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Wednesday, 12 October 1910


Senator TURLEY (Queensland) . - I think that Senator Guthrie is right in this matter. In the first place, what determines the amount of free-board? As pointed out by the Minister, it is determined by measurement. A ship of a certain length, a certain breadth, and a certain depth is entitled, we will say, to 3 feet of freeboard. Where is that to be measured from ? You cannot start from the load-line, because there is no load-line to start from. There must be a place from which the measurement shall start in the first instance. Now the place from which the measurement starts is the deck-line. The deck-line is mentioned in the preceding clause, which says that -

Every ship shall be permanently and conspicuously marked with lines in this Act called deck-lines and load-lines.

The deck-line, Senator Guthrie says, should be measured from the lower part, instead of from the upper part, of the deck. The deck must be a permanent structure. Say that a vessel has an iron deck. It is, as honorable senators know, very thin. But if 2 inches of planking are added permanently to that iron deck, then that deck-line is shifted. What does that mean ? From that line the measurement is to the load-line.


Senator Pearce - Making a corresponding increase in the free-board.


Senator TURLEY - No; there can be no corresponding increase, because it would mean a decrease in the buoyancy of the ship. If, according to the measurement, it is estimated that a ship is entitled to 3 feet of free-board to give her buoyancy at sea, every inch taken from that decreases her buoyancy, and to that extent renders her more unsafe. What was done in connexion with the Era was all right, only the insurance people or Lloyd's might have said, " As you have made this alteration we shall no longer accept any responsibility in connexion with the vessel." That would not be because the law had been broken. The Minister says that if the surveyor had only re-surveyed the ship everything would have been different. But the surveyor would have been absolutely helpless, because he could not alter the deck.


Senator Pearce - Yes he could.


Senator TURLEY - The honorable senator might just as well say that the surveyor could put the deck-line wherever he pleased. He has nothing to do but obey the law which provides that the deck-line shall be on the upper side of the deck. If the deck were a permanent structure the surveyor would have no power under the Act to alter it. As Senator Guthrie has rightly said, we should lessen the safety of the ship by reducing her free-board and so reducing her buoyancy. The reason why Senator Guthrie asks that the measurement should be from the lower side of the deck is that if that course were followed it would be impossible to alter the deck-line, no matter how much planking was placed on top of the deck, though that might increase the buoyancy of the ship and thereby increase her safety.


Senator Sayers - What difference would alteration of the load-line by 2 inches make in the carrying capacity of a vessel ?


Senator TURLEY - I admit that it would make a very considerable difference in the case of a big ship. I think that Senator Guthrie is right in this matter, and I shall vote with him if the amendment is pressed to a division.







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