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Wednesday, 28 September 1904

Sir JOHN QUICK (BENDIGO, VICTORIA) - I am merely pointing out a difficulty in the way of the honorable member for Bland resuming office. I venture to think that, having resigned, he might as well have waited until a development of events took place, or at any rate until the Arbitration Bill was disposed of in some way or other, before he made an attack. So far as I have been able to analyze in a general sort of way the arguments which have been presented in support of this motion of no-confidence, they may be summarized under three headings. In the first place, it. is alleged that the Ministry has no policy. In the second place, there are expressions of vague apprehension that a certain traditional and well recognised policy previously adopted by the House, is in danger of being attacked by the Ministry. And in the third place, there is an allegation, or a suggestion of a general antipathy to the Prime Minister. Dealing first with the question of no policy, I would ask the leader of the Opposition what time the Ministry has had to develop a policy ?

Mr Batchelor - Longer than we had.

Sir JOHN QUICK - Undoubtedly Ministers have had only a few weeks to consider the surroundings. They were suddenly brought into office, without any political association, or opportunities for considering a programme. They were not like the Labour Party, which came into office with a programme ready cut and dried. Ministers have had only three weeks in which to look around and take stock of the situation. Having done so, they found certain Bills on the notice-paper. They decided to take up these residuary fragments of previous Ministers, lick them into shape, and pass as many of them as they can. Surely honorable members on the other side cannot expect a newly-combined team like that to come down with a complete programme, at the fag end of a session.

Mr Thomas - We expect nothing from them.

Mr Poynton - It is too big a task for them.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They say in one breath that we have no policy, and in another breath that our policy is the same as theirs.

Sir JOHN QUICK - And yet they will not give the Ministry an opportunity of considering, developing, and evolving a policy. Again, it is said that the great democratic ideals of our Commonwealth, such as a White Australia, and the Immigration Restriction Act are in danger. What do we find? We find the late Minister of External Affairs coming down here and making an attack upon the Prime Minister because, forsooth, his own decision is not reversed. He makes it a positive grievance that his own decision is not reversed by his successor.

Mr Watson - Oh no !

Mr Mauger - The late Minister of External Affairs makes it a grievance that his successor does not stand to his colours.

Sir JOHN QUICK - The honorable and learned member for West Sydney taunts the Prime Minister, and does his best to goad him on to reverse his own decision.

Mr Watson - He says that the Prime Minister is inconsistent; that is all.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I do not see where there is any inconsistency about the matter. The Prime Minister expressed certain views about some provisions in the Immigration

Restriction Act in times past, and if he had a majority, I daresay he would endeavour to carry out his promise and try to modify the provisions; but he never said that he would refuse to obey the law.

Mr Mauger - He said that he would try to alter the law.

Sir JOHN QUICK - The Prime Minister is sworn to obey the law, and he dare not refuse to enforce the Immigration Restriction Act or the White Australia policy.

Mr Mauger - Why did he not say that about Sir Edmund Barton when he enforced the law in the case of the six hatters?

Mr Thomas - What did he say about the Petriana case?

Sir JOHN QUICK - In regard to those cases, I understand that the principal ground of criticism and attack was, that the Act was not enforced, in a businesslike manner, and that its administration was allowed to drift. That point does not arise here.

Mr Mauger - Yes. it does.

Sir JOHN QUICK -- The point is that members of the Labour Party are endeavouring to frighten people into thinking that the White Australia and Liberal policy is in danger. The greatest and strongest security that the policy to which we are all attached - at least those of us who are liberal protectionists - will not be in any way interfered with or prejudiced, is the presence on these benches of liberal protectionists. The tenure of office of the Government is dependent on the liberal element on this side of the House.

Mr Watson - And just as much on the conservative element.

Sir JOHN QUICK - So far as personal antipathy to the Prime Minister is concerned. I venture to hope that this House will ri-e superior to any such considerations - that the House will judge public men connected with this Parliament according to Federal politics and Federal principles.

