DESERTERS FROM BRITISH SHIPS
WHETHER PROHIBITED, IMMIGRANTS
IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION ACT 1901, s. 3 : MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT 1894 (IMP.), ss. 223, 224
It is contended by the representatives of some of the shipping companies that deserters from British ships cannot be treated as 'prohibited immigrants' under the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, nor the companies be made liable under that Act in respect of deserters-this contention being founded on the argument that such deserters can only be dealt with under the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, sections 223, 224.
Those sections provide for the recovery of deserters. Section 223 empowers the master of a British ship, anywhere in the King's dominions outside the United Kingdom, to arrest deserters without a warrant, and requires the local police to give assistance if required. It then makes provision for his being conveyed on board ship or brought before a court for punishment. Section 224 empowers the court to order him to be conveyed on board ship.
These sections deal with the offences of desertion and absence without leave, and provide facilities for the recovery and punishment of the offenders. They do not affect the power of the Federal Parliament to prohibit undesirable immigration. If a 'prohibited immigrant' enters the Commonwealth contrary to the Immigration Restriction Act, neither he nor the masters, owners and charterers of the vessel from which he landed can obtain exemption from the provisions of that Act on the ground that an Imperial Act provides for his recovery as a deserter. There is no repugnancy between the Imperial and the Commonwealth Acts, which deal with entirely different questions.
It may be observed, however, that under section 3 (k) of the Immigration Restriction Act the crews of vessels, landing during the stay of the vessel at any port in the Commonwealth, are exempt from the Act unless the provisions of that section with regard to mustering are carried out.
[Vol. 1, p. 367]