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Wednesday, 4 October 1911
Page: 1016

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I interjected just now that the Minister appears to be confusing the general effect of this part of the schedule with its "effect in particular cases. I am not disputing its effect, as a whole, upon engineers as .a class. I wish to know whether, . if passed into law, this proposed- new scale will prejudicially affect people who to-day have certain rights. I am not asking that it should be disturbed ; but I am asking the Government to do what is usually done whenever we attempt legislation dealing with industries in which persons have for years followed a particular occupation. In such legislation it is usual to provide that those - who have hitherto been carrying on a creditable career, and have established themselves in a reputable practice, shall have their rights recognised. We may lay down whatever fresh standards we please for those who will come under the law subsequently; but we do not disturb those who have hitherto been doing useful work in the community. We should be extremely careful that, whatever standard we set up for the future, we shall not take away from any man the rights which he enjoys to-day under the law. I hope that the Minister is right in his interpretation of clause 21, but I have grave doubts on the subject. The clause provides that -

All uncancelled and unexpired certificates of competency for masters or ships' officers issued under any State Act shall continue as if issued under this Act, but shall be valid only for the purposes for which, and to the extent to which, they would have been valid in accordance with the provisions of the State Act under which they were issued.

A man comes forward with a certificate entitling him to take charge of a vessel of 50 horse-power, and under this Bill it is proposed to suddenly read into that certificate " 60 horse-power."

Senator Pearce - No; to give him a corresponding certificate. If we alter the nominal horse-power, we do not alter the actual horse-power. He will be entitled to take charge of an engine which he would have been entitled to take charge of under the State Act, no matter what its horsepower.

Senator MILLEN - That is the whole point, and I am expressing some doubt as to whether clause 21 will do what the Minister desires. I have passed the stage when I am prepared to dogmatize too freely upon the exact meaning of any clause.. We are told that these certificates are to be valid only for the purposes for which, and to the extent to which, they would have been valid under the provisions of the State Act, and we run a considerable risk, in sud- denly converting a 50 horse-power boat into* a 60 horse-power boat, of doing so to the detriment of men who, under a State law, are entitled to take charge of the enginesof a 50 horse-power boat. The Minister cannot reasonably object to a power enabling him to meet that difficulty. I am not going to make any suggestion, or propose any amendment for the purpose. Todo so would be .to revise the wholeof this part of the schedule. I am not competent to do that. I "state the difficulty, and leave the responsibility to the Minister of saying how it can safely be met. He has ample time, if not here, in another place, to reconstruct clause 21, and, if necessary, to make someamendment which will prevent us, in the name of this Parliament, doing an injury to engineers who have obtained certificates under a State law.

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