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MILITARY TRAINING., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 79, 2 April 1909
LIVELY MEETING AT ST. JAMES* HALL.
BRITAIN'S ALLEGED PBRTL.
A meeting took place under the auspices of the National Defence League t ; f am t t 3 HaU Ust *&*> with regard to the question of compulsory training. The hall was barely half-full, but many of those present were enthusiastic on the eubjeet of the meeting, while the Socialistic side ™ com mun% were represented by a small band, whose determination to take part in what was advertised as a public meeting made the proceedings quite exciting before the close. The Mayor (Mr. C. D. Grey) presided. In opening the meeting, the Mayor said that the purport of the resolution passed by the City Council the other day was universal training. In view of recent events, universal training was now a question of the greatest importance, for New Zealand would be the tirst to feel the blow of any disaster to Britain or Britain's navy, lying, as it does, on the outskirts of the Empire. He believed the public of the Dominion were m accord with Sir Joseph Ward's action in offering the Old Country a battleship. He had not come to discuss the naval crisis, but the question of universal training. The two things, however, were intimately connected. What they were there for now was to pass certain resolutions to ensure their youths being trained to take part in the defence of the land. ' Air. Grey mentioned the fact that he had had a circular sent to him from the ladies of Cambridge, in which they asked him to call a meeting of the women and children, in order that they might contribute something toward! the cost of the Dreadnought which New Zealand •had offered. (A voice: Shame!) Mr. C. J. Parr (President of the Board of Education) was then called upon to address the meeting. He said there might be two opinions about the giving of a Dreadnought. (Hear! hear!) Personally, he had no doubt that it was the right thing U> do. It was the primary duty of every nation to defend itself, and the nation which failed to do this was doomed to extinction. "Are we doing our duty to-day?" asked Mr. Parr. (Cries of No!) "We are," he added, "threatened with imminent danger and peril, and where are our defences?" Across the Channel was the greatest military Power the world had ever seen now saying in the plainest language that it was not content; that it wanted to snatch also the naval supremacy which England had held co long. (Never!) This -was German's attitude. To-day she told tQiem in the plainest language possible that by 1913 she would have seventeen Dreadnoughts to our thirteen. What was the object? Aggression! And this was aimed at the country they all loved so well. (Hear! hear! and cries of "Nonsense!") There were one or two present, eaid Mr. Parr, who would say there was no danger. Enough of such fatuous folly! (Applause.) There was another peril—the Asiatic peril. Millions in Asia wanted more territory. Japan would lead these people, and what was to prevent her doing so when her treaty with Britain had expired. From there two quarters came warning to New Zealand to be ready. But their state of unpreparcdnegß /was. simply farcical. Wjhat could they do against German legions? The speaker continued that New Zealanders were a peace-loving people. Nobody wanted war. (A voice: You're trying to get it though!) "'Prepare for war and ensure peace" was a maxim ■there was no denying. Every man should be taught to ride a horse and shoulder a rifle. The speaker thought that very few employers would begrudge the time, and any employer who did begrudge time given for the sake of national safety was not worthy of the name of a British man. If New Zealandere did their duty, they could have in this country to-morrow 150,000 riflemen at least; a citizen-army like Switzerland. He believed that with such a force they would be safe from attack. (Applause.) Mr. Parr then proposed the following resolution: —"That in the opinion of this meeting, the time has arrived for the institution of some form of universal defensive training as absolutely necessary for the safety of the Dominion." In seconding the motion, Canon MacMurray said that perhaps he -might be called upon to make an apology, coming as a clergyman to advocate military training.—(Cries of "You ought to!" and "Hear, hear!") His defence was that he was a Tover of peace. The history of nations showed that there was no. peace to the land that neglected to defend itself. (Applause.) " I hate war!" he exclaimed, "but there is something worse—bhat is, the supinenees which makes it possible for one nation to trample upon another." With regard to the naval crisis, he believed that if Britain's navy fell below the standard there would be war within 24 hours. (A man in front: "Iβ it right to starve thousands in -London to keep your navy?") In conclusion, Canon MacMuTray expressed, the opinion that the British Empire had got to be maintained in the same way as it was built up: by the patriotic self-sacrifice of its citizens. (Applause.) Mr. C. H. Poole said he was of the opinion that if the crisis was as important as it was said to be at the present time, it would pay New Zealand handsomely to make a greater contribution than one Dreadnought to the British navy. He did not believe, however, that the acute crisis had arisen that people spoke of, and although he was in favour of the contribution of a Dreadnought if the crisis was acute, he would say now without hesitation that the offer by the Cabinet was unconstitutional. (Applause.) H the crisis was what it was made out to ibe, it was Britain's time to wad« in now and get it finished. If they were going to wait to carry on their big building programme, they would be like a prisoner in the condemned cell waiting until the time came for his execution. With regard to home defence, Mr. Poole remarked that in Switzerland those who had conscientious objections to carrying a rifle could act as ambulance men. This agitation was for home defence, not to equip men to send abroad. (A Voice: "What about the Boer War?" The Speaker: "They were not sent; they volunteered.")
