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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - I direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that, clause 8 provides that this part of the Bill shall apply only to British ships and to their masters and owners, whilst clause 22 applies to any Australian ship.

Senator Pearce - Australian ships are always referred to in the Bill as ships registered in Australia, and they are also British ships.

Senator ST LEDGER - Clause 8 seems to contemplate a distinction between British and Australian ships. If that be so, and clause 22 is to apply only to British ships, serious complications might arise.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator is aware that it cannot be applied to foreign ships.

Senator ST LEDGER - I am aware of that ; and, to some extent, that bears out the contention of the Board of Trade that, by reason of the fact that we cannot apply the provisions to foreign ships, we are treating British ships somewhat unfairly in applying it to them.

Senator Pearce - Does the honorable senator contend that we should exempt British ships and penalize ships registered in Australia?

Senator ST LEDGER - What would happen under clause 22 would be this : It could not be applied to foreign ships; but we impose a certain manning scale which would be applied to a British ship, trading on the coast of Australia.

Senator Pearce - The coasting trade is dealt with in other provisions. This provision would apply to a British ship engaged in the foreign-going trade ; and we saythat such a ship, equally with an Australian registered ship engaged in the same trade, should not carry an officer who is not duly certificated.

Senator Millen - Why can we say that that should apply to a British ship, and not to a foreign ship?

Senator Pearce - Because we have the power to deal with British ships.

Senator Millen - Is it not because we are relying on the tolerance of the Mother Country ?

Senator ST LEDGER - Take the case of a British ship leaving London for Australia, and calling at Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney ; and assuming, for the sake of argument, that, after leaving Australia, she proposes to go to New York. She is trading on our coast-

Senator Turley - That would not be trading on our coast, unless she took in passengers or cargo at one port in Australia, to be transferred to another port in Australia.

Senator Pearce - If she is registered in Australia, she can only take part in the coasting trade.

Senator ST LEDGER - The position is now quite clear to me, possibly with an exception which is mentioned in a later clause. I shall not press the point further. I understand now more than I did when I rose. All that we on this side can do is to point out possible dangers, and to hope that, as compared with foreign vessels, British ships will not be unduly handicapped.

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