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Wednesday, 12 October 1910

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . - I would point out that if the amendment be agreed to, the Minister will not be deprived of any power which he might otherwise possess. It will simply have the effect of exempting from the operation of this clause all ships trading along our coast, together with those in course of construction at the time of the passing of this Act. I object to give the Department of Trade and Customs the power to declare that all vessels which are now engaged in that trade must be fitted with watertight false bottoms. My complaint is that instead of being governed by Acts of Parliament, we are to a great extent governed by regulations. A large number of small craft trade along the coast of Queensland, between Geraldton, Cairns, Proserpine, and Bowen, during the sugar season. If a too strict interpretation be placed upon this clause, these vessels will be forced out of the trade, and the producers will be unable to get their produce to market.

Senator Chataway - And they carry 100 tons of cargo to every passenger.

Senator SAYERS - Yes. It is only in exceptional circumstances that they carry passengers. ' If we compel them to be fitted with false bottoms, they will be forced, out of the trade.

Senator Lynch - Are not punts chiefly used to bring the sugar to the big ships?

Senator SAYERS - No. It is brought down to those vessels by small steamers. At Proserpine, there is a bar harbor which it is difficult to enter. The same remark is applicable to Mackay. If the clause be strictly enforced, what will become of these steamers? I have no objection to vesting this power in the Minister in the case of vessels which may enter the trade in the future. But to enforce such a provision at the present time would impose a great hardship upon our producers. Western Australia would be similarly affected.

Senator Lynch - There are no coral bars there.

Senator SAYERS - There are no coral bars in Queensland. The bar at Brisbane is a sand bar. I hope that the Minister will not be too stubborn in this matter. I have no desire to worry him, but- I do ask him to take my representations into his favorable consideration, seeing that the matter is such a serious one to the State which I represent.




Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator St.

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