Sir William Lyne - Bribery !

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member for Hume is delivering his speech over again, here in the corner.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - His conduct is disgraceful.

Mr SPEAKER - The PostmasterGeneral, the honorable member for Parramatta, and the honorable member for Hume, must be conscious that they are breaking the Standing Orders, and are doing so in spite of the fact that I have called attention to the matter several times. I hope that those honorable members will not further transgress. When honorable members of such experience disregard the Standing Orders, I cannot be expected to call to order honorable members not possessed of similar experience.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am very sorry, Mr. Speaker, but really the honorable member for Hume is, in an undertone, delivering his speech over again.

Mr SPEAKER - It is quite unnecessary for the honorable member for Parramatta to make any remarks. I regret that I have had To call the attention of honorable members to the Standing Orders. I hope the honorable member for Parramatta will show his regret by obeying the Standing Orders, and refraining from interrupting.

Sir JOHN QUICK - As to the " nopolicy " of the Government, I think that a certain amount of indulgence might reasonably be allowed to the new Ministry in the first few weeks of their existence.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Hume' is hurling accusations of bribery and corruption across the chamber, and it is impossible for order to be kept if trie honorable member conducts himself in that unseemly and disgraceful way.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In support of the point of order raised by the honorable member for Parramatta, I desire to say that the remark I made was in consequence of the charges levelled by the honorable member for -Hume at honorable members on this side of the House. When an honorable member is allowed to make such charges, it is no wonder honorable members interrupt.

Sir William Lyne - I made the charge of bribery this afternoon.

Sir John Quick - Against whom? .

Sir William Lyne - Against the leader of the Government. I shall say nothing more than what I said in my speech', and have proved bv documentary evidence.

Mr Conroy - The honorable member is an authority on bribery, I believe?

Sir William Lyne - I do not wish to disturb the harmony of the speech of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, but 1 was surprised when I heard him say he was going to support a gentleman who has such records against him.

Mr SPEAKER - I did not hear any remark from the honorable member for Hume. Naturally honorable members nearer to that honorable member would hear him before

I might, or otherwise I should have asked him to refrain from those interruptions, and to withdraw the remarks objected to. But, in any case, if such remarks are made to which honorable members take exception, it is their place to ask that I shall rule them out of order. They should not tate the law into their own hands by interjecting, or by carrying on conversations across the chamber, which are especially disorderly.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - As you, Mr. Speaker, have intimated that honorable members should refrain from interruption, and should appeal to you if disorderly expressions are used, I draw your attention to the words used by the honorable member for Hume, who has accused the Prime Minister of bribery. I ask whether those words are to be permitted in this Chamber without withdrawal. It is a most serious charge, which no honorable member should make against another in this Chamber, and I ask that it be withdrawn.

Mr SPEAKER - The charge, which was made this afternoon, was based on words used in connexion with reports of a certain proceeding in the New South Wales Parliament some years since. It was impossible for me to require the honorable member for Hume not to use the words, as they were a part of the reports on which he relied, and from which he was quoting ; he could not quote without using just those words. I did not hear the honorable member for Hume use the phrase complained of Just now, or,, as I said before, I should have required him to withdraw it.

Sir JOHN QUICK - -I must express my regret, and I am sure the regret of every honorable member, that such strong language should be used by the honorable member for Hume respecting a public man in this House. I know nothing of the history of the case, but I decline to believe an ex parte statement.

Sir William Lyne - I proved it by evidence.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I have no doubt that the Parliament pf New South Wales was capable of dealing with the case referred to, and that it was dealt with according to justice and law. It is a scandal to introduce those matters into, the Federal Parliament so persistently. Such a course is not 'calculated to assist this debate, but merely to excite prejudice, and it may be to do injustice to individuals. I hope that the Opposition, as a body, will not countenance or encourage any such unfair tactics.

Debate adjourned.

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