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MR PURNELL AT THE TOWN HALL.

• —— 1 Mr C. W. Purnell addressed the Wakanui electors at the Town Hall last ■ last evening. , . Mr John Orr occupied the chair. . .Mr Purnell, who was greeted with.,applause, [said he had not known until late that afternoon that there was to be a public volunteer demonstration. But owing to the Hall’s being now pre-engaged he found it would be impossible pone the meeting. When he first entered the field for Wakanui he certainly did not expect to meet so many rivals, Although, at the.same time, he certainly did not anticipate a walk over for .the seat. . Indeed the number of candidates for the constituency was not a matter, for-regret, as it evidenced the hearty and strong f ppMtlcal feeling existing' in the district. Great changes had come over the spirit'of the county since he had known it, that was within the last three : years. Then the Wakapui constituency , yraa a fhot-bed of Toryism,[but now he thought the Wakanui constituency was essentially a' Liberal constituency..He was himself a Liberal, but a Liberal in the' true sense rdf the word. He did not advocate those .Violent measures, the introduction of a “burstingun ” policy which some people- called Liberalism, but which was in reality nothing of the kind. His Liberalism was the Liberalism practised at Home,’ and not the Socialistic policy adopted' on the

j Continent of Europe. The great Liberal leaders at Home did-not seek to attain their object by setting.nlass against class, or generating useless and bitter feuds. Those extreme views were well enough" in a despotic country, but were altogether uncalled for in a Hke Zealand, whose free constitution admitted the ■ attainment of any really desirable reform. He claimed to possess, as .much sympathy for the working man as any one, but,-if the dangerous principles to which he had i referred were to gain a footing the! working class would be the very class to suffer by them. was it the .working/ngupi —the genuine working man, that was, and not the loafer- -wanted ? "Was it apt abundance of work 1 and work wquld be most likely to. be abundlapt.jfbeh peace reigned- and industries flourished.,,,. ihg-up he . condemned. .. ,the daw allowed any man at the present ,time‘tb..ppKffiaae as much land as he pleased, Lloo,ooo worth-if he liked. He advocated the passing of a law restricting an individual from holding more than a certain acreage of land. But it was not fair to say to him “You can purchase as much land as you please, and then levy a tax on that land as a means of revenue. Just let them consider what was the state of this colony ten or twelve years back. Then the large landowners were supreme they controlled everything. Now they had the deferred payment system in their own hands, and excellently it worked/fo . it encouraged bon% fide settlers to settle on the land. This change had been brought about without the assistance o the burstingmp policy ; 300,000 acres o land held by large owners in Otago would next year be thrown open for selection. Tiu>_A nt. dealing with these lands provided for their being cut up. Ten or fifteen years ago things' were-very different .in connection with land, and the iniprove- | ments that had been effected respecting iit had been effected without recourkef. to i socialistii or other, violent means. ' They | now had 60,000 freeholds in New rZea- : land, a larger/number in proportion to its j population, ; thari that .possessed , by any i country in the. world. (Applause.) 'Last I year Government had introduced a Bill ’to abolish the law of entail. That jmeasure was a very crude one,, and ,w aa !thrown put ; __but if another and' better i framed Bill of the same kind were introduced, he would support it, because |he thought such a Bill must help to break-up ;the large estates. . But the number of [large estates in this colony was really- very r [limited, and they would in course of time* be fewer still. Personally any measure -that should bring about the' bfeaking-up of the large estates would have his support. For, if they were to build up a. great colony, they must apportion the land for the benefit not of individuals, but of the community at large. But the. bursting-up process was not to be rudely 1 or quickly effected ; it' required statesmanship to effect it, and must be managed. with great caution. The land question was, in truth, an extremely difficult one,, and to understand it the student must depend not on trashy pamphlets or reports of sensational meetings, but on something that went to the root of the matter- — information that could be relied upon. Caution in dealing with the land question was requisite, because their land industry was the largest in the colony. It Was more than three times that of their wool industry, and nearly three:times that of their gold industry.. Its importance was therefore, he repeated, very great,-and any reform to be effected in connection with it must be by moderate and not extreme measures. But there waa_;.one question on which he thought they could ask for immediate legislation. They could ask for a law to be passed restricting, the operations of foreign land companies. These companies were the . great land monopolists and : obstructionists/ -of progress. The resident land monopolists at least had some stake-, in the country, but these foreign companies had no such interest, they were inf act the very worst kind of absentees. Now he was aware attempts had been made .to inflame their feelings by ' a sensational fuss about preemptive rights and the hardships resulting from the system. Preemptive rights were, he granted, an iniquity, but they no longer existed. They were abolished in 1877. Then why should these old grievances be raked up 1 The abuses of the pensions system was another electioneering cry, and yet this system was abolished in 1871. True they paid a few pensions—granted prior to 1871—yet, but as a system pensions no longer existed. Coming to the native difficulty, he must confess that having read Mr Hall’s ißpeech jit Leeston he considered the march on Parihaka a very miserable affair, and the only redeeming feature he saw in the,; business was the admirable conduct of the / Volunteers. (Applause.) It bad been the custom of late years on the part of . the Government to sneer at the Volunteers ; but on the occasion of the lata, crisis they had gone to the Front with true ~ British spirit. True there had been no fighting, but the men when they left for;- , , Parihaka did not know but what there , might be. He hoped the Government r would in future treat the volunteers with., i more consideration. In connection with:, > this native difficulty he thought the white man- had exercised the power of might , T » over right. The Maoris had done many ’ things they ought not to have done apd,, : had ° rebelled, but yet they had some ? (genuine grievances which C£dled.fqr ir pep s i , dress. '. We had confiscated all their lan^j J{l that belonging to the friendlies and the

