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Tuesday, 11 October 1910


Senator McCOLL (Victoria) -- I would not use the term " international indiscretion," but the term " Australian partiality." I think that one of the glories of Britishers is that their laws treat all persons alike. An attempt is being made to bolster up the proviso to this clause by depicting the condition of affairs on a foreign ship, and the tyranny that is practised there, and so on. An Australian seaman ought to know the conditions on foreign ships before he signs on. If they are of the character which has been described, he ought not to venture upon them. We ought to insist upon Australians keeping their bargains, in the same way as any one else ; otherwise we ought not to insist upon others doing so. We are told that there will be a civil remedy, but the clause which provides a civil remedy against a deserter has been quite altered in the case of this Bill. Before a deserter can be proceeded against thereunder, proceedings must have been taken against him previous to the ship leaving port. If no action has been taken prior to a ship's departure from Australia, then proceedings against a deserter cannot be carried on.


Senator Guthrie - Oh, yes. We give power under this Bill.


Senator McCOLL - Proceedings must be commenced prior to the departure of the ship. I think that this clause is unworthy of any Government. If we wish to free Australia from the condition of affairs that has been pictured by honorable senators opposite in the case of foreign vessels, we ought to be equally anxious to free Britishers who have deserted, from liability to be returned to those vessels.


Senator Pearce - Clause 107 provides that proceedings for desertion may be instituted against a seaman after his ship has left Australia.


Senator McCOLL - Only in cases where the proceedings have been instituted for desertion against a seaman, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest before the departure of his ship. The clause is a very unfair one as between individuals, and is a grossly impolitic one as between nations. It will certainly invite reprisals from other Powers. At a later stage I shall move that the following words be added to the clause, " provided that in the case of any seaman who objects no such order shall be made without his consent." We have no more right to return to his ship a foreign seaman who is afraid that he will be treated with injustice or brutality than we have to return an Australian seaman. Let us treat all with justice.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.







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