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Wednesday, 4 July 1906
Page: 1042

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It may be a matter for the honorable member to laugh at, but it is no laughing matter to those who have to submit to it day after day

Mr Watson - Remember what we had to submit to from the right honorable member for East Sydney when we were in opposition. We were met with jocular remarks on every occasion.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member is prepared to defend anything if it has the remotest connexion with this Ministry.

Mr Page - That is not fair.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is it not a fact? Two minutes ago he entered the chamber, and almost immediately he begins to say something in defence of the Ministry.

Mr Watson - I was only reminding the honorable member of what we had to suffer.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I should be obliged if the honorable member would leave Ministers, who are quite capable of speaking, to defend themselves. They are really not quite so incapable as to need his constant protection and defence. After all, this is not an important matter, but it illustrates the conduct of Ministers towards honorable members on this side. I advise the honorable member for Richmond, in all good faith, to treat honorable members on this side with the deference which is due to them, no more and no less. I take it that we are all equal here, and that the fact of sitting on one side or the other of the chamber should not make the slightest difference in these departmental matters.

Mr Ewing - The honorable member knows that it does not.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am afraid that I cannot subscribe to that statement. If the honorable member has done it unconsciously we are prepared to acquit him of any intention, but it is a fact, nevertheless, that at any time he would rather make a joke than face a serious question with the seriousness which it deserves.

Mr Watson - It is constitutional with him.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It appears that sometimes it is constitutional with the honorable member not to joke, but to come to the table and beat his breast in a most defiant way. If the honorable member for "Bland" had arrived two minutes earlier, he would have seen revealed another side df the Minister's character, and one which I do not desire to see revealed any further.

I think that there is a very justifiable complaint beingmade, particularly in regard to questions affecting the Military Department. I do not think that answers to questions such as come here from day to dayoughtto beturned out of any Department. I submit that an honorable member suffers a gross injustice in the House when he is denied information about matters, particularly concerning his own electorate, but which is given fully in the press next morning. That is a gross discourtesy to the House, collectively and individually. I hope the Minister will look into it.

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