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CHALMERS CAMPAIGN

SPEECH BY GOVERNMENT CANDI DA'CE.

■ Mi 1 J. M. Dickson, the Government candidate for Chalmers seat in the House of Representatives, addressed a meeting of electors at Anderson Bay last night. 1 here was a good attendance, and Mr W. S. Fitzgerald presided The candidate was given a kindly reception throughout, and a vote of confidence at the end of a rather dull meeting. After acknowledging the friendly reception given him. the candidate said that there had been much talk over the decision of the Government to hold tho elections, and it had been suggested to defer them till Marolu He pointed out that harvesting operations would then ho engaging the attention of tho people in the countiy electorates. He discussed the arguments of tho Opposition and the constitutional aspects of the question, and said that he personally did riot consider it was necessary to postpone the General Election. —Tho Government’s Difficulties.— As regards the financial operations of the Government, they had had great difficulties to contend with. There had been three strikes, and soon after tho smallpox epidemic broke out in the North Island, and mecessitated heavy expenditure. Then there was the big strike of last year, which disorganised trade and affected the revenue of the State. And now there was the war. —Liberal and Reform Finance.—

| One of his opponents (Mr Moron) had ; referred to the short-dated loans raised by the Liberal Government, and had supported that system of borrowing. The ■ Banking Record ’ took quite a different view, and. in strong language condemned short-dated loans. Tho speaker made reference to the financial position when Mr Allen assumed the portfolio of Finance, ; and mentioned th© “ legacy ” of £1,785,000. Mr Myers had no reason to expect a long i term of office as Minister of Finance, but he adopted tho methods of his former chief (Sir Joseph Ward), and raked half a million in London and another half-million fiom the Bank of New Zealand. Later on Mr Myers raised a loan of £4,500,000. This loan had been anticipated to the extent of £2,785,000, of which £750,000 had been spent on public works. There was therefore available for public works only tho sura of £476,000. That was the position when Mr Alien took over the control of the finance of the State—a position that had been described by the Opposition as “a good wicket.” lire whole of the £4,600,000 loan was repayable in two years, and the result of this and other borrowing by the Liberal party was that the Minister of Finance this year had had to make provision for borrowing £14,000,000 approximately. This had been done, and with tho exception of a loan faling duo in December, satisfactory arrangements had been made to pay off this loan. The Prime Minister had assiired them that satisfactory arrangements had been made with regard to the war loan of £2,000,000 They were obtaining the money on the same conditions as the British Government. Such accounts as tho Public Works accoimt, advances to local bodies and settlers, had all been placed on a satisfactory footing. The Opposition declared that the Reform party had not fulfilled their promise to curtail borrowing, but had increased it; The Government borrowed during 27 months £14,636.608; their predecessors in a like period borrowed £16,496,000. In 1912 our National Debt amounted to £62,195.310. In 1914 it hae increased to £91,689,831 — an increase of about £9,500,000. The Mackenzia Government borrowed four and a-balf millions of this amount, and half of it had been spent before Mr Massey got into power. It should be very satisfactory i to the people to know that notwithstanding j all the difficulties in the way of the Go ; vernment, the finances cf the country had j been placed on such a satisfactory footing. I The credit of New Zealand stood higher ' at tho present time than it bad ever been I before. (Applause.) j ■ —legislative Council Reform.— 1 The Government had carried out their | premise to reform the Legislative. Council, and had put a Bill through last session : to make in elective and representative of the people. The Bill had been blocked in the Upper lloi.se by members appointed by ■ tho old. Liberal party, which had made it , necessary for the Government to put 12 i members into the Upper House so a© to | give effect to their wishes, A large mum--1 her of the members of this House would I be elected in three years, and the. balance. 1 with the exception of life members, would j also be elected in time by the people, and not appointed by tho Prime Minister. —Tho Public Service.— Tli-e Government had fulfilled their pro- | raise to reform the Public Sendee by tho j passage of a Public Service Bill, under i which tire whole of the Civil servants ! vere under the control of a Public Service j Commissioner. Political influence and | patronage had been eliminated. (Applause.) | Appointments and promotions were made by'the Commissioner, who was responsible to Parliament alone, and not to the Government. A board of appeal had been constituted of two members appointed by the Government and one by the public servants themselves. To that board any public servant who had a grievance could | appeal. The salaries of railway servants : had been increased, and they now rej coivcd something like £140,000 more than j previously. That increase had been ne- ! cessary, so that the railway servants ! should receive fair remuneration for their | work. ! —Benefits to Workers.— j In their efforts for reform the Governj ment had not forgotten the workers. In i six years of their office the . Ward Go- ! vernment had built 210 workers’ homes, ! which cost £146,542, while the present I Government, in their short term of office, ! had built 305 workers’ homes, at a cost |of £161,230. For this purpose the exj pendituro in the last year previous to j the Massey Government had been i £26,345; this year it had exceeded I £IOO,OOO. The Massey Government had given the workers the opportunity of providing themselves with cheap houses in the suburbs of tho cities. In 1909 £298,000 had been advanced to workers, while fast year tho Massey Government had advanced £494,000. He felt certain that if the Reform Government remained in power—and he felt confident they would do so—(applause)—in a short time the workers would not have much, if anything at all, -to complaifa of. —Land Legislation.— It had been alleged that the Government were the friends of tho large land owners, and that they were afraid to do anything to offend those people. This bad been said so persistently that a great many had come to accept it as truth. But the Government had in the whole of their legislation showed that they were the friends of the small farmer, and not of the large land owners. Mr Massey had promised that he would give Crown tenants the option of the freehold, and he had done so. He (tho speaker) was a freeholder.

