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Wednesday, 27 July 1904

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know to whom the honorable member's remark applies. It does not apply to any one with whom I am acquainted-

Mr McLean - It applies to several whom I know of.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am afraid that the unholy combinations of which the honorable member speaks have not taken place, unless they have occurred amongst those sitting on his left. He was looking towards the wrong side of the chamber when he spoke on the subject. The only combination of which I am aware took place last night amongst those sitting on the honorable member's left. I know ' of no' combination between the leader of the

Opposition and the Government. There appears to be no need for such a combination. What the Government are doing now is precisely what they promised last night to do, before the vote was taken.

Mr McLean - Yes, after thev had been "got at."

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is refreshing to hear that the leader of the Opposition is able to "get at" the Government. I have not heard that statement made here before, and I should like to listen to an expression of opinion upon it from the members of the Government and their supporters. I have no indication to lead me to suppose that it is possible for the leader of the Opposition to do anything with the members of the Government Party, let alone "get at " them in regard to the Capital Sites question.

Mr McLean - I do not suggest that there was anything unfair in what was intended, or in what was done; but the Government gave way very easily. '

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am afraid that it will be impossible to satisfy ths honorable member in this matter. His attitude is the same as that of those who voted last night to postpone the selection of a site for the Capital.

Mr McLean - I voted with the majority last night.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think that the honorable member would have been more consistent if he had voted with the rest of the corner on that point. At any rate, it is about time that we arrived at finality on this question. We are really in the same position now as we were in two and a half years ago; we have not got any nearer to finality. If there are other sites which have not been fully dealt with, there will be nothing to prevent us from reconsidering the matter later, if we choose to do so, since Parliament can always reverse its decisions. If a site were discovered which promised to be a sort of Elysium, 1 am sure that Parliament would not hesitate to go back on its decision. But, so far as we know, all eligible sites have been exhausted, with the exception of the Tooma site, which has been unearthed at the last moment, and therefore we are as well able to make a choice now as we shall be at any future time. I think that, in the interests of this Parliament itself, we should endeavour to secure a habitation of our own as soon as possible. I welcome the proposal of the Government as a step towards finality, and I hope that honorable members will help them to secure a decision on a straight and clear issue.

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