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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr REID (East Sydney) .- I cannot allow the statement of the Minister to pass without a brief reply. When I used the term "dagger," I meant that I had every reason to believe that, by an elaborate course of manipulation, and by conferences with my direct political opponents, preparations were made for the political downfall of the Government of which I was the head. The whole transaction was of a secret nature, and did not arise out of any great question of public policy. It was of the character I have already described more than once. I admit that the Minister has never been a supporter of mine, although I have always acknowledged the ability and devotion, displayed by him in putting the Labour Party out of office. I have never refused to recognise in the most generous way his unwearied efforts to shift tWat partY from office. I take no exception to that, but what I do complain of is that the same unwearied efforts were devoted to the task of shifting me from office. The Minister carried out his work, not by making soul-stirring appeals in this House, but by indulging in a series of beautiful manipulations, which were very effective, and in connexion with which there was very little noise. But the Postmaster-General is a political baby compared with the Treasurer, in the art of inflicting destruction upon Governments of which he is not a member. If we had had those two Ministers in our Government, we should have been there to-day, and for ten years to come. The only mistake I made was that I did not take them in with me. When I next form a Ministry I shall try hard to include them - that is, if I can do so with due regard for political decency. But I am not one who remembers these things. After all, one is not injured personally by being relieved from the strain of office. The only two men that I know of in public life who never seem tired of office are my two honorable friends. The Postmaster- General is only a political baby compared to the monarch of the West. There is an earthquake at once if the latter is not in office. If I could only make sure that the use of the dagger would end their political existence as well as mine, there would be no need for adopting any special precautions to keep the weapon in its sheath.

Sir John Forrest - I gave the right honorable gentleman a good twelve months' support.

Mr REID - That was because the right honorable gentleman did not see his way to eject me from office. He was like, the shark that saw a piece of pork out of the water. He did not bite at .it until he got it within his reach, and then he went for it. The right honorable gentleman relishes a diet that is not half so appetising as pork. Even dust is to him an agreeable and stimulating food, if what he has said is to be believed. This affectation of innocence on the part of the Postmaster-General is altogether too much. One would imagine, from his assumed virtuous indignation, that he was not in the political transaction to which I have referred from the earliest stage. He went off to Western Australia to make special arrangements with the Treasurer, and I believe that some portfolios were offered, even before the Governor-General's speech was delivered.

Sir John Forrest - Oh, no.

Mr REID - I believe so. However, I will leave that matter for the present. I ask mv old friend the PostmasterGeneral, who has been my political enemy for so man v years, whatever else he may try to do. not to endeavour to look innocent.

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