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1 correction by doug.butler - Show corrections

OUR MARITIME LAWS.— No. II.

At the end of 1851, an Act was passed, incor porating a guild or fraternity by ths iiame of the Trinity House of Port Adelaide. This mild fiOB-iat«-) of a Mulrr itnd innr Wardens

together with such brethren, being mister mariners or. mates, expett in navigation, and trading or having traded at : the Port, as the Master sad Wardens required from time to timo to advise them touching the regulations of the harbour and kindred matters. Two Wardens were elected by tbe Governor, and three were Dominated by the Legislative Council. They then chose the Master from amongst them. The functions of the Trinity Board were chiefly to license pilots mud tugs, fix pilotage and other rates, superintend lighthouses, regulate water men sad wharfs, and supply ballast to ships. Such briefly, then, was the first Nautical Board in South Australia. Doubtless, the jnictde TJtitiance of the act wu the high-sounding name of the tody, whose functions wen limited, like their funds, and whose operations werr notnm melled by the restrictions of many an anetent ** guild or fraternity' of golden pomp and subtle power*. The authority en trusted to Trinity House, though ihnple enough, answered their day satis factorily. The first Board wu composed of the Naval Offioer ard Harbour Master, and the Collector of Customs, appointed by the Governor, and the Hon. W. Elder, .the late Hon. Captain Scott, and Captain Richard Tapley, nominated by the Legislative Council. The Harbour Master, the late Captain Lipson, was selected Master. He resigned in 1654, when Oaptain B. Douglas ?uooeeded him as Harbour Muter, Naval Offioer, Chairman of the Harbour Trnsr, President of tbe Marine Board, and subsequently Collector of Custom*. Tbe selection of Captain Douglas to these lucrative posts was not made without strong adverse comments. The Etc/trier of December 21, 1854, records that ' The Gazette of Tuesday last, winding up the administration of Sir Henry Young, contains tbe appointment of Oaptain Douglu, late commander of the Bosphorm, u Harbour Master of Port Adelaide. The an nouncement bas caused considerable dis satisfaction out of doors, not only because no disposition bas been shown by tbe Govern ment to i confer the appointment on any of tbe old colonists, but in consequence o! its having been made after the prorogation of the Conncil, snd when no opportunity to protest against it existed.' A suggestion wu pnblloly made at tbe time tbat tbe Harbour Muter had been selected becauee he was a relative of ihe Governor, but it wu shown that he wu not only sot related to His Excellency, but was a stranger to him. This applicant wu selected entirely on the grounds of his testimonials

