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Thursday, 31 October 1912

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - Why this amendment should have been inserted I cannot understand. It is true that there was a similar provision in the Imperial Act of 1854, but it was designed for sailing ships. The wages of the men were dependent upon the earnings of the ship, and they had to remain until the cargo was out. Sometimes men had to wait six months before they got their wages. But the present conditions are entirely different. When a seaman reaches the home port he can nowadays leave by giving twenty-four hours' notice, whether the cargo is or is not out of the ship. The question of cargo has nothing to do with the right of the man to leave the ship.

Senator Vardon - Can the seaman be called upon to help to discharge the cargo?

Senator GUTHRIE - No ; this Bill prevents him, and says that he shall not discharge the cargo. I cannot for the life of me understand why the amendment was inserted. Just as a seaman can leave by giving twenty-four hours' notice on reaching the home port, so the master can discharge a seaman by giving twenty-four hours' notice. But under this amendment the master will be able to say, " As the cargo is not out of the ship I cannot give you your discharge," and before twenty-four hours have expired the ship may be at sea again. The Committee will be 'well advised to reject the amendment, because I do not see any necessity for preventing a man from getting his discharge until the cargo has been removed from the ship. Under present circumstances, freight on cargo is generally paid as soon as the stuff is put on board.

Senator St Ledger - That is not alwavs so.

Senator GUTHRIE - To a very large extent freight is prepaid, and there is no necessity to keep the seamen waiting until the ship has earned the money to pay them. Nowadays men are paid monthly, whether the ship has earned her money or not.

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