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The Premier at Leeston. || The Hon. John Hall, the?Premier,f|iipe^ the electors of Solwyn the Leeston Town Hall,' v-jwafe crow dccl. Mr Bluett was chair. The meeting was one. Mr Hall, in his address, alluded to the remarks made by Sir George Grey and Mr Macandrew in their recent addresses, and then proceeded with a reviewalof the work of last session. He asserted that a quarter of the session was wasted over the noconfidence motion, the result of which wsa known from the, moment of its being tabled, and another quarter by the flood of talk over matters discussion on which might have been dispensed with. He expressed great regret at the loss the colony had sustained through the resignation, of Mr Bryce. They differed, as honest men will do, as friends', and 'parted with the greatest regret. Last year he said that he believed the result of various Royal Commissions would justify the action of the Government. He considered the result had amply justified that action. Regarding the financial position of the colony, during the session of 1880, very full consideration was given thereto. That alone, and the results which followed, would have been sufficient to save the session

The Hon. John Hall, the;j?remieiy||jfie&'; the electors of Selwyn ‘jWenijgtf tho Leeston Town Hall, crow dccl. Mr Bluett was t^th® chair. The meeting was a-^pr

from the charge of barrenness. A careful examination, and full discussion, showed that the statements which had been made by Major Atkinson, the Colonial Treat surer, when he first took office, as to the alarming position of the colony, were not only not beyond the mark, but were actually under the mark. The . Colonial Treasurer had been accused of making out that the position of the colony was worse than it really'was for party purposes, and of having by, that means depreciated the credit of the colony. He did not believe' that any truths ought to he withheld, even if they should depreciate the credit of the colony, or that any such statements would ever injuriously affect the colony. The Government had practically bridged the financial difficulties which they found before them, and/New Zealand securities now held a higher position jn the market than ever before. This was an honest; success of which np , Government need be ashamed, and of which he was proud. But what would the colony was a reckless depreciation of its prospects, and such wild proposals aabhad recently been delivered at the Thames arid at P6rt Chalmers. The session of 1880 was also remarkable for the progress made in the retrenchment of the public expenditure. Retrenchment was not, as it had been said, forced on the Government, and the ; result of their labors would be the reduction of the estimates to the extent of i L 250,060 below last year’s total. Upon the subject of the Properly, tax, Mr Ormond’s and Sir George Grey’s remarks < were liable to create a wrong impression. Mr Ormond, in his speech at Waipawa, said that the Property tax was imposed on the country without the people having ! had an opportunity of being consulted." This he (Mr Hall) entirely dissented ,from. The last election gave every opportunity for its discussion by the people. Under the Property tax he paid twice rs much as he "did under the Land-tax ; but