The Government had increased the Graduated Land Tax with a view to bursting up large estates. As a result a large area in the Hawke’s Bay district had been subdivided and settled. It was necessary, however, to proceed with discretion in order to avoid throwing too many large estates on to the market at one time. By way of showing what Mr Massey, as Minister of Lands, had done to promote land settlement, Mr Dickson quoted statistics, demonstrating in effect that during three years the Ward Government acquired and settled 111,651 acres, whereas tbe present Government had in two years acquired 183,160 acres. (Applause.) The Government were looking after the small farmers, and not the large land owners. He personally believed that legislation and administrative activity should be directed in settling men on small holdings with a secure tenure. (Applause.) —Naval Defence.— Tbe question of naval defence had been much m evidence, and the Opposition ascribed to the Qovernmefit a certain policy which they did riot define. The Opposition ridiculed the building of what they called a “toy navy.” The policy of the Government—-a policy which had been ratified by Parliament—was to train officers and itien fori the British Navy. A vessel had been lent , by the Imperial Goyernaent, and a gtart had Jbeea

made in tho direction of training NewZealanders. Under the old arrangement. New Zealand contributed £ICO,GCO per annum to assist in. tho upkeep of the British Navy. This was not considered by the Government as satisfactory, because Now Zealand, although she paid an. annual subsidy, had no aay m the spending of it. It was a sound principle that where people paid they should have some say in the expenditure. -In this case w© had none at all. Ho d-senssed tho proposal of the Government to spend £50,0(J0 on tho training of men, and to contribute for the time being the other £50,000 annually ro the Imperial Government. Sir Joseph Ward told the people that owing to our limited ’ population we could not hope at the present time to ■build and maintain a local navy. At the Imperial Conference Sir Joseph Ward had advocated a tax of 10s per head for naval defence alone, or over £500,000 annually. He had submitted other proposals to the conference. First he proposed that tho British Dominions should provide out of revenue £6,300,000 Ho build three battleships each year. Later on, at the conference, however, ho appeared to have had some hesitation about his first suggestion, and put forward an alternative scheme—to borrow £50,000,000 to construct 25 Dreadnoughts within five years. While discussing the Naval Defence Bill at a later stage, Sir Joseph Ward said it would have been much better if the Government had brought forward a fixed and definite amount, and said to tho Old Country i “We will give another Dreadnought at an annual cost .of £140,000.” If that suggestion had been adopted the annual payment would have amounted to £500,000. The present Government had never proposed such an expenditure. Mr Massey had proposed to have built at Home one or perhaps two Bristol cruisers. A Bristol cruiser would be worth any two of tho ships that had been stationed in New Zealand waters for several years. It was sufficient for him to see that the Sydney, which had destroyed the Emden, was a Bristol cruiser. (Applause.) While the building of a local navy had many attractive features, he thought that New Zealand would have to rely on the British Navy for protection. (Applause.) But during these troublous times wo certainly did not get much, protection from the British Navy. Had it not been for the Australian Navy he was quite certain we would have been in very sore straits indeed. He was satisfied that the assistance given by tho Australian Navy would never be forgotten by tho people of New Zealand. (Applause.) —A Party to Disappear.—

He thought the Government had done the right thing in abolishing the Second Ballot, which had been costly, and had engendered scheming and ill-feeling. He believed that at no distant date there would bo only two political parties in New Zealand, as in Australia—the Labor party and the Liberal or Reform party, as the case might bo. If that were so.parties could avoid the need of a second ballot by putting forward one candidate each for each electorate. The public would require much education before the system of Proportional Representation could be made effective.

