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THE INVERCARGILL BANQUET., Issue 10424, 20 September 1897
THE INVERCARGILL BANQUET.
Person; addicted to imbibing alcoholic [ fluids in excess of moderation have always excellent excuses suitable to the seasons. In winter they drink, as they aver, to put whole§cane warmth into the blood, and during ,the heat of summer they have frequent recourse to what poets term the sparkling glass- or the flowing bowl to stimulate the system.- Much on the same principle, the great Liberal party, as represented by the intelligent Ministry of the _ day, being greedy of popular glorification and sympathy, believe that the time is always apposite for placing in evidence the patriotism and ability which distinguish their policy, and, according to the Premier, has made New Zealand an object lesson to the civilised world, /.in commemoration of the reelection-, of. Mr Ward -the .electors of Awarua celebrated the occasion on Thursday evening by a banquet at Invercargill, which , Was largely attended, and was honored by the presence of the Minister of Lands, several members of the Legislature, and Ministerial hangers-on from Dunedin* and elsewhere. The Hon. John M'Kenzie camo down expressly from Wellington,ostensibly to do honor to his late colleague, at a very busy time, when the Cabinet is incubating and about hatching out the measures of the ensuing session, but in reality to deliver a Ministerial manifesto, with the purpose of reviving the drooping spirits of the party and anticipating the pleadings of the Government to some of the counts of the indictment which he expects to be preferred by the Opposition when the House meets.
M 1;, M'Kenzie characteristically commenced by denouncing the " Conservative Press/' under which term he presumably includes every newspaper that does not worship at the shrine of Ministers' or ventures to express an independent opinion. The honorable gentleman counselled his audience to regard the insinua ■ tions in regard to the banking legislation as " inventions of the enemy, designed to " bring Mr Ward and the whole Liberal " party into discredit" ; but he rather exposed his game by asking : "If Mr Ward " had been a Conservative did they sup"pose he would now be in the Bank- " ruptcy Court ?" We must give Mr M'Kenzie the credit for having fathomed the intelligence of banqueters when he committed himself to such bunkum as this. We nave always felt and expressed sympathy with Mr Ward in his personal and businejl troubles, and have admitted the immense value of the services ho has rendered to the Colony ; but these attempts to represent him as a political martyr are altogether absurd, and are putting ~ the Government, who promote,and sanction them, into a ridiculous position. Mr Ward may reasonably desire to be saved from his injudicious-friends," who -'are doing him much michief and practically intensifying the difficulties of his position. The late Treasurer was, however, only used by Mr M'Kenzie as a peg whereon to hang an elaborate eulogium of the political virtues and good deeds of the Seddon Ministry. Tlw honorable gentleman denied the impeachment that there was any dissension in the Cabinet, which was wonderful, he said, in having survived so many changes of personnel, and was now as able and vigorous as ever. It certainly resembles the schoolboy's knife, which he boasted of having kept so long, and which was found to have had, during his period of ownership, seven new handles and eight new sets of blades ! In the case of the Cabinet the new blades have been of very inferior temper to the original. Proceeding to dilate on the results of the Ministerial policy, Mr M'Kenzie blew the trumpet very loudly. The country, he said, was never so prosperous as at the present time ; money ■ was coming in, population was increasing, and the revenue was mora than sufficient to pay the expenses of carrying on the public services. It certainly ought to be, considering the very heavy taxation and enormous amounts of borrowed money expended during the last five years. The Seddon Ministry, he declared, had changed many things in the interests of the masses, and had altered legislation "in the direction of making "life easier for those who earned their "living by the sweat of their brow." This, we presume, is a delicate reference to the tranquil exertions of the cooperative workers under the Public Works and the Land Departments, and to the selectors on his special settlements, who, as they cannot make a living by cultivating the hopeless soil, are fain to sit down and wait upon the next dispensation of Ministerial providence. Further, says the honorable gentleman, Ministers had "to look after "the interests of the bona fide settlers "and the pioneors of the colony," and this they havo done, ho affirms, by the Advances to Settlers Act, which has " placed the farmers in a position to get " cheap money and become producers on a " larger scale." Mr M'Kenzie must be well aware that no such results have followed from the operation of the Act. Settlers who can give good security can get the advances in the ordinary way of business on terms as easy or easier than from the Government: and as to the increase of production he claims credit for, of this there is no evidence whatever. What the Act has done is, to place in his hands practically the power of making advances of public money on risky security ; and it is very generally believed that powers of the Miuister under the Act. have been and are systematically used for political purposes. Among other claims of Ministers to the gratitude of the country, Mr M'Kenzie advances the resumption of direct Government control of the railways. It is proverbially said that a certain class of people "should have good memories." It is curious, but nevertheless a fact, that when, op December 1, 1887, the division was taken on. the second reading of the Bill withdrawing the management of the railways from Ministers and vesting the full control in independent Commissioners, Mr M'Kenzie himself paired in favor of the Bill, while Mr Cadjian, Mr Thompson, and Mr W. P. Reeves voted on the same side. Mr Seddon was the only member of his own or the Ballancb Ministry who voted with the " noes," who numbered only six, all told. "
:i-In conclusionj we may refer very briefly "to the speech of Mr Ward at the banquet, which was very much on the lines of the addresses delivered by him during the recent Awarua election. The point of interest to be noted is that the honorable gentleman is not so confident as his friends appear to be that he will be able to retain his seat. The question had been put to him: Why had he .presumed to stand for Awarua? " He ." thought he had good cause to stand for
J " Awarua and to sit 'in the House, since j "over 2,000 or more of men and women [" in that electorate had shown their " confidence in him, and he could "assure them he was not going "to run away from them so long "as they were prepared to stand "at his back. It had been predicted that he would not be allowed " to sit, but if not allowed he would stand "again and again until he was permitted " to do so, in spite of those who had tried "to turn him out of public life." It would appear that there is much diversity of opinion in political and legal circles as to whether an uncertificated bankrupt can retain a seat in the House, eminent lawyers having advised affirmatively and others contrariwise. One thing, however, is very certain, that the public conscience will not tolerate the continuance of such a scandal,.and will delnand the instantaneous amendment of the law if such a thing is possible.
THE INVERCARGILL BANQUET., Issue 10424, 20 September 1897
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