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THE LABOR MOVEMENT

[By Veteran.] Brief contributions on matters with reference to the Labor Movement are invited. LABOR COUNCIL'S MANIFESTO. The manifesto of the Otago Labor Council was certainly a severe indictment against the Government for their tardiness in dealing with the inflated prices of everyday commodities, caused through the iiar. When this manifesto was referred to, the Prime Minister said s “ W© are condemned for setting up a’ Commission instead of following the example of Great Britain and New South Wales, but thoa© responsible for the manifesto are apparently not aware of the facts. In both New South Wales and Victoria Commissions were appointed. In New Zealand we have not only appointed r. Commission, but w© aJeo prohibited the ox pent of wheat and flour from New Zealand, and took steps to augment mtv supplies by endeavoring to purchase sufficient wheat in Australia lo provide against any possible shortage. JTie position is much more difficult in New Zealand owing to the fact that we-'have not auflil dent wheat and flour in the Dominion to last us until next barveet unless the harvest happens to bo a particularly early one. Australia, on the other hand, has a large surplus for the present season, although it is apprehending a shortage next season on account of the drought. The effect oi setting up the Commission in New Zealand ha© been really good, as it has prevented any attempt at exploitation. It has kept prices down to a fair level, which leaves a reasonable margin to the producer, and at the same time enables goods which cannot be made in New Zealand to b© imported from abroad.” It will bo noticed that the Prime Minister says: “W© have not only appointed a Commission, but we have prohibited the export of wheat and flour.” If the prohibition has no more effect than the fixing of prices of wheat and flour, it will be ‘of very little benefit lo the consumer. The pi ires were fixed on September 29 at 4s 9d per bushel for wheat, and £ll 15b per ton for Hour: but there has not been the. slightest attempt to enforce the prices so fixed. On the contrary, the prices have been increased, according to an important statement made by the Hon. W. F. Massey in the House on Tuesday, 20th inst., in which he says, inter alia : —"The Price of Food Commission have sat and considered the position and taken a lot of evidence, but unfortunately they are not unanimous in regard to their recommendation-. The Government, however, are fixing the price at £s oil per bushel for wheat, and £l3 per ton for flour. It is to lie hoped it will be unnecessary to again raise the price until the new crop comes in. The Government aip assured that this mice will do away to a very great extent with the difficulty that exists at the present moment. Several large millers have sufficient supplies to last them until the New Year. The difficulty is that most of the small mills work, >o to speak, from hand to mouth. Some of them have stopped already. There is cfcomparatively little wheat held by farmers. Not one farmer in the North Island, so far as wo have been able to discover, is in possession of wheat. In the South Island the estimate is that approximately 25.000 sacks remain to be threshed out. Tills will, of course, be made available within the next few weeks. But this 25,000 sacks would not keep the population of New Zealand going for more than a week. There is a difficulty, and the Government- will do everything possible to meet it. I feel confident that wc shall be able to keep supplies going." On October 16. Mr Massey ©aid;—" The effect of setting up tho Commission in New Zealand has been good, as it has prevented any attempt at exploitation.” On October 20 be said: “The Commission have been unable to agree as to their recommendations, so the Government have fixed the price at 5s 3d per bushel for wheat and £l3 per ton for flour.” Surely this bears out- the contention of the Otago Labor Council that not only have the Commission been useless, but that no effort ha© been made to enforce the first recommendation of the Commission, which was accepted by the Government, and the prices proclaimed at 4s 9d and £ll 15s for wheat and flour. Some people are not satisfied with those prices, and the. Commission are asked to take further evidence, which they do. and disagree as to their further recommendation. Therefore the Government fix the prices at the current rate, which in about £o per ton or. the price of flour, as compared with August 1. Tho announcement originally made was that prices were not- to be higher than those obtaining on August 1. Mr Massey r-aye that not one farmer in the Noit-h Island is in possession of wheat, but several largo milleis have sufficient to last them until the New Year. Now, those large millers would buy (heir wheat at about 3s 6d per bushel, and at that price would make a handsome profit by selling flour at, say, £lO par ton. Surely, then. Mr Mo.secy must admit that tho consumer is paying £3 per ton too much.

In contrast to the two solitary articles attempted to bo dealt with by the New Zealand Government, compare what is being done by the Queensland Government. A fortnight ago 1 stated that the Queensland Government’s Control of Trade Board had issued their third list, fixing both wholesale and retail prices of commodities that they had not previously dealt with. Now, I am able to state that during the first week in October they issued their fourth list, dealing with all kind of meat, from a sheen's fry at 3d up to best sirloin of beef at 6£d per lb, and also fixing the wholesale prices of many articles, such a? candles, kerosene, etc. In the Queensland State Parliament on October 6 the Premier (Mr Denham) moved—“ That the. House at its next sitting should resolve itself into a committee of the whole to consider the desirableness of introducing a Bill relating to the distribution of foodstuffs and other commodities, and to compel the supply of information in relation thereto.” He said the object of the measure was to compel persons holding supplies of foodstuffs to furnish, at stated intervals, to a State Commissioner and a Commonwealth Commissioner, a return setting forth the quantities of certain commodities, above a specified quantity, in their possession. It would operate only during the currency of the war, but in some, respects it might be advisable to keep it in force in modified form after the war was over.—The Labor Leader thought the Bill didn't go far enough. The Control of Trade Boards had not given satisfaction, and he thought it would be wise, to add a clause to the Bill empowering those boards to fix prices of primary commodities with more consideration of the rights of the consumers. The attempt to fix the price of meat without first fixing the price of cattle was a farce, and some direction should be given to the hoards to go right to the bedrock of these prices. He moved an amendment providing that the Bill should also make provision for the more effectual control of prices.—The Premier would not accept the amendment. He was obliged to admit that he thought the board had recommended prices for meat in North Queensland which were unduly high. A lot of people, he said, were throwing stones at the boards, but he would ask such people to appoint a Commission of three capable men, and meet the members of the board, and if, ; fter that investigation, they could sav that the board was not competent, or had acted unfairly, then he was prepared to deal with the board. Mr Bitmciman, President of the Board of Trade, informed the House of Gammons on October 10 that if any instances of the withholding of supplies of meat and foodstuffs by big combines or companies came to the notice of the Board cf Trade the provisions of the Act passed on the 3rd would be enforced. On the same date, at the Covent Garden Market, plums and apples were sold at Is per bushel, potatoes at £4 per ton, and flour was selling in Manchester at the same price as prior to the war. In their manifesto the Labor Council say : “ We were prepared to admit that there is difficulty in dealing with this question, and there ever wall be so long as

