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Friday, 30 September 1910
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Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I should like to know whether a ship-owner, in engaging men for a run, is under any obligation if the vessel is wrecked before the run is completed to carry the seamen on to the port of destination? If that is not so, it seems to me that Senator Guthrie's contention is well founded. But on the other hand, if the owner is under an obligation to carry the seaman on, the case has a different aspect.

Senator Pearce - I do not think that there is any obligation on the owner, if a wreck occurs, to carry the seamen to the port of destination. The wreck terminates the service.

Senator MILLEN - Then, I think that the merits of the case are with Senator Guthrie. It certainly is hard that men who, having engaged for a run, are wrecked before they have an opportunity of earning anything worth speaking about, should neither be carried to their port of destination nor paid the sum for which they contracted. They would find themselves stranded, all their belongings gone, and without means to take them home.

Senator Pearce - Suppose that the honorable senator's sheep died in the middle of the shearing season, would he pay the shearers ?

Senator MILLEN - If I were sending a lot of sheep from the Gulf inland, and arranged with a number of men to go that trip, and they were willing to perform that duty for a certain sum, the mere fact that my sheep died on the road would not relieve me of my obligation to pay them for going from the one point to the other. It would not be their fault that the sheep died. It is true that many drovers take men on at a moment's notice, and that they are liable to be dismissed at a moment's notice. But that is not the position of the sailor. He cannot be dismissed at a moment's notice, nor can he leave at a moment's notice. He is engaged to go from one port to another.

Senator McGregor - To work a ship.

Senator MILLEN - And he is prepared to work the ship.

Senator McGregor - The ship is not there to work, if she is wrecked.

Senator MILLEN - That is not the sailor's fault. I ask myself what is a fair proposition. It does seem to me to be entirely fair to say that when seamen start out with no hope of earning a .reasonable sum until they have finished a certain journey, they should be entitled to the wages for which they contracted to make that journey.

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