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POLITICAL PALAVER

I Paragraphs Pertaining to Parliamentarians

(By "X.M.P.")

?' ' " " Hon. Mr. Hanan, ex-Minister for Education, lias not been slow to make use of his freedom as a private member, to criticise the educational administration of the Government. His v speech on the question last week contained much that he has been burning to say for months, and referred to evils he had tried all throughout his term as Minister to get remedied. His flpeech was not? what is commonly called a "slashing" one; there was no attempt at invective. There was no room for this last, as the new Minister for Education sits m "another . place" and thus is not compelled to listen to the strictures and criticism of his opi ponents, and opponents who were so ' . .very recently his colleagues. Neverthe- , less, Mr. Hanan's speech was a personal ' one. Every sentence was an accusation of the Tory ministers individually .and collectively, and at every full stop In the "Wee Mann's" indictment, he 'seemed to be pointing at the . Minis•terial benches and saying, "You are the men!" He had tried to get things righted when he was paid as Minister to see to the education of the youth of * this fair Dominion being on the most up-to-date principles, but he had been blocked. By whom? Again the metaphorical pointing to the Government benches and the unuttered but plainly understood accusation, "You are the men." His remarks on child slavery m New Zealand were not concocted for electioneering purposes, but were the outcome of his experience as Mm;- --; ister. Moreover, he had made the same remarks before his Ministerial ' colleagues time and again during his term of office, but they either paid no heed or excused conditions on the ground of abnormal times. Now the war is over there could not be possibly anything to gain by putting off the reforms asked for; nevertheless, Mr. Hanan's motion to prohibit the employment of any child during school : Age, was opposed and ruled out as not relevant to the Education Amendment Bill. Ye cods and little fishes, if prohibiting the employment of children of school age is not a matter relevant to an education bill, wotinel is? ♦ • • Almost every Individual member of the Labor Party is ■doing his bit m the way of putting pertinent questions to ministers; questions that In the very asking of them prove illuminating, but thore can be little doubt that the palm must be given to the Member for Wellington Central as the keenest "heckler" on the Labor benches. This is not vonly because of the important nature of matters referred to m his -questions,, but to their very construction, and that, v -too, often as much m what is not said as m that which is said. The '"careful way m which Mr. Fraser's queries are drafted is an example that certain loquacious members of his 'party might copy with very good results. This peculiar feature of Mr. Fraser's | questions is often not fully notted until they are re-read m the light of the answers given by the minister questioned, when the replies will be seen to be not what they pretend to be, denials of the implications contained m the questions they profess to answer, but merely evade. Harking back to the beginning of the Session, take the Hon. Mr. Coates' reply to the question put by: the member for Wellington Centra* m regard to. the whipping of the Petone outrage prisoner, Delaney. The intention of the official reply given by the minister was to contradict the statement made m the columns of thU paper that Delaney fainted at the eighth lash, and the full sentence was never carried out, and upon which Mr. Fraser based his question; but as a matter of fact the answer does not so contradict "Truth 1 / 1 but adroitly evade ■answering Mr. Fraser's question di;rect. In spite of that answer, which

was drafted purely for public consumption through the daylies, every member of the House knew that the facts were as stated m these columns.

