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Wednesday, 4 October 1911
Page: 1032

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - This clause deals with the question of the load-lines. Senator Guthrie was anxious to introduce an amendment dealing with the question of coal or dead-weight cargo. We have had his suggestion under consideration, and have prepared an amendment. I move -

That the proviso to sub-clause 3 be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following proviso : - " Provided that in ships laden with coal or dead-weight cargo a line or mark shall be marked or affixed on the ship in the mode and position required by the Merchant Shipping Act for the winter load-line, or, in the case of sailing ships, the winter North Atlantic loadline, and in the case of ships so laden the provisions of this Act shall have effect as to that line or mark as if it were drawn through the centre of the disc."

We are adopting a practice which has been adopted by the Board of Trade. I hold in my hand the examples given by the Board of Trade in Lloyd's register of shipping. Honorable senators will see that the round disc with the mark II. is left on the ship, and that the winter load-line, North Atlantic load-line, and the other load-lines referred to, are put alongside the ordinary load-line. It is not considered desirable, and is rather a hardship on ship-owners, to have to change this particular load-line every time they change the cargo. It will remain fixed, and the other load-lines will be put alongside according to the cargo which the ship is carrying. In sub-clause 3 we provide for fixing the disc in the same position as that which is recognised in the Merchant Shipping Act. The load-line which is drawn through the centre of the disc corresponds with the summer load-line in that Act. The existing proviso adds that, in the case of ships laden with coal or dead-weight cargo, the position of the disc shall be at all seasons of the year not higher than the Board of Trade's winter load-line, which is, of course, lower than the summer load-line. The shifting of the vessel's disc from time to time during a voyage would be burdensome in the extreme. The better way to accomplish what is aimed at is to leave the disc where it is, and to indicate various levels by separate lines. In the new proviso, we propose that a vessel laden with coal shall not be laden more deeply than the mark indicates. A master, loading his vessel beyond that mark, would be liable to the same penalties as would be the case if he were carrying ordinary cargo and exceeded the Plimsoll mark. What has led the Government to accept Senator Guthrie's proposal as regards having a different load-line for coal and dead- weight cargo is simply the number of losses of ships laden with such commodities that have occurred between Australia and other countries. If honorable members look down the list of ships lost they will come to the conclusion that it is remarkable how many have been laden with dead-weight cargo. We propose, therefore, to arrange .for a different load-line, for 'this class of cargo. The Board of Trade regulations provide for a similar case, only their provision is for winter and summer load-lines for the North "Atlantic trade- In this instance we propose to apply the North Atlantic winter load-line to vessels carrying .coal or deadweight cargo.

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