he paid it cheerfully, because he knew that other wealthy people who would have escaped under the Land tax, now had‘to pay their fair share of, taxation. The proposal to tax bondholders Was dishonest in the extreme.. It would he nothing more or less than' 'robbery to inflict such sa tax. He believed it a great misfortune for the North and indeed for the whole colony, that large tracts of land, ;the property of native owners, should be left unoccupifed..and unused ; : and -considered that the amplest reserves should be made for. the, use of the that they should be secured to them, and that after that there should be no such interference as prevent' the land' from going, into possession of Europeans, and ‘being beneficially occupied, adding to the wealth of the country and, bearing its fair share of the burdens of the country, which at the present time it does not do,, .Regarding the action of the Government as affecting native'matters, there had’been no departure from constitutional practice ; the mission to Te Whiti, the release of the prisoners, and the detention of the prisoners, had been done on the spontaneous advice ofh the Ministers themselves, and. they were entirely responsible for their The assumption, made by Mr Pyke in his Land League operations, that the Government did not intend to do its duty, to do what it ought to do—that is, what he conceived it ought to do—with regard; to; the disposal, of a large amount of Crown land, the pastoral leases, of which l will, expire in about two years’ time, was-entirely unfounded, What the Government proposed doing upon that subject, is to class this pastoral land before it becomes released from the present engagements—to divide it into agricultural and pastoral land. The agricultural land to be surveyed into blocks of village settlements, blocks for sale by deferred payment and. for cash, hoping that by mixing up the different classes of settlers they would mutually assist each other, and thus prevent there being a ‘whole community of deferred-payment settlers by themselves, and a whole community of persons who purchased for cash by themselves. The land not suitable for agricultural purposes to bo divided into two classes, into the ' better and the legs good. The latter will be surveyed into blocks not exceeding 5,000 acres, to be sold bn the pastoral deterred payment system ; the other into much smaller runs than at present, and leased by auction in the ordinary way. In' connection with railway matters, he expressed deep regret at the circumstances which had deprived the colony of the services of the late Minister for Public Works, Mr Oliver. That gentleman had, during the time he had occupied office, effected a most ’unpopular task, and by economising, had increased' by one per cent, the interest the railways were paying on their cost. By the retirement of Mr Oliver the colony had lost an able and painstaking and conscientious administrator. Regarding the political prpgramme of the future; the first measure would be for the reform ,of the conduct of. elections. The Bill of last'session would be re-intro 1 duced, with the alteration that would contain provisions for the extension of the hours of polling, and, ,such as would satisfy voters of the-absolute" secrecy of the ballot. ‘ The Bribery and Corruptions Bill would also occupy attention, but he thought this the least pressing, far as his observation had gene, there had been very little bribery at the elections.: Still, prevention being better than cure, they should endeavor to, make the. laws as perfect as possible.. One of the provisions oMhe t; Bil) ,\y<ju}d probably; be : for' the closing of publjchouses during elections. The Redistribution of Seats Rill would be exactly similar to last year’s measure, viz., based on population. Sir George Grey had distinctly said that this,Bill would not pass. He supposed that meant that it would not pass if he could help it. All he could say would do their utmost tb passtheßill, ahdthePar- 1 liament would fail in its duty if it did not in this, its last session, 1 pass a Bill for the readjustment of representation. He was •not in favor of an elective Governor, and regarding the formation of a Legislative Council on the principles foreshadowed in, the remarks "made by the special correspondent, Profs, by ua yesterday; 1 concurred therein. 'Speaking' of railway matters, ho said the proposal thijt companies should be permitted to undertake the completion lof certain rail? I ways as their own affair, if assisted by the I

of land tPifio texfaWjjpßWPa ceNpin portion of the dost was favored by him. The \ jjkid Bill would provide that |ha ipßar v bodies should pay ball mb coei: -of maintaining these institutirajfc the Government should ps^ide/we other half; and that jtho Ideal elect the Board should the expenditure on 'these ctfejaSs"; " ' The Licensing Bill would be fiamea with the object to make the law stringent but not unjust to the existing license-holders. It would give local option with regard to new licenses; in other words- not allow in any districts unless by. the consent of the inhabitants of 'those, districts, -"biitf it would not apply that principle to existing houses, TBiecaiMeTfiey to deprive of their licehses the holdeira of " * licenses who had .conducted, their hopses well, and who; by st lohgjconbeiof legislation have received an implied, promise that they Would not be disturbed exdept » for misconduct, or deprived of 'their licenses without receiving compensation; and the Government did not see their way to provide that. Bond fide forking Men’?, Clubs would always receive his best' support; but many of these so-called Working Men’s Clubs were often started not by working men, but by men who had either • lost their license for some misconduct, or 1 have been refused a license. These provided a Working Men’s Club which was a mere drinking shop, with most • lax , . regulations as to admission fo membership, without the house' having dtiy license whatever. He considered this one of the most threatening evils of thecdlbny u " at the present moment, and that the best- • way to deal with it was that all the establishments opened for the sale of liquors— 7 whether for gentlemen or fur working men—should take out a license, and should ‘ be placed- under police supervision. In 1879 the Government introduced a bill for restricting-the influx of the Chinese into this colony. The bill did not pass at that time, and since then, as the number v of the Chinese coming to the colony has [

