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Wednesday, 12 October 1910

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) -- I have moved the amendment for two or three reasons. It will be admitted that it is highly desirable that, at as great a number of ports in Australia as possible, we should have facilities provided for the repairing of vessels. I am sure that every honorable senator desires that the policy of decentralization should be the policy adopted in this connexion. So far, in almost every State, a policy of absolute centralization has been adopted. The policy in New South Wales has been to drag everything to Sydney ; in Victoria, to bring everything to Melbourne; in South Australia, that everything should be done at Adelaide. I believe it is as bad in Western Australia, and if things are not as bad in Queensland in this regard it is because the coast line of that State has not lent itself to the adoption of such a policy. It has been represented to me by men who have gone to a great deal of trouble and expense in establishing patent slips and other appliances for the repairing and docking of vessels that vessels trading to the ports in which these facilities have been afforded, having exhausted the currency of their certificates, have applied for an extension, in order to enable them to proceed to some other port for docking and repairing. I say that this practice is grossly unjust to those who have displayed sufficient enterprise and energy to establish patent slips and repairing facilities in the smaller ports of the Commonwealth. No extension should be granted to a vessel in order that she may proceed to some other port for docking and repairs if facilities for the purpose are provided at one of the ports to which she usually trades. I remind the Committee that the amendment can do no injustice to, nor inflict any hardship upon, any shipowner, because, if he considers it essential that his vessel should be taken to some port to which she does not usually trade for the purpose of docking and repairs, he can see that she is taken there during the currency of her certificate. The clause provides that the Minister may grant an extension of the currency of the certificate if he is satisfied that it would involve no danger to the vessel or to human life ; butI say that the only way in which the Minister can properly satisfy himself on those points is by a resurvey of the ship, and that takes place before a new certificate is issued. It is therefore essential, in my opinion, that no extension of time should be granted upon any flimsy pretext, if facilities for docking and repairs are available in any port to which the vessel usually trades. Under existing conditions, vessels are frequently run for the full term of their certificates; then application is made for a month's extension of the currency of the certificates, and the vessels are taken to Sydney, or somewhere else, from the northern ports of Queensland, to have the work of docking and repairing done there, when facilities for the purpose are provided in the ports to which the vessels usually trade. I have no doubt that the same thing applies in each of the other States. It will be admitted that it is a most undesirable practice, and discourages the establishment of facilities for the docking and repairing of vessels in the smaller ports. I know that there are a number of small vessels trading between ports in the north of Queensland, where patent slips and facilities for repairs are provided, and when they have run the full term of their certificates they proceed to Brisbane or Sydney, on an extension of time, for necessary repairs. This is in keeping with the bad policy of centralization, which this Parliament should discourage in every possible way. I repeat that the proviso would not deprive any ship-owner of any right he should possess. I hope the Government will accept the amendment.

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