Otago Witness , Putanga 2802, 27 Whiringa-ā-rangi 1907, Page 48
•■ !Us<«*n alia* nun, *lin4 uattaU* dlzlf— Jnuu, •■OmU iiun aa« cm« ran Bin wr j«l*.*-r*ra. An inordinately protracted session of Parliament has at length The Drop come to an. end, and the of the fugged and exhausted legi6- Pa'lianuntary lators have 6ought the wel- Cortain. oom« shelter of Home, Sweet Home. The Attorney-general has arrayed in formidable figures the actual work of the session: 77 public bills passed, and two reserved, four private bills and 31 local bills passed, a total of 114 measures in five months. It is a moot point, however, whether so statistical a statement carries with it anything like ac adequate idea of the real benefit conferred upon the Dominion ; even while recalling the fact that amongst the work of this arduous session must be reckoned the change of title which has come not only to the land in which we dwell, but also to those who are directly resporsible for the government of the country. For against the 114 measures placed upon an already swollen Statute Book, the time expended in discussing these measures has to be considered. Here is the total succinctly stated. Sittings : Days of meeting, 92; hours of sitting before midnight, 662 hours 25 minutes; hours of sitting after midnight, 108 hours 10 minutes; total, 770 hours 35 minutes; daily average, 8 hours 26 minutes. And this of course without reckoning the committee work and the thousand-and-one other forms of employment which fall to the lot of the industrious member. Remembering that the first two months of the session were practically wasted in that " beautiful talk," which, according to Carlyle, is "by no means the most pressing want of Parliament " ; and also remembering that the last two or three ■weeks of the session have been characterised by a most unseemly and undignified haste in dealing with a number of important measures which have n»w become the law of the land, it is evident that there is plenty of scope for a radical reform in the working of our Parliamentary machine. In the interests both of health and of business the after-midnight sittings should be absolutely done away with, and although Sir Joseph Ward has effected some slight improvement in this respect, the attempted reform needs to be carried further still. Probably, however, the average elector contemplating the time and energy expended by our legislators will be inclined to give them credit for having dono their best, under the circumstances ; whether the circumbtances themselves require drastic amendment is matter for future consideration. Parliament is certainly to be commended for having courageously Th» Tf«rk of faced «a number of policy the KeuUa. measures of the highest interest and of the gravest importance to the wellbeing of the community; but whether the new legislation will in actual working prove to be, as the Premier hopes, " useful and valuable to the citizens of the Dominion" remains to be proved. The new tariff, which has not yet come into full working, certainly provides for a considerable lvmi&fcion of taxation upon articles of everyday consumption, but beyond the benefit derivable from the abohtion of the sugar duty, it is doubtful whether tho consumer will be able to discern any appreciable lessening in the cost of living, while at the same time he is called upon to pay more for his boots and shoes. On the same lines, but embodying a most mischievous principle, is the Flour and Other Products Monopolies Prevention Bill, a measure which may or may not — probably the latter — be put into operation. But even this fails in its most vital point, since it leaves the bakers free to charge what price they like for the bread we cat, regardless of the cost of flour and wkeat. Nor can the Government be congratulated upon their change of front in connection, with their Land Policy, as represented in the three r»ew Land Bills which this session have placed upon the Statute Book. The authors of the original measure, framed at the instigation of the Socialistic and Single Tax 6ection of the Cabinet, must in sincerity confess to their inability to see in the trinity of new Land Bills but the slightest possible resSmbl&nc-& to their former foundling. There is, therefor, no reason to suppose that the land qnedtkro in the Dominion is permanently settled for the next de-cado ; the new legislation, of which so much has been said, con only be regarded as
temporary in its character and likely £tf be asaaikd and amended in the near future. Nor may the Government take to themselves much credit for the Native Land Settlement Bill, rushed through the House in the dying hours of the session amidst a chorus of protest from the men most closely affected, the Maori members and their constituents. The Gaming and Lotteries Bill, based largely upon similar measures recently enacted iv Victoria and New South Wales, represents an important movement in the direction of the suppression of gambling ; but there is no disguising the glaring inconsistency of a law which, while directly aim«d at. curtailing and minimising operations of the bookmaker, gives free scope to the most extensively patronised gambling machine of all, the totalisator, licensed by the Government for revenue-providing purposes. It is to be regretted, therefore, that a Government- which set out to, deal with three iueh all-embracing matters as the Fiscal question, the Land question, and the question of Gambling should rob be able, at tke close of a session of an unusually arduous nature, to look back upon having accomplished work of an enduring sort. The irony of much of the work of this and previous sessions lies in the fact that after torrents of talk have flowed and oceans of energy have been expended, the work that has been done will largely have tc be done, over again, and all for want of a system more in keeping with the conditions of the times. So long as the people are content with an archaic system of parliamentary , procedure so long will one Parliament proceed to amend and undo what a previous Parliament has laboriously accomplished.