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Friday, 15 September 1911

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - The powers proposed under this clause are very drastic, and the reasons why it should be carefully considered have been well stated by Senator Millen. However, apart from Hie navigation law, it is necessary that the Minister should have drastic powers. I direct attention to the fact that during the Civil War in America, a vessel called at Port Phillip. The authorities had some information concerning that vessel, but it got outside Port. Phillip again after some partial fitting here, and afterwards took part in the Civil War, and led to the British Government being cast in damages under the Alabama Claims. One of the powers here proposed is to call upon persons to produce documents, and if that power could have been exercised in the case of the Shenandoah, the vessel that called in here, it would have been possible to discover where that vessel was going. I suggest that as a possible reason why in the Merchant Shipping Act such a provision occurs, and why it may be necessary for us to take drastic powers, so that all ships shall be subject to the Minister in this respect. An emergency such as I have indicated might occur again, and the Commonwealth might have to pay damages. That may be why the Minister seeks to have these powers. If so, there is some justification for them, because, notwithstanding the Declaration of London, we have to be careful that, in case of war, or preparations for war, vessels shall not use our ports to the detriment of allies or neutrals.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 410 to 415 agreed to.

Clause 416 (Returns as to earnings of ships).

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