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THE REPRESENTATION DEBATE., Issue 7955, 10 July 1889
THE REPRESENTATION DEBATE.
[From Oor Parliamentary Reporter.] * WELLINGTON, July 9. In consequence of the unbending attitude taken up by country members as to the method of dealing with the “quota" question, the Government this afternoon abandoned their intention of placing Supply at the head of the Order Paper, and decided to proceed with the discussion on the second reading of the Representation Bill, It was expected that many of tho prominent speakers in the House would take part in the debate, and in that anticipation all the galleries were filled, and fully seventy members were in their seats,
Mr Saunders led off with a thoughtful speech showing careful preparation, in which he said that Sir H. Atkinson’s descendants would look back with especial pride to the fact that he was the first Premier to seriously advocate the Hare system. Ho recognised that there was a majority against the Bill, and did not doubt that it would have to be brought in many times before it was adopted; but it would ultimately become law, and the people of the colony would remember with shame the long time for which the present system was adhered to. Referring to the alleged complicated nature of tho Hare system, he pointed out that it was no more necessary for a voter to understand the machinery for the electoral calculations in order to enable him to vote than it was for a man to understand all the anatomical relations of the arm to the brain in order to enable him to raise bis hand. An admirable feature of the Bill was that it would abolish localism and enable members to deal with really large and important questions, instead of coming there as mere parish representatives, seeking to carry home parish plunder. The system would send to the House members supported by a large majority instead of by a minority, as was often the case at present. There were twenty-one members now in the House who had not even received a majority in their own constituencies. It was objected that no unknown man could get elected, but what right had they to expect it ? Men must make themselves known before they could come to Parliament. In conclusion, he deprecated the condemnation of the Hare system by members who had not studied it, and urged that the matter should be kept before the public until they were induced to send men to the House to really represent them,
Mr Tanner thought the Hare system would prove a veritable “ass’s bridge” to many electors. The insuperable difficulty in the Bill was the large size of the districts, and he felt sure that Hawke’s Bay, for example, would return its own men independent of the votes of either Wellington or Tannaki, with both of which this Hawke’s Bay seats were grouped. Ue favored amalgamated as distinguished from single electorates, and strongly approved of the electoral right principle. The amalgamation of electorates within reasonable limits would be the best system for this colony, and would largely do away with localism. Each provincial district should be one electorate. He would rather support the Bill than continue the present system, and if the alternative measure which the Government had prepared provided for large electorates he would vote in its favor.
Sir John Hall warmly approved of the Rare system, but not of the large electorates under which it was proposed to give effect to it. This, however, was a matter which could be remedied in committee. He advised the Government to content themselves with smaller districts until the practicability of the system was established. No advantage was given under the Bill to country districts, but he hoped that this would be conceded in committee, and if it were not he would feel obliged to vote against the Bill. Replying to the statements that the Hare system was viewed with disfavor in England, Sir John pointed out that a proposal to elect the aldermen of Loudon under the recently-adopted system of government for the metropolis by means'of this system was only lost by eleven votes. The system was simplicity itself, and he could not understand how it could puzzle any elector. It was desirable that the House should be a reflex of the mind of the people of the colony, not of merely one or two sets. This could not happen under our present electoral system, and the difficulty was aggravated with the single electorates. He was sorry to have to admit this, as he had introduced the Bill that constituted these electorates. It had not produced the result anticipated for it, but had given local questions precedence over those of national importance. The Hare system would make bribery almost impossible. Already it had been applied in principle for some years to the election of school committees, though with an abuse of the cumulative vote which did not come in under the Bill before the House, Mr Walker, while admitting that the Haro system had its advantages, said it had more imperfections than the present system. At 10.30 a motjonfor adjournment having been moved, Mr Fish expressed regret that members were to be asked to waste one or two more days on a profitless discussion. It was clear that the Government were in a minority on this question in the House, as well as with the country.
Mr Seddon suggested that the House should meet again after the usual supper adjournment. He had the assurance of the member for Dunedin South that if the Government would go on he would withdraw his amendment, so that the new measure might be introduced by the Premier.
The proposal to meet again at eleven o’clock was opposed by The Premier, who said that he objected to late sittings, and wanted to see a fair day’s work done within reasonable hours. If members would agree he would take the debate to-morrow, which was a private members’ day, and if the hon. gentleman wanted it he would sit on Mondays. —(Cries of “ No.”) Well, he thought the sitting till the small hours of the morning was a mistake, and he asked the House to support the Government in maintaining reasonable hours.
Mr Ballance objected to the adjournment of the debate till the following day, and to taking away a private members’ day at this early stage of the session. He also objected to the House rising so early, and thought the debate should be carried on after the supper adjournment till half-past twelve. He was not aware that any considerable number of members wished to beat this question out. If the Government intended to withdraw this Bill there was no necessity to carry on the discussion. If the Bill were dead let it be buried.
Mr Turnbull objected the debate being adjourned at so early an hour, saying that the House was being prevented from discussing the financial proposals of the Government, Dr Fitchett, as a town member, pointed out that) this Bill was dead, and that the Premier had the genuine measure up his sleeve.
Dr Newman hoped that the Premier would inform the House whether this Bill was not really dead, and whether he had not a genuine measure to bring forward to show that the House was not becoming really a debating club. Mr Scobie Mackenzie humorously remarked that the Bill was a live one so far as he was concerned, and that it dealt with a great principle the principle of the future—as the Hare system would ultimately be adopted, He assured the House that it would take him an hour to demolish the flimsy and attenuated arguments of the opponents of the Bill. Mr Duncan hoped that this solemn farce would speedily be brought to a close. He charged hon. members with a desire to air their eloquence to the ladies’ gallery, which they were unable to do after the 10.80 adjournment. The motion for adjournment was carried by 48 to 38, and the House rose.
THE REPRESENTATION DEBATE., Issue 7955, 10 July 1889
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