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Friday, 1 November 1912

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - This and the following amendment, which practically deal with the same subject, are required to provide a punishment for men who, after signing on, fail to join, or refuse te go to sea, in their ships. The failure to join at the last minute plays right into the hands of crimps. These men are always on the watch to offer substitutes for absentees, and to pass off deserters from other ships in port, and also numbers of incompetent men who in ordinary circumstances would not be accepted. Crimps get from 10s. to£5 a head for men. The occupation is therefore highly profitable, and there is a direct inducement for them to carry on this work. The drugging pf men and filling them with drink, and putting them on board in a state of semiinsensibility occurs under this practice in supplying substitutes for men who fail to carry out their agreement. The amendment before the Committee is in line with the Merchant Shipping Act, and the New Zealand Act is framed on similar lines. I move -

That the amendment be agreed to.

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