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The battle of the quota, which is now going on, and of which there are at present no signs of an early termination, promises to go down to history as the most remarkable straggle which has beßn seen m connection with parliamentary procedure, at anyrate m the colonies. It has already lasted longer than any such contest has hitherto occupied m New Zealand, the House having sat continuously from half-past two on Wednesday afternoon until eleven on Saturday night, or eighty hours, and having resumed yesterday at half past two with every prospect of continuing to sit for eighty hours more. The town members' resistance has been encouraged by public meetings held m Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and L/unedin, and the attitude assumed by the oppo nents of the Bill has been 'applauded at those meetings and m the city Press as a just and noble resistance to an attempt at spoliation and oppression. The other side of the question has not be n considered— has not even been stated — it being obvious that members of the country party would be playing into the hands of the obstructionists by taking part m a debate, the only objeot of which is to gain time. W hen the other side is fairly stated it will at onco be seen tbat all the howl which has been raised m the cities is raised on mistaken premises, and that it; is the country, and not the town, which under the existing Act of 1887 is deprived of its fair share of representation, Let auyone'who desires to ascertain the real merits of the ques« tion take the trouble to investigate the facts as shown by returns to be found m the Blue Book of the colony, and he will find there two things established, namely, first, that of the total population m the country electorates one person m every three and a half is a male adult, while m the town electorate's the male adults are only as one m. four of lhe total population. This fact sliows that if the colony were divided into seventy equal electorates, without any allowance m favor of the country, each electorate containing say 8000 persons, then eaoh country electorate would contain 2280 male adults as against 3000 male adults m each town electorate, so that with nominal equality there would be real under-representatlon m the case of the country seats to the extent of 12^ per cent. Therefore to produce equality only, an allowance of 12^ per cent to the country is absolutely necegsary, and is entirely just so far as it gosß. But tbat is not all. The dispassionate investigation of statistics will also arrive at this further fact, namely, that not only is there such a disparity m favor of the country as regards the percentage of male adults, but a comparison of the proportions ot registered electors m town and country shows that the country has nearly forty per cent more electors m proportion to the population than has the town. If the principle of the Constitution Act, which provides for the dividing of the colony into electorates containing as nearly as possible an equal nura.ber of registered electors, were followed out, theninevit? ably a much smaller quota of the total population m the country would provide the requisite nuoaber of ebctors than m the town. In point of fact, then, it can be shown, and will be shown when the proper time comes, that m asking a percentage allowance the country members are only demanding the just rights of their adult population, or of their registered electors, whichever be taken as the basis, and that instead of thereby aiming at the disfranchisement of the town population, they are merely fighting for the rights of a portion of the country population, which is disfranchised under the existing state of things. We use the word " disfranchised " because that is the word which has been employed by those who argue on the side of the stonewallers, though it is not at all the right word to use. Nobody is disfranchised now, nor is anybody under any of the proposals proposed to be disfranchised j the question veally baing to give to the respective populations their due share of voting pqwer. All this {§ entirely beside, or rather beyond., or m, addition] to arguments that the country seats should not be made unwieldy jn area, and that some allowance should he made on the score of the greater ease with which public opinion oan be brought to bear m the cities. On that latter ground it has been oonceded by two separate enactments that an allowance should bo made, the Act of 1881 providing for 25 per cent, and that of 1887 for 18 per cent— or rather professing to provide for it, Take as a mean of those two allowances 20 per cent as being an allowance m respect of the aspect of the question last stated, and add to that the 12^ per cent to which the greater proportion of male adults unquestionably entitles the country, and we have • total of 82-^ per cent, or as nearly as possible one-third, so that the demand of the country for an allowance of 38£ per cent (exacJly one third) is amply justified on these grounds alone ; while if the basis of the number qf registered electors were taken, without any allowance whatever on an; other ground, then the quota for the country as applied to the gross population would be even lower still. It will thus be scon tbat the oase for the country is a very strong one, and that those who are resisting the country claim are themselves the despoilcrs instead of the despoiled

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Bibliographic details

THE QUOTA QUESTION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2186, 30 July 1889

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THE QUOTA QUESTION. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2186, 30 July 1889