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Thursday, 13 October 1904

Mr HUGHES (West Sydney) - I may be permitted to ask the House to consider the position in which I am placed by a remark made in connexion with a matter upon which the leader of the Opposition has spoken this evening. I have now been in politics for some ten years. I do inot for a moment pretend that during that time I have not said some very hard things of other men, and they have said very hard things of me, without our being any the worse friends. But I defy any man to say that I have ever stated in the House that which I knew to be untrue. I sayhere and now that I should despise myself if I thought myself capable of such a thing. Apart from the fact mentioned by the leader of the Opposition, that I went out and gave the details to the press, I should like to say that at the time I went out I had not the faintest idea that the facts had not been fairly represented to the House. I say now that, while it is quit-? untrue that the present Prime Minister initiated that prosecution, the whole gravamen of my charge was that he continued the prosecution when he had an opportunity to suspend it. I am not now concerned with the political but with the personal aspect of this matter, and I wish to say to the Prime Minister, and particularly to the House, that I am the last man in the world to misrepresent any man in a matter of this kind. I wish, therefore, to give the House to distinctly understand that I utterly repudiate the statement which one or two honorable members have permitted themrselves to make - one honorable member at all events - to the effect that I intentionally misrepresented the facts to the House. Though I do not deny that I have said very many bitter things of the Prime Minister - and the right honorable gentleman has never been backward in repayment - I am sure he will acquit me of any deliberate intention to misrepresent him in that particular. For the truth of what I say I do not wish merely to rely upon the fact that I gave the details to the press, but I desire to say that there was in my mind at the time no idea that there could be drawn from the remarks that I made anything but the facts as they are and were ; namely; that the Prime Minister, when he had an opportunity - the matter having been brought under his notice by the secretary to the Department - of either approving or disapproving of what had been done, elected to allow the action of his predecessor to remain undisturbed, as he did in at least two other cases, one in connexion with the appointment of the New Guinea Judge and the other in connexion with the arrangements made for permitting Japanese and Indians to come into this country under altered conditions - a very important alteration in administration. In the circumstances, I trust the House will accept the explanation I make, and that it shall not be said that any member of this House, under any circumstances or under any provocation, deliberately made a misstatement to this House which he knew at the time to be a misstatement.

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