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ADDRESS-IN-REPLY., Issue 10432, 29 September 1897
IN THE HOUSE. [From Our Parliamentary Eepobteb.] WELLINGTON, September 29. The business of the session began in real earnest last evening, when the Address-in-Reply debate was commenced. Crowded galleries and a fairly full House greeted Mr C. Wilson (Wellington Suburbs) as he rose to move the motion “ That an Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor’s Speech be duly forwarded.” He mentioned respectfully tie loss to Parliament by the deaths of Mr Fish and Major Ropata, and expressed his approval of the visit of the Premier and contingent to England, not forgetting to compliment the Bisley team upon their highly creditable performance. He disagreed with the proposal to interchange from time to time the Permanent Force with Imperial troops. This project he thought to be a mistake. Something should be done for the volunteers at the present time. Too little was done for them. The newspapers were saying that Colonel Pen ton had in hand a scheme for the reorganisation of the volunteer forces, but he thought that before any such scheme could be a success it would be necessary for the officer preparing it to make himself acquainted with local environments and the requirements of the colony, Upon the question of the railways, he thought,that this was a department which reflected most credit upon the administration of the Government, and to' Mr Caiman he gave the greatest pra'se for this’. It was unfair to attempt to rob the Premier of the credit due to him for the reduction of freights which bad been obtained, and he thought that the action of those who were attempting to obtain steamers to carry their wool at cheaper rates was most misguided, as tending to injure the exportersof dairy produce by doing away with the regularity of the running of the boats in the existing services. He believed in encouraging our direct steamers in preference to other services. The referendum would find in him a supporter, and ha regretted to see that there was a tendency to drop the question of old age pensions. In connection with this latter question they must carefully consider the question of charitable aid, which was a matter requiring their earnest consideration. Upon the subject of the enlargement of the municipal franchise, he would not go so far as some and give the franchise to every adult person, but he would favor giving a vote to every person who had been a householder for a certain period. He differed from the Government -upon their proposal to repeal the tax upon commercial travellers, though in substitution for the present poll tax he would place a proportional tax. The thing that phased him most in His Excellency’s speech was the attention given to the subject of education, which in his opinion covered many sins of omission. He most fervently hoped and prayed that the Bill dealing with technical schools would be a practical and definite proposal. Technical education ought to be brought within the reach of every child in the colony, just as university education should also be within the reach of all. So long as he was a member of the House he would never rest until education from the primary schools up to the university was easily accessible and free to all. He congratulated the Government most unfeignedly upon their promise of a university for Wellington. He hoped that in this university the education taught would be more scientific and practical than classical, though he recognised the value of classical education. He condemned the O.D. Act, and in passing expressed the opinion that women should have seats in Parliament. He did not think that the introduction of the Irish Text Book or any such book into
the public schools of the colony would core in any way this juvenile depravity. He was opposed in every way to Bible-reading in our schools. He could conceive no better means of dealing withjjoys,who.were classed among the depraved than by means of training ships, such as those at Home and at Sydney, which turned out some of the best men in the land. He believed also in encouraging a love of the sea in our rising generation. He hoped that the Eight Hours Bill would pass, and had every belief in the present system of paternal government, as it had been called. He saw nothing to be frightened of in State Socialism. There were a majority of matters that could be better dealt with by the State than by the individual, provided that the government was in right hands, and ho believed that to be the case at the present lime. In his opinion the country at the present time was in a state of prosperity. He did not without proof believe that the debt of the colony bad been increased. Personally, he thought that the position of the colony was better now than it had been for the past eight or nine years; Mr Symes (Egmont), in seconding the motion, followed in the footsteps of tho mover in referring to the good fortune of the colony in obtaining Lord Ranfurly as Governor. Upon the question of defence he expressed the opinion that it would be better and cheaper to obtain our comtnan* dants from the colonies rather th&u to send Home for them. The policy of the Government he considered a distinctly progressive one for the best interests of the colony, and as such it would have his support. The reduction of freights obtained was a matter for congratulation, but he thought that something should be done in the direction of obtaining another line oftelegraph to ■Auckland. On the question of the protecs tio'n of young girls, his experience was that girls, both young-and old, were