it. He was talking about flags of convenience ships coming here as rust buckets. That issue is not in dispute. The Opposition accepts that we are entitled to impose the International Labour Organisation Convention on foreign ships. Two Years Before the Mast, weevilly biscuits and so on are 100 years out of date, as is Senator Sanders's spiritual home.

Like King Charles's head, nuclear power and nuclear weapons seem constantly to be uppermost in Senator Vallentine's mind. There is no question of this regulation having anything to do with warships, whether nuclear powered or non-nuclear powered, whether nuclear armed or non-nuclear armed. Her intervention was totally irrelevant.

Senator Mason appeared to argue that we should accept ILO Convention 147, but he said absolutely nothing about why we should accept the extra requirements. That is the whole point of this debate. We accept that the Government is entitled to impose the requirements of the ILO Convention. We are asking why extra requirements not required by the ILO Convention are imposed on foreign ships coming to this country. I have had no argument from anyone as to why we should impose these extra requirements except, I gather from Senator Button, that the trade union movement would rather like to have some more ammunition. Senator Button, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, said that this in some way was not a new regulation. It is a new regulation and it does not replace any existing regulation or marine order. It is a totally new regulation; it is not replacing anything.

Secondly, I should make clear that the Minister responsible for the handling of this Bill when the Navigation Amendment Bill came before the Senate undertook that the requirements it produced by regulation would implement the provisions of the ILO Convention. If the Government had done that, this motion would not have been moved. Although we think the Government is unwise in going beyond what we think is sensible administration, we accept that the Government is entitled to implement the ILO Convention. What we are worried about are the peculiarly Australian requirements-I have a two page list of those requirements-imposed on foreign ships which go beyond the ILO Convention. Why are we doing that? Once one starts on that slippery path where does one stop? It seems to me that we will finish up by imposing all the requirements that have made our shipping the scandalously inefficient and expensive method of transport that it is.

Where does one stop on this? I will indicate to honourable senators the extra requirements that Australian ships must meet beyond those required by ILO Convention 147. There must be 2.25 crews per year per ship. This is to enable crew members to have six months leave a bit of sick time and other things. This means that there are more crews per ship on Australian ships than on comparable overseas ships. The ratio generally is about 26 to 18. This is coupled with the fact that one has to have 2 1/2 people to provide each of the 26 people in that crew. No maintenance is done by the crew during the voyage. The crew cannot chip rust. The wonderful story about ships with rust going into dockyards for maintenance is true. The crews on Australian ships do not do the maintenance. Australian crews move from one ship to another either locally inside Australia or internationally. They have first-class air fares on international flights and first-class air fares on internal flights. They must have bed-making services. They cannot make their own bunks! They must have steward-style catering. They cannot get their own food! They have stewards serving it to them. They must have separate smoke rooms for officers and ratings.


Senator Button —Senator, you will agree, will you not, that all these things were agreed between employers and unions a number of years ago? I agree with you about what you are saying about them. The art form is to get rid of them, isn't it?


Senator HAMER —Yes, but I think we have two problems. The first is to get rid of these extra requirements on Australian ships, and the second is not to impose them on foreign ships. And the Government is starting to impose them on foreign ships.


Senator Button —No, those things are not imposed on foreign ships by this convention.


Senator HAMER —I am giving all of them. Earlier in my speech I gave a list of the extra requirements not required by the ILO Convention, Australian standards, imposed on foreign ships. I am now giving the full list of extra Australian requirements, which is the inevitable end of the process which the Government has started. I continue: There must be separate smoke rooms for officers and ratings; separate TV rooms for officers and ratings; separate mess rooms for masters, officers and apprentices, and for ratings; and on some ships, for deck ratings and engine room ratings. I interpose here that in foreign ships they are getting everyone together-men of one company, as Drake said-not having separate apartments at great expense for all these different branches of the ship.

The number of persons to be accommodated along one side of a mess table shall not exceed three. There must be single chairs fitted with arm rests in each mess room for each person. There must be a bookcase for all members of the crew. In ships over 8,000 tonnes facilities for all crew must include a film or television room, a room for hobbies or games and a swimming pool. In ships over 15,000 tonnes there must be a separate bathroom en suite for each officer. There must be an electric light fitted at the head of each berth capable of being switched on and off from the berth, and the direction of the beam capable of being adjusted. There must be separate sleeping rooms for each officer and each petty officer. There must be separate sleeping rooms in new ships for each rating if not under 18. Those under 18 are to sleep no more than two to a room in new ships. Officers' sleeping rooms are to be provided with an elaborate range of services. Ratings' sleeping rooms are also to be provided with a very elaborate range of services. Most European and Japanese ships are moving towards integrated mess and recreation facilities. These requirements are the exact opposite.

Everyone recognises that our facilities are more lavish. The estimate of the capital cost of these facilities in each ship is more than $1m per ship for the extra requirements we have peculiar to Australia. The running costs for the extra crew-the fact that we need 2 1/2 people for each berth in a ship-are millions of dollars a year. These are the requirements which are extra to the ILO Convention. What the Government has taken on, by breaching its sensible rule of enforcing the ILO Convention and starting to enforce additional Australian requirements, is taking us down a very slippery slope and one that is going to be paid for ultimately not by the ship owners but by the Australian public and the Australian exporters.

For that reason I strongly recommend that this regulation should be rejected and that the Government should be forced to introduce a new regulation that produces and enforces the ILO conventions, not the ILO conventions plus a small number of rorts that Australians seem to have imposed on our shipping industry with the prospect of a great many more rorts being introduced in the future.

Question put:

That the motion (Senator Hamer's) be agreed to.