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PRE-SESSIONAL.

MR W. DOWNIE STEWART AT NORTHEAST VALLEY.

Mr W D.iwi.ii) Stewart, member for Duncdin Went, addressed a meeting of his constituents at the l'ublic Hull, North-east Valley, last evening. Tho attendance was small, owing, doubtless, to tho unfavorable weather that prevailed. Mr S. Myers, mayor of the borough, presided. Mr Stewart, who was received with applause, paid that he thought he might fairly congratulate his hearers on tho improved state of the colony during the last six or seven months, and say that they might fairly look forward to a revival, in a modified way, of the prosperous times that prevailed some years ago. Daring the last six or seven years they had learned a lesson against the extravagances, in public and private affairs alike, that had prevailed for some years previously, and he hoped that the result would be that they would not again drift into the evil courses into which they had once been drawn. Tho fact was that they had become intoxicated with their success, and went on too hastily the consequence being that they had to pull up abruptly. As one sign nf returning prosperity he might instance the coming Exhibition, which he looked on as a strong symptom of renewed progress. He looked on the Exhibition in the light of a barometer in connection with the progress of the colony, and he felt certain that it would reflect credit on the advance in the industrial skill of the people of the colony during the past twenty-five years. With reference to tho work of the past session of Parliament, he might premiso that tho House at its meeting at the commencement of the session was one of the most disorganised and demoralised Houses that he had been a member of since ho first entered Parliament some ton years ago. One of the principal objects for which members wero returned was to carry out radical reforms ia the finances of the country, and they went up armed to the teeth and determined to see the colonial expenditure brought within its revenue. The Government were no doubt entitled to credit for the reforms they made in the way of retrenchment, but it must bo remembered that they were not entitled to great credit after all, for, curiously enough, almost the whole House backed up the Government in every scheme they brought forward with a view of effecting retrenchment. As to legislation in the colony, he agreed with the remarks recently made by the Minister of Justice to tho effect that the legislation of the colony is of a very unsatisfactory character. He himself bad had experience of the legislation of many different countries, having made the laws of different nations a particular study, and he had no hesitation in saying that fo: quantity and badness tho legislation of New Zealand was unparalleled.—(Applause.) A great deal of the blame for this state of affairs rested on the Governments. A Government—he did not mean the present Government in particular, for they were all alike in this respect—did not prepare its measures until the House met, and tho consequence was that members were kept for three weeks or ho cloiDg useless work, while the Government were preparing their measures. The result then was that the measures were brought down in an incomplete state, were torn to pieces by members, and wore sent back to the original draughtsman for reconstruction. The fact was that there seemed to be no strong prevailing mind to prepare the work, and the consequence was that Bills were made up of the ideas of various incongruos minds. As an example he would instance the bankruptcy laws, which he had uo hesitation in saying used to bo far more simple and satisfactory than they now are.