.Speaking at Papakura on Monday night
tho Prime Minister (Me A Local Navy. Massey) said that what
had taken place during the last few weeks hud convinced tho bulk of tho population that New Zealand should do a groat deal more in regard to Naval Defence than wo aro now doing. The statement may bo road in conjunction with the following remarks made during a brief discussion in Parliament on the Defence Amendment Hill a few days earlier.
•The Prime Minister said ho knew that if it had not been for the Australian navy we should have had our fortified towns attacked and our commerce destroyed.
Sir Joseph Ward; That doesn’t say much for the power of tho Admiralty and their foresight. Mr "Massey ; I am not going to discuss that. But the fact remains that we have had two of tho most powerful cruisers in the German navy at one time within three days’ steam of New Zealand. Mr Davoy; If the Imperial Government had carried out their 1909 Agreement wo would have been all right.
Mr Massey : I admit that. And this Government offered the Admiralty an additional £50.000 to carry it out.
j Tiicso quotations will not strengthen pub- ! lie confidence in the wisdom of our legisla- [ tors. Neither tho Prime Minister nor .Sir i Joseph Ward make it dear that he has | an adequate gnup -of the naval situation j from tho Imperial standpoint. Mr Massey j apparently labors under the delusion that [had the people of this Dominion only I allowed him to have had his own way in I ordering a Bristol cruiser tho fact that I such cruiser would now be on tho stocks [in some Homo shipbuilder's yard would j havo somehow affected the naval situation in tho Pacific at this hour. And Mr ! Massey and Sir Joseph Ward mid Mr Davoy are alike positive in tho belief that had the British Admiialty carried out the arrangement made with Sir Joseph Ward in 1903 to send two Bri-tol cruisers, three destroyers, and two submarines to these waters Now Zealand would have been “all right.” By “all right” is meant—otherwise tho words, in the relation they were used aro meaningless— that t'.iis Dominion need havo felt no alarm from tho fact that “two of the most powerful cruisers in tho German navy were at one time “within three day.-’ steam of New ” Zealand." We repeal that wo cannot congratulate tho people of New Zealand upon the wisdom of their political leaders in this most important of all questions. Happily, it matters very little now what is said and done. The Empire is at war, and when it has been fought to a finish and ended in tho only possible way there will be practically no navy in existence to threaten its peace, or that of mankind. for a generation and more. Therefore to suggest, as Mr Ma c -ey did at I’apakirra, that New Zealand must do this, that, and tho other is not only a somev.uat glaring illustration of locking the stable door after the steed is stolen, but betrays the same regrettable lack of appreciation of the Imperial situation that has too frequently marked his utterances.
The Dominion is not only heartily tired of the repeated a-.sp-tion that had the British Admiralty ho.->rcd the 1909 Agreement all would have I-cen well, but it i» ashamed of the of the complaint. The fade of the Empire is chiefly in the hands of the Admiralty Board, who are responsible to the nation f.-r its safety; and their knowledge of what is necessary fotho adequate fulfilment rr their om-rom duty is comp let •. But they have never been able to obtain • from Parliament- all that they needed, liny had to restrict their demand-, and they have, through the First Civil Ecu!, snoic than once advised th-.* outlying portions of the Empire that in the first weeks of a great wartime might not hi* a■ -Ito g’ve them all tho protor Lion thev would hi;';. TisereiV.ro, in
vk-w of possibilities, t’-wy withheld sending Bristol embers t-m! destroyers and -.ulimarir.es to these wati r:;, and for or: nait. wo take no <mion whatever to um-u- dscid.m. It v-.-mI,! h,-. presumptuous to do so. But as f:.r as Mr Massey, Sir
.Tchipii Word, !t:;'l Mr D.uvy are concerned, wo ray this : that, the presence of
sucli cruisers and destroyers wculd not have deterred tho “ two most powerful evui-ers in tho German navy : ’ from working mischief had the 1999 squadron alum been all New Zealand had to depend upon. It is di.-tinctly reprehensible of Mr Massey to seek to convey by innuendo and ir.iplic-:-.-ticn that his local navy scheme has been
proved the right policy, and that his critics were wrong. Wc, too, believe in a local navy if tho Dominion is prepared and able to pay for it; we, too, approve of unity of action with Australia; but, in common with thonrhtful colonists everywhere, wo <!o not an prove tho wanton breaking away on paity grounds from the traditional naval policy of the Dominion, nor •of its supersession by tho ill-con-sidered, utterly inadequate, and uselessly wasteful proposals of the Ministry. When Now Zealand is ready to spend whatAustralia is spending on her navy it will bn lime to treat tho Prims Minister seriously.
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Evening Star, Evening Star, Issue 15649, 13 November 1914