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Tuesday, 11 October 1910

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - We cannot accept the amendment. In any case, it would not be right to exempt a ship in course of construction before the commencement Of the Act, because the introduction of the measu're was in itself a notification of our intention in that regard. Otherwise we might find some steairi-ship owners rushing in the get vessels built in the interim. If honorable senators will refer to the Bill of 1904 they Will find that the alterations in the clause as to accommodation arenot very drastic. They will see that, instead of an air space of 120 cubic feet, we propose one of 140 cubic feet, that instead of 18 super. feet measured on the deck we propose 20 super. feet, and that instead of 4 feet between the bunks we propose not less than 5 feet. I think it will be found on examination that the necessary alterations to comply with the clause, if enacted, will not involve structural alterations of the ship. It will be just a question of the number of men accommodated in any particular portion of the ship and the arrangement of the bunks. The number of bunks put into a certain space can determine the air space. Suppose that a ship has been built in compliance with the provisions of the Bill of 1904. The alterations we have made in this Bill will not involve a structural alteration. They will simply involve the provision of further accommodation in some other part of her. That being so, I do not think that the Committee ought to make an amendment which would be a distinct encouragement to ship-owners to build according to the old lines, hoping for am exemption. And as, after all, it will rest with the Minister to grant an exemption. I trust that the honorable senator willnot press his amendment.

Senator ST.LEDGER (Queensland) [4:441.-suppose that this Bill had been brought in for the first time, the justice of the amendment would at once commend itself to the Government. In fact, I can hardly imagine ally Government supporting a Navigation. Bill without such a clause, providing that their intention to pass it into law was band fide. ' But, unfortunately, this measure has been used for the last four years as. a means by which the Senate might' amuse itself. This is the first time that we have had a chance of getting to downright business.- It is quite possible that ship-owners never took seriously the Bill of 1004 or the Bill of 1906. But they have to take this measure seriously, because, so far as the Senate is concerned, it is going to be carried through this session with the generous assistance of the Opposition. I think it is only an accident, to which the Committee ought not to attach too much weight, that ship-owners have had previous notice. After all, that notice was more or less a sham. The point of view from which the amendment ought to be considered is that the measure is brought in seriously for the first time. It was introduced here on the 24th August, and if the Minister will accept a modification of my amendment to the effect that it should not apply to ships under construction after that date that concession would be appreciated. I think that the Government and their supporters are not entitled to say that because two Bills have been brought in for our consideration when we, as well as the public, knew that they were only brought in for the Senate to play with, that fact ought to be used as against the just demand of ship-owners and ship-builders in the case of a measure which is brought in for the first time.

Senator Barker - The amendment, if adopted, would grant the concession for fifteen or sixteen months.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 139 to 156 agreed to.

Clause 157 (Right of Minister to dispose of effects).

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