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Friday, 9 July 1920


The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter - I understood that the Minister was speakingtothe motion.


Mr Mahony - He was dealing with the details of the clause itself, and not with the motion for postponement.


Mr Hughes - He was about to do so.


Mr Mahony - No doubt, the members of the Ministry are able to read each other's minds.


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - Ballarat will know that you are blocking the NavigationBill.


Mr Mahony - Ballarat will know that the Government is afraid to have its misdeeds brought to light.


The CHAIRMAN - Order ! I insist upon honorable members paying regard to the Chair.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I was about to show--


Mr Ryan - I desire to raise a point of order. Do I understand, Mr. Chairman, that you have accepted my motion for postponement as taking precedence over all other business?


The CHAIRMAN - That is so.


Mr Ryan - If that is the question now before the Committee, do you. consider that the Minister for Trade and Customs is speaking to it?


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I was about to show, provided that the opportunity were given me, why, in my opinion, it is inadvisable to postpone the consideration of this clause. I propose to do so by indicating that the fears expressed by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) were not well grounded, and that there was every reason why the Committee should make up its mind in favour of the Government's amendment. I take it that I will be entirely in order in so doing, and, as a matter of fact, I think my remarks will be really more closely related to the motion of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) than those employed by the honorable gentleman himself. Iunderstood, when I rose a few moments ago, that if I was prepared to indicate the extent to which the Government proposed to proceed this afternoon, the honorable member for West Sydney would not seek to press his motion to a division.


Mr Ryan - No; I want a division,


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I presume that we shall continue with our business to the usual hour of adjournment.


Mr Ryan - Even if that business should be none!


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Even so. And if the honorable member intends to carry out the threat which he has made on two or three occasions during the past few minutes, namely, that he does not propose to permit the Government to do any business at all - that is to say, if he has made up his mind definitely that the seamen are not to be protected--


Mr Mahony - Do not come that caper.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - There has been a definite and reiterated pronouncement by the honorable member for West Sydney that he will not allow the Government to dot an " i " or cross at " t." Here we are considering matters which relate closely to the safety of sailors at sea, and that is the particular subject which the honorable member for West Sydney has decided shall not be considered. I can only add that it reveals an utter disregard for the welfare of our seamen.

Honorable members interjecting,


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Honorable members opposite who cheer and support the honorable member for West Sydney in his efforts to block the Government are displaying that callous disregard to which I have just alluded, and nothing less.


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - What does the honorable member for West Sydney care about the seamen ?


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - He cares nothing. Honorable members opposite declare that they, and they alone, represent the working men of this country, and our seafaring community, and yet they have adopted this attitude simply because they are not pleased with the turn of events to-day, and find that their ignorance of the Standing Orders has allowed them to get into their present position. There is every reason why we should proceed immediately with the consideration of this clause. The Government in their desire to do the fair thing by the seamen, decided to extend, to a very much greater extent, the provisions relating to the wireless installation on vessels trading along our coast and to Australia. All this has been done in the interests of seafaring men.


Mr Mahony - Proclaim the measure then.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - The principal Act--


Mr Mahony - All this tripe is no good--


The CHAIRMAN - Order ! The honorable member for Dalley is out of order.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - The principal Act laid it down that it was not necessary for vessels carrying under fifty persons - it did not matter whether they were passengers or crew - to be provided with wireless.


Mr Mathews - We want that number reduced very considerably now.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - When the Act was passed this provision was considered to be sufficient, but after the Convention met--


Mr Mathews - What are you dealing with now ?


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I am dealing with the wireless provisions of the Bill, and giving my reasons why consideration of the clause should be proceeded with.


Mr Considine - We cannot hear your " S.O.S " signals.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I am sorry for the honorable member then. I am endeavouring to point out that in the Bill we have gone further than the recommendations of the Convention to which reference has been made over and over again. The Government felt that so far as coastal shipping was concerned, that provision was not adequate. I have had prepared a list of cargo vessels-


Mr Considine - All this is very interesting, but what are you going to do about the no-confidence motion?


