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The Evening Star FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 1889., Issue 7927, 7 June 1889
The Evening Star FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 1889.
Pre-ses,signal speeches are coming so thick and heavy that we A Political are compelled to deal with Trio. them in what the soft-goods men would call “job lots.” If any of them should feel ruffled because of this treatment, we can only retort that they have themselves to blame. A political speech in the recess would have been a veritable god-send to the weary writer in search of a subject; but now he is fairly—or unfairly overwhelmed. A trio of members have just addressed themselves to their constituents —and only to their constituents ; that is to say, that neither has addressed the Colony. This is the outcome of the narrow local feeling that all too strongly pervades New Zealand, to its imminent detriment. Yet the speakers accurately gauged public feeling as parochially limited. Mr ßallance (an ex-Minister), Mr Downie Stewart (an expectant of office), and Mr John M'Kenzie (who is neither) have ventilated their opinions on matters political, and after wading through their speeches the reader is as wise ns he was before. In the multitude of words there is little wisdom, Mr Ballance, as a political past-master, deserves prominence. The most remarkable thing in his speech is the admission that Sir Harry Atkinson “ had “come into power because he was “the only fit man.” (We are not responsible for the grammar of the speaker or his reporters.) He objected to Mr Fisher’s Education Bill, on the ground that it meant “ doing away with local bodies,” whereas it aimed at conferring on local committees powers now held by Education Boards which were to be abolished. By some extraordinarily exaggerated process of ratiocination he has arrived at the conclusion that Mr Fisher’s Bill was designed to give greater power to the Tory party in the Colony. One must be able to see through a brick wall to understand this. He deplored the absence of Sir Robert Stout from the House ; and others can do the same, hut from a very different standpoint. Sir Robert was to Mr Ballance as the oak is to the ivy. Had he possessed a fibre of the “ stalk of. carlo hemp ” he would have assumed the Leadership of the Opposition. But it is not in him, either mentally or physically ; and physical endurance is a valuable, and, indeed, an indispensable factor in Parliamentary life. True to his Northern instincts, he justified “ the Opposition’s stonewall- “ ing in the case of the Otago Central “ Railway Billbut wherefore we are not informed. But, as Toots says, “it is of no consequence.” The undisguised hostility of the North is preferable to the half-hearted support and incomprehensible antagonism of the South. Of course the appointment of Judge Denniston and the TeKooti affair afforded Mr Ballance choice pegs upon which to hang the fragments of his eloquence; and the Land Act being in a contrary direction to his landnationalisation proclivities met with his utter condemnation. Perhaps it is unfair to closely scan a speech condensed into a telegraphic despatch, and therefore we shallwithhold further comment until the full report reaches us. Nevertheless, we entertain the premonition that, like Vesuvius when
visited by Sir Charles Coldstream, there will be “ nothing in it.” Mr Downie Stewart’s speech was of a more ambitious order. It was so thoroughly characteristic that if his name had been altogether omitted casual politicians (and their name is Legion) would have known who the speaker was. From first to last it was a cautious, carefully-worded essay. The only phrase that correctly describes it is “milk and water.” Me commended the Co .rnmi'di a?id fhe Opposition-- if l here is such u thing outside of Mr Ballaxce—by turns. Both have done the proper thing according to Mr Downie Stewart’s gospel. One good thing he uttered was his condemnation of “ the Skinflint Committee.” He tells us that the leader of that notorious clique proposed to strike oil’ an additional £IOO,OOO from the Estimates. Unless our memory misleads us, and we do not think it does, the proposed additional reduction was, as stated by Mr Fergus at Queenstown, £500,000. However that, maybe, MeStewart says that “many members”—he was one of them—'“gotashamedofthe proposal, and dropped it.” The truth is that they found that the common sense of the House was opposed to their extravagant proposals, and Mr Stewart and the “ others ” did not care to face certain defeat. One remark which dropped from him is so thoroughly characteristic that it is worthy of reproduction. “He had supported Mr “ Fyke's Otago Central Railway Bill, “ . , . but he had not expected “ the Bill to pass.” The “ hollow “ mockery that sits within the circle of “ a crown ”is nothing to this. Here is the mockery of a supposed representative of the people who “ supports ” a measure not expecting it to pass. If he thought it a good measure he should have tried to ensure its passing. If he thought it a bad measure he should have done his best to prevent its passing. By this admission he unconsciously reveals his true character, and the people of Dunedin West will know what to do at the next election. Unfortunately there is no desirable candidate in the field against him, but there is an opening for a genuine man. We come to Mr M’Kknzie last, not because of any depreciation of himself, but for the reason that he is in an altogether different position. Ho is not an ex-Minister, and his own selfappraisement scarcely extends to the notion of his ever holding office. He is just a bluff representative, and a fair one, of the people amongst whom he dwells. That does not say muck for the people. As the innkeeper justified the legend over his door—“ The best home-brewed beer that England can produce”—by informing his deluded customers that his name was “England,” sown suspect the electors of Waihemo will justify their choice of Mr M’Kenzie by the plea that he is the best “ home-brewed ” article in their district. He is a “ local ” man ; and until the people get rid of this nonsensical local fad, they will never get the best men to represent them. Mr M'Kenzie’s speech at Waikouaiti was simply a tiiade against the Covornment. He admits that an increase of taxation was necessary to meet our liabilities, but denounces the Government for increasing taxation. He says that there is no virtue in the determination of the Government not to borrow, because they are “bound down” by Parliament not to do so. Does he forget that when his friends in the Stout-Vogel Ministry were similarly “ bound down ” they raised in one year three-quarters of a million by Treasury bonds’# However’, lie was candid enough to admit that the (so-called) Opposition was “ like a craft at sea “ without a captain or anyone to guide “ it into port,” and lie even expressed his opinion that Sir Harry Atkinson was “ sufficiently able to steer his bark “through the coming session, and “ there would not be a change.” Coming as this does from a member who, although not possessed of any special ability, is nevertheless a formidable antagonist, it may be accepted as a sheathing of the sword on the part of the Opposition. But the dagger may remain behind, and it is the action of his own supporters that the Premier has mostly to guard against.
The Evening Star FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 1889., Issue 7927, 7 June 1889
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