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THE PRIME MINISTER, Issue 15646, 10 November 1914
THE PRIME MINISTER
BEFORE HIS CONSTITUENTS,
The Prime Minister opened the political ampairm last evening, when he addressed » large and representative meeting in the Papakura (Auckland) Town Hall. Throating accommodation was overtaxed, and many of those present had to be content with standing room. Many were also standing outside the door. _ Mr Masaev (reports the Press Association) received a very enthusiastic reception and heaving. On entering the hall he was received with loud and continued applause, and as he icsc to speak he was greeted with cheers and renewed applause. The Hon. Mr Massey, at the outset, said that it was now jusr 21 years since he first visited Papaknva on political business It was 18 years since he was first elected as member for Franklin, and ho hoped to have the honor of representing it tor another 18 years. He was nov there that evening for the purpose of making what might ho called a fighting speech. He might have occasion later on in the campaign to take the glove* oil’, and when the occasion rose ho would not hesitate to do so. He intended or. the present occasion to give them some (information as to the work that had been carried out by the Government. During the past, two and a half vears no Government that had ever held 'office in New Zealand had had so many difficulties to contend against as ids Government had had. He was not complaining of this, as three difficulties, like all others, nad a knack of disappearing when they were firmly grappled with. I his was the 'experience of the Government in handling the many difficulties that had confronted them. The first difficulty they had to face was the unsatisfactory condition of the- country’s finances. Whan they camo into office the outlook was bad, and (coney was scarce and dear. This was not, tho only trouble at that time, an (here were industrial troubles to face. When the Government assumed control of the Dominion’s affairs the Waihi and Rceftou strikes were in progress. The Rceftou strike was soon settled, hut that at Waihi lasted for a long time. However, they got over that. The next trouble was the socalled smallpox .epidemic amongst the Maoris last rear He did not know whether it was smallpox or not, but the effect that it had upon the finances ami trade of the country was scarcely credible. No one cculd ever tell to what extent the revenue of the railways and other departments was really affected by the epidemic. The outbreak also had an after-effect on the settlemerit of native lands, as it necessitated the prohibition of meetings of assembled owners in connection with native land transactions. However, in the course of lime they got rid of the epidemic, but no sooner were they free of that than they were confronted with the big strike of 1913. As soon aa the Dominion was getting over the effect of the strike the European war came upon them like a thunderclap. The population at first was almost stunned by the outbreak of the groat conflict, but it had got over the effects of the shock, and the bucinees of the country was now being carried on as usual. Referring to New Zealand’s share in the war, Mr .Massey said New Zealand's soldiers had been the first to occupy the enemy’s territory. The taking of Samoa had been r. bloodless victory, but it had not been accomplished without a great deal of risk and danger. Alter the First Expeditionary Force had gone to Samoa the Government commenced to organise the big Expeditionary Force. Few people realised the enormous amount of work involved in this organisation. However, it had been accomplished, and it was an open secret now that New Zealand’s second Expeditionary Force of 9,000 troops was now on its way to tight for the Flag and for the Empire, and he was satisfied that thei men would give a good account of themselves when they readied the scene of operations. At the outbreak of the war business had been paralysed, but now it was back to normal. There was at first a great cry of unemployment, but even that had almost come to an end. 'There were very few unemployed now. (Applause.) So tar as the Government were concerned, he hoped and believed that they would be able to keep the public worjes- going. They had more men on now than for years past, and ho believed they would be able to keep this up. In that respect New Zealand was much better off than some of the other Dominions. In New South Wales, according to official returns, there were thousands of men on public works only working three days a week, and ho sincerely hoped and believed that nothing like that would ever take place in this country. (Applause.) Loan money was much more difficult to obtain than it was before the war, hut, later, he was hopeful of being able to obtain enough for requirements, and to go on quietly. The outlook for our —Primary Products—had never been better than at present, and there was a tremendous demand for New Zealand meat, butter, wool, and every other product