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THE HON. J. G. WARD AT THE AGRICULTURAL HALL., Issue 10444, 14 October 1897
THE HON. J. G. WARD AT THE AGRICULTURAL HALL.
The Agricultural Hall was crowded on Tuesday night on the occasion of the Hon. J. G. Ward's address to the electors, deliverdd in response to an invitation from the Workers' Political Committee. The chair was occupied by Mr J. Nagle, vice-president of the Workers' Political Committee, and there were also on the platform Mrs J. G. Ward, Mrs Gow, and about twenty representatives of labor organisations. As Mr Ward and party proceeded through the ha'l to gain the stage they were greeted with mingled applause and his3es, a similar leception being accorded when the platform was taken, the applause, however, on each occasion outweighing the dissent. After the chairman had briefly introduced the speaker of the evening, Mr Wakd rose to deliver his address, and was received with prolonged applause. He said at the_ outset that he had not come for the purpose of interfering with the election, and thought the electors had a right to select' the man of their own choice. He explained that he had come to address.the Dunedin electors. In the first place, at the instance of the Knights of Labor, and, in the second, at the request of the Workerb' Political Committee. When first requested to come here the lamentable death of Mr Fish had not taken place, nor was it; anticipated by any of them that it would have taken place before ho came here. He wished to take 'the opportunity of saying, as oneassociated with the late Mr Fish in two Parliaments, that he and many others in the ct.louy deeply deplored the great loss that had been sustained by the country, and particularly by Dunedii", upon whose future he has so undeniably left his mark as councillor and mayor. (Applause.) The speaker then proceeded to deal with political matters, and contrasted the Rtate of the colony at the present time with what it was in 1890, when the Ballance Government took office and claimed for the present Government that they still had power enough at their backs to carry them through. There were four parties in the present House. They were : The Government, the Opposition proper, the party of Sir Robert Stout (who had no one at his back), and the Middle paity, not in- lading the Left AViug, the ambition of each member of whic K ! was to become Premier in the next year or tvs before he was fitted for the office. The only alternative to Mr Seddon as Premier was—(A VOICE: "Scobie Mackenzie.") scobie Mackenzie was not in it. (Laughter and applause.) Sir Robert Stout was the only alternative, because he would not take any position except that of Prime Minister, and he was the ablest critic of the Government inNew Zealand at the present moment. The Opposition during the whole of the past seven years had not been able to produce a policy. They (the Opposition) were assisted by an absolutely unscrupulous and to some extent servile Press. As regards Dunedin, the Press bsirig only on one side, it was impossible to have the other side placad before the people except from the platform, but he wished to take the opportunity of saying that the evening paper in Dunedin was controlled fairly, and avoided criticising and discussing the family concerns of men carrying on the public affairs of the country. For all tbat, the Dunedin Press was onesided, and there was great necessity for a journal being established here" that would support the workers' own side. He vigorously attacked the Press Association, which he characterised as a huge monopoly which was used improperly by a Conservative Press. He could give scores of instances of this if required, and if he had to go from end to end of the colony for the purpose of placing before the people toe unfair way in which this monopoly was used to have it altered he would do it even though it took him two years.—(Applause ) After dealing with attacks that had been made on himself, Mr Ward went ou to deal with the Government's land policy, ami referred in eulogistic terms to the ueneEcial results that had atc-ued to t :e colony -as a whole and- the settler* in (.ortioular by thatlegislatioD. He claimed that the Cheviot purcha>e hid proved eminently satisfactory and that 1 omahaka, about which so much had been said, was all settled but 1,200 acreß. It was true there were applications for reductions of rents, but if Mr M'Kenze acted wisely he would resist making any reductions until he knew what he was doing, for it was known to the Administration at the present moment that some of those who were applyiug for reductions had spent thousands of pounds in the past fortnight in the purchase of sheep to put on land which they said they could not carry on at the present rentals, which had been fixed so as to return 5 per cent, to the State. The Governmpnt's land system should be dealt with in glolo, and not be condemned because one undertaking was alleged, or even proved, to be a failure. Ho claimed for the Government's policy the credit of the great activity in the building trade of Dunedin at the present time, holding tl:at that «a<< caused by so much mortgage money being released by tho opera' Ln of the Advances to Settlers Act. Be claimed that Mr Fraser's statement in the House had completely exonerated the Minister of lands and the Premier of all connection with the Bushy Park sale. Mr Ward then referred briefly to the Arbitration and Conciliation, Workmen's Compensation, and Employers' Liability Acts, and in connection with the latter advocated the establishment