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Thursday, 8 July 1920

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) . Ministers and their supporters have voted to allow any one to continue as a shipwright, or as a ship's carpenter, so long as, prior to the proclamation of the Act, he has served on board a vessel, if only for five minutes.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Men cannot serve in those ratings who have been only five minutes on a vessel.

Mr TUDOR - Sub-section 7 of section 39, as we have amended it by clause 13, says that -

Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, persons rated as greasers, firemen, shipwrights, or ships' carpenters, before the commencement of this Division, shall continue to be entitled to be so rated.

In many cases that may be quite proper, but we ask that certificates of competency shall be granted to those who are capable of doing the work. We have decided that captains, officers, and engineers must pass examinations to prove their competency, but, by the vote just given, the Committee has determined that anybody may be considered good enough to fill the position of shipwright or ship's carpenter. My concern is to secure efficiency on the part of all who serve in those ratings. But members opposite have determined that any man who is now on a ship in such a rating may continue in that rating: I am sure, however, that members would not like to risk their lives on ships on which unskilled men were employed. The provision under which a discharge or certificate showing the right to be rated in the capacity in which the man desires to be shipped is to be struck out. Of course, there are penalties for the use of a discharge by a person to whom it does not belong; but we know that many dis charges are used by men to whom they do not belong. We weaken the law by enacting that all that a seaman need produce is a discharge from his last ship. In another clause we provide that men must do certain work elsewhere before they can be rated as firemen or greasers.

Mr Gregory - You know this is the usual practice. We must protect the men already engaged.

Mr TUDOR - That is done, but not by this clause. All the Minister is doing by this clause is to provide that if a man is discharged it need not be shown on that discharge that he is competent. If the clause is carried, there will not be one word in section 40 of the Act as to the competency or ability of the man to perform the duty. The section as it now stands is very much better. It is absolutely hopeless to propose an amendment to provide that the man shall be competent. Even if I moved to re-insert the words standing in the old Act as passed by this Parliament, I would be defeated. The Minister has only to say that he intends to pass the clause as it stands, and the majority will support him, whether it means allowing incompetent men to do the work or not. In order to test the feeling of the Committee, I move -

That the words " or certificate showing his right to be rated in the capacity in which he desires to be shipped," be left out.

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