which this country was in a habit of sending away. Theie* had been difficulties in connection with the kauri gum and flax industries. The former had, however, to a certain extent revived, though the price was not yet what it was before tho war. The Government had arranged, in case of gum being unsaleable and of gumdiggers wishing to go on digging, to advance a portion of the value at which it stood prior to the war. (Applause.) As a result there was no chance now of gumdiggers swelling tho ranks of the unemployed. The Government would like to do the same for the flax industry, but it was much more difficult to handle and to manage. Referring to the other arrangements which the Government had had to make owing to tho war, .Mr Massey mentioned the moratorium low, which had been passed to obviate panic. Prior to tho war the greater part of New Zealand produce had been carried in insulated chips. There had lieen a tremendous demand on these ships for tho transport of soldier* from Australia and New Zealand, and for Britain’s own nee, and this had created an awkward situation. However, ho was satisfied now that, owing to the arrangement made by the Government, there would bo sufficient ships to take away the whole of the country's produce for export up to tho end of January. All being well, the New Zealand transports would be back here in February next. Flo had arranged with the Imperial Government to send those vessels back without delay, and, if necessary, the New Zealand Government would pay for their return in ballast rather than allow the industries of the country to ho hampered. (Applause.) Mr Massey went on to outline what h;ul been done to provide New Zealand with wheat and flour. In that connection, ho said, in addTtfon to the 250,000 bushels ordered from Canada, he had been in negotiation with tho Government of India for u similar quantity from there. That day lie had telegraphed to Wellington giving instructions for an order for ICO,COO bushels of wheat from India by way of an experiment. —Regulation of Prices.— In referring to the Food Commission, Mr Maaaey said it was set up. not to interfere with trade, but to prevent the exploitation of tho people. Ho had asked the (Oonunission to investigate sugar prices. The Commission had reported that the Colonial Sugar Company had offered to give a guarantee that the price of sugar should not go beyond a reasonable price, as compared with the price in other countries. The only provision was that the Government should not take over the sugar works. Dealing with tho
—Railway Proposals—of the new general manager (Mr Hiley), the Primo Minister said that last session tho Government had been deluged with complaints from all over New Zealand regarding insufficient rolling stock. In Mr ilassev's opinion the Dominion was shorter of engines than anything else. In Auckland the accommodation for passenger traffic was bad enough, but they wore miles ahead of the provisions for handling goods, which were shocking. Wellington was probably worse. The railway businets in Auckland had doubled in the last eight years, and in all probability would double again in the next eight years. He believed in forming branch and trunk railways; but if it was not possible to handle the goods at tho termini iksr would soon ho in difficulties.
Tire amount of opposition which Mr Hi ley’s scheme had aroused was astonishing. ' In tho division, however, only 20 members of the House had had tho courage of their opinions to vote against the Bill. It was now the law of the land. —Good Commercial Outlook.— Before tho outbreak of tho war the Dominion was in a particularly prosperous condition, and during tho two years that his Government had been in office the exports had been increased by no less than BfixOd.Uil) worth. \Vhcn tho war came to an end ho believed that Now Zealand, with her enormous resources, her good climate, the industry of her population, and the many natural advantages, would recover from tho effects of the war more rapidly than any other portion of tho British Empire. Tho Prime Minister next referred to tho question of —Naval Defence, — which, he said, should not be treated ns a party question. What had taken place daring the last few weeks had convinced the bulk of the population that Now Zealand should do n. great deal more in regard to naval defence than wc were now doing. (Hoar, hear.) Ho referred to what had taken place at Papeete, and said that this might have happened to any of the towns on the seaboard of Now Zealand. He referred to the non-com-pliance. either through inability or unwillingness. on the part of the Homo Government with the naval agreement entered into in 1909, and said that, although! tho present Government had ottered to increase the annual subsidy by £50,000 if the Imperial authorities would carry out the agreement, the offer did not have the desired effect. During the first few weeks of tho war New Zealand had been greatly indebted to the Australian Navy for its valuable services to New Zealand in particular and tho Empire