— (Applause ) Passing on to the question of Freetrade v. Protection, ho might say that he, as they were well aware, stood on the latter ticket, and was returned on that ticket. When he went up to the House the Protection party seemed to be in a minority, there being at that timo three parties—namely, the Freetrade, tho Protection, and the Local Industry parties. However, his party organised and determined to carry out the Tariff that they had previously determined on. When, however, the Government submitted their proposals for alterations in the Tariff, his party felt that though not satisfactory in ono or two particulars, they should bo supported, rather than that the outright opponents of Protection should triumph. The result of this action was that the Government proposals were carried by the aid, not of their own supporters, but by the assistanco of those who would otherwise have been opposed to them. There was no doubt that tho outcome of the carrying of these proposals was to alienate from the Government some of their supporters. It had been predicted by the apostles of Freetrade that if Protection were brought about it would mean absolute ruin to tho colony, which would inevitably come to grief in consequence. He, however, felt sure that no such disastrous result wouldfollowtheactionofhispartyinassiating to carry out the proposals of the Government. A decided stand had been taken up against further borrowing, and this was needed, for It was a curious thing that during the last ten years every Government had professed retrenchment and non-borrowing, but had added to the public debt and left the colony deeper in the mire. It was true that a pledge had been given not to borrow for a specific time, but he feared that liabilities would be created which would necessitate borrowing as soon as that period had expired. The question of charitable aid was one that presented grave difficulties, and so far only temporary expedients had been adopted. His strong conviction was that the problem of poverty in this colony would be most effectually solved by the enactment of liberal land laws, under which people would be induced to settle on the lands of the colony, and the monopoly of large tracts of country by speculators would be prevented. For hia part he would like to see the colony parcelled out in Bmall holdings, so that every man who wished to occupy land in the country should be able to do so. He was glad to find the perpetual lease system was popular, though personally he favored the granting of small freeholds. Still the great thing was to get the people on the land, and to that all questions of detail should be subordinated. One thing that was tending to injure the laborers was machinery, for workmen wero being replaced by machinery to a very remarkable extent in nearly all departments of industry. Hitherto he had advocated what was called the eight-hour system, but he was not at all sure that it would not become necessary to advocate that the hours of labor should be limited to a less number than eight per day. It seemed to him that this would have to be done if the present standard of living amongst the people was to be maintained. The extent to which human labor could be displaced by machinery was truly alarming, and the power of capitalists was enormously increased. These wore circumstances to which attention would have to be directed. It was said that one of the results arisirg from the facts referred to was that in the large centres of population in England numbers of the children of the poor were more degraded than the inhabitants of Western Africa. Sooner or later this question of labor-saving machinery would have to be solved.—(Applause.) With regard to education, he was of opinion that our Act was imperfect, and that it must be moulded in accordance with the wishes of the people. He agreed with tho suggestion that the school inspectors should be peripatetic; would favor the abolition of the cumulative vote for school committees, and support the introduction of Bible - reading in the public schools. There was, he said, amongst members of Parliament a growing feeling in favor of Bible-reading in the State schools, and he hoped that at any rate a change would be made in the Act that would enable the Education Boards to decide whether or not the Bible should be read and recognised in the schools. Technical education would have his hearty support, and he would like to see a better system of commercial education adopted. During the last session of Parliament he had opposed the Bill that had been introduced to relieve those who were liable to be rated on account of district railways from their responsibilities. It might have been well enough,

