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Friday, 30 September 1910
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Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - Surely Senator Lynch has greatly exaggerated the amount of work involved in the filling in of these discharges. One would think that we were about to throw upon the ship-owners the responsibility of writing out reams and reams of papers, and having them carefully engrossed and witnessed. What is the discharge which is to entail that tremendous amount of labour? It is a thing which happens, I suppose, once in six months, and the filling in takes a few seconds. That being so, it cannot be said that we ought to decide for or against the clause on the ground of the work which it will entail.

Senator Lynch - What is the purpose?

Senator MILLEN - I am coming to that. The next point made by the honorable senator was that a seaman ought not to be loaded down with a tremendous bundle of discharges, beneath which his shoulders would probably break. He is not required to carry the discharges if he does not wish to do so.

Senator Lynch - Somebody has to pay for the labour of writing them out.

Senator MILLEN - The labour involved in that is too insignificant to engage our attention if there is an advantage anywhere else. The honorable senator's next point was that the seamen would not want to carry a swag of discharges. There is nothing to compel him to do so, if he does not wish to carry anything but his last discharge. It will be quite optional with him. If he is of the same mind as the honorable senator, he will keep his last discharge and tear up the previous ones. But when the law places upon him the obligation to pay, he should have the right to obtain the thing for which he pays.

Senator Guthrie - He ought to get a receipt.

Senator MILLEN - Exactly. In the Bill we have provided that when a seaman signs on an agreement, and that carries with it a right to a discharge, he pays as much for the discharge as for the agreement, and, therefore, he is entitled to the equivalent provided "by the Act. The payment which he makes when the agreement is signed is a payment for the work done by the Shipping Office, and for his discharge. Whilst Senator Lynch may think that an employer only looks at a man's last discharge, I, though an employer in a limited way, entirely disagree with him. If a man comes to me, and shows a reference from an employer for two or three months, and there is a big gap behind it, I am not so well impressed as I am with a man who can produce certificates from employers covering a period of three or four or five years. It is an advantage in some circumstances, and with some employers, to see more than one reference or discharge. If a seaman desires to keep his certificates, he should be at liberty to do so. I propose to support the amendment.

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