in general. He believed that wo were, now out of the wood so far as the danger of immediate attack by sea was concerned, hut we should profit by tho experience of the past few weeks. It would he criminal to allow the present state of tilings to continue. He was not going to quibble aa to whether the ships should be Imperial-owned or New Zea-land-owned, but tho position must be, faced. The member* of the present Government during the past few weeks had hud tremendous responsibilities upon their shoulders, and he for one would not caie to go through the same experience again. Ho repeated his previous reference to the. debt of gratitude that wo owed to Australia for the protection that we have received from the shins of the Commonwealth Navy during the past few months. —Education Act.— In speaking of the new Education Act passed last session, Mr Massey said that the object of the Minister of Education and tlie Government in introducing this measure was that New Zealand should become one of the best-educated countries in the world. This was necessary if New Zealand was to hold her own in competition with the other countries of the world. In the past there had been a reluctance on the part of their young men to take op the teaching profession, but the betterment in the condition of teachers which had been brought about by the new Act would remove this reluctance and improve the lot of the teachers. Ho next dealt with the allegation made by tho Opposition that the Government had not kept their —Election Pledges.— .Save in two instances, all the pledges, he claimed, had been kept. In the first place tho Go vernment had pledged themselves to keep borrowing within reasonable grounds, and to prevent wasteful expenditure. This pledge had been kept. The Government had also pledged themselves to carry out a freehold laud policy, and this pledge had been kept. The Government had provided settlers with all reasonable facilities for getting on the land on a satisfactory tenure. This pledge, in regard to the' limitation of holdings, had also been kept. A Voice: “What about tho advances to settlers? Did you not vote against that ?”
Mr Massey ; “I did ; for the very good reason that I was pledged to vote against borrowing in any shape or form. VVhon I went back to my constituents and told them what I had done they said : ‘ Well done, good and faithful servant.’” (Laughter and applause.) The Government had also kept their pledgee in regard to Native land legislation. Their aim was to place tho Natives in the same position as the Europeans, with the same privileges and responsibilities. They wanted to make the Natives good citizens of the Empire. The .Maoris were taking up the responsibilities of Empire, and SCO of them were now being trained for service as soldiers. In this connection he was glad to say that the Imperial Government had now consented to allow tho whole SCO to go to tho one destination, instead of dividing them, as wan at first intended.
Amongst other pledges kept was that to reform the Legislative Council hy making it elective. He believed that the system of election provided for would prove more suitable than the Australian system. The pledges in regard to Buhl it; Service Reform had also been kept. The Government had promised to provide for a reform of the system of Local Government by the abolition of the present method of parliamentary grants, and a Rill to this effect had been introduced last session. Owing, however, to tho delay occasioned by the war, it had been necessary to allow ibe 15ill to stand over, hut he hoped tint it would he passed next session. In regard to town-planning, the Government had provided for all that was necessary, and he looked forward to doing something in this direction with tho Ovakei Estate that would be a credit to the Dominion. The pledges in regard to amendments to the pensions schemes, including the reduction of the qualifying age of women from 65 to 60, had been fulfilled. The pledge in regard to compulsory insurance against sickness and unemployment had not been yot fulfilled, because tho Government desired to sec. the scheme introduced in Great Britain have a fair trial. The Government were also pledged to bring about industrial peace, and they had gone a long way towards doing that by providing that no strike should l.Yko place without a secret ballot being taken under tho supervision of the Government officers'. Thus, all the pledges except two had been kept. It was not reasonable to expect that, during the short term of one Parliament, much more would have been clone than to lay tho foundation stone of a policy, but the Government had done much more than that. (Applause.) —Land Settlement Record.— It had been stated by one member tho other day that the Government had not put a single settlor on the laud. To show luw incorrect tin’s was, ho quoted from a departmental return showing that from July 1. 