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Tuesday, 11 October 1910

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - I wish to point out to honorable senators opposite that the recommendations of the Navigation Commission, to which we must attach considerable weight, emphasize the necessity for a proviso of this kind. The clause has been specially inserted to prevent the continuance of the practice of " shanghai-ing," which, for years past, has been in vogue at Newcastle where more foreign shipping business is done than at any other port in Australia.

Senator St Ledger - I assume that we have stopped all that.

Senator DE LARGIE - If we leave the slightest loophole, such as the elimination of this proviso would afford, the practice will be continued. Upon page 12 of the Navigation Commission's Report the lot of the seaman is dealt with as follows -

When these conditions are contrasted with those which the poorest worker on shore generally enjoys, it is hardly to be wondered at that a desirable class of men cannot be induced to follow the sea. One witness declared that the conditions were so bad that he " would not send his dog to sea " ; another, that he " would not under any circumstances allow his son to follow such a calling."

Senator McColl - Yet the honorable senator would send a poor foreigner there.

Senator DE LARGIE - Would Senator McColl allow advantage to be taken of an Australian citizen when he was perhaps under the influence of drink? Would he allow him to be placed on board ship and compelled to fulfil the conditions of an agreement into which he had entered under such circumstances?

Senator McColl - I would not allow advantage to be taken of any person.

Senator Sayers - Do the words " foreign ship" include a British ship?

Senator DE LARGIE - No, the clause deals only with foreign vessels. Upon page 15 of the Navigation Commission's Report, I find the following -

A considerable amount of evidence was received in connexion with the supply and discharge of seamen of foreign-going ships. Some of this was so sensational that, had it not been amply corroborated, its accuracy might well have been doubted. The witnesses, it may be remarked, were not recruited from any one class, but represented, indifferently, all sections of the community. From board inghousc-keepers, shipmasters, seamen, lawyers, merchants, doctors, and police the same testimony was received. As it would be impossible to suppose that witnesses of so representative a character would mislead your Commissioners, they were forced to the conclusion that fresh legislation in this matter is most urgently needed.

Senator Chataway - Was that the unanimous report of the Commission?

Senator DE LARGIE - Every member of the Commission subscribed to those statements. Let me quote the evidence of Mr. A. Wafer, of Newcastle--

Senator Chataway - Is he a Labour member ?

Senator DE LARGIE - I should be very sorry if he had anything to do with the Labour movement. He is a boardinghousekeeper, and was examined by the Chairman of the Commission as follows -

Suppose I come to you and say that I want you to get me a ship, and you ask me where I want to go to, and I tell you San Francisco, and you ship me to Valparaiso or Singapore, sayI am a foreigner or an ignorant or a careless man, and I do not take the trouble to find out ; do not you call that shanghai-ing? - Yes.

Do you mean to say there is none of that done? - Yes, often. They put a man on board a ship and say she is going to 'Frisco, when, perhaps, she is going to Valparaiso.

Has that man any remedy? - The only remedy would be to go to the police when they go off to visit the ship, but then I do not think they could stop him, because he has already signed the articles.

Does any honorable senator opposite urge that an Australian seaman in similar circumstances should be compelled to proceed to sea?

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