quite capable of taking care of themselves. State fire and accident insurance would meet with his support, and generally he expressed his approval of the Governors Speech. Captain Russell complimented the mover and seconder of the Address. The former spoke with all that assurance which came, from continual contact with the sharp' minds of the city, while the seconder spoke with that precision and deliberation with which those who lived in the country enunciated their views. Mr Wilson took the whole Speech as gospel, hut to him (Captain Russell) it read like a fairy tale from beginning to end. A great deal had been said about the colony’s industrial progress, but as a matter of fact there was a decrease in the number of hands employed and in the output of the agricultural implement, furniture, and other industries. All these showed a falling off, and this despite the efforts.of the Government and the increased taxation of the many to benefit the few. Since this- Government had come into office the cost of administratiou, except for one year, had shown an annual increase, it being last year £317,953, Until members cams into the House.to represent all classes, and not one class, as was. done by the present Government, there could bo no proper administration and no proper attempts at economy. Regarding tbs visit of the Premier to England, there was not one Premier who understood the position of the Australian squadron. There was a miserable petty spirit shown. In the case of war some of them had desired the squadron to be divided and distributed amongst tho different colonies. The whole success of naval warfare lay in the Admiral having unqualified ■ control of the ships under his charge, and for his actions to be hampered by the colonial Premiers was an impossible suggestion. The Premiers no doubt were very important personages in time of peace, but in a time of war the Admiral would snap his fingers at them and tell them to go to Hades. As to what had been done by the Premiers at Home that had yet to be learned. Mr Wilson had attacked the Commandant of the New Zealand Forces, and complained that he had too much power. The secret of the whole trouble in New Zealand was that the commandant was not given enough power. The colony was spending its money uselessly on its volunteer forces. And why ? Because the Premier would meddle and muddle with those in charge of those forces. The previous speakers had referred to the Hoods in the Hawke’s Bay district, and he desired to take this opportunity of thanking all for the sympathy accorded to the sufferers by these floods, and for the very lavish assistance given from all parts of the colony. A great constitutional question was involved in the proposal of the Premier to lay upon the table of the House the resolutions of the Conference of Premiers. By what right had the Premier entered into a discussion upon matters of fiscal policy affecting the colony ? Mr Seddon was not the ambassador of the colony. The Premier : I took French leave.
Captain Russell: Yes; the Premier, without the authority of Parliament, would act as the representative of the colony, and snap his fingers at the House. Upon the freights question he had no doubt that the Premier meant well, but before he had moved the victory had been achieved. The first concessions were made on May 28, and and the second on June 5, and it was not till June 26 that the Premier cabled to the colony that reductions had been made. Yet certain members took the Governor’s Speech as gospel. There was another point in the question of administration, and that was question of preserving the fur seal. In was well known now that the fur seals were now so scarce that it was ridiculous to talk of preserving them as an industry to be cultivated. It was a profitless expenditure to keep a vessel for such a purpose. One of the things that members should keep a watch over was the Wellington University. The Government had shown a complete change of front} upon the subject of private benefit societies, about which at one time they could say nothing too bad. Then there was the banking legislation. It had been promised last time • that this session this Bill would be final. If this kind of legislation was to go on year after year he believed that it would be better to part with the Bank altogether, for it must, if persisted in, prove fatal to the institution. Upon the subject of mail services, the Premier would do nothing so long as Parliament was 'sitting. What Mr Seddon wanted was a free band to make any arrangement he chose regarding the San Francisco service, and Parliament would be to ratify it. He urged members to insist that any contract proposed should be laid before Parliament before being assented to. The Government were aiming at the Constitution in connection with the Legislative Council. What had they done after the last election? Why, they appointed to the Legislative Council members who had been rejected by the people for the House of Representatives. It was by such acts as these that the Government sought to destroy the Constitution which had served the country so well and for so long. It was their desire to magnify the power of Ministers and to diminish the power of the people. It could not be said that land settlement was going on satisfactorily when the pet scheme of the Minister of Lands showed such a lamentable breakdown as in the case of Pomahaka. The Speech claimed that the increase of imports was due to the increased spending power of the people. Nothing of the kind. The cause of the increase in the imports was the large speculation going on in mining Ventures.
