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HIS FIRST ELECTION CONTEST.

It soon became mooted that he would be a Parliamentary candidate at the next General Election. In the meantime matters were precipitated by the.resignation of the sitting membei for Inangahua, the late Hon. Richard Reeves, in April, 1893. When the vacancy occurred Mr. O'Regan was in the North Island He read the announcement that at Mr. Ballance's request Sir Robert Stout was re-enter-ing public life and intended to contest the Inangahua seat. Nothing daunted, young O'Regan made for the battlefield at once and announced his candidature. Sir Robert had already accepted nomination on the understanding that he did not hwe to visit the constituency, but after young O'Regan had addressed his first meeting at Cape Foulwind the position somewhat altered. On Mr. Ballance's death Mr. Seddon had succeeded him as Premier, and it was announced that the Premier would visit the West Coast to open the Hokitika-Greymouth railway. To this day Mr. O'Regan feels quite satisfied that his candidature was responsible for the opening of the railway several weeks before it was ready. At the same time Eugene O'Connor, well known in those days as "ThD Buller Lion" and a-close friend of Sir

Robert Stout, supported by Mr., afterwards Sir, Arthur Guinness, and Mi\ Reeves, the ex-member, got busy campaigning. The young candidate | had put "the fat in the fire" and very i shortly Sir Robert himself appeared on the scene. Although Sir Robert won (he by-election by a handsome majority the young candidate derived some consolation from the fact that he had put hii- doughty opponent to the inconvenience of addressing a' number of meetings. . After the election Mr. .O'Regan went to the North Island and addressed a series of meetings oti land value taxation and reduction of Customs duties. While engaged in this task he read that Sir Robert Stout had decided to contest the Wellington city seat at the forthcoming General Election, so he returned to the West Coast, and on November 28, 1893.. had the honour of being elected member for Inangahua. He was not then twenty-five years of age, and hi? received many hundreds of congratulatory telegrams. At the end of his first session he was referred to editorially in "The Post".as by far the best speaker in .the House. In 1896 the Inangahua electorate was obliterated, part of it being merged in the Grey electorate and part in Buller. Mr. O'Regan elected to stand for Buller, and was elected, defeating the late Mr. James Colvin, a very popular resident of Westport. Even then he advocated proportional representation and preferential voting. Although there had been earlier advocates of proportional representation the honour remains his of being the •irst to bring a Bill on the subject to the second reading stage and get the second' reading approved. Mr. O'Regah has said that had he remained in Parliament the Bill would have been introduced every year. He does not subscribe to the dictum that one man can be of no influence in Parliament. He was also a strong ■ supporter ot the Rating on Unimproved Value Act, passed in 1896, and proposed a number of amendments to the measure, which, though unsuccessful, were adopted after he had ceased to be a member. XAVV STUDIES BEGUN. I. At the 1899 General Election the late Mr. Colvin turned the tables 'on Mr. O'Regan, an<[ he left to live in Wellington. When he was half-way through his> thirty-first year he commenced the study of law. He brought to his studies that determination which is characteristic of him and by 1908 had qualified, and had been admitted, as a barrister and solicitor. He had not been very long at the Bar before he achieved some prominence in connection with the Workers' Compensation Act. One case he recalls with a certain amount of pride was one in respect of which he ..visited Melbourne in 1918 and obtained a verdict of £6850 for five Auckland watersiders who had been injured through the bursting of a drum of sulphuric acid. The legal point involved was the responsibility to third persons of those who send dangerous chattels in the course of transit, and in this action the late Sir John Salmond paid Mr. O'Regan the compliment of having done, something to clarify the law on a difficult subject. Then there are the famous Hawke's Bay earthquake cases. The New Zealand Court of Appeal in these cases, decided against Mr. O'Regan's view that any man who was killed or .injured while at work during the earthquake was injured by an accident within the meaning of the Act, but his view was upheld later by the Privy Council. The case of Robin v. the Union Steam Ship Company was another in which the new Judge's contention was upheld by the Privy Council. Although Mr. O'Regan determined while studying law not to be concerned with politics, a number of enthusiastic ' admirers persuaded him to contest the Wellington, City seat in 1902. The four cities were then three-member constituencies and Mr. O'Kegan stood as an Independent Liberal and ran fourth, being 250 votes below Mr. George Fisher. At the next election he was one of three candidates for the Wellington Central seat and was second on the poll, being beaten by a small majority by Mr. F. M. B. Fisher: That was the last time he stood for Parliament. He has often been requested to be a candidate since, but, notwithstanding his interest in politics, he has found the law a jealous mistress. .''■'■■'■" Mr. O'Regan has addressed many meetings on the subject of rating on the unimproved value, and his efforts in this direction nave been such that it is generally conceded that he is the man responsible for the adoption of rating on the unimproved value in Wellington. x

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19370524.2.77.5

Bibliographic details

HIS FIRST ELECTION CONTEST., Evening Post, Volume CXXIII, Issue 121, 24 May 1937

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964

HIS FIRST ELECTION CONTEST. Evening Post, Volume CXXIII, Issue 121, 24 May 1937

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