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Friday, 12 August 1904

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - COOK.- Honorable members have accused me of seceding from the Labour Party to jump the position of Postmaster-General in the Reid Ministry. A more scandalous statement has never been uttered, and I will show why. For some six months I .was the leader of the Labour Party in the New South Wales Parliament. I was not the first leader of that party, as the. Minister of External Affairs has told the House. Mr. McGowan was the first leader. After that party broke up, we formed another party, which adopted a programme consisting of only two planks, both of which have long since been passed into law. I led that party for some time. Then certain individuals outside of Parliament came forward with what is known as the " solidarity " pledge. The present Prime Minister, and the Minister of External Affairs, with others, repeatedly came to the members of our party, and requested us to sign the solidarity pledge. I declined to do so, or to be any party to it, chiefly on the ground that it would destroy- my representative character. Thereupon they formed another party outside of Parliament, and declared that the Labour Party inside the Legislature was of a bogus character. They opposed its members at the ensuing election six months later. They endeavoured to drive us out of public life be cause we refused to join the party with the solidarity pledge. Months after these occurrences, and after I had been elected, in the face of their opposition, I was offered a position in the Reid Government. At that time I was unattached to any party, and was entirely free to accept the portfolio of Postmaster-General, or any other Ministerial office. The honorable member for Barrier is familiar with all these facts, and I complain that he has wilfully sought to misguide the House as to the actual position of affairs. The Minister of External Affairs 'also stated that he was a member of the Labour Party with me. That is quite beside the mark. He was never associated with me in a party. I never signed the pledge of that party, and, therefore, had nothing whatever to do with it.

Mr Crouch - Will the honorable member explain how he left the Protectionist Party ?

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