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Wednesday, 14 July 1920

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member knows that he may do that, of course.

Mr J H CATTS - Then I will do so, at the expense of a little more of my time. What has the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) to say to the Prime Minister, in regard to his attempt to raise the sectarian issue?

What has the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) to say to the Prime Minister for raising the sectarian issue? What has Edward Russell to say to the Prime Minister for raising the sectarian issue ? What has Thomas Jerome Bakha): to say to the Prime Minister for raising the sectarian issue? What has John Keating to say to the Prime Minister for raising the sectarian issue? What has Hugh de Largie to say to the Prime Minister, for raising the sectarian issue ? What has Patrick Lynch to say to the Prime Minister for raising the sectarian, issue?

These honorable gentlemen all belong to the persuasion and profess the Faith which the Prime Minister has attacked. What kind of men are they that they should support the Prime Minister, their Leader, in his attack upon their own Faith, upon their priests, their nuns, and the religion of their fathers? They know, as well as the Prime Minister knows, that this wicked invention has nothing behind it except an appeal to the blind prejudices of the people? If the Protestants of this country numbered one-fourth of its total population, and the Catholics represented threefourths, Mr. Hughes' attack would be the other way round, without the shadow of question.

The Prime Minister has had something to say about Labour and loyalty. This same kind of stuff was hurled at the Labour party when Mr. Hughes and Mr. Fisher were its leaders - hurled just exactly as the Prime Minister to-day has thrown it at us. I have another pamphlet here, signed by Mr. Hughes. It is entitled, "The Degradation of Patriotism: an Exposure." And it states -

At a time when to dub a man a " traitor " is to at once charge him with the most serious of crimes and expose him to the hitter odium and contempt of his fellows, a leaflet has been widely circulated levelling charges of " disloyalty" and "treachery" to the Empire against certain members of the Labour party.

These statements are contemptible and wicked untruths, and the man who made them knew them to be so when he wrote them.

What can we say of a man who in the face of these statements (Mr. Fisher's denial) would charge Mr. Fisher with favouring "Hauling down the flag" and "Raising that of revolt"?

What are we to think of Mr. Joseph Cook, . under whose notice I have brought this leaflet, who heard Mr. Fisher's speech in Parliament, who knows that every statement made in the leaflet about Mr. Fisher is absolutely untrue?

Yesterday, I sent Mr. Cook a copy of this infamous leaflet, and asked him to repudiate it; but, although he admitted having heard Mr. Fisher deny the truth of any one of them, he would not do so.

What are we to say of men who, posing as patriots and deprecating everything calculated to create the impression amongst the enemy that the Empire is not presenting a united front, brands the leader of one of the great political parties in Australia as a "traitor," knowing the same to be an infamous falsehood? -

What are we to say of a party that not only does not repudiate such tactics by its paid agent, but openly approves him and them, and bends its every effort to give the widest publicity to this cowardly, contemptible, and malicious slander? (Sgd.) W. M. Hughes. 321 Pitt-street, Sydney.

The Prime Minister then directed a copy of this pamphlet to the present Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), who now sits facing me at the table. Mr. Hughes said, "I have brought this infamous leaflet under the notice of Mr. Cook, and although he knows it to be untrue, he will not say it is untrue, because there is an election on."

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - Neither the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr.. Hughes) nor the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) could ever say that I have raised that question in all my life.

Mr J H CATTS - I am not saying that the right honorable gentleman has raised it, but that, the subject having been raised, he has kept silence, and has neither protested against it nor contradicted it. The attack to which that leaflet refers was launched in 1914, and I reiterate that Mr. Hughes said, " I brought this under the notice of Mr. Cook .personally. He knows the statements to be untrue, and yet refuses to give public denial to them. Mr. Cook gives his countenance to the leaflet, knowing it to be untrue."

We charge this Government with (a) failure to prevent the inordinate rise in the cost of living. When the Prime Minister, in 1919, was yet on the waters adjacent to the Australian coast, making his Australian ward way from England, he set out a brief policy for the impending elections thus, "As to the profiteer and the Bolshevik, damn them both!" And he said he would " shoot them both." What has he done to damn or shoot them, since ? He now says he has not the power. One of our principal charges against the Prime Minister is that he has the War Precautions Act in operation to-day in all its original force and effect. Under that Act he can do anything he likes in regard to every mouthful that the people eat and every yard of material with which they clothe themselves. Yet, having this power, he has absolutely refused to use it. He will use it for other purposes - for deportation, for example. And, surely, to deport without trial men against whom charges have been secretly made, so that they cannot face their accusers, is an acknowledgment that the ordinary processes of the law are insufficient for the. punishment of wrong-doers. The proper course is to hale an alleged offender before a Court, to charge him with an alleged offence, to give him a fair and open British trial, and to award punishment accordingly as he is deemed to have offended against the law. Apparently, however, there is some underground engineering going on in regard to certain men - and here I make no differentiation between Father Jerger and any other man. It so happens that, because Father Jerger is connected with a great organization--

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