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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - It ought to be emphasized that, according to the Minister's admission, what we are doing is to impose upon the tolerance and good nature of the Mother Country. He has said, not once, but twice, that the reason why the Government do not propose to apply this and similar clauses to foreign vessels is that we have not the power to do so. We have the power to pass the legislation, just as we have the power to legislate against British ships; but the Government know that, if we did that, complications would arise, which would mean that, willingly or unwillingly, we should have to rescind that portion of our legislation. We have no greater power to legislate against Great Britain than we have to legislate against France or Germany. Why, then, do the Government seek to legislate against British ships when they dare not do so against foreign vessels ? The answer is clear. The Government know that, whilst foreign countries would not put up with such legislation at our hands, they can rely upon the good nature and tolerance of the Mother Country not to object.

Senator Pearce - It would not be legal. It could not be enforced in the Courts.

Senator MILLEN - It could not be enforced in the court of last resort.

Senator Pearce - We have no jurisdiction over foreign vessels.

Senator MILLEN - We could enact that no foreign vessel should enter or leave a port unless she complied with our conditions ; but the Minister knows that we could not punish any foreign vessel which disregarded our law ; and so the Government prefer to play a discreet part. So far as foreign vessels are concerned, they art a civil part right through.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Does nol the honorable senator want to be discreet?

Senator MILLEN - I do not want to deceive myself; but to make quite clear what is being done. The Government are not game to impose upon foreign vessels the restrictions which they impose upon British vessels, knowing that, in the interests of the Empire, the Imperial authorities will tolerate what we do. That is the position which is brought to the front by this clause.

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