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The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, MAY 29, 1889., Issue 7919, 29 May 1889
The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, MAY 29, 1889.
Mr Turnbull's speech at Timaru is
in the Hamlet vein. " The MrTnmlmll time is out of joint," he at Timaru. Be ems to cry, and blames the "cursed spite" that ever he M was born to set it right." This is the outcome of the impatience that ever possesses men who perceive, or think they perceive, wrongs and inequalities which they are powerless to redress. Even votes of confidence do not please him. He attributes their frequency to the presence of political supporters and " the lack of political information amongst the people." This is partly justified by the often recurring circumstance that, after a member has laboriously explained the political situation, including a mild lecture on political economy, he finds the whole subject of his discourse set aside in the questioning part of the business by animated inquiries as to whether he will move for a grant of money for some by-road or bridge which the people ought to make for themselves. Perhaps a fuller solution of the problem that vexes Mr Turnbull's soul may be found in the fact that so long as anyone is a member it is well to propitiate him in expectation of favors to come.
Contrariwise to Mr Lance, the] Hare system finds favor in Mr Turn- \ bull's eyes. Under it,he says, "leading i politicians" would come before the electors. And then he -drops into the; despairing mood, and tells us that, "unfortunately there is a scarcity of: " leading politicians capable of enlight-; " ening the people." Had he said that: fortunately there is a scarcity of poli- j tical agitators capable of misleading, the people, he would have been nearer! the mark. He regrets the want of j cohesion amongst members of the! House, and yet more vivaciously the i want of a " good " Opposition party. | " Party," rightly understood, means a' ( number of men banded together to enforce the adoption of certain well- 1 defined principles. Thus of olden time i Freetraders were a party in the .true| sense of the word.; and in present day' Home Bulers are a party. But there;! is no party in New Zealand, because
no platform hag been formulated on which a party basis can be established. Whether this is a desirable condition of affairs is a moot question. There are those who hold that party government is a desirable thing, and There are others who deprecate it and avow that Parliament should work for the general benefit, without regard to party. Authorities differ, and, whichever is right, the fact remains that we must take things as we find them and make the best we can of them. When any truly great question arises, or great principles are at stake, parties will be formed out of existing necessities. At present the only parties in New Zealand—and the same holds good of the Australian colonies—are the " ins " and the " outs." Personal feeling mostly decides the election, and personal predilections favor the retention or loss of office by a Ministry.
One article of Mr Turnbull's creed must needs be satisfactory to the Press. He thinks "it would be "better for the Government to sub- " sidise good newspapers to afford the "people information than expend so "much money on the publication of '"Hansard."' The little difficulty that presents itself is as to which are the " good newspapers." Evidently in the eyes of the Ministry of the day it would be those that supported them through thick and thin, not only when they were right, but most especially when they were wrong. What a power of patronage and what enormous influence this would give any Government ! And the more unscrupulous the Ministry were, the more would such patronage and influence be exercised. Something of the kind exists in Continental countries, and we know something also of its effects. There is no such thing as a free Press where this sort of influence exists. Surely this is a most extraordinary proposition to come from an ultra-Democrat ; but as we said yesterday, Mr Turnbull is an ideologist—one who allows his abstract ideas to outrun his concrete opinions.
To come to what may be considered the more serious portions of Mr Turnbull's address, we find him advocating the reduction of the number of members, but deprecating the reduction of the honorarium. There is a logical tone in this; for the less the number of members the greater will be the expense of elections, and the work cast upon each will be sensibly increased "It is," he said, " the duty of a representative of "the people to attend to all the " interests of his constituents, both " inside and outside the House, and to " do this demanded the sacrifice of a " large amount of time. It was not " everyone who could afford to sacrifice " this time; and, if they were going to " pay members at all, it was a mere " sham to offer them £150." Does he forget that members themselves passed the "self-denying ordinance" which reduced the honorarium ? And, further, does he not see that jf the Hare system, or any system approaching to it, is adopted, the whole of Hew Zealand, and not any particular corner of it, will be every members constituency 1 It may be gathered from his remarks that he is in favor of the closure in a mitigated form. Most democrats are. None are so ready to invoke despotic authority as those who are prone to defy all authority. He deprecates " stonewalling " ; but, unless we are grievously mistaken, he has figured prominently as a stonewaller on more than one occasion. These little inconsistencies, however, may be forgiven to a man who has labored so hard, to the best of his lights, as the member for Timaru has done.
