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Wednesday, 27 June 1906

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I rise to make a personal explanation in this matter. I repeat that I did not make use of the expression to which the honorable member refers.

Mr Tudor - Then is the Argus wrong?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know. Does the honorable member usually accept the Argus?

Mr Tudor - I do not; but it backs up the Opposition generally.

Mr Webster - Does the honorable member deny having signed the pledge?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I decline to have anything more to do with the honorable member in this House. My reply to his statements is that I hold in my hand the proof of my speech which was sent to me to correct, and that not a single alteration of any kind appears upon it.

Mr Webster - I have not alleged that the honorable member made an alteration.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have here, too, the reporter's proof, on which there is not a single alteration of any kind.

Mr Webster - I did not allege that the honorable member altered the report.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am also informed by the Principal Parliamentary Reporter that the report appearing in Hansard has been checked with the shorthandwriter's notes. What further proof does the honorable member require?

Mr Webster - I say that the report is deficient.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Any man who keeps repeating that statement in the face of such proofs to the contrary must be named Webster. No one else would do it.

Mr Webster - The report in Friday's Argus proves the correctness of what I say.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Had it not been for a certain allusion made by the honorable member last night, I should not have taken the slightest notice of his charge of editing Hansard, because such charges are always susceptible of proof by reference to the official records. But when he sought to drag in the name of Peter Close, of New South Wales, I thought it time to rebel against that sort of treatment. All I have to say to him is that I know nothing of Peter Close, though I fancy that he does. I had nothing to do with the appointment of the politicians who were supposed to be associated with Peter Close, though Ministers whom the honorable member supports had.

Mr SPEAKER - When I heard the name Peter Close used last night, I did not know who was 'referred to; but, as I have since gathered that the use of that name conveyed a very serious imputation, I shall in future disallow its use by any honorable member, and I must ask the honorable member for Parramatta not to use it. I hope that the present difficulty will be ended by the honorable member bringing his remarks to a close as shortly as possible.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I claim that, having been associated with the name of a man like Peter Close, I have the right to reply. Every one who knows the circumstances knows the meaning of that association.

Mr SPEAKER - I did not know last night whatthe meaning was. Had I known, I should have required the remark to be withdrawn. It was such a remark as should not have been made by any one acquainted with the facts ; but that, having been said, and this not being the occasion for a reply, the honorable member for Parramatta having replied last night, J cannot allow any further reference to the matter. This afternoon is not the time when a reply should, or can, be made.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have no more to say, if you, sir, will not allow me to refer to that aspect of the matter.

Mr SPEAKER - The question is not whether I shall allow it, but whether the

Standing Orders are to be obeyed. The honorable member made his reply last) night, and any further comment on what was said then would be a distinct violation, of the standing order, which says that a personal explanation may not be debated.

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