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Thursday, 14 September 1911

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) - - J do not think that Senator Millen can have grasped the explanation made by the Minister of Defence. It is proposed in this clause to deal with pilots who are not State servants in the ordinary sense of the word. For instance, in Victoria the pilots are members of an association that is working under an agreement with the Marine Board.

Senator Millen - I spoke not of what the clause deals with, but of what it does not deal with.

Senator DE LARGIE - The Constitution provides for the acquisition of properties transferred from the States to the Commonwealth.

Senator St Ledger - Very unsatisfactorily, so far.

Senator DE LARGIE - Section 85 provides that -

When any Department of the Public Service of a State is transferred to the Commonwealth - (i) all property of the State at any time, used exclusively in connexion with the Department, shall become vested in the Commonwealth ; but, in the case of the Departments controlling Customs and Excise and bounty, for such lime only as the Governor-General in Council may declare to be necessary.

The Constitution, therefore, already provides for what Senator Millen says we should do. The new clause proposed by the Minister of Defence makes practically the same provision for the acquisition of the property of pilots who are not State servants. It is a very wise amendment.

Senator ST.LEDGER (Queensland)

C5-35]- - Honorable senators opposite have not quite understood the objection urged by Senator Millen. The clause is proposed to make it clear in the Bill that licensed pilots shall be given compensation for all property and plant belonging to them at the present time, and used in their business as pilots, and if the parties cannot agree t*l}- 2 . . as to the amount of compensation, the matter is to be settled by arbitration. It is not proposed in the clause to make similar provision in respect of property of this kind taken over from the State Governments.

Senator de Largie - The Constitution already provides for that.

Senator ST LEDGER - Yes ; but, as I have already interjected, the section has not, so far, been interpreted very satisfactorily, from the point of view of the State Governments, in the case, for instance, of properties transferred on the taking over of the Customs and Post and Telegraph Departments. The Government are willing, in this clause, to make it clear that compensation will be given for property taken over from a pilot association ; and why not, in the same clause, define the rights of the State Governments to compensation for similar property taken over from them ?

Senator Rae - Cannot a State Government battle for their rights better than an individual ?

Senator ST LEDGER - What is the use of disguising the position? The State Governments have already issued writs, or are threatening to do so, on the ground that the Commonwealth Government have not properly interpreted section 85 of the Constitution. We are told that section 85 covers the property belonging to the State Governments used in connexion with pilot services, and the State Governments can take their remedy. I might just as wellcontend that if we take over property of this kind belonging to a pilot association,, the pilots have their remedy under the common law. The Minister might carefully, consider whether property of this kind be' longing to the State Governments should.' not be treated in the same way as he proposes to treat the property of private individuals.

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