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Tuesday, 11 October 1910


Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - My difficulty in regard to Senator Sayers' amendment is that, if, in principle, it is wrong to apply this provision to an Australian citizen, it is equally wrong to apply it to any British subject. The amendment would extend, and not limit, the evil of which I complain. If a man has entered into an agreement, he ought to keep it, but we are here offering seamen a premium to break their agreements and desert from ships on which they have agreed to serve. I am sure that the Minister does not personally approve of this proviso, and I wish he could see his way to agree to its deletion. I am satisfied that if we pass it, it will cause trouble in more ways than one. There is a good deal in the point raised by Senator St. Ledger, that a seaman who has to prove his Australian citizenship will, in many cases, have a very big contract in front of him. He may have been born in Australia, and have left this country at an early age. He enters into an agreement on a foreign ship abroad, and arrives here in the vessel. He is not an Australian citizen in the sense that he has the franchise and is entitled to a vote, and he cannot, therefore, turn to an electoral roll and say, " There is my name, and that shows that I am entitled to be regarded as a citizen of the Commonwealth." And, unless he carries his certificate of birth about with him, he may have the greatest difficulty in proving that he is entitled to take advantage of this proviso.


Senator Guthrie - He would have to carry his last discharge, and that would show the date and place of his birth.


Senator VARDON - If he deliberately breaks his agreement, and complaint is made against him by the master of the vessel, the onus of proof that he is an Australian citizen must lie upon himself.


Senator Pearce - A man born in any part of Australia can always get a copy of his certificate of birth.


Senator VARDON - Suppose the seaman is in Brisbane when he desires to leave his vessel, and that he was born at Perth?


Senator Pearce - He has only to send to the Registrar of Births at Perth to get a copy of the certificate of his birth.


Senator VARDON - I am aware of that, but is the master of the vessel to wait at Brisbane until a copy of the certificate of birth is produced ? The more the matter is looked into, the more absurd and unrighteous is this proviso shown to be. As the amendment would only extend its operation, I must vote against it.

Amendment negatived.







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