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I have had prepared a list of cargo vessels trading to the port of Melbourne, not one of which, under the principal Act, will be obliged to carry wireless.


Mr Considine - What has this to do with the motion for the postponement of the clause ?


Mr Mathews - I rise to a point of order, Mr. Chairman. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) was obliged to keep within the bounds of his motion.


Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And the Minister can do what he likes.


Mr Mathews - The Minister appears to be talking at random. I maintain that he is not entitled to any greater privileges than were allowed to the honorable member for West Sydney.


The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter - What is the honorable member's point of order?


Mr Mathews - My point of order is that the Minister should confine his remarks to the motion for the postponement of the clause. The honorable member for West Sydney was required to do so, and the Minister should not have greaterprivileges.


The CHAIRMAN - That is a reflection on the Chair which the honorable member has no right to make.


Mr Mathews - I am not making any reflection upon the Chair. I am merely drawing attention to the fact that the Minister should confine himself to the motion. At the instigation of the Prime Minister or the Minister for 'Trade and Customs, you, sir, did not allow the honorable member for West Sydney, and rightly so, to depart from the terms of his motion, though he tried to do so, and I maintain that the Minister should not be. allowed to introduce irrelevant matter.


The CHAIRMAN - That is hardly a point of order. Part of what the honorable gentleman has said is quite correct. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) wandered from the motion on several occasions, and I called him to order. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), who is in charge of the Bill, attempted to do so too, and I also called him to order. Since then the Minister has confined himself most strictly to a statement of his reasons why, in his opinion, the clause should not be postponed. He referred to the urgency of the measure in the interests of the seamen, and was giving his reasons why discussion on the clause should proceed when the honorable member intervened. If the Minister attempts to go outside the motion again, I shall once more call him to order.


Mr Mahony - I move -

That the Chairman do now leave the chair.


The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member cannot submit that motion until the question before the Chair has been dealt with.


Mr Mahony - Is not the Committee master of its own position?


The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member must know that his motion cannot be submitted at this stage. It is not permissible to interrupt an honorable member who is speaking. The Minister, though called to order temporarily, is still speaking, and till he resumes his seat the honorable member for Dalley will be out of order in submitting his motion.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I have been endeavouring, so far as is possible in the babble that has been accompanying my remarks--


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - A babble for the purpose of blocking the Bill.


Mr Mathews - The seamen will "block" this Bill if it is passed in its present form.


The CHAIRMAN - I do not know why punishment should be inflicted upon the Chair because honorable members feel aggrieved at a certain procedure. Honorable members are evidently trying to put the Chair into a position in which it ought not to be placed. I ask honorable members in all parts of the House, including Ministers and Leaders of parties, to assist the Chair, and I point out that it is in their own interests, and necessary to the maintenance of the dignity of Parliament, that they do so.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I am trying to show why, in my opinion, it is desirable that this clause should not be postponed, but should be discussed at once. When the last series of interjections started I was pointing out that the amendment to the main Act, which the Committee are asked to make, brings under the wireless telegraphy provisions a great number of vessels which are not affected by the original Act.


Mr Mahony - The Minister has made that remark about six times in the course of his speech, and I submit that this is tedious repetition.


The CHAIRMAN - I hope honorable members will not raise frivolous points of order.


Mr Mahony - I am quite serious.


The CHAIRMAN - Order ! The Chair must do its duty impartially to all honorable members.That duty I am trying to carry out, and I ask honorable members not to place me in a position in which I do not desire to be placed.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I do not know whether I have repeated myself more than once this afternoon, but any honorable member who could tell exactly what he has said or has not said under the conditions would be somewhat of a marvel. So far as is humanly possible I have, at all events, endeavoured to make my remarks relevant to the motion. Iwas about to say that I have statisticsrelating to a large number of vessels which trade to the port of Melbourne, and which, under the original Act, are not called upon to have wireless installations, but which, under the amendment, must be so equipped. I do not 'desire to read the list of such vessels, for it is a long one of over sixty.


