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The Evening Star FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1914.

When the Minister of Defence (Hon. James Alien) dragged the The Navy question of Naval D«Among the fence into the maelstrom Politicians. of party politics ho did that which has damaged the reputation of the Government more than any other of their many blunders in relation to Imperial Defence. Mr Allen, perhaps unfortunately, has ideas upon Defence which may or may not bo the quintessence of human wisdom, only they were not those cither of New Zealand or of the British Admiralty Beard. Ho is also a man of some determination, not to say obstinacy, of character (his fathering of the Bible-in-schools demand was undertaken in spite of the advice of the ablest men of his own party), and when he found himself Minister of Defence be straightway sought to give effect to his own conception of what New Zealand's Naval Defence Policy should be. That policy, in its essence, was a local naval policy, although both Mr Allen and Mr Massey have more than once, after discovering how unpopular the proposal was, indignantly repudiated the charge. The objections thereto were at least two, either of which was fatal. New Zealand cannot afford an effective local navy, while that proposed by the Government would be as useless as it would be cosily. We raise no objection, however, to the proposal in itself. Our main criticism is against the manner of its making. Without either mandate or warrant, it was presented to Parliament and to the country as the policy of the Government. The country, to its humiliation, was told in angry tones that it had advanced beyond the policy of hiring mercenaries to protect its 'ocean commerce; that New Zealand, by virtue of the payment of a paltry sum (and in view of what Old England is spending, how unutterably paltry it is!) annually to the Admiralty, was entitled to a seat at the council table when such supremo issues as those, of peace or war were to be discussed; and that we did not want Japanese ships and Japanese sailors to defend our Dominion, but British ships and British sailors—without being able to pay (or them (the addition is ours not Mr Massey’s). Finally, we have the Minister of Defence, at Milton, crowing, like .aSsop’s chanticleer j “ Who talks “of toy navies now? What about the “Eniden?" Alas! that it should be possible for party politics to drag Ministers of the Crown down to such depths; and it would have been so easy to have avoided the whole sorry business.

'••’ho Massey Government started out wrongly. They far too eagerly—the wish, we imagine, was father to the thought—assumed that the Admiralty had departed from the terms of the 1909 Agreement. This, on quite other grounds, ie also Sir Joseph Ward’s contention. Both are wrong. The Admiralty, for the best of all possible reasons, departed from the letter, not from the spirit, of that Agreement. Referring to this charge, Mr Churchill, on March 17 last, tcld the House of Commons, and he justified his assertion, that “we have given, arid aro giving, more than full effect to it.” We repeat that for any colonial Minister to assert that the Admiralty Board have not done all that was possible 'while the fact is that they did it in the best way for the safety of this Dominion and her commerce) is tus unjustifiable as it is presumptuous. It is possible to say much more than has been caid of Air Massey and his unfortunate utterances upon a question that obviously he does not understand; but we refrain. We have absolutely no desire to score against Ministers over this question, but they should not at this late hoar' and when the facts aro known of all men, pose on public platforms as far-seeing statesmen, who were misunderstood and vilified. We also differ from Sir Joseph Ward when he continues to affirm—purely, we admit, as a move in the party game that had his understanding with the Admiralty been carried out as ho meant it to be, New Zealand, during the past four months, would have reaped “advantages” that through its nonfulfilment she has missed. Where, however, the Leader of the Opposition is on safer ground is in his references to his 1911 Imperial Conference proposals. There is nothing in these of which Sir Joseph need be ashamed. It would, beyond question, have been a splendid thing for the Empire bad his three Dreadnoughts been cruising to-day in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The proposal

Zealand wants an adequate local navy and a voice in Imperial issues affecting the late of the Empire for £150,000 a year. “Why,” cries Mr Allen derisively, “ the Lender of the Opposition pcomposed p, Naval Defence sdiemo that “would have cost you £500,000 a year! Tb which wo make answer that any sort of local navy scheme that is worth anything at all would cost infinitely more. Tho Australian Naval Estimates for 1912-13 called for £2,349,267, and Sir Joseph Ward last night told his hearers that Australians expect to seo it mount to five millions and more! Mr Allen would almost appear to want Ips local navy without paying for it. What, then, should bo done? An answer will be found in the eminently sensible summary and comment on New Zealand’s Naval Defence Policy made by Mr Downie Stewart at his meeting on Wednesday night. We say this with the move confidence because wo recognise that Mr Stewart has gone to tho most reliable sources for his information. What Mr Churchill, or any First Lord of tho Admiralty, for tho matter of that, says on this all-important problem must- stand. The Admiralty speaks with full knowledge of all the factors We are but gropers in the dui'k. Our motto must ever be “ Trust the Admiralty, trust your Navy. - ’ And, meanwhile, let the electors insist that their representatives compel their leaders to lift Defence, on land and rea, our of party politics.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141120.2.32

Bibliographic details

The Evening Star FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1914., Issue 15655, 20 November 1914

Word Count
1,000

The Evening Star FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1914. Issue 15655, 20 November 1914

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