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Thursday, 21 April 1904

Mr REID (East Sydney) - I rise simply to say a very few words about the attack which' the Minister for Trade and Customs has made upon me in reference to the matter before the Committee. The statements which he has made are quite at variance with the published records of this House. Of course we know that when the honorable gentleman is in those affecting situations in which his position is seriously threatened, he becomes more or less frantic.

I do not wish to reply to any attacks he has made, because he is so thoroughly wellknown that it is unnecessary to do so. Unfortunately in Federal politics we have no roads and .bridges to give to honorable members, and, therefore, the Minister for Trade and Customs is not in the position of influence which he occupied in New South Wales.

Sir William Lyne - I do not think that the honorable member has much influence here either.

Mr REID - I do not think I have, but I take my gruel in an agreeable fashion as a rule ; and if the honorable gentleman would only do the same, he would resume that appearance of amiability which makes him look almost interesting. We are all anxious to bring this discussion to a conclusion, and I do not propose to do more than read the statement which I made to the House at the beginning of the present session in reference to this important matter. When I announced to the House that I intended to vote with the Prime Minister, I made the observations which I shall read, because I foresaw something of this sort, and I was careful to define my position exactly. . I referred to the Prime Minister as speaking of this very amendment as one which the Government could not accept as it was an invasion of the constitutional rights of the States, and I said - i think that he is right, and i suppose that i have a right to express my opinion at any time i choose.

Then there was an interjection to which I replied -

Yes. i have no hesitation in agreeing with the views which the Prime Minister entertains, and so far from my desiring to seize any advantage from him in his position of embarrassment upon this matter, he will have my support. Of course, since one lives in danger of all sorts of recriminations

I had some prophetic instinct as to the exhibition to which we have been treated -

I wish it to be distinctly understood, in justice to some of my friends who voted in favour of the amendment to which i have referred, that i can in no way influence those who have given pledges to their constituents as to the way they shall vote. i hope that honorable members will understand that in that respect i speak only for myself. i leave honorable members on this side of the House to their own views, and especially to their own declarations to their constituents.

I do not think that any leader of a party, in announcing his intention to support a Government, could more clearly indicate than I did that the Government were to understand that I was simply giving to them an assurance of my own individual support, and that I would not exercise any influence upon the gentlemen whom I have the honour to lead.

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