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Thursday, 8 July 1920

Mr MATHEWS (Melbourne Ports) . - If there should be any delay in the proclamation of this measure when it is passed, any person who becomes a ship's carpenter in the meantime will be entitled to be rated as a ship's carpenter, although he may not fulfil the requirements of the proposed sub-section 5, which demands that before he may receive his certificate he must have served for three years at sea in the capacity of ship's carpenter. In other words, the Bill provides a certain qualification, and at once proceeds to take it away. In the following clause we give powerto a superintendent before whom a seaman is engaged, to refuse to enter him as A.B., O.S., greaser, fireman, shipwright, or ship's carpenter unless he can give satisfactory proof of his title to be so rated. The giving of such full powers to a superintendent is a further entrenchment on the rights of seamen. A superintendent might have peculiar views ; he might allow a person who has only had five minutes' experience before the coming into operation of the Act to be rated as a shipwright or ship's carpenter. The seamen have their rights.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - And we are endeavouring to protect them.

Mr MATHEWS - It is no protection to the seamen to allow a person with five minutes' experience in the calling before theproclamation of the Act to be rated as a ship's carpenter.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - No person could get a job as a ship's carpenter unless he could show that he had the necessary experience. We are dealing with the past, and not with the future.

Mr MATHEWS - We are dealing with the period between the passing of the Bill and the coming into operation of this Division of the Act. A superintendent is to be placed in the position of saying whether a man is qualified or not. The Minister should not accept the ipse dixit of Captain Davis.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - The Minister is obliged to accept the best advice he can get as to what will be the effect of any portion of the Bill.

Mr MATHEWS - We have the benefit of the advice of men who are deeply concerned in the matter. They say that the proposed sub-section 7 will render it possible for ship-owners, while conforming to the Act, to get out of the payment of certain wages by the employment of men who may be a danger to the lives of others. Theseamen contend that ship-owners ought to be compelled to employ only qualified men.

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