As will be seen from a telegram which we publish this morning, the Cabinet has decided upon a scheme of classification, of the Second Division of Reservists. It will be generally Vhoped. that there may be no need to call up mfembers of the Second Division at all for active service, but it is necessary, as an act of reasonable foresight, that due provision should be made to meet the contingency that the Second Division may have to be called up, and we do not imagine that it will be seriously disputed that, if the' Reservists of the Second Division, or any of them, have to be mobilised, it is desirable f-hafc the process of mobilisation should be governed by some scheme 1 that will grade them according to the measure of their domestic responsibilities as well as according to age. There .cannot possibly be any scheme of the kind that will not be productive of cases of comparative individual hardship. The sacrifice that may be entailed on a member of the first grade of the division, if he is called upon to forsake his civil occupation in order that he may take his part in fighting the battles of the Empire, may conceivably be much greater than that which many a member in one of the other grades may have to suffer. But it is obvious enough that the preparation of a scheme which would be perfect in all its details, to the extent that it would equalise the sacrifices of individual members of the division, is beyond the powers of human ingenuity and human skill. We .should be in a before the next session of Parliament comes to an end, to judge more clearly than, at present whether the services of the Second Division are likely to be required, and if the indications are that married men-must be called up for active service we may at least cherish the hope that the Government will recognise the desirability of so increasing the separation allowances as to mitigate the personal hardships that will necessarily be involved in the mobilisation of the division.
Me Alfred Lee Smith, whose death occurred yesterday, has not for many years past been a prominent figure in our midst. Over a quarter of a century has elapsed since—after a short apprenticeship,, as it were, to public life as member of the City Council for a term in which the general level of the discussions upon municipal affairs' was probably higher than it was at any-other period, before or after— Mr Lee Smith participated in a most strenuous political contest. The occasion was that of his candidature for a seat in the House of Representatives as one of the members for Dunedin City at a time when political feeling ran very high—for it was the general election that followed the maritime strike, and Labour then, for the first time, directed its attention, and did so successfully, to the use of the political weapon. Mr Lee Smith was defeated, after a contest, which he waged with a vigour that was of him, but so also was Mr James Allen— now Sir James Allen—who had had the advantage of representing Dunedin East in the previous Parliament. Mr Lee Smith and Mr Allen,.along with Mr R. H. Leary, were the anti-Labour candidates, but they did not run in conjunction, although their political views were generally regarded as presenting no points of marked difference. Fifteen months later, the Ballance Government having enjoyed over a year of office, Mr Lee Smith and Mr. Allen were the representatives of opposing parties in a somewhat bitter contest for the Bruce seat, which had become vacant. The leading members of the Government afforded platform assistance to Mr Lee Smith, hut in the end he was handsomely defeated' by his opponent, who has retained the seat ever since. In 1898 upon the nomination of the Seddon vernment, he was called to the Legislative Council, of which the atmosphere may be said to haive been better suited to his temperament than that of the Lower House would have been, for he wa9 not a man who would have been likely to sacrifice his convictions to the interests of party expediency. Owing, however, it is believed, to an acute difference of opinion between himself and Sir Joseph Ward upon a non-political matter, the appointment of Mr Lee Smith as a member of the Council was not renewed upon the expiry of his seven years' term. ,
Prior to his entry into public life at all Mr Lee Smith had proved his business capacity by his successful management of an important industrial enterprise. His commercial experience had impressed him with the conviction that the legitimate aspirations of the industrial classes were not , incompatible with the maintenance of the reasonable rights of the employers, and it is probably correct to say that the possession of this conviction and the belief that he could personally contribute in no unimportant degree to a solution of the problems which then vexed the popular mind impelled him to offer himself, when he did, as a candidate for election to Parliament. He was, a man who made a close study of economics, with the result that he was a confirmed supporter of the British policy of freetrade and a strong opponent of the policy of preferential tariffs, and he expounded the views he had formed on the fiscal issue somewhat fully both in contributions to the press and in some of his more important speeches in the'Legislative Council. They were further indicated, although not extensively developed, in a report prepared by him upon the proceedings of tlie Imperial Conference at Ottawa in 1894, which was attended l>y him as the sole delegate from New Zealand. . Possessed as he was of consider- 1 able ability he perhaps never attained to the real height of his possibilities. He was a public-spirited citizen and a shrewd man of business who did a great deal in the promotion of local industries.'
It is to be feared that the first practical application in New Zealand of the system of proportional representation in elections will not conduce' to its popularity nor convince the community of its value. It has taken something like 250 counts of votes that were recorded in Christchurch last week for the election of sixteen members of the City Council, and has occupied the returning officers for fotrr or five days, ..to ascertain the result of the election. And now that the result has been ascertained it is to show that the sixteen candidates who received' the largest number of first preference votes have been elected. From the fact that the employment of the sy.-.tem of proportional representation has not produced a result different from- that which might have been produced if the electors had voted as those in Duiiedin and Wellington and other boroughs in the dominion voted at the municipal elections last week, it may possibly be argued that, the time which has been spent in counting the second preference votes recorded by trie supporters of candidates who secured the quota and in counting subsequently Iho second preference votes of the candidates who were one by one eliminated from the contest by reason of the paucity of the support that was given to them was, in effect, practically wasted. It does
not necessarily follow that this is so. Tliere aro other factors that have to be taken into consideration. Theoretical* tho system of proportional representation is a perfect device for securing that ciie representation shall be in exact proportion to mo expressed wish of the electors. While the application of the system on quite a large scalo in Christchurch may not have the effect of satisfying the public of the merits of the system, it is not to be condemned off-hand because it does not in this instance to have yielded a result different at all from that which would have been produced under the electoral system that is familiar to voters.
Permanent link to this item
Otago Daily Times, Otago Daily Times, Issue 16994, 3 May 1917
Otago Daily Times Otago Daily Times, Issue 16994, 3 May 1917
Using This Item
Allied Press Ltd is the copyright owner for the Otago Daily Times. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence. This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of Allied Press Ltd. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.