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THE NAVAL CRISIS., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 77, 31 March 1909
THE NAVAL CRISIS.
THE WISDOM OF WARD. (To the Editor.) Sir,—The good people of the Commonwealth talk of going one better than New Zealanders with regard to the gift of a warship. The Australians intend subBcribing individually towards the presentation, and this was what our Premier feared might obtain in the Dominion; therefore he wisely seized the bull by the horns and took upon himself the onus, or otherwise, of the affair. The Commonwealth of Australia during the last five years has, by' reason of prosperous seasons, accumulated a larger balance to its credit (I am not writing of surpluses), and can well afford to draft London a million or so. Here in New Zealand, the prosperity has been more apparent than real, and I much doubt if, during the last five years, this country has accumulated much negotiable wealth. It was hence the economical exigency to prevent money going out of the Dominion than for a personal purpose that the Premier, without consulting the House, cabled Home the fact that New Zealand would present a modern battleship of the first class to the nation. He (Sir Joseph) wisely predicted, if the people of fhe Dominion were to subscribe a sum amounting to over a million sterling the finance of the colony would be seriously jeopardised by the drafting to England of such a huge sum of money—in fact, though the amount would be put up, it would be absolutely necessary for the Government to take a hand in the affair —to, indeed, impound the fund collected on this side and represent it, in England by money borrowed for the purpose in London. Australia, with her credit balances, can afford to draft a couple of millions to the Old Country: New Zealand cannot do so, for she would have neither kind, coin, nor credit to meet it with.-—I am, etc., ÜBIQTJE. MAGNIFICENT, IF NECESSARY. (To the Editor.) Sir,—lf the inhabitants of each cit.v of importance in Great Britain were to consider it necessary to propitiate the God of War by building edifices, costing a million or so. in his honour there would be but little outcry against such expenditure, and though the total outlay might easily run to some seventy millions, the country would be none the poorer for the erection of such monuments. Why, then, this wailing over oar poor old Motherland having to turn out battleships for her own and her debtors' protection? The building of ironclads makes everything connected with the eteel industry hum, and gladdens the hearts of thousands of labourers and those dependent on their earnings, just as the ejection of temples in honour of a god or the cutting a twenty million waterway across Old Caledrfhla. The money for either of these objects would be given by, or else borrowed from, the inhabitants of Britain, and expended in that country, creating work to many now unemployed, without the loss of a cent to the general community. On the question of the gift of a warship, the Mayor of 'Parnell remarked that he could not see what the British taxpayer gets from the colonies. As touching this Dominion, I take it that the Old Lady, our Creditor, does very well. She has lent iis publicly and privately some eighty millions of what, I suppose, I must call money, though it actually was credit we got for the purchase of railway matt rial, manufactured goods, and commodities, the bulk of which we should have been the better without, and for this lot advanced we send 'her, per annum, as interest, some four million pounds' worth of that which she hungers for, namely, wool, meat, gold, butter, and che«sc. Last year's balance was against this country, the excess value of exports over imports being some two millions less than the sum required to meet the interest on our external obligations. The wizard of finance will now ask London to lend him a couple or so of millions for the 'building of a presentation battleship, the very spittoons for which we are incapable of ■manufacturing ourselves. During the Jast decade London must have received from India, Canada, South Africa, and Australasia, bullion to the value of four hundred and eighty millions, of which, though ye borrow, ye shall never receive. This sum would give credit for the building, in England, of any required number of Indomitables without a coin being moved from the city. If the Empire can commission 60 more ships when afloat, ■let this number be Added by the year lftlfc, then can she cable the Cfermans: "Hands up, or we fight."—l afii, etc., H.J. " XI." thinks Sir Joseph Ward lost a grand opportunity in not consulting other divisions of (the Empire 'before making his offer of a Dreadnought. The combined action of Australia, Canada and New Zealand would have had a magnificent efl'eot. Our correspondent thinks that it is foolish to rely altogether upon the navy for our defence. There should be compulsory military training. Mr. R. Richmond thinks Sir Joseph Ward's offer was no more than is due to the Home Country, which bears such a tremendous burden for the defence of the Empire. He says that no one who has watched the ambitious policy of Germany for muny years can doubt that it is a menace to the peace of the world, and that these colonies are not secure against invasion. He thinks that it is discreditable to Australia, which is in a batter position to offer help, that it has not followed New Zealand's example. Mr. F. Spillman commends Mr. Asquith's references to the peaceful relations between England and Germany. He states that many people in both countries are striving to get international disputes ; settled by arbitration. He considers it 1 an extraordinary thing that after nineteen centuries of Christ's teaching of > peace, charity love and human brother- : hood, the nations are burdened with huge armaments, and the religion of peace has been turned into a religion of hatred, terror and crime. He believes that this ' is mainly due to the competitive s) - etem, I and the -common rule, " each man for him- ' self, and the devil take the hindmost." ' "Hori Karo," under the heading "Con- i stitutional Piracy," considers the offer of ! a Dreadnought by Sir Joseph. "Ward, without tihe knowledge or cognisance of Parliament, as nothing 'hut " rank piracy ' upon our moet sacred dnetitutione." " 1 would ask," he proceeds, " by what authc- ! rity does he venture to pledge the credit : of this country to the extent of any , amount from three to five millions ster- . ling without the cognisaneo or consent , of the people's representatives? And let , miisay and hope and trust, as honest representatives, having duo regard to- our , requirements in defence matters, and as ' tUßtodiana of the people's purse, that they will resent and repudiate this monstrous scheme @f fjalf.aggrandiaeimejvt," Grrai Britain, be declares, }s wealthy beyond her needs, white Nesy Zealand i» overladen with her UafeQif.ee.
Mr. Oliver Mason, writing on the same subject, says: "We tan all'understand, or at least we can conjecture, what the moral effect would be cf an offer of immediate assistance where there was an immediate danger, but it will scarcely be contended by the most undiscerning alarmist that ithere was any immediate danger of an invasion of England by the German fleet. Where then, does fche moral effect come in. What will be the effect upon Germany ? Will the offer of a battleship from New Zealand have any effect on the German naval policy? Will it cause the German naval authorities to reconsider their position; or will it stimulate them to build more ships? I th'.Jc we may safely conclude that the effect upon Germany, moral or otherwise, will be about nil, and I think we may also conclude that the moral effect upoa the British Empire would be better exemplified by an assurance of assistance in case of need, and an intimation that the matter would receive the earnest attention of Parliament. To what, then, are we to ascribe this needless precipitancy on the part of our Premier? Was it a mere feat of political joekeyship to get in ahead of the Commonwealth or the Dominion of Canada, or was it inspired by self-glorification—the desire ef the one central figure of Xew Zealand .to stand well in the limelight. I will leave it to the public to judge. But this I do believe. That when the senseless naval panic has subeided somewhat, the people of New Zealand will appraise the action of the Premier and his colleagues at it 3 true value, and it is to be hoped will lay down such rules as will effectually prevent the abuse of power by any one man or any ministry such as we have witnessed with. in the past week."
THE NAVAL CRISIS., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 77, 31 March 1909
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