Mr G. Fisher, ex-Minist r of Education, addressed his constituents in the Opera- ' house last evening. Mr Midlane was in the chair, and there was a crowded attendance. Mr Fisher, who was well received, began his speech with an explanation of certain personal matters to which public attention had been much drawn. The first of these was the statement, frequently repeated and widely circulated, that he had intrigued against his former colleague the Minister of Public Works. He denied that he had ever done so. There had been a question in the Cabinet as to whether a crossing should be allowed to be put across the Hutt line by the reclamation contractor. Mr Mitchelson objected to the crossing. He himself voted for it. That was all the part he took, yet immediately afterwards he was told Mr Mitchelson had sent in his resignation because he would not tolerate Mr Fisher’s interference. That resignation was afterwards withdrawn. The next thing was he was asked to put a notice on the paper regarding the printing office contract, He was pressed for time at the moment, and hurriedly got Mr Cadman, as the first man he met in the House, to do it. If the motion was an attack on anyone, it was aimed at the Stout-Vogel Government. But it no sooner appeared on the Order Paper than it was said it was aimed at Mr Mitchelson by him, and this story had been repeated in every form iniquity could devise. He thought it was time he disabused the public mind on the point. He then referred to the Gasparini affair, and accused one of his former colleagues of inconceivable duplicity in withholding information from him he should have given him as a friend and fellow-member of the Cabinet—the more so seeing the efforts he had made to get that friend kept in the Cabinet in its early stages. He had closed his heart against him from the moment he ascertained the fact. Coming to the beer duty cases, he said he had suffered greatly from the slanders spread about, but ho intended to follow the matter up in Parliament until ho had thoroughly cleared himself. The position he had taken up was that one and all of the defendants should be treated alike, and that one man should not be persecuted and others let off comparatively easy. They could see from what had happened lately that if the effect of these prosecutions had been to wipe out a certaiu brewery there would have been a monopoly of the brewing business in Wellington. He knew something of what was going on iu business circles, but there were some men in the big building who did not. Having dealt briefly with the purely personal questions, he went on to refer to topics of wider scope. They might fairly congratulate themselves on having at last a real surplus; but he deplored that the amount of our indebtedness now was L 37 500,000. It was the interest on this which was’eatiug into the heart of the country-a fact which those in power had zealously kept outof viewasmuchaspossible. Itwasamercy our exports last year had been L 2,000,000 more than the imports, for it enabled us to pay that interest, which otherwise would have been hard to find. Yet they had heard a gentleman the other night deploring the excess of exports over imports. He defended last year’s tariff, for he knew several industries it had just come in time to enable to keep afloat, some of them paying heavy amounts in wages. What we wanted was an influx of capital. There was plenty in the colony, but it was kept in the pockets of its owners, and competition was wanted to force them to put it to use. For every LIOO,OOO of capital coming to New Zealand L 4,000,000 went to Victoria and New South Wales. A statesman’s head was wanted to discover the reason and cure this state of things. There was no doubt the era of “faddiam” was partly responsible for it. He defended his Education Bill and the abolition of boards, on the ground of financial extravagance. Sir R. Stout had said the Bill was not in favor of the working classes, but he distinctly affirmed the contrary, and also that it placed the administration of the system more in the hands of the people than ever. He objected to the efforts being made to divert the Northern Trunk Railway, and said large sums of money had been wasted to no purpose in the efforts. Extravagance of this kind had caused them great indebtedness. It would always be the case while political railways had to be made to keep certain people in office. It was this sort of thing which frightened capital away, and it brought them back to the question: When would the man arise who could initiate a new order of things ? The one-man policy could not endure for ever. What would they do if Sir H. Atkinson died ? After refer-ing to the Electoral Bill and the Hare system, which he opposed, and to a few local matters, he thanked his constituents for their continued and loyal
support.— Mr Rose aaid that aa it was he ivlio had involved Mr Fisher in that trouble ’egarding Mr Oadman’a notice of motion, he wished, in justice to him, to say that his version of the story was correct.—Very few questions were asked, and a resolution was unanimously passed expressing unabated uouiidence in Mr Fisher as member for Wellington East.
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PRE-SESSIONAL., Evening Star, Issue 7924, 4 June 1889
PRE-SESSIONAL. Evening Star, Issue 7924, 4 June 1889
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