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Thursday, 20 October 1904

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All the trouble has arisen owing to the urgent demand by the honorable member for Bourke, who professes a burning desire to pass this Bill, seconded by an ex-Minister, who complains that the Government are trying to " gag " the Opposition in connexion with this measure. That is nice language from an ex-Minister, when a Minister is asking that an urgent measure which cannot occupy, our time much longer shall be proceeded with. While taking up our time, with their tongue in their cheeks, we are told that . they are concocting another surprise for the Government on Tuesday. I suppose it is part of the " little game " for the honorable member for Bourke to talk this measure over to-morrow, and on Tuesday to give the Government their coup de grace, so that the Opposition may be in possession of the measure once again. If that be their idea, it isjust as well the public should know. This is the first time we have had an Opposition claiming that the House should adjourn at half-past ten o'clock when an important measure, which they wish decided, is under consideration. The request was made in a spirit of pettiness, the honorable member being annoyed for the moment at an interjection. The request was not made with a genuine desire to promote fair discussion, but in order to exhibit the little petty power the Opposition have. If this continues, it will remain for the Government to assert their position, and see that business is carried through. The honorable member for Wide Bay was always treated courteously and fairly when in office.

Mr Tudor - Oh !

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Can the honorable member say aught to the contrary ? No honorable member complained to the honorable member for Wide Bay as Minister, as he has complained to the Minister to-night, that he was gagging the House. If the honorable member is anxious to pass a measure, which it is alleged will form the basis of many prospering industries, he is going the right way not to do it. The Bill has been before us many times, and is ready for decision, one way or the other, and for that reason I have refrained from speaking.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - Which is very unusual with the honorable member.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Such is my sense .of the necessity for dealing with the measure one way or the other that I have refrained from speaking, and, so far as I know. I do not intend to speak on the second reading. I understood we were to have a division to-night ; indeed, we were told that we were to have a division last night.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - So we should, if the Prime Minister had not spoken.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then the honorable member for Bourke is speaking purely for the purpose of an oratorical revenge on the Prime Minister?

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - 1 shall tell the hon- orable member why T am speaking.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No doubt the honorable member will tell us a lot, but he cannot get away from the fact that he has deliberately wasted half-an-hour. There was a possibility of the division being taken, had we sat for the usual time. It is not correct that the usual time for adjournment is half-past .ten o'clock, when measures of first-rate importance are before us. The usual time is eleven o'clock, except on Tuesdays, and the Prime Minister intimated that we should adjourn at that hour. I admit that the late Government, in its easy complaisant way, did adjourn much earlier than previous Governments. The honorable member for Bourke has made an unreasonable demand in an unreasonable spirit! I hope the Government will see that they have a sufficient number of supporters to prevent a repetition of what has occurred to-night ; because we ought not to allow this gloating on the part of the Opposition, who are already clamouring indecently for the seats from which they were so lately deposed.

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