MR MASON AT MOBGIEL. Mr W, D. Mason, who took over Mr H. E. Holler’s candidature for qhalmers in the Liberal interest, addressed the Taieri district electors at Aloagiel last night. Tho Coronation Hall was practically filled, and the candidate was given ft courteous hearing. A vote of confidence was moved without an amendment, but the vocal voting sounded equal, although It was declared in favor of the candidate. . ~ , , Mr A. L. Quelch, Mayor of Mosgiel, presided. In introducing Mr Mason he said it was to bo regretted that Mr Holler’s health had broken down, and had necessitated a rest. All his friends would hope for a speedy recovery. It must have been satisfactory to Air Holler's Supporters to know that tho breach had been filled by Mr Alason, who was well known throughout the Chalmers electorate as a candid, straightforward man and a hard worker in (he interests of the people, —A Personal Note.— On rising to speak Mr Alason was warmly applauded. He thanked the chairman for the sympathetic manner in which ho had spoken of Air Aloller, and said he heartily endorsed all that had been said of that gentleman. There was no one who regretted more than ho did the circumstances that compelled Air Holier to vacate hia place in their favor. The circumstances which had called him into the political arena on this occasion were certainly not beyond his control. Nevertheless it was somebody's duty to fill the breach, and he had oftentimes been called upon to fill a breach that needed a champion in the cause of Liberalism and Labor. He accepted the responsibility knowing that a good cause should never need a champion. Upon any occasion when he had entered the political arena he had made it a point oj? honor that ho would not under any circumstances strike below the belt, no matter what the provocation might he. Hi* experience was—and it was the experience of other Liberal and Labor candidates—not only did his opponents meet him on the public platform or in the Press, which were legitimate battlefields, but he bad also to combat a kind of insidious human reptile that burrowed through the grass and obscurity and disseminated a poison of slander and malice abroad. An old slander had been revived against him in the Chalmers electorate. A critic in the leading columns of on Otago paper had said that an extrema Socialist was now contesting the Chalmers electorate. It was scarcely necessary to refute that charge. It was true that for 30 years he had advocated the canse of the_ “ under dog,” and of course his work in that direction raised hostility. It had been stated in Alosgiel, he waa Informed, that he was an atheist. There was only one answer to that charge I It was a malicious, deliberate, cowardly lie. (Applause.) On tho position of political parties he •aid that Che Reform party had got into power Inf a carious process, and represented the minority of the people. Thev had bitterly criticised the Liberal Government for borrowing, and had promised to create a new political heaven •Ijd earth, and shower blessings on all the people. They were going to curtail borrowing, and to effect improvements In administrative activities, especially as regards prablio works. What had been oona during tho two and a-hal£ years the Reform party had been in power to improve the public works system? Had any one ever seen so many swaggers going about the country as were seen during the six months preceding the outbreak of tho war? A remarkable number of able-bodied men had been travelling round his own district carrying swags. It was quite evident that the blessings of Reform had not reached the great mass of workers. (Applause.) The Reform party had promised to introduce the small contract system. Had it been established? There had been no change in tbo public works system and administration. There had only been one change w ™ , , B “ not he overlooked by the people in the South Island. It was*this : A portion of the public works in the Sontn Island was closed down, while new public works were opened up m the North Island. That change had not been promised, but it was surely made. (Laughter.) A better system of finance had also been promised, and excessive borrowing was to cease. Well, excessive borrowing had not ceased. Despite all excuses, the public dcbfc had indisputably increased at a greater rate during the Government’s term °i office than during a corresponding period of the Liberal party’s administration. Their promise had broken down. As to the new system of finance that Heaven-sent financier Mr Allen had discovered a wonderful method of decreasing our responsibilities by securing loans on better terms than those secured by his predecessors. M r Alien proposed, or rather he was disposed, to borrow monev for long periods when money was dear. It was a curious thing, however, that every banker and every business man in tho country repudiated the system. As a matter of fact _ Air Alien’s discovery was as old as the hills and almost as expensive H it was possible for anything to be. — Railway Administration.