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Wednesday, 4 October 1911
Page: 1022

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I have listened carefully to what the Minister has said. One can only desire to assist in every effort to see that our vessels, and especially passenger vessels, shall be adequately and efficiently manned. The only point that occurs to me is whether the increase in the manning scale now proDosed is not somewhat excessive. I cannot answer the question, but I ask the Minister whether his statement made earlier in our proceedings with regard to the submission of a proposed schedule for the opinion of the interested parties applies also to this proposal.

Senator Pearce - No ; I do not think so. Senator MILLEN. - Then I can only say that it is rather a pity that this proposal was not submitted to the interested parties in the same way. I think it is very desirable in dealing with a Bill of this kind that some publicity should be given to the intention of the Government to bring down an amendment of so drastic a character. The Bill has been so long before us that it is quite possible that the fact that it is still under the consideration of the Senate has been overlooked. This is certainly a material amendment, and it is desirable that the same steps should be taken with regard to it as have been taken in connexion with other alterations which have previously been dealt with. I should like to know whether the proposed scale is to apply to.every boat, irrespective of size and the trade engaged in, or the number of passengers carried. I take the case of a vessel ordinarily used as a cargo boat, but occasionally carrying from a small wayside port. to another port a single passenger. Is a vessel the moment a single passenger is taken on board to be required to conform to this scale? If so, we shall be denying to a section of the community a convenience which is of great value to them. I take, for instance, the case of timber boats trading on the north coast of New South Wales, from Sydney to a place like Coffs Harbor, a place at which regular coasting steamers do not touch, or only "at lengthy intervals. These timber boats occasionally carry one, two, or three passengers, and it seems to me that, in the absence of any definition of what is 2. passenger vessel, and bearing in mind the definition of "passenger," they may be called upon to add 50 per cent, to their manning scale. I point out that, even if the owners were willing to do so, the -men might not be obtainable, and it certainly would not pay to do so. As a result, the great convenience at present enjoyed by intermittent travellers may have to be withdrawn. Ought not something ' to be done to meet cases of that kind ? I ask the Minister whether, without interfering with the object for which this schedule was introduced, some provision should not be made to meet the cases I have referred to.

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