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Thursday, 14 September 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I am pleased to hear the statement of the Minister of Defence. May T say that Senator de Largie seemed to me to quite overlook the nature of the risk, which I think should be insured. It is not a question of insuring the ship, because she is insured before she goes to sea. The ordinary ship-owner has taken out his policy, and there is no additional charge required in respect of the property in the ship. We are now dealing with the safety of the lives of the crew and the passengers. Under the Seamen's Compensation Act, a seaman would have a claim against the owners of the ship, but in this Bill it is provided that, from the time a pilot goes on board, that man shall have no cover. That is the feature which I wish to impress upon honorable senators. Again, passengers have their rights against the owners of a ship if injured by non-skilful navigation, but it is now proposed that that law shall be destroyed for the time being.

Senator de Largie - You assume that the captain has shuffled out of all his responsibilities, but you know that that is not so.

Senator MILLEN - No. What I say is that if the honorable senator had his way he would pass clause 348, which would relieve the captain and the owner of the responsibility. I was extremely pleased to hear the Minister say that he thinks of looking into the matter, because I feel certain that there is no one here who will say that it is just, because a Commonwealth official is compulsorily placed on a ship, that a seaman should be deprived of the right to apply for compensation if injured, or his relatives of that right if he loses his life.

Motion agreed to; clause postponed.

Clause 348 postponed.

Clause 349 agreed to.

Clause 350 -

If a pilot, when in . charge of a ship, by wilful breach of duty or by neglect of duty, or by reason of drunkenness, either -

(a)   does any act tending to the immediate loss destruction or serious damage of the ship, or tending immediately to endanger the life or limb of any person on board the ship ; or

(b)   fails to do any act necessary and proper for preserving the ship from loss destruction or serious damage, or for preserving any person belonging to or on board the ship from danger to life or limb, he shall be guilty of an indictable offence.

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