THE BY-ELECTION. MR. FISHER OPENS THE CAMPAIGN
NO HOPE FROM SEDDON OR MASSEY. LIBERAL PARTY' TO BK REFORM* ED FROM WITHIN. • The Theatre Royal waa crowded lust evening on tho occasion of tho maiden f,peedi, to tho Wellington electors, of Mr. F. M. B. Fisher. The ouudidato, who was received with applause, nuked tho audience to nomltmto a Chairman. Mr. J, C. M'Kerrov wus nominated, and tool? the clutir. Mr. Fisher received through, out an attentive, und, at times cordial, hearing. Tho speaker scored hia points neatly, and the audieuco iuvaiiably rose to the occasion. REASONS FOR CANDIDATURE. No doubt the first question that would arise in their minds, said Mr. Fisher, waa by what right did he come before tho poop!* Of ' WeltftYg'tOtr&nd ask for thoir suffrages. He wa» there to a.sk for their sutfrages becauw we lived In ft democracy, and it was the right of every man in a democracy to come beforo the people und ask for their suffrages. Before the fight was over ho wanted, if possible, to establish the fact that he was capable of winning, not on any sympathetic consideration, but ho ,\Vi>u)d 'jY"). it entirely off his own bat. (Applause.) Ho had boeu drawn into the political arena by an irresistible impulse. His surroundings from childhood had been the surroundings of politics. Ho felt that ho would be cutting himself down if ho did not give vont to this, ond thus find whether he was fitted for tho task or not. On 16th February last he delivered a speech beforo the Christehurqh electors, in which he used certain* words. He would qiloto them, be< causo* there were men who would ask why they should bring into the realm of practical politico whut wus entirely a sympathetic consideration; ju\d he did not ask them to introduce that ejenient. CAREER OF FISHER PERE. Mr. Fisher nuoted from tho Lyttelton Times report of his speech to the Christchurch olectors, as follows: "There was alko another reason for his appearance. He had in hi* mind a career with which he had been closely associated. It was a career that had startod in this city, and in Lathuer-jquure, thirty-five or forty years aflo, «nd the man who had made that career for himself had uttained to one of tho highest honours tho State could bestow. The man to whom he had referred, after fighting his way to a high position, had declined, not wholly, but to some extent. It was tho speaker's wis|» and duty to restore what had boen lost." When ho u»ed these words he had no idea what was to happen* on 14th March. On that date a vacancy occurred in the representation of the City of Wei. lington. Then he, realised that the opportunity had come to him to givo vent to the aspirations which ho had voiced in Christchurclu (Hear! Hear!) After that vacancy occurred, members of his Into father's committee approached him, and said it woo a fitting occasion to contest tho vacancy in this city, and to fill up the balance of the term for which his father had beon elected. Ho had fully considered the matter, had consulted his friends in Christohurch, and had then consented to come here and fight the battle. (A voice i "And you will get in, too.") He was going to fight oue of the old-timo fights, and if necessary to demonstrate not only that he could win, but that he could take a licking as lickings had been iaken here beforo. He wisheiT to refer to \ cureor thoy were all well acquainted with. It had been their lot to sco the ship pass through «torm and ga'.e; nnd oonio through to the end every time. He had seen the old fights that had been fought hero,' and he was proud to think iliat he could stand before his fellow-citi-zens and fight on tho same old battleground. A young man, h<s stood before them with his career absolutely in his own hands. Hie future would depend entirely on, what he made of this fight, md he qMurod them that he would carry t through froui beginning to end on the highest and the boat grounds*. THE TSAR-PREMIER. Through an inaccurate Press Association lejort, thoreshad been misconception as io what ho hud said in Christchuroh j and ho wished to be perfectly plain. Asked m Uhristchurch whether no was nn Independent Liberal, lin said " Yos." He had ■»inco folfc sorry to somo extent that he hud adopted thut term, because there was somo misunderstanding a* to what " independent" means. A good many thought it meant that ho was a mil-sitter; if that was what "independent" meant, he was not an Independent Liberal. He was prepared to support a .particular party, but if asked to support it right or wrong, to sacrifice his Own principles, and to Jit tight while he saw things going wrong, he would not do that. (Applause.) Ho must go in, If at all, with sufficient independence to voice his own opinions and express the difference between right and wrong. Tho Liberal party was in a state of transition. (Hear! Heart) It seemed to him that the position was at present that thero was a ,'fnernl desire to squeeze Mr. Seddon off nt the top and to gradually reform the purty from the inside. The poople, and particularly the Labour Party/Tiad reedgnised tnah they had glvon Mn-S»ddon to much power WaHh'ey cW(Tno£'talce tt buck, and the formation of the Independent Labour League waa an endeavour to wrest from Mr. Seddon the power he had taken from them. (Hear, hew: l and. applause.) He believed tho reform would come from inside tho Liberal Party. Mr. Maitoy represented a fast declining race. They could not look to Mr. Ma*sey to reflect tho