1912, to September 30, 1914, 2,964 settlers had taken up land on settlement conditions, ami that jtastoral runs and miscellaneous tenures provided for 1,595 more, making a total of 4,548. In addition, 289 persons had taken up endowment land leases. The total area of land opened for sale or selection from July, 1912, to October 31, 1914, was no less than 1,447,894 acres. In their first session tho Government had provided for an increase ir. the Graduated Land Tax on all estates of tho value of £30,000 and over. The good effect of this was becoming apparent in the number of subdivisions. From April 1, 1912, to June 30, 1914, the total number of subdivisions of rural land and land made available for closer settlement was 6,196, representing 1,125,678 acres. Ten estates had been, acquired for closer settlement. Altogether, during the time the Government had been iu office, 1,943,763 acres in both privately-owned and Crown lands had been subdivided and settled. During the year 1913-14 the area acquired by tho Government lor settlement waa 141,062 acres, as against only 13,399 acres in 1910-11, during the regime of the late Government. The total number of selectors who had purchased the fee simple of their leases under the Acts passed by the Massey Government was 1,411, the total area involved being 262,792 acres, whilst tho sum paid waa £236,958. (Apjjlause.}
—Reform Government's Achievements.— The Government had set up a. Commission to inquire into the working of the Valuation Department. What the Government sought was taxation on fair valuations of property, exempting the improvements. If it was found that this was not being done now lie would take care, it returned to power, that it was done in the (future. (Since the Reform Government came into office they had set up a system of workers’ rural homes. Some of these were in occupation, and in many cases the occupiers were doing well. In all there were four settlements in hand—two in the North and two in the South Islnad. It was proposed next year to give municipalities and county councils the opportunity of borrowing from the State for the purpose of workers’ homos. The previous Government had in six years and a-quarter erected 209 workers’ homes, at a cost of £146.622. His Government, by the end of the financial year (March 31, 1915) would have erected 345 workers’ homes in two years and three-quarters, at an expenditure of £101,632. As in the case of land settlement, therefore, he thought his Government’s record was a particularly good one. The Government had paid for native land in 1913 the sum of £61,029, and in 1914 £257,711. —Next Month’s Liabilities. —
Dealing with the financial position, the Prime Minister proceeded to show how the Government had improved it since they camo into power. Next month the Government had to find £3,000.000 to pav the creditors in London, who would neither convert nor renew their loans. These lenders were speculators, who wanted to force the Now Zealand Government into tho open market, but they were not going to be so forced. Ho could not tell them vet where tho Government had got it, but they had got the money, and the London creditors would be paid that £3,000,000 on the duo date next month. A reference followed to the Government's action in raising the limits of the borrowing powers of settlers. Owing to the war these had to be cut down, but from now onward the limit to settlers would be £750, and he believed that in a few weeks it would be possible to raise the limit to £I.OOO. (Applause.) In the seven months from April 7 last the Government Advances Department had lent to settlers the sum of £839.570, to workers £213,739, and to local authorities £135,525. In addition there were sums advanced by the Public Trust and the Government Insurance Offices. In touching on the Government's legislation for the workers, the Prime Minister mentioned the increase of £120.000 per annum in wages to railway workers and of £48,000 to public servants. —The Electors' Choice.— In conclusion Mr Massey said : “We are now on the evo of the General Election. and it is for the people to choose who shall conduct public affairs. On the one side you have a set of men able, sincere, straight-going, and upright, who havo been criticised, but with whom no serious fault can be found—(loud cheers) —men who are not periect, for they have made mistakes. You have to choose between these men and a set of men who, if they secure a- majority, will have to pipe to the tune played to them by six or* eight ‘Red Feds.’ (Cheers and ironical laughter.) I leave it to the people, and I have not the slightest doubt they will choose fairly and well.” (Renewed cheers.) CONFIDENCE HEARTILY EXPRESSED. A vole of thanks to the Prime Minister and of confidence in him and in tho Government was moved. Loud cheers testified to the popularity of the motion, and a venturesome person who called for three cheers for Sir Joseph Ward was energetically howled down. On the motion being put it was carried amidst a storm of cheering, about half a dozen dissentient voices being raised.
THE PRIME MINISTER, Issue 15646, 10 November 1914
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