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THE New Zealand Herald AND DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1931. COALITION ANNOUNCED.

Developments in the Parliamentary situation had been so confidently forecasted for yesterday, that it would have been a great surprise if the afternoon had .passed without any being revealed. Yet it is very doubtful whether the country was prepared for what was announced, the formation of a Coalition Government from the United and Reform! Parties. The Prime Minister said information given to the Economic Committee had shown the necessityfor immediate action being taken in regard to the finances of the Dominion. That, he implies, is why the coalition is being formed. Mr. Coates indicated that what he had learned as a member of the Emer gency Committee had broken down his previpus resolution to have nothing to do with any party combination. He claimed that he felt impelled, in the interests of the country, to take the course he has followed. This, in effect, is the essence of what the two leaders had to say in explanation of the move. The desire of the Prime Minister for a two-party arrangement is not new. It has never been concealed. Mr. Coates and his associates appeared to have consented to the plan on account of the national emergency and against their better judgment. But whatever the motives or doubts, there is to be a Coalition Government. Its formation, alone, does not help much. Everything depends on the policy and programme it will apply to the circumstances that caused it to be formed. For that the country must wait until next week. The only hint of what to expect is .given by Mr. Holland's account of proceedings before the Economy Committee. The Government members, he said, had no plan to offer, and no suggestions to make. Any modification of what the Budget proposed must logically, therefore, be what the Reform Party has suggested. There is, on present knowledge, nothing else to expect. The Coalition Government having been decided upon, it is unfortunate that its announcement should not have been coupled with a statement that, a policy having been it would be submitted to the country According to the law as it stands at present, aD election must be held before the end of this year. The law can be altered by a majority of Parliament. Nothing can alter the understanding there was at the last election that this Parliament would live for three years and no longer. Its members can be legally absolved from the duty of giving an account of their stewardship within the next month or two, but they cannot be morally. One of the most unfortunate features about the circumstances in which the Coalition Government came to life was the insistence that there must be a postponement of the elections. Mr. Holland has revealed, without contradiction, how definitely the Prime Minister put the idea before the Economic Committee. There was a good deal of force in the Labour leader's contention that that body should not have been asked to con sider such a question. Even if it had come as the addendum to a programme which seemed likely to have demanded months of intricate worlc for its application, the suggested postponement would have had a very dubious sound about it. Urged as it was as the first essential before any programme was even discussed, it takes its place, in a very undesirable way, in the very forefront of the motives for forming the coalition. With an elaborate programme for what Mr. Coates has termed stabilisation and rehabilitation to be given legislative shape, the pressure of time and circumstances might make the holding of an election within the next two months or so a difficult matter. It has not yet been shown that that will be the case. It has not even been proved that a postponement until early next year will be necessary, though it might be. But, what is worse from every point of view, there is no reason to believe that such a temporary deferring of the day is contemplated. The Prime Minister has spoken in the past of putting off the election for two years. In Mr. Wilkinson's plan of action there is mention of five-year Parliaments. Does he mean beginning with this one? If so, it is the wrong way of instituting a change in the Parliamentary regime that, properly promoted, has a good deal in its favour. What cannot be escaped is that the prolonging of this Parliament, and for a substantial term, seems indissolubly associated with the whole conception of the coalition movement. Such a thing is utterly wrong in principle. To disregard a principle of this kind demands the most cogent and overwhelming reasons. The gravity of the national economic outlook has

been quoted. It is grave enough to cause any responsible person concern. The weakness of using it as an argument is that its application has not been made. Nobody has yet proved that to postpone the elections would in any way improve the economic outlook. There is the central weakness, all the more serious because it will make the precedent more dangerous if the majority the coalition will command is used to such an end. The position, therefore, is that while final judgment on the Coalition Government must be suspended until its policy appears, feeling about the formation of it must needs be coloured by the way, as .now revealed, postponement of the general election was made so prominent in the preliminary negotiations.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH19310919.2.36

Bibliographic details

THE New Zealand Herald AND DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1931. COALITION ANNOUNCED., New Zealand Herald, Volume LXVIII, Issue 20982, 19 September 1931

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THE New Zealand Herald AND DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1931. COALITION ANNOUNCED. New Zealand Herald, Volume LXVIII, Issue 20982, 19 September 1931

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