— The Reform party had promised bettor i administration of the railways. They had brought a very important personage from tho Old Country, and gave him a salary greater than that paid to some of the world-famous engineers—£3,000 a year—and tho public had now been given permission to smoke on the platforms of rail- 1 way stations. It waa a splendid reform. He honed it would bo appreciated, but lie did not think it was worth £3.000 a year. (Laughter.) What had been done in the matter of reducing the railway tariff on ■ produce railed from the interior to tlio seaboard? Nothing at all. On the con- ' trary, they had, as was stated in « cir- ] color issued by Air Donald Reid, doubled tho Iftto for ft private siding —an increase * that was bound to bo placed directly or indirectly on the coat of produce. In his own opinion it was absolutely unnecessary to faring a man from the Old Country to administer the railways. The object of a ■ railway manager in the Old Country and America was to secure dividends for the shareholders, bat the policy here had been to use the railways os a kind of superior 1 road to facilitate development and an Increase in the. productivity of tho country. Any, departure from (that (policy must affect all the public. (Applause.) There was another object in Mr Hiley’s appointment. Tho Minister for Railways was just tho very opposite to the gentleman who had preceded him, and that gentleman In turn was the opposite to the gentleman who preceded him. Sir Joseph Ward brought our railways up to a pitch . of perfection, so as to facilitate the carriage ol our productions and the exchange : oil our manufactured commodities. Every farmer must realise that since the advent of Sir Joseph Ward as Minister for Railways they had got far better facilities than they had had in the past. That policy was followed by Mr Aliller until he ■was lnSnced to make the railways a commsrcial concern. And the present Minister of Railways, being deficient in administrative capacity, brought a manager and pot upon mm tne responsibility and conkrai ox the railways, and took the responsibility off the shoulders of the Alinister. —Electoral Reform.— Speaking of electoral matters, Mr Mason said tho present Administration had promised In connection with the electoral department that they would give a better system of electing members to the House. ?nw second ballot had its defects —it brought about what might be called unholy combinations. But, whatever combinations it might bring about, it still rejected the opinion of a majority of the 'people) but there was no possible way of getting a majority of the people under the -toenm f/stem except by the elimination ftU candidates but one on each side. If 4ha Reform party were sincere in their desire to receive the confirmation and en:dowsn»nl of the people they should have ‘ kept tbs means in their power to take and ieen the second ballot in the electoral ; system, if they could not replace it with ''something better. What had been the ro!sait of tho repeal of tho second ballot? $ Gandldatea without a possible hope of |, winning a' seat were being thrust in be»ad Sgqg«Ta&v*
and between liberal and Conservative candidates for the purpose ol aplittlng the votes to enable the fearless Reform -party to get back to powpr on the votes of a minority. Look at the despicable tactics adopted by the Reform party in connection with the seamen’s vote. The representative of the seamen in Dunedin had shown clearly that not more than 60 per cent, of the seamen recorded their votes at the last election. Was it not a right thing that sailors should be able to vole for any special man, that they might at least have one representative in Parliament to speak for them? —The Omarama Run.—
The position in respect to the Omarama run was a scandal, despite anything that might be said to the contrary. Ho called upon Mr Massey to hold an inquiry l during the next three days before a stipendiary magistrate. ' Tbo witnesses were available, and all that was wanted was Mr Massey's authority to have the membens of the Otago Land Board put upon their oath before a magistrate, and demand that they shall teli what they know about the affair, and clear Mr Massey’s fair name as Minister of Lands of tbo slur that had been cast upon it. That was fair and straight. The run was held by tin absentee leaseholder, who lived in Great Britain. Under tho pastoral lease system in this colony, the practice is that when tho lease fails in tho Land Board appoint two or three from their number a Land Classification Commission, who go with a ranger and examine tho land and report upon its suitability for settlement, and whether tho lease should be reviewed in its old form or the ruu cut up into grazing areas. Under the grazing runs system there were conditions as to settlement upon the land, and as to effecting certain improvements. If it is decided to cut up tho land an upset price is fixed, and a ballot held in order to give applicants a,fair chance. If tho land is cut up as pastoral runs, however, the outgoing tenant is allowed to select one run at an upset rental, free of all conditions and free from competition. Mr Massey stated that he had acted in the best interests of tho settlers. What was the history of the matter? The Commission examined the run and decided that it should be cut up into 13 or 15 grazing runs. The board unanimously adopted their recommendation, which was sent on to the Minister for Lands. Mr Massey returned it, replying that he did not approve, and that the land should be cut up into pastoral runs. The board put their backs up, and maintained that it should be divided into grazing runs. They held to their recommendation. They knew perfectly well that tho absentee would have preference over the men in New Zealand (under pastoral license conditions. The board absolutely refused to agree to Air Massey's proposal, and Mr Massey threatened that if they did not agree he would amend the Land Act and give the same preference to the outgoing pastoral tenant as was given under the grazing run system. All that was plain enough surely. (Applause.) The Act had been passed. The speaker quoted from ‘Hansard’ to show that while speaking in the House on clause 17 of the Land Bill Mr Massey said the clause was intended to remove 1 another defect: —“It was provided, i think, in the Land Aot of last year or the Act of 1912, that in the case of land held under pastoral license being cut up the tenant ol tho land was entitled to one of the subdivisions, if he chose to take advantage of the opportunity. ... In the Otago district they found it more convenient to cut up into small grazing runs some of the land which had been held under pastoral license, and where they cut it up into small grazing runs, or any part of it, it was found—this is the opinion of the legal profession—that the provision to which I have referred does not apply, and that the original tenant’s right to one of the subdivisions is taken away. This clause is continuing the right, even if the land is cut up into small grazing runs.” —Defence Minister.