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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator McGREGOR (South AustraliaVicePresident of the Executive Council) . - The Leader of the Opposition is endeavouring to make a great deal out ofvery little. In the first place, there is . a very small probability of any British ship coming to Australia with uncertificated officers on board. Why raise a bogy that is never likely to materialize? But even if such a case should arise, I am informed on the best authority that this Bill would not apply. If, however, officers were engaged in Australia the penalties imposed under our law might be inflicted if a person were engaged as an officer who was not certificated.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [8.6].- Under the Merchant Shipping Act it is not necessary that all officers should be ceilificaf-ed. It is only necessary that a certain proportion of them should be. A British ship might come out to Australia having officers, some of whom were certi-nea ted, while others were not. The ques-lion raised by Senator McColl is whether the continuance of the uncertificated officers on board that ship would be regarded as an offence, although the ship was fully manned as required by the Merchant Shipping Act. The point is important.

Senator Findley - A vessel would not be permitted to leave the United Kingdom if her officers were uncertificated.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - A vessel would be allowed to leave the United Kingdom if she had the proper number of certificated officers' on board. There might be four mates and a master on a ship. Two of the mates might be uncertificated. Under our law, that ship could not go to sea, although a master and two certificated mates might be all that she was required to carry under the Merchant Shipping Act. We are' here making a difference between ships registered in Australia and those registered in Great Britain. Suppose that the two uncertificated mates were to leave the vessel at an Australian port, or were to be discharged. It might be necessary to engage two others. Then, although the vessel, under the Merchant Shipping Act, was not required to have more than two certificated mates, her owners would be liable to a heavy penalty if they engaged two uncertificated officers here. Whatever we may do with our own ships, we should not attempt to increase the requirements of the Merchant Shipping Act in respect, of ships registered in England. It has been pointed out that, in the first place, the Board of Trade protested strongly against this provision, which subsequently was altered to meet the requirements of that authority. Why should we not make the clause inapplicable to foreigngoing ships seeking to engage officers in Australia ?

Senator Guthrie - Australian foreigngoing ships would be compelled to comply with this measure.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - That cannot be avoided. Australian ships are registered in this country, and have to comply with our laws. But a ship registered in Great Britain should be required only to comply with British law.

Senator McGregor - It is right that she should comply with our law if she comes here and engages men or officers at our ports.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I do not agree with the honorable senator. The proper course is to respect the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act as far as British ships are concerned, while they are not engaged in our coastal trade. As a matter of fact, we have no right to exercise jurisdiction over them in the way contemplated. Why put an embargo upon a British ship wishing to engage officers in Australia by making her endure a disadvantage that she would not suffer if she engaged her officers in Great Britain? We might just as well say that if a ship comes from Great Britain with a master and three mates, whilst our law provides that a ship of her tonnage shall carry a master and five mates, we will compel her to engage two additional certificated mates.

Senator McGREGOR(South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council; [8.14]. - It is gratifying to see the great anxiety displayed by honorable senators opposite for the dear old Empire.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - I do not despise the grand old Empire. The honorable senator ought not to sneer at her.

Senator McGREGOR - The volubility of some honorable senators is almost beyond endurance. It has already been stated, on the best of authority, that a vessel coming out to Australia with her proper complement of officers, as required by the Board of Trade, would not be interfered with. But if she loses one or two of her officers and requires to engage others in Australia, the principle applying is this : In the Commonwealth we have no uncertificated officers, to be engaged on British or any other ships. We do not make uncertificated officers. If vessels have to obtain officers here, they must accept Australian officers who are certificated. That is the point. The honorable senator might just as well argue that if a British ship comes to Australia, and in passing round our coast bumps against a rock, which necessitates repairs being effected, those repairs ought not to be made in Port Melbourne, or in Mort's Dock, Sydney, because they could be made cheaper in Great Britain, where men work longer hours, and for less wages than do our own artisans.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - That is nonsense.

Senator McGREGOR - If British vessels trading to Australia engage officers here, they will have to respect Australian conditions just as they do in the matter of repairs.

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