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Thursday, 8 July 1920

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) . - In the principal Act, for which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) was responsible

Mr TUDOR - And that was eight years ago.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Never mind that; the honorable gentleman was responsible for the .passing of that Act, and this House agreed to it. There was no obligation placed upon the ship-owner by that Act to bring the shipwrecked mariner back to his home port.

Mr TUDOR - I think there was.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - No; we are inserting such a provision for the first time in this Bill.

Mr TUDOR - Was not a similar provision to this passed by the Senate in 1914?

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I think not. I think that this is an entirely new provision. Part of it, I am sure, is new. I decided to introduce this particular provision first of all throwing upon the ship-owners the obligation to land the seaman at the port to which, under his agreement, he was going, or at such other port as might be mutually agreed upon between him and the master of the vessel, or to return him to his home port. In the next place, I decided that the ship-owners should be called upon, in such circumstances as are set out in the clause, to pay the seamen full wages for a period not exceeding on6 month. The reason why that period was decided' upon is that it is conceivable that a shipwrecked seaman might be landed at a port within a week's sail from Australia, and a vessel by which he could return to Australia might call at that port next day. The representatives of the ship-owners might tell the seaman that he could go back to Australia by that boat, and his passage would be paid. The man might say that that did not suit him, and if he knew that he would receive full wages for three months he might wait for three months before he found a vessel that would suit him.

Mr Mahony - If the Minister will look at paragraph a he will find that that could not be done. It is at the option of the master, and the seaman has no option at all.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - The conveyance of the seaman to the port of engagement or the port of discharge is what the master of the vessel has to decide, but the clause does not provide that the master shall decide by what ship the seaman shall go to either port. In view of the length of the average voyage of vessels between Australia and other parts of the world, it seemed to me that to throw upon the ship-owners the obligation to pay the seamen full wages for a month was, in the circumstances, a fair compromise. I do not say that in every case under this provision the seaman would secure all that he was entitled to, but in some cases he might secure more, and I consider that a faircompromise is proposed by the proviso as it stands.

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