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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - The assertion has been made that under Imperial law no ship is required to carry more than two certificated officers. That is a myth, because the ships trading to Australia are chiefly governed by Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act. These vessels are not manned in accordance with their tonnage. Under Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act a vessel of 600 nominal horse power is obliged to carry seven engineers, or six engineers and a boilermaker. She is also required to carry a fireman for every 18 square feet of firegrate surface in her boilers. The vessels of the Orient Company and the White Star Company are chiefly governed by the provisions of the Passenger Act. Here are the latest instructions to emigration officers in regard to manning. They read -

The accompanying amended scale of deck hands for emigrant steam-ships will come into operation on 1st June next in lieu of that contained in clause 84 of the " Memorandum on Part III. of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894." Emigration officers are requested to make the amended scale known as soon and as widely as possible among the owners and masters of emigrant ships in their districts. '

They further say -

Section 305 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 requires generally that emigrant ships shall be manned with " an efficient crew," but it docs not prescribe any ratio of men to tonnage.

The emigration officer will, of course, understand that there is no statutory power enabling him to interfere with the manning of " short ships " unless they are so undermanned as to be " unsafe " under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act 1897. As regards 'steamships, the following scale has been prepared of the basis of the minimum cubic contents of the boats and rafts which are required to be carried by such vessels under the provisions of the rules relating to life-saving appliances. In the case of vessels having such a number of passengers as to necessitate the carrying of the maximum cubic capacity of boats and rafts required under division (a), class 1, of the rules according to the gross tonnage, the scale will show at a glance the number of deck hands to be carried. In the case of vessels carrying only a limited number of passengers, and being entitled to a reduced boat capacity, sufficient only for the number of persons carried on that particular voyage, allowing ten cubic feet for each statute adult, the number of deck hands shall bc ascertained by the following method : -

Add to the number of passengers to be carried the total number of crew, calculating the deckhands at a minimum of twenty-five men. Then allow ten cubic feet of boat capacity for each statute adult and apply the scale accordingly.

Thus, if the number of passengers to be carried be three hundred, and the total crew, including twenty-five deck-hands, be ninety, this will give a total of three hundred and ninety, which, allowing ten cubic feet for each statute adult, gives 3,900 cubic feet of boat capacity. The number of deck-hands due to 3,900 cubic feet in the scale is twenty-eight, the minimum number to be carried. The following, and no others, shall be counted as efficient deck-hands, viz., the master and four mates; all others to be bond fide A.B.'s, except that of the total number of deck-hands carried, one in five may be an O.S., and, if boys be carried, two boys may be taken in place of each O.S. so allowed. Any additional mates, the boatswain, quartermasters, and other petty officers who have served or are fit to serve, in the capacity of A.B., may also be counted as such.

Then the scale of manning for steam-ships provides that a vessel of under 2,500 cubic feet of boat capacity shall carry twentyfour deck hands, including the master, mates, and petty officers, and that a vessel of 9,300 cubic feet of boat capacity but of less than 9,700 cubic feet - which would be equivalent to a vessel of about 10,000 tons - shall carry forty-eight deck hands, including master, mates, and petty officers. The instructions continue -

In applying this scale the emigration officer is to bear in mind that the number of hands proposed therein must be insisted 011 in the case of all new ships, and as far as possible in ail other cases.

Honorable senators will note how elastic the provision is. It continues -

But if any particular ship has been prcvio.usly allowed by the Board of Trade 10 clear with a less number of deck-hands than that shown by the scale, he may, for the present, take that less number as the minimum foi- that ship.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel SirAlbert Gould. - Those provisions apply to ships carrying third class passengers, but not necessarily to any other ships.

Senator GUTHRIE - That is so; but, with the exception of the ships of the Peninsula and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, most of the ships bringing passengers to Australia carry third class passengers.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel SirAlbert Gould. - Will the honorable senator say that these ships must have four mates duly certificated ?

