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Thursday, 8 July 1920

Mr MAHONY (Dalley) - The Minister in charge of the Bill (Mr. Greene) might Very well agree to this amendment which, in effect, will not do more than what he is endeavouring to accomplish by his original proposal. His desire is that seamen who are wrecked shall be paid their wages until they are returned to the port of engagement, the port of discharge, or such other port as may be mutually agreed upon. The clause ' provides that the owners of the shipwrecked vessel shall convey the seamen to one of these ports, and pay them their wages for a period of one month while they are proceeding to their home port. In laying down that principle, we should endeavour to make it effective. Why not put the matter beyond doubt in the way proposed by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) ? A sailor might be shipwrecked at a point from which he could not be returned to the port of engagement or discharge within less than three months. Is a sailor in such circumstances to be left without sustenance for two out of the three months?

Mr Marks - Would not sub-section 2 of the section to be amended, which deals with men who are engaged for the round run, cover that point?

Mr MAHONY - I think not. The proviso to this clause governs the whole matter. Under it, even if it took the owners of a shipwrecked vessel six months or eight months to return the crew to one of the ports mentioned, they would not have to pay the men more than one month's wages. I am confident that the Committee desires to do the fair thing by these men, and the mercantile marine ask for nothing more. By agreeing to this amendment, the Minister will not give away anything. It providesfor the payment of wages for a period not exceeding three months, so that if that period were exceeded in returning a shipwrecked crew to their home port they would not receive more than three months' pay.The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) has an intimate knowledge of seafaring matters, and is able to speak of the privations and hardships to which British seamen are subjected. When disaster overtakes a ship, the lives of the passengers depend upon the skill, bravery, and coolness of the seamen, and surely it is not asking too much to demand that this meed of justice shall be done them.

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