NZ Truth , Issue 572, 3 June 1916, Page 8
Paragraphs Pertaining to Parliamentarians
The member for Clutha, Mr. A. S. Malcolm, the most able Chairman of Committee the House ever has had, and who ought to have been summoned "up higher" when the last' opportunity off er«J, asked the Minister of Defence, whether, m order to give the fullest possible opportunity of promotion to able and experienced men who have been at ''the front for some, time, he would cease to send any more officers from New Zealand, and will arrange to have the troops taken to ana from the front by transport omcera only. This seemed such a reasonable request that members expected that the "prayer of the petitioner" would ' be granted. ! But, no. Jamsid -Allen fell back on an excuse that is being all too often! heard m the House ,these days. "Everything" was being >done m accordance with "Imperial instructions." Mr. Malcolm expressed himself as very dissatisfied with the reply. "X.M.P." thinks-righteously so. There is a very strong opinion at the camps that the territorial officers don't deserve the consideration that is shown to them. In many cases they *havo to rely on their Juniors who have won commissions In camp. The motor reserve men seem the worst. It m strongly buspected out Trentham a&<l Feathorston ■way that they were given commis- Bions for placing their cars at the disposal of tho Govornmerit If requlr- j cd. Then whon these fellows comfe into camp they take seniority over those who have won commissions m camp, despite tho fact that the former have had no experience prior to entering the officers corps. "X.M.P." has It from a "commissioned" man that tho "heads" realise the wuaKncsa of many of their ofllcors, but that they are not ablo to alter tho method of appointment, Mr." Malcoln* ought to persist m asking for an alteration, or perhaps an Inquiry into how certain Individuals "got there" would be illuiDinating. 'But really this excuse of 'Imperial Instructions" is trotted; out on every conceivable occasion m ord«r toicover up tho retreat of a Minister or baulk a member In his search for enlightenment on a question of public interest.
During ,the past threfif weeks the phrase has been repeated with "damnable iteration" almost every sitting day, and members have rightly resented it. It may be used on occasions perfectly genuinely, but, on the otljer hand, it may be a -mere subterfuge of Ministers to escape from answering unpleasant and embarrassing questions. Its too frequent use would lead a visitor to this country to conclude that New Zealand waß a Crown colony and not a self-governing- (Dominion. Ever/ sane New Zealander is proud that he is a member of the race that pioneered political freedom for the proletarians of all nations, proud to be a member of the greatest Empire the world has seen;- but at the same time he doesn't wish any member of any other part of the Empire, no matter how exalted, to come poking his proboscis m New Zealand affairs. If each part of the Empire would be content to keep Its own "gralth" m order, there will be less friction when they have all" to work together for some great cause, Buch as is happening to-day. It is to be hoped that' the phrase "Imperial Instructions" will be heard henceforth vory seldom, if at all during the remainder of the session.
x The fight put up by the Labor Sestet m favor of an Increase m pensions, despite Sjrr Joseph Ward's emphatic declaration that the Cabinet had put the advances granted In tho amending measure at the maximum, "the .uttermost farthing," resulted m the Government introducing by Governor's Message an amendment which would Increase a soldier's 'orphan's pension from 5/- to 7/S per week. It was made clear "that the increase was irrespective of number, would be retrospective and would not bo affected by, tho mother of the child marrying again; but no pension would be granted to tho widow of a soldier If she were m possession of an income m excess .ot £600 a year> Members wero pleased, although some thought tho amount ought to have been fixed at 10/- per child.
