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Evening Star, Issue 15651, 16 November 1914
Tiieee arc few things in the record of
the Massey Government Mr Allen and of which they have less Defence. cause to be proud than
their treatment ot the questions of Military and Naval Defence, and the reason is not far to seek. Hie Government dragged both of these important issues into the tniro of party politics. From tho time they took office they have sought to scoro against their political opponents over matters of high Imperial concern; and they have failed. Not only were they unable to convince tho great mass of intelligent public opinion of tho wisdom of their proposals, but tho pettiness of their criticism was only excelled by their folly. Tho swift onrush of grave events, of the possibility of which Ministers appeared to have known nothing, has made it clear that on tho supreme questions of the Naval and Military Defence it is more by good fortune than wise provision that this Dominion is no worse off than it is to-day. “My foresight and my sagacity,” declaimed Air Alien at Milton, “ in mak-
ing arrangements with tho War Office
“ for a New Zealand Expeditionary Force “of 8,000 men has been justified. Where “ should we have been were it not for “what I did? —and yet tho Opposition “ called mo this, that, and tho other. “You ought to applaud me when you “ recall all I have done.” Such was tho burden of Mr Alleh’s remarks on Saturday respecting the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Our answer to them : s that thay aro very much out of place. Our own criticism at the time the announcement of the* Government’s intentions was that it was made in an indefensible manner.- The people of New Zealand first heard of it by cable message from London. The Minister of Defence proudly told a Press interviewer in Loudon that he was going to arrange wjth the War Office for an Expeditionary Force of 8,000 men that should be ready at any time for service abroad. Wo said at the time, and we. repeat our comment, that this was neither the proper channel nor the fitting occasion through and on which tho information should have been imparted. To-day Mr Allen exultantly cries: “See how my action has been justified!” the implication being that had ho not done what ho then efid New Zealand would not have been ready with her
contingent. The answer to thin wholly undignified outburst is that if Mr .Allen wishes it to be understood that the New Zealand Expeditionary Force could riot have been cent away when it was had ho not providentially discussed the matter with the War Office in the spiing of 191", we disagree with him. Senator Pearce did not deem it neces-ary to rush to London IS months ago in order to arrange with tho War Office for a possible, contingent of 20,00 A -Australians, fully equipped for war. Neither did Colonel Hughes have to look so far ahead before Canada could prepare a transatlantic anny of 50,000 men. Wo suggest that the -Minister of Defence has nothing to gam by reopening titis phase of a badly-managed busiuesu. There arc eonto incidents that chnuld he let die, ami this is one of them. Nor is there anything for which Mr Allen can legitimately take credit in the Navy proposals of the Government. The Imperial Government or the British Admiralty Board did not send a Bristol cruiser to these waters for the good and sufficient reason' that they wanted every available shin elsewhere, and it iV; pure presumption on the pait of any oversea Minister to question their judgment. The Admiralty did not, however, Dave New Zealand defenceless.. On the declaration of war t!ie Australian Navy passed auto mntically into their control, and was devoted as much to the protection of this Dominion as tc the chorea of -Australia It or to any other part of tho Empire. It in not •■playing the game” to infer that New Zealand would have been badly of: hi the absence of the Australian Navy; ni-r it a fair presentation of the facts. <’t the. situation to soy, as Alt Allen did at Milton : One single cruiser of the CV-mmon-wealth squadion had accounted tor tho. Em den and destroyed Iwr, And that one sinjdo cruiser was just one Brn.tol ei uker, or an improved 15r stof oi u.e.-r, which was tho kind of ci inter the Government had desired lit. Impcual authorities to place in the New Zealand teas. What Mr Massey told tlir House and the country that he intended to purchase was a Bristol miiecr, and what that etui -v: was going to do only Mr Mucscy and Mr Allen know. But the vessel contemplated b- them was not a cruiser of the Sydney clays. The Sydney las an arm anient of nine 6in guns: the Bristol ciuiror of Mr Mas.-cy’s dreams will carry two 6in and ten /jin guns. Tho Sydney accounted for the Linden because .she was within Urn Sy.lnev’s radius of opciatioufl. Our l(n ; 't’'l cruiser, had the Ministerial project matured, vtotiid have had the honor (perhaps) of tackling the Scharnborst and Gneisenau, each of which carries eight e.2in guns. There things should tie known to Mr Allen, but unfortunately tho bhg.U of party politics has temporarily affected k;s clearness of vis-on.
Evening Star, Issue 15651, 16 November 1914
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