MR E. G. WEIGHT AT THE TOWN HALL.
Mr E, G. Wright addressed his constituents at the Town Hall last evening. , There was an excellent attendance, Mr Ward in the chair. ( • Mr Wright, who on coming forward was greeted with loud applause, said that some attempt had been made to excite a little ill-feeling against him. for.not meeting the electors at an earlier date; then again he was charged with having voted against Triennial Parliaments; and, thirdly, he was accused of something—he hardly knew what—in connection with the Mount Somers Rail way. The Jatter.qnestion he would deal with later on. With regard to not meeting them before, he was sure they would acquit him of any remissness on that score j. he had worked hard both in Parliament and out of it as a County Council member and a Road Board member, eta , and had devoted half his time to the public’s interests for-a con-siderable-period,- and; therefore, he felt sure they would not begrudge him-some time to attend to his own affairs—attention to which had led him to postpone coming forward until then. Not for one moment did he undervalue his position as their representative, and when they thought he had justly forfeited their consideration he would he quite willing to retire. [Applause.] Now, when two'years ago he had advocated Triennial Parliaments he thought (three years long enough for any member to hold his seat ,in the General Assembly, and he had' seen no reason to change that view. ;c,Now, in connection with this matter, it 'had been urged against him that he had voted' for Mr Murray’s Bill, but he could;-assure them that the House never expected that measure to pass its second readings: The first reading was merely a formal matter, and so 1 was the voting. Tt was at the SflfiGn^ ; rAnr?iniy nf a "Rill +.VlO+. if. itroa. irmwn.
fnlly : considered, and Mr Murray’s;Bill on its second reading had been negatived: by 63 votes to 3. The Redistribution of Seats Bill had, amongst other changes, brought about the splitting up of the Coleridge Electoral District into three electoral districts, and this was ■ a most important thing for the electors, for. increased representation. ; meant increased voting power. He might later on have to criticise adversely the actions of the Hall Government, but in this instance, atvany rate, he thought that Government had, by the introduction of the Redistribution of Seats. Bill, -won a just claim' to their grateful remembrance. [Applause.] The Gaming and Lotteries Bill had keen a very unpopular measure, and: a local Parliamentary candidate, he read, had been reported to have promised his constituents that if elected, he would do his best to get that Bill repealed. Now, ho (Mr Wright) would not like it repealed. ,He had voted for it at. its every, stage when it was before the House. ; The object of the Bill was not to interfere with the privileges of the public, but, rather the a upjjrcaaian-tjf-garnbUng'lrollo ou^MWg lotteries. It had been found necessary, years ago, to suppress these, things in. England, and it was quite right they , should be put a stop to in New Zealand. They held out the most dangerous temptations to young men and. lads to speculate their money or that of their , employers with the hope of gaining a fortune. Ip; the-in-terests, therefore, of the rising lotteries should be suppressed. [Applause.] The Bill had been .objected to because by its provisions the police,, .were empowered to enter gentlemen’s plubs, it was urged, and similar places. But gentlemen need not fear. The police would not, he thought, intrude on gentlemen in their clubs or elsewhere unless they really had good reason for doing so.. The stringency of the Act was also cause for dissatisfaction, but if an Act was to-be effective, its stringency was a matter of necessity. But it was never contemplated to make the Act oppressive. With regard to the Corrupt Practices Act. That was a measure also absolutely necessary. It was necessary that a Parliamentary candidate’s expenses should be kept down as low as possible, or otherwise the mere cost of an election would deter many eligible men from coming forward, and thus the elections would be thrown into the hands of the wealthy, or of mere political adventurers. The Act just .referred to should prevent the return of candidates who were the nominees of persons guaranteeing the payment of election expenses, and who expected in return that the candidate would obey their bidding. The Licensing Bill had occupied a great deal of time during the last session, and, although not perfect, it should yet at least form the groundwork of a thoroughly workable measure. He certainly ■ thought it was a step in the right direction. The Fencing Bill he also approved of, for under its provisions tmy man had the right to demand,/of his neighbor his fair share of expense of erecting any dividing fence. With regard to the Railways Construction Bill and the three great lines, the Otago Central, Canterbury Central, and the West Coast Railways, he thought there was little probability of either of these lines being constructed if Government adhered strictly to the Act. But if they, were really wanted, and if the speculation promised to be a successful one, the colony itself should undertake the work. If the undertakings were not likely to, /be profitable, then they had no right to call in foreign capitalists—outside speculators. He expected the Act to be a dead-letter, if it was not altogether repealed during the next session of Parliament, and;, he hoped to see the work of railway construction carried forward by the colony as soon as there was sufficient population to justify such a large undertaking. Times had been bad, but prosperity was now, he thought, reviving, and perhaps in four or five years time they would bo in a position