So, In yielding to tho clamor of tho House for an Increase m the pension to tho child of a soldier who had been killed or died m tho service of the country, the caw-caws of the capitalist camp, who hold pride of place m the Coalition Cabinet, played tho same old trick of giving something with ono hand while they took away moro with tho other. Tho bulk of the members failed to notice that m accepting tho amendment as Introduced, they were dropping the substance and grasping at< tho shadow. So far as tho soldiers' orphan* go they stand to gain, but "X.M.P." ventures to assert that under tho new arrangement tho total amount disbursed by the Pqnslons Board will bo leas than if this amendment had not been introduced. Slnco the opening of Parliament there has boon much talk about "pensions by right," and the abolition of the Pensions' Board'B inquisitorial methods. But what progress haa boon made? Absolutely none. Only tho orphan of a soldier can demand a pension by right. Tho soldier's widow must prove that she is not In^possession of over £GOO a year. "X.M.P." admits that this will be all too easy on tho part of most. But what ' of tlioso whoso income Is moro (few though they be) and wh6so Husbands on tho strength of tho family's annual Income had entered Into certain 11--nanclal obligations, which, with the husband* Income withdrawn, the wife may have to sacrifice? Ltatlde this, tho bereaved parents and the wounded soldier «UM have to apply In forma pauporl*. This give* tho Board too much power, and it i» a disgrace to tho Haouso that, a bettor flght wasn't put up for tho principle of Pensions by Right.
Mr. Poolo put m ft Rood word for tho men employed on inmnportH. In dolns «o ho omphiuUsed the* fiies thru so far the pension *y«tvni of thia country hud not bo«n placed upon any substantial basis. Mnny trrlevancea vfero removed by the Anmndtnt; Act. but ihore arc oU>or» utill unrodrswKtd. that wu*t be romoved Ixrtora iho pension »y«otn will k* v « th»u «utl»factlon «ueh an Act ought to giv*. In ordfrr to do thl* he »uffir**ied that aa «ndowmtnt «jnt*m b» innituied.
He hoped the Government would extend the benefits of its pension scheme to the members of the Merchant Service Guild as a reward for services rendered by work m transports or In other ways. Ho accused the Government of leaning upon the funds of the various patriotic societies. Mr, Allen interjected that such an assertion was inaccurate, but Mr. Poole replied curtly: It is nothing of the sort. Married mea had left the country without making proper o.nd adequate provision for their dependents. The Government ought not to allow such men to go to the front until they had attended to such duties., Mr. Poole's points were well worth preferring:, and it is hoped that the Government will "tak* a thoeht an 1 men."
Among those who must have felt the strain and hardship of inflated prices, on whose behalf not a word has appeared m the day-lies, are our Old Age pensioners — those hearty, hardy, grand pioneers and their helpmates, who toiled, late and early, to make New Zealand what it is to-day, one of the brightest spots beneath the sun where man can dwell In comparative peace and plenty. Many of these old pioneers got more labor than lucre and now, m the "gloamin"' or their days, they are ekobigr out a precarious existence on a pension of ten shillings per week. Even to those who have m addition to their pension the maximum income allowed without reduction of the former, that amount never could ensure aught that by any stretch of imagination could be called "luxury." What it must be to those whose only means of livelihood m their declining years is the Old A^je Pension, we can Imagine. And now that war prices have reduced the purchasing power of that amount by about one-half, their state must be deplorable indeed. It was with pleasure that "XM.F." heard Tom Wilford get up m his place m the Haouse and announce his intention of s'eoklng an amendment to the Old Age Pension^ Act whereby the allowance would be increased to fifteen shillings per week. Good boy, Tom! "X.M.P." wishes you every sue-, cess m this most humane and much-* needed proposal. Surely the National Cabinet will see the Justice of your demand and ifrant the increase at the earliest posslblo moment.
Tho Defence Minister's speech on the introduction of the Military Service Bill has been dealt with m another part of this issue, but "X.M.P." cannot refrain from remarking upon the studied indiffcrenco of the Press Gallery to the Minister of Defence und to the important duty upon which he was engaged. Tho attendance of pressmen was vory meagre, and even those scribcH who were present m their places, were engaged gossiping or reading newspapers. Neither did members of the Haouso seem to bo seized of the gravo lmportnnco of tho occasion, and many of their scats "gapod vacjtnt to the roof." Ono cannot help moralising on tho foolishness of such action. Elected persons, and tho Pluto pross that poses as their mouthpiece, have been deploring tho growth of anti- Parliamentarlanlsm among the proletarian plugs. Yet hero are theso same Imperciplent persons prostituting tho prestige of Parliament by their nddlopate<l action o.t much a parlous period of tho Empire's history. If thoso who profess (o bo believers m, and supporters of, Parliamentary Institutions are so careless of tho honor and dignity
appertaining thereto, why murmur and complain if those outside the Haouse, who have never come under the influence of these, should decry and deride their name and fame, and question their worth to the people as a whole? Can it be that m these, as m many other things, familiarity breeds contempt?
