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PRESSIONAL., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2438, 11 June 1890
Major Steward, M.H.K,^addressed"his | constituents at the Oddfellows' Hall, Waimate, last evening. The Mayor i occupied the chair, and about 200 electors were present, Mr Steward dealt at some length with the work of last session and the position of political parties in the H6use. He conclenined the railway administration and opposed further borrowing. Speaking of the reform of the Legislative Council, he said:—We have here no hereditary, nobility, as in the Mother Country, and even there the: sooner ' the system by which the graceless, and degenerate son of a noble ancestor is accorded by right of birth the privilege of j taking part in the government of his ■ country equally with him who is ennobled for his services". to the 1 :^tate' •- is put an end to the better will it be for the cause of liberty and of^ humanity. A seat in our own Legislative Council is an honor which may be fitly be- ; stowed upon those who have servedi the Colony faithfully and well, and that . the possibility of the bestowal of such] well-earned reward should be kept open, [ R in my opinion the chief argument for ' • '»■ .'■«■;o*ii! ion •f a second Chamber. Yet/ even this is largely theoretical, as it has dnly too often been' the case' that men have been called to the" Council for i reasons of party policy only, some of them, indeed such men as can by nd i stretch of imagination be said to have i rendered any real service to the State,' that is to say to the people of the Colony. As to the theory of the necessity of a Second Chamber as a check upon mis- ; chievous or dangerous legislation, it is toi be noted that the Council very much more 1 frequently spoils, emasculates, or rejects that which is useful and good, than it' amends ; or prevents' that which is ill-con-sidered, risky 1 or harmful; and even as to its service in the latter direction, were : there no Legislative Council in existence, there would very seldom indeed be any : evil resultant from the want of a body to perform such service, as the very fact of there being aio revisory. Chamber, would make the iHouse of\ Representatives infinitely more careful as to the measures passed by itself as the sole Legislative Chamber. I am inclined to think that we might well take a leaf ; out of the book of that successful little republic the Swiss Confederation, and allow to the local,governing bodies-; | the County and Borough Councils and the Road Boards—the right of selecting by! their votes say two-thirds of the- whole number, leaving the remaining .third to be called to the Council by die Governor as at present. This would I think be better than thQ election of all future ment bers of the Council by the House of Representatives as proposed .by the Government] I 'Bill. But whatever be the mode of choice of Councillors, upon one point there is an almost universal coh- ■ sensus of opinion (at least outside of the Gouncil Chamber itself) and that is that appointments should certainly not be for i Hfe. Six years would in my opinion be .quite long enough, a Councillor retiring by effluxion of time to be, of course, '■ eligible for re-appointment or reelection. Under the. present system it is possible for • gentlemen to exercise votes in deciding important issues who may have become incapacitated by the infirmities of age for exercisa wise judgment thereon. Referring to Party Government Major Steward said:—ln New Zealand it is a pronounced failure. So long as we have a Ministerial Party and a constitutional Opposition, I hold that a member to be of real use to his constituents or to the country should belong to the one or the other —fxeo lances and rail-sitters are nothing but a nuisance—and I have 'throughout all my political career stuck "steadily to my party, which, as it happens, has been for the most of the'time in the cool shades of Mr Speaker's left, but I would gladly see the whole system of party Government relegated to the limbo of oxfjloded fallacies, and effete institutions. I hold that it lias become an anachronism not only in New Zealand but elsewhere. At Home we have a Conservative Government kept in power by the votes of a section of the Liberals, in Victoria we see a coalition Government, — what are these things but an open confession of the failure of Party Government I —while in New Zealand, I maintain that parties are not divided by any broad clear line of policy and principle. There are Liberals on the Government side and Conservatives on the Opposition side, and vice v-rs-t, and intrigue and fighting for place and power are only too frequently witnessed, to the waste of time and the crippling of the usefulness of the Legislature. Besides which under our present wretched system members are constantly placed in a false" position. Measures of legislation and public policy' often are not and cannot be decided upon their merits, because members are debarred from voting upon the simple issue, the question as to whether this or that proposition should be accepted or rejected upon its merits being complicated and confused.by the fact that acceptance or rejection involves a change in the occupancy of the-Minis-terial benches. I have long wished for a means of escape from so radically vicious a condition of things; and as I know, for 1 have taken means to ascertain, that some thirty other .members of the House are of the same mind, I purpose seeking an opportunity next session to ventilate the question in the direction of a series of resolutions which I tabled some two , ■"'.