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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - This discussion has shown that, under the Bill, in order to obtain a thirdclass engineer's certificate, a man must possess a practical knowledge of engineering, gained in a workshop. Hitherto, candidates for that certificate have only been subjected to an oral examination, besides being required to furnish a sample of their handwriting, and to do simple sums in arithmetic.

Senator Millen - Have they been required to use no tools at all ?

Senator GUTHRIE - They have not.

Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator think that that is right?

Senator GUTHRIE - I will answer that question presently. For a lad to qualify himself to pass the examination which has been outlined by the Minister of Defence, he will require to possess shop experience, and I know that one of the largest engineering works in Queensland demands a premium of . £200 before it will take a lad into its employ. The examination for a third-class engineer's certificate ought not to consist of blacksmithing or turning operations. The idea of asking a man engaged upon a steam launch to turn a pin or a small shaft, when there may be no turnery within 100 miles of him, is ridiculous. What he should be asked is to pack a valve, or pull a pump to pieces, or to secure a steam joint. Such an examination as the Minister has foreshadowed may be necessary in the case of a third-class engineer in New South Wales, who is empowered to take vessels under a certain nominal horse-power from one end of its coast-line to another. But it is certainly not necessary in other cases. In the future candidates for a third-class engineer's certificate will be subjected to an examination in the use of tools. To enable the holder of a first-class coastal engineer's certificate to secure the second-class engineer's certificate of the Board of Trade, we must comply with the Board of Trade regulations. The examination which has been suggested by the Minister in the case of candidates for a third-class engineer's certificate is not such as would be recommended by experts. I think that Senator Lynch is perfectly right in contending that a lad should not be asked whether he has served an apprenticeship in an engineering shop before he is allowed to take charge of a launch on Lake Wendouree," or it may be on the Albert Park. Lagoon. The honorable senator is asking that sea service shall he regarded as an equivalent for shop service. It is possible for a man employed in the engine-room of one of our big steamers to-day to acquire all the knowledge which might be acquired in any engineering workshop in Australia. On one of our modern steamers there is not one. but twenty or thirty engines, almost every one of which is overhauled at every port, and the men in the engine-room of the steamer assist in the work. I repeat that, for a third-class engineer's certificate, no shop experience should be insisted upon. Senator St. Ledger, in quoting from the Victorian Act, referred to the marine enginedrivers of Victoria as third-class engineers, but the Victorian Act provides only for first and second class engineers, and engine-drivers. I should like to point out that this Bill, in the definition clause, defines engineers as officers, and it makes provision for the issue of certificates to masters or officers. It is important to remember that a marine engine-driver in Victoria is not an officer. Under the Board of Trade and the Imperial Act, a chief engineer is not an officer, nor are engineers regarded as officers under any of the Australian Acts. They are so regarded under the New Zealand Act, as the result of the insertion of a special section, section 30 of the Act of 1903, which provides that -

On all steam-ships the engineers shall be rated as officers, under the designations of chief, second, third, and fourth engineer.

We provide in this Bill that an engineer shall be an officer, and I wish to prevent any injustice being done to the marine enginedrivers of Victoria. We shall be to blame if they are left out as the result of a technicality under this Bill. I should like to know from the Minister whether the marine engine-drivers of Victoria will be rated as officers under this Bill ?

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