This statement was as reported from the Inquiry and is loaded to say the very least. From what I understand, the Lunds (and Captain Ilbery) drew up a 'wishlist' of what they required from their new flagship steamer, Waratah. She was to be a departure from their steamers to date in that she would have three superstructure decks and a prominently higher navigation deck, effectively creating a fourth elevation above the main deck. In addition to this they wanted a spar deck that could serve more than one function: cargo and coal or demountable dormitories for emigrants. Whats more, the new Waratah's hull was to be based on the sister ship Geelong, which had only two superstructure decks.
Plans were initially drawn up by ship builders who DID NOT win the contract, suggesting that Barclay, Curle and Co, inherited the design wishes and plans. I found reference to the fact that the owner of Barclay, Curle and Co delegated the plans and construction of Waratah to his son - which might explain the reference to a 'person of no actual experience'. It seems at this juncture that Waratah was doomed to failure.
The initial plans, as represented on the 'General Arrangements Plan', dated December of 1907, gave dimensions which were not fulfilled in the end product: the bridge house (and top hamper) was initially intended to be 143 ft. in length - ultimately this was extended to 175 ft.; the beam was intended to be 56 ft. (in keeping with Geelong's dimensions) but was extended to 59.45 ft..
We know that a deep, narrow hull is more GM stable which suggests that if Waratah's beam had been left at 56 ft. she might have been more inherently stable. Her bridge house of 175 ft. was 38% of her overall length between perpendiculars. Ideally in terms of structural strength and additional buoyancy factor, this bridge house (top hamper) should have been at least 50% of LBP. One can understand why there were initial concerns about the bridge house only being 143 ft., 30% of LBP. The original dimensions for the bridge house might very possibly have been recommended in order to limit the top heaviness factor in a ship with the 'same' hull dimensions as the two deck Geelong version. Complexities upon complexities.
After all the above is said and done I don't think it was fair to refer to the 'owner's son' as inexperienced, as he was given the finished plans and construction was to be under the supervision of Captain Ilbery himself. Adjustments made must have been in collaboration with Captain Ilbery and the full knowledge of the Lunds. Experience had nothing to do with the final outcome. It was a wishlist gone wrong.
BTW who was the owner of Barclay, Curle and Co, circa 1908?