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Wednesday, 4 October 1911
Page: 1020

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - I move -

That after the word "steam-ship," where second occurring, the following words be inserted : - " running more than one hundred miles shall in any case carry less than three firemen, and that no other sea-going steam-ship."

The object of the amendment is that there shall be at least one fireman for each shift. A trip of 100 miles may possibly extend over twenty-four hours. It is considered necessary that a vessel shall have at least three firemen on such a journey ; otherwise, in case of sickness, one fireman might have to work during the whole journey. Amendment agreed to. Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) [5.7]. - I move -

That after the sub-heading " Seamen '' the words " [CargoSteam-ships]" be inserted.

Later on I intend to propose a different scale for passenger steam-ships. It is desirable to differentiate between the two scales.

Senator Millen - This is practically the same amendment as Senator Guthrie gave notice of.

Senator PEARCE - Practically the same.

Amendment agreed to. Senator E. J. RUSSELL (Victoria) [5.8]. - I move -

That the word " carpenter " under the heading " Seamen " be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " shipwright."

The object of this amendment is to insure that a shipwright, not merely a carpenter, shall be carried on every vessel. It is not proposed to increase the number of hands. The object of carrying a woodworker on board ship is to make life safer. I do not know why the word " carpenter " has been inserted at all, because it does not insure that the right kind of woodworker will be carried. What is required is, not a man who can mend deck chairs, or erect -pens for cattle, but a qualified shipwright.

Senator Millen - Is there any difference between a ship's carpenter and a shipwright ?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - There is a great difference. Let me enumerate what the duties of a shipwright are. He must be thoroughly conversant with the construc tion of, and attend to all watertight compartments, bulkheads, tanks, and sluices. He also has the large side ports, to lead and make watertight before the ship leaves. These ports are taken apart on arrival at every port. He has to take and keep record of draft, leaving and arriving in port, sound all holds and ballast tanks, and keep record of same every watch, attend to all patent windlasses and anchors, secure and batten all hatches and tarpaulins, attend to steering gear and adjust same, have all wash ports in thorough working order. On modern passenger steam-ships numerous life-boats are carried, and want attention, patent chocks and davits connected with the same have to be swung out at short notice, and warrant the presence of a skilled man to keep them in good order. As the object of this Bill is to make seagoing as safe as possible, it is necessary to insure that competent men shall be carried. It must, be remembered that a shipwright is well able to do all the work that a carpenter can perform ; whilst, on the other hand, a carpenter may not be capable of fulfilling many of the proper functions of a shipwright. As an indication of the need which exists for having a qualified man on board, I will point to one instance with which the Minister ought to be familiar. Some time ago the steamer Boveric broke down off the coast of Western Australia. Her machinery could not be repaired even by her skilled engineers. But amongst her crew was a practical shipwright, and when the vessel was 1,000 miles from Fremantle he rigged a jury mast, and with the aid of a few tarpaulins managed to bring her a distance of 800 miles - to within zoo miles of Fremantle, where she was picked up. I may mention that, before the shipwright rigged the mast in question, the vessel had within the space of three weeks managed to make a complete circle, thus evidencing that all the efforts of the skilled engineers on board were of no avail. This incident serves to show that in the event of an accident at sea, it is wise to have a competent shipwright on board. I do not know whether, under this schedule, the term "carpenter" means ship's carpenter; but if it dees not. it ought to do so. Otherwise, it might be possible for a carpenter who had been accustomed to building houses, to accept a position as a ship's carpenter. In connexion with steamers especially, I think it is very necessary that we should do justice to the large class of shipwrights who are rapidly losing their employment.

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