which showed that be wai an able navigator and marine surveyor. Oaptain Dougla*, though regarded by some ss the autocrat of the port, did South Australia good service during the fifteen years in which be held office. On the redistribution in 1870 of the positions he held conjointly the Oollectonhip of Customs sod Presidentship of (he Marine Board he resigned, and wu succeeded by the late Mr. J. W. Lewi*, J.P., at the Customs, and by Captain B. H. Ferguion, B.M, at the Marine Board. Oaptain Douglu went to the Northern Territory u Government Resident, but ai er wsrds left tbe service of South Australia, pro ceeding to China. Captain Lipson's salary as Harbour Muter in 1654, when he retired, wu £350 per year and a house. In addition to a salary Oaptain Dcuglu received over £200 pet year u fees for presiding over the Harbour Trust and; other Boards. Iu 1858 the Oollectonhip of Customs wu given to the latter, and his stipend wu fixed at £700 per year. Publio bodies delight to multiply regulations. If this infatuation is csmmon to representative usemblies, what excesses rosy not be looked for from the orthodox red-tape Government Boards t Tbe Trinity Board stranded on tbe rock, for, not satisfied with legislating as to light dues, and with regulating harbour charges, they proceeded in 1655, while the Government were tug pro prietors, to restrict towiiig of vessels to those boats that the Board chose to license. The by law wu promulgated ob April 1 — an unfortunate date, but the Legislative Council soon declared the law urjjnst to tagowners, and calculated to be detrimental to tbe commercial Interests of the colony. The Board appeared to have been wise in their generation, for they promptly retraced their step*. Private enterprise, to which soon after towing wu safely left alto getter, wu then unfettered in this direc tion. There Is, however, this safety valve for publio interest, that a pilot or matter ia charge of a vessel risks hi« certificate if he employs a tug of insufficient strength. It rosy be added tbat the Government who undertook towing io 1848 found the service cost £5,105 in 1854, but the expenditure gradually decreased, until it disappeared from the accounts in 1850, in which year tbe tog wu sold. Tbe pilot service, upon which the Trinity Board operated more successfully, wu sustained by talaikd pilots until about 1859. In eon tequence of improved shipping times, ths pilot* asked to receive tbe feei charged in lien of salaries, aad the request, which has not bene fited their eonditkm,'*u granted. The mode and place of boarding vessels have altered from time to time sit ce then, tod though numerous ?nggettions nave been made for rendering the service v ore r-trfect, the present staff is admit tedly efficient and excellent. The Marine Boarc's eire for all complaints connected with the f ervice bat for many years been to render it un&cceasary t- lake a pilot at all. The non ccmiulsory fyitem tha'- allows a shipmaster igaiost tte dictates of prudence to neglect or refuse to employ skilled services for tbe port bu tot yet taken bold of the public »ymp»*by, and has the opposition of underwriters ssd many other commercial men. The Hon. O. Mann when Treasurer wu bold enough to gi? e expression to the Board'* leema mentation in a Bill, but an influential deputa tion which waited on him managed to convince him of the error of his ways, and the old plan remains unaltered. Mr. S. D, Glyde, J.P., ? junior Warden recommended by tbe Chamber of Commerce, represents the mbiority on the sub ject at tbe Board. Sever*! eminent English