of State accident insurance. He assisted in framing the Old Age Pensions Bill, oloing so at the request ofjhis late colleagues. Referring to the gross surplus of £560,000, the speaker took the opportunity of denying the possibility of the accounts being manipulated by the Colonial Treasurer or any other officer. He had heard co:ruption talked about with regard to the present Government, but not a single corrupt act had been shown against any member of the Government. —(Applause and cries of " Oh !") A president of one of the branches of the National Association, however, who had been holding forth about the corruption of the Goveri ment, had tried to do a corrupt thing by indirectly offering a sum of money in order to try to get au influential member of the party at present at the back of the Government to secure the sale to the Government of an estate in which he was interested.—(Cries of "Name.") Let the National Association make inquiries ot its various presidents, and it would soon find him out.—(Loud applause.) Dealing with the Labor Department, Mr Ward said that while he was not opposed to the introduction of machinery and the latest scientific appliances, he maintained that there was no necessity for the introduction of linotypes and monotypes into the newspaper offices in this colony. Our papers at present were paying 7 and 8 per cent, upon their capital, which, in the first instance, was paid for a goodwill that perhaps never existed; and so far as the readers were concerned they were quite satisfied with the manner in which the papers were turned out by hand. He maintained that for our population the present machinery was ample. After having dealt with the progress the colony had made in the various departments, the speaker went on to refer to the statement of the Hon. G. F. Richardson, M.H.R., that the legislation to assist the Bank of New Zealand would never have been passed but for the connection of himself (Mr Ward) and his business with the Colonial Bank. He denied that emphatically, and alleged that there were members of the House in 1894 who voted in favor of the assistance being given who were under heavy obligations to the Bank of New Zealand and to the Loan and Mercantile which they could not pay, and had had their accounts written off. If Mr Richardson wanted a hand-to-hand set-to about finance.", let him commence with his own during the past few years, and then it would be time for him to put himself on a pedestal of virtue to attack other people's finances. One of the can-Hdates in the present election had made reference to his (Mr Ward's) affairs, and for that reason he wit-hed to refer to himself. He repudiated the charge that he had attempted to . be a monopolist, and asserted that he started the Ocean Beach Freezing Works for the purpose of assisting the small settlers of Southland to break down the freezing works monopoly that at that time existed in that district, greatly to the detriment of the small settlers. He maintained that the Southland farmers who had done business with'bim hid stool beside him all through his trouble?, and if he was ousted from his teat in Parliament it would be' labor in vain, for they would send him back. Coming to the question of party government, the speaker defended this form as being safe and in the best interests of the great body of the electors. From the way the Opposition talked one would think that the American "spoils to the victors" system was in operation here. When a Go-
vernraent went., out, of office the incominz Government did not turn odfc tho appointees of their predecessors in favor of their own. Ab regarded the making of appointments, he main* tained that the Government were.justified in selecting their own supporters from amongst the candidates, all other things being equal; and when the present Opposition were in office there was not a iringle appointment going which they did not give to their friends. • In conclusion, Mr Ward expressed his pleasure at having had the opportunity of delivering the address, and hoped, when the clouds rolled by, to have the pleasure of again addressing such a vast assemblage. Personally, he regretted that hisbeing invited to speak on the present occasion had been construed into a desire on his part to interfere with the election. Such, however, was not the case, for the date was fixed originally, not by himself, when he undertook in response to an invitation to speak. He could only Bay that, while the Opposition might exercise all their forces to try to oust the Government from power, so long a? the Government had the great mass of the people at their back, recognising that they had worked more for the interests of the miss of the people than any other class they would retain Office, and even after the next general election they would go back again with -a majority and help further "to lift this colony, which .we were all .'so proud-of, along on-the raad of progress.—(Prolonged applause.) ■ X Mr. BHiNSLKY"~moved—" That this meeting thanks the Hon. J. G. Ward for his addresr, and. records its unabated confidence in him, and wishes him every future in both his public and private life."—(Applause.) Mr Rodda seconded, the motion, which was carried by acclamation.
Mr Ward returned thanks for the manner in which the vote had been proposed and seconded and received by the audience. The vote of thanks to the chairman, which terminated the proceedings, was carried by acclamation.
THE HON. J. G. WARD AT THE AGRICULTURAL HALL., Issue 10444, 14 October 1897
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