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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator SAYERS (QUEENSLAND) - Can she call at these ports and leave without a sufficient number of officers?

Senator Turley - Yes.

Senator SAYERS - Why is that distinction made? From time to time we have mail-boats coming here from Continental countries. Why are they to be permitted to trade to Australia at a less cost than British ships?

Senator Turley - Because they are engaged in the foreign trade.

Senator SAYERS - If we have power to enact that if a foreign ship engages an officer in an Australian port he shall be a certificated officer, I see no objection to a provision of that kind. But if we cannot do that, I very much doubt whether we can make a special provision for British ships any more than we can for foreign ships. I do not think that we have power to legislate with regard to the former if we cannot deal with the latter.

Senator Guthrie - In the case of a foreign vessel the shipping of officers and men is done through the Consul, but in the case of a British ship it is done at the Shipping Office.

Senator SAYERS - The honorable senator admits that in spite of us these ships can come here undermanned and trade with Australia ?

Senator Guthrie - Yes, but we ought not to do any trade with them.

Senator SAYERS - And they can leave our ports undermanned with passengers.

Senator Guthrie - No, I question whether they can. If they are not seaworthy they can be stopped.

Senator SAYERS - I think that the only thing we can do if a ship is not seaworthy is to stop her from leaving port.

Senator Guthrie - I believe that if a ship is undermanned we can stop her.

Senator SAYERS - When I put that question 4.0 the Vice-President of the Executive Council he said exactly the contrary. If we cannot 3o that I wish to know from the Minister in charge of the Bill where our power to make laws for British shipping comes in.

Senator Guthrie - Under the Constitution.

Senator SAYERS - The Constitution does not give us any such power except whilst they are in our waters. When this question was discussed on a previous occasion it was admitted that we had not the power to control British shipping, but honorable senators now appear to' think that we can. Whether they are afraid to deal with foreign ships, or they think that Great Britain will overlook our faults, as those of naughty children, I do not know. But such a provision appears very invidious to me, as I think it will do to a great many persons. Ever since we re-assembled after dinner the phrase " British ships " has been used, and it seems that we are to have a law specially directed against them, but not against ships from any other country. That is, I think, a very invidious position to take up. The British Parliament is quite competent to deal with British shipping. If an attempt were made in the Old Country to interfere with our manning scale, to say that it was not sufficient from the British point of view, and to penalize an Australian ship on that ground, we should be the very first to raise a storm, and justly so, too. I cannot understand why the Government adhere to this clause,, and specially mention British ships. I hope that they will consent to waive the point and leave the Parliament of Great Britain to decide what is sufficient manning for British ships, without any interference on cur part. If we cannot compel foreign ships to comply with our law, surely we cannot compel British ships to do so.I listened to this discussion until I began to think that this Parliament had a specific idea of legislating against British ships; in fact, of helping to throw the trade of Australia into the hands of foreign competitors. That is not fair or right, and, therefore, I hope that the Minister will reconsider the matter.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 23 -

No person shall engage or go to sea as an officer, in any ship registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade, who is not -

(a)   a British subject; and

(i)   thoroughly conversant with the English language.

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