The Minister of Works, having congratulated the mover and seconder of the ~
Address on the acquaintance they had shown with a large number of the measures treated on, assured the House that it was the intention of the Government to push the Old Age Pensions Bill through. It was pleasing to hear members testifying to the prosperity of the country, particularly as in 1892 the Opposition declared that the policy of the Ballance Administration would drive the people out of it. It was true, as had been represented by the Leader of the Opposition, that last year there were less hands employed in the furniture trade than in 1891, but that was due to the introduction of Chinese cabinetmakers. The hon. gentleman quoted statistics in support of his contention that in most of the trades more hands were employed last year than in 1891; therefore it was absurd to say that there had been a decrease in the numbei of hands employed in factories. Even in the railway workshops sufficient boilermakers could not be found to make the boilers urgently required. No greater proof of the colony’s prosperity could be furnished than the activity of the building and carpentering trades. The Leader of the Opposition had alleged that during the past three years the taxation of the country had been increased, but he had altogether failed to give statistics of the increase.
Captain Russell: “On necessaries and everything through the Customs.” The Minister of Works said that the Premier’s action with respect to the Australasian squadron has been criticised, but it should be borne in mind that the primary object in providing a vote for the squadron was that it should protect the coast of Australasia. The volunteer service had not received due recognition in the past, and cutting down their capitation to 30s per annum was one of the paltriest actions that the Atkinson Government have been guilty of. The capitation had been increased by the Liberal Administration to £2 10s per head, and the obsolete Snider rifle had been replaced by the Martini. The Opposition Leader had found fault with the Premier for attending the Conference of Premiers at Hobart. Perhaps it was desired to pass a Prohibition Act, so as to prevent the Right Hon. Mr Seddon from leaving the colony. Complaint was made -that rejected members of the House had been called to the Legislative Council, but was not it the case a few years ago that some half-dozen members, including the then Premier, were appointed to the same Chamber at the instance of a defeated Government ? The congratulations tendered to the Premier that afternoon were made in the best possible taste, and were an example to politicians on both sides of the House. Holding that the Address-in-Reply debate was a formality that could be well dispensed with, he would not detain the House any longer. Sir R. Stout congratulated the mover and seconder of the Address, and proceeded to comment upon the departure from the old courtesy of the Premier replying to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition. Looking at the speech—its prolixity and its turpid nonsense—one might spend some time in dealing with it. First, what were the proposals of the Government ? He thought he could show that there was very little that was new in it. There was an Eight Hours Bill slightly modified. Then a Usury Bill, which, if carried to its logical sequence, must mean the abolition of the Advances to Settlers Department. There were other Bills, including the Master and Apprentice Bill, with, under the same title, an Old Age Pensions Bill, which the last House would not pass because it provided no definite scheme for the payment of pensions. As to the fishing proposals, New Zealand lacked two great features that made the Home countries fishing countries. The only other new matter was regarding the Legislative Council, He was surprised to hear the talk about the abolition of the life tenure of members of the Council. It had already beeh abolished. True, there were certain old members, many of whom probably would not.last the seven years allowed to the new appointees. Why should these old members, many of whom had served the colony long and well, be turned out ? There was no policy in the Speech—nothing to appeal upon to any party or to any democracy. Reference was made to the Record Reign celebration. It - was a great display, and he was glad that New Zealand had a representative there. He regretted, however, that the Premier had not been accurate. He was not wilfully inaccurate, perhaps, but not a single speech was made by him in England that did not contain inaccuracies. For instance, he said that the Maori race was increasing.