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The Evening Star FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1914., Issue 15643, 6 November 1914
The Evening Star FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1914.
Tins ifl not the fh-3t occasion, on -which we havo thus headed an article, and we are tempted to repeat it to-day, as a cable mes3ago advises that Tflie London 'Tiiuee,' editorially, has been Saying much the taino thing. "We are glad," •writes our contemporary, "to see "signs in many quarters that the people "gie beginning to awaken to tho gravity "of tho struggle and the consequences do"pending on it." That it should be necessary after three months of tho meet appalling and sanguinary war in the history of tho nations for the leading British journal to express satisfaction that the people of tha United Kingdom are at lust beginning to appreciate the nature <ind consequences of the struggle m which they are engaged j« not free from a touch of irony. Lord Eosebery, during the dark, early days of tho Boer War, said that the Empire would "rouddb through," and signs have not • been wanting, either in the Homeland or in the Oversea Dominions, that the men who J beEeve that the Empire will "muddle j through" this the greatest crisis in her fate as aho muddled through what Lord , characterised as ''only an ep£ :
England Waking Up.
I sodo" are still with us. History is repeating itself in this as in other things. There wero blind and careless ones, petsimists and prophets of disaster, cranks and 1 fanatics and know-alls, when the Armada was on the high seas to make Old England a province of Spain ; when Wellington was beating back and out. mile by mi!-.-', the French hosts from the Peninsula; and at every hour of testing and trying of which oiir common history tells. All such constitute part of the burden ot Kmpivo : they hare to be earned, and their inlirmities with them. It. b, however, open to question whether (ho men and women who constitute these ?U----tco-eommori sections of the community are a greater hindrance, to the prempt and adequate performance of the- obviously right, lhi:ig during a period of national crisis than Iho much larger -numbers who fail to indicate that they have any conception at all of the nature, the extent. and the possibilities of the situation. It is such people th.tfc our contemporaiy has in its mind's eye when expressing gratification that a- sense of the gravity of the conflict no-.v raging throughout the world is at last awakening in many quarters. True, also, is it that it is disaster, not success, that furnishes the key wherewith to unloose the emotions and to compel us to take stock of our mental and moral equipment. Of this truth the news we publish to-day of a naval engagement in the South Pacific will, we regret, afford confirmation. There is no reason to doubt that those much-sought-after German cruisers—the Schariiharst, Gncisenan, and —were met and fought by the British cruisers Monmouth, Good Hope. and Glasgow, and that, tho British failed t3 destroy the enemy. Admiral Craddock's men fought gallantly against superior (xlds, but- without avail. The. Monmonth was sunk, and the light cruiser Glasgow, -under the protect iou of the Good Hope, ran for shelter. This, it is hardly necessary to say, is not thnews that we were expecting. Nor is any object to be gained by asking why warships of inferior guu power were th;' only ones available against so formidab I .': opponents. Tho Japanese Government apparently have not thought it withi:; their province to send ons or more battleships to participate in the pursuit of thes'e ocean pests, and H.M.A.S. Australia is possibly acting as convoy, whiktho warships of the British and other squa-drons that are equal to tho duty or suppressing these roving cruisers are on duty elsewhere. Nor, we must add, would the presence of two Bristol cruisers in Pacific waters, or off the coast of New Zealand, have been of any service, in nr. engagement with cruisers of the Scharnhorst class.
We hav<* 4 read few things more humiliating than the implications of superior knowledge and the scarcely veiled suggestions of what would have been thposition of this Dominion from the naval standpoint had the Massey Government been allowed to have their way. The Go vornrnent have- sadly bungled the whole business. Without consulting tho electors, and with no public support behind them, the Massey Government announced a complete and radical change in the traditional Navy Policy of the Dominion. They dk' not say to Parliament that, owing to the exigencies and changed conditions of.the international situation, the Admiralty Board mo unable to fulfil their part of the 1909 Agreement, an/1 therefore they proposed to appoint a joint committee on naval defoucc composed of members from both sides of the House, who will draw up proposals fur submission to Parliament. No! What Mr Massey and Mr Alien did was to try and bludgeon tho House and the country into the acceptance of their local navy scheme, and made it pan and parcel of the political gams. They failed—failed ignommiously—and were compelled by public opinion to announce that their proposals -would stand over until after the next Imperial Defence Conference. The Prime Minister, we are forced to recall, overstepped the bounds of good taste and of common sense in his advocacy of the local navy fallacy. In addition to being tho author of " tho " prompt purchase of one Bristol cruiser," Mr Massey went to Greymouth, and there publicly and adversely criticised Mr Churchill, and poured ridicule upon the statement that tho Japanese Navy would meantime afford Now Zealand all the 'so?, protection she needed. " I want British "ships and British sailors to protect us, " not Japanese ships and Japanese sail"or 3," shouted the Prime Minister amid a roar of applause. These things were known to all men, but a veil was tightly drawn to hide from the gaze of a slightly-
mocking public the- further fact that within six months of Mr Massey's amazing indiscretion Japanese sailors wero marching through the streets of Wellington, and a. Japanese cruiser was at anchor in Wellington Harbor to act as convoy to New Zealand troops. Wo look in vain for mention of these things in the <?ffusive thanks that Minsters rushed to offer to Australia, and we find no indication of the greater and indisputable fact that nothing New Zealand proposed to do or could have done would have affected by a hair's breadth the existing naval position in the Pacific. Wheu Now Zealand decides upon her future Naval Policy it can only be with and after the fullest consultation with tho Admiralty.
