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Wednesday, 25 November 1914

Senator RUSSELL (VICTORIA) (Assistant Minister) - The answers are -

1.   Therehas been no recent amendment of the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act regarding load-lines. The present law on the subject has been in operation since March, 1906, a period of over eight years. As regards the effect of the alteration then made on the loss of ships and of life, a comparison between the period of seven years immediately prior to 1906, and a similar period since shows that, whereas during the first period there were 667 British ships foundered or posted as missing, with a loss of 4,313 passengers and seamen, during the similar period since the alteration of the load-line the numbers fell to 556 ships foundered or missing, and a loss of 2,790 lives. These figures show that the alteration has been followed by an appreciable decrease in clanger to ships or lives.

2.   Last year the Imperial Government took the initial steps towards calling an International Conference on the subject of loadlines, and a Committee of Inquiry has been engaged for some time past in collecting evidence to place before it. Had it not been for the war, the Conference would probably have met early next year, and, presumably, as soon as the war is over the matter will be revived. The provisions of the Navigation Act as regards load-lines follow closely on the Imperial Merchant Shipping Acts, and, pending the meeting and report of the International Conference, the Commonwealth Government does not propose to take any steps in the direction of amending those provisions.

Senator STEWART - Arising out of the answer, may I ask the Minister to ascertain whether any regulation or regulations altering the load-line have recently been passed by the British authorities?

Senator RUSSELL - Will the honorable senator give notice for to-morrow ?

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