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Wednesday, 12 October 1910

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - I quite agree with Senator Guthrie that this is not a matter which ought to be lightly passed over. But I trust that the clause is one which is not likely to be altered. We are acting on the experience of a good many years, and we must recollect that the loadline has been adopted by Lloyd's, the great underwriters, for the protection of their own interests.' We must also remember that it has been adopted by the Board of Trade and by every foreign country. With all respect to his seafaring experience, I am afraid that Senator Guthrie has scarcely grasped the principles upon which the loadline is determined. He speaks as if the deck were the factor in determining it.

Senator Guthrie - It is no factor.

Senator PEARCE - Then what does it matter whether the deck is raised 3 inches or 3 feet? The Department does not say that every ship's load-line shall be 3 ft. 6 in. from the deck. In determining where the load-line shall be, it does not take the deck into consideration. The load-line is determined mathematically in accordance with certain tables, and after taking into consideration the structure of a ship's hull, and also her superstructure. There is a complicated set of tables for determining by mathematical calculation the load-line of a ship, in the course of which the contour of the vessel, as well as her depth and beam, is taken into consideration.

Senator Lynch - Where do they measure that from?

Senator PEARCE - The measurement is not from anywhere.

Senator Guthrie - Free-board.

Senator PEARCE - In determining where the load-line shall be, the surveyorstake into consideration the whole structure of the ship, and the buoyancy is determined, as everybody knows who has ever made a toy ship, by a mathematical calculation. Having determined the load-line, they ascertain that the distance from the deck-line to the loadlinefor that ship is 3 ft. 6in., or 5 ft. 6 in., or 6 ft. 6 in., but they do not say that on all ships of that tonnage it shall be the same.

Senator Guthrie - Nobody has ever proposed that.

Senator PEARCE - No, but the honorable senator has spoken as if that were so.

Senator Guthrie - Not at all.

Senator PEARCE - If they put in a deck of 3 ft. 6 in. thick, that would not affect the load-line. They can put in a deck of 1 foot thick, and it will not affect the load-line by 1 inch; that will remainwhere it was put. If it was 3 ft. 6 in. from the load-line to the deck-line, anda deck 6 inches thicker is put in, in thenext determination they will find that it is 4 feet.

Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator is wrong.

Senator PEARCE - I am not wrong.. These are the principles on which the loadline is determined, and the distance fromthe load-line to the deck is arbitrarily fixed' by the position of the load-line, not by the position of the deck ; and the load-line is determined, as I said, by the buoyancy of the ship and mathematical calculation.

Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator has got the thing upside down.

Senator PEARCE - An honorable senator has interjected about the free-board. That is only a term of reference, and it relates to the distance between the waterline, which may be below the load-line, and the deck-line. Honorable senators will, therefore, see that to accept Senator Guthrie's proposition would be, not merely to alter the system of determining the loadline, but to adopt a system which is absolutely unsound. It would introduce a revolution, and an unsound one. Because then the load-line would be determined, not according to the buoyancy of the ship and a mathematical calculation, but according to where the deck was. The proposition is absolutely ridiculous. It disregards the matters of buoyancy and construction, all the mathematical formulae which have been worked out as the result of the experience of centuries, which have been adopted by the great firm of Lloyd's, the underwriters, and are regarded by them as giving perfect safety. I trust that the Committee will not do anything of the kind proposed.