■"■v.r, :i^n. >iiit which did not come on ii- li'-v.i ■■■'■:>. These propose the vi-.b: ■■ •:■ ■■:" •■! •■•niewhat similar system to that which obtains in Switzerland. There :the Government or " Federal Council" as it is termed is elected for three years by the two Chambers of the Legislature, called the National Council and the Council of the States, both these, latter being elective bodies. Here, as we have but one elective Chamber the Government should be elected directly by that House—the House of Representatives. Under the present system we have practically a mediate election, that is to say the House passes a vote which places in the hands of one man the right of choosing the members of the Ministry, but restricts his choice to one half the membqrs of the House only— plus, of course, the majority (it may be of only 1, 2 or 3). by which the vote has been carried. It therefore follows that on each such occasion men who would be especially desirable for the conduct of a particular department of Government must be left out simply because they happen to be among the minority. Clearly it would be better that the House should exercise its choice direct among its whole number, and I can see no difficulty whatever in the Crown accepting as its advisers the men recommended directly by the House, equally with those recommended by one man to whom the House has delegated the power to recommend. Measures presented would then not involve the question of confidence ; and could be amended or rejected in accordance with the actual views of a majority of the House, representing a real preponderance of opinion, and not the mere result of a whip ; and \ we should be rid once and for ever of a system of things which assumes that it is the duty of one party to decry the proposals of the opposite party, to belittle its leaders and to pour contempt upon its rank and file, and of the waste < of time and sacrifice of useful work which necessarily attend upon the discussion of ' Want-of-Confidence motions. j,
On the important question of settlement of lands and the exodus of population the speaker * said :—The year before last neaJy 10,000 people left our shores, 10,000 more than came to them, and even now the exodus is going on to a
greater extent I think than the published returns indicate. Surely it is not enough that we are producing more wool and frozen mutton and that a larger revenue is therefore accruing to big Companies and the owners of immense estates. If the country is to prosper and grow, there must be a constantly extending area of settlement, of settlement by small holders, the bona fide settlement of people who will make their homes on the land, and ' raise their families uponand employ labor with the proceeds of the soU, a constantly increasing number of agriculturists, and dairy farmers, and of wageearners on the farms, and in the various, handicrafts which are wanted to supply the needs of the farms and the farmers. But is there anything of that sort going on 1 Very little indeed ; certainly not a tithe of what there should be. I know that we have recently been furnished— doubtless at the instance of die Minister for Lands.—with statistics which purport to show that a vast amount of settlement has been, effected during the past few months, but it has been well said that' " figures can be made to prove anything," and that thereis nothing more fallacious than what I will term " political figures," i unless it be political facts,-is proverbial. Is it not a notorious thing that a very large proportion of the recent purchases of Crown Lands, which are assumed by the department to represent as many new settlers as there are purchasers, really to a large extent only represent so f many additions to the areas held by persons who were already land owners ? TSay, is i it not also known that the intention of the law is being constantly evaded by a system of dummying through sons and daughters, and sisters, and cousins, and aunts ? I assert that there i« a great deal of this sort of thing going on, and I doubt whether 10 per cent, of our recent land sales represent so many additional bona fide settlers. Yet, while all this is the case, first we have a Commission, which after going over 3J millions of acres of Crown lands in Canterbury can only find about a quarter of a million — about one-thirteenth of the whole— which is fit for settlement. This too, strangely enough, to judge from the description accompanying the sale plans appears to consist of poor shingly land, land liable to flood and other similarly "desirable " property, and even that miserable remanent is doled out. by the present Minister of Lands with a reluctant hand The whole business is in the highest degree unsatisfactory. Most certainly every facility should be given to the bona fide settler, not only in the bush of the North Island, but here on the plains of Canterbury also, and so important do I regard the spread of bona fide settlement that I would not hestitate for a moment to give away the land, if necessary, to those who will really make their homes upon it cultivate it and improve it."
[per press association.]
Wttnbham, June 10,
Mr Richardson addressed a large meeting here this evening, devoting the principal portion of the address to a refutation of the charges made against the present land administration by Sirßobert Stout, and quoting statistics to prove that under that administration settlement was, progressing more and more rapidly, while the departmental cost was greatly decreased. In regard to federation he said that the opinion that New Zealand had been excluded by the action of the delegates was an error, as the result of their stand had been to leave "the matter in the hands of the people for consideration through their representatives. It might he expected that he would say something of the policy of the Government, but as the details would shortly be disclosed in Parliaments would be out of place for him to do so otherwise than deal with it generally. Speaking broadly, the policy of the Government was a policy of settlement and progress, of common sense and prudence, a policy of paying their way, of pausing in respect of railways, and of pushing on roads, a policy that could be pursued without borrowing. At the conclusion of the address Mr Richardson received a hearty vote of thanks and confidence.
Martok, June 10
Mr Maoarthur, one of the candidates for the new electoral district <sf Rangitikei, addressed a crowded meeting last night, and was very well received.
PRESSIONAL., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2438, 11 June 1890
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