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Wednesday, 12 October 1910

Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) . - We appear now to be in a difficulty similar to that in which we have found ourselves on several occasions in dealing with this Bill. We are trying to frame a law which will be applicable to a whole continent and cover many varying conditions. If there is any meaning in the Constitution, we cannot differentiate between one port and another in Australia. We cannot do it by regulation if we cannot do it by an Act of Parliament. On the eastern coast of Queensland there is a large number of vessels trading within a radius of 150 to 200 miles. There are vessels trading between Rockhampton and Townsville, and calling at the ports of Broad Sound, Mackay, and Bowen. These are small vessels of perhaps 300 tons register, and. similar vessels are employed trading between Townsville and Cairns, going through Hinchinbrook Channel, and calling at Ingham and other small ports on the way. If this provision is to be applied to such vessels, the result will be to destroy a large amount of pioneering trade that is now being carried on. It should not be forgotten that the big steam-ships trading on our coasts are fed by these little steamtenders or lighters that run in and out of the small ports, and bring hides, tallow, sugar, and other produce to the larger ports, from which they are taken by the larger steam-ships. If these little vessels trading between the small ports are to be dealt with in the same way as ocean-going vessels, the effect will be to destroy a certain amount of trade now being carried on. The adoption of the clause will have the effect of stopping this pioneering trade', which is conducive to settlement. If the Government are prepared to do that, they must accept responsibility for their action.

I warn them that they cannot lay down a hard and fast law for the whole of this huge continent. If, in this matter, they will allow a small margin - as has been suggested by Senator St. Ledger - they will be assisting Australia, whilst doing no injury either to the shipping combine or to the seamen employed on board steamships. I ask the Honorary Minister, who, I notice, is looking the matter up very carefully

Senator Findley - No; I looked it up before the adjournment for dinner.

Senator CHATAWAY - Then I hope that the honorable gentleman is in a position to give us a more satisfactory reply than we have yet received.

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