to continue. This system lends itself to' the charge ‘that - tho 'fdftii'v.t©' possessor of any article has an inherent right to consider his own private interests instead of considering the interests of the people as a, whole, and no long c.s .the people are willing to allow this private ownership to continue, so long will they have to put up with, the injustice which it creates.- Had theiiStat-e —that is. the people aa a whole—owned the whole of the wheat and the flour mills in riie Dominion at the time of the outbreak of the war there would have been no necessity to appoint any Commission to. fix the price of these commodities. The wheat and flour would have been used for the benefit of the people, and the price fixed at bedrock. Everyone would have got the benefit of this, and there would have been no question of one man benefiting himself at the expense of his neighbor.” * * * * * * * SOCIALISM AND LAND. A writer in an American paper recency stated : “ Though I have read mu ,hj on Socialism, 1 have yet to find what would be done, under socialised or collective fanning, with the many individual farmers now in existence.” In dealing with that statement the ‘ Appeal to Reason ’ says : There has been so much public or socialised land in the United Slates that everybody can have a general idea as to what it means. The difference bewteen the old handling of public land and the handling of it that Socialism proposes is that heretofore the public land has been transferred to private hands aa rapidly as possible, while Socialism would hold it perpetually as common land and use it for the public good. The old method of diverting public land to private hands has been followed so extensively that the greatest public heritage the nations ever knew has been almost completely taken from the public within 70 years. * As it was 40 years a.yo, it would have been sufficient to forsver make land accessible to all and to keep landlordism from developing in America, had it been used after the socialised method. Since it is gone, however, it must be reacquired. In all probability it will be socialised slowly. Hero a county or a city or a township will acquire a farm. That farm will be operated with the best machinery collectively owned, under direction of a competent manager. The unemployed iu the district covered wall be able to find work on the farm, on the start at perhaps little more than their keep. 'The products of the farm will be sold, and will cover all the expenses of running the farm —perhaps more at the start. After a while, practically every unit of Government —that is, every city, township, and county—will own its farm. This method of fanning will prove- so satisfactory, both in breaking the power of unemployment and in making farm work pleasant-, that the various mats will have application from individual fanners for work on the socialised farms. The social farm will then grow naturally, without any., antagonism to the private farmer. It mky be that as it grows in popularity the local governing bodies will in some way condemn, land that- is privately held unusecl. for purchase for public farming. This rnav be done by letting the owper assess hus own land, with the privilege' of the public buying it at the valuation he gives. Ultimately there will be- so much land farmed socially that, on the one hand, those who operate it will demand and receive more than just their, keep, and, on the other hand, the pro-.) duct of the socialised farms will affect the market. The machinery and methods used will enable them to cell cheaper than the email fmmer can do. He will then' make application for the public to take over hie farm, hiring him to work it. since it will give him better-returns than }ie coal £<?t tlurousiH individual effort. When this process begins Uve final triumph 1 of socialised farming will be near. But it will not 'ire forced, on the people. It will bo adopted because it will have demon* strated that it is superior to the old method. And even when adopted it- will not mean that those who prefer individualfanning cannot follow it if they choose., i The chief advantages will be these: You I will not have to buy land before you ran use it, but -will find and machinery freadv for your use, and the income sure. 1 You* will have expert supervision. ' Y'dflfl will have the best- of machinery and all : modern conveniences in the home. lon - will ultimately get all your produce, which | will be more’than the individual farmer, ; workino- under less favorable condit-iont, i can possibly get out of tx. But. socialised . farming is not lit* same as co-operative | farming. The latter is merely a union ; of several farmers to get better results. The former is a complete social union, with the power of the whole Government behind it. * * * •» » * * NOTTS. At their meeting on Monday night the Cutters and Prossers’ Union voted £6“6s to the, patriotic .fund, to be applied as follows: —£3 2s to the British relief fund. £2 2s to the, Belgium relief fund, and £2 to the local relief fund. They also voted 10s 6d to r.he Huntlv relief fund. It was reported that two of the members and some of the members’ sons had gone with the Expeditionary Force. * * * Mr Will Crooks, M.P. for Woolwich, speaking at a Labor gathering on August 5, said ; “ My position is that in the hour of danger I ant with the Government. I cannot help myself. We have fought for peace to the last moment, but if war has got to come you and I have to shoulder our burden. . . • Our next order is to look after the food of the people, net at famine prices, but at reasonable prices which ths poor can afford. Then we have got to look after the women and children. Don’t forget that our obligations are, only beginning r.ow. We have got to see the job thiough, and present a united front to the enemy.”

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Bibliographic details

THE LABOR MOVEMENT, Evening Star, Issue 15632, 24 October 1914

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2,479

THE LABOR MOVEMENT Evening Star, Issue 15632, 24 October 1914

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