In the Mother of Parliaments on such an occasion every member" is m his place, every faculty alert. The Press Gallery is fully staffed and every man busy. But not so m the Parliament of God's Own. Even m the evening, when the debate reached a higher level' than m the afternoon, the Press Gallery was m no danger of congestion, and, of the scribes- present, only one man was pushing his pen to any purpose, while exactly half the number of "elected pussons" were absent from their seats, and only three Cabinet Ministers were present. Had it not been that the public were present m large numbers and that many were unable to obtain admittance, there was nothing to indicate that any measure outside the ordinary was under discussion. The fact is that altogether too many men who are sent to Parliament to watch after the interests of their constituents and legislate for the good of the country, never sit long enough m their seats to get them decently warmed. Too many neglect their legislative labors for tHe allurements of the lobbies and Bellamy's licensed larder. Too often tho lugubrious language of loquacious and "liq"-uacious legislators is so loud and lurid that it is difficult to follow the legitimate speaker inside the Haouse. "X.M.P." hopes that one of these days long - suffering Speaker Lang will '•bell tho cat," "take the bull by the horns," and "beard the 'lie-ons' m their den" by ordering the Sergeant-at- Arms to clear the half -sozzled salary - snatchers out of the precincts of the building for the rest of the sitting.
The conclusion of tho Minister's speech was the signal for loud applause from all sides of the Haouse, and then half-a-dozen members were on their feet seeking to "catch the Speaker's eye." The member for the Hutt got the right-of-way, but he did not make much use,of it. He intimated that he intended to vote for the second reading of the BllL but reserved the right to strive all he knew how to amend or delete certain objectionable clauses now m the measure. He then reafi a quotation from the Militarists' favorite author, "Nunquam," whom, they know only as Robert Blatehford. T,h<a quotation m question was one m support of putting every able man m the field against the nations enemies, m a word, m favor of Conscription, and led to the member for Grey, later on m the debate, also treating the members to a selection from the author of "Merrie England," m -which that prince of pressmen declared that Conscription meant not only the taking of men, but the taking over of all property and wealth and organising the entire resources of- the nation m the nations de! fence.
Mr. George Witty declared that if the Government had done its duty by those .who had enlisted and their dependents, and had been prepared to do the right thing by those who were willing to enlist if tho Government would attend to their "financial obligations," there would have been no need for this Bill — this "scrap of paper." The youngr men and tho old men of New Zealand were loyal, but Ministers had not honored that loyalty, not appraised it at its full value. The>e was no equality of sacrifice. In the present form th© Bill called for sacrifice from only -one section of the community. He did not think it was fair to notify men that they were called up by a notice m tho "Gazette." How many men ever saw a "Gazette"? Every man should be called up m a proper manner — by registered letter. He wanted to know what were the taxation proposals of the Government, and held that the Bill should have been held back until the Haouse had this information from the Government. The Bill would have to be amended m a most drastic fashion m committee to satisfy the member for Riccarton.
