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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - This clause applies to British ships, but it does not apply to foreign ships. Surely it will not be contended that it is imposing an unfair disability upon the owners of British ships to say that they shall not have on board officers who are not duly certificated or employ men who are not duly certificated.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - But British ships would not be bound to comply with the provisions of this clause under the Merchant Shipping Act.

Senator PEARCE -- We recognise the Board of Trade certificates in this Bill, and all that we say is that a ship shall carry so many certificated officers. This clause provides that a ship shall not have on board as an officer a man who is not duly certificated, or a man who is not certificated.

Senator Lynch - We are not compelling them to engage any complement of officers.

Senator PEARCE - Not by this clause. I fail to see how it can be said that we place British ships in unfair competition with foreign ships. A foreign ship cannot take part in our coasting trade under this Bill. In order to" do so, the foreign ship-owner must register in Australia, and if he does so his ship becomes an Australian ship, liable to all the provisions of this measure. The only competition between the foreign and the British ship is a competition over which we have no control. We cannot control a foreign ship coming from a foreign country to Australia and taking goods from Australia to that foreign country. Surely we are not to be told by Great Britain that, because we cannot control that trading, we must not control the operations of our own trade and ships of our own Empire 7 . I ask the Committee to consider what would happen if we were to give way and accept the Board of Trade's suggestion. The owner of a British ship would need only to register his ship in New Zealand, and he might then evade these provisions altogether. We would apply these provisions to foreign ships if we could, and when we apply them to our own ships we ought, in common fairness, to apply them also to British ships.. The competition referred to could only arise in the case of foreign-going trade, and not in the case of Australian trade. It may be unfair as between the foreign and British ship-owners, but it is a matter over which we have no control, and to attempt to remedy it by exempting the British ship, while making the Australian owner subject to these provisions, would place the British ship-owner in a better position as compared to his foreign competitor, but would place the Australian owner in a very unfair position as compared to both.

Senator Turley - It is all a question of the manning scale.

Senator PEARCE -It is the introduction of the manning scale which it is complained gives rise to the unfair competition. To exempt British ships from these provisions would be unfair to Australian shipowners who desire to take part in the foreign trade.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales). [6.9].- Under this Bill we propose that a ship, according to her tonnage, shall carry a certain number of certificated officers. Under the Merchant Shipping Act a foreign-going ship carrying more than one mate must have a master and first and second mates duly certificated; but she may have two or three other mates who are not certificated.

Senator Turley - As a matter of fact, all the officers are certificated men.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I am quoting from . the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, under which a ship engaged in the foreigngoing trade may have four or five mates if she carries a certificated master and first and second mate. The difficulty is that under this Bill such a ship would be unable, out here, to replace any of the extra mates except by a certificated officer. Under this measure, such a ship, employing a mate who is not duly certificated, would be liable to£100 penalty, and a man who is not duly certificated engaging as an officer would be liable to a similar penalty. If the Minister could discover some way in which to overcome that difficulty it would materially smooth the way to assent being given to the Bill. We must bear in mind that this Bill must have the sanction of the Imperial authorities before it becomes law.

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