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Wednesday, 12 October 1949

Mr RIORDAN (Kennedy) (Minister for the Navy) .- by leave- I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill for an act to amend the Naval Defence Act 1910-1948, was referred to by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) a few moments ago when he introduced the bill to amend the Defence Act 1903-1948, and, like most of the provisions of that measure, its purpose is to obviate the necessity for a further extension of certain sections of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1948. As a consequence, the National Security (Naval Forces) Regulations and the National Security (Naval Charter

Rates) Regulations,which will cease to be effective after the end of 1949, will not be further extended. It is desired to have the necessary provision to enable the services of certain senior commissioned officers and commissioned officers who received their appointments by virtue of the National Security (Naval Forces) Regulations to be continued. Normally, those officers would not be eligible for employment, being over the prescribed age, or lacking some other qualification. However, owing to the acute shortage of officers in the Royal Australian Navy, it is essential that the services of the temporary officers be retained whilst new appointees are entered and trained. The efficiency of the Navy would be seriously affected should it become necessary to dispense with the services of temporary officers before it became possible to replace them. I point out that they are all volunteers for further service, and that none is being retained against his will.

Under the approved naval programme, many more permanent officers will be required than was the case in pre-war days. Every effort to obtain those officers is being explored, but it is not expected that the existing shortage will be overtaken for a number of years. The bill also gives power to the GovernorGeneral to make regulations for the fixing ofcharter rates and establishment charges in respect of ships requisitioned for naval purposes. This will allow the making of regulations under the Naval Defence Act to replace the National Security (Naval Charter Rates) Regulations. Whilst most vessels requisitioned during the war have since been returned to their owners or have been otherwise disposed of, there are a few still under charter, and it is necessary to continue a charter rates board. The board is the authority for fixing charter rates and establishment charges in respect of requisitioned vessels. Owing to changing conditions, charter rates are altered from time to time, and it is therefore necessary for the Charter Rates Board to be in a position to function while vessels are still under requisition. It is unlikely that the last of the vessels will be derequisitioned before the end of 1950 at the earliest. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.

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