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Tuesday, 12 December 1905

Mr SPEAKER - Order. I cannot allow the honorable member to use expressions of that kind.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister has made a statement concerning me which has not a tittle of foundation.

Sir William Lyne - Itis absolutely true.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - At no time did I discuss the Bill with the Minister until yesterday, when he told me. whilst I was sitting on the Opposition benches, that his proposal was precisely on the same lines as the provision in Division VIa. of the Tariff. Until then I had never opened my mouth to the Minister.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member is absolutely mistaken.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The statement of the Minister that I told him that I would oppose the Bill until after Christmas is absolutely incorrect.

Sir William Lyne - It is absolutely correct.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I never in. my life made such a statement to the Minister.

Mr Webster - Is not the honorable member's memory at fault?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member is prepared to stand by the Minister in anything.

Mr Webster - I stand by a man who I know speaks the truth.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. The honorable member is notin order in making an insinuation of that kind.

Mr Webster -I withdraw the remark.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not concerned about the statements of the honorable member for Gwydir - I do not care what he says or thinks - but I am concerned about the statements of a responsible Minister, who puts language into my mouth that I never even thought of If the Minister goes on like this, he will make it impossible for a decent man to have anything to do with him. I may say frankly that had not the Bill been amended, I should certainly have opposed it.

Sir William Lyne - That is what the honorable member told me.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I did nothing of the kind. The Bill, on the face of it, is a fraud from start to finish. It means nothing so far as any practical assistance to the iron industry is concerned. I have letters in my pocket now from ironworkers at Lithgow, asking me to do nothing to hinder this Bill from going through. These people actually think that this Bill imposes duties for their benefit; and the sooner they know that it is simply another of the many deceits, that this Minister has practised upon them during his Ministerial career, the better for them and the better for all concerned. We all know that last week, when we arrived in Sydney, the representatives of the iron industry were there, running after the Minister as a great benefactor; and here is the result of it all. This Bill does absolutely nothing over and above what has been done before.

Sir William Lyne - That is not correct.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All that this Bill does is to remove the preamble in Division VI.a of the Customs Tariff Act relating to the bounty.

Mr Fisher - It does away with the necessity for passing an Act for that purpose.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - May I remind my honorable friend, in answer to his statement, that the same resolution which would bring these duties into operation would remove that language from Division VI.a?

Sir William Lyne - No, certainly not.

Mr Watson - That is not correct; it is ridiculous. Let the honorable member ask Mr. Speaker, who will tell him that he ls wrong.

Mr Deakin - It takes an Act to alter an Act.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What, is the difference? The same majority that will pass a resolution will put a formal Act through. Putting an Act of this kind through means the work of about five minutes.

Mr Watson - Would it? I do not think so.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable member suggest that we on this side should oppose it?

Mr Watson - I do. most decidedly.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Taking out that language from section VI.a? That is the only point. The honorable member need not quibble like that, as he always does.

Mr Watson - The honorable member never made a straight statement in his life. He is not capable of a straight statement.

Mr SPEAKER - Order !

Mr Higgins - I rise to a point of order. I have been listening to the speech of the honorable member for Parramatta for twenty minutes. The like of it I have never heard in any civilized assembly, before. I understand that the honorable member has accused the honorable member for Bland of " quibbling, as he always does." I think that is going to extremes. The House is not used to such accusations, and I will ask you to insist upon the honorable member withdrawing that language.

Mr Watson - He is the most insulting man I have ever struck !

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! There are too many remarks in speeches, and too many interjections of an unnecessarily personal character. No good result canpossibly come from them, and they tend only to promote angry feelings,. I will ask honorable members on both sides, when speaking to questions, and when interjecting, to refrain from the use of such language. As the honorable member for Northern Melbourne has called attention to a remark made by the honorable member for Parramatta, I will ask him to withdraw it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If you rule that my statement as to quibbling is out of order. I will certainly withdraw it.

Mr SPEAKER - If the honorable member had simply said that the honorable member for Bland was quibbling. I should certainly have not taken any notice of the remark. I should even have passed by the remark, " He is quibbling, as he always, does," as there was some little excitement in the Chamber, if attention had not been drawn to it. But now that attention has been called to the language. I will ask the honorable member to withdraw it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Certainly. May I, in passing, call attention to a statement made by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who has thought it necessary to take a point of order? He is a gentleman who professes to be very accurate in his statements. But he has declared that he has been listening to me for twenty minutes, whereas in fact I have been speaking for only five. This is a specimen of the accuracy we get from this gentleman, who isso punctilious and so critical of other people. As to the honorable and learned member's description of my speech as one, the like of which he had never heard before, I reply that I do not value his opinion upon that point.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. Will the honorable member discuss the Bill?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am going to discuss it. Now, what does this Bill do? Let us get back to the measure itself, and see what it is going to do for the iron industry of Australia. After it is passed, it can do nothing for the industry until iron is actually on the market to meet the requirements of Australia produced from Australian ore. That cannot be, under the most favorable circumstances, until the year 1907. Does the Minister deny that? I repeat that there can be no iron produced from Australian ore before the year 1907. Therefore, we are passing a Bill to say that in the year 1907 the Minister may come down to Parliament and ask it to impose a duty to benefit an Australian industry, and Parliament may pass it or refuse to do so. Is not that, on the face of it, a frivolous waste of the time of this House, to say nothing more? Is there any ironmaster in the world who, on a mere contingency of that kind, would invest his hard earnings in this industry. I say that the Minister is making the people outside believe that this measure makes a substantial concession to the iron industry of Australia, when it does nothing that has not already been done in Division VI. a of the Customs Tariff Act. And now he has accepted an amendment - suggested, of course, bythe Labour members. He would not have looked at this amendment if they had been solid behind him. If it had been proposed from this side of the House, he would have ridiculed and danced on it. But because it has been suggested by a Labour member, he clutches at it anxiously, and is glad to take it, and to urge the House to put the Bill through, although, on its face, the whole procedure is a frivolous waste of time and effort - a farce and a fraud, so far as those outside are concerned. The honorable gentleman's statement as to his having imposed a duty in New South Wales is quite true. He was instrumental in imposing a duty of 10s. per ton on pig iron, which was to take effect in the succeeding January. That duty, if I remember rightly, remained on the statute-book for two years; but it had not, so far as we are aware, the slightest effect in stimulating the pig-iron producing industry of New South Wales.

Mr Watson - We had not Inter-State free-trade at that time, it must be remembered.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But I come back to the point, and the only point I wish to make ; that the Minister has been making the people engaged in the iron industry believe, for many months past, that by means of this Bill, we are going to establish the iron industry in New South Wales. This Bill will do nothing of the kind. It merely solemnly enacts that in the year 1907, when we may hope that pig iron may be produced from Australian ores, this same Minister of Trade and Customs may come down to Parliament, and ask itto impose a duty which he now has not the pluck to propose, but which he is making the people believe that he will impose at some time in the distant future. It is a safe proposal, but again I say that it is a sorry farce.

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