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ACROSS THE STRAIT.

GOSSIP FROM THE EMPIRE CITY

(By"Marlburian.") '

WELLINGTON, Monday. j PASSING OF AN EX-POLITICIAN. '

The death of Mr R. S. Houston, for some years Member for the Bay oi Islands, has been the subject of many expressions of regret,, by members who knew the deceased during his Parliamentary career. Mr Houston was a strong Seddonite, but was wont to "play sup" at times, and gave the party whips a good deal of trouble. The fact is that he had very little sympathy with much of the labor and land legislation . introduced by his political chiej. But as a rule Ms was a "safe" vote, for although he would grumble not a little he generally managed to find himself in what party politicians call the "right'lobby. A genial, unassuming man, no great speaker, but essentially practical, he was very popular with Members on both sides of the House. "uf late years he had been in almost continuous ill-health, and the news of IMb death did riot corneas a surprise. NO CAUSE TO GRUMBLE.

There was the usual. "squeak" about the "tote" tax at the annual meeting of the Wellington Racing Club the other day. The club had paid £5277 Os 2d—l like that odd twopence—in taxation, during the year, and the president waxed quite pathetdeally indignant over the fact that ihe "tax is levied whether we make a profit or a loss, and for a Club handicapped as ours ,is by a heavy debt, the amount seems excessively heavy." But when one examines the balance-sheet the Club does not seem to have much to grumble at. It has reduced its mortgage—in one year— from £21,250 to £17,000, and it has freehold property worth £29,000 and likely to double in value in the next twenty years. The president says that if it wer,e not for the heavy taxation it could increase its stakes by 83 per cent. Well, personally, I think that it is a vast deal better that the money paid by the Club in taxation should find its way i into the coffers of the State than into the pockets of a few wealthy horse-own-ers. As a matter of fact, racing is a, rich man's sport in New Zealand ilowV , adays, and to my mind it is a good thing that some at least of the money\ which comes out of .the 'pockets' of the public should go back, indirectly as ft may be, to the public. The Club has considerably reduced its mortgage, it has written off nearly £4000 on its "buildings, and it is doing remarkably vrqll. There's no satisfying some people 1 . 'V THE SAVAGES. The final kprero for the present season of that wonderfully popular institution, the Wellington Savage Club, ame off on Saturday night iii the Concert Chamber of the Town Hall. Members of both Houses of Parliament had been invited, and many were present. Sir Joseph Ward acted as Chief Savage for the evening, and the genial baronet made quite a hit by substituting a song, "When Other Lips and Other Hearts" for the "'Talk" which had been allotted to trim as his share of the programme. Sir Joseph is a new man since he has got rid of Ministerial responsibilities, and looks as jolly as the proverbial sandboy. (What, by the way, is, I wonder, the origin of that curious simile?) He has taken to golf with great enthusiasm, and looks healthier arid in .better trim than I have seen trim look for the last ten years or so. Lady Ward has also, I hear, taken up -golf, which is becoming quite the rage with Members of -Parliament. ,To get back to the korero, another distinguished guest was Lord Islington, who got'a tremendous ovation. "His 15x." is decidedly the most popular Governor, in Wellington ati any, rate, that New Zealand has had for many a long year. - MEDICAL MATTERS. When the Pharmacy Bill w.as under discussion in the House the other night, a Christchurch Member w,anted Hie Minister to accept an amendment prohibiting doctors from obtaining commissions from chemists for prescriptions ordered by them. The Minister (Mr Herdman) said he was not aware of any such practice obtaining j but there is very good reason, to' believe that it does, and it is easy t<r see that it is one which might be attended by very sinister possibilities. "There is another custom which has crept of late years into the medical profession in New Zealand which I think is decidedly objectionable and liable to give rise to gross abuses. That is the financing by certain doctors of private hospitals. The insistence which certain medical men place upon the great advantages of patients being sent to this, tihat, or the other private hospital would seem1 very curious were it not perfectly well-known that the doctors have a large, sometimes quite a (dominant share in the profits arising from these private hospitals. It is easily conceivable that such a system mighti be productive of results profitable enough to the medicos but hardly in the best interests of the j>atlients or those who li&ve to pay tho high fees charged in these institutions. "RED" RAVINGS. Tho Federation of Labor held two meetings on Sunday, one an open-air function, near the tram station at the end of Courtenay Place in the afternoon ; the other in the evening at the Opera House. There was a large attendance at each meeting; but it was evident that a large proportion of those present ware, there • out of curiosity. The meetings had" been *arefully worked up, sandwich-men parading the streets dressed in convict garb and carrying boards'on ■wMoh were pictures of manacled men, with pale faces, in their cells. So far as I could see, the majority of the }>eople in the streets . regarded this spectacle with more amusement than sympathy; but it was undoubtedly a £pod."ad." for the meeting. At the wS eu*» I| Ollse moeting tlie redoubtable -Rob Semple was much in evidence, and got off some of his well-known specialities in denunciatory language. Ma- Fisher, said the "hot air" "Bob," urn a pup of MasseyV ; then we had ■"the pumpkin-headed Massey Government." and a lot of eulogy of "the magnificent fight put up by "the Waihi strikers," arid appeals for sympathy Tar the "heroes" now "languishing in gaol." The fact that the "heroes" are in gaol simply through their own ■stnpiiJ defiance of the law is a cir--oranstanee which tho speakers quietly }«;nbr~ed. There was a mysterious ,f*raat from a Christchurch "boss *liat "if these men are no* released immediately there is something goTn<rto;hapTy?n in this country, but vre ' nnstiot cmvfr to tell yOuv O u what it is at I*£F present time." Mr Canhani. an -racial of the Auckland Wa.tersiders' tmion, declared that ones the word

was given "there would be thousands prepared to break down the prison gates and let the prisoners oat.** Meanwhile work recommences at Waihi on Wednesday, and although hundreds of the miners will hold out so long as the contributions keep coming in, it is expected, so I hear.,on good authority, that the new Arbitrationists' Union will gain , accessions to its ranks every day, arid in any case there are now, so it is said, enough men ready to keep one shift going. •' LABOR AND POLITICS. Talking to a Wellingtonian who was formerly a very prominent politician he expressed tiie opinion tftiat the strike and especially the gaoling business would prove a very awkward matter for the Massey Government were a general election near at hand. His contention is that although there are thousands of workers who do not approve of the methods of the Federation, the natural tendency of Labor is to sympathise'v with Labor—even ' Labor acts foolishly—and that unless the Waihi /trouble comes ,to an end very soon there will arise against the Massey GoVernment just such another wave of animosity againsti the working classes as sb largdy contributed' to send Mr! Balance into power after the big Maritime Strike. I give the opinion as it was given to me; but I do not share it, for the position is quite different. After the Maritime Strike. Labor was united. Now it" is split into sections, and even in the cities Itf is doubtful whether Labor/ could win moire than half-a-dpaen seats. Ifc was Liberalism, not Labor, that put Mr Balance into power, and to-day there are thousands of electors, especially in the country districts, who are Liberals, but who /are so afraid of the Labor .extremists that they would rather vote -for Massey than do anything; to help the Semple crowd. Still, the continued unrest must naturally making the Government anxious as to the final outcome.

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Permanent link to this item

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Bibliographic details

ACROSS THE STRAIT., Marlborough Express, Volume XLVI, Issue 233, 1 October 1912

Word Count
1,448

ACROSS THE STRAIT. Marlborough Express, Volume XLVI, Issue 233, 1 October 1912

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