opinion of the country, They did not look for reform to Mr. Mitssey, they could not look for it to Mr. Seddon, io they must look for it from inside the Liberal Party. They had conferred on Mr, Qoddon tho autocracy of the Tsar of Russia, and thoy could not take it back, and when the timo came near when thuy could get a »how of getting it back, Mr. Seddon would bo a misiriug quantity. (Laughter und applause.) YES-NO ON LAND MATTERS. Mr. Seddon was inconsistent ; thoy never kue-v when" they had got him. Like tho pea, of the thimble-rigger, they never knew what thimble ho wus under. The attitude of the Premier had been an inconxiitent on the land question us on every other question. On tho 9th March, 1903, the Premier told a, Uliristchiutch deputation that on touring the country he had found that a great majority of tho Crown tenants. wore crying for the freehold. A fow months afterwards, tho leasehold advocates started their campaign, und the Premier sent them a telegram congratulating them on the campaign, und extending his best wishes. A little later tho Premier, speaking in the House, said he would " put his back to tho wall " to pro* toct the leasehold.' The Premier must have as muny backs as a football team, ttltd they could nover tell which back was up against the wull. (Laughter.) At the time the Premier m»do his declaration the Government wus offering 3,063,000 acres of Urown hinds for snlo for .cnoh I This was putting his buck to tho wall to protect the leasehold! Why did not the Premier say: "This is my policy on the land question, and I will stand of fail uy It!" Instead
of this he evaded the question, and they m-\cr knew ulna thimble he was under— though ho hoped that by tho time this content was over they would be able to pick the right one. LEASEHOLD AND FREEHOLD BOTH NEEDED. If anything in tho country was saored to Ihu leasehold, vuraly it was tho «ndouinents, whether educational or harbour board endowments, yet l««t tji-usiou a Minister brought in, a Bill (which tho Premier Htrongly supported) to ulicnato 28,000 acie» of viigin, foreut, tho Hokitika Harbour Board endowment. Tho Trades Councils sent a protest, und Mr. Seddou wrote in reply that u» member for the district ho deemed it his duty to Klipport the Bill, because the Harbour Board wished to pa,y its debts, so "what is tho use of crying about the heritage of tho people?" Yot the Premier talked about putting hit* buck to tho wall. Personally, he approached tho land question with a perfectly open mind. Ho could quite sco that it was necessary for the freehold and the leasehold to run hnnd-.in-luuid. Ho belie vocj, as ho had said before, that the best men they had caino off th& freehold. At tho same time, ho knew that many would not have been enabled to |et on the land at all were it not for the leasehold. He agreed with the leaseholders as regards tho balance of the Crown lands j he did not' wish to sco nn inch of them sold. If the Premier hud wanted to tackle the land question properly he would havo introduced legislation to deal effectively with tho absentee, nnd amended the regulations, of the harassing and absurd nature of which the speaker gave several illustrations, remarking incidentally that if thero were not so many puppets in the 'Ministry wo would have some" rt>forms introduced quickly enough. (Applause.) This cursed system of autocracy ought to bo \Viped rf\it of existenco" aa, quickly iik possible Before he could support any nationalisation of tho land ho wanted to see. the lan/ls at present held by tho State hotter, managed. lie opposed the 10 'per cent, rebate paid to Crown, tenants who pay their rents promptly. By that Act the Government had given a sop to tho Crown tenants of £13,000 a year. If, that was done why should thoy not give the' grocer 10 per cent, when he paid ca*h on his Customs dutjes, and let tho people got the benefit of, it? AN APPEAL TO THE INDIVIDUAL. Mr. Fisher went on to cay thnt he was not backed by uny organisation. lie wanted to appeuJ to the individual thinker ; the people were the final sourco of power, and it wus to the final sourco ho enmo. By tho creation of sovcral now Depart* ment« tho Government had now in tho hollow of lt« hand the votes of »ome 70,000 to 80,000 electors, and he urged that theso Deparlmenln nhou!d bo re-i moved from the sphere of Ministerial con. trol, and they must bo placed absolutely beyond tho reach of corruption. (Appluusc.) THE LIQUOR QUESTION. He did not think that any one present would venture to a»k him why he believed, in no-licenso. Thoy must know without his tolling them that, ho did not need to read, any books to make him. beliovo in iio-licciw>. ( Applause ) Ho was one of a new generation, and he believed that the young generation of Now Zealand demanded temporanco. (Hoar, hear.) Tho thinking portion of tho com' munity believed that there is some need for reform, and while not wishing to do, any man an injustice they believed that* it would bu beneficial if thero wore no-t license. Ho believed, further, that the no-liccfiso people, or a great many of them, were prepared to ohango thoir mmd« if, after a trial, it could bu proved that uo-licenso was a failure. But thoy could tako it from him that no-licDitto was not a failure — In nupport of which ho quoted Ashburton, Matnura, and Brucu. The no>liceu«o agitation was nothing moro nor less than a contest between publlo morality and vertrd taterMts. The no-liceum) people