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Wednesday, 15 August 1906

Mr WEBSTER (Gwydir) .- I wish to say a word in regard to a- development which is taking place throughout Australia to-day, and is out of keeping with the arguments used in this Chamber last session by honorable members of the Opposition. ' When the Arbitration Bill was under discussion the members of the Opposition wished to provide that the funds of trade organizations should not be used for political purposes; but to-day it is alleged that thousands of pounds have been contributed by the Tobacco Trust, the shipping ring, and various big firms in Sydney, to a fund which the members of the Opposition are shepherding, and which is being used by them when travelling, through the country with their wives, in the endeavour to wrest from the Government at the next elections the reins of office. This is the most scandalous piece of work that has ever affected a Parliament.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is the most scandalous statement ever made in Parliament, and there is not a word of truth in it.

Mr WEBSTER - If the honorable and learned member for Parkes were here, he would silence the honorable member. I understand that he has already taken some of the starch out of him. This is one of the most scandalous proceedings that has ever taken place in connexion with any parliamentary party. The leader of the Opposition is travelling through the country, utilizing the large funds placed at his command for the purpose of injuring honorable members who are here, attending to their public duties. Other honorable members who are rarely in this Chamber are spending their time - and it is alleged are being well paid for so doing - in performing propaganda work, instead of attending in this House, and looking after the interests of their constituents.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is not a word of truth in the honorable member's statements.

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