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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Q.(5) (i) What would be the cost of installing a telephone station at (a) a lighthouse, (b) at any other selected position?

 

Q.(5) (ii) What would be the annual cost of maintenance at either position ?

A.(5) (ii) Operators (3) Salaries, £991 to £1,126; maintenance about £56.

Q. (6) How many vessels would be affected if the law were amended to provide that any vessel carrying more than 15 persons, and not fitted with a wireless telegraphy ship station set, must carry a wireless telephone?

A.(6) Approximately 30 to 32 steamers and 2 small sailing vessels.

Q.(7) What would be the cost to a vessel required to instal a wireless telephone?

A.(7) About£600, provided that accommodation and suitable electric power are available on the ship, but exclusive of the cost of emergency equipment.

Q.   (8.)If it is found that the wireless telephone is not yet capable of effectively providing for the sending out and reception of distress signals, what recommendation can be made for the further extension of the wireless telegraphic requirements of the Act to ships carrying more than 15 persons?

A.(8) That such vessels be equipped with wireless telegraphy sets and be required to carry a trained operator, provided the cost is not considered prohibitive.

A copy of the committee's report was subsequently forwarded to theBoard of Trade of the United Kingdom for favour of comment. The board, in its reply, expressed a general concurrence in what it termed " the able report " of the departmental committee, and intimated that the general question of the compulsory equipment of ships with wireless would be considered by an International Conference which it was proposed to shortly call together to revise the provisions of the International Convention of 1914 on the Safety of Life at Sea.

The whole question of extending the provisions of the Navigation Act in regard to wireless on ships so as to apply to small coastal steamers was also referred to the recent Royal Commission on Wireless, the report of which has been tabled.

In regard to this matter tlie commission made the following recommendation: -

A suggestion was made to the commission that, if possible, the provisions of section 23.1 of the Navigation Act 1912-20 should be extended to vessels of smaller tonnage and carrying fewer passengers than therein mentioned. As the matter involved the question of saving life and property at sea, the commission gave it closest consideration, and procured evidence from shipowners and others as to the desirability of this proposed change in the law. We are, however, of opinion that if the installation of wireless receiving or transmitting apparatus was of any value in small vessels below 1,600 tons the owners would, as a measure of self-protec. tion, instal it. Apart from this consideration, it was found that those accustomed to navigation were not favourable to the suggestion and considered it of no practical value.

Further, just prior to the evidence being submitted to the commission, a departmental committee of the Commonwealth, consisting of the Deputy Director of Navigation for Victoria, the Engineer for Lighthouses, and the Chief Manager of Telegraphs and Wireless, had also carefully considered the matter and came to a similar conclusion.

In the case, however, of vessels over 1.000 tons and carrying twelve passengers or more from and to ports within the boundaries of one State, this -is, of course, a .matter for the State Governments concerned, and, where State legislation on the subject does not already exist, the commission recommends that representations should be made with a view to vessels of that description being brought within provisions similar to those of section 231 of the Commonwealth Navigation Act.

In this connexion it may be pointed out that action in this direction had already been taken, at the instance of my department some time before the commission was appointed. As I stated in my reply to the honorable member for Brisbane last year, the State Governments wore found to be generally favourable to a suggestion that the vessels trading solely within the limits of a State, and consequently outside the scope of federal legislation, should be required to comply with the same conditions as apply under the Navigation Act. It is regretted, however, that the State Governments have not as yet given legislative effect to their assurances. In South Australia a bill was introduced into Parliament but the Government was not successful in carrying it through. So far as I am aware, nothing has been done in the other States. When the general question of wireless on ships, as a factor in securing the safety "of those on board, has been considered and reported on by the International Conference shortly to be convened, further consideration will be given to the matter.







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