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Thursday, 28 November 1912

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - I think the Minister should give reasons why this information is being sought from persons engaged in this particular industry. We are passing a Bill to regulate the shipping industry. We make provision for the proper equipment and safety of ships, the accommodation of passengers and crew, the number of men required to man a ship, and the way in which they shall be fed. If persons carrying on the shipping industry on our coast comply with all these conditions, will they not have done all that we have any right to ask them to do ? Why should we impose upon them an obligation which is not imposed upon persons conducting any other industry? If I build a factory I have to comply with the Building Act, the Health Act, the Factories Act, and the conditions laid down by Wages Boards with regard to the wages of all the persons I employ. If I have done all that, why should the Government say to me, "What is the amount of your turnover?" What has that to do with them ? If I have complied with the conditions laid down for the carrying on of my industry, that should be sufficient. It seems to me to be the same in regard to the shipping industry. We lay down conditions under which shipping shall be conducted. What object is there in asking for information concerning the gross earnings of the shipping companies?

Senator Long - What possible objection can there be to giving the information, which is desired for statistical purposes only ?

Senator VARDON - We are told that the information is to be confidential, and is not to be revealed for any purpose. Why is this particular industry picked out, and what is the use of saying that the information shall be considered confidential, if it is going to be revealed in some way or other ?

Senator Long - It is going to be revealed in the aggregate only.

Senator VARDON - Why, then, call it confidential information? A burden is being laid on the shipping industry which is not laid on any other. Why should we not impose a similar condition in regard to manufacturing and market-gardening?

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