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Wednesday, 4 July 1906
Page: 1040

Mr EWING (Richmond) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - At this hour of the evening I do not desire to enter into any dissertation upon the large interest which the honorable member has in the country and the small interest which the Government has. There has been no attempt at evasion upon my part. The honorable member virtually asked if Colonel Bridges was the only officer in Australia who had passed a certain examination.

Mr Kelly - I certainly did nothing of the kind. The insinuation is about as mean a one as I have ever! heard uttered in a deliberative Assembly.

Mr EWING - I have always treated the honorable member with infinite mercy. I have spared him over and over again when his incompetence has been a fit butt for me.o

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister is now becoming impertinent.

Mr EWING - Honorable members must understand that under no circumstances can they brow-beat me.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Nobody has attempted to brow.-beat the Minister.

Mr EWING - At all times I have treated honorable members both inside and outside the House with the utmost courtesy.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister has treated them as if they were ciphers very often.

Mk. EWING. - As the honorable member is aware, the answers which are given to questions here are handed to me by the

Minister of Defence. He is responsible for them, and I give his replies exactly as they reach ,me.

Mr Kelly - The Minister is making the matter a personal one. I do not know what all this heat is about.

Mr EWING - The Minister of Defence sees lit to answer questions in a certain way. If at any time the honorable member for Wentworth believes that there is any information which has not been supplied to him, and which ought to have been supplied, let him put another question upon the business-paper. If there is any question that ought to be answered, and he cares to bring the matter forward either tomorrow or the next day, I will endeavour to obtain the information for him. At the same time he should understand, in regard to these reports and military matters generally, that it is not fair to ask the Minister to divulge everything. It is not just. There are some things which ought not to be disclosed.

Mr Kelly - Surely the state of efficiency of the Department is not one of them.

Mr EWING - I will withdraw all the disagreeable things that I was saying, and I promise the honorable member that if there is anything further that he wishes to know - anything that a reasonable man might ask - I will endeavour to secure the information for him.

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