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Friday, 22 November 1912

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - I move -

That the amendment be amended by inserting: the following words after sub-clause (1.) : - "Provided that upon any port being proclaimed a port at which the pilotage is compulsory, all persons holding licences issued by any State to act as pilots for that port shall become officersin the Commonwealth Public Service."

If the amendment made by the House of Representatives in this clause means anything, itmeans that a man who holds a licence to act as pilot in a port may or may not be taken over as a Commonwealth public servant. If he is not taken over his licence will become absolutely useless and his living will be gone. The men. composing the pilot service of Australia to-day are the picked men of the mercantile marine. They have thrown up commissions as master mariners for the purpose of acting as pilots. All of them have had to pass stringent examinations, and they are liable to be examined at any time. If it is found that they are suffering from any defect, physical or mental, their licences may be cancelled. I want to safeguard their interests. In the port of Melbourne, we have twenty-two Hobson's Bay pilots and six river pilots. In Port Pirie, South Australia, and in Port Augusta, there are also a number. As far as 1 can see, the object of the Government in having this amendment made is that they want to havepower to pick up the best men, and let the others go. I am not prepared to permit that to be done. When Federation was brought about, a promise was made that public servants that were taken over to the Commonwealth Public Service wouldl have all rights which they had secured under State Acts guaranteed to them. Although thepilot service will not be a transferred Department in the sense in which that term is used in the Constitution, we ought to make good the promise made, and recognise th' rights of the pilots by taking them over into the Commonwealth Service.

Senator Findley - No matter what their age may be?

Senator GUTHRIE - Under the Commonwealth Public Service Act officers have- to retire at a certain age. I know that some of the best master mariners in Australia have been rejected when applying for positions as pilots because of some slight -defect in eyesight, or otherwise.

Senator Millen - Would not the honorable senator regard that as a serious defect ?

Senator GUTHRIE - If an ordinary ; person has a defective eyesight, it is remedied by artificial means. As a matter of fact, the first thing a pilot does when !he goes on board ship is to use the binoculars. He assists his eyesight by artificial means in that way. The principle behind any amendments is the principle of State -obligations; and I trust that the Committee will accept it.

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