perhaps, to have remitted arrears of rate; but he considered it most unjust to release them from future liabilities, and to throw the burden on the colony generally. He had supported Mr Pyke's Otago Central Railway Bill with the view of forcing the question on the attention of the House and Government; but he had not expected the Bill to pass, and was, in fact, opposed to the construction of railways by syndicates. It seemed to him improper that people who received pensions from the colony should reside outside tho colony, and he had proposed that this should be remedied. The principle of the Bill he had introduced was that in all but very exceptional cases people who had received pensions from the colony should only draw half tho amount of their pensions if they resided outside New Zealand. Referring to the improvement in the condition of affairs generally in the colony, Mr Stewart said he had no doubt that Now Zealand would have a great future, and that it was capable of ' carrying ten or twelve millions instead of 1 six or seven hundred thousand people. Our industries were improving, and by the employment of capital with a reasonable amount of intelligence and enterprise there was nothing to prevent the colony becoming very prosperous at no distant date. There was another question which was likely to | occupy our attontion soon—viz , Federation. At first the idea was that we should have Australian federation, butthat had since gone into the shade, and Imperial federation was advocated. There was no doubt that the bond between the Anglo-Saxon people now was the common language. That bound them together in a general way, but now what was aimed at was a federation such as had been adopted by the United States. Another system which was proposed was the Hare | Bystem. There was a great deal to be said in favor of it, but there was also something to bo said against it. First, it would bo a difficult system to work, as it waß very complicated, and many mißtakeß would be made. New men—some of whom it would bo advisablo to get—would be placed at a disadvantage, owing to the fact that the older and better known men would be more likely to bo returned. Further, representatives would not be responsible to any particular part of their constituency. On the other hand, there would be an advantage in that there would be no canvassing—a very desirable reform indeed. Regarding the reform of the Legislative Council, he thought the members of the Legislative Council should be in touch with the public, and that the Council should be to some extent a reflex of the public opinion of the colony. The scheme of the Government had not yet been formulated, but he might tell them that it would not be difficult to put the Council on a better footing—anything worse they could not devise. In conclusion, he said that during I the past session he had worked in the interests not only of his district but of the colony as a whole. Ho had worked late and early, and without flattering himself he might say that he had done a great deal of work on committees and in other ways. He concluded by expressing a hope that before no distant date prosperity and a happy state of affairs would return to the colony.— (Loud applause.) Mr Watiien proposed, and Mr Dowse seconded, a vote of thanks and confidence to thn bpeakcr. Tho motion having been carried unanimously, Mr Stewart returned thankß, and complimented the residents on their energy in erecting the new hall in which they were assembled. He had come down to do what little honor he could to it in connection with its opening. Tho meeting terminated with a vote of thanks to the chairman. MR BALLANCE AT WANGANUI. Tho Hon. John Ballance addressed his constituents at Wanganui last night. Tho mayor was in the chair, and there was a large attendance. Mr Ballance referred to the tariff, and recalled the fact that Sir H. A. Atkinson had taken exception to Sir Julius Vogel's Protection policy in 1887, but he had since followed in the same lines. The present Government had accused the former Government of undue expenditure and even Ministers of personal extravagance, but the speaker said that even if tho Ministers of his party had been guilty of personal extravagance in the way of incurring travelling expenses, not one of them had tho privilege of seeing the Melbourne Cup run. Referring to Sir Robert Stout losing hh scat, he said his absence in the House w:m a loss to the colony. Sir 11. A. Atkinson had come into power because he was the only fit man, as Mr Bryco had not won his seat. Sir H. A. Atkinson, he maintained, was not popular with his party, but was recognised as the only one fit to lead. Mr Ballance attacked the land policy of the Government, and maintained that under their rtijime. fewer settlers had been put on the land than under Mr Rolleston, Having alienated the land, they had of course reduced the number of settlers. Ho maintained that the way to reduce the representation should be by not increasing the number of representatives as the population mounted up. The reduction in tho number of members meant greater expense, a? the districts would bo enlarged. The measure was proposed to give greater power tu the Conservative or Tory party in tho colony. Referring to the suggestion to centraline education affairs at _ Wellington under Mr Fisher's proposed Bill, he said that it would not work, and meant doing away with the local bodies altogether. Ho urged people to oppose such a measure strenuously. Ho considered that the reduction in capitation to volunteers was an injustice, and if they were not worthy of being allowed the cost of clothing better do away with the force altogether. He attacked the Government for their attitude regarding Native lands, and stated that their duty was to give every aid to the obtaining of these lands for settlement. With reference to the oftrepeated charge by the present Government against tho Opposition of stonewalling, ho asserted that most of tho members who had spoken against them last session were Government supporters. He justified the Opposition's stonewalling in tho case of the Otago Central Railway Bill. With reference to the Chinese immigration question, he said he hoped to see tho present Restrictive Bill made permanent, as it was clearly the duty of the Government to protect the traders of the colony from the importation of Chinese. The Fair Rent Bill was also touched upon, and the speaker then proceeded to treat on the subject of the Tariff. He and his party thought Protection neceß&ary in the interests of the colony, and had therefore supported Sir H. Atkinson's Tariff Bill, and voted with the Government, independent of party feeling. His village settlement scheme had been pronounced last session an unequalled success, and the Ministry bad to give effect to the policy of their predecessors. Electoral reform was also touched upon by Mr Ballance, as well as the redistribution of taxation. _He expected to see the property tax so modified as to become moro of a land tax, and considered absentee landlords should be subject to a higher tax. Referring to the recess, Mr Ballance commended the appointments of Railway Commissioners, but considered the Government should be made to give an explanation of their reason for passing over Judge Ward and placing Mr Denniston on the bench, the latter having no more recommendations for the post than other members of the Bar. He also condemned the Te Kooti fiasco, and censured the Premier for | his action in the matter. At the conclusion of the address Mr Ballance was aeoorded a vote of confidence.

