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Thursday, 31 October 1912

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - Viewing this matter superficially, it is not difficult to understand the objection raised by Senator Gould, because an Australian-trade ship has to be viewed in two aspects. A ship may be engaged in trading between Australian ports, and between Australia and New Zealand or the Islands of the Pacific, and the same ship may be engaged in trading to other countries from Australia. Honorable senators will recognise that it may be necessary, on occasions, to extend the provisions of this Bill to an Australian-trade ship trading with other countries. We have examples of Australian ships finding profitable employment in taking miners from Australia to Klondike. To exclude an Australian ship, under such circumstances, from the operation of this Bill would be decidedly unfair to the Australian seamen employed on board the vessel. The company owning the vessel undertakes the voyage because it pays them well to do so; and it is only fair that the Australian seamen on the ship should derive some benefit from the profits which the owners expect to derive from such a voyage. We know that profitable charters can be obtained from Australia, and they are taken up by Australian-trade ships. It is not unreasonable that the Australian seamen engaged upon them should share to some extent in the profits reaped by the owners.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [4.54].- I should probably not have spoken again on this clause had it not been for the remarks of Senator Guthrie. It is entirely wrong to say that Australian- trade ships will be required to give only the same accommoda tion, rates of wages, and food as are supplied by foreign-owned ships. I think I made it perfectly clear, when contending, that we should not unduly handicap our ships, that if they were exempt, under certain conditions, from the provisions of this Bill, they would come under the Merchant Shipping Act, and so would be obliged to provide accommodation, rates of wages, and conditions very much better than those provided by foreign-owned ships. Senator Guthrie told the Committee that there is not a single clause in this Bill dealing with the question of wages. If he will look at the provisions affecting the coasting trade, he will see that before a ship can get a licence the seamen employed upon her are to be paid the wages ruling in Australia for seamen employed in the coasting trade ; so that we clearly do provide in this Bill for the payment of an Australian rate of wages to seamen engaged in vessels trading along our coast.

Motion agreed to.

Clause 5 (Definitions).

House of Representatives' Amendment.- Omit definition of " River and bay ship " and insert the following definition : - " River and bay ship includes every ship which trades exclusively within the limits of any port, bay, or river, or within prescribed limits in any gulf or gulfs within the Commonwealth, including a Territory being part of the Commonwealth."

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