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Wednesday, 12 October 1910

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - I think that the Minister has acted wisely in accepting the amendment, and I am rather astonished at the attitude which has been taken up by Senator Gould. So far as the provisions of this Bill are concerned, great liberality in the matter of the survey of ships has been extended to the ship-owners. In most of the States the law provides that all ships shall be surveyed every six months. But this measure provides that ships under five years old shall undergo only an annual survey. The amendment submitted by Senator Givens is an eminently reasonable one. The Bill declares that a certificate of survey shall be issued in respect of all vessels every six or twelve months. Consequently, the shipowner is in a position to arrange that his vessel shall be in a certain port when the period for her resurvey comes round. But in order to prevent him from suffering unnecessary expense or inconvenience, he has the right to apply to the Minister for an extension of one month. That provision has hitherto been operative in our State laws, and has been largely availed of. With' what result? By repeatedly securing an extension of one month, the ship-owner has obviated the necessity for one survey every six years. If a vessel be trading to some port where docking facilities do not exist, her owner can always represent to the Minister that it is inconvenient to bring her away for the purposes of survey at the prescribed time. When he has secured a month's extension, he may approach the Minister and say, " I want another month's extension to enable me to take my ship to a port where she can be surveyed." The amendment will prevent that being done. Hitherto owing to the want of uniformity in our legislation shipowners preferred to send their ships to certain ports where the legislation was not quite so strong as in other States. But hereafter no matter at what port it may take place, the survey will be absolutely uniform, and so far as the Government are concerned, the cost will be uniform. Are we to permit an owner to hold back his ship until after her certificate has expired, to call for tenders for. the cheapest docking place, and then for the purpose of getting to that place to grant him an extension of time for the survey? Senator Gould has not looked at this proposal as fully as he might have done, otherwise he would have recognised that it will only serve to do a considerable amount of justice. If, however, the Minister can show that it is likely to do an injustice to the shipping industry, I am prepared to reconsider my position. In the meantime I shall support the amendment.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [4.16].- 1 think that there must be some misunderstanding in this matter. We are all agreed in regard to the provision for extending the time for making a survey, but Senator Givens has submitted an amendment that no extension of the currency of the certificate shall be granted to enable a vessel to proceed to another port for the purpose of docking or being repaired, if proper facilities for that work are available at any of the ports to which she usually trades. That means that a vessel cannot leave any such port until the survey takes place. Suppose that the master of a steam-ship wishes to proceed to another port to get docked or undergo repairs, the Minister will not be empowered to grant an extension of time if the port where she is lying possesses docking facilities. It is not a second extension, but only one extension that is contemplated.

Senator Guthrie - It may be a second extension.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The honorable senator has pointed out that a survey is usually required every six months. But I am advised that the law at present in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and New Zealand only requires a survey to be made once in twelve months.

Senator Guthrie - In New South Wales it has to be made once in six months.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I know that in the case of that State the period was reduced to six months, but I am advised that it has been altered to twelve months again, and that in the four States I have mentioned it is only necessary to have a survey once in twelve months, except, of course, in special circumstances.

Senator Guthrie - All that happened in New South Wales Was that its Premier gave notice of his intention to introduce a measure extending the period for the survey to twelve months.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir_ ALBERT GOULD -The Merchant Shipping Act only requires a survey of a passenger steamship to be made once in twelve months, and I do not see why we should place an additional restriction on ship-owners. I shall certainly oppose the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 203 agreed to.

Clause 204 - (2.) The owner, master, or agent of a steam ship shall not take payment of the passagemoney of any persons intending to become passengers in excess of the number allowed by the certificate.

Penalty : One hundred pounds, and also an additional penalty not exceeding Five shillings lor every person on board above the number allowed by the certificate. (3.) Any penalty under this section may be sued for and recovered by any person and retained by him for his own use.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [4.31].- I think that, as the law stands, the penalty for the overcrowding of a steam-ship is £20, and, if I mistake not, that penalty ' is also prescribed in the Merchant Shipping Act. It would be only reasonable to reduce the penalty in this clause from £100 to £20. It might frequently happen that, although the master would be legally responsible for the fact, it would be an overcrowding over which he had no practical control. Surely a penalty of £20, and an additional penalty of 5s. for every passenger in excess of the prescribed number, ought to meet adequately the offence which it is proposed to guard against. I, therefore, move -

That the words " One hundred " be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " Twenty."

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