had no pro* fits to look after, thoy woro acting entivoly in the interest* of publio morality, nnd if Hit' question w«« calmly coniidercd It would bo rwognised thoy were nuking for what they believed to bo a groat moral right, aud such a power was bound to a»orb itself against the power of vested intercity. Mr, , FUh«r criticised the action of tho Premier in refusing to make the Licensing Bjll of lni»t aoHoion a policy measure, and ho characterised it as "ono of tho greatest shandygaff measures ever placed on the Statute- Book." (Loud laughter.) He protested' ngaiust the Government shelving its responsibilities on «vory important question thnt arose. Tbe time had como when they wanted a man who would come before the publio and «ay, "Gentlemen, those aro my views j I am going to stand or full by them. 1 ' (Applause) THE DEFENCE DEPARTMENT. Thero was an interesting Department with which' ho had hoped to deal, but time would not permit. That Department was tho famous uddle-patcd, mismanaged, red-tape Department known as the Defenoo Department. He know a Jittlo about that Department. Ho had made a. special study of it, and ho knew that ,g, good many people wero undor the impression that because of a difference ho had with that Department he was labouring under a personal griovanco. Ho should not montion his personal griovanco during this campaign, because it did not exist. Them were people who thought that he wtus prejudiced against tho Premier because of nomu action ho (Mr. Seddon) took against, him ns Defence Minister. Candidly, that wne not so. Ho rocognised fully there wero two Mr. Seddons. Thero was Mr. Seddon tho political acrobat — (laughter) — and thero was the domestic Mr. Seddon, for whom 'ho had a great deal of admiration. At tho tamo time, his admiration for Mr. Seddon as a privato individual would not overcome his public criticism. Ho was not actuated by any personal motive, but ns a young Now Zealonder ho wanted to see our politic* clean and healthy, and to*sco raout couie along who would not be afraid to speak their wind*. OTHER MATTERS. The speaker strongly criticised the hurried manner in whioh tho business of Parliament is conducted during tho clowing hours of tho senßiou, ana wont on to express tho belief that tho people- at length recognise that it was not a good thtug to ptJt into tho House a mun whose hands aro tied behind hta back and whoso mouth Is closed ; who is a servile follower of party — a man who can be absolutely bought and sold by public works votes. Ho was. propared to offer himself to the people of this city to endeavour to purity the stnto of affairs that exists. 'He would suggest the path of progress along which tho Srreeut party might advance In tho rst pluce, thero should l;e reconstruction of tho Cabinet; lcform of tho Upper House; a trial of the elective executive KTstoni, which could not bo worse than the- present syHtciik v tho absolute mujoiity system, or tho/Haro system. The Government should also tucklo tho quunJ;iou of a le vision of the Customs duties, and the timo hud also como for tho Government to deal with the question of ionU, which In the largo centres were far too high. In conclusion, Mr. Fisher, on behalf of himself nnd tho nicinbeiH of his family, thanked tho penplo for thoir consideration duiing the past few years, and on hb own behalf, ho thanked thoio present for tho kindly nnd cordial rtcopUon they had given him LhAt evening.
Tho Candida to resumed" hii Neat amid applause. QUESTIONS. lit answer to questions, the omdidaU mild he hud been told by prominent, unionists that they asked for ifrefcrenm beuuiKsc thero aiu a gicnt member of men who «rie prejwd to sl\aro the benefits of unionism without paying anything toward* the cost. If thut was the. wise, he would be in favour of amending the Arbitration Act in the direction of compulfftiy preference for unionists. As to Bible-ieading in schools, ho could not support that prapoaul, because they knew from historical recoidH that every limo the religious question had become a public question it ho,d introduced mine strife into the world than anything else they could name. (Applause.) Jf they wiped out tho Defence Department and CMtabligued Ifclmicul schools with half the cost of that department they would bo "doiug the country eomo good. (Apluuse.) His views on the Chinese quu«tion might be fyr fetched, but he would not lure a, Chinaman in the country. (Loud applause.) He wns in favour of an inorease iv tho graduated land-lax, mid a corresponding decrease in the Customs dutieH. As to tho Meik!« wise, it was a travesty upon our laws that a man should be treated in such a manner, and it was an absolute disgrace thut ono man in the porson of the Premier could over-ride the wishes of Parliament. (Applause.) He was in favour of borrowing under favourable conditions, and would completo tho main trunk railway lines as quickly as possible. (Applause) He favoured au increase, of the old-age pensions. A vote of confidence in the candidate was carried by afclnnution, cheers were given for "Young' Fisher," and the meeting concluded with the customary compliment to the Chairman.
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THE BY-ELECTION. MR. FISHER OPENS THE CAMPAIGN, Evening Post, Volume LXIX, Issue 73, 28 March 1905
THE BY-ELECTION. MR. FISHER OPENS THE CAMPAIGN Evening Post, Volume LXIX, Issue 73, 28 March 1905
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