A.fter a few pithy periods from Poole, who followed somewhat the lines- of Wilford. and Witty, the cornerman of the Conservative push. "Doc" Newman, amused members by reciting some of his carefully-culled humorosities. He was a voluntarlst, but would vote for the BUI. He didn't think it vas fair to send all the young men to the shambles. L.ifo was before them* and they ought to have a chance to live It. Then tho "wee mahn" showed hJ.s familiarity with the "Critic" page of "Truth" by retailing (of course without acknowledgment) quite a number of star jokes therefrom concerning married men making the best woldlers as they had had more experience of warfare, and so on. Dr. Thacker followed his bro-r ther medico, and, making Mr. Allen's numerous quotations from Abraham Lincoln the butt of his sarcasm, reminded the J>'efence Minister of n. most notable saying of tho great American's that' ho had overlooked but which he, Dr. Thacker, thought supremely suitable to the present occasion. He then quoted for the Minister's delectation: You may fool some of the people all the time: ' You may fool all the people some of tho time; But you can't fool all the people all the time. The member for Bruce and his colleagues would do well to bear these words m mind. He felt sure they would experience their full meaning before very long. " • • • Aft«r Webb came Wilkinson, who has -a sneaking regard for an organisation called the "Red Fed." Ho recalled the fact that Webb, M.P.. was one time head of that body, and that its object was to obtain compulsory unionism m Mnorilttnd. yet this same person now drew the emoluments of a member of the nations National Assembly uud opposed compulsory unionism of all clthtens against the nations enemy. He supported the Hill, but looked for it being amended m committee.
"■Daylight Saving" Sidey c-iune up with his Uttio lot. and In supporting the BUI. tried to emulate the Defence Minister by the number and length of the Quotation which he pressed into service, moat of which, by the way. were In opposition to war. After Mataura Anderson ha»J meandered maundertngly for more minutes than hiH matter merited, and Payne had de. UVercd* himself of a few pithy and pointed paragraphs.' Dr. Pomure expressed the Maori opinion on the question. That was out-and-out for the measure. Why? Because the Maori believed In the Hacn-dness of all treaties*. The Treaty of Wnltangl. h« declared, la held In reverence by the Maoris, and for tlse ri«aj<<»n of th«; tioaty ho supported th« IMH. because if the MtiorlH did not c«iiic to the aid of Hritaln at this junottm.- then they would b<* endorsing tl" 4 Uortnun «yntcm of vloUiKuk tnsjiicji hftwoon Miml! and ttrrut nations. For thnt reason, becuutie the treaty vrA-u?. he iM-Hov^rl In going to i)v afi;--i;t:ji!ce of fWfui Brilitln In order to Keep the treaty m
violate. Referring to the Maoris who had volunteered and had fought at Gallipoli, he said, many of them had fallen there. Their blood cried for "uto," and "uto" they should have; and if by conscription "uto" was to be brought about, then let it be conscription. The shade of Helen watching from the walls of Troy had seen the deeds of her heroic dead outdone, outclassed by the deeds of a handful of men from beneath the Southern Cross. Dr. Pomare's contribution to the debate was more effective, more able and more sincere than that of any other member on that side of the Haouse, the speech of the Minister of Defence not excepted.
Wednesday afternoon was notable because of the fine stand made-by Mc- Cailum against conscription. He was followed by L. M. Isitt, who stepped into the boots of the late Tommy Taylor, but has demonstrated since that Tommy took his brains with him when he went out. The member for Christchurch North was followed by the member for "Wellington South, and the distinctive affix denoting the particular part of their respective cities they respectively represent, might fittingly be applied to their respective speeches. Wellington's Labor member's speech was the antipodes of that
of the Christchurch cold-water rep. It was a manly, straightforward utterance such as is all to seldom heard m our legislative hall.
After Ell had intimated his position, McCombs followed, but he was disappointing. Tho Lyttelton lightweight is easily the best debater m the Haouse, and one looks for more from him where a little "arguefy ing" is concerned than the ordinary five-eighth member. * Despite his failure on this occasion his weakness was more than equal to the strength of many of his opponents. McCombs finished by moving an amendment, and this gavo members 'the opportunity to j get up once more and repeat purrot-like their already fully recorded objections to the Bill. The amendment, of course, was defeated, only the Poet's number seven (including two "paired") voting for It. Then "X.M.P." went home to his virtuous couch, and members of the Haouso did likewise or Otherwise, or other than wise, accord- Ing to their specific personal inclinations, for hath it not been said that the spirit's willing but the flesh Is strong?