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Thursday, 14 October 1971
Page: 2445

Mr CHARLES JONES (Newcastle) - I wish to raise a matter to which I referred at question time during this week, namely, the sinking of the ketch One and All'. Firstly I would like to draw the attention of the Acting Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Hunt) to the fact that on 16th November 1970 I wrote to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) about a problem that existed in the Sydney office of the Search and Rescue Section of the Department of Shipping and Transport. A dispute arose there between the Department and the surveyors as to the meaning of search and rescue operations. The surveyors will not take calls at their homes in respect of such operations.

In the event of a vessel being reported missing, as was the case with the 'One and AH', the first call is taken in Newcastle by a departmental surveyor there. He has then to transfer it to the regional controller in Sydney who has then to make arrangements to get a man to the office in Sydney. From that point operations commence. Twelve months ago I complained about the lack of facilities that were provided. I am informed that these facilities have now been brought up to a reasonable standard, but the dispute that has been outstanding for over 12 months is still in existence and I hope that the Department will take immediate steps to bring this to a satisfactory conclusion. It is a serious matter and one which should not be allowed to drag on for 12 months.

As I said earlier, I want to refer to the sinking of the ketch 'One and All'. What concerns me and what concerns experienced people in the marine industry is this: What was this ketch doing at Middleton Reef? What justification was there for it to be there? Was the vessel registered?

What was its condition? It is pretty obvious from replies which I received from the Acting Minister, and which the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) also received from the Acting Minister, and from a reply to a question which was asked in the Queensland Parliament on Tuesday of this week that this ketch was not in a seaworthy condition. I do not have time to go through the whole of the question that was asked in Brisbane but the condition of the vessel is pretty obvious from statements that were made there by the Minister for Conservation when he said that in the surveyor's opinion the vessel had the following defects:

1.   Extensive rot in the framing of the bull which became exposed by the removal of some hull planking;

2.   Positive indication of decay in the hull planking;

3.   Iron work, including chain plates and their fastenings were in a badly corroded condition. (Chain plates anchor the rigging in position.)

It was considered by the surveyor that the vessel had come to the end of its useful life. This is just some indication of the state of that ketch before it left Brisbane harbour. What concerns people is that vessels of this type are being allowed to operate on the coast where no-one seems to have any real control over them and it is time that they were brought under some form of control. To get back to the reasons why this ketch was at Middleton Reef, I understand now that navigational beams and lights have been erected on the wrecked British freighter there, the 'Runic'. The industry wants to know why and I think that only a full marine inquiry can disclose this. Are they seismic beacons that have been erected. These, I believe, are usually maintained by the Department of Shipping and Transport. Apparently the Department knows something about them but no-one in the industry really knows just what it is all about. There have been suggestions bandied around that the position of the 'Runic' would be an excellent place to exchange drugs. There are suggestions in the industry that it has been a phoney adventure and, all told, there is some explanation due to the public.

From statements made in the Queensland Parliament it is pretty obvious that the ketch 'One and All' was indulging in trade. It allegedly left Brisbane harbour with 40 tons of cargo on board. Why? If it had cargo and if it was trading then it is required to be registered under the Navigation Act. If this is the case the owner is required to come up with some explanation as to why it did not have a certificate of registration to operate as a trading vessel under the Navigation Act. What is the position as far as the crew is concerned? It had a crew of 7 - 6 men and a young woman of 21 years of age or thereabouts. Only 2 of the crew were experienced, apparently one man who held a mate's certificate and another who had some years experience at sea as an able seaman. That is the sum total of the experience of the crew on board. This is not satisfactory. Some 3 years ago when debating an amendment to the Navigation Act I drew the attention of the Government to the exemption at that time of pleasure craft from its provisions. I expressed an opinion about them at that stage. At page 1751 of Hansard of 29th May 1968 I said:

Exception (l.)(d) is concerned with "pleasure yachts not engaged in trade'. I refer the Minister in particular to the 'New Endeavour',, which operates off the Australian coastline. People are not paid to work on it; they pay the owners to work on this 200 ton gross sailing ship. People pay for the fun of working before the mast, but in shipping circles this vessel is not considered to be seaworthy.

The 'One and AH' ais into the selfsame category. It is obvious that it was not seaworthy when it put to sea with 7 people on board. The Government will have to do something positive about tightening up the regulations covering ships of the type of the 'One and AH' and the 'New Endeavour' which operate around the coast of Australia. That brings me back to the question of the 'One and AH'. I think the maritime industry is entitled to an explanation on the points I have raised tonight.

J hoped that the Acting Minister for Shipping and Transport would have been in the chamber tonight. I gave him notice that I would speak on his subject. 1 hope that the Acting Minister will give the House some very positive information as to what has happened already in the preliminary discussions which I understand were held with the owner of the 'One and All" in Sydney this week. I think the Parliament is entitled to be told what has happened to date. I believe that there is already any amount of evidence to justify the holding of a full inquiry to determine, firstly, the condition of the ship before it left Brisbane; secondly, what it was doing at Middleton Reef; and, thirdly, what is the reason for navigational beacons and lights having been erected on the wreck of the MV 'Runic'. I think the Parliament is entitled to have some facts on those matters. Most important of all the maritime industry is entitled to those facts. I call on the Acting Minister to give a clear indication at this stage on whether an inquiry will be held at an early date.

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