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Friday, 22 November 1912

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I am sorry that I am unable to accept the Minister's explanation of this tmatter. He has told the Committee that it is desired to make the change, because " licensed " pilot is regarded as the most appropriate term. I would ask the honorable senator whether he seriously intended that statement to be regarded as an explanation, or as an answer, as to what has been said on this side? Would the honorable senator propose an alteration in a taxation system, and justify it by the mere statement that it was considered more appropriate ?

Senator Pearce - Why does not the hon- orable senator admit that no explanation will satisfy him at the present juncture?

Senator MILLEN - The one purpose for which I am addressing the Committee 3s to extract from the Minister some explanatiop which will satisfy, not me, but the ordinary purposes of public debate. The tenacity with which the Minister is /hanging on to the proposed amendment would lead to the belief that there is something important about it. As I understand the matter, these pilots will be both coastal and licensed. They will be able to act only under a licence issued by the Government, and their operations will be limited to the coast of Australia.

Senator Pearce - They may not be coastal; they may be limited to a port.

Senator MILLEN - Is not a port coastal ?

Senator de Largie - Not necessarily.

Senator MILLEN - Does the honorable senator suggest that we could have a port inland, or outside the territorial waters of the Commonwealth? The waters in our ports are coastal waters. These men will be licensed by the Government, and their operations limited to the coastal waters of Australia. That being so, the original term of " coastal " pilots sufficiently desig nated the duties which these men will be called upon to discharge. As one title seems to be as explicit as the other, I should like to know why the Minister displays so much pertinacity in his endeavour to secure an alteration of the title.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [11.7]. - In dealing with the second amendment to the clause proposing the insertion after the word "Australia" of the words "or to act as pilots for any port at which pilotage is not compulsory," I suppose it is competent to ask whether it is proposed in this way to enlarge the powers of licensed pilots. Originally it was apparently intended that coastal pilots should take charge of ships only between one port of Australia and another, and it would not be competent for them to act inside of a port. Now it is proposed that they should take charge of ships from pne port to another, and also in ports for which pilotage is not compulsory. I would like to ask whether it is intended to have two classes of licensed pilots? Is k intended that some shall take charge of ships between one port and another, and others shall take charge of ships in ports for which pilotage is not compulsory? Again, it might be explained whether the" latter class is to be subdivided, and some pilots given the right to take charge of ships in particular ports and not in others, whilst some may be competent to take charge in all ports. The explanation given by the Minister amounts to very little. Instead of calling the place outside this building a street, we might call it a road, or even a lane, if that were not an indignity offered to one of the fine streets of Melbourne. But what difference would it make ? I recognise that additional duties are to be given to pilots. Is this done for the purpose of helping individuals who have not been considered as qualified to act as pilots in the ports of Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, and wherever pilotage may have been compulsory up to the present time ? Is it intended to give these gentlemen an opportunity of still earning a living as pilots, although they are not competent to take charge of ships in ports where pilotage is compulsory ? If these . men are not competent to occupy their positions as pilots, they should not be licensed Is there anything in the Bill to prohibit a master of a ship from taking a man on board and accepting his assistance for pilotage purposes although he is not a licensed' pilot ? The Bill, it is true, provides that a licensed pilot is not to act as a pilot for any port where pilotage is compulsory unless authorized to do so. But if the master of a ship considers that a man who may not be licensed is competent to give him advice and assistance in taking a ship into a port, is there anything to prevent the master making use of that assistance ? The Minister cannot point to a single clause in this Bill which would preclude a master from inviting a man to help him to navigate his ship into a port where pilotage is not compulsory. Suppose that Senator Guthrie were to help the master of a ship in such a case. If an accident happened, the master would be liable. If Senator Guthrie had been a licensed pilot, he and the master would be equally responsible. Is it not possible under this Bill for any man to go on board a ship and act as a pilot without running the slightest risk of punishment or interference on the part of the Government?

Senator Guthrie - That is lovely, coming from a lawyer.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I might have suggested that Senator Barker, who, perhaps, knows nothing about navigation, might take charge of a ship under such circumstances.

Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator wants freedom of contract for pilots.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - No, I want to get information. I want to know whether there is any provision in the Bill which would prevent me, if I were the master of a ship, from getting any man to assist me to pilot my vessel into a port where pilotage is not compulsory.

Senator Millen - It makes one suspicious when there is a refusal to give information.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - How would that sort of thing be stopped ? The master of the ship would be responsible for the negligence or incompetency of a licensed pilot, and would be equally responsible for the negligence or incompetency of the unlicensed pilot. Of course, he might get into trouble with his employers.

Senator Lynch - I think the honorable senator will find that the pilot is responsible for his own negligence.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD .- Under this Bill every atom of responsibility for negligence on the part of' the pilot is swept away. The honorablesenator will find that provided for in later clauses, to which I cannot just now refer. I ask the Minister to tell us why these additions are made to the clause, and whether they are simply put in as a solatium for certain individuals; who may desire to act in ports where pilotage is not compulsory, and whether thereis any power to prevent a master from getting any individual to help him to navigate his ship into a port where pilotage is. not compulsory.

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