MR J. M'KENZIE AT WAIKOUAITI. Mr John M'Kenzie, member for Waihemo, addressed a large meeting of his constituents in the Mechanics' Hall, Waikouaiti, on Tuesday night. Tho Mayor (Mr Donald Grant) was in the chair. Mr M'Kenzie, after congratulating them upon the improved condition of the colony, said that when he last appeared before them to ask their suffrages the great question was whether the Conservative party in New Zealand should rule in the next Parliament or the Liberals, He distinctly stated at the time that if the Stout-Vogel Government wero defeated the only other alternative was Major Atkinson; also, that no matter what Government might be in power it was absolutely necessary to have more taxation, and that another loan was also necessary, or many thousands which had been expended

would be uselessly thrown away. It was not out of place therefore for him to review that night how the programme bo enticingly put before the people then had been carried out. First, Sir H. Atkinson was back into power; and, as regarded borrowing, it must be remembered that no politician in the colony had borrowed bo much as he had. During the time he had been in office, either as Premier or a member of various Governments, he had borrowed L) 8,000,000 out of a total debt of L 37,500,000. A member of the Ministry speaking at Queenstown a few evenings ago said that the Government were not going to borrow any more. It was easy, however, to be virtuous when one could not bo anything else, and the Government were not going to borrow because they could not, Parliament having bound them down by law not to do so for three years. The next plank in their platform was that retrenchment was to be carried out to such I an extent that there would be no more taxation. Well, credit mustbe given to the Government for what they had done in the matter, but the speaker had no hesitation in saying that it might go further. Then they were told that all borrowing would be stopped, but the first thing Sir Harry Atkinson did was to bring down a proposal to borrow a fresh million over and above the million he could borrow for the North Island Trunk Railway, and in addition he took power to issue debentures for L 400,000 to meet the deficiency in the revenue. Our debt since the present Government took office had been increased by L 1,400,000, and that was what they called no more borrowing. In addition to this they made a blunder iu the Loan Act of 1887, through which the colony had lost at least L 40.000, Had not the Government had power to raise these debentures the colony would have been in queer street at that time, but owing to this provision they were able to negotiate a loan with the Colonial Bank. Some people were so evilly disposed as to say it was a strange thing the colony should require L 400.000 at the very moment the Colonial Bank had the sum to lend ; but the speaker did not hint that there was any collusion. Still it was an undoubted fact that the colony's necessity wos the bank's opportunity. They had L 400.000 which they were afraid to lend, or could not find an investment for, and the Colonial Treasurer picked it up and gave 5 per cent. that was L' 20,000 a yoar for three years for money that had been lying idle. Then the Midland Railway was to have been stopped. The members of the present Government denounced it in their election speeches; but when they became Ministers what was the result ? Why, the chairman of tho Midland Company, Mr Brodie Hoare, told the shareholders in London that owing to the change of Government in New Zealand they were able to mako a very good contract with the colony, and that concessions had been granted which were very favorable to tho company. The speaker did not wish to say that the Government had done anything wrong ; but men should not make a statement one way at an election, and directly after going to the House act in the other way. Another item in the programme was that the two Government steamers were to be sold; but they were still being used by members of the Ministry. As to the Government Railways Act, he had no hesitation in saying that if Parliament had known that the Government would hand over this immense property to three Government officials the Bill would never have become law. However, unless the Act were repealed, the three gentlemen who had been appointed would hold office for five years, provided they did not misbehave themselves, which wat not very likely. The speaker had nothing to say against the Chief Commissioner (Mr M'Kerrow), whom he regarded as the most able officer in the Civil Servico, and who might in time make an excellent Railway Commissioner. But why should he be saddled with two colleagues who had been in charge of the railways for several years, and whose management had been admitted to be bad? In tho speaker's opinion, so long