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Thursday, 31 October 1912

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - SenatorGuthrie is quite wrong in saying that no provision is made in the Bill in regard to ment having a right to their discharge, quite apart from the discharge of cargo- Sub-clause 2 of clause 48 contains the words-

Provided further that when a ship, the crew of which have been engaged under a running agreement which has been in force more than six months, reaches a port other than the port of destination, and the ship is not then on her way back to the port of discharge mentioned in the agreement, the crew shall be entitled to claim their discharge, and the master or owner shall be liable to provide them with a passage to the port of discharge or to such other port as is mutually agreed to with the approval of the superintendent.

The agreement from which I have already quoted embodies the paragraph about the discharge of the cargo. It states -

These articles, so far as the master and officers, and the deck and stoke-hold hands, and the galley and the steward's staff are concerned are subject to the conditions of the agreement and awards of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration dated31st December, 1910, 1st December,1911, 27th November, 1908, and 10th May,1910, respectively.

There follows a number of paragraphs, including the paragraph which Senator Guthrie read, and which I maintain does not conflict with the provision of the Bill which I have quoted. The two are not in conflict at all, as is shown by the fact that in this same agreement is included the part of the award of the Arbitration Court Which Senator Guthrie read.

Senator Guthrie - It is not the same paragraph ; it leaves out a material condition.

Senator PEARCE - I will read it. It is paragraph 9, which is as follows : - '

In one port only, viz., Melbourne, but not elsewhere, the master may discharge any seaman if he give hia) not less than 24 hours' notice on a day other than Saturday, and if the notice bc not less than 24 hours before the vessel sails. Any seaman may end his engagement at the port aforesaid if he give such notice as aforesaid. If the ship be laid up in any port other than the port where- the articles were drawn up, the seamen shall accept their discharge with wages then due, and shall be entitled to a free passage back to the port where the articles were drawn up.

If any honorable senator can distinguish a difference between that and the paragraph which Senator Guthrie read I shall be glad to have it pointed out.

Senator Rae - Would that paragraph allow a seaman to leave' within twentyfour hours?

Senator PEARCE - If the engagement were terminated. If it were not terminated the seaman, in my opinion, could not leave until the cargo was discharged ; and the reason for that is that during that time there would be certain duties to be performed, such as going on watch, cleaning the ship, &c. My point, however, is that this is the present practice.

Senator Guthrie - No, it is not.

Senator PEARCE - I have established that by quoting from the agreement ; and the amendment which I am asking the Committee to accept does not vary the existing agreement which has been arrived at, and under which members of the Seamen's Union are to-dav working amicably.

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