THE AVON SEAT.
MR D. G. STJJVAN OPENS HIS CAMPAIGN. Mr D. G. Sullivan, Social Democratic candidate for the Avon seat, addressed a meeting of electors in tho Rolleston Street Oddfellows' Hall last evening. Mr H. F. Herbert was m the chair The hall was well filled. The chairman said that the workers wanted to support the Liberal party as far as possible against the present Conservative Government but it al so wanted representatives of its own in Parliament. Avon was a working man's electorate and it could not find a better representative than Mr Sullivan, who was peculiarly qualified to speak for tho workers m Parliament. (.Applause.) Mr Sullivan, who was received with applause, sa;d that he wished first to reciprocate the kindly sentiments that had been expressed by the Reform candidate for the Avon seat. Ho. had no doubt that the campaign in the electorate was going to be a very vigorous one but there was no need for personal feeling. Tho fight was not between individuals, but between contending schools of political thought. The statement had been made in the newspapers that his candidature would split the progressive vote and let the Government candidate win . the seat. That suggestion would not be substantiated by reference to the figures of previous election contests in Avon. The progressive vote in the electorate was so much larger than the unprogressive yoto that it could be divided without dagger of letting a Conservative win tl)i seat. Mr Sullivan analysed the figures of the 1911 election in support of his contention. A factor in the Avon constituency, he said, was the determination of the prohibition party to support candidates who were pledged, .as he was, to the sound, democratic principle of the bare majority. . He was a supporter of the bare majority principle on every political issue, though he made an exception in the case of matters involving religion and conscience. The prohibition party was being robbed of something like 100,000 votes in effect, by the iniquitous threefifths majority and every person who voted for prohibtion aud then voted for a candidate who supported the three-fifths majority,, was giving support to both sides in the liquor issue. He was standing primarily as a representative of tho workers. He could say. confidently that he had already achieved concrete results for tho workers, as their representative before the Conciliation Council and the Arbitration Court, and in securing increased wages and improved conditions for thousands of working men and women he had done more valuable work than some talkative members of Parliament had done. If he was worthy to represent the workers before the Arbitration Court he surely was worthy to represent them in Parliament. "(Ap plause.) There was need for the strengthening of the progressive forces in the House of Representatives. Tho cost of living was being increased out of all proportion to any advance in wages, and monopolies were working against the interests of the people practically unchecked. He would mention in particular the Merchants' Association, which had proved itself to be a monopoly of a particularly dangerous kind. The Association was not merely raising the price of the necessaries of life, but was imposing its rule in a tyrannical way upon the retailers, and defeating any attempts made by them to obtain supplies from independent sources. . The retailers were compelled to choose between compliance with the Associations terms and the destruction of their businesses. That was not the only monopoly operating, in New Zealand, but it was one peculiarly prejudicial to the national interests. Then there was the shipping combine, which was growing in wealth and power so speedily that some business men who had no sympathy at all with the aspirations of the workers had been forced to st.nte publicly that they regarded it as a danger to the community. The intellectual bankruptcy which afflicted the Conservative Party and in some degree the Liberal Party, was illustrated by the fact that no. means had been devised for dealing with the shipping monopoly. The farmers had regarded that monopoly as their friend a short time previously, and had rallied to its assistance, but its exactions were causing them to change their mind about it. Mr Sullivan said that the Liberals, who had allowed monopolies to come into existence and grow powerful during their term of office, had little right . to complain now that the Conservatives were not dealing with the problem. State competition appeared to be the only remedy for private monopoly. He had no blind faith in the efficiency and utility of State services, and he knew that they sometimes failed. But that was true of private enterprise, too, and State services did not always fail. Very often they rendered substantial service to the country, as had j been the case in connection with the State Fire Insurance Office, which had started with a capital of £2OOO and 6aved tho people £185,000 a year in premiums. The State Fire Office had accumulated a reserve fund of some £48,000, and it had no capital liability. That illustration showed what the State could do in dealing with a monopoly. Undoubtedly the greatest monopoly of all was in connection with land monopoly. Of the 52,000,000 acres of productive land in New Zealand. 40,000.000 acres were owned by 7 per cent of the people, while 24,000,000 of the Dominion's land remained absolutely unimproved. There were 150,000 landowners in New Zealand, but 144,000 of thom owned £86,000,000 worth of land, while 6000 owned £84,000,000 worth. Those figures meant huge individual incomes, and those incomes, not necessarily sinful in themselves, represented a gross social injustice in that they had been created by public effort and public expenditure. During Jivo years, 1903