—A War Tax Unnecessary.— Ho did not think it was opportune to impose a war tax. Tho Government had made arrangements with the Imperial Government for a war loan of £2,000,000. Doubtless it would be necessary later to raise more money, but he thought they should wait till the war was over before a special war tax was imposed. He was opposed to a war tax on the basis proposed by single-taxers and Socialists. They suggested an extra 2d in the £ on all land in the Dominion to pay our share of war expenses. Such a tax would be an intolerable burden on the settlers, and would not promote rapid settlement. —Price of Foodstuffs.— Referring to the fixing of tho price of foodstuffs. Mr D.ckren said the ordinary person held up what had been done in Australian States as an example of what should have been done by tho New Zealand Government. The Australian States had set up commissions to inquire into the question, and the New Zealand Government had done 'ire same thing. The Government of New Zealand had also prohibited the export of wheat. In New South Wales the Government had fixed the price, of wheat, and had commandeered a large quantity of wheat in Sydney, with the result that they had to sell that wheat at considerable loss. The fixing of the price of wheat in New South Wales had a far-reaching effect, which the Government did not anticipate. Tho farmers did not allow their wheat to ripen and bring it into Sydney, but cut it into hay. This alarmed tho New South Wales Government, and they issued a proclamation stating that the fixed price had no reference to the new season’s crop, but only to wheat in hand. If tho Government fixed tho price of wheat, it would not pay the farmer to produce it. That had been going on in New Zealand for a considerable'time, as the price of wheat had not been paying the fanners, and they h T rti used their farms for grazing and dairying, with the result- that the country had not enough wheat for her own ure for some years. ITc thought the Government had done as much as they could do under the circumstances. If the Commission appointed by the Government did not rif© to the occasion, it was the:r own fault and not occasion, it was their own fault and not that of the Government. 'The speaker referred to what had been done by tho Prime Minister, immediately ho heard of the shortage of wheat, to obtain surplice from abroad. The Government would bo justified in taking very strong measures to force upon the market any wheat or flour that was being held by speculators. (Applause.) The Government had the rower, he understood, and he thought that thev should take extreme measures to see that the people were not exploited with regard to their foodstuffs. (Applause.)

—Miscellaneous.— Mr Dickson dealt- with the question of local government Local bodies should, he said, receive assistance from the Government proportionate to the amount of rates thev levied. Under the new; arrangement of the Government, local bodies would have assured finance, would know exactly what their income was, and could provide for their expenditure accordingly. After dealing with the efforts of the Government to provide branch railways, the speaker passed on to the fishing industry. Tim Government, ho said, proposed to encourage the fishing industry, and to assist the fishermen in the same way as they had assisted settlers and workers, by advancing them money to provide for their boats and engines. Tho fishermen, like most of tho producers of food, were under the thumb of the middleman. Out ot every £l' worth of fish tho fishermen received something like 9s, and the 11s wentto the middleman. If they were made independent of tho middleman by the Government advancing them money for their own boats and onlines, fish would bo put on tho market at much cheaper rates. The speaker also made the suggestion that the fishermen could some day be trained as naval reservists. Mr Dickson defended the action of the Government in their appointment- of Mr Hiley as General Manager of Railways. In referring to the action of the Government at tho time of the strike, he said he thought they could not have done anything else than what they did. (Applause.) It was absolutely necessary to prevent mob rule. In reply to a number oi questions the candidate said he was ;n favor of the 55-45 majority in respect to the licensing issue, and that ho was in favor of a referendum on religious instruction in schools. Mr W. Bull moved—“ That this meeting of the Anderson Bar district express-their confidence in Mr Dickson as a fit and picper person to represent tho electorate in Parliament, and also in the Massey Government.”

Mr E. B. Hayward seconded the motion, and Mr T. Somerville spoke effectively in support of it. Mr W. Gall moved ae aii amendriverit—“That Mr Dickson be thanked for his address.” This lapsed for want of a seconder. Tho motion was carried, only three or four electors dissenting.

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Bibliographic details

CHALMERS CAMPAIGN, Evening Star, Issue 15664, 1 December 1914

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CHALMERS CAMPAIGN Evening Star, Issue 15664, 1 December 1914

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