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Wednesday, 2 June 1915


Mr TUDOR (Yarra) (Minister of Trade and Customs) . - Although it is " grievance day " to-morrow, and an opportunity will be presented for discussing these matters, it is only fair to impress on honorable members that the answer I gave to-day to the honorable member for Balaclava, regarding the statement by Lord Denman, as reported in the press, embodied my opinion that that gentleman was substantially correct in his utterance. That is the view I held then, and the view I hold now. As to what was said by the honorable member for Moreton, I have never denied that I voted against the Naval Bill. The fact is that, when the honorable member for Parramatta deliberately refused to speak, I voted against the Bill being further proceeded with until he had had an opportunity to speak ; and I should do the same again under the same circumstances. I know that when compulsory training was very unpopular, it was the Labour party who were blamed for introducing the policy. The Leader of the Opposition, the very last time he was in office, when referring to the imprisonment of cadets, denounced the previous Fisher Government for their connexion with the scheme of compulsory training. It would appear that the Labour party are to bear all the odium of introducing that measure, and to be denied any credit connected therewith.


Mr Joseph Cook - Nothing of the kind. That is another complete misrepresentation.


Mr TUDOR - As to the matter raised by the honorable member for Cook, I may say that about ten days ago the Government communicated with the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, through the Prime Minister and the Premier of that State, asking whether the wheat that had been lent to New Zealand had been returned. It will be seen, therefore, that we have not been unmindful of the matter. It was at the request of the Premier of New Zealand that this wheat was lent to tide the Dominion over a period when they were without any; and I shall ascertain by tomorrow whether any reply has been received.


Mr J H Catts - A fortnight is a long time fo wait for a simple answer.


Mr TUDOR - Answers to other inquiries have taken quite as long to arrive. The point is that the Government have endeavoured to get information. As to the prices of food, I am not sure what powers the Commonwealth has. It is all very well to say this is a time of war, and that we have complete power over foodstuffs


Mr Sinclair - Surely the Commonwealth has power to do something?


Mr TUDOR - The Commonwealth haa power to stop wholly or partially all exports at any lime; and this power the Government did exercise in the case of sugar the day after they came into power.


Mr Joseph Cook - You have power to make political capital out of the matter, and that is all you are doing !


Mr TUDOR - Honorable members opposite are apparently anxious that all they say, in their anxiety to make political capital, shall goout to the public, and no reply appear in Hansard. The Government have done everything possible in the way of trying to get information, though I do not think we have the power to obtain full information at the present time. Honorable members will admit that I always endeavourto afford information of thekind whether it be to a political friend or a political opponent; and I shall continue to do so while I remain in office. We have no power to fix prices, but we have taken action from time to time which,I think, has had a fairly marked effect in this connexion.

Question resolved in the affirmative.







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