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The Press. TUESDAY, JUNE 4, 1901. THE GOVERNMENT CERITICISED.

Interest in politics just now is notoriously dead. The public mind is to a large extent filled with the prospect of the Royal vi«t, end the fact that Parliament meets for the despatoh of business almost immediately after the departure of the Duke &nd Ducneee lias beta very generally lost sight of. The local merobera who hare lately been address, ing their constituents have very prdperly reminded us that the public business of the colony i&as. etill a claim on our attention, to which we may add that unless tie taxpayers do condescend to look after their own interest* a little, those interests trill assuredly suffer. The speech delivered by Mr Charles Lewis at the Choral HaH last night was fall of matter, as hie public utterances usually are, and it wae especially valualble as showing how the control of public affairs is gradually being taken out of the hand% of the electors and centred more and more in the Ministry of the day. Even now, questions qf lue greatest importanos 'are setled on lines quite independent of" either the wishes or the welfare of fche electors. Take for example the BJ.I introduced by the Gbrernmettt last qessioh to increase both the number and the pay of Ministers. Will anybody pretend that the country wanted such a Bill? Even in the House it wae strongly opposed , , and the opposition, as Mr. Lewis showed, -vras only overcoriie by irteaiie v>f a bribe of £40 addition to the salary of members, and certain, extra privileges. in the- matter 6f railway passaged for their, wives and children, the despatch of telegrams, and so forth. The Public Revenues Bill which rendered this act of corruption and even worse possible, is a disgrace to the Government by whom it was introduced, afi'd to the Parliarheht which passed ifc. As Mr I&vris pointed out, it was expressly designed to clip tie wings, of the Auditor-General, and prevent hinjj from exercising that control over the. ejp penditure -which it is essential, in the interests of the community, that he should exercise with the utmost vigilance. Briefly put, it enables any Government which possesses an obedient majority, like the present, to over-ride all the Acts of Parliament which have bean expressly'devised to secure the independence of" our legislative and judicial officers. Th*i*e is, in fact; no job which may not now be perpetrated without any power on the part of the AuditorGeneral to prevent it, so long as the Gbj veroment, either by fair means or foul, 6ucceeds in retaining the balance df voting power in the House. .It is impossible to say into what slough of political corruption and financial trouble this Act may yet Cead Uβ. Mr Lewis showed that the increase in the salaries of Ministers li«?t session, together with the bonus to members, and the other increases which naturally followed in its train, amounted to dose on £15,000. But Ministers are not content with distributing mark« of their favour among member* of Parliament and various pleading officials. They have elevated the practice of purr chasing political support into a fine-art. Their aim is to bribe large sections oi the community, and so secure for themselvee a permanence of power. The 10 per cent." rebate to Crown tenants, was An obvious bribe. The hint thrown Out by Mr Ward the ©iber night to the railway men about an , increase of wages was an equally franejerent attempt to influence a body of voter* quite sufficient to turn the scale in any election. The fairest and beet w*y to secure an adequate rate of pay to the railway employee* would be to allow them to come under tie operation of the Industrial Conciliation And Arbitration Act-, to that they may have the same privilege of appealing to the Court that private employees enjoy. This, hfrrever, would deprive the Government of a powerful political lever which they wiH never give op unless it is taken, from them by force. Another example of the way in. whici the Ministry attempt to bring undue influence to bear on * section .of th* community is afforded by t&« manner in which they tried to keep the control oj teacher* , salaries entirely in their owit hands, instead of consulting the 'Education Boarde, its the Act of last session directed them to do. In connection with this suiM

ject Mr Lewis last night not only protested against the attempts made by the Goveramenfcto <Motar»liße.4att th« adminiftmtien of tbe Edueiktioa esSbm in Wellington* W> be dedeed io moomnA term* tint tine Minister in charge of ih* Depwtawait "wae unfit for hie position, atid that it w«e notfwig *hojt of aetadafaw that tkp administration of euch an important branch-of the fvbho servioe should be allowed to fall into Hβ present state. There is so subject about which members of tbe Howe profeee to be more coooemed the education -of the young.' It remaue to be seen whetiber supporters of the Government are prepared to xta&aitaai th** »t present tbe adtainwtration of **c Education Dfcparuneat Jβ all that could Ite deetred; and if not, what etfcpe tiwy iht&a'to tiske to bring about an improvewat. There is oertainly c very heavy responsibility on their shoulders in this xp&ter —one for which we hope the country will bring them to account. Meanwhile Mr Lewis has done a public service by his dear aM outspoken criticism of pub Sic affaire.

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Bibliographic details

The Press. TUESDAY, JUNE 4, 1901. THE GOVERNMENT CERITICISED., Press, Volume LVIII, Issue 10982, 4 June 1901

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909

The Press. TUESDAY, JUNE 4, 1901. THE GOVERNMENT CERITICISED. Press, Volume LVIII, Issue 10982, 4 June 1901

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