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Wednesday, 15 August 1906


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) .- I have always heard it stated that this Parliament enjoys the reputation of being the most sober, deliberative body in

Australia. But I will undertake to say that no body of men could display the same knowledge of the chemistry, flavour, and uses of liquor that has been exhibited by honorable members during the course of this debate. I do not, unfortunately, share that knowledge myself, and there- fore I should like to know more clearly exactly where honorable members are. I am one of those who are anxious to stand up for the recommendations of the Commission, so long as I am satisfied that they have been unanimously arrived at. I understand, however, that upon this particular point there was not unanimity on the part of its members.


Mr Fowler - We were not so enthusiastic upon it.


Sir John Quick - We all signed the recommendation.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I was anxious to know whether the members of the Commission were unanimous upon this question. In my judgment it is unreasonable for this Committee to set itself up as a tribunal equally competent to the Commission which investigated this difficult subject. We have had a very good instance of that afforded us by the honorable member for Parramatta, who offered as a reason for the view which he entertains upon this question the fact that a certain firm had made a particular statement in a letter to him. We have only to consider his position for a moment to realize that he is on very unsafe ground in this connexion. Need I remind him that the Tariff Commission have had scores of men like Mr. Penfold before them upon oath? No useful purpose canbe served by any honorable member declaring that a particular witness has said so and so ; because it is quite possible that the statement which he makes in written communications with an honorable member is entirely different from that which he made upon oath before the Commission, and when he was subjected to cross-examination.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The statement is the same in each case.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I did not know that it was. I hope that the honorable member will bear with me; I am speaking only of the practice.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister checked the statement as I read it.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not speaking particularly of the case mentioned by the honorable member. If in an action at law ten witnesses had been heard on each side, it would be unreasonable to urge that the verdict of the jury should be upset because it appeared to be contrary to something said by one witness. That is an illustration of the position in which we find ourselves. The Commission examined and cross-examined some scores of witnesses on oath : and if I have read the evidence aright many of those witnesses broke down under cross-examination. They are now flooding the House with circulars which possibly - I do not say probably - differ entirely from the evidence they gave before the Commission. Only yesterday Messrs. Joshua Brothers issued to honorable members circulars in which they made certain statements protesting against the findings of the Commission. Sideby side with the distribution of those circulars we had a letter produced by the chairman of the Commission, in which the same firm complimented him upon the findings of that body, and said that they were perfectly satisfied with them, or words to that effect.


Sir John Quick - Theyalso said that their first circulars were founded on a misapprehension.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Quite so. I am not in any way interested in this matter. I am not a heavy drinker,nor have I that fine sense of flavours which some! honorable members seem to possess. We are proceeding, however, on an entirely wrong basis. We are in the position of one of the parties to a law suit, who appeals to a Judge to upset the verdict of a jury on the ground that it is not in keeping with the evidence given by himself. We ought not now to take notice of unsworn statements of anywitness examined by the Commission.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Who said that we ought to do so?


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member himself, urged us to do so.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I did not.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member, if he will allow me to say so, afforded me an illustration by falling into the error of selecting a circular sentout by one solitary witness - a circular containing statements whichmay or may not agree with his evidence. Even if it did agree with his evidence-in-chief, it might not agree with that drawn from him under cross-examination.


Mr Kelly -But he substantially agreed with the findings of the Commission.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then I fail to understand why the honorable member for Parramatta should have quoted' the circular in support of a proposal to disagree with the recommendation of the Commission.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable and learned member is twisting out of recognition the statement that I made. It is not fair for him to do so.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I notice that honorable members on this side of the House are most anxious to listen to me when I adopt their own views with respect to any question, but that as soon as I begin to express views slightly out ot harmony with their own they interrupt me more frequently than do honorable members opposite.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We interrupt the honorable and learned member when he is talking ridiculously.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member is forgetting himself; I merely say that he is wrong in his method.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I say that I am not.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member is at liberty to say so, but I repeat that he is wrong in his method.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I say that I am not.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I presume, Mr. Chairman, that the honorable member is not justified in contradicting me each time I make the statement that he is wrong in his method. I shall repeat my assertion, and show what ground I have for making it. I hope that the honorable member will see this time that he is in error.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I can see very clearly that the honorable and learned member is making an ass of himself.







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