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Tuesday, 27 September 1904

Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) - Before asking for an adjournment of the debate, I think it right, since certain statements have been made by the Minister of Trade and Customs, to say a word or two on a subject which I regret has been brought before the House. I refer to the divulgence of certain proceedings! which took place in a caucus of the Protectionist Party, under the seal of confidence.

Mr McLean - Who violated the confidence ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The Minister; and he has made a statement which, I regret to say, is not in accordance with what took place. He said that a majority of those present were in favour of a longer extension of the fiscal truce "than was proposed in the memorandum submitted by the then leader of the party ; but the only member whom I heard say a word in reference to the matter was the honorable and learned member for Bendigo

Mr McLean - I heard many honorable members express that opinion.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Two or three others may have done so. I did not hear them, and no vote was taken on the question.

Mr McLean - The honorable member was himself in favour of extending the time.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I was absolutely against it.

Mr McLean - I do not say at the caucus, but when addressing the electors at Albury.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am speaking of what took place at the caucus. I shall have something else to say about what has been alleged, in reference to my statements elsewhere. I am . referring now to statements which have been made to-night in reference to the proceedings which took place at the caucus, and I wish my refutation of them to be published side by side with the statements themselves. The Minister also said that a majority of the protectionists were in favour of a coalition, and in refutation of that statement, I wish to say that there was a unanimous decision not to join under the leadership of the present Prime Minister. It was a clear understanding that, before any further steps of any kind were taken, another meeting qf the party would be called; but such a meeting has never been called. I am sorry that these matters have been referred to, but as statements have been made which are quite contrary to what really took place I have felt bound to say a word or two in regard to them. I shall not proceed to-night with the remarks which I wish to make on the motion before the House, because they will take some little time, and I think that I am justified in asking for an adjournment 01 the debate until to-morrow.

Sir John Quick - I desire to make a personal explanation. I regret that any private conversation which took place at the. meeting of the Liberal- Protectionists has been disclosed this evening ; but, as the honorable member for Hume has mentioned mv name, I wish to state most distinctly that I never advocated an extended term for any coalition.

Sir William Lyne - Why, the honorable and learned member moved it.

Sir John Quick - What I said was that if there was to be a coalition, it would be ridiculous to terminate it upon the eve of a general election, and that it ought to be extended over two Parliaments. Therefore the honorable member for Hume places me in a false position when he suggests that I advocated an extended term for a coalition. The honorable member ought to know that I opposed the coalition. I drafted the following resolution : -

Resolved, That the present circumstances do not render advisable either of the proposed coalitions or alliances, and that every effort should be made to maintain the unity and integrity of the Liberal Party.

So far as I am concerned, I have endeavoured to give effect to that resolution, and I am no party to any coalition.

Debate adjourned.

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