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The Premier in Dunedin.

Dunedtn, Mfly 25 Tho Premier addressed a crowded meeting of Dunedin electors at the Princess Theatre last night. Dealing with Mr Massey's recent sposeh in Dunedin, Mr Seddon complained of the unfais booming tjie Opposition received from the press, but after booming would come burst, and that in November next. Mr Massey had predicted that he was to be High Commissioner in the course of a few months. He had to say emphatically that he did not intend to accepb this office, The Premier then reviewed the Public Revenues Act, defending the clauses com plained of, and said his reply to the charges made was this—that this same Bill went before the Public Accounts Committee who unanimously passed it. Before that committee the auditor and controller-general and the secretary and the treasurer gave evidence ai to their requirements, There were no alterations beyond a technical amendment. But the Opposition press did . not tell them these things. They had been misled also in regard to the Audit Department. It had been stated that the expenditure of the Railway Department, of the Land 3 Department, the Customs Department, was not audited by the Auditor General, but this was not so. The accounts in qr-estion were audited. Mr Massey had cast a slur on the pre?s by saying a section of it had been corrupted by Government support. The Premier quotod the amounts paid to the Opposition and other papers to show that the distribution had been fair. The Premier criticised Mr Bedford's recent speech charging the Government with ' unsound finance. He had stated that the Government was manufacturing it 3 surplus by appropriating money derived from the sale of Crown lands, instead of the surplus feeing swollen by money derived as indicated. The Crown Lands Department owed the colony more than .£500,000 for the cost of administration, surveys, and other works in connection with the Department. The Premier denied that the Government had been extravagant. He denied that loan money had been transferred ia large sums to the Public Works Fund. The Press did not know of it, but it was a fact that £600,000 had been transferred from the Consolidated Fund to the Public Works *Fund. Regarding the Public Works Fund he might say that on the 31st of March there was ,£894,,607 to its credit—more money than at any previous time before. Mr Massey claimed to be a Liberal, but he had voted against the Land for Settlements Bill and old age pensions, and they must judge him by his works. Strangely enough lie "had expressed the opinion that the lease in perpetuity was better than the freehold. Mr John Duthiehad testified to the fact that Parliament was pure, and also that the Government had given the people what they wanted. If that was so why change the Government? The present Government had done more than any other in bringing capital and labour together. •Capital was safe, and they had no labour troubles as were occurring in other places. He criticised the Opposition, for decrying New Zealand. The Opposition press never told the people when New Zealand 3£ and 3 per cent stocks were 5s higher than the stocks of New South Wales, but they uever failed to loudly cry oat when they happened •to be lower*; which, perhaps, occurred after tfcho paying of interest. A reform the Opposition wanted was a Civil Service Board. If they had this Board if; would not be a demooracy but a bureaucracy; but the railway commissioners had not been a success. The bulk of tbe cadets were appointed by competition. The criticism o£ "spoils to the victors" could at best only have reference to the appointment of a few temporary clerks. The Government had been charged with charging to capital account amounts which should have been charged to revenue. He asserted that it was perfectly right that the cost of buildings which, represented permanent assets should be charged to capital account. A few small amounts for maintenance might have been charged, buc the amount was insignificant as even some Opposition members had acknowledged. In Otago the Government had bought 90,000 acres-of land for settlements and bad spent half a million on them. Mr i Mftssey had opposed the taking of laad and opposed the placing of tenants on these lands. Now he wanted to give these tenants the freehold, to give land to the settlers at cost price, which meant half a million to tlie colony. Regardang the taking of lands for settlement it was manifestly unfair to take the freehold from one to give it to the many. It was a wrong principle. Ha deprecated the agitation set up by the Opposition on lands for settlement which tended to upset Crown tenants. The Government, he maintained, should faithfully keep to its contract. The Government had been desirous of getting urban and subur ban lands for wooers, but Mr Massey had opposed it. Such a law was now in force but the operation of it ought fco be extended, j He also contrasted the , Govern meat: police with that of the Opposition as announced by Mr Massey which would, however, lead ! them fco nothing. Mr Seddon closed with an appeal to those present that their ideal . should be to make New Zealand God's own ! country. Hearty cheers were given as the Premier resumed hie seat. A. vote of thanks and confidence was passed ia Mr Seddon and the Government. The cheating was resumed when Mr Seddon returned thanks. On his call cheers were given for Empire Day. _—«—--M—■rraranas

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Issue 6579, 25 May 1905

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The Premier in Dunedin. Ashburton Guardian, Issue 6579, 25 May 1905