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Thursday, 21 June 1906

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is a different matter. I know something of the two officers who were sent over to Western Australia, and they are both competent men, of the highest integrity. I have heard that they undertook the inquiry very reluctantly, and only at the urgent request of the authorities. With regard to the Bill before us, I would only remark that the Treasurer is taking an unusual course in pushing a Supply Bill through the House so early in the month. I understand that he is anxious to accommodate honorable senators, who have not very much to do, and want to go away for a short holiday. So far as I can see there is nothing in the Bill to which exception need be taken, and I am perfectly willing to accept the assurance of the Treasurer that nothing beyond the ordinary current expenses of the month are provided for. I asked the Treasurer during his speech whether there was any item in the Bill to cover his expenses to London. Scarcely had the House gone into recess after a long and strenuous session than it was announced that the Minister of Trade and Customs - I mean the Treasurer - was off to London.

Sir William Lyne - I wish I had been off to London.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - So do I. Then the Minister would have let our exporters and producers alone, instead of ceaselessly worrying them as he has done during the whole of the recess.

Sir William Lyne - They are all so friendly to me that I think I must be doing wrong.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No one knows better than the Minister how to be friendly when he finds himself in a tight corner. It was predicted that the Minister would not be able to administer the Commerce Act, and that forecast has proved to be a perfectly accurate one. The Minister has had to set aside the Act as unworkable, and has occupied the whole of the recess in framing a set of regulations applying to one article of export.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member will be singing a different tune in about a week or ten days.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I shall be very glad to sing a paean of praise if the regulations issued by the Minister are as moderate as I hops they will be. All I ask the Minister to do is to carry out his promise to the House.

Sir William Lyne - I intend todo that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do I understand that the Minister does not intend to introduce compulsory branding, so far as butter is concerned ? He told us, when the Commerce Bill was under discussion, that there would be no grading of butter into first, second, and third classes. That is recorded in Hansard..

Sir William Lyne - But the conference of experts said that it should be done.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the Minister permit a board of experts to induce him to break the solemn promise on the strength of which the CommerceAct was passed ?

Mr Webster - Does the Act permit of grading ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - When the Bill was going through, the Minister said that it did not, but since then he has said that it does.

Mr Webster - But does it?

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