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Friday, 15 September 1911

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - The Committee might, in this matter, be guided by the Merchant Shipping Act. It has stood the test of experience for many years by the greatest maritime people of the world. Under that Act this power is given even to inspectors.

Senator Millen - But the purpose of the inspection is set out.

Senator DE LARGIE - Under subsection e of section 729 of the Merchant Shipping Act an inspector may administer oaths, or may, in lieu of requiring or administering oaths, require every person examined by him to make and subscribe a declaration of the truth of the statements made by him in his examination.

SenatorMillen. - That is not the whole section.

Senator DE LARGIE - It is the particular sub-section applicable to this clause. We have, therefore, a well-established precedent for the power that is asked for here.

Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator accept the Merchant Shipping Act in every case?

Senator DE LARGIE - I do not; but when we find a similar provision in that Act we may rest assured that there are good reasons for it. As a member of the Navigation Commission, I may say that I never heard this clause challenged by any of the witnesses who came before the Commission. There might be some objection to the clause if it were proposed to give this power to a mere petty officer of the Navigation Department, but it is a very different thing to intrust it to the Minister. He must be given very wide powers, because we never know when a new case may crop up.

Senator Millen - I do not object to his being given all the powers he requires for the purposes of this Bill, but the honorable senator wishes to give him power to do something quite outside the Bill.

Senator DE LARGIE - I have already pointed out to Senator Millen that a similar power is provided for in the Merchant Shipping Act, and if we follow that precedent, we shall not go very far wrong.

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