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Wednesday, 12 October 1910

Senator McCOLL (Victoria) .- I wish it to be clearly understood that in objecting to this proviso, our objection is not to the penalty proposed to be imposed on ship-owners for overcrowding. We recognise the serious danger of the overcrowding of ships, though I do not think there would be much danger of foreign-going ships being overcrowded with passengers. The crew and passengers of such vessels are mustered from time to time, and, if the number of passengers on board exceeded the number allowed by law, the fact would soon be discovered. Danger might arise in the case of vessels acting as ferry-boats, and making short passages. If we take the case, for instance, of the vessels plying in Sydney Harbor, it is next to impossible to check the number of passengers that crowd into one of these boats on a holiday. The real difficulty is that this clause would enable any person giving information of overcrowding to recover the penalty for the offence for himself.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Though he might be an employe of the company owning the vessel.

Senator McCOLL - I would suggest that the Minister should make provision that the person giving the information should, upon a conviction being obtained, receive only his out-of-pocket expenses in connexion with the case, and that the balance of the penalty should go into the Consolidated Revenue.

Senator Findley - The honorable senator thinks that a private citizen should initiate a prosecution?

Senator McCOLL - He could give information to the police ; they might initiate the prosecution, and he could attend as a witness in support of the charge, and be paid his expenses. The employment of what Senator Gould has described as V sneaking informers" must be revolting to every man of honorable feeling. I am sure that Ministers would not encourage anything of the kind in their private capacities. I am satisfied that, as honorable men, they desire to deal fairly, arid to keep up the good name of the country. I hope they will do nothing which would create the class of people who would be likely to take .advantage of a provision of this kind ; that the Minister of Defence will agree to modify this proposal, and will provide that the person giving information shall be paid only his expenses, the balance of any penalty imposed going into the Consolidated Revenue.*

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