Mr McDonald - Let us have the list.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I hardly think it is necessary to read it, but Ishall give a few examples.


Mr Considine - What has this long list of vessels to do with the motion of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan)?


The CHAIRMAN - I apprehend that the Minister was about to read a list of ships which are not called upon to be equipped with wireless under the original Act, but which, under the amendment, will have to be.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - There is in this list of vessels the Aeon, of 3,763 tons, with a crew of thirty-five. There not being fifty persons on that ship, a wireless apparatus is not required under the original Act. Then there are the vessels of the Austral line, not one of which, with two exceptions, is under 4,000 tons, and, as the maximum crew carried is fortythree, wireless is not now imperative.


Mr Ryan - The postponement of the clause cannot affect those vessels.


Mr Considine - On the statement of the Minister himself, these vesselsare already equipped with wireless, and the list, therefore, can have nothing to do with the motion.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! I ask the Minister to proceed.


Mr Considine - I would like your ruling, Mr. Chanter.


The CHAIRMAN - I shall give a ruling when a definite point of order is raised. It is the duty of the Chairman to intervene when he considers that an honorable member is out of order, and I shall do so in the case of the Minister if necessary.


Mr Considine - In order, Mr. Chairman, that you may Have definite information on which to act, I point out that the Minister has specifically stated, in reply to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), that it is not necessary for these vessels, under the original Act, to be equipped with wireless.


The CHAIRMAN - I was listening very carefully and acutely - as, indeed, is necessary, in view of the many interjections - and I take it that the Minister was dealing with one line of steamers called the Austral line, and pointing out that those vessels were already equipped with wireless. I apprehend that the Minister was about to show that other vesselsof similar description were not so equipped but would have to be under the amendment. The Minister is in order.


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - That was the position. What I was. endeavouring to show-


Mr Mahony - May I ask--


The CHAIRMAN - I have several times asked the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) to cease interjecting. The honorable member knows as well as I do that it is distinctly out of order to interject, or make any noise, while an honorable member is speaking. This the honorable member is constantly doing, and I have had to call attention to the fact.


Mr Mahony - I merely desired to ask a question.


The CHAIRMAN - The time is past when questions may be asked. A very bad practice has arisen of honorable members continually firing questions ata member who is speaking, thus destroying the effect of the speech, and giving rise to disorder.


Mr Mahony - My question would have helped the Minister.


The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member will have an opportunity to address the Committee, and may, if he chooses, take notes so as to be able to correct the Minister if necessary. .


Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - The assistance offered is such as I can well afford to do without. There are, perhaps, hundreds of vessels trading to Australia with crews of from twenty to nearly fifty, and not one of these; under the original Act, is called upon to install wireless apparatus. The principle which was laid down in the principal Act was that there must be a limit beyond which it is inadvisable to proceed. The position, roughly; is that the Government feelthat they should endeavour as far as possible to insure that ships trading along the Australian coast shall be equipped with wireless apparatus. It is obvious, however, that we cannot insist upon wireless being installed upon all vessels. When the Leader of the Oppositon (Mr; Tudor) was Minister for Trade and Customs, and was charged with the duty of piloting the Navigation Bill through this Chamber, it was thought that a vessel carrying fifty persons should be regarded as the smallest vessel upon which wireless should be installed. Personally, I think that that limit is too high. The Government, therefore, propose to grant a further measure of protection to our seafaring men. Under this Bill there are many hundreds of sailors who will be trading along our Australian coast, and who will be adequately protected by the installation of wireless, but who were not similarly protected under the Act which i9 already upon our statute-book. As the ordinary hour for adjournment has been reached, and as I shall probably have a further opportunity of addressing the Committee on this matter, I do not intend to unduly trespass upon the time of honorable members at this juncture. Although I have been on my feet for perhaps half-an-hour, I have not' succeeded in making a five-minutes speech.

Progress reported:







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