Tiiere is plenty of oil in Now Zealand, ami there is a great Oil Industry and ever-increasing de-
Development, maud for crude oik? as fuel for fighting and commercial navies. The problem is to develop the Dominion's oil industry and secure a profitable share of art onormous trade. The position offers wide scope for tho exercise of practical politics. It were foolish and commercially dangerous to advocate a straight-out financial reward from the State for a fixed output within a given period. That system of encouragement stultifies and, to a certain extent. demoralises private enterprise Wiser methods for assisting the development of an important industry, which received a serious set-back by the unfortunate experiences ot the company that exploited and (it is to be feared) bungled the promising shalefield at Orepuki, should be adopted—methods in the form of State aid in providing adequate capital for the thorough development of the fairly extensive deposits of oil-shale in different parts of the Dominion, and also tho Northern areas of natural oil, and in securing Imperial contracts for the disposal of output. The initial failure at Orepuki, where natural conditions demand successful development, need nut deter the Government from giving serious and practical consideration to tho question of develop-
hit; tho shaleiields and oil-wells of New Zealand. Commercial circumstances have changed for the better and to a point of permanent security since the collapse of the Orepuki enterprise—a failure which was due to many causes rather apart from the character, extent, and real value of the- resources of this shalefie'.d. Tho economical advantages of oil fuel have been determined satisfactorily during the past five years, and the demand for crude oi! is now enormous. Tho British Navy alone too!: last year close on 200,000 tons of oil as fuel for several flotillas of " oilomV" destroyers, for "oil and coal burniuc" battleships and cruisers, to enable them to realise their full powers in an emergency. As a matter of fact, the use i>f oil fuel, as compared with coal, has been proved to have been so advantageous as legards increase of speed, reduction of laborious and exhausting labor at sea, and other advantages so essential to fighting chips, that the First Lord of tho Admiralty, in the course of a notable speech in the House of Commons on July 17 last year, stated that the importance of securing an adeouat • supply of oil at reasonable prices 'exploitation of the State is usually considered a legitimate game) was so vital that he did not see any reason
why the Admiralty Board should shrink, if necessary, from entering this field of State enterprise, in view of the fact that they already mv.de their own cordite, a complex and dirlicu't operation, and kept their -great system of dockyards in full activity in order to provide a check on orivate constructor:-..
Wo do not use the argument of the First Lord of the British Admiralty as a hint to our Government that it is advisable to establish tho development of the oil resources of New Zealand as another State enterprise. There is no immediate necessity to go so far as that. But there is urgent need, and surely there is ample commercial justification, tor the State undertaking the work of prospecting the shale deposits in the Dominion, and determining tho conditions of the Imperial market. If Mr Churchill sees no reason why the Admiralty should shrink fromentering "this field of State enterprise," even to tho extent of establishing works to retort, refine, and distil crude oil of various kinds until it reaches the quality required for naval use, the Government of New Zealand should not shrink from accepting tho question of encouraging the development ol rrt-fioial and natural oil industries as a, part o.f their administrative duty. They have not Iv.-sitated to include in their progressive policy the encouragement of the iron and steel industry.
It goes without saying that after the war is over the Imperial authorities will readily consider the important question of the. naval defence in tho Pacific, and will, wo are confident, bo wii'ing to provide an adequate number of efficient ships. The future, promises a certain market for New Zealand oils, ind it is the duty of the State—seeing that, private enterprise, owing fo tho avoidable failure at Orepuki, is in the same position as a child who, once burned, always dreads tho tire—to do everything in its power to assist-the development of a notoriously-neglected a.ssrft. We commend the subj?ct to the earnest consideration of the B-eform Government, whose Leader has not yet framed his policy.
The Evening Star FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1914., Issue 15643, 6 November 1914
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