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Tuesday, 10 July 1906

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - The honorable member for West Sydney has delivered a most interesting,, though, on the whole, & very peculiar speech. He began by abusing those on this side of the Chamber, and also their attitude in regard to the fiscal question generally, and declared that the right honorable member for East Sydney is still his fiscal leader. It may be that he is following the right honorable gentleman, but, if so, he is following him afar off.

Mr McCay - Following him with a brick.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - For the last year or two he has been following him throughout the Commonwealth with a political brick in his hand. If he regards his present conduct as a backing of his fiscal friends, I say a plague on such backing. He declared himself to be in favour of the Bill, and, in supporting the measure without expressing the slightest desire for its modification, he is not following the Bill into opposition. Throughout " last week, he was paired with the- Government and against the Opposition on these dumping clauses, and in regard to other provisions. No 'honorable member has " jumped Jim Crow " more often than he has done in regard to matters as to which he claims that his conduct has been fair and above board. He came here first as an uncompromising opponent of the Minister of Trade and Customs, but, although no one has belaboured the Minister more, we now find him cheek by jowl with "aim.

Sir William Lyne - He was always my friend.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - After he had put the right honorable member for East Sydney out of office in New South Wales, he was so much the Minister's friend as practically to carry on his Government for him for about twelve months. The Minister could not move hand or foot then without consulting the honorable and learned member. But, on entering the Federal arena, he made a sudden turn.

The CHAIRMAN - How does the honorable member intend to connect his remarks with the clause?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am replying !to the criticisms of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney of the attitude of those on this side of the Chamber, and am showing that he has not consistently followed the leader of the Opposition. For many years he has had the cordial support of the Free-trade Party of New South Wales, but I shall be surprised if he gets it at the next election.

Sir William Lyne - He will be elected.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not say that he will not, but he must rely on support different from that which he has received in the past. lt may be that he intends to appeal to a different section of the electors. At any rate, he will not get the free-trade support which has helped him to success in years gone by. He .taunts the members of the Opposition with the fact that they do not all hold the same fiscal opinion ; but it does not lie in his mouth to rebuke others for political inconsistency, in view of his present position. He is now assisting the Minister to prevent the landing of goods on the wharfs of West Sydney.

Mr Wilks - Notwithstanding that he is secretary to the Wharf. Labourers' Union.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. Although he professes to be a free-trader, and a follower of the fiscal leadership of the right honorable member for East Sydney, he is now assisting the Minister of Trade and Customs to strike a blow at« the trade whereby the men who returned him to this Parliament make their living. He tells us that he is now where he has always been.

Mr Hughes - I have never been on any but the one side.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Speaking in a political1 sense, the honorable and learned member has never remained five minutes in the one place. Even at the present moment he is sitting at the table with the Minister.

Mr Hughes - If it had not been for the honorable member and some others, I should be sitting at the table instead of the Minister.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorableand learned member has unconsciously blurted out the whole truth. Now that he cannot climb over the backs of the people to places of authority, power, privilege, and pay, he turns round upon those with whom he was accustomed to foregather politically, and taunts them with the company which they are keeping. It would be hatter for him to pull the beam out of his own eye.

Mr Hughes - My political opinions are the same that I have always held: but the honorable member has practically bartered his soul for a mess of pottage.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the honorable and learned member supported every fiscal provision in the Bill, because his fiscal opinions have never changed?

Mr Hughes - Did not the honorable member vote for the Bill?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No. We have made some drastic amendments in it, and there have been some divisions on whichthe honorable and learned member has always been paired for the Government and against the Opposition. For instance, we took a vote the other day-

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member cannot deal with what has al read v been done bv the Committee. He must confine himself to the question before the Chair.

Mr Hughes - I did not know how I was paired; but the honorable member knows the circumstances under which I was absent.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable and learned member, and a number of others, do not know what thev are doing in respect to the Bill. All thev know is that they are supporting the Minister. When thev learn the meaning of some of the votes which thev have given, as interpreted in plain English, they will feel that thev would be verv glad if thev could repudiate' them. One of the most striking things inconnexion with the consideration of this measure is that those who taunt honorablemembers on this side of the Chamber with holding their fiscal views loosely, have voted en bloc for provisions entirely at van- a.nce' with the fiscal faith which they possess. That has happened time and again. But many honorable members have taken so little interest in the discussion of the details of the measure that thev have not known what they were voting for.

Mr Hughes - How could that happen, since the honorable member's explanations have been so ample ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not think that any one would be the wiser for having heard what the honorable and learned member has said just now on the Bill. I advise him, instead of making jeering allusions to his fiscal leader, to pay attention to his present position.

Mr Hughes - I shall not look to the honorable member to carry me over any stiles. I shall get over them myself.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I know that'. No one will climb the stiles more dexterously than the honorable and learned member will do. He will climb as dexterously over a protectionist at the next election as he did over a free-trader at the iast election. I think it is only fair to ask the Minister to justify these very drastic proposals. He has been urged to -fulfil the promise made to the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and repeated during the debate, that when we reached this stage of the Bill he would give us information which would justify his action. Now, however, the Minister sits back in his chair, and stubbornly refuses to enlighten us. It mav be that he has no special information. If not, I venture to sav that he ought to have. So far as we are able to iudge, only ordinary competition has been proceeding in the harvester business, which the Minister seems to have taken specially under his charge. The bulk of the harvesterimporting business is concentrated in the hands of the Massev-Harris Company, which is a British company. We have heard a great deal of talk from the Prime Minister, and those who support him, as to the importance of preferential trade, and the necessity of straining and twisting our Tariff with a view to concentrating- the trade of the Empire in the hands of the citizens of the Empire. Now, however, we find that the British trade in harvesters is being directly challenged.

S'r William Lyne. - British trade?

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