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Friday, 4 December 1914

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - I cannot accept the Minister's suggestion. As regards the big question raised here, that injustice may be done to some people who have previously held these positions on. board ships, the wishes of Senator Lynch and others who have spoken will be met if we adhere to the principle already laid down clearly in the principal Act. We have made provision for other classes of labour on board ship, so that no injustice shall be done to those already employed. This is so in the case of engineers, firemen, greasers, and pilots. Section 41 of the principal Act says -

No seaman shall be rated -

(a)   as " greaser " who has not served six months as fireman at sea, or

(b)   as "fireman" who has not served six months as a trimmer or fireman at sea.

The question now before us is the rating of a man as a shipwright. We can get over the whole difficulty without doing injustice to a single individual by inserting in sub-section 1 of section 41 of the principal Act the following new paragraph -

(c)   as " shipwright " who has not served at sea for at least three years as shipwright or carpenter.

Senator Russell - Would you refer to him as a seaman ?

Senator GUTHRIE - Yes, every man who serves at sea, except the master,is a seaman. Even the stewardess is a seaman. That provision would solve the whole difficulty.

Senator Russell - -If lie is to berated after three years' service, how does he first get to sea ?

Senator GUTHRIE - If at the time of the passing of this Bill he has had three years' service as carpenter or shipwright, he will be rated. That will meet the position urged by Senator Lynch. I do not want men who have served for years as carpenters to lose their employment. At the same time I want to provide that those who hold the positions shall be absolutely competent. I am not tied to the three years' minimum.

Senator Russell - What if he has been for three years at sea merely mending deck chairs?

Senator GUTHRIE - If he has been accepted by the ship-owner for three years as a carpenter employed on board the ship, I say all right, let him come under the definition of shipwright.

Senator Lynch - Without examination?

Senator GUTHRIE - Yes. We are doing the same thing throughout the principal Act in regard to engineers, firemen, greasers, and able seamen. We there laid down the principle that if a man had discharges to show his qualifications, he was entitled to be rated as an able seaman, or fireman, or greaser, or trimmer. Why should not the same principle be applied to lie case of a shipwright? The Assistant Minister will be well advised, I think, if he will accept the amendment I have suggested. I believe that such a provision would solve the whole difficulty, and suit the two societies who are fighting the matter, as well as meet the objection that, in its present form, the clause will take employment away from individuals who have held these positions in the past.

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