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Tuesday, 11 October 1910

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . - I do not suppose that such a proviso was ever inserted in a navigation measure before. ' It is simply monstrous. Does any honorable senator think that foreign nations will not retaliate?

Senator de Largie - Let them.

Senator SAYERS - It ought to be our policy to prevent such occurrences. The Minister cannot for a moment defend such a proviso. Suppose that an American master in the port of Melbourne having completed his crew, is just ready to sail, and that all the Australian sailors who have signed on with him suddenly determine to leave. Under this clause, they can defy the master, and the law will say to him, " You have no remedy, and cannot obtain an order against the deserters without their own consent." No such provision is to be found in the laws of any other country. When a man is signing on in any country, he is not asked whether he is an Australian, an Englishman, an Irishman, or a Scotchman.

Senator Guthrie - Yes, the seaman's nationality is mentioned in the articles.

Senator SAYERS - It would be mentioned as " British." But, under this proviso, as soon as the vessel reached Australia, the seaman would be able to say, " I was born in Australia; I am an Australian, and I intend to go ashore." A British seaman who had signed on at the same time might go ashore with him; but he could be sent back to the vessel without his consent, whilst the Australian could not be sent back to the vessel if he did not wish to go.

Senator de Largie - Would not the British seaman, in such circumstances, be an Australian?

Senator SAYERS - No, I think he would not. I speak of men signing on in a foreign port for a foreign ship carrying a mixed crew. Two men sign on as Britishers, and when the vessel reaches Australia one claims to be an Australian, and goes ashore, and, under this proviso, he could not be returned to the ship without his consent. The other might say that he was an Englishman, an Irishman, or a Scotchman, and if he went ashore he could be compelled to go back to the ship, though he might not wish to do so. Will the Minister say whether that is not so?

Senator Pearce - That is so.

Senator de Largie - Let the honorable senator move the insertion of the word " British."

Senator SAYERS - That would make it wider. Would the Government accept such an amendment?

Senator de Largie - Let the honorable senator move it and try.

Senator SAYERS - I am prepared to do so.

Senator Chataway - I have moved the omission of the proviso.

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