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Evening Star, Issue 15641, 4 November 1914
The policy of tho Liberal party, as outlined by their Leader
Tho Liberal Policy: Will it Catch Votes?
(Bight Hon. Sir Joseph Ward) at a meeting of the Women's Social and
Political League at Wellington oa .Monday night, does not represent >i long advance from the position at which the great Liberals—the statesmen who crushed Conservatism beyond recovery two decades tgo —fell from notable power. A progressive change in the complex administration and laborious development of tho Stats is not offered. There is a definite promise, it is true, of a few necessary improvements on imperfect enactments —tho characteristic output of all Governments—and there is one proposal in tha nature of highly experimental legislation, hut there is really nothing in the policy, as baldly presented to tho people, to out-Reform tho Reform Government, who also claim to be the real Liberals, and to outmanoeuvre them in tho contest for renewed administrative power. Wo confess to having anticipated a more comprehensive policy from a party who have had time to seo in clear perspective their former weaknesses and shortcomings—a progressive policy embracing courageous thoroughness, legislative soundness, and wide* vision. It is to be suspected, that tho Leader of the Liberal party has felt tho lack of the supporting advice of his former administrative colleagues, ajid has had difficulty (an obvious task) in devising a policy calculated to-maintain the allegiance of Liberals and to secure the cooperative support of Moderate and Extreme Labor, and, in addition, outmanoeuvre tho Government, who, as selfacclaimed Liberals, intend to submit a programme of liberal proposals. The Liberal policy, as enunciated by the Loader of the Opposition, is in several vital features sound and satisfactory. It is most satisfactory as regards Naval Defence. On this important subject Sir Joseph Ward is a true Imperialist and a wise- Now Zealander. He says : We stand by the Imperial 2vavy. I believe' and always have believed, that Jscw Zealand's ' strongest and safest course in th« general interests of th« Empire u to *t»nd firmly by th*t groat old Navy. One is proud of the fact that New Zealand has been responsible, with tho assistance of Australian and French warships, in securing Samoa. The great—and what we to be unconquerable—British Navy should remain intact, and that to stand by it instead of establishing a separate-'locul nuyjc is . the safest tjnd wisest course
for New Zealand *o pursue, both in our I own interests and in the interests of the Empire. This is the wisdom of a statesman. Possibly we shall hear a great deal from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence as to the grim demonstration there has been recently of the soundness of their views, and of tho need of efficient warships to protect New Zealand's commerce and trade routes. Their arguments
will be futilo and beside the main and only tenable policy—"Stand by the Imperial Navy." Granted that certain circumstances did exist recently which would have rendered tho presence- of adequate naval protection of great service to the Dominion, it must not be forgotten that if the 1909 Agreement with the Admiralty had been carried out—a point that w.-is stressed by Sir Joseph Ward in his policy speech—there would have been two Bristol cruisers, three destroyers, and two submarines permanently quartered in these waters. The fact that the Imperial Government did not abide by the 1909 Agreement does not justify the establishment of a local New Zealand navy. The war in which the Empire is so nobly and effectively engaged can only have one result —tho increased nnd unassailable supremacy of the British Navy—and it goes without saying that when peuco is happily and universally restored the Imperial Government will be in a position to provide an adequate fleet in the South Pacific. There aro other important aspects of the defence of the Pacific which cannot bo discussed at present, a.s they involve the interest* l diul co-operation of another nation. But they will have to be considered in the near future along with tho necessity for more discreet speech among politicians. Wc do not with ike Liberal Leader in his opinion that a war tax is not necessary. I't would have been infinitely more advantageous to tho people of the Dominion if the whole of ihe expenditure on Now Zealand's service lor the Empire had been undertaken liy tho State, and :i war tax levied, t-0 that payment „ would have. been borne by the people proportionately to their ability to " pay the piper'' Sir Joseph Ward is quite prepared, if necessity arise, to place tho burden of war expenditure upon tho shoulders of those best able to bear it. Then the Government wiii charge him with stealing their policy. They rr,arh< the same promise a month ago. There promises to be competition between tho main rival parties in the matter of increasing the Graduated Land T.i:;.
with a view to forcing tho subdivision of large estates. The Government have- already led the way in that direction, and intend (as ire know) to go further. That is inevitable, of course, with two Liberal parties in the Meld. As a matter of fact, something more than a- mere, increasu in the Land Tax is required. Drastic l<:gi, ; -
lation is needed to combat the. system ot family aggregation of lands. Nor is there striidr.g difference between the rival parties as regards public work?,
railway condrnction. and development of the backhlock- Tho party with the greater courage in borrowing will coin most of the public favor.
It will, be- interesting to know the exact details of the Liberals' proposal lo repeal vital piovisioius in tho Public Service Act in order to restore direct parliament :n-y bub not political control. Here the Liberals tread on dangerous ground. Tho public would certainly resent the restcraikv-j of anything approaching the old system, by which tho friends politicians could be hoifted to preferment and places in the Public Service.
The Liberal patty and their Leader row recognise that the time has come for iho. establishment of a system of Proportional Representation for the House of Boprofentativos. Had Sir Joseph Ward seen lit to adopt this reform three or four years ago ho would have secured much ot tho support that was withdrawn from him, and would have done something to em:tne ;i fairer representation in Parliament for all the people than is now possible- under tho present system. The proposals of the Liberal party as to providing cheap money for workers and settlers and local bodies by the establishment of an Agricultural Bank are so indefinite that it were idle* to discuss them seriously. Judgment must be suspended until details are known. The Liberals aro apparently not inclined to meddle with the demand of tho Social Democrat party in the House for a State Bank. In this decision the Liberals are wise.
As to the scheme for encouraging the birth rate, it displays more originalit}than practicability. It is proposed that, on tho registration of tho birth ot ovenchild in New Zealand £5 should be placed to iha credit of (he child in the Post Offic:,
Savings Bank, and that tho amount elionld remain in for a period of 14 years, carrying compound interest at th'} rate- of o per cent, assessed annually. The State irould have the use of the mon«?y for the full period of 14 years. It would have 1.-ecu moro practicable and more encouraging to have proposed a system by which married workers with families would receive bettor opportunities to obtain a tLepnndablo income than many of them now secure, and by which mothers and prospective mothers would (receive free treatment at their homes. Tho policy, at» a whole, i;: disappointing.
Evening Star, Issue 15641, 4 November 1914
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