The Tiamru Herald. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1879.
The result of the Chriatcburch election petition is a curious piece of retribution upon overreaching cunning. Sir George Grey made a 'groat bluster about carry r ing the war into the enemy's camp and offering himself for election m the distriofc where the chief strength of-bie opponents was supposed to lie. But be took good care to bo first elected for bis pocket borough, the Thames, so tbat. whatever might eventuate, be would be sure of a scat m Parliament and a foothold m, the country. He did not trouble himself at all about tbe Thames election. He had already made that pretty safe by illegally securing to the people there an expenditure of a quarter of a million of public money, and he left to bis colleague, Mr Sheebau, ; the easy task of arranging their unopposed return. That being done, be devoted bis attention to " the enemy's camp." He made <iv electioneering trip at the pnblic expense m tbc Hinemoa and m special trains, and be took a vast amount of trouble to work up support at Christchurch by specious argument, by mass meetings, by corrupting tbe Press, by ambiguous promises, by the outlay of largo sums of 'money, public 1 and private, and above all by displaying m the most attractive -light the advantages which the constituency would gain by having tbe Premier for their representative. No election m New Zealand, i probably, was ever promoted by more' unscrupulous means. He succeeded, but his triumph was not a very brilliant one. Ho ' only managed to- obtain . a majority of eighty, votes over the defeated candidate. It was enough for him, . however, that be bad got m and was able to boast of having dragged the people of Canterbury at bis chariot wheels. Itsoonbecame apparent, though, tbat he bad been too clever by half. Parties were almost exactly balanced, and a single vote might have turned tbe scale m favor of tbe Ministry. But one of tbe Thames seats was vacant, or rather, by having got himself returned for botb tbe Thames and Christcburch, Sir George Grey had reduced the 'number of bis party for the time being, by one. That one made all the difference. The Ministry were defeated by a bare, majority, and Sir George Grey's boasted power as Premier was h ambled m the jlnst. ■ It was admittedon all sidestbat whatever tbe outcomo of tbe Ministerial crisis might be, he would' not be permitted.to resume the .control , of affairs. But thia was not:. all. Doubts- had arisen as to the actual validity of bis election for Christchurch, and he was not allowed to decide which constituency he would sit for nntil;the time had elapsed which is prescribed for petitioning against elections. Mr Richardson had been advised that he bad 'a very good case if he chose to present a petition. Tbe person who gave him that advice most decidedly, we understand, was Mr Stewart, Member for Dunedin, a strong opponent of Sir George Grey. Acting then on Mr Stewart's counsel, and encouraged by tbe opinion of several Parliamentary experts, Mr Richardson petitioned m due form against the election of Sir George Grey, and claimed tbe seat for himself. The ground of hie petition was that Sir George Grey having previously been elected for the Thames, was not qualified to be elected for any other district. When this petition was presented, Sir George Grey's tools m the House endeavored toprocureitsrejection on account of a technical irformallty. They alleged tbat an affidavit attached to the petition had not been stamped with a half-crown stamp, and they tried to deprive Mr Richardson of his right of petitioning, on that paltry ground. Sir George Grey himself was mean enough to countenance tbat attempt, and Mr Stewart, the very man on whose professional advice tbe petition \ had first been prepared, having just changed sides out of spite at not being offered a seat m Mr Hall's Ministry, had the unblushing impudence to assist m making it. In the tben state Of parties, there was no knowing what might have come of even that frivolous quibble, bad not tbe Speaker been a man of unswerving rectitude. He is a friend of Sir George Grey, and a warm adherent of his side m politics. The least bias on his part, 1 or even the least irresolution, might have caused the petition to be quashed. Fortunately Mr O'Rorke wo/; equally! mpartial and resolute. He refused to allow legal technicalities to be discussed, and insisted on tbe petition being formally referred to a Committee. Everything then turned on the constitution of i that Committee. An Election Petitions Committee is formed m a peculiar way. The Speaker of the House nominates the Chairman, the petitioner and the petitioned against each nominates one Member as his agent, and the two agents strike out alternately the names of the remaining Members of tbe House until thay are reduced to four. These four, with the two agents and the Chairman, make up the Committee of seven. It was a matter of keen speculation as to which party under these circumstances would gain a preponderance m the Committee. The Speaker nominated as Chairman Mr Fulton, Member for Taiori, one of tbe most trustworthy and highly respected men m the House. Mr Richardson, who had previously selected Mr Stewart as his agent, under the altered condition of things selected Mr Moorhouse, and Mr Stewart, to his shame be it said, became agent for Sir George Grey. The four Members left, after the process of elimination had been gone through, were Mr McCaughan, Mr Allwright, Mr Colbeck, and Mr Tawhai, all of whom belonged to Sir George Grey's party. Putting the chairman aside, therefore, Mr Moorhouse stood alone m the Committee, as far as party color, was concerned. Most, if not all, of tbe Members, however, with the exception of Mr Stewart, were fair and reasonable men, who would not allow party feeling to render them deaf to argument. Mr Travers was counsel for Mr Richardson, and Mr Recs, Sir George Grey's blatant henchman, appeared against the petition, The enquiry was a most exhaustive one, but the precedents appear to have been clear enough. On the question of the eligibility of Sir Ceoryo Grey for
Ohristcburch, after his election 3Eb^'thifc Thames, tbe Committee werei eVenly. divided, Mr Stewart, Mr-" Colbeck ; ansj the Maori -voting for-. Sir George Grey, and Mr Moorhonse, Sir McCaughan and Mr Allwright votipg against him. The .Chairman gave his casting vote m favor of tho precedents adduced by Mr Travers, and Sir George Grey's election for Christchurch was declared to be invalid. On the question of whether Mr Richardson was entitled to tbe seat or whether a new election must take place, there - was —a- • clear - majority -m. favor of, Mr Richardson, Mr Stewart and the Maori alone -voting for a new election. Thus tbe interesting result was arrived at that after, all his cunning and viscrupulous efforts, to diminish the representation of;Cantcr« bury, and after keeping the Thames partially disfranchised for a nibnth, Sir George Grey was xmseated and Mr Richardson established m his place. This was poetical ..justice with a vengeance, and could hardly be sui passed as an instance of retributivoi misfortune overtaking a perfidious 'trickster. We have no doubt whatever that the Committee laid down a sound and salutary rule by their first decision. It is manifestly wrong that a man who has been elected for one district should be allowed to roam all over the country seeking election for others. It is ob> lous that oircumstances might easily arise m a confused or unhealthy state of public feeling, where, under such a system, three or forir men of overwhelming influence might thus secve to themselves the whole representation of the country, and bring -Parliamentary Government to a standstill. It must be borne m niind too, that a Member already elected for one seat, has an enormous' and most unfair advantage over a candidate not yet elected. He is bound m any case to bein Parliament, and that fact alone is a powerful influence m an election. .We entirely agree with the decision of the Committee, therefore, as far as the first question is concerned. We have 'our misgivings, however, as to the justice or soundness of their second finding. The electors of Cbristchuroh unquestionably chose Sir George Grey and rejected Mr Richardson, and the mere fact that they chose Sir George Grey under a mistaken belief m his eligibility, does not alter the fact that they rejected Mr Riohardson. We should like to see Mr Richardson resign his seat and offer himself again for election, and we feel convinced that were he 'to do so, he would be triumphantly returned against all comers, and would find his ' position immensely improved.
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The Tiamru Herald. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1879., Timaru Herald, Volume XXXI, Issue 1594, 30 October 1879
The Tiamru Herald. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1879. Timaru Herald, Volume XXXI, Issue 1594, 30 October 1879
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