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Thursday, 13 October 1904


Mr ROBINSON (Wannon) - Reference has been made to me in connexion with this matter. The statement which I characterized in this House as " absolutely incorrect " is a statement which was made by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney in this House on the 20th of September, 1904, and which will be found reported in Hansard for this session, at page 4739. The honorable and learned member is there reporred to have said, referring to the Prime Minister -

The first thing he does after he has the opportunity is to give instructions for a prosecution under it.

Later on in the speech the honorable and learned gentleman said -

The right honorable gentleman not only gives orders for a prosecution under the Act -

And again, on the same page, the honorable and learned member is reported as saying -

He orders a prosecution under the Act.

I characterized that statement that the Prime Minister ordered a prosecution tinder the Act as " absolutely incorrect." Outside this House I used language with respect to that statement which is unparliamentary. I think I was justified in the language I used here, and I think I was perfectly justified in the language I used outside, because I can assure honorable members that it was heartfelt. On the next day, the 2 1 st September, when the 'Prime Minister gave his explanation, and showed that he did not order a prosecution, the honorable and learned member had an opportunity of withdrawing his statement. He made no withdrawal, but, on page 481 1 of Hansard, he said -

I say, most emphatically, that my statement was clear - the reference was unambiguous.

Not content -with reiterating his statement, he told the House that the Prime Minister w.as endeavouring to crawl out of something.


Mr Hughes - How can the honorable and learned member say that?


Mr ROBINSON - The honorable and learned member ought to have known that his statement that the Prime Minister had ordered a prosecution was absolutely without foundation. He had the fullest opportunity of withdrawing it.


Mr Hughes - How can that be said in the face of the statement in the newspaper on the same day?


Mr ROBINSON - The honorable and learned member refused to withdraw the statement.


Mr Hughes - Mr. Speaker-


Mr SPEAKER - The honorable and learned member cannot speak at this stage.


Mr Hughes - But the honorable and learned member is making a statement which is not true.


Mr SPEAKER - That remark must be withdrawn. The honorable and learned member knows that he cannot speak during the speech of another honorable member.


Mr Hughes - But the honorable and learned member is now making a statement which is not in accordance with the fact.


Mr SPEAKER - That the honorable and learned member may say, but he must withdraw his statement that the honorable and learned member for Wannon was saying that which is not true.


Mr Hughes - The honorable and learned member is making a statement which is not in accordance with the fact when he says that I have refused to withdraw a statement. I have not refused to withdraw a statement. I have just nowstated


Mr SPEAKER - Order. The honorable and learned member cannot proceed to make a speech.


Mr ROBINSON - What I said- and I thought that I made myself clear - was that on the 20th September the honorable, and learned member charged the Prime Minister with ordering a prosecution, that on the 2 1 st September he made a personal explanation, and it was in his power then to correct the misstatement, but that he did not do so.


Mr Hughes - I say again-


Mr SPEAKER -Does the honorable and learned member rise to make a personal explanation?


Mr Hughes - Yes, sir. I repeat that I came in on the following day, after having given to the press on the previous night a full statement of the facts, which are not questioned. I believe that the Prime Minister will accept that statement.


Mr Reid - One of the worst features of this business is that the honorable and learned member makes two statements on the same night - that he puts in Hansard a statement which is not correct, and corrects it in a newspaper.


Mr Hughes - The whole thing turns on the words "ordering the prosecution." After I had had an opportunity of hearing about the right honorable gentleman's, personal explanation, I said , that evening when I came in that I, not he, had ordered the prosecution in the first instance, but that after the matter had been brought under his notice he had elected to go on with the case, ordering the Secretary to let matters go. I submit that, under the circumstances, the language was unambiguous.







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