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Thursday, 3 December 1914

Senator RUSSELL (VICTORIA) (Assistant Minister) - The questions asked by the honorable senator were as follow : -

1.   Is it the case that, under the present British load-line regulations, the Plimsoll mark has in effect been painted out and another line (painted higher) substituted, thus increasing the carrying capacity of ships and their earnings?

2.   If so, does the Government intend to adhere to the altered load-line?

I have recevied the following replies : -

1.   The alterations made in 1906 in the loadline regulations resulted in a reduction in the freeboard with a corresponding raising of the load-line mark, in certain classes of vessels, but not in all.

The freeboard for cargo steamers not having spar or awning decks remained unaltered for moulded depthsup to 27 ft. 6 in. and also for depths over 42 feet, but between the depths mentioned a slight reduction was made.

The freeboard and load-line ofspar deck cargo steamers remained unaltered.

In awning deck steam-ships the alteration gave a reduced freeboard and a higher loadline, subject, however, to compliance with higher standards of constructional strength than were required under the old law.

The justification for the alterations made lay in the great advance that had taken place in shipbuilding practice since the load-line was first fixed, the old wooden sailing ship having during the intervening thirty years been to a very large extent displaced by steam-ships constructed of steel.

The modern vessel, with a large proportion of its length covered by strong deck erections, and with greatly improved means of closing down hatches and other deck openings, could, it was held, be loaded with perfect safety to a somewhat deeper draught than was the case with the older type of vessels.

2.   Pending the result of the proposed International Conference on Load-lines, the Commonwealth Government does not propose to introduce into the Navigation Act any departure from the present Imperial standard for load-lines.

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