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Friday, 30 September 1910
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Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that this is an unimportant matter. A bigger battle has never been fought in England than that which has been fought over this very question. The Shipping Federation has made strong approaches to the Board of Trade to adopt the continuous book. My amendment involves the same thing as the continuous book, and is submitted for a special purpose. A man signs an agreement for six months, and at the end of that period he signs his release from the agreement. Why should not the owner of the ship give him his release in the shape of a discharge ?

Senator Sayers - Because he is not leaving the service.

Senator GUTHRIE - The man has carried out the agreement, and has been released from the articles. For the next six months new articles are taken out, and a fresh agreement is signed.

Senator Sayers - Are the articles different ?

Senator GUTHRIE - They may be.

Senator Sayers - The honorable senator knows that in practice they are not.

Senator GUTHRIE - No. Let me point out what harm can be done unless my amendment is made. Only a short time ago a man who had obtained a good discharge every half year for five years came to me with a complaint. A new master of the ship did not want the .nian, and " discharged him with a " bad " discharge, after having obtained discharges marked " very good," and leaving him with a " decline to report " discharge.

Senator Millen - Senator Lynch says that the only discharge which a man cares about is the last one.

Senator GUTHRIE - I placed the man's career before the owners of the ship, and they asked the captain to withdraw the discharge and give him another one, which he did. If I had not intervened - that is, if his "good " discharge had not been renewed - the man would have had to present a " bad " discharge to the shipping master ; otherwise he could not get a ship. He was one of the best men who have sailed out of Australia, but simply as the result of a little pique on the part of the new master he was dismissed with a "bad" discharge. Let me point out to Senator Sayers the difference between a seaman and an engine-driver. When a master has picked his crew, he has to depend upon their past records, because once they are on board he has no means of testing them until they get to sea, and then he has to keep them. On the other hand, an enginedriver who cannot attend properly to his engine can be immediately discharged and replaced.

Senator Sayers - If you can get a man.

Senator GUTHRIE - There is a likelihood of getting an engine-driver, but a ship-master cannot get another seaman in any circumstances. My amendment is not moved for the purpose of making an alteration, but it involves a great principle against which the seamen of England are fighting, with the approval of the Board of Trade. Surely if a man pays for his shipping and discharge, he is entitled to get what is due to him, which includes a discharge at the end of every six months. .

Senator McGregor - Let us take a vote.

Senator GUTHRIE - After the Minister has tried to impress upon honorable senators on the other side that my amendment is of no consequence, surely I have the right to show that it is of some consequence.

Senator McGregor - But the honorable senator is taking such a long time to do it.

Senator GUTHRIE - I shall take just as long as I think is necessary to explain the position to Senator Sayers, who has admitted that he does not know much about a seaman's discharge. 1 recognise that some proposals which I have submitted have been defeated because I did not occupy sufficient time to explain them to the Committee.

Senator CHATAWAY(Queensland) {12.46]. - I had a private conversation with Senator Guthrie just now, but I am still unable to understand whether a seaman pays for his discharge as well as for Ins engagement. It appears to me that under this clause he is required to pay a lump sum to cover both his engagement and his discharge.

Senator Lynch - I have never paid for a discharge in my life.

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