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Tuesday, 19 July 1904

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, of course, takes the responsibility for introducing this subject. I do not intend to be drawn into a general argument on the fiscal question, but I protest against the miseries of people outside being made a fiscal stalking horse in this House. The honorable member who introduced the question knows as well as any man can possibly know anything that this is not the way to get relief for the men who are out of employment. He knows that his appeal to the Government to re-open the fiscal question must be fruitless. The Government, to begin with, is composed of free-traders and protectionists. Thequestion is altogether beyond their control. The sooner the unemployed are made aware that the honorable member, when talking in this way, knew perfectly well that his appeal could have no effect the better it will be. I wish to make but one reply to some of the statements of the honorable member. He spoke of the dearth of employment in Melbourne as being consequent upon the introduction of the Federal Tariff. I was reading, when coming down in the train this morning, a statement made by one of the arch-priests of protection in Melbourne. I refer to Senator Trenwith. Speaking last night in one of the suburbs of Melbourne upon the effects of Federation, he mentioned the fact that since the inauguration of the Commonwealth - and I suppose consequent upon the introduction of the Tariff - the exports of Victoria to other States have increased by £2,000,000.

Mr Mauger - He did not state what the increased imports were.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That does not look as if the protected industries of Victoria arebeing placed in the x quantity.

Mr Mauger - That does not affect the question one bit.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Perhaps that is so. I have no doubt that we shall hear an explanation of it when the honorable member replies. Meanwhile, I simply point out that fact, which, no doubt, he overlooked. In the same newspaper this morning I saw another statement to the effect that in the Denton Hat Mills industry there had been a great increase in employment.

Mr Mauger - The article did not say that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I mean an increase in the number of hands employed.

Mr Mauger - Did it not say that three other mills had been closed?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I read that the Denton Hat Mills have paid their usual 10 per cent, dividend for the half-year. That also looks as if the Tariff has not been so absolutely destructive of the hat industry as my honorable friend would make us believe.

Mr Mauger - Three other mills have been closed.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member must stop interjecting; he would not allow any one to interject while he was speaking. These are the only two instances I intend to mention to-day. I protest that this is neither the time nor the occasion for a general review of the effects of the Tariff, especially when it is recollected that the House was returned for the most part on the basis of fiscal peace. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports says, as an excuse for his action, that the leader of the Opposition has raised the fiscal question, and that, therefore, he may do so.

Mr Mauger - No.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - May I remind the honorable member that he did not make his action at the general election consequent on anything which that right honorable gentleman did. He gave his constituents a pledge that he would not raise the fiscal question in this Parliament.

Mr Mauger - I did nothing of the kind.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member told his constituents - and that is the reason for his being here to-day - that he was for a fiscaltruce.

Mr Mauger - What nonsense !

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then the honorable member went away from his party on that occasion.

Mr Ronald - The honorable member's leader told them something else.


Mr Reid - I told them the very opposite, and I got beaten.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Every one knows that we combated the idea of fiscal peace, and that honorable members who wish to raise the fiscal question now went to the country pleading for a fiscal truce. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has told us what a mistake they made when they went to their constituents on any such proposal. He has told us that this is not the time for a fiscal truce or a fiscal peace. There can be no objection to the honorable member raising the question at the proper time and place, but I submit that it ought not to be raised when the question of dealing with the unemployed is on the tapis. I, with him, hope that the Government will strain every nerve to give whatever work they have with the view of relieving the necessitous condition of the unemployed.

Mr Mauger - That is only patch-work; mv proposal will be permanently beneficial.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member goes further than that, and asks the Government to deliberately re-open the whole Tariff question. He knows, if he knows anything at all, that he is asking them to do something which is impossible, and he' is therefore throwing dust in the eyes of those of his constituents who are asking for immediate relief.

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