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Thursday, 21 November 1912

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - Senator Millen has characterized my former statement as extraordinary, but I think that he has shown an extraordinary lack of knowledge as to what the pilot system' under this Bill is to be. There are to be two classes of pilots - compulsory pilots, who will be members of the Public Service, and licensed pilots, who will not be Government servants. The compulsory pilots will be employed where pilotage is absolutely necessary ; that is to say, in the larger ports. Let me give an illustration. A pilot is required on the voyage from Sydney through Torres Straits. It is a difficult piece of navigation, and the pilots who do that work will possibly be Government servants. Within reach from Thursday Island to Sydney there may be a dozen or a score or even a hundred licensed pilots. They will be limited in the scope of their operations. One may have a licence to pilot ships into Townsville, another to pilot ships into Byron Bay. These men will have a local knowledge of the ports for which they are licensed, and they will not be available for pilotage elsewhere. But each of them will be a pilot under this Bill, and each of them when on board a ship will necessarily be subject to the same conditions as apply to

Government pilots, because each of them is liable to cause the same sort of disasters. Inasmuch as the same liability must be upon both kinds of pilots, we must have the same conditions applying to them, although the scope of their services is different. Both kinds of pilots will have the same power, and run the same risk of causing loss of life and property, if they are negligent.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [6.9].- Under this clause, it is optional in certain ports for the master of a ship to take on board a pilot. I want to know what will be the position of a pilot with regard to the ship and to the master. We know perfectly well that the duty of a pilot in a port, where compulsory pilotage is in force, is subject to the authority of the master to take charge of the vessel. Is there a like provision with regard to a pilot who is brought on to a vessel simply at the option of the master? What will be his duty with regard to the ship, and in what relation will he stand to the master? If there is a mishap, or if there is carelessness, negligence, or incompetency, on the part of the licensed pilot, will the master of the ship be held responsible for any damage ensuing? The Bill provides that, where a master is compelled to take a pilot on board, he shall, nevertheless, be responsible, for any damage or mishap that may happen in consequence of the incompetency, negligence, or other misconduct of the pilot. Are we going to say, on the other hand, that a master who takes on board a licensed pilot of his own volition is to be free from all responsibility in the case of accidents to the ship?

Senator Rae - I rise to order. I wish to know whether it is competent for the honorable senator to discuss the whole matter relating to pilotage on the particular clause under consideration ? You, sir, ruled against me on the last point I raised, but in this instance Senator Gould is obviously discussing the whole question of pilotage and the liability of pilots and masters, whilst the clause and amendment before the Committee do not relate to that subject.

Senator Pearce - Before you give your ruling, sir, I wish to say that I support the contention of Senator Rae. I hold that Senator Gould cannot discuss the whole question of the duties and liabilities of pilots on the amendment now before the Committee, in view of the fact that the House of Representatives' amendments

Nos. 157 and 158 directly raise the ques-tions which the honorable senator was discussing.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - The clause makes provision for licensed pilots, who are to be subject to regulations which may be prescribed, and those regulations will prescribe the duty of licensed pilots. I am inquiring as to what power a licensed pilot will have over a ship. I wish to know whether he will be entirely independent of the master.

Senator Pearce - That matter is dealt with by the House of Representatives' amendments to clauses 351 and 352.

The CHAIRMAN - Senator Gould will see that the House of Representatives' amendments Nos. 157 and 158 open up the whole question which he has been discussing. I did not prevent the Minister or Senator Millen from discussing clause 349 when the Committee was considering the amendment to clause 333, because the matters dealt with in the clauses referred to are so closely related. I feel that I must uphold Senator Rae's point of order on this occasion, and rule that Senator Gould cannot, on the amendment now before the Chair, deal with the question of the liability of pilots and masters. The honorable senator will have an opportunity to say all he desires to say on that subject when we come to deal with later amendments.

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