Mt L. B, Phillips, M.P., said he heart ily supported Sir Joseph Ward's action in regard to the Dreadnought. Universal training would strengthen the Empire, and he thought preferential tariffs would also strengthen them by providing the sinews of war. If New Zealand raised her own citizen soldiers, other colonies would follow suit and secure themselves from danger. As the chairman was about to put the resolution to the meeting, a man rose in the audience and asked if there
*m m amendment allowed. "No." replied the chairman. "Iβ the 'Coward's CaetleT' was the retort. Chairman: You can vote against the resolution if you like. "The amendment is in order. This is a public meeting." (Cheers and boots.) The Chairman: It is a resolution of the Defence League. If you don't like it you can call a meeting of your own. (Disorder and applause.) Mr Parr, seeing that the disturbance was increasing, asked the chairman to allow the amendment to be read to show "what a miserable minority there was against the resolution." A slightly-built young Socialist then mounted the platform with a paper in hie hand, but for some moments he could not obtain.a hearing. There were hoots and calls of "Sit down!" answered by counter cries of "Cowards! You who talk of liberty," etc. At length Mr Ehtrican, who was on the platform, appealed to the meeting as Britishers to give the man a right to move his amendment. The following was the amendment:— "That this meeting of the citizens and electors of Auckland:—(l) Affirms the conviction that the greatest interests of the people of Great Britain and Germany are bound up with each other and ought therefore not to be regarded as conflicting with each other and thafc consequently any threatened or possible war between them will prove disastrous to the well-being, stability, progress and honour of either nation. irrespective of the issue of any possible hostilities; (2) That every possible effort to submit any, international "differences and difficulties between the two nations to arbitration be made before regarding the outbreak of hostilities as inevitable; (3) That after all efforts in favour of arbitration have failed, the forces and organisms of International Trades Unionism and Socialism be supported in their proposed action to prevent the outbreak of hostilities by means of a series of Anglo-German conferences, International strikes, commercial boycotts and other such steps as may lend to successfully secure the end m view; (4) That we express regret that the Premier of the country acted in an unconstitutional, ill-advised and precipitate manner in pledging Net? Zealand to provide a battleship without having first obtained the sanction of Parliament." Mr Entrican: I rise to a point of order. This k not an amendment to the resolution at all. (Uproar.) The Chairman ruled the amendment out of order, but amidfet continued uproar the Socialists insisted on his right to speak. A section of the audience became abusive and there were cries of "Chuck him off the platform." In response, an elderly man got beside the young fellow and dared any of the audience to try it. A small party of the Socialist's supporters made their way close to the platform, but no one else moved. Another man with a paper tried to speak but could not be heard, and *t length the police were appealed to, to ask the interrupters to get off the platform, which they did. The Chairman then put the resolution, which was carried amidst an uproar, only 30 or 40 of the 150 or more present being against it. The meeting continued to be disorderly and Mr P. MV'Mackay could only be heard by those in front as he proposed that the resolution should be forwarded to the Premier, with the urgent request that the Government take action in this wholly non-partisan matter. Mr Entrican seconded the resolution, which -was carried. Another amendment was moTed by a representative of the Society of Friends, that the time had not arrived for making any system of military training compulsory, but this was also ruled out of order amid a renewed disturbTh« meeting broke up with the singing of "Rule Britannia" and the National Anthem by the enthueiaatic section of the audience.
MILITARY TRAINING., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 79, 2 April 1909
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