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Thursday, 13 October 1910
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Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - I believe that there is no precedent for clause 253 in this form. I suggest to the Minister that, if he desires to retain it in the Bill, and to secure the effect intended, it should be placed after clause 254. As it stands, a seaman or apprentice might decline to go to sea simply by declaring that there were dangerous goods on board.

Senator Pearce - The meaning of " dangerous " is defined in clause 250 ; the term means " goods which have been declared by proclamation to be dangerous."

Senator ST LEDGER - Clause 254 contemplates that, if the owner or master carries dangerous goods, they may be forfeited; and I presume that the meaning is that if a seaman or apprentice knows that such goods are being carried in contravention of the law, he may be allowed to walk ashore and claim' his discharge. I suggest the transposition of the two clauses, making clause 254 come before clause 253; and then we should, I think, insert in clause 253 the stipulation " on satisfactory proof of such contravention shall, if he so requests, be entitled to his discharge."

Senator Guthrie - What is the difference ?

Senator ST LEDGER - We should not allow an apprentice or seaman to walk off a ship at his own sweet will merely by declaring that there are on board goods which are dangerous within the meaning of the law. The Minister and his officers are the proper persons to interpret the law, not the apprentice or seaman.

Senator Guthrie - It is not a question of walking off a ship, but of the legal termination of the agreement.

Senator ST LEDGER - But, as a matter of fact, as the clause stands, the seaman or apprentice will be allowed to leave at his own sweet will. That is not what is intended. The seaman or apprentice ought not to be the judge of the matter.

Senator Guthrie - If it is stipulated in the articles that dangerous goods are to be carried, the seaman or apprentice will have no right to walk off.

Senator ST LEDGER - I shall not labour the matter, but if the course I propose .were adopted, it would make the measure more intelligible, and more easy of interpretation by the Courts.

Senator Findley - Would the clause not be in its proper sequence, where a seaman discovers, before he begins a voyage, that the ship is going to carry dangerous goods ?

Senator ST LEDGER - No ; I think it should come after clause 254.

Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator would have the seamen wait until the Admiralty Court had decided the matter?

Senator ST LEDGER - That would not be necessary. A magistrate's Court can deal with deserters, with claims for wages, and with many other matters arising under this Bill. If this clause were put into its proper place, magistrates would more readily understand its object, and its relation to a breach of his articles by a seaman.

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