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Wednesday, 12 October 1910

Senator Findley - No.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Will the honorable senator accept the amendment if the tonnage is reduced to, say, 300 tons?

Senator Findley - No; we want the clause to be carried as it is.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Suppose that we reduce the gross measurement to 30 tons, will the honorable senator accept the amendment?

SenatorFindley. - No.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD .- - I suppose it is the old story. The Government have a Bill put into their hands, and the only reason they can give in support of different clauses is, " The Governmentcannot accept an amendment." I presume that the Bill has been so well thought out by the honorable senators in charge of it that it is not deemed capable of improvement.

Senator Needham - We are all in charge of it.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I think so. Surely any reasonable amendment ought to be accepted. I ask the Minister again if he will accept the proviso if it be restricted to ships of 300 tons ? I remind him that if a second bottom has to be placed in a ship, there must be a reasonable space between the two bottoms, and that once that is done she cannot carry enough cargo to make her pay. If compliance with the provision is rigidly insisted upon a large number of vessels will have to be put out of commission. That will not be good either to the steam-ship companies, to the persons employed on them, or to the people of the country.

Senator Turley - The provision does not say that they "shall" be required.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - No; but Parliament is asked to indicate its opinion on the subject. If the honorable senator wishes Parliament to admit that it feels itself utterly incompetent to offer an opinion on a matter of this kind, well and good ; but surely in the case of a ship of small size it can say whether it is wise or unwise to empower the Minister, or even to indicate to him that he is empowered, to prescribe this addition when it will be, not only absolutely unnecessary and undesirable, but will render the ship useless for the trade for which she was constructed ? I would remind the Minister that a number of small droghers - that is, vessels probably under 100 tons, certainly under 200 tons - trade up and down the rivers. They go alongside the bank, pick up a few bales of hay or lucerne, or a few bags of maize, and take them down to some central place with deep water which limited coast- trade vessels can navigate. It is the height of absurdity to talk of requiring the provision of transverse watertight partitions in droghers, which can only take a comparatively small quantity of cargo down the river at a time if their carrying capacity is limited. What we are asked to do is to empower the Minister to compel these little twopennyhalfpenny steamers to have false bottoms. Is not that reducing the whole thing to a farce? Surely Parliament ought to have sufficient self-respect not to make itself a laughing-stock after the direction in which it is asked to go has been clearly pointed out.

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