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Thursday, 14 May 1942

SenatorFRASER (Western Australia - Minister for External Territories) [5.38]. - I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

This measure deals with a branch of Commonwealth activities which is not often brought to the notice of the Parliament. The first Commonwealth Lighthouses Bill, passed in 1911, provided the machinery for taking over from the States coastal lighthouses and marine marks, and fortheir future maintenance and improvement. It also provided for the erection of additional aids to navigation to complete the lighting of the 12,000-mile Australian coast-line, and for the collec- tion of Commonwealth light dues. Before the act could come into operation, it was necessary for an officer to inspect all the coastal lighthouses and marine marks which had been provided by the States, and a most valuable report was submitted in 1912 by Commander C R. W. Brewis, R.N. ; but owing to delays in reaching an agreement with the States as to the properties and personnel to be transferred, and the conditions of transfer, the act could not be brought into operation until the 1st July, 1915. In that year, a short amending bill was passed, providing for the compulsory acquisition of lighthouses and marine marks where agreement with the States could not be reached. In 1919, another amending bill was passed, providing that the cost of any damage causedto a Commonwealth lighthouse or marine mark by any person or by any ship should be paid by the person responsible or by the master or owner of the ship concerned. No further amendments have been made, and therefore this is the first Lighthouses Bill that has come before the Parliament for more thantwenty years. The principal reason for the introduction of the measure is that regulations made under the act provide for the exemption from the payment of light dues of certain classes of ships, for example, vessels belonging to the Royal Navy or the Royal Australian Navy, ships in distress, mission ships, &c. Provision is also made for the remission of light dues in certain cases, for example, where a ship is laid up and not engaged in trade for a period of one month. Recently the Crown Law officers pointed out that such remissions were not authorized by the act, and it is therefore proposed in this bill to provide that such concessions may be granted by regula tion. The bill is also designed to give to the Minister, or an authorized officer, power to carry materials over private property, where it is necessary to erect or maintain a marine light. Such a power is necessary where places may be so inaccessible that the only practicable approach to the area is across private property.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time and committed pro forma.

Progress reported.

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