been diminishing and not increasing, the evil has not been a pressing one; but he' would strongly object to a large infusion ' of the Chinese element into the popula- : tion, as they bring with them habits: and ■: diseases which should be kept out. .They’ proposed tofe-introduce the lost, bill of 1879* which is practically the law in Queensland, and which was approved • by the conference of delegates in Sydney. " Of the other business to'be submitted -ttf< the next session he would mention that - the work of consolidating,the statute? hw been going steadily on,'and that Sills win be laid before. Parliament for sweeping 80 x statutes from the present statute books. Other Bills, if time permit, will ha introduced on subjects which , require ■ legislating upon, such as a Fisheries Bill, a , Fencing Bill, and Bills on a variety of ' subjects of that kind.- ‘Other would like to speak upon, but : what their fate will be must depend in some measure on the mode in which the members on , the Opposition benches may thjuk jt i£gl&;; to conduct the business of the House. We . are told that thete are two distinct parties ip the House, and he hoped that statement would hot ptove tc/bd'a greater my ththan last session, likethe existence of a compact, Oppositiop, of which, j before the session we heard so much, and ; after the session began we heard so'littlei - * proved to he. It ;is truq- that on one side - • of the House there is > party of members ‘ which lends a steady, support to the Government in its efforts to ef&?tT Constittational reforfe. /To those .gentlemen the Goveriirofent owes a debt of gratitude' fdr . their support, and hot leait 'does it 1 owe them gratitude for the way in which they refused to be drawri into a waste of time by replying to long , speeches. 'Oh the other side of the House/we se6 a hody of ‘ gentlemen who are united’in nothing but their opposition to the Government, who have no common principle* who have ho ' unity of action, Who have, in fact, none of the qualifications which enable'a body 6f ” members to discharge the useful and constitutional,functions of an Opposition -tol. be useful to the Government and to earn the .respect of the people, (Applause.) He hoped for better things’ during the session .which is to come, ye are to}d that a gentleman of great influence is

forthcoming as a leader of the and that r ha has -a,partly? new platform, t The planks of that platform, appear to. be first—the abolition cf the Legislative Council and the substitution for it_ of a single Ghhmbet; secondly the abolition, of Queen-appointed Governor and the substitution of an elected Governor ; thirdly/ 1 the taxation of the English bondholders ; and fourthly the dismissal of all the Civil 1 Servants whose political opinions do hotooincide with those of the Government of the day. And this is called Liberalism. Gentlemen, it is not Liberalism; it .is but a thinly-veiled despotism. (Applause). To • this platform the late leader' of the Opposition proposes to add' a couple of .planks, and they are the reverting W,.a lavish expenditure on Public Works, and the issuing of paper money. He would call this national bankruptcy.. T,The Go-vernment'-of Russia'dias been called a * despotism tempered by assassination, apd , if this programme is carried out, ( the, Government of New Zealand will be a despotism tempered by national' bankruptcy. (Applause). The party with which he is associated do not intend to put forward any new platform or programme. We ask the people, of New. • Zealand to judge us by our actions. , (Ap- , plause). We say we have amended the Constitution, we have broadened and deepened the formations of political power ; we have passed measures for distributing that power on the fairest basis. We have faced a condition of the finances than which nothing could have been more alarming, and by a reduction of expenditure and an increase of the revenue, have restored the colonial credit. We. have stopped the squandering of money .in the Native Department, by, which | the Europeans were being robbed and the natives were being demoralised ; we have increased the facilities for the settlement of the people on the public lands; we have peaceably settled many threatening native difficulties we have endeavored 'to foster .and encourage colonial industries > which will afford employment to the people. (Applause.) We leave to others the task of talking Liberalism on the public platform, but we maintain that we have earned for ourselves, fairly earned, the name of working Liberals, and as such we ask the House and the country to continue to us that confidence which We’ have hitherto enjoyed. Mr Hall resumed his Seat amid very hearty applause. '• . ij. ;'- ; >- A number of questions Were put- to the ! lion, gentleman, and at the conclusion the following - resolution- was carried by' acclamation —“ That this meeting l thank - ; Mr Hall for. his very able address this evening, and take: this opportunity to express their confidence in him .as their v representative in Parliament, and • their : jreat satisfaction at the high position he tias been called. on. to- fill, - with so much - ■ .. id vantage to the colony.? 1 ‘ . , '

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POLITICAL ADDRESS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 355, 27 May 1881

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POLITICAL ADDRESS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 355, 27 May 1881

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