Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. THURSDAY", FEBRUARY 26, 1914. NO NEED FOR A NAVY.
Professor David Starr Jordan's crusade against war will fall on unresponsive ears in Australasia.; All he can say has been better said by^Mr ISTorman Angell, and still the feverish struggle continues for armaments, and still more 'armaments. It is not that colonials are more belligerent than continental races are, or that they have been drawn into the vortex of expenditure because it has^ become the fashion. But they cannot remain blind to the fact that, in their isolated position, the need for land defences is imperative and urgent. There is, . however, a compelling sense of truth in the Professor's insistence that Australia has not the slightest need for a navy, for, as he says, "Australia has no more reason to fear anything from .tapan than she has from Denmark." If that is the case with Australia, it is doubly true of
New •■Zealand, and yet we are on the verge of committing ourselves to an expenditure of about half a million for the construction of a cruiser that, under the most favourable circumstances, would not be of the slightest service when opposed to the long-range guns of a modern Dreadnought. New Zealand may Iwell exclaim : "Save us from our friends," when, jingo ambassadors are found postulating our, naval principles before a London audience in the key adopted by Mr Arthur Myers in a recent speech. "In place of contenting ourselves with the easier and cheaper plan of sending a contribution to the British Admiralty," he said, "we are making ourselves responsible for, our own ships. New Zealand, in the days when her people are few, is laying aright the foundations for the only possible, permanent policy for the years ahead, half a century hence, when our population shall equal England herself.'' The absurdity of the latter.portion of Mr Myers's statement is obvious when it is remembered that , the population of England alone, at the last census, was 34,000,000, and that New Zealand's population is increasing at the; rate- of about 25,000 per. annum. The -"easier and cheaper plan" is certainly more in keeping with the aspirations of a population of 1,000,000, requiring to borrow to the utmost extent of its legal limits for urgent developmental works, and already < burdened with enormous commitments on account of its debt of £87,000,000. This translation 6f national sentiment into arithmetical terms possibly will .pffend^ that section of the community wedded to a policy of making a show, but it is the only view to take. Sir Joseph Ward's protest is as a voice calling ki the wilderness. But if he posed less as a political scold his warning against the reckless and useless expenditure on a toy navy would stand out clearer and receive a great deal more consideration than is the case al present. It is idle for the Government to contend that this question is not being made a " party" one; an adverse vote upon almost any detail would mfean the defeat of the party in power. And yet, because of this, members are forced to vote in opposition to what must be their honest convictions. If they are. not really convinced that the country is taking a step that is not. warranted on the facts, and that is folly of the most extreme kiwd because of the lack of meai*s, then they are out of touch with public opinion and blind to the more .important needs of the Dominion. Japan has built,- or is building, 20 battleships, 36 cruisers, 100 torpedo-boat destroyers or torpedo boats, and 15 submarine's. In order to provide
a navy of equivalent strength, the Dominions would have to find and train 60,000 officers and men, and spend annually ' £25,000,000 or £30,000,000.. The alternative to this grievous btirden is reliance on the commanding force of the i Royal Navy, four times as strong as the Japanese Navy, and available for the whole-world defence of the Empire. The "mana" of this fleet, plus an annual contribution, would amply] meet,all our needs in the way of naval defence for another half-century,