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Friday, 30 September 1910
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Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I should have every sympathy with Senator Guthrie in the objection which he has raised, if there were anything really serious in it. But as Senator St. Ledger has pointed out, there is good reason for providing that a seaman ought to forfeit the wages accruing to him under certain circumstances. I would point out to Senator Guthrie that clause 76 amply safeguards the seaman against injustice in respect of the payment of his wages. Under that provision a seaman who is in receipt of -£4. or £5 a month may apportion a large amount of it to his wife and family.

Senator Givens - Up to 50 per cent, of it.

Senator McGREGOR - It is obvious, then, that, if his vessel be wrecked, and he fails to exert himself to the extent that he should to save her, he can be penalized only to the amount of the wages due to him which is still in the hands of the owner. That may not be very much. On the other hand, if the owner unduly delays the payment of wages due to the seaman, the former is required to pay the latter double the amount of those wages.

Senator Guthrie - Two days' pay for one.

Senator McGREGOR - The owner has to give the seaman two days' pay for every day that he delays the payment of the wages due. Consequently, the sailor is amply protected. I am sure that no honorable senator wishes to protect the seaman who shirks his duty. Senator Guthrie has admitted that a shipwreck may occur, and that the sailors may not exert themselves as they ought to in endeavouring to save the vessel. But a ship is never wrecked while there is a possibility of saving her. It is during the time that she occupies a perilous position that everybody on board should exert himself to the utmost to save her. If a seaman does not so exert himself, I do not think that the punishment provided by this clause is too severe. I hope that Senator Guthrie will not insist upon delaying the passing of the provision.

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