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Tuesday, 11 October 1910

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - The amendment may seem to refer to a small matter, but it involves a great amount of convenience to seamen. One can easily imagine that on a long voyage it may become necessary to shift coal from one part of a vessel to another, as the coal near the furnaces becomes exhausted. That work is done by the sailors. When the day's work is over, the engine-room staff and the trimmers would be supplied with hot fresh water for cleansing purposes, and it would create ill feeling if such conveniences were not also supplied to the seamen. It is true that the Navigation Commission did not make such a recommendation, but we have not adhered strictly to the recommendations of the Commission in all respects. This is a matter as to which we might very well make a concession. Seamen, after doing some work, become as black and begrimed, and are as much in need of fresh water, as firemen or trimmers. The proposal would involve little or no expense. The facilities available for providing hot water for the engine-room staff would be sufficient to provide hot water for the members of the crew. I emphasize the anomaly which would be created if we provided that hot water should be supplied for a particular section of the crew of a vessel, and should not be provided for another section when engaged in precisely the same work. Hitherto it has been regarded as a privilege for the members of a crew to be supplied with hot 'water. On our coasting vessels, if a man is chummy with the cook and provides his own bucket, it is placed on the gratings of the ship near the funnel, and water warmed for him ; but no seaman has heretofore been entitled, "as a right, to a comfortable bath. We are, in this Bill, considering the wisdom of making such a provision for the comfort of a section of the crew of a vessel, but the Bill draws the line at the seamen.

Senator de Largie - How often would hot water be required by the seamen?

Senator LYNCH - Not very often. They would not require hot water to cleanse themselves after most of the duties in which they are employed ; but when they are engaged in the work of handling coal they should be given the same treatment as the engine-room staff.

Senator de Largie - The amendment would make it compulsory, whether the sailors were engaged in handling coal or not.

Senator LYNCH - I recognise that, while a vessel was in port, there might be some difficulty in complying with the proposed provision. The practice adopted at present is to have a tank placed at the foot of the funnel. Water is pumped into this tank from the ballast tanks, and piping is provided to carry the water, when it is heated, to any part of the ship in which it is required. So far as cost is concerned, the amendment would involve no more than the actual cost of the water required to give it effect, and water can be obtained at all the principal seaports for something like is. per 1,000 gallons, and that quantity of water would go a long way if used for this purpose. The heat required is at present going to waste.

Senator Sayers - How would the water be heated while the vessel was in port?

Senator LYNCH - I have admitted that difficulty ; but neither sailors nor firemen, as a rule, handle coal while the vessel is in port. Sailors are often employed in handling coal on long voyages on steamers running down to the Islands, or to the far north of Queensland, when sufficient coal for the voyage cannot be "stored in the neighbourhood of the furnaces. When they are engaged in this work, they should not be treated differently from other members of the crew engaged in the same work.

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