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BANQUET TO MR WARD.

IMPORTANT SPEECH BY THE MINIS! ER OF LANDS.

The Invercargi 11 banquet to the member for Awarua wa9 'held last night in the Zealandia Hall, and was attended by nearly 600 persons, iDcludiag a number of ladies. Mr William Keith, of Winton, occupied the chair. The chief speakers were the Hons. J. M'Kenzie, J. G. Ward, H. Feldwick, and D. Pinkerton, Messrs A. Morrison and M. Gilftdder, M.H.Rs, Messrs John Sinclair, J. Roberts, M'Kenzie, A. Lee Smith, A. Dunlop, and M'Fnrland. Apologies were received from Messrs-E. G. Allen and T. Y. Duncan, M.H.!R.s, J. F. M. Fraser, M'lntyre, and several others, and the following telegram from the Premier:— I much regret not being able to be present at the banquet to be tendered to-night to my old friend and late colleague, the Hon. Mr Ward. lam glad, however, that the Hon. Mr M'Kenzie is able to be with you. Kindly express to all present my hearty good wishes, and the hope that they will spend a most enjoyable evening.

The Minister of Lands, replying for the Ministry, said that he was always glad to meet the Southland people, "but was doubly glad on the present occasion, as he did honor to his late colleague. Endeavors had been made to disparage Mr Ward, but, despite all that had been said against; him, he (Mr M'Kenzie) had stood by him, and he believed he spoke the sentiments of everv member of the Government when he said that that was the feeling entertained towards him. For a period of seven years he had been on the most intimate terms with Mr Ward, and now that he was—temporarily, he hoped— out of the Government he felt his absence very much indeed. Amongst the many attempts that had been made to disparage Mr Ward it had been asserted that the banking legislation had been resorted to solely in Mr Ward's interest. As a matter of fact the banking legislation had nothing t<i do with Mr Ward. The Bank of New Zealand had lost £4,000,000 with which Mr Ward had nothing to do, and it was in that extremity that the Bank had come to the Government and that the legislation in question had been undertaken. Ho was very glad indeed to see so many friends rally round Mr Ward in the hour of hisadversity. Thatwas thetruetesc of friendship, and it redounded to the great credit of i the electors of Awarua that they had been fo staunch and true to him in his troubles. The Conservative Pres3 has sneered. at Awarua, and had held the constituency up to public ridicule, and would have them to believe that such were the sentiments of the public at large. He (Mr M'Kenzie) knew otherwise. The action taken by Awarua in this matter not only met with general approval, but in very many quarters, which he was prepared to indicate, it was looked upon as most creditable. There could be no doubt but that Mr Ward's devotion to his public duties was the real cause of his downfall. Had ho given the attention to his private affairs that he had given to the affairs of the colony he would never have been landed into the troubles into which he had now got. He indicated these and many other insinuations against Mr Ward as samples of the inventions of the enemy, made to bring Mr Ward and his friends into disrepute, but he was very glad indeed to see these had not had the desired effect. As a matter of face, if Mr Ward had belonged to the Conservative side of politics instead of being the pronounced Liberal he was he would not have now been in the Bankruptcy Court. A book of revelations had yet to be written of Kew Zealand politicians, and when it was written it would astonish a few. And what was more, he could tell them that they would find written on its pages the names of many of those who had been loudest in their howls against Mr Ward. He had only to repeat that he was still Mr Ward's friend, and anything that might be said against Mr Ward would not have the slightest effect in changing his opinion towards him, and he thought he was justified in adding the opinion of the other members of the Government. Seven years had elapsed since they took office, and now he came before them claiming that he had fully carried out the promises he had made to them seven years ago.—(Applause.) The Hon. Mr Feldwick had told them that there had not been much opposition to the Government in the Legislative Council, but that was only brought about after they had appointed the " Twelve Apostles." He eould recall his own Land Bill. When it first came back from the Council it was so completely altered that he did not know it himself. It was the Liberal Government who had changed that state of things, and it was only on that state of things being so changed that the opposition by the Council was overqome. As a Government they had had some rather important changes sinoe they first took office. They had lost by death Mr Ballance and Sir Patrick Buckley, and from other causes they had lost Mr Reeves and their friend Mr Ward.—(Cries of." No.") Well, at any rate, they had lost him for the time being. Still they had never swerved from their policy. They were equal to the occasion, and they would still continue to be so. Statements had been made that dissensions had arisen in the Cabinet, but that was not the case. They were simply inventions of the enemy. They would meet in Parliament in a few days, and it would then be found that they Were quite as much agreed as ever. He counselled them to have no fear of the Liberal party. As in the past, so in the future, they would be quite equal to the occasion. When the Liberal Government first took office they were sneered at, and it waß loudly stated that the Liberal party oould not possibly govern the colony, but they had now carried on that government for seven years. They had met Parliament regularly with a surplus. Other maledictions had been uttered against them, but these, too, had all proved false. The colony was never more prosperous than it was at present. The population and revenue had increased, and were increasing rapidly. Money was coming in in abundance, and they had every possible cause to congratulate themselves on the present state of affairs. It v/ould he foolish for him to attempt to tell them all they had done during that term of office. They had changed the aspeot of things completely. In particular they had altered the legislation in one most important direction—in the direction of those who earned their bread by the sweat of their brow. No Government were worthy of that name who omitted to deal with the cause of the masses in the direction of lifting them \\n and placing them in a better pos|tio,rj. yhis was a mpst important branch'of administra-. tlon. It was important to. rich of torday might l)e the poep ot the next generation, and it was as much in their interests as anyone's that legislation of this kind should be carefully promoted. That was the true spirit of a Liberal Government —to look after the inaeseo of the people. The- rio?} pould always take care of themselves, but it was very different with the poor. Again, he would tell them the Government had been very careful in looking after the interests of the settlers. They had provided that great needful, cheap; money. Many of the settlers had keen paying 8, 9, and JQ per cent. to. 'the money, lenders, but now they could get what' they wanted at a reasopable rate. In that respect Mr Ward had rendered the settlers great gerfiee. He had quite .altered the position of things, and settlors oould now get money at reasonable rates: ■ The breaking up of large estates into small holdings was pest referred to. As a proposal it had been denounoed by their opponents, who said that it would never work, and that it would ruin the colony. They would remember the Cheviot Estate and all that

