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Wednesday, 27 June 1906

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I have already promised that this debate, so far as its second reading stage is concerned, shall close this evening, and therefore I. feel no compunction in speaking, for the second time upon the general question before the House. I wish particularly this afternoon, to offer some reasons why there should be a little delay in con-, nexion with this most important measure.

I desire to advance reasons why it should not be proceeded with until after we have received from the Tariff ' Commission, which is now sitting, its report upon the matters that are principally affected by this Bill.

Sir William Lyne - I do not think that the honorable member got a very satisfactory reply to the .question which he put to the Chairman of the Commission this afternoon.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think that the reply was eminently satisfactory from my point of view, if not from that of the Minister. He is hurrying this Bill through the House, seemingly for the purpose of getting ahead of the Commission which is inquiring into these specific matters. The fact that the honorable gentleman has behind him a solid phalanx of members who will sit quiet and vote upon all occasions-

Sir William Lyne - I thought that the honorable member would get angry.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not angry ; it is the Minister who is getting angry. He need not tell me that he is going to do nothing, because I know it before he makes the announcement. I know his attitude upon this question, and I know also that a little knowledge would be fatal to his political schemes. A long personal experience of him has taught me that there is nothing which is so fatal to him and his measures as the kind of knowledge which he is seeking to "burke" just now.

Sir William Lyne - I have passed the best measures to be found on the statutebooks in Australia.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am sure that the Minister believes that he has. He has passed a lot of measures which he dares not bring into operation, because of the impossibility of administering, them.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member will learn all about that to-morrow or the next day.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The information which we have gleaned to-day from the Chairman of the Tariff Commission evidences the necessity for hastening slowly with this very important proposal. This Bill has been introduced primarily to deal with many of the matters upon which the Tariff Commission is upon the verge of' reporting.

Mr Thomas - We have a Senate to prevent hasty legislation.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We have a Senate, I believe, that is dominated in the same way as is this Chamber, by the silent, solid vote of men who make up their minds out of the House, and then come into it and sit tight till measures are put through. That is what we have both in this Chamber and in the Senate.

Mr Thomas - Did not the honorable member like that state of things in New South Wales for five years?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We did not have it for five years. To my way of thinking, nothing that has occurred in New South Wales or in' any part of Australia has ever presented a parallel to what we see here. The Labour Party, as I said last night, ought to be re-named the deaf and dumb party, so far as discussion in this House is concerned. Its members have abdicated their old-time functions. These great tribunes of - the people who were wont to make their voices heard in the Parliaments of the States have not a word to say upon these matters, which go to the very vitals of our industrial position. These matters do not appear to concern them. Their attitude was summed up the other day by their leader in this Chamber when he said that they do not object to the consideration of ,a little protection, so long as there are more important matters from their point of view in the Government programme. That appears to be the sum and substance of the whole matter. They are therefore in this position : that, so long as there are some planks of their platform on the Government programme, Ministers may play ducks and drakes with anything beside, no matter how important it may be to the country. That is why we find them sitting kin a solid phalanx, none of them saying a word. They simply sit tight, and see these measures put through, very often, I venture to say, without knowing what is in them. ' So far from that lessening our obligation, it increases it. The people outside should know something about what is going on here, and if honorable members of the Labour Party, who are supposed to take the great working population of Australia specially under their wing, will not condescend to enlighten them in any way. there is all the more reason why we should do it.

Sir William Lyne - And the working men will not trust the honorable member.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know about that.

Sir William Lyne - I do.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman knows a lot. He has all his life been a good friend to the working men.

Sir William Lyne - I have.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - When it suited the honorable member's purpose. This is only a new-found zeal of the honorable gentleman for the working men. His interest in the working men dates from the time when, by their votes, he was able to get on the Treasury bench.

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