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Wednesday, 7 July 1920

Mr TUDOR - I do not know, but the honorable member will admit that we ought to be prepared to face the situation. When the Act was passed in 1912 wireless was in its infancy, and as we have progressed since then, we should now provide every safeguard possible. Probably 90 per cent. of all vessels in the Australian trade are already equipped with wireless. It is very necessary that ships crossing Bass Strait should have a wireless installation, because very few vessels are met with on that run. Only the other day we had evidence of the value of wireless, an oil steamer which was short of coal being able to communicate with vessels that were sent out to search for her; and it is possible that the Government steamer Endeavour would not have been lost had she been equipped with wireless.

Sittinq suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

Mr TUDOR - When we adjourned for dinner I was speaking of the necessity of equipping all vessels with wireless telegraphy. The Convention which was signed in London in January, 1914, provided, in article 41, practically in the terms of our own original Act, that all vessels carrying fifty or more persons should be so equipped. That article is as follows: -

All merchant ships belonging to any of the contracting States, whether they are propelled by machinery or by sails, and whether they carry passengers or not, shall, when engaged on the voyages specified in Article 2, be fitted with a radio-telegraph installation, if they have on board fifty or more persons in all.

That, as I say, largely follows section 231 of our principal Act, and I am assured by the Minister (Mr. Greene) that the amending clause in the Bill goes even further, providing, as it does, that vessels which carry much fewer persons, and all vessels over 1,600 tons gross register, shall carry wireless.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - For instance, the Howard Smith colliers on our coast of 4,000 tons or so, which carry crews of thirty-seven and forty-two, will be obliged to carry wireless, and, in addition, every vessel over 1,600 tons gross register must be so equipped. ( Under the original Act none of the vessels I have mentioned are compelled to carry wireless;. but under the Bill all must do so.

Mr TUDOR - That is a step in the right direction. As pointed out by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West), three vessels on the New South Wales coast were totally lost, and not one of these carried passengers. The Seamen's Association consider that the sailors are of equal importance with the passengers, and that they also should have the advantage of wireless. I am not clear as to how much of the Navigation Act is in operation at the present time, but I know that a certain portion of it has been proclaimed. Those honorable members who were here when that measure was before the House know that there are three distinct classes of vessels in the definition section, and that the limited coasting trade and the coasting trade represent two distinct classes of ships and ocean-going vessels. The signatories to the Convention provided that wireless should be installed on vessels going from a port of one country to a port of another country, and that, in the case of Great Britain and France, would mean a distance of only 30 miles.

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