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THE POLITICAL SITUATION., Issue 10461, 3 November 1897
THE POLITICAL SITUATION.
Now that the debates on the Address-in; Reply and on" the Financial Statement : are concluded, and the Government are in ja position -to'proceed with business, the course of events political may be to some extent foreseen in the light of Ministerial indications and utterances. The situation is a peculiar one aud comilicated by several issues, but the char* actcristic sagacity of the Prime- Minister will, there is little doubt, stand him in good stead, although he has a difficult game to play. It is on this assumption that we base our anticipations as to the future,, which, we may say at once, do not include, \vnder existing party conditions and in the House, as at present constituted, the accession to office of the Opposition, made up as it is of such conflicting elements. A Kussell-Stodt combination would hate no reasonable prospect of commanding a majority, and most certainly would not be acceptable to the country ; and, in the very nature of things, such a Ministry, as would thus be inevitable, would be sutject to early disintegration. Captain Russell, Mr Rolleston, aud other leading members of the Opposition proper recognise this clearly, and consequently have no desire to .precipitate matters. They are likely to confine themselves thia session to throwing as much light as possible on the policy and administrative conduct of the Government, but will take no action which might be likely to bring about a Ministerial crisis. The Estimates may provoke lengthened and acrimonious debates; and there will probably be warm work over the Public Works proposals, including, as these do, overt and covert borrowing. But, unless we are greatly mistaken, there will be no direct concerted attack on the Government, success in which would force Ministers to consider their position. The very general impression which has recently gained ground, to the effect that the Prime Minister contemplates clearing out not only from political life but from the Colony, has, there is good assurance, no foundation Whatever in fact. What ho may do some years hence—when, for instance, opportunity may be afforded by the General Election in the United Kingdom of securing a seat in the House of Commons—is not to the purpose just now, and wc believe right in the conjecture that he looks forward to the retention of office in New Zealand for some time loziger, and that he has skilfully laid his plans with this determination. He is well aware—indeed, it may be taken for granted—that he cannot carry on with his present colleagues, and that a reconstruction of the Cabinet is imperative if he is to see through the session of 1898. Those who are " in the know " at Wellington more than hint, it is rumored, that, should Mr Ward obtain his discharge from the Bankruptcy Court on Friday, he will be forthwith reinstated in. the Cabinet with the portfolios of Colonial Treasurer and Post-master-General, and the opportunity of reconstruction will then be taken. There may or may not be truth in the rumor, but it seems natural enough that Mr Seddon should strengthen the Government in the House by an able debater and personally popular member, and get quit, if he can arrange the matter decently, of one or two of the dummies, who are of no use to him whatever. If this event, however, does not come off, the right honorable gentleman will be enabled early in the ensuing year to effect reconstruction. It is quite understood that the Hon. John M'Kenzie has decided to pay a lengthened visit to his native Highlands, and that previous to leaving the Colony he will be called to the Legislative Council. It is hardly within the possibilities that Mr Seddon would even attempt to carry on business with the stock of "empties" that would be left in the Cabinet. As to the immediate and future policy—we will not say of the Government, but of the Prime Minister—we may with confidence predict that beyond getting Supply for the.,year and obtaining, authority for borrowing the money he has intimated that ho requires towards public works, ho will'.hot really attempt anything further during the current session. He can depend upon a sufficient majority for the above purposes, and is not at all likely to meet-with.obstruction on the part of the Opposition, who are anxious, under the circumstances, that the necessary business shall-be got through as soon as reasonably practicable. The measures indicated in the Governor's Speech and in the Financial Statement will simply, be jettisoned in order to ensure the Ministerial craft getting safe into the harbor of recess early/ in December. Next year Mr Seddon may bo expected to play a bold game, and it will not surprise us if, with : set purpose, he may be found riding for a fall. He will bring down a sheaf of policy measures those already announced, and others possibly more Radical and Socialistic—and should he be defeated he will advise His Excellency to dissolve Parliament, aud will go to the country with a bold forward policy, including a loan for the completion of all railway lines in progress; the construction of light railways throughout the interior; and public works of all sorts here, there, and everywhere. In this way we read the signs of the future in the present. During this session there may be interesting developments, in that the " Left Wing," as it is called, of the Ministerialists may be driven out of their ranks and forced to join the Opposition, or go into a cave of Adullam. Mr Seddon has evidently made up his mind to be quit of these members if they will not act loyally with the .party ; and it is at least questionable how they will be received on the other side.
THE POLITICAL SITUATION., Issue 10461, 3 November 1897
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