— Tho Minister at the head of Defence affairs was referred to by Mr Mason as a “gallant soldier,” and as a soldier he ought to have been able to deal with affairs that affected soldiers. They had had an example of his administrative policy in connection with tho Expeditionary Force. Ho thought they knew something about tho method of purchasing horses in the Taieri for the use of tho force. They also knew something about the purchase of fodder and tho fitting out of the transports. Men were allowed to go through the country for the purchase of horses and fodder when the patriotic fever was at its height. Private buyers had gone about the country mopping up the horses, rmtking profit from the patriotic impulse of the people and the necessity of the nation. The purchase of fodder was also put into private hands. When transports were required the Government, instead of seeking the vessels which needed the least fitting - up, took tho first vessels that came to hand, irrespective of the interests' of tho country. Sir Joseph Ward, with his characteristic business acumen, called attention to tho need of tho refrigerating space on those vessels. Had he not done so, the country would probably have been in the same position as it was at tho time of the big Strike—unable ; to ship the products abroad at tho time ! when the money was moot needed for them. (Applause.) —Agricultural Department.— Tho Agricultural Department had been j instituted for the protection and assistance j of tho farming community. Had Mr Massey administered it in that spirit? He said Mr Massey had not. He had shown an inability to grasp tho essential facts of the situation, which proved he was utterly unfitted for the position he occupied. Ho referred to the Government’s action with regard to the price of foodstuffs. They h:id been assured that wheat was short in tho country. Ho said without fear of contradiction that there had been no shortage. Three days before the war broke out no one dreamt of a shortage of wheat in the country, and in proof of that he would I read them a letter from a firm of stock : and station agents relative to wheat they | were holding. They were told to sell it, | and tho reply was that they had an offer of 4s 2d per bushel ex store,"which was the I price they lad been offered all along. \ They did not think there was any chance of the market improving; in fact, they were afraid it would go back a little, as ■ the local millers must meet the compel i- i tion of Australian flour. j A Voice i “Give us tho name of the ■ film.” " Tea,” said Air Mason. “ It was Stron- ; ach, Morris, and Co., and tho letter was addressed to W. D. Mason, Aliddlemarch.’’ During the discussion on the food ques tion Air Massey had said that ho knew long before the war that there was a shorta'so of wheat amounting to one and a-ha’f million bushels. How did Air Alassey gtt his information? He <AIr Alason) had got notice that he had not sent in his returns, ; and after next harvest to send in the mini- ; her of bushels per acre ho had threshed ■ It was through this channel that the j Alinister gob tfia amount of wheat in tie ' country. Since AH Massey did not diffusa tne information with regard to tho shortage of wheat and scatter it broad- , cast, ui whoso inter-eats was he keeping ■ the information back? | —The Huntly Disaster.— : Dealing with the Huntly disaster. Air . Mason said he was going to attach tho i responsibility to the Government on that ' score. If a bogus union had nob existed I at Huntly, then the disaster would never i have occurred. Air Mason quoted the , evidence of the Commission to carry home | hi* points. He also contended that -It..' ; Government were a Government of Commissions, and tirac government by Cone mission had gob down to such a fine an , that Mr Massey was considering the ad- i visibility of taking stops to set up a 1 Commission to find out when a Commie- ! sion was wanted. (Laughter.) I —“iStand by tho Liberals.”— ' The Government had failed to carryout | their promises, in every direction. They had gerrymandered the electoral law in the j hope of getting back to power on a miuo- j rity vote, and had gerrymandered that law for the purpose of saving Mr Fisher, ! Minister of Marine, from the wrath of the seamen. Their whole administration had shown Incompetence and the lack of I found luda»?nt ob pooMjftt%d t j¥itit.bhe r& l
cord of the Liberal party in (he past. The Liberal party’s record stood out clearly as a policy that transcended the actions and policy of the Massey Government. stood by the policy of the old liberar party, and endorsed the programme enunciated by Sir Joseph Ward. There was only one question before the electors : Was the party in power to go back with support and approval, or would the people recall the leaders who had led them through troubles and brought the county to prosperity? There should be no splitting of votes. Vote solid, veto strong the ticket of the Liberal party. If he were elected he would fearlessly stand for the interests of the people, and would not betray his trust. (Applause.)
—Motion of Confidence.— Mr Alexander Bridges moved—“ That this meeting heartily thank Mr Mason for his able and instructive address, and express full confidence in him as a fit and proper person to represent Chalmers electorate In Parliament." Mr A. Wikland seconded tho motion.
The voting on the voices appeared to he equal in volume. It was declared os earned.
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CHALMERS CAMPAIGN, Evening Star, Issue 15658, 24 November 1914