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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - The Vice-President of the Executive Council has assured us that seamen will be so hedged round by protection under this Bill that offences of this kind are not likely to occur; but I am afraid that they will occur under' this Bill as they have occurred under the State Acts.

Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator not think that this measure will be more effective in preventing crimping than are the State Acts?

Senator GUTHRIE - I believe it will be. In order to make it effective, an inspector may be appointed in some ports; but in other ports it would not pay to appoint an inspector, and the enforcement of the law will depend upon a superintendent. The difficulty is that under this Bill a master is, in certain circumstances, allowed to sign on men on board ship. That is where the trouble will arise. We had a case of the kind in Melbourne not long ago. A ship wanting men was lying outside, and an attempt was made to take men out of a foreign ship lying in the river. In that case, the men were not put on board, and the attempt was not successful. There is a danger that men may be taken out of boarding-houses and taken off in a tug to where a vessel is lying ready to put to sea. There will be no time to take them to the shipping office; blood money will be demanded and paid, and we shall know very little about it. I want to put the fear of the law into people who engage in crimping by providing for a penalty which will make it worth their while to give up this work altogether. They would be able to meet the penalty of £50 with the money received for supplying one crew. I may be told that the men may be proceeded against for receiving the money. But from whom are we to recover the penalty? If the reply is that we may recover from the captain, the answer is that the ship will have cleared out.

Senator Millen - We can proceed against the owners of the ship.

Senator GUTHRIE - They may be in England.

Senator Millen - They will have representatives here. We can recover from a ship anywhere.

Senator GUTHRIE - That is not so. A foreign ship may leave no agent behind, and, though it might be said that we could recover from her when she came into Australian waters again, she might never come here again. I ask the Minister to provide a stringent penalty for this offence. I should be prepared to strike out the money penalty, and make the penalty six months' imprisonment. If we are in earnest in our professed desire to put down crimping, we should make the penalty for the offence a very severe one.

Amendment negatived.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 27 agreed to.

Clause 28 (Engagement and supply of seamen at ports where there is a seamen's inspector).

Senator McGREGOR(South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [9.36'J. - Consequential amendments are required in this clause, inserting the word " superintendent " in two places.

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