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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) . - The engineers covered by clause 12 are described as first class, second class ; first class coast engineer ; second class coast engineer ; third class coast engineer ; and also, first and second class marine engine-drivers for vessels propelled by other motive power than steam. In some States, there are what are called third class engineers. In Victoria, a man with a similar qualification is classed as a marine engine-driver.

Senator de Largie - It is just the same thing under a different name.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I want to know how a Victorian marine enginedriver is designated under this Bill. If he is designated a third-class marine enginedriver he is qualified to drive vessels " propelled " by other means than steam.

These men in Victoria are qualified to take charge of a boat under a certain tonnage running in the bay or on rivers, and ar'j permitted to take those vessels something like six miles outside the Heads. I understand that men in New South Wales or Queensland, holding similar certificates, will fall under the heading of third-class coast engineers, whilst the Victorian marine engine-driver is absolutely ignored under the Bill. These men will" probably desire to give up their State certificates and secure Commonwealth certificates.

Senator de Largie - They will get third-class coast engineers' certificates.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Will there be merely an exchange of certificates, or will it be necessary for the men to submit to an examination which may, or may not. be more severe than the examinations whico ttiey have already passed ?

Senator de Largie - No.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - While I am glad to have the honorable senator's assurance I should feel more confident if a statement were made by the Minister. Then, again, I wish to know whether, if the Vic^ torians will have to go up for examination, the engineers from the other States will have to do the same? It is unfortunate that one State named a particular class or men in a certain way whilst another State gave a different designation to men doing the same work. I have a great deal of sympathy with Senator Lynch's object. A statement has been made in regard to apprenticeships. What Senator Pearce has said was not quite clear. He stated that applicants for the third-class certificates will have to weld a bar of iron, screw up a bolt, and do various other things. It seems to me that a man who has served years driving an engine on a ship might fail in an examination of that sort, whilst a boy who had worked twelve months in a blacksmith's shop would be able to pass the examination because he could comply with the practical test. There may be third-class engineers who may have been driving engines on vessels for twenty or thirty years, but who have never served any term of apprenticeship. Nevertheless, such men may have had plenty of every-day experience in actually meeting difficulties. No qualification of this description is required of men who drive locomotives on our railways. The usual practice is that a man entering the Railway Department starts as a cleaner. He learns the various parts of an engine, and after a few years' service becomes a fireman. In this way he acquires experience on the road. It is not an uncommon thing when an enginedriver becomes ill for his fireman to take charge of the locomotive and become responsible for the lives of several hundreds of passengers. He runs all the risks and takes all the responsibility attached to this duty, although he has had no shop experience. Why it should not be the same in regard to the qualifications of an engineer on board a ship I do not know. The question arises whether we require men whose duty it is to drive engines to know also how to build them. Undoubtedly the man who can do both is a better man than he who can only do one or the other. But, at the same time, we may make the standard too high, so that it will be impossible for the average man, or -even for a thoroughly qualified man, to obtain the certificate. I do not speak as an expert, but I am anxious to have a statement from the Minister with regard to the Victorian marine enginedrivers. I want to insure that they shall not be overlooked, and that the qualifications which they already have will not be ignored.

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