tuthoritiej have pronounced for voluntaiy pilotage, as they have for the abolition of light daw, bat neither plan appears to be near adop tion. Thongh anaoc-essful in tracing any re cord of the fact, we are told that in 1853, and for two or three yeais liter, the non-com - palsory sy-tem was tried at Fort Adelaide, and proving a failore was abandoned by the Trinity Board for the stringent method. Much has been done to lighten the shipping burdens, and, some people add, many remain to be lightened. Be that as it may, masters of vessels trading from Australasian ports are now granted certi ficate* of pilotage exemption on proving com petency. This privilege, in a somewhat re stricted form at the beginning, was first accorded at Port Ade'aide by the Trinity Board in 1856. Exemption certificates hare of late been ex tended to all ports in South Australia, for by a legislative oversight pilotage is compul stry at every one, involving the ano maly of pilotage waters without pilots in one or two cases. The benefits con ferred on the shipping by these certificates and by reduced rates may ba seen in the fact that the amount paid for pilotage in 1835 (about £3,000; exceeded considerably that paid in 1880, when the shipping was double the tonnage of the former year, while the contribution for light dues in 1880 was 300 per cent, in advance of that made in 1855. Light dues, which were first imposed in 1542, were fixed by the Trinity Home in 1852 as follows:— Coasters, 30 to 50 tons, 2s. per voyage; from SO to 100 tons. §d. in and §d. oat per ton ; ill foreign vessels, l^d. per ton. Owing to the gold fever increasing the price of labour, this moderate tariff was altered in 1854, and It. per ton all roocd exacted. In 1859 the Board finally adjusted the charges :— Vessela from or to foreign ports, 3d. in and 3d. out per ton ; inter colonial vessels, half rates ; tnd coaster?, from 30 to 50 tons, 3s. per voyage ; from 50 to 1G0 tons, 7s per voyage; above 100 tons, Id. in and Id. out. The light service in 1854 included four keepers, of whom three were stationed at the Start Lighthouse, and one at the Fort lightship. The cost of the establishments was £4,533. Trou bridge light was soon after added. Though the present is an unpopular scale, it is sufficient, like that of 1855, to clear expenses. Owing to several new lighthouses having been built, there was a deficiency in I860 of £2,000. Notwith standing the cry for abolition of light dues, to which the Marine Board have added the weight of their opinion, the public have regarded the payment of a fee by shipowners for th - use of the coast lights to be just. The argument H often applied that the consumer of goods ultimately has to meet the charge, with, how ever, good interest added up to the date of re pa jment, and that the remission would be a ge.eral benefit. This pleading, which may be equally well used as to any of the duties imp03#d through the Customs for revenue purposes, fa scarcely likely to be successful while funds h&v* to be collected far establishing and supporting lights. Various Chancellors ot Exchequer have modified the Imperial light dues from time to time, yet never sacrificing the principle that the service should be self-supporting. The Master of the Trinity House from time to time issued wiling directions for various parts of the colony ib it was surveyed, and did a great deal of tseful work impossible to enumerate. As Harbour Master he superintended the Govern ment paid harbour pilots, and attended to the buoys and beacons not only of Port Adelaide, bat of tl e oatporta that were used. The harbour does were fixed in 1852 at not more than 10s. for msving and removing a vessel under 1QO tons, with Is. per ton for every 20 tons above. In 1854 the scale was doubled. Harbour pilotage is now non-compulsory, but ' mud' pilots are still licensed and find employment. Though the necessity for ' improving Fort Adelaide had been understood from the begin ning, deepening operations could not be earlier initiated than 1849. In that year -£2,532 was spent upon the work by the Harbour Depart ment, the propriety of whose right to rule mari time matters there was none to dispute till 1851, and the fact of whose existence as a nautical authority thence till 1860 is on record. For tha next five years the Harbour Department con tinued the improvement of the stream, adding over £11,300 to the previous expenditure During 1854 the Trinity Board conducted the operations fora short while; but Parliament, which then authorized a loan of £100,000 to further deepen Fort Adelaide, entrusted the expenditure to the Port Adelaide Harbour Trust. This body, which was created by Act 20, 1854, and placed under the Commissioner of Public Works in 1858, was abolished by Act 17, 1860, thongh not before they had spent all but about £3,008 of the proceeds of the loan. The Act, which was slightly enlarged by Act 1, 1856, sets forth that** it is expedient that the said port should be deepened from the outer bar at the month thereof up to tnd beyond ths wharf known as Prince's.' Towards recouping the loan or interest, the Trust was authorized to levy a due of sixpence per ton register upon the ship ping using the port. Though the Act contemplated getting ' a depth of 13 feet at low water at the outer and inner ban, and from thence to the Prince's Wharf,' the sequel is that the unex pended balance of £3,021 was handed to the Marine Board in I860, and six years afterwards was issued the Fort Harbour Commission's report, recommending an expenditure of £94,000 to get 14 feet at low water. That report, which was signed by Mr. J. England, jun., Mr. W. H. Flood, Captain i H. Simpson, J. Legoe, and J. Bickers, suggested that a channel should be cut through not less than 200 feet wide, and to a uniform depth of 14 feet at low-water spring tides, so as to be sufficient for the passage of the largest vessel which came here. There is a passage in the report which is amusing to any one cognizant of the fact that half ft million has been spent in Port Adelaide, and that our present dredging fleet, valued at nearly £100,009. is con sidered insufficient far the deepening to be done in the colony, for in effect the Commissioners say: — 'We cannot recom mend you to bny a steam dredge at a cost of £24,OCO, because not only could it not be got Lore in less than two years, but it would not be wanted after a couple of years' service.' There is every reason to believe that the Harbjar Board, which was composed of four senior members of the Trinity House, with tho Hons W. Younghuaband.MLL.C, and G. Hall,M.L.O., and Mr. K. C. Collison, M P., proved faithful to its charge, and certainly the Port Corporation owe it a debt of gratitude for depositing the silt in the town and forming streets upon creeks and floods. Mr. George Aber nethy was the engineer to the Trust, and bis opinions still exert an influence in some elder Wardens, as evidenced by the fact that his recommendation to the Trust to fill op the boat channel was adopted by the Marine Board in 1880, for the reasons be advanced, namely, that it would concentrate the energy of the tide and assist the deepening of the creek There was a comparatively large staff of officers, of whom the Secretary was Mr. Thomas F. McCoulL, a gentleman who recently left the colony. The first office wai situated ia St. Vincent-strest, but it was re moved in 1S56 to a building in Commercial road, just erected at a cost of about £700. At the time we write, that building, which once accommodated the Harbour Trust, the Trinny Board, and the local Marine Board together, and next served for several years as a residence for th« Custom House keeper, and a branch oSaa for the Waterworks Department, is, after exactly a quarter of a century's use, being demolished to make room for the new Courthouse at the corner of Nile-street. Of late it appeared a somewhat antiquated brick structure, deserving the fate which the progress of the town hu brought upon it. Mention has already been made of the intro duction of certificates of competency into the British mercantile marine service in 1851, bat then do not seem to have been many, if any, granted here bef ere 1861. However, it was neces sary for carrying out the Imperial law as to the engagement and discharge of crews to have a Shipping Office, and the responsibility of Shipping Master, which had been previously discharged by the Harbour Master, was trans ferred to a local Marine Board, under Act 14, 1853, which was also repealed by Act 17, I860. It is difficult to conceive the occasion for a department to control the work of this office, which, as an hon. gentleman put it in 1860, 'received fees amounting to something like £500, while the whole of the work wu in reality performed by a gentleman with one arm, he might say very efficiently performed too. The funds of this Board, ' he continued, ' were derived from poor teamen ; and how were they disposed of ? Why, so much in fees to the gentlemen constituting the Board— the Secretary received £200 a year.