The greatest trouble that seems to oppress Mr Turnbull—as, indeed, it oppresses many others—is that the wealth of the country goes out of it to enrich foreign capitalists, who, by reason of being absent, do not contribute in proportion to the general taxation. He instanced one very strong case—that of a run carrying 45,000 sheep. " A few hands," he said, "were engaged shear-, "ing; to this add the expense of the \ " dip, and the conveyance to the ship,! "and that represented all the revenue; "the country got. Nine men were' "employed, and £4,000 to £5,000 was: " being sent Home from the station "for interest on the capital to l "wofk it." Wherefrom he argued; that "the three and a-half millions ofj "wool exported left but little be"hind it" It would have simplified! the matter if he had said that sheep-1 farming did not pay; but, .of course, i his argument was that the recipients i of the interest should be made to contribute more largely to the revenue: of the oountry—in fact, that there; should be taxation levied so as. to reach the absentees .deriving! wealth from New Zealand but not 1 iving in it. But mark his conclusions, j He told his audience that the great i drawback to manufacturing the staple product here was the price of labor, and the cause of high priced labor was ; the enormous taxation. "Taxation! " was great, and wages must neces-' " sarily be high." He made no account of the compensating influence of the i cheapness of living. Then he went on \ more sensibly to show that the best course to adopt would be to abolish! Customs duties on everything but a ; few articles—to " sweep away all tax-; "ation through the Customs except; "that on spirits, wine, and tobacco,' "things on which it would be no hard-i "ship to pay taxes." Mr Turnbull, is very strong on this matter of; taxation, and rto a large ex-tent we; agree with him. He says thati taxation not only raises the price) of labor, but also keeps out capital;' and that -what we most urgently re-j quire is more capital to utilise .our products. He mentions the oircum-i stance of a great iron-master from! England who visited Para Para, in the; Collingwood district of Nelson. He; was shown a rich find of iron ore, withj everything favorable for working it.: " He declared there was a mine of' " wealth in it, and went Home to form, "a syndicate to work it. The first! "question asked him was 'What is; "the price of laborf' He made investigation, and found the labor! "was so dear that it would be, •» madness to attempt .to work the'
" iron ore, and. the iron was allowed to " remain in its natural state, although "coal is in its immediate neighborhood." It may safely be said that many who have agisted or attempted to develop our natural resources could tell a similar story. Mr Turnbull's proposition, when formulated, therefore appears to be this: —Local industries cannot be promoted because of" the price of labor ; labor is dear because of excessive taxation; excessive taxation is therefore the cause of the non-introduction of capital and the consequent non-employment of labor. This is a pill for the Protectionists to digest at their leisure. It is bitter, but salutary. What he says in effect is that Customs duties, by increasing the cost of labor, render manufacturing unprofitable. " All the Protection in the " world will not bring about the manu- " facture of our wool in our own " Colony." And again, he was very much to the point in saying :—" The "enormous taxation on the people " now shuts out much capital and "keeps our resources, our coal and " iron for instance, lying idle, and our "three millions and a-half worth of " wool, worth no more than three " millions and a-half, when it ought to "be made worth three times that " sum "—by the employment of labor.
It must be confessed there is much sense and reason in this argument, and it is diametrically opposed to the silly Protectionist creed, which is based on the assumption that dear living and high wages are essential to the wellbeing of the community. And Mr Tuknbull is a Democrat of the first water.
The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, MAY 29, 1889., Issue 7919, 29 May 1889
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