Although the future of the Empire is at this hour in a state of The Navy and suspense, it is not to the Empire. our own clamoring rival politicians that the electors will turn for enlightenment and inspiration. Mr Massey and his colleagues by their own act severely handicapped themselves for the role 3 of far-eeeing statesmen of approved sagacity. They deliberately plunged the country into the turmoil of a not very seemly or dignified political campaign at a time when great numbers of sober-minded people are absorbed to the exclusion of all eke in one supremo question, and resent the intrusion of a General Election that might well have been deferred. In his review of the political situation the Prime Minister haa claimed that in the interests of the Empire it is not desirable that there should be a change in the Government cf New Zealand at the present time. We agree with Mr Massey, and regret that he and his Ministry are alone responsible that there may be one. The Government, however, having made a blunder, must assume the consequences thereof, and they ought net, in common fairness, to utilise tho admitted undeairability of "gwopping" horeea in
mid-stream for purposes of party gain. Yot this is what Mr Massey would seem to bo doing. Ho insists that a change of Government during this "great crisis" would not be to the public advantage, though he and his colleagues aro responsible for bringing the horses to "the stream and seeking to drive thorn across. There could hardly bo a better illustration of tho deplorable results that ensue when National Defence is dragged into politics. Tho moment the Prime Minister assorts : " We have done bettor than tho Opposi- " tion could do, and Imperial matters are "safer in our hands than in theirs," he simultaneously and inevitably issues a challenge to his political opponents to disprove his assertions, if they can. We do not intend to discuss the question from so ignoble a standpoint. Mr Massey is chargeable with making several regrettable utterances; and Sir Joseph Ward's annual cash subsidy payment is quito out of date as a satisfactory and, therefore, adequate naval policy. The pitting of an utterly useless "toy" navy aguinst the payment of a ludicrously paltry yearly sum, as though ono or the other of them must bo accepted, aa has been far too commonly insisted, is to bring into sharp and painful reliof tho folly of politicians handling the Defence problem in a partisan spirit. If wo want to get away from petty parochialism and reach an elevation \v banco we can secure a wider outlook, we must at this hour ' leave our own Dominion and put oursolveß, in spirit, at tho feet of tho Prime Minister (Sir R. Borden) of the greatest of all of the daughter States of the Empire. In Canada we are in another and rarer atmosphere; there we shall got in touch with realities and learn something of tho possibilities. Sir R. Borden was among tho few who knew what was going on in tho world around him. His wile no sudden awakening or deathbed repentance. Two years ano he asked Parliament to givo the Mother Land time Dreadnoughts by way of thankcffeiinir. " No," replied Sir Wilfrid Laurior, " t-hero "is no danger, and the German Menace "does not exist," And Sir Wilfrid won. To-day Sir R. Borden tolls Canada that if Great Britain loses tho coming d-- j cisive naval battle the Empire will be shat- I terod to its foundations; that Canada's i dfbtiny is involved i" the great battles ! now waging in Northern Franco; that J Canada will never surrender; and that ! she will fidit to her last- man.
I That is the tone ar.d the spirit wherewith to wir ejections. That also in ih doctrine, born of and based on knowledge, that the E.T!i.irc needs. In New Zealand wo have, had too much vapid and meaningless talk about evwiyouo knowing that New Zealand must do something moiv. in tho future. Wo have had Ministers asking in doHant tones: "What about k>..s.i navies now?" or, with greater folly still. claiming a voice in the councils of the Empire when the i6sues are these of peace or war, not because we have proved our fitness to be present, but because we pny an annual subsidy of £100,000! And even as the destruction of the Emden by tho Sydney has been seized upon as a vindication of the soundness of Mr Mr..«v\v\-one-Hristol-cruisor policy, so, doubtl;;j. Sir It. Borden's hope (not claim) that in tho future (not straight away) the Gw.sea Dominions must have a voice in the foreign relations of tho Empire equal with that of Great Britain will he exuliiniiv appropriated as an endonsement of the policy that has more than once been proclaimed in dictatorial terms and to an accompaniment of approving piaudits throughout the electorate of Brace. Unfortunately our leading public men lack a eense of humor, whkh. mainly, is that of regarding men things in their true proportions. Ih-.-y talk much too loosely. New Zealand is not the hub of tho Empire. In Imperial defence we are disciples, not masters, and it is cfE-ential and imperative that, wo should have the receptive mind and the spirit that follows rather than leads. What will bo done after the war wo shall know only when the war i6over. There will then be a new Empire and a new world. Isolated or independent action cm the part of any one nation, or of any one Oversea Dominion to the exclusion of others, in all that concerns Imperial Defence may, thus early, bo dismissed as neither possible nor desirable.
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Evening Star, Evening Star, Issue 15671, 9 December 1914