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Thursday, 8 July 1920

Mr CHARLTON (Hunter) .- J feel inclined to oppose the proviso altogether. I think it is quite unnecessary. Even if the Committee agreed to the amendment, injustice might be done to seamen under this proviso. A seaman engaged for a certain voyage might be shipwrecked at some remote place, and forced to take refuge upon an island. He might have to remain for a considerable time before a passing vessel could be used to carry him to his port of discharge, or the port at which he was engaged. In such circumstances, why should the period for which the owner of the ship is held to be liable to pay wages to the seamen be confined to a month, or, for that matter, to three months, or any other period? In my opinion, the ship-owner should be called upon to provide against this risk just as he is called upon to provide against expenditure under the Employers' Liability Act. I think there should be no limitation as to the period, in these circumstances, for which the ship-owner should be liable to pay the seamen's wages. It should be held that a seaman engages until such time as he reaches his port of discharge, or is returned to his home port; and in the case of shipwreck, his wages should be continued until he has reached one or other of those ports.

Mr Considine - The honorable member should see that without some such provision a seaman marooned on an island in the way he has suggested would get nothing during the period between the wreck, of the vessel and his return to his home port, or to his port of discharge.

Mr CHARLTON - My point is that there should be no limitation of the period provided for, and it would be better, in my view, to omit the proviso altogether than to deliberately do an injustice to seamen in the circumstances. A seaman may be five or six months away from his home because of some accident to his ship over which neither he nor his skipper may have had any control. Is the seaman and his family to suffer in consequence? The* family of a seaman should not be made to suffer because their breadwinner is out of employment through shipwreck. The seaman should bo guaranteed his full rate of wages until he is brought to the port at which he -engaged to be discharged, or is returned to his home port.

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