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Thursday, 12 December 1912

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I was waiting to see if Senator Lynch was disposed to withdraw his amendment. As he has not done so, I wish to say that I am quite prepared to support him. If there is one feature of the legislation of this Parliament that is objectionable, it is that matters are left to be finished at the close of the session, when they are rushed through, and the Senate is then always asked to give way. It is suggested that the Bill must be sent across the water, and it is possible that it may not then receive the Royal assent. In the circumstances I do not see that a delay of a day or two in the passing of the measure would make any difference.

Senator Needham - The Royal assent to the Bill will not be refused.

Senator GARDINER - I understand that the Royal assent was refused to a Navigation Bill passed by the New Zealand Parliament. The reason given by the Minister for resisting the amendment submitted by Senator Lynch is that it is very desirable, to finish the business, but this is the business for which we are here, and we should finish it. in the way which honorable senators think desirable. I was not here when the provision amended by the House of Representatives was inserted in the Bill, but I take it that it received full consideration from the Committee before it was accepted. The amendment made by the House of Representatives would leave it in the power of ship-owners to practically defeat the intention of honorable senators in inserting this provision by providing for the use of seamen a few books which would be of no use to them. I am not sure that, if I had been present, 1 would have supported this provision when originally proposed, because, from the little experience I have had of seamen,

I should say that they have no time to do anything else but work. In my view, the amendment of the House of Representatives is an indication of weakness. I should have preferred honorable members in another place to have disagreed with the Senate's amendment, instead of submitting an amendment upon it to make it unobjectionable to ship-owners, and enable them to provide two or three second-class books for the use of the crew, and call them a library. If it was necessary for the Senate to take action in this direction at all, it appears to me that we should see that effect shall be given to the desire expressed by honorable senators. The difficulties in the way of prescribing the kind of library to be provided for the crew should not be very great. A regulation might be framed including a list of books, which might be added to from time to time, and vessels of a certain size, and carrying a number of men, might be expected to provide a certain number of those books. It was hardly worth while putting in the amendment in the first instance, but as it has been inserted in the Bill, we should not leave it possible for ship-owners to get over the difficulty of allowing the crew to have the use of the ship's library by providing a special one for them, and that not of a suitable character. It appears to me that this is a slipshod way of doing things.

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