The Labor members had a field day and evening- on Tuesday last, -when the Coal Mines Amendment Bill was put. through a third time. Every one of the Labor men, the sane Labor and the ultra-sane Labor, had their little say, and, as a rule, said it Veil. Several LJber'als, including Sir Joseph Ward and Tom Wilford backed Labor, and with their aid the Labor men kept the discussion going to the close of the afternoon sederunt and into the evening, when a division was called, and m a very thin House Labor, though failing to carry its amendment, secured the support of nineteen members, which it is worthy of noting did not vcontain one Masseyite. Of the Labor speakers against the "free labor" clause of the bill, Mr Semple and Mr. Fraser. were easily the best. Mr. Holland, when dealing with any question he is not personally familiar with, or has failed to get "by rote," speaks , m an altogether too halting fashion. . Hia habit, his exasperating habit, of j emphasising every other word has the opposite effect to that intended, and instead of impressing his hearers, oppresses them, while his excessive use of the first person, or the cap. "I" is bumptious -and baneful. Mr. Semple showed he was m his proper place as spokesman for the miners, and it . might be wis© if at the forthcoming I election he and Mr. Holland changed constituencies, "Bob" standing for the constituency m which the chief coalfields of the Dominion are situated, and Mr. Holland returning to his first and proper choice, a city constituency. Both seats were previously Labor seats, won by Labor men at last general election, so that the risks are even so far as the two men are individually | concerned. Indeed, "X.M.P." is of opinion that their chances would be considerably increased of retaining their seats if the exchange here suggested were made. • • • During the past two weeks-the Minister for Public Works has been more m the limelight than during any other session since he has been a minister, and peculiarly enough this is to be his last session not only as Minister, but aa a member of the House, as he is not offering himself for re-election. It is said that he will be given a seat in N the Upper House, which is a very convenient way of pensioning old members, until such time as the exmembers' Pension Act is on the statute book. While almost every member of the House has been saying kind things of "Waka" Fraser, owing to his imminent retiral, nevertheless ! the policy of his department has come j m for some considerably hard knocks during the debates. Railway construction work under his administration has been less or more, generally more of a farce. Of course the mm^ster was | not wholly responsible, but as a Tory Minister he was one of the Tory majority on the National Government, and as a member of the Massey Government he must boar his share of the responsibility of "spragging" the public works of the Dominion. Sir Joseph Ward's criticism was well merited. ; The cheese- paring manner m which the railway construction work has j been carried on for years, and is likely to continue -unless a change of Government takes place, ia a most flagrant waste of public money. Were the needs of the different districts examined and those most important attended to first, revenue would immediately begin to flow into the coffers of the Railway Department which would help to pay for increased labor to be engaged on other districts m their order' of importance. In this way the present work of the depart-

ment would be considerably expedited, and "that at much less expense to the country than is the case under the present policy of "a bit here and a bit there." Sir Joe's criticism was all the more welcome at the present juncture, as it gave the country some indication as to what would be the policy of the Liberal Party should Sir Joseph be returned with a majority at the polla.

What is all this to ; do that is being made over including 'the value of the Turnbull Library, m the taxing of the late Mr. Turnbull's estate? Mr. Wilford made an excellent plea for the exemption of that part of the estate from taxation, and had most of the House with him, for, superficially looked at (and that is the way most questions are looked at m Parliament) it seemed an iniquitous thing to tax a dead man's gift to the nation. But is the point well taken? "X.M.P." thinks not. The dead man is not being penalised m any way by the tax, so there can be no charge of ingratit ude (as was implied by Mr. Wilford's remarks) on that score.' But it will be said, "It is a hard case for the residuary legatees; they will have to pay so much the more." Is that the correct way to put it? They are not being asked to pay anything. The law is that if a man dies leaving an estate the said estate shall be subject to certain death duties, and after these have I been met, the balance shall be distri- | buted as the deceased had willed. The legatees will have something like i £18,000 to divide. This is money they | did nothing to earn; made no sacrifice to obtain; and upon which they; have no claim except under the present law. It would be as reasonable to claim that the law should be waived m order to reduce the amount of gift money as it is fo seek to augment it by from seven to ten thousand pounds, m the manner suggested by Mr. Wilford. In "X.M.P.'s" opinion the legatees are very foolish to "kick" at all. They are getting something ,like £6000 each that they did not,produce. Their little bit of selfishness m trying to deprive the State of the full death duties on their benefactor's estate at a time when the country needs every penny it can ■ rake m, may raise the whole question of legacies. It may yet be a ( burning question as to whether* the. State is not entitled to all a man leaves at his death. His wealth is made and accumulated under the protection of | the State, whereas those to whom it is bequeathed have done nothing to produce it, and morally have" no right to it • • • On Wednesday night Mr. James Colvin, the member for Buller, was killed by a tramcar on the streets of Wellington. "Uncle" Colvin, as he was called m the House, was one of the best-known and best-liked men m | Parliament His rich Irish brogue and his patriarchal appearance, with a beard that reminded one of the pictures of the prophets of old. and his kindly ways, endeared him to all he came m contact with. He was a staunch Liberal, and though mellowed by age. was still fairly progressive. It was his intention to retire from politics at the close of the present session. Fate has decreed that he should not see its close. He will be missed by those he did much to befriend, and i now that life's fitful fever is over, we | trust he sleeps well.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZTR19191108.2.38

Bibliographic details

NZ Truth, NZ Truth, Issue 751, 8 November 1919

Word Count
1,894

POLITICAL PALAVER NZ Truth, Issue 751, 8 November 1919

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