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Wednesday, 12 October 1910

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia.) .- I . admit that in the case of small craft this provision, if enforced, will increase her draught, but that will not interfere with her going over a bar. Senator Gould has not to take into consideration any additional weight which may be given to a light ship. It is only, a question of the difference between putting down thin steel plates and wooden planks from 2 to 3 inches thick. There is a bottom now in the case of every ship, and the whole question is whether it shall be watertight or not. Under Lloyd's rules a ship may run five or six surveys before the cement in the watertight bottoms is repaired or renewed. The cement keeps in good condition for a considerable number of years. The clause provides for the making of regulations where required, and we may reasonably assume that this power will be exercised with discretion. The Government must followvery largely on the lines of Lloyd's, because unless its requirements are complied with' there can be no insurance on a ship or cargo.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould -t-I remind the honorable senator that ships trading on the coast have Lloyd's certificates, but have no false bottom such as is suggested by this provision.

Senator GUTHRIE - Some of them have.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Not those engaged in the trade on rivers with bar harbors.

Senator GUTHRIE - Many ships belonging to .the North Coast Steam-ship Company and the Illawarra Steam-ship

Company have such false bottoms. I think it will be perfectly safe to leave this matter to regulation. I feel satisfied that the Department will not go much further than Lloyd's do in the matter of their surveys.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - This clause practically gives a direction to the Minister that certain things shall be done, and nobody can complain if he frames a regulation to carry them out.

Senator GUTHRIE - There are, I know, certain vessels in which a false bottom would not be required, so far as insuring safety is concerned, but where it is required the Minister ought to have the power to make a regulation on the subject. The clause goes no further than that, and Senator Gould will be well-advised in withdrawing bis amendment, as he may rest assured that the Department is not likely to overstep the requirements of Lloyd's register.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [6.26].- I would point out that at present, in order to obtain a Lloyd's certificate these steamers, certainly the smaller vessels, do not require to be provided with watertight, false bottoms. If we make this amendment there will, at any rate, be an assurance that, so far as any ships are concerned, these requirements will not be necessary unless, of course, Lloyd's sees fit to .impose them. All these ships are registered at Lloyd's; they all have to get its certificate. That, I have no doubt, is looked upon, and very . properly looked upon, as a very great help to the Department in dealing with vessels of this kind. But if we know that Lloyd's gives a certificate in certain cases without requiring a watertight bottom, why should we enable the Minister to prescribe such a requirement, and impliedly tell him that in- our opinion it :.s a reasonable thing to do? If this provision is passed it will be an intimation to the Minister that Parliament contemplates that it is desirable that a vessel should have not only transverse watertight partitions, but also watertight false bottoms. Nobody can object to the provision for transverse watertight partitions, as ships are divided into watertight compartments. I think it would be wise for the Committee to eliminate the words in view of the class of ships which are engaged in the coasting trade, and also in view of the fact that all such ships have a Lloyd's certificate of the first class when they come to Australia.

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