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POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 8014, 17 September 1889
[From Oob Parliamentary Reporter, J
WELLINGTON, September 16. Reviewing the Session.
In discussing the motion for the third reading of the Appropriation Bill, Mr Ballance, as Leader of the Opposition, made the customary review of the business of the session. Touching upon the reported intention of the Railway Commissioners to reduce the rate of the railway laborers' wages, he said that if they persisted in doing so they would bring their term of office to a termination in less than the five years for which they had been appointed. It would be a political act against which he must most strongly protest. He blamed the Government for not takiDg steps to have the boundaries of the electoral districts arranged at an early date, and for the light-hearted way in which they had treated the loss of our artisan population through emigration to the other colonies. The remedy for the latter was to be found in a liberal administration of the land laws of the colony. But the land laws had been prepared and administered for the benefit of capitalists and speculators. Unless a man was prepared to go in largely for dummyism he was heavily handicapped, while the yeomen and small settlers had been given the cold shoulder. The cost and circumstances of the village settlements had been misrepresented for the purpose of prejudicing this class of settlement in the eyes of the colony. The course of Native land legislation this session had not been a credit to the Government. Bills were brought down which would have validated almost every transaction that had ever taken place. He acknowledged, however, that the Native Minister had shown a disposition to meet all objections, and to limit the validations to only bona fide transactions. The Premier had twitted the Opposition with a want of sense of their responsibility; but the duty of the Opposition was rather of an iconoclastic nature—to pull down rather than to build up. If the Premier had not used the words already, he (Mr Ballance) would have charged the Government with want of a sense of their responsibility. Of course the Premier said he would not want to pass a large number of Bills, not tint it was inconsistent with his desire to pass a cloture rnle, In no session had such a large budget of measures been foreshadowed in the Governor's Speech as this year, bnt what had become of them ? The Opposition had not had an opportunity of defeating them, but the Government had either withdrawn them or not brought them forward. Surely this augured a want of responsibility. Th question of the incidence of taxation ought not to have been neglected. It would have to be faced next session. The political rest which the Premier spoke of might be ve-y good, but it was evident that the Government were not aiming at it when they introduced their Charitable Aid Bill. Ministers had not shown any sense of the responsibility of the duties they took upon themselves at the beginning of the session, and he failed to Bee what they had to show for the session. The Opposition had shown in Judge Ward's case a determination that the administration of justice should not be interfered with by the Executive. He thought that Mr Hislop had been lightly dealt with by both Chambers. He held that the Minister of Justice was even more censurable, and owed an explanation to the House, seeing that he had fully endorsed his colleague's action. Despite what had been said by the Premier, the Opposition had shown themselves to be actuated by a strong sense of responsibility, and by a desire for the best interests of the colony. Mr A'lan: The Qtago Central. Mr Ballance: Yes, the Qtago Central Railway Bill was to have been the keystone of a nystem of public works under a new style of borrowing, but the Opposition had made it clear that if this was to be adopted it must be only after a comprehensive scheme bad been submitted to the colony. In conclusion, he said that he was proud of what the Opposition had done, and thought that if the country were called upon to judge between the two parties it would say that the Opposition had discharged its duties with a higher sense of responsibility than had been shown by the Government.—(Opposition cheers.) A number of other members having spoken, The Premier replied. He said that it was evident from Mr Ballance's talk about wages that an election was soon to come oh, but the working men would not be deluded by that sort of thing. The Government had already given an assurance that so far as their influence was concerned no reduction would be made. They would always interfere by their advice with the Railway Commissioners whenever the Commissioners were acting contrary to the general wishes of the House. As to the electoral boundaries, the Government had not adjusted them, because last session the House had instructed them not to do so. As to the Government having lost the confidence of the country, the only two elections that had taken place this session had resulted in the return of Government supporters. What he complained of about the Opposition was, that without regard to the interests of the country they had lent their aid to any attack on the Government, even to the extent of stonewalling. To talk about swapping horses in the middle of a stream, i.e., to have "forced the incidence of taxation this session," as Mr Ballance desired, would have been doing it with the stream in flood. The temptation to go on was very great, but he would let the Opposition off very lightly, satisfied that the Government had carried out their main purposes of reducing further expenditure and restoring confidence in the credit of the colony. The motion for the second reading of the Appropriation Bill was then put and agreed to. Tbe Closing Hours of the Session were embittered by a speech redolent of gall from Mr Fisher, who, assuming almost the functions of the Leader of the Opposition, reviewed the work of the session. He taunted the Government with not having been able to carry a single measure of those they mapped put in the Governor's Speech. Almost every transaction of the session was alluded to in jaundiced terms, and matters were brought to a climax when Mr Fisher proceeded to refer to the Premier as the "statesman whose pole-star was expediency; who sweetly smiled on guilt in high places, and was a bully to the weak and a coward to the strong."' Mr Speaker said that he could not allow such language to be used to a member of the House. , ••• ' ' * : ' "'■
Mr Fisher said that he was quoting from a Bpeech made by Sir R. Stout. "'■' The Speaker said that he would not allow such words to be used, nor any attempt to be made to justify them. » The Premier, who followed Mr Fisher, reminded the House that the speech which had just been delivered came from a gentleman who had had to be turned out of the Government. Such as he (the Premier) was he had been for twenty-five years. The speech from which Mr Fisher had wished to quote was one made before the hon. gentleman was offered a seat in the Cabinet, but when that seat was offered to him he accepted it with great alacrity. When he committed acts which, in the unanimous opinion of his colleagues, rendered him unfit for office, it was with great difficulty that he (the Premier), had got him to leave the Government. He wished simply to put these facts on record. As to Mr Fisher's good taste in attacking' measures almost every one of which he had agreed to before he left the Cabinet—(Mr Fisher: " No.")— j he left the House and country to form their own judgment upon that subject. Mr: Taylor chaffed Mr Fisher rather severely, and •• - Mr Fish subsequently declared Mr Fisher to be deserving; of the contempt of ''all" honorable men for disclosing Cabinet secrets, and for not having the decency to wait at least till the session was over before pouring out the vials of his wrath against his late colleagues. Conferences. Several conferences took place to-day in reference to the Native Land Court Act Amendment Bill and Land Transfer Bill, and ultimately the bases of a compromise were arranged. The House gained all it had contended for as to matters at issue re garding the former,
A Challenge. In the course of his speech this afternoon Mr Fiaher said that when the time came for the general elections he would not be afraid to meet any member of the Government. It would be his greatest pride to stand against one of them, who lie understood intended to prcbent himself as a candidate for a Wellington seat. The reference was, of course, to the Premier, who, it is understood, contemplates offering himself to the electors of the Empire City. The Formal Prorogation. It was half an hour after midnight before the sessional business was finally completed and the details of the compromise on the Land Transfer Bill adjusted. The House then adjourned till Friday, to be prorogued in the meantime by proclamation. Thus ended one of the least satisfactory sessions in the Parliamentary annals of the colony.
POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 8014, 17 September 1889
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