NAVIGATION AND SHIPPING AGENT OF SHIPOWNER COMPANY: AGENT OR AGENT'S STAFF CONVEYED BETWEEN AUSTRALIAN PORTS: WHETHER 'PASSENGERS'
NAVIGATION ACT 1912. ss. 6, 7
The Comptroller-General of Customs has forwarded me the following memorandum for advice:
With reference to the Solicitor-General's opinions of 29.6.21(1) and of 11.7.21(2), relative to the above, the question has been asked as to whether, where the local business of an oversea line of ships is attended to by an agent and not by a bona fide branch of the owner company, such agent and his staff may be conveyed between Commonwealth ports by ships of that line without such constituting engagement in the coasting trade.
I shall be glad if the Solicitor-General will be so good as to advise me in the matter as early as possible.
If a ship takes on board passengers, at any port in a State or Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, to be carried to, and landed at any other port in the same or any other State or Territory the ship is deemed to be engaging in the coasting trade (section 7).
The question for determination is whether the agent of a shipping company, and the staff of the agent, when travelling on ships of the company are passengers. Such persons are passengers unless it can be shown that they are covered by the exception in the definition of 'Passenger'. The exception reads: 'other than the master and crew or the owner, his family or servants'.
I assume that the 'agents' referred to in the above memorandum are persons who are not wholly engaged upon work for the shipping company. Such persons cannot I think be regarded as the servants of the shipowner. An agent's staff consists of persons employed by him and not by the shipowner.
I am accordingly of opinion that neither an agent nor his staff are within the above-mentioned exception. They should therefore when travelling on a ship be regarded as passengers.
[Vol.17, p. 446]
(1)Opinion No. 1088.
(2)Opinion not found, but see Opinion No. 1080.