had been said about that transaction. Now, however, they dirt not hear a single won! about it. What was the reasou?° It was simply that Cheviot had turned out a great success. Formerly the estate was occupied by one family aud a shepherd or two. Now ic was occupied hy no fewer than 1,000 settlers, who paid not less than £14,500 per annum in revenue to the State, while only £92 of rent was in arrears. That was the reason why they did not hear anything about the Cheviot now. He hoped that the system of buying

up lands for settlement would be preserved in its integrity, andihtit.no matter what Government, Conservative or otherwise, came into power that poliny would not be repealed or altered. He imagined that after the success it- had attained no Government would dare to repeal that policy. He had travelled a good deal throughout New Zealand, and had found that the colony as a whole entertained the view of the policy he bad just Btated. A great struggle had ensued in getting this Bill passed into Jaw, a very mild form of the measure having been thrown out altogether at first. Then a General Election took place, and the result was that out of twenty-seven members who had voted against the Bill and otherwise assisted in defeating it, twenty never saw the Houße again. When the measure was again brought forward in the form in which it had since passed into law fifty-five voted for the Bill and only five against it. He repeated his conviction that it was a description of legislation which should not be parted with on any condition whatsover. As to the* railways, when this Government took office they were controlled by irresponsible Commissioners. Neither the Government, Parliament, nor the people had any say whatever in their administration. This Government had changed that state of things and had brought the railways back again under parliamentary control. For that aloue the Government were deserving of great credit. It had enabled the Government to make reforms in the interest of the settlers and the travelling public, which could not and

would not otherwise have been made. A great deal of talk had been made about Mr Seddon'a trip Home. The facts were briefly thefje : When the invitation to the Premier came Mr Seddon was absent in Australia, and he (Mr M'Kenzie) read it. The moment he saw it he made up his mind that Mr Seddon should accept it and go Home. Not only that, but he planned the whole thing for him to go Home. Mr Seddon deserves the greatest credit for the manner in which he had sustained the dignity of the colony. It would have been a very sorry spectacle indeed if this colony had not been represented in the late Jubilee proceedings. The visit had done good otherwise. Mr Seddon had returned a much better man than when he left. He had visited many new countries, and had seen much that would have done him good or be of great service to the colony. If the Conservatives had any idea that they would get into power in consequence of split or slip in the Liberal camp they were very much mistaken. All the stories the people had heard about such were empty and an invention of the enemy. As a matter of fact, one man was employed in Wellington at a big salary to tell "lies and to circulate them free to the Conservative Press all over the colony. He had known that man invent news when he could not get it otherwise. That was what they had to contend with at the hands of their opponents. He stated, in conclusion, that if any man imagined that John M'Kenzie was goiDg to desert Mr Ward in the hour of his trouble that man was very greatly mistaken. Both he and his colleagues would stand by Mr Ward to the very last. He hop6d that Mr Ward would soon be free of all his troubles, and be soon placed once more in the position of a colleague.—(Loud ap plause.)

Mr Ward spoke for nearly half an hour. He referred to the attacka on him by political opponents, and announced his intention to stand again and again for Awarua.

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Permanent link to this item

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Bibliographic details

BANQUET TO MR WARD., Evening Star, Issue 10422, 17 September 1897

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2,113

BANQUET TO MR WARD. Evening Star, Issue 10422, 17 September 1897

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