The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 1889.
The now Representation Bill is not meeting with very kindly The Onnt ri entertainment in the House. Ftfdit. Mr Moss pointed out, what the Government should certainly have known, that to take 25 per cent, from the voting power of the town constituencies is not the same as adding 25 per cent, to that of the country constituencies. This roused the indignation of some of the town members, who talked as if it \rere the intention of the Government to extinguish the centres of political life and intelligence. It was unfortunate that such an evident mistake as to the percentage should have crept into the Bill, but it is undeniable that in the matter of representation the country ought to have some advantage in point of population over the towns. It may be, however, that a bona fide, 25 per cent, is too much. On the other hand, members of the stamp of Mr Fish—who lamented that while lie wished to support the Government it was his miserable lot to he compelled to oppose their measures would extinguish the towns, which a numerically equal representation would practically do. The political activity of the urban electors, and the facilities for conference and united action which they enjoy, would place the country at an immense disadvantage, so that a compensatory check is necessary in some form or other. Popular government would be only a new species of tyranny if one class wore allowed to dominate another. The theory is that under such government the majority rules, but not a permanent or class majority. In the latter case party government would be impossible. The majority, in a word, must ho a constantly varying one—sometimes on one side and sometimes on the other, as public opinion or the good of the country determines. It is this principle—the prevention of class or sectional predominance—which demands that the country should, on the whole, be as effectively represented as the towns. Nor can it be doubted that the common sense of the House will check the extremists on either side, and lead to a satisfactory agreement with regard to the quota. The amalgamation of the city electorates is another important provision of the Representation Bill. It is sincerely to be hoped that this proposal will meet with the approval of the House. The four cities should never have been divided each into so many constituencies. Sir John Hale the other day confessed that he made a great mistake in doing so. It was a mere party move, to assist in breaking the power of Sir George Grey and the so-called great Liberal party; but, as the event showed, it was a piece of superfluous unwisdom. The party which the Hall Government dreaded so much had already committed suicide had slain both its leader and itself. The cutting up of each city into q number of electorates was of course an inconsistent act on the part of an admirer of the Hare system; and it is well that Sir John Hall has had the grace to express penitence for his partisan blunder. Last year the proposal to amalgamate the city constituencies was summarily rejected, but we hope it will have better success this session. It will meet with strong opposition from some of .the members. Mr Fish dislikes it as much as he .dpe* t f he 25 percentage. Self-preservation, .as Premier used to remind us, is the firs law of Nature. But none the less—-
nay, rather all the more—desirable is it that the four principal towns of New Zealand should be restored to their former condition. The quality of the representation will. thereby be much improved. Besides, whatever reasons there may be against throwing large country districts into single electorates, there can be none of any valid character for dividing a moderately sized town like Dunedin or Christchurch. The political interests of the inhabitants of such a town are —or at least ought to be—identical, their various municipal interests being amply represented in the City Council.
The Bill will probably pass in a more or less altei’ed, if not improved, state. As the Government are committed to carry out the resolution of the House to reduce the number of members, some such measure was necessary ; and seeing that they deliberately adopted the principle of the Hake system, consistency alone would have made them propose to amalgamate the city constituencies.
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The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 1889., Evening Star, Issue 7961, 17 July 1889
The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 1889. Evening Star, Issue 7961, 17 July 1889
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