to carry on the work. Coming to the Property Tax, he thought that in returning the ten per cent reductions on salaries, the Government had acted prematurely. They had returned these ten per centages off large salaries out of borrowed money, and with almost every word uttered by Mr A. Saunders at Kaikoura, who condemned the withdrawal of the ten per cent reductions,, he agreed. The native crisis could have been quelled twelve months ago with comparative ease, and the delay had cost the country L 150,000 in hard cash. He trusted now, however, that this bugbear of a “ native difficulty ” had been set at test. With respect to local government he thought none of them desired to see the restoration of the Provinces, but they hkd a right to expect the restoration of the twenty per cent land fund of which they had been unjustly deprived. [Applause.] The sooner local finances were placed upon a firmer basis the better. Their subsidy from Government was sometimes £ for £, and sometimes 10s in the £. The thing wanted reforming, so that they ’might go to Wellington and claim as a right what
was their dae, and not go and seek it as a favor. The railway tariff wanted thorougly reforming, and political railroads were to be condemned. Government had it in contemplation to make substantial reductions in the railway charges, but they didn’t want a five 5 per cent or a ten per cent reduction, what they wanted was a reduction of thirty per cent or forty per cent and this would benefit the public, and poasibly thejpublic exchequer too. [Loud applause.] The reductions might well apply to both goods and passenger traffic. The New Plymouth harbor works, he characterised as a fraud on the colony. They would have had more reason in their demand if they had agitated for harbor Works at the mouth of the Ashburton river. [Applause.] The money spent at New Plymouth was spent wholly unjustifiably. They would see from what he had said that he was not a thick and thin supporter of the Hall Ministry, and they could hardly expect he would be. [Applause.] He studied the interests of the country, and supported the men who were most likely to 'contribute to its welfare. He thanked them for their kindly reception of him, and also for their patient hearing, and could assure them, that if elected, he would do his best for them in the future, as he had always done in the pash Mr Wright sat down amidst very hearty applause. In reply to questions, Mr Wright said that he thought owners of roads should not only dedicate them, but form them before they offered their property for sale in the market. He wonld do his best to push forward the Mount Somers Railway, and he did not care whether the line was Carried up the north bank or the south bank ofjtheriver. The one question to be considered was, how could they_ reach the stone and coal most economically? He would pledge himself so far as he was concerned, that he would not allow any private interests to weigh with him in this matter, and would urge the claims of the town upon the Government. In reply to a question as to whether he favored catting >up the educational district into wards, so that each ward should have a member, Mr Wright certainly thought it desirable that all parts of the district should be fairly represented. He was not altogether in favor of the Law, Practitioners Bill, which hetfaoughthadbeen intended to give free trade in law. [Laughter.] That Bill, had if passed, would have opened the door to the profession of the law to many undesirable persons. He could see no reason why distraint for rent should not be abolished. He would favor direct steam communication with the Old Country at the proper time. Not now, but when the existing contract with the San Francisco mail service had expired. He looked upon the present system of land broking as fair, and would not vote for any change in it. The capitation fee to volunteers had been done away with when the Colony was in an extremely distressed condition; but seeing the Government had restored the ten per centage to the civil servants, he thought it was only reasonable that they‘should restore the capitation allowance. [Applause.] Mr .St Hill asked if Mr Wright had voted for the Gaming and Lotteries Bill, a measure which prevented a man from enjoying a quiet game of cards in his own house, and that interfered with the liberty of the subject. [Uproar.] Mr Wright said he did not think the Act would inconvenience anyone in that way r The police were certainly empowered by it to enter a house, and it would be quite as well they should have the power of doing so when they thought very high play or gambling was going on. Still it was not intended to be an oppressive measure.
Someone remarked that the totalisator could turn over LIO,OOO at the Christchurch races, but the private individual must not be permitted to speculate his “bob.” [Loud applause.] Mr Wright said the object of the Bill was not to interfere with the spending of money by those who could afiord it, but by those who could not afford it. He was quite in favor of the Sparrow Bill. No doubt it would be amended and would pass next session. He favored a leasehold as well as a residential qualification. Mr Steele proposed and Mr Cates seconded a vote of confidence in Mr Wright, which nas carried as with one voice, and amidst loud and prolonged applause. Mr Wright brieby returned thanks, and moved the usual vote of thanks to the Chairman, which being carried, the meeting dispersed.
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MR E. G. WEIGHT AT THE TOWN HALL., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 498, 22 November 1881
MR E. G. WEIGHT AT THE TOWN HALL. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 498, 22 November 1881
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