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Wednesday, 12 October 1910

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - Virtually what we are considering is whether a person shall have the right to recover a penalty against an owner for the overcrowding of his ship. I do not think that there is anything new in the provision. Senator Gould has admitted that this principle has found a place in the statute-book on several occasions. I know for a certainty that it appears in the Companies Act of the United Kingdom, and of nearly, all the States. For the very simple offence of not advertising their place of business, any individual in South Australia can sue a company and recover a penalty.

Senator Vardon - Did the honorable senator ever know that to be done.

Senator GUTHRIE - Yes, and I shall mention the case to the honorable senator privately.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - I have known a case where the man who attempted to do that came to grief.

Senator GUTHRIE - The late Mr. C. C. Kingston instituted a case against a company in South Australia and recovered the penalty.

Senator Vardon - To put the money into his own pocket?

Senator GUTHRIE - No.

Senator Vardon - He never did that, I know.

Senator GUTHRIE - Mr. Kingstonhad a client who lost some money through not knowing the whereabouts of a company. He took the matter into his own hands, got a verdict, 'and handed over the money to his client in lieu of what he ought to have recovered if he had known the whereabouts of the company. When the master of a foreign ship loses his crew, he goes to a police station and says, " Here is a reward of £10 for each of these men." The police in the ordinary execution of their duty arrest the men and pocket the reward.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - That is a different thing altogether.

Senator GUTHRIE - The police do not layan information, but the master of the foreign ship goes to them and offers them a reward for catching his men. Senator Vardon knows that the Police Superannuation Fund of South Australia has been built up with penalties recovered from law-breakers. The same principle is involved, even although in that case the police are recovering money for their own benefit.

Senator Vardon - Give us a parallel case.

Senator GUTHRIE - The honorable senator knows that certain societies have obtained concessions by Act of Parliament. For instance, the Dentists Act of South Australia allows the Dental Association to recover penalties, and the money goes to a fund.

Senator Vardon - That is a different thing altogether.

Senator GUTHRIE - Senator Gould said that if we would insert the word " knowingly " he would agree to the proviso.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - No; I suggested the insertion of the word.

Senator GUTHRIE - Clause 279 provides that no person shall-

(a)   enter a ship after having been refused admission thereto by theowner, or any person in his employ, on account of the ship being full, and after the amount of his fare (if he has paid it) has been tendered to him ;

That provision gives to an owner the right, even after a man has tendered his fare, to say to him, " You shall not enter my ship."

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - That is all right. No one complains about it. The penalty in that case is only

Senator GUTHRIE - There is no excuse for the master of a ship taking any excess passenger on board even after he has accepted his fare. Clause 279 also provides that no person shall -

(b)   fail to quit a ship forthwith, after he has been ordered to do so by master or any officer, on account of the ship being full, before she has left the place at which he went on board; or

(c)   travel in a ship without first paying his fare, and with intent to avoid payment thereof ;

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - That is a copy of the provision in the Merchant Shipping Act, and we do not object to it.

Senator GUTHRIE - Under this clause the owner has the right to prevent a passenger going on board in excess of the number which his certificate entitles him to carry. What occurs at Melbourne in the excursion season? Even with half-a-dozen policemen at the gangways each steamer goes away overloaded.

Senator Fraser - And they have been fined often enough.

Senator GUTHRIE - They have been fined a paltry j£io.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - And 5s. a head, too, I expect.

Senator Fraser - They can1 fine the owners more heavily if they like.

Senator GUTHRIE - It may be possible for the administration to stop persons from rushing excursion steamers, and also to find out if there are too many passengers on board. But I do not anticipate that that is a case where an action is likely to be initiated. On the contrary, it is only likely to be taken in the case of a ship which is going some distance, and has on board more passengers than her certificate allows her to carry. In a case of that kind, the passengers will have to put up with inconvenience. There will be no berths for the excess number, and probably no food After her departure from the wharf everything is found out. Perhaps this may occur on a vessel leaving a port outside Australia.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Over which we have no control.

Senator GUTHRIE - We have control over a vessel which arrives here with more passengers than her certificate entitles her to carry. Suppose that a ship leaves Cape Colony with twelve passengers in excess of the prescribed number. Do honorable senators think that the master is likely to put the names of those passengers on his passenger-list, and thus give evidence against himself? No. As soon as the ship arrives at Melbourne, the passengers begin to scatter throughout Australia, or, perhaps, Australasia, and it is practically impossible for the Department to obtain corroborative evidence. If, however, a passenger who has been inconvenienced by overcrowding is allowed to initiate an action before the passengers have dispersed, there will be a chance of sheeting home the offence to the master. Whatever legislation we pass, let it be effective, but do not let us pass legislation through which the proverbial coach-and-four can be driven all the time. In mi opinion, the Government have acted wisely in making this_provision. We cannot police every ship that sails the water.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - We police every city.

Senator GUTHRIE - Yes, but every city is not a ship.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - That is a worse job than policing eVery ship.

Senator GUTHRIE - How much would it cost to police every ship? I think that the most effective plan of dealing with the matter has been adopted by the Government.

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