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Friday, 12 August 1904


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In reply to the interjection of the honorable member, I wish to say that I never belonged to the Protectionist Party. But in my young days, before I knew anything about politics or economics, I was foolish enough to write a letter. At every election that letter is. trotted out by a certain newspaper, and -headed, " An eloquent tribute to protection," although, according to that same newspaper, everything that I have since written is "Tommy Rot. ' ' This afternoon the Minister of External Affairs made a characteristically bitter personal attack. With all kinds of contortions and circus tricks, of which he is such a complete master, he gasconaded round the table, as he has done many times of yore, hurling the most bitter accusations against honorable members upon this side of the House, including myself. All I have to say in reply to the honorable member's threats is that I do not value them at a snap of my fingers. He has made similar accusations before. Rather than resort to the tactics which he adopts for political purposes at election times, I should leave public life for ever. He talks about conscience and straightforward conduct. Why, he does not know the meaning of the terms. He does not keep anything of that kind on the premises. It is not part of his stock-in-trade.


Mr Hughes - The honorable member has never kept a solitary pledge made by him during his life.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister might just as well say that as anything else. Those people who know him will expect him to make statements of that character without having any concern as to whether they are true. The honorable and learned member simply disports himself on the platform, mountebank that he is, and no one questions anything that he says.


Mr Watson - Is that remark not unparliamentary ?


Mr SPEAKER - I ask the honorable member for Parramatta to withdraw the remark.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I withdraw the remark, if it is considered unparliamentary.


Mr Watson - If it is considered unparliamentary ! There is no doubt about that.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That interjection comes well from a colleague of a Minister who has been disporting himself as has the Minister of External Affairs.


Mr Mahon - The honorable member for Parramatta ought to apologize for what he has said.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister of External Affairs is, perhaps, a bit disappointed with my attitude in this debate. After his bitter personal attack, I consider myself absolved from secrecy concerning anything that took place between us over this Bill. The Minister of External Affairs is disappointed because I did not vote with him, though he tried hard to get me to do so, and sent wires to me in New South Wales containing requests to that effect.


Mr Watson - I suppose the Minister of External Affairs took it for granted that the honorable member for Parramatta would support unionists.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All I have to say is that I know of nothing in the present situation contrary to the spirit and purpose of a genuine trade union. I am as much in sympathy with trade unionism to-day and, perhaps, more so than are a great many honorable members who are so bitterly railing at me from the other side of the House.


Mr Poynton - Does the honorable member believe in the principle of gagging the House? Does he believe in preventing this Bill being recommitted?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I tell the honorable member for Grey thai I am not to be baited into making a speech on the merits of the question.


Mr Watson - Why should there not be a speech on the merits of the question?


Mr Poynton - The "badger" has been " drawn."


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The " badger " has not been " drawn " ; the honorable member has raised that shout of exultation too soon.


Mr Watson - Has there been a caucus on the question of silence ? It looks like it.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I know nothing of any caucus.


Mr Watson - Perhaps it is an order, and not a caucus decision.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I hope honorable members will believe me when I say that the first I heard of the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, was when it was submitted on the floor of the House. I did not know that it was going to be proposed.


Mr Watson - One- honorable member has said that a fortnight ago he was asked to take a similar course, and he would not do' it.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I hope honorable members will take my solemn assurance that the first I heard of the motion was when it was submitted on the floor of the House, though I will say that, perhaps, we ought to have known of the intention.


Mr Poynton - I have " drawn " something after all.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not intend to say anything more in reply to the speech of the Minister of External Affairs, except that whatever I have done I shall answer for to my constituents. ' I shall have not the slightest fear in facing the electors. All that will be necessary, when I appear before them, will be to point to what the Government have done in connexion with the preference clause; and it will be for the Government to justify that miserable botch.


Mr Brown - It was the Opposition who botched it.


Mr Thomas - Did the honorable member for Parramatta endeavour to help to make the clause a better one ?


Mr Watson - That is not in the bargain.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member for Barrier does not wish to make the clause a better one. After looking at the two proposals very closely, with all the capacity I can bring to bear, I cannot see that the amendment which the Government desire to move will make the provision any better, but very much worse. I have only now to say that I fear the threats of the Minister of External Affairs as much as I have always feared them. The honorable gentleman has been making threats ever since he came into public life ; but, if he will look after his own constituents, he will have quite enough to do, without giving his attention to the constituents of other honorable members.







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