The dreaded Marine Council

John Briggs
4th May 2010, 08:24
Do any of the Aussies out there remember the Marine Council?
In the days before company employment when all seamen were employed through the pool a body called the Marine Council was set up by the Minister for Transport to advise him on matters nautical.

The Council was made up of three representatives of shipowners, three representatives of unions and was chaired by a neutral chairman appointed by the Minister for Transport. The Council sat monthly and the main business of the Council was to review every logging made on an Australian ship. The Council had the power to find a seaman unsuitable for service at sea either for a stated period or for life. The Chairman had a casting vote and this was regularly required.

Some of the loggings were trivial and showed the character of the master up far more than the seaman involved. Some of the logging were serious and involved the Council members in lengthy debate. By far the majority were misdemeanors which resulted in a letter of reprimand. Many of these loggings were particularly humorous and in fact some were downright hilarious demanding a great deal of self control to avoid breaking out in laughter.

The Council was really a kangaroo court but it served it's purpose and enforced discipline in Australian merchant shipping. Many Australian seafarers spent a number of sleepless nights knowning that they had been referred to the Marine Council.