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Thursday, 10 June 1915

The CHAIRMAN - I ask honorable members not to discuss that subject.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Is the honorable member for Brisbane prepared to say that George Ryland Had a useful function to fulfil in the Northern Territory, and that he was entitled to be paid more than-

The CHAIRMAN - Order ! ' This discussion is out of order.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Yes, Mr. Chairman, I would rather not say, anything about George Ryland. I am speaking to the question of Mr. Deakin's expenses at the Panama Exposition, and I say that the inference which the Minister clearly leaves to be drawn is that Mr. Deakin deceived the Commission in San Francisco, and although he had £1,000 in his pocket, took £43 10s. per week from them.

Mr Webster - Do you say that the allegation is incorrect?

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I hope that *t is; I do not know anything about it.

Mr Webster - Then why talk about it?

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Because m the absence of evidence I do not believe that Mr. Deakin deceived the Commission. Th s whole of his past career and history gives the lie to any such charge.

Mr Webster - Then what the Minister said was untrue and misleading.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - All that I wish to say is that I hope, in the interests of Mr. Deakin, that the Minister will put the matter right. If ever there was a man who was scrupulous in regard to public moneys it was Mr. Deakin. He was the one man in Australia who stood out particularly in that regard; the one man who always treate'd public moneys as if he were in reality a trustee of private moneys.

Mr J H Catts - Surely such conduct is not exceptional.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - It was exceptional in this way : He was always parsimonious in the expenditure of public moneys upon himself. When a man with the utmost scrupulosity with regard to the expenditure of public moneys upon himself is treated in this fashion, we have a right to enter a protest.

Mr CARR (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am glad to learn that the right honorable gentleman has altered his opinion in regard to Mr. Deakin.

Mr Page - That is a hit to leg! I have heard the right honorable gentleman say some awful things about Alfred Deakin.

Mr J H Catts - Did not the right honorable gentleman attack Mr. Deakin on the matter of expenses ?

The CHAIRMAN - Order! This cross-firing must cease.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Never; and if I may also reply to the foolish interjection of the honorable member for Macquarie - because it means nothing; it is an idle interjection-

Mr Page - If the right honorable gentleman calls it an idle interjection he is " hot stuff."

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I call it an absolutely idle interjection, from an idle fellow, who the other day came here and wanted to sit all hours of the day and night, and whom we did not see again for a fortnight afterwards.

The CHAIRMAN - Will the honorable gentleman address himself to the item?

Mr Page - I am here as often as the right honorable gentleman.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I wish the honorable member would keep his foghorn voice out of this debate. He blunders in every time. Let him keep out of this matter; he is not in it at all.

Mr Burchell - Does he speak the truth ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK - He does not speak the truth.

The CHAIRMAN - I ask the right honorable member to withdraw that statement.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Yes, I withdraw it. The interjection led me astray. I meant to say that the honorable member's statement was 'an absolute exaggeration. I wish to make but one reply to it. If ever a man did serve the party opposite Mr. Deakin did, and they reward him by treating him as if he were a pickpocket. That is my answer to all these taunts of honorable members.

Mr J H Catts - Twenty-six of us kept thirteen of Mr. Deakin's party in office.


Mr Wise - In order to keep the right honorable gentleman out.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - That is a perfectly proper interjection from an Independent, who votes and speaks Labour every time

The CHAIRMAN - May I again ask the right honorable member to confine himself to the item?

Mr JOSEPH COOK - May I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to protect me from these terrific onslaughts from this Independent member who sits immediately behind the Government, and supports them to his heart's content?

The CHAIRMAN - I am doing so. I ask the honorable member to confine himself to the item.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I ask the Minister to clear up this point, because the inference is clearly to be drawn from this statement that Mr. Deakin took £43 10s. per week from the Exposition Commission at San Francisco, while at the same time he had £1,000 in his pocket which this Government had given to him before he went hence. An honorable member interjects, " Are you jealous?" I am jealous for the reputation of an old public servant, and I hope that party feeling has not so got the better of us that we cannot stand up and defend each other's reputations in these matters. It is miserable, pettifogging party spirit which leads us to make these inferences against public men with such splendid records behind them.

Mr Page - No one is impugning Mr. Deakin's honour.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - This statement does. The Minister says that Mr. Deakin was given £1,000 to cover his expenses when he went away.

Mr Page - He had a perfect right to get it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I understand that it was placed at his disposal. Yet here the Minister says, without a word of explanation, that Mr. Deakin allowed the Commission in San Francisco to vote him another £43 10s. per week over and above the £1,000.

Mr Page - I do not see anything wrong in that. Mr. Deakin was entitled to be paid his expenses.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Does the honorable member believe that Mr. Deakin took this £43 10s. and the £1,000 also?

Mr Page - I am sure that he would not do so.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Yet here is the Minister's reply given in the House.

Mr Archibald - If you read the Minister's reply you would understand it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Will the Minister of Home Affairs read the reply? I am sorry I have asked him to read it, for I know he would not be capable of understanding it if he did.

Mr Archibald - If I had a talent for political roguery like you, heaven help me !

The CHAIRMAN - The Minister must withdraw that remark. It is not in order.

Mr Archibald - I will withdraw it if it is offensive, though it strikes me as pretty true.

The CHAIRMAN - The Standing Orders must be obeyed, as I am sure the Minister will see.

Mr Archibald - I withdraw it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - The Panama business wants a good deal of clearing up apart from the reflection on Mr. Deakin's honour in this question and answer.

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - Nothing can touch his honour. He is an honorable man, especially in money matters.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - And we have a right to protect his honour in his absence.

The more I look into the matter the more I am convinced that he has received the scurviest treatment that ever a man received at the hands of any Ministry.

Mr Richard Foster - The whole Government are to blame as much as the Minister.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I am referring to the Government.

Mr Mahon - What are we to blame for?

Mr JOSEPH COOK - For treating Mr. Deakin in the way he was treated in connexion with the Commission and for sending him over there after a controversy, the record of which, I suppose, would go over on the same boat with him. If anything could tend to neutralize his influence at the other end, I should think it would be the reading of the correspondence which took place between him and the Minister, and which all turned on one omission on Mr. Deakin's part in setting out the then position of affairs with regard to Panama. All the details were on the file in the honorable member's office.

Mr Mahon - They were not. They are not there even yet.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Why are they not there?

Mr Mahon - I do not know. That is what I should like to find out.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Who kept them off?

Mr Mahon - I do not know. I should like to find out.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I do not see why the honorable member does not or cannot find out. Has he tried to find out?

Mr Mahon - Yes.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - What files are missing that should be there?

Mr Mahon - The most important letter of all - the one that Mr. Nielsen wrote on the 14th August.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - Is not that on your file?

Mr Mahon - No.

The CHAIRMAN - This conversation ' is entirely out of order.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - It is interesting, and wants some clearing up. If the letter was addressed to the Commission it ought to be on the file of the Commission. If there is a letter missing I should like to know what has become of it, and what is the reason that it is not on the file.

Mr Mahon - I do not know any more than you do.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - That is the clearest proof that the honorable member has not concerned himself in finding it.

Mr Mahon - No.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - What other inference is possible? Mr. Nielsen is there; Mr. Deakin is there; Mr. Edward is now here; and whatever were the previous relations between Mr. Nielsen and the Minister, Mr. Nielsen feels himself as much affronted as Mr. Deakin by the Minister's action. It is not only over Mr. Deakin that the honorable member has ridden rudely and roughly. It is Mr. Nielsen and everybody else there. The Minister has waved them all aside.

Mr Mahon - I think you ought to wait until you get all the facts.

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