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Thursday, 7 December 1905

Mr CARPENTER (Fremantle) - I ask the honorable member to withdraw his amendment. If he persists in calling for a division he will be defeated by a large majority, and I fear that a false impression will be created outside the House. In common with the other members of the Labour Party I am prepared, when the proper time comes, to give the fullest consecration to thequestion of protecting Australian seamen and ship-owners against unfair competition. The question is too important to be dealt with by means of the amendment proposed by the honorable member. If he wishes to serve the interests of the seamen - as we allbelieve he does - he will be well advised if he withdraws his amendment.

Mr. HUTCHISON(Hindmarsh).- It is quite evident that there is no likelihood of my being able to carry my amendment. There is no doubt in my mind or in that of an eminent counsel-

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister is telling the honorable member to back down, and he is going to do it.

Mr HUTCHISON - No Minister has ever succeeded in making me back down. I am not here to obey the behests of other individuals, as are some honorable membets. I challenge the honorable member to show that I have ever acted at the dictation of a Minister, or of members of my own party, when I have differed from them. The only back-down I have witnessed during the last few days has been that of the Opposition. I was delighted to see that they had the sense to back down when they were beaten. I am not going, to back down. I propose to ask the Prime Minister for a definite assurance. There is no doubt in my own mind, or in the minds of the seamen - who comprise men thoroughly acquainted with the whole of our navigation laws - that the intention of the provision in the Act was to protect our local seamen and ship-owners. But that object has not been achieved owing to the interpretation of the law adopted by the Crown law officers. I now wish to know from the Prime Minister whether he is of opinion that the seamen employed in oversea vessels which engage in our coastal trade, should be paid the same rate of wages that rule in the Commonwealth. If he can assure me that he is in sympathy with what is declared in paragraph g, and that he will do all he can to see that provision is made for the protection of seamen in our navigation laws, I shall be satisfied to withdraw my amendment.

Mr Deakin - There is no need for me to give any such assurance. If the honorable member will look at the Navigation Bill he will find that ample provision is made in the direction he desires. He has no need to appeal to me for an expression of opinion upon a matter with regard to which I have not altered my views since that measure was introduced.

Amendment, bv leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 4 -

Every contract immigrant, unless otherwise prohibited by law, may land in the Commonwealth if the contract is in writing, and is made by or on behalf of some person named in the contract and resident in Australia, and its terms are approved by the Minister.

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