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Tuesday, 11 October 1910

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . - I move -

That the word " or," line 4, he left out.

If this amendment is carried, I "intend to move that after the word "apprentices" the words " or passengers " be inserted. My object is to insure that passengers shall at least enjoy the same amount of air space as is provided for the crews and apprentices of vessels.

Senator Stewart - What about the officers?

Senator SAYERS - They get a great deal more accommodation.

Senator Stewart - I think that the passengers ought to have as much accommodation as have the officers.

Senator SAYERS - I have no objection to that.I have known ships to be built in the Old Country and fitted with cabins which were designed for the accommodation of two persons. They have come to Australia, and, as the trade increased, instead of fresh vessels being provided, the cabins have been so altered as to accommodate four persons: I have occupied a cabin in which, when I lay down, I was able to touch the face of the passenger opposite me.

Senator Henderson - Is it not the passenger's own fault if he accepts such accommodation for a sea voyage?

Senator SAYERS - Is it not the seaman's own fault if he accepts inadequate accommodation ?

Senator Henderson - It is not..

Senator SAYERS - Probably the honorable senator sees with only one eye, whereas I endeavour to see with both. The honorable senator has asked whether the passengers are not able to look after themselves. As a matter of fact, they are not.. They simply book their passages, and very often do not know what berth they are to occupy until they board the vessel. They then have to accept whatever accommodation may be offered them. I wish every person to be dealt with fairly. I do not favour class legislation. What is good for the seamen ought to be equally good for the passengers. In this connexion we must recollect that whilst only half the crew of a vessel simultaneously occupy quarters in the forecastle, the passengers are sometimes accommodated in quarters where there are no port holes, and it is a greater hardship upon them to be so " cribb'd, cabin' d and confined " for days together, especially when others around them are afflicted with seasickness, than it would be upon the crew.

Senator Lynch - Seasickness does them good.

Senator SAYERS - It may; but, like a good many other remedies, it is a very drastic one. I have seen people so ill at sea that they would not have objected to being thrown overboard.

Senator Chataway - I have seen them die.

Senator SAYERS - The welfare of the thousands of passengers who travel round our coast should be safeguarded to the best of our ability. I have seen people on board ship so ill that they had to be put off at a port, being unable to proceed on their voyage. I am asking for nothing more than the Bill provides for in the case of seamen, firemen, and apprentices. Surely it is our duty to look after the interests of the travelling public. It has been said that passengers need not travel by ship if they do not like the accommodation provided. But generally people who go aboard a ship have to travel whether they like it or not, and when they engage their berths they do not know what kind of accommodation they will be provided with.

Senator Lynch - Passengers always have better accommodation than the crew have.

Senator SAYERS - Surely the honorable senator can look at this matter from more than one point of view. I have not contended that -too much consideration has been paid to the comfort of the crew in the past. I simply say that it is our duty to look after the passengers as well. I am well aware that the vessels that have been built in recent years have been fitted with much better accommodation than was formerly the case. But, at the same time, we are not legislating solely for one class of people. We ought to do what is fair and just to all classes who may be affected by this measure. It will be said that the passenger accommodation can be provided for by regulation. But we know very well that regulations are made merely to be broken. There are regulations providing tor both fire and boat drill, but, nevertheless, on some ships the boats are not lowered into the water once in twelve months.

Senator Guthrie - What regulation provides that te boats shall be lowered into the water?

Senator SAYERS - One sees posted up on board vessels notices about the crews of boats and about fire drill, but the crews are never practised in the lowering and raising of the boats.

Senator Guthrie - There is no regulation providing that they shall be.

Senator SAYERS - I always understood that vessels were under an obligation to comply with the law in this respect. No injustice, will be done to anybody by my amendment. Parliament ought to lay it down as a rule that not less than 140 cubic feet of space shall be provided for each' passenger.

Senator Pearce - I ask the honorable senator not to proceed with his amendment at present, because I have a prior amendment to move.

Senator SAYERS - Very well.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-

That the word " space," line 1, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " place."

Amendment (by Senator Sayers) proposed -

That the word " ot," line 4, be left out.

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