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YOUNG NEW ZEALAND., Issue 7928, 8 June 1889
YOUNG NEW ZEALAND.
Mr William Pembbr Reeves —we give him the benefit of his full name, for it comes “ trippingly off the tongue ” the member for St. Albans, which, it may be explained, is an important contiguous suburb of Christchurch, has achieved an oratorical success. His pre-sessional speech, as it is the fashion to designate such effusions, is one of the most amusing and interesting withal that has yet been delivered. There is the sanction of heredity in this. His father was one of the most notable members of the House in olden times ; but, being now relegated to the shelves of the Legislative Council, he is almost forgotten as a politician, and, it may be added, in the best sense of the word, a statesman. We do not agree with very much of what it has pleased Mr Reeves to say, but the merit of originality and a certain veneer of cleverness cannot be denied to him. It is well that the people of Otago should learn something of the opinions of representatives beyond their own borders. Every member of the House is, or should be, a representative of New Zealand. If he is less than this, he descends to the grade of a parish politician.
Mr Reeves commenced his oration by complaining that he was in the miserable position of being “ without a leader”—a pretty general complaint in these days, when every third man in the House thinks himself qualified for the post of leader, and wonders at the obtuse perverseness of all the other members in not recognising the fact. His “ party,” he said, was “ more or less broken up.” We should unhesitatingly say “ more.”
Hans Breitman had a party— Where is that party now ? The fact is, Mr Reeves and his confreres went up to Wellington last session, prepared to smite the Government hip and thigh; but Sir Harry took the wind out of their sails, and they found that their vocation was gone. If one may judge from the potential “we ” with which he interlarded his discourse, the member for St. A Ibans would not be disinclined to take the helm himself. But he will have to take a few more lessons in political navigation before he will be able to weather the point. It is gratifying to find that Young New Zealand takes a hopeful, not to say a sanguine, view of the future prospects of the country, and wisely deprecates the pessimism which a few political croakers—who would be croakers under any circumstances, no matter how brightly the sun were shining—have been silly enough to parade of late. Jeremiahs there will always be, and the voice of lamentation will never cease out of the land. But our young men—the hope of the future—and our matured men—the stay of the present —think and feel more sagaciously and act more energetically. “There’s a good time coming,” as Russell used to sing, and it will not be retarded one hour by all the dismal jeremiads of the nerveless and despondent few. Very humorous was Mr Reeves’s fanciful refusal to give either the Government or the Opposition credit for the droughts in Australia or the failure of the crop of sisal fibre in America. These events are undoubtedly factors in our growing prosperity; but it is the energy of our own people, not the artifices of our rulers, that has enabled us to utilise them for our benefit. “ What we “may claim,” said Mr Reeves, “is “ that £8,200,000 is a very remarkable “ value for a young country like “ this to export in a year. It is a “ splendid evidence of the magni- “ ficent capabilities of our grand “ Colony.” This is a reasonable and right view to take. That the half million people born and congregated in New r Zealand should, after half a century’s settlement, be able to export over eight millions’ worth of produce in a single year is an unexampled feat in the famous history of British colonisation, and young New Zealanders may well be proud of their country, and thankful to their fathers who brought or bred them here. Mr Reeves’s definition of the business of the House is not very far wrong. He says :—“ We go up there “ like a “ set of schoolboys, and the Government, “like a schoolmaster, has to find us “ work to do.” The same may be said of all Parliaments, The very essence of the governmental function is to set the work for the session. But, says Mr Reeves —speaking of last Session—“the whole business of the House came to a standstill ” because at the commencement the Government were unprepared with any business for the House. That may or may not be the fact, but it has been the usual course of every Government for the last twenty years. “We had to adjourn and go home to bed,” says Mr Reeves. It is a moot point whether much harm would be wrought if the whole Parliament went to bed for the next seven years. But the member for St Albans is scarcely as ingenuous as he should be when he says: “ They (the Govem“ment) thought that we would pass “a week in discussing the Address-“in-Reply, and we refused to allow “of such a waste of time.” Is it not recorded in many chronicles—in the ‘Lyttelton Times’ amongst others—how young New Zealand, flushed with the pleasant insolence of youth, went up to "Wellington, armed with sheaves of notes —the laborious results of the consumption of much midnight oil—prepared to at once demonstrate their own fitness, and
Ministers’ unfitness, for office; anti how, after hearing the Address and listening to the speeches m reply, they prudently held their tongues, finding the ground cut away from under their feet, and incontinently consigned their intended speeches to that most appropriate place—the waste-paper basket ? Their legitimate aspirations having been fulfilled beforehand, what else could they do 1 "We say nothing of Mr Reeves’s political views, because he has not expressed any. His reticence in this respect is very commendable. Like other young aspirants to popular distinction who have found or wormed their way into Parliament, he is in the intermediate stage between the grub and the butterfly. He and they give hopeful promise of the future. The affairs of State are passing out of the hands of veteran politicians, and it is matter for rejoicing that the young men who are treading on the heels of their forerunners display abilities which justify the belief that the country will be safe in their hands. Mr Reeves is one of the most clever and conspicuous of these budding statesmen, and with a little more experience he will become a very useful member of the New Zealand Parliament.
YOUNG NEW ZEALAND., Issue 7928, 8 June 1889
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