[Continued from first page.-]

rebels indiscriminately, promising ;to set aside a portion of it for their use, and we had not kept our promise. With regard to the trial of Te Whiti and Tohu, that was, he considered, a mere mock trial, and a sham was an odious thing. The proper and manly course for tpe Government to have adopted would haye been for it to have made the rebel chiefs Te Whiti and Tohu State prisoners. But what was to be done with the Parihaka natives T Parihaka was a desert now; were these Maoris to be beggars and outcasts? If they did him the honor jof returning him to Parliament he should certainly sift this dispute with the natives tp the bottom. [Applause.] He-had no great confidence in the Hall Ministry ; it comprised too many large landholders, and it had no policy of its own but was ' dependent upon the policy of its predecessors 'in office. Last session they could not have got together a stronger Government than the Hall Government, ,but in the. new-session he hoped a . better Ministry would be found, and one founded . on moderate Liberal principles. He ad- ’ the Removal of the seat '‘" 'of -Government from Wellington to Christchurch. The cost had been urged asan objection to the step, but after all ' the ‘ cost would not be very great. It would be well that the seat of Government should be shifted from the foul .Atmosphere of Wellington into the clear Atmosphere' of Christchurch. Hie change iIJ , Would free the Government from a ■'V.'nduitjet, of secret influences which were Gi ; at work. At present, for all practical v!i pnrptfdes, the seat of Government might " : m well be in Sydney or Melbourne as ;at "Wellington. He favored the severance '.of the North Island railways from those the ;sppth Island, for the latter were I' 1 hbw paying for the former, and so long ;as were united'ho change in the railway tariff would, be effected. If elected, he ' wdulJ pledge himaelfto dp his utmost fo bring about that reform in the tariff ■I which was so urgently needed. • [Loud applause.] He preferred an income rax r "toa property tai,as being more equitable. 03 Thdy would "find him a very warm advent date for any realty desirable law reforms, : i and he thought the Supreme Court pre- : i>e^ul , e>'fot‘instance, was in need of reform ■ ‘in some respects. "• ' -•.vro Mt Pumell referred in the course jof his remarks to some other matters pn which his views have already been fully reported, and we have not thought jit necessary therefore to reproduce ‘^-berep'"' : "' ; 1 Oh sitting down, Mr Purnell was heartily applauded. : ■ ■ : -'J - Iff ■reply- tp questions, he condemned the' ■' Gaming and Lotteries Bill, afad thought it much to be regretted that such a measure was ever passed, as it undoubtedly interfered with the innocent amusements of the people, and ratljer , suspected it would defeat the objects jof its promoters. [Loud applause.] He was altogether opposed to borrowing more money.' ■ Let them live within their .. means, and hot seek to increase the , | already large indebtedness of the colony. , After some, minor questions had been •, ahawered,;'Mr Leggett moved—“ That Mr 'Purnell is 1 a fit and proper person to fenresentWakanui in the General Assein- . • ply. ” ; . Seconded by Mr Crooks, and carried by a very large majority. ' . : Mr Purnell thanked his hearers for their expression of confidence, and, having moved the usual vote of thanks :to the chair, the, proceedings terminated.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18811123.2.2

Bibliographic details

MR PURNELL AT THE TOWN HALL., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 499, 23 November 1881

Word Count
1,764

MR PURNELL AT THE TOWN HALL. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 499, 23 November 1881

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