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MR MASSEY SPEAKS, Issue 15654, 19 November 1914
MR MASSEY SPEAKS
AT SOUTH DUNEDIN.
SUMS UP THE SITUATION.
AND TELLS "PLAIN TRUTHS."
They had to close the doors of the South Dunedin Town Hall at 7.45 last night, so great was the press to hoar the Prime Minister and his local cnnd'rtitc Mr Massey most obviously had not intended to say much, but the ring of interjection was as the sound of the trumpet to the warhorse, and in the end the hen. gentleman "talked considerable."
I He began with a compliment to Mr i Dalton, who, he assured hie hearers, had evinced a grasp of polities not possessed by some men who had been in Parliament I for years. Applause followed. 1 The Prime Minister continued that it was not the first time that the Empire had called upon the younger countries for help. But they had reason to be proud that New Zealand, first of all the Domi-1 idons, had come to the assistance of Bri- ] tain in the present crisis. The New Zealand force was the first to take possession of a foreign territory—Samoa. There were at present 9,000 men there—the bravest and best men in New Zealand—but it had to ba remembered that the Empire was fighting for existence, and if it were necessary ne was 6ure that New Zealand would provide 10,000, or 20,000 if necessary. Voice i When are jou going, Bill? Mr Maeeey: " I am ready to go tomorrow.'' He added, witli a smile: " But i the country cannot do without me." (Ap- ' plause.) The Prime Minister proceeded to say that the most serious difficulty the Government had had to meet was that occasioned by the short-dated loans, of which £8,000,000 worth had fallen due this year. £3,200,000 worth of this fell due this month. The debentures were held by speculators who tried to force the Go- ! vemment on to the open market, But the Government had made better arrangemente through the Imperial Government, and could meet the liability. The Government had fixed up, also, a war loan with the assistance of the Imperial Government, and there was not a country In the world to-day feeling the problem of w -.ir so little as New Zealand was. They had not had to dismiss a single man on account of the war—in fact, they had employed more. Public works would be kept going, and would employ the same number of men as at present, and more if the necessity arose. Not another counj try in the Dominions could say that. Thero were thousands of men in New South Wales employed only three days a week. But this was not the case in New Zealand; and in New Zealand they would be able to go on. The time had come in public works for a strong forward movement, for the making of roads, bridges, and railways where they were needed. P. ufc for the war the Government had intended to raise a comparatively large sum 1.1 money for oublic works, to open up ; ''.<• country and" find work for the people. Ti.iit. was the position at present, and we •'imld congratulate ourselves upon it. —Workers' Homes. — Mi- Ma6sey continued that he had abol- ' fl the £lO deposit for a worker's home. ! had arranged for a deposit of £l, and just prior to the commencement of building the worker paid the other £9. Voices: "Oh!" Then there was a chuckle. Mr Massey continued that, speaking generally, the instructions given by the Government had been that every man employed by them should get a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. The workers in this country had no i«ason to complain of their treatment by the present Government. The general instruction was that a day's pay should not bo less than 9s. Voices: Oh! Mr Massey : I know thero is a section of workers, spoken of as "Red Feds," with whom we cannot agree. But every worker is not a "Red Fed." (Applause.) —War Pensions.— It has been said that the war pension I is not adequate. lam not able to express an opinion, as the Act was passed years ago, at the end of the Boer War. But if the pension is not adequate, the Government vrill do the right thing, as they have done in other matters. (Applause.) —Mean Tactics.— "Noiv," continued the Prime Minister, "one of the meanest things in the campaign has been the attempt to make the Government responsible for the Huntly disaster. It is one of the meanest and most cowardly . . . things I know of. (Hoots and cheers.) . . . They say, these people who want to make political capital out of the disaster, that if the Bill introduced in 1912 had been passed the disaster would never have occurred. That is quite wrong. The Hon. R. M'Kenzie—a man on the other side of the House, and one who probably knew more about it than any other man there—said, when the suggestion' was made, that it was absolute nonsense. If the Bill had been passed the accident would have occurred anyhow. (Applause and dissent.) Anyhow, an independent Commission has been Bet up . . . and tho Government are going to sift this thing to the very bottom." (Applause.) Mr Massey proceeded to explain tho constitution of this Commission. It had brought in a report, and there was no suggestion that the Govemment or the department were to blame. But, continued he, You will hear of action being taken within a few days, and the blame laid on the Tight 6houlders. . . . Then every - ono will be able to know what hap-
peued and who is responsible. At this stage, as a counterblast to tho applause, part of the audience assumed the office of referee in a boxing encounter, and "counted out" the Minister. Mr Massey smiled, and proceeded to say that according to the evidence the accident was caused through someone going into tho old workings (where there was gas) with a naked light, and this exploded tho coal gas through the mine. "In conclusion," he said, quietly, " I would like to say that the man who suggests that tho Government are responsible for the accident is not fit to associate with decent men." , , . There was a roar at tlus, but the I'nmo Minister waited till it subsided, and added: "As long as lam a Minister of the Crown—and it is likely to be long—you will get plain truths."
MR MASSEY SPEAKS, Issue 15654, 19 November 1914
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