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A MEMBER OF THE MIDDLE PARTY., Issue 7931, 12 June 1889
A MEMBER OF THE MIDDLE PARTY.
MkSamuel, the member for New Plymouth, is essentially a non-partisan. He cannot be claimed as a supporter of the Government, for he disapproves of many important parts of their policy; and he cannot be accounted a member of the Opposition, because lie deprecates many of their actions. He must, therefore, be classilied as belonging to “the Middle Party,” to whom he refers in the course of his speech as constituting a valuable section of the Parliament. He is impartial, almost to a fault. Sir Julius Vogel, he said, had done much for New Zealand in the past, but, as a public man, he was of opinion that “it was a very “ good thing for New Zealand that Sir “ J ulius had taken his departure for “ England.” He expressed a fear that Sir Robert Stout “ might have retarded “ rather than have helped retrench- “ ment; yet it was with regret he “ noticed that a man of such ability “ and integrity, and one who had done “so much for New Zealand and the “ elected.” He had carefully watched “ colonists, was amongst the nonthe Premier, who held land nationalisation view?, and he would continue to watch him. For Mr Samuel is not infected with any socialistic land notions, but is strongly in favor of a freehold tenure, “as one that would “ promote sober and industrious quali- “ ties in men, and was something “ which a man would work to gain.” That this contention is right requires no further illustration than the fact that, since the right of purchase has been conceded to holders of the socalled “perpetual leases,” more land has been taken up for settlement than in many previous years.
On the question of the reduction of the honorarium, Mr Samuel favors an increase of the present rate or the doing away with it altogether. Men who leave their business at considerable loss and inconvenience to attend. to the business of the public should, he said, bo sufficiently compensated, or the work should be thrown entirely on the leisured classes—“men of means, “ who would undertake Parliamentary “duties from pure patriotism.” The alternative is scarcely put logically. Patriotism is not the special virtue of “men of means.” It may be found in other directions quite as readily; but the men of moderate means, who have to work in one way or another for their living, cannot afford to sacrifice time, and business, and substance, in the public service. If the representation were limited to patriotic men of means, there would be a good many districts in want of candidates at the next elections. On the subject of the reduction of the number of members, Mr Samuel was very emphatic and outspoken. He condemns it altogether, arguing that since the number was fixed at ninety-one the population has increased by 100,000, and is still increasing. It has repeatedly been urged that the extension of the electoral districts will throw the representation largely into the hands of “men of means” patriotic or otherwise—because none other will be able to afford the expense of canvassing the country districts at disputed elections. Mr Samuel urges additional arguments against the proposal. He declares that in a small House there is more opportunity for “ log-rolling ” than in a large one, and points the moral by quoting the “ rampant cliquism ” that prevailed before the number of members was increased. For all which reasons the member for New Plymouth will aid in any measure to repeal the present Act. He promised, however, that he would not be one to retard the business of the House if he could not get his own way, from which it may be gathered that he will be no party to the discreditable manoeuvres of “stonewalling,” for Mr Samuel is an eminently respectable member and a lover of fair play above all things. Like almost everyone who has spoken on the subject, the constitution of the Railway Board is strongly disapproved of by Mr Samuel ; and so, with less reason, is the contribution of £250,000 a year to the naval defence of the colonies. The adoption of the Hare system he honestly objects to on the ground that he cannot understand it. And he is strenuously opposed to an extension of the franchise to women. This completes the political programme submitted by him to the electors of New Plymouth. And these are quite enough to occupy Parliament if nothing else is done. Into the local questions dealt with it is not worth while to enter. But there is one matter worthy of passing comment. The New Plymouth Harbor is one of those unfortunate “ public ” works that never can be made to pay unless very heavy wharfage rates are imposed, and the imposition of such rates will drive away what little shipping business there is. The proper answer to this is that the construction of the harbor ought never to have been commenced. “But money,” said Mr Samuel, “is “ urgently required to clear. the sand “ away, and allow the large steamers to “ lie in at the wharf at all times of the “ tide ”; and he indulged in the hope that the House would “grant some “ aid by which this very necessary “ work could be accomplished.” Probably the House will not see the necessity for anything of the. kind. New Plymouth harbor is one of those fanciful local works the undue prosecution of which has brought so much discredit on the Colony. In 1887, by the last published returns, the imports at that port were of the value of
£12,571, and the total exports were 937cwt of butter and two tons of tallow, valued in all at £2,536. How many “ large ships ” would be wanted to take this away 1 Already the Harbor Board are endowed by Act of Parliament with one-fourth part of <l all revenues arising from the sole, “ occupation, or other disposal of “waste lands of the Crown within the provincial district of Taranaki; and with this tolerably fair slice of public revenue the Board must contrive to get along without further extraneous aid.
A MEMBER OF THE MIDDLE PARTY., Issue 7931, 12 June 1889
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