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Friday, 29 June 1906

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I thought that yesterday we had exhausted our list of grievances, but, apparently, the debate which took place then created some,and I wish, therefore, in justice to the leader of the Labour Party, to make a personal explanation regarding a statement of mine then. Yesterday, when criticising the Government for appointing Commissioners for the investigation of certain proposals with a view to seeing if they could be nationalized, I said -

We are told by the Prime Minister, the honorable member for Northern Melbourne, and the leader of the Labour Party that there is no power in the Constitution to nationalize these industries. It is one of the complaints to-day of the leader of the Labour Party that he cannot get the Prime Minister to say whether he will help them to get the power to nationalize one or two of these monopolies.

I also quoted from a speech delivered by the honorable member for Bland at Crow's Nest.

Mr Watson - The speech was delivered, not at Crows Nest, but at Millerstreet, North Sydney.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The passage which I quoted, and upon which I based my strictures, was this -

Mr. Deakin'sprogramme at present was in a state of transition, if, indeed, it existed at all. That being so, the Labour Party had a right to be informed as to Mr. Deakin's intentions before it entered into any agreement. The party had had no clear statement on this matter from Mr. Deakin. Mr. Deakin had declared that the question of Socialism was one for the States, and that before the Federal Parliament could deal with it there would have to be an alteration in the Constitution. Under these circumstances it was fair to ask Mr. Deakin whether he would alter the Constitution in order to make it possible to nationalize one or more existing monopolies.

I assumed from that passage that the honorable member had subscribed to the authoritative judgment of two of the AttorneysGeneral of the Commonwealth.

Mr Robinson - Of three of them. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne gave the same opinion before he became Attorney-General.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - At any rate, he gave a very emphatic expression of his opinion the other evening.

Mr Watson - I expressed no opinion upon the matter.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I now understand that to be the case. I was wrong in assuming from the honorable member's speech that he thinks with the Prime Minister and others that this Parliament has not the power to nationalize Commonwealth industries. While making this explanation, in justice to the honorable member, I should like to add that, in my opinion, nine out of every ten persons reading the passage which i quoted would infer from it that he subscribed to the opinion which he was criticising.

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