as Mr Maxwell was connected with the management, the railways would not be a success. The reason was ho had no sympathy at all with tho settlers of the country. If they took the present express as an indication of what was to be expected of the new Commissioners, not much could be said in their favor. The speaker had met no one in the country whom it seemed to suit. It certainly did not accommodate the public, and it was a sort of insult to two-thirds of the settlers between Cliiistchurch and Dunedin to tee the train flying past them just for the convenience of two or three passengers. The next important measures passed last session were three Native Land Bills. He had felt satisfied that if theso Bills became law it would mean the Natives being left landless, and he had no hceitation in saying it would not be long before this occurred, and they had to bo supported by tho colony. Then there had been two amendments of the Land Act. He disapproved of the land policy of the Government, because it broke down every safeguard to the settler ; secondly, it tended to create large landed estates; and third, it did not provide the true settlement, and the land was being sacrificed for the sake of present revenue. Referring to the attempt made to abolish land boards, he said that he wished to retain them, because it would not be long before people saw the mistake they made in disposing of land under tho present system, and tho boards would be able to do good (ervice when that time came. Then, under the new Act the Minister had entirely in his own hands the classifying of lands as first, second, or third class, nnd it was very easy reducing the price by simply placing land in tho second claBS although it was really first class. Ho was sure that had been done since the present Minister took office. He had no hesitation in saying that tho present Minister of Lands' Land Act would yet cost tho country half a million of money. The Bpeaker then went on to condemn the Government in the matter of the sale of the Canterbury runs, and said that outsido of this the classification of land in Otago and Southland had been bad. Country had been classed as purely pastoral which would at no distant date be agricultural land. The worst thing semed to be that the Government had not made sufficient provision for the increase of population by retaining enough of this land for settlement. It eeemed to him that the whole policy was to sell as much land as they possibly could, and what they could not sell to lease for as long as possible, bo as to securo more revenue. He next proceeded to speak of some Bills which had been before Parliament, but which had not been passed, and which he did not think there had been much intention of passing. One was the Electoral Bill, which, if it had become law, would have changed the whole political system by introducing a modification of tho Hare system of voting. This ho condemned as impracticable for a long time to come, and also objected to the extent of the amalgamation of districts proposed in the Bill. Referring next to the Otago Central Bill, he recapitulated its proposals, and took credit for his share in bringing about tho defeat of that measure. If there was anything at which he felt most satisfied, it was in having succeeded in killing the Otago Central Bill. The San Francisco mail subsidy, although lost by a large majority, would, he thought, be tried again, and he should give it his determined opposition. The speaker next criticised adversoly the proposed gamo lawß and Fisheries Bill, and, referring to Mr Fergus's statement re the reform of the Legislative Council, expressed the opinion that if that body was to be reformed again the way proposed by the Government would perhaps be best. As regarded the state of parties, the Opposition, he said, was like a craft at sea without a captain or anyone to guide it into port. He thought Sir H. Atkinson, however, was sufficiently able to steer his bark through the coming session, and that there would not be a change. As far as the speaker was concerned, he looked upon his constituency as his leader, and considered it his duty to carry out what he had professed in his speeches. So long as these views were given effect to he did not care by which side of the House it was done. He claimed that he had carried out his pledges to the electors conscientiously in the past, and should do so to the best of his ability if spared to reach Wellington again. A vote of thanks and confidence proposed by Mr W. Hendebson and seconded by Mr C. Wise was unanimously carried.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890606.2.37

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PRE-SESSIONAL., Issue 7926, 6 June 1889

Word Count
4,444

PRE-SESSIONAL. Issue 7926, 6 June 1889

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