—(The Premier : “So they are.”) That was not correct. Everyone knew that there had been a decrease. The ‘Year Book’ itself said so. In every year the Premier quoted concerning the colony he made an inaccuracy. The Jubilee, no doubt, was a great thing, and showed the great progress of the Empire during the past sixty years, and everyone Who had read it could not fail to be impressed by the power of the Empire, but what of it ? As Kipling had said in his poem on the Jubilee, all pomp and display would pass away. What remained, what lasted? The administration of the Government of the day. And what was that administration in this colony ? Bribery for political purposes. Was that honest administration ? What was to be the end of it? The power of Parliament to contract expenditure was gradually being taken away from Parliament. Another instance of the corruption of this Government was at the recent election at Wellington, when the police did not dare to interfere when supporters of the Government interfered with electors at the polling booths. This fact was set out in the judgment of the Supreme Court. It was not necessary to go to England for an inspector of police. In the colony there were officers quite capable of doing the work if they were allowed to do it. But the interference of Ministers and the introduction of political appointments prevented it. If, as had been stated, a commissioner and two detectives had been appointed from England it was contrary to the Civil Servicer Act. It was true, as stated in the Speech, that the expenditure on education had increased, bub why single out education when there had been increases all round ? The cost of administration had increased; departmental expenditure had also increased, and the public debt had increased by £1,280,000. Sir Robert condemned therelease of aman found guilty of the Kaiwarra murder, who, unless Dr Cahill had perjured himself, must have been guilty. Then there was another case of cruel murder. What was to be the result to the colony if this were to go on ? There was one thing that he could congratulate the Government on, and that was their admission that there was nothing in the charges in connection With Horowhenna. They had done this through their counsel in the Supreme Court. Recent developments had shown that his statements that too much had been paid for Pomahaka was correct, and that the Minister of Lands was wrong. There had been a heavy falling off in the industries of the colony, and there was a foreshadowing of further borrowing. What had been the platform of the Liberal party when they came into office? Non-borrowing and selfreliance. They knew how it had been adhered to under this Ministry. In conclusion, he urged all true Liberals and all true Democrats to uphold purity of administration.
After Mr Hogg had spoken the adjournment of the debate was moved, and the House rose at 11.30 p.m. IN THE COUNCIL. There was a fairly lengthy debate yesterday over the Address-in-Reply, but the speaking was rather below mediocrity. Major Harris, who set the ball rolling, claimed-, that there were no more loyal people in the world than were to be found in New Zealand. The honor recently done to the Premier was an honor to the colony, and the Premier well deserved his position as a member of the Privy Council. The Hon. Mr Jenkinson, in seconding the Address, said the opening paragraphs in It savored to him of something like hypocrisy, as he was in favor of sweeping away some of this pomp. It might be redhot Radicalism on his part, but it seemed to him that the time had come for these pomps to be abolished. The country was to be congratulated on having got a Governor who was going through it taking his tents with Vim and roughing it. He expressed the hope that ere long the colony would be granted a training ship of the Pylades order.
and that the Government would shortly take steps to secure uniformity of school books in the Education Department of the colony. A plea was also made on behalf of technical education, and the wish expressed that a skilled man from England or Europe would be imported to take charge of all our technical schools. Dr Grace complained that our present system of State schools was a constant strain on the memory, but did not much develop the reasoning faculties, and also that the outcry against juvenile depravity was greatly exaggerated. Juvenile depravity was rare, and even isolated cases were exaggerated into national importance. The trend of the observations of the Minister of Education was in the direction that a reproach on Wellington was about to be lifted by provisions for university education in that district. The university should be founded on broader lines than those in other parts of the colony, and should more closely ally primary and secondary education. It was a misfortune that we did not recognise how much was being done in the colony in the direction of assisting technical education, and to make this expenditure apparent it was his intention to collect into one paper an account of all that was spent year by year in this direction. While he was not prepared to say that the colony was ready for the importation of an inspector of technical schools, he might say that the whole question was under the consideration of the Government. The Hon. Mr Shrimski contented himself by remarking that it was to Sir R. Stout that Wellington was indebted for its university. The Hon. L. Walker sounded the first actual note of discord. He found fault with the Address because of its undue length and because it contained nothing at all. Before congratulations were tendered to the Premier it was necessary to find out what the colony had benefited by his visit and what was the Premier’s little bill. After a few unimportant remarks by the Hod, W, J. Jennings the motion for the adoption of the Address was agreed to on the voices.
ADDRESS-IN-REPLY., Issue 10432, 29 September 1897
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