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Friday, 3 September 1920

Mr McWILLIAMS (Franklin) . - I desire to call attention to a matter regarding provision for unloading. Something ought to be done to facilitate the unloading of vessels. Visiting Newcastle the other day, I was informed that certain modern provision had been made, by the use of a shoe, for the protection of wharf labourers when engaged in unloading; steel rails. The rails were fitted into the shoe, and about six at a time were lifted. However, objection was taken to this method of unloading. The men would not use it. Probably they regarded it as doing the work too quickly. Therefore, the use of the shoe had to be abandoned. The method of unloading now is to lift one rail or two rails at a time, in the most dangerous manner imaginable; that is, by the antiquated' fashion of employing slings. What is the good of making provision, by the institution of modern methods, for the protection of life and limb if the men - engaged refuse to handle such gear and prefer to return to the more dangerous and the antiquated way, simply because work under the modern method is being done too quickly ?

Mr Gabb - What cause has the honorable member for saying that that is the reason why the use of the shoe was abandoned ?

Mr McWILLIAMS - I was on the spot and secured my information firsthand. The process of discharging coal is about as slow and antiquated as can well be imagined. One of the reasons why there is such a scarcity of coal in Melbourne to-day is that, owing to some dispute in which the State Government and the Federal Government, and the Harbor Trust and the ship-owners have been involved, an out-of-date system of unloading exists. The result is that vessels, which should be discharged in twenty-four to thirty hours, are not discharged in less than five or six days. That, very largely, accounts for the shortage in coal in Victoria to-day. I emphasize that, while insisting upon the use of proper gear, our legislation should also see to it that, when modern methods are installed, they shall be operated.

Clause agreed to.

Progress reported.

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