200 went to the Shipping ttastar, whose omes m- a perfect sinecure, and £153 to the Asais aut Shipping Maiter.' The receipt! of this Soard amounted to £4.505 tar the seven years indiog 1860. and the expenditure ief c a credit alance o! £90. Of the outlay, £393 «u spent pon fees to the Bard. It appears that the ate CUp tain French was appointed the first Shipping Master, and Mr. R. L. Mxgraith, the present Shipping Master, was his deputy. In 1854, Mr. Msgraith occupied an office and did ie work, but did not receive the appointment )f Shipping Master till after he came under the tfarine Board. Mr. James Hawker was ap pointed Surveyor to superintend tha admea [urement of ships at Port Adelaide, on tf *y 22 , L855. Having now seen that the administration of lautical nutters was divided between three Boards, any one of which should have seen adequate to the whole work In --dinary circumstances, it is no sur irue to find the complex machinery break ing down of its own weight. Apart from the disadvantages of irresponsibility, risks of slaahin j, and liabilities to narrowed dealings antailed by the system, it involved a wiste of public money. For instance,, the fees paid to th j various Boards in 1857 amounted to about £700; while the fees paid to the Wardens of the Marine Board, having greater work, from 1880 to 1864 averaged £335 a year. The swing which would be effected by the amalgamation was not unnoticed in Parliament, for the Estimates Committee recommended it in 1835. the Hon. Mr. Kinniaa brought in a Bill to give shape to it in 1857, and the subject was deemed worthy of reference in the Governor's Speech in 1880. It is probable that the colony was better off by the sum of £1,500 to £1,800 a year, as the late Hon. T. Reynolds hoped when piloting the measure through the House. Further, the tendency of the cumbrous machinery had been to forge heavy shacklej for the shipping, so that South Australian ports became the dearest in Australia in 1860. Still the colony was progressing, as the following figures shew .-—The number of vessels reported inwards in 1851 was 259; tonnage, 74,757; outwards, 279 and 80,245 respectively. The im ports for the year were £640,777; exports, £602,087. In 1859 shipping inwards numbered 402 vessels; tonnage, 111,433; outwards, 393 and 104,692 respectively. The imports for the year were £1,507,404; exports, £1,655,876. The total improvement was 154 vessels, 91,126 tons, and £1,870,506.

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