MR. MASSEY AT BUCKLAND.
THE CRITIC GENERAL. DREADXOT'OHT. DEFENCE, AN*D RETRENCHMENT. (Bγ Telegraph.—Own Correspondent.) BUCKLAXD, Wednesday. There was a good attpndance of local people in the Buckland Public Hall last night, when Mr. W. F. Massey, M.P.. delivered what may lie termed the Opposition attitude respecting the Government's dpfence measures and public service economy. Mr. E. Allen occupied the | chair. I The speaker set off by .1 general speculation upon the wisdom of the recent Cabinet changes, and criticised certain tendencies towards leasehold tenure he saw manifest in Messrs. Hoi™ and Fowlds, members of that Ministry. He I also expressed gratification at the uuity of thought in the Opposition ranks, and announced hi? concern over the heterogeneous mixture, of opinion to he found in the ranks of the Ministerialists, ex- : pressing hi? conviction that the Prime -Minister would require all his tact to keep his team running in harmony. 'Coming to the question of defence, Mr. Massey said, apropos of the Dreadnought offer, that the underlying idea in] his own mind had been that the different countries should contribute to the main-. tenan.ee of the navy in proportion to their population. In the .Speech from the Throne in June, it was mentioned that Parliament would have an oppor-' tunity of increasing the naval subsidy. Xo other mention was made of it till he iMr. Massey) called attention to it. and the. Prime Minister then said he would deal with it in a clause in the Appropriation Bill. Objection was t?ken to this course, and a bill was subsequently introduced and agreed to unanimously. He was sure more would hove been given ii asked for. (Applause, i But he was absolute!;.- astounded when he heard that the Government had decided to offer o. battleship, and another lif necessary. He had voted for Imperial proposals on every occasion, but he had some respect for democratic principles. 'It the right, and privilege of Par- ' liament to control expenditure. Even if there was a crisis to justify the Government's action. Parliament should have been summoned to enable the mcmi bers to say whether the assistance should I take the form of an increased subsidy or battles-hips. Personally, he preferred the subsidy to the battleship, but he was quite prepared to bow to the will jof the majority. Mr. Massey went on ito assert that Sir Joseph Ward had, I before making the announcement, taken j steps to discover the attitude of the j newspapers, and he expressed regret at 1 what he called the Premier's decision to I make a party question of the matter by j saying '.he Government would resign if ja majority did not support him. Xo I one. ho sa'.d. possessing Imperial sentij nieut would seek to make our relations I with "the Imperial Government a party ' matter. i Whether «c assisted the Old Country j with battle-hips or -subsidy, the next duty was to put the country it-self in a state of defence, went on the speaker, amid loud aj.plause. And he proceeded to pass-severe ix'tisure on the state to which the volunteer system hail been allowed to drift. The spirit of the people ; throughout the Empire was splendid, but I the men at the h"iid of affair*, not only jin the Dominion, allowed matters to drift until they fancied they saw a war cloud ion the horizon, and then they said and did I things which must appear ridiculous in t iif l t?\ f> of ot ustior. c . if*" 1 \\'iis verr strong!v in favour ot n proper system of national training, so a= to l"t the people of Great Britain know that in peace or war we wore ready to do our duty as citizen* of the Empire. I Loud j applause, i The cost of a ship at £1.750.I 000 meant £100.000 per annum at 4 per 1 i-ent., including sinking fund, which he I believed would at present mean a special ! taxation. : Mr Massey then proceeded to analyse j the financial situation, and confide his I views in the audience on the public service retrenchments. He pointed out a few weeks ago. he said, that the increase in permanent and annual appropriations had increased last year by £449.000. the year before £439.000. and the preceding one £tj,52.000. What had the Government been doing for the last few years ii £250.000 could be saved* It had beer ■ condemned out of its own mouth of -nilfu 1 and culpable negligence in ronnectior J with the public service. i Applause.'! Hf ' I had nothing to say against department ', heads, and those who had the ser j\ice by the front door. There wer» a- ! good men in the service as in any puhli< ■'service in the world. Rut there woulr •,' be no real or permanent, improvement un til there was a public service board ' vhich would make appointments, not oi account of political opinion, but on ac ' count of merit and fitness of the appii I cant. (Applause.) He would heli"ve ir the Premier's proposals wnen he did a' Sir Harry Atkinson, who. whpn he hat to retrench, started by cutting his mvi , salary down from i'lT.iO to £1000 (Loud applause. I Xow that the depart nients were cut down from 37 to 16 ,i should not require so many Ministers t> look after them. (Laughter and ap - pliiuse.] t The speaker went on to express th " opinion that the country was not gettinj value for the £160.000 a year spent oi the Agricultural Department—in th 3 poultry department the salaries a.-tuall; • exceeded the total value of our poultr ' export. And he believed the experimenta 5 farms could be greatly increased in in i structive value. [Je also traversed th t work of the Native Department, in cau? f tic terms, and concluded his criticism o f this section of the Government's polie; >' with the venture that the Governmeu ■ had been caught napping, declaring tha f Parliament would have a serious respor i sibiliLy in keeping a watch on expenditur v and preventing extravagance. t At the end of his address a unan •. nious vote of thanks and confidence wa !, passed to the speaker.
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