Senator GUTHRIE - I will not swear to it, because I do not know. The regulations are silent on the point. They do not say how many mates must be certificated, but we can, I think, fairly assume that the emigration officers would insist that all the officers on these vessels should hold certificates. In case of fire, a leak, or the breaking down of the engines, it may be necessary that the boats should be manned, and the reason why such a number of officers are required for these ships is that each boat must be in the charge of a person able to navigate it. That is why the boat capacity is taken as the basis of the manning scale for these vessels. We are only following the example of the Board of Trade in this matter in making provision for additional officers. I am aware that the old " tramp " may, and does, come to Australia with only two mates. But, is that something to be desired ? Is it in the interests of the safety of the ship and crew that two men should have the responsibility of keeping watch and navigating a ship twelve hours on and twelve hours off in every twenty-four hours? We are all agreed here that no man should be asked to work more than eight hours a' day, and the least we can ask is that a ship shall carry three navigating officers as well as a master. That is in accordance with a principle laid down in Australia for years, not only as affecting the officers on deck, but the engineers also. So far, the only men in the Australian shipping trade who have not received the benefit of the eighthours day are the sailors, and they are getting nearer to it every year. No shipowner who has any respect for his property or the men who work for him will ask navigating officers to keep watch at sea four hours on and four hours off day after day, in addition to the work which they have to do when the vessel is in port.

Senator Sayers - The honorable senator refers to boats engaged in the costal trade?

Senator GUTHRIE - No. An Orient boat may be coming into the outer harbor at Adelaide, and an hour before she arrives all hands are called and kept on deck until she leaves the port again. The same thing may happen when she arrives in Melbourne. Men and officers who have been working and keeping watch during the night before the arrival of the vessel in port are called upon to work throughout the following day, and the officers may have to take their watch again the following night. It is true that the Merchant Shipping Act makes provision for only two certificated officers in addition to a master, but under the provisions which I have quoted, the Board of Trade require a vessel carrying third class passengers to carry many more officers than she would be required to carry under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [8.35].- Senator Guthrie has referred to the provisions enforced on ships carrying third class passengers, but those provisions are given effect by virtue of the powers given to the emigration officer, whose duty it is to see that a ship leaving the Old Country with passengers shall be sufficiently manned and properly equipped before she gets her clearance. While I am in entire sympathy with* much that the honorable senator has said, I cannot overlook the fact that we are not legislating in the Parliament of Great Britain for the British mercantile marine, but in Australia for our own mercantile marine. It is perfectly true that passenger ships carrying third class passengers have to comply with provisions which do not apply in the case of all British ships under the Merchant Shipping Act, but, in this Bill, we deal with all classes of ships. I take the case to which Senator Turley referred, of the practice of taking a man from the forecastle to perform the duties of third or fourth mate.

Senator Guthrie - That was in the days long ago.

Senator Turley - It can be done to-day

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - If such a vessel comes into an Australian port with four mates, and requires an additional officer, or to substitute an. officer for one of those she has, although she would be efficiently manned, according to the Merchant Shipping Act, with a master and two certificated mates, any officer put on board here would, under this clause, have to be certificated. I say that we are attempting here to deal with British ships in a way we are not entitled to do.

Senator Turley - A man taken on here need not be signed on the articles as an officer at all.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The honorable senator means to say that an officer taken on here might not be put on the articles as such, in order to avoid the possibility of a prosecution under this Bill. I do not. believe that the Board of Trade would have made any stand against this proposal, if they had not considered that it would operate injuriously to British ships.

Senator McGregor - They have not made a very strong stand against it.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I am not so sure of that. They protested against it, and did not give way. We promised an amendment which would meet their objection, but no such amendment has been proposed. If we intend to deal with the matter fairly, we shall carry a provision which will not operate to the detriment of ships registered in Great Britain and trading here. A ship may come from Great Britain to Australia on a round voyage to China and back to Great Britain. She may lose one or two of her officers, and may require to engage others here. Why should we demand that she should engage certificated men because she happened to be in Australian waters when she required their services, when, if she had been in Great Britain when she required extra officers, it would not be necessary that they should be certificated ?

Senator Turley - She would not have to put on a certificated officer here above her manning scale.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - She would if she were a ship' that required to have a master and three officers under our manning scale.

Senator Findley - If she lost a certificated man, she would be anxious to replace him with a certificated man.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD .- That may be so; but I hold that we have no right to interfere with a ship registered in Great Britain, so long as she complies with the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act.

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