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Wednesday, 28 September 1910

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - A good deal of light has been thrown on the clause, and I confess that it seems to me to somewhat clear up the. difficulty. The confusion has arisen out of clause 8, which applies the provisions of this part to ''British ships only. It is no wonder that when British ship-owners saw that clause, and turned to clause 22, they said, "If that is so, the Australian Act is going to control our officers ' ' ; but further consideration will show that in clause 22 we are dealing with only our own officers. Therefore, in 99 per cent, of the cases of

British ships which come to the Commonwealth and depart, the provision cannot apply. For all practical purposes it will apply to Australian registered ships. Suppose that a British ship comes out here with a complement of officers which is more than up to the Board of Trade regulation, and suppose that some of the officers are disabled or get away from the ship, and that she requires a complement of officers to leave Australia on the return voyage. No doubt the men will be engaged, but they will not be engaged as officers within the meaning of this measure. That is, I think, the probable construction and application of the clause. If that is the position, it will come very nearly within the. remark applied by Senator Millen, that it will be' almost inoperative. After the explanation which has been given I think that that remark is very nearly correct. But it should be remembered that it is always the unexpected case which crops up and causes trouble.

Senator Turley - If they are engaged as officers they must go on the articles.

Senator ST LEDGER - That I understand. It is quite possible that that is the reason why the Board of Trade and shipowners in Great Britain ceased their resistance to the clause. I quite agree now that most of the trouble is probably eliminated, but there may be, and no doubt will be, some trouble if we have stupid administration.

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