to 1913, the unimproved valuo <-i land in New Zealand had risen by over £51,000,000. Obviously a very largo tji-oportion of that huge sum had been a gift from the people to the privileged few under Jin utterly unjust, svstem. Tho only effective method of dealing with land monopoly was for the State to take in taxation the extra valuo created by State effort. It was absolutely just that tho landowner should pay to the State the value of the service rendered him by the State- in increasing tho valuo of his property. At present tho land tax paid by tho landowners amounted to* the comparatively small sum r.f £767,000. An effective and just land tax would bo of incalculable value to the whole community by forcing landowners either to use their land efficiently themselves or let other people use it. It would cheapen land and so make it available for the people, thus increasing employment and production. He believed that a fair tax on the unimproved value of land and State competition against monopolies were two reforms that would produce something like an economic revolution in Nov/ Zealand, with advantage to every ono of the Dominion's citizens. (Applause.) Another reform required was the establishment of a State bank. The Australian Labour Party, which had just been returned to power, had shown its wisdom by bringinr & State bank into existence and thus enabling the State to deal with financial monopoly, which lay behind very many of the social evils of tho Mr Sullivan declared his strong support of proportional representation, and in that connection piid a tribute to tho " Lyttelton Times," which had consistently advocated this important reform during a long period of years and had gradually created a large body of public opinion in its favour. Tho candidate advocated the adoption of the referendum, giving the people direct control over legislation and the right of recall, enabling an electorate to remove from tho Legislature a.representative who had proved himself untrue to his pledges. He stood for the granting of full civil rights to State employees and the removal of all political disabilities from women. In regard to finance, ho did not pretend to bo a high authority, but he had sufficient faith in all the political parties to believe that whoever controlled the public finance would try honestly to serve the country well. There was no need for alarm regarding tho amount of the public debt, which was reproductive to a very large extent.
Referring to the Defence Act, Mr Sullivan said that there appeared to 58 a notion in some quarters that a foreign foe invading New Zealand wculd be met on the beach by Social Democrats waving olive branches and banners of welcome. That was not the case. The Social Democrats were prepared to defend the country to their last breath, and many members of their party had left for the front with the Expeditionary Force. But the party stood for defence by a force voluntarily constituted. "The tragedy that is being enacted on the battlefields of Europe is dreadful beyond adequate expression," said Mr Sullivan. "The thought of the hundreds of thousands of women and children whose hearts have been wi :mg with anguish and whose homes have been darkened with despair, the agonies of the wounded, the appalling destruction of life and property and industry, must make us realise as we never did before the unspeakable atrocity of war. Our sympathy must go forth in unbounded measure to brave little Belgium, the land of a people who preferred death to dishonour. I welcome the declaration of the Imperial Government that Britain is going to see the wrongs of Belgium righted. But the bright lining to this cloud of war is the widespread and growing belief that when, peace has been restored the people of Europe will remove the war lords from their seats of power and that out of this vast and terrible conflagration a new world will arise, a world that will have peace, social justice and social progress." In conclusion Mr Sullivan said that if the electors wanted political progress and recognised the splendid work that had.been done by the Labour Government in Australia, they would support the workers' candidates at the coming election. (Applause.) In answer to questions, Mr Sullivan said that he was onnosed to the local navy policy. He believed the Civil Service Commissioners had done good work in some directions, but he waited to see parliamentary control of the Civil Services fully established. The Social Democratic Party preferred the Liberal party to the Massey par.y and was not going to split the progressive vote except where the Social Democrat had a real chance of winning a seat. He was not in favour of State control of the liquor traffic, the policy of prohibition, which had been approved already by a. majority of the people, had his support. He was not in favour of the Bible in schools referendum. He would like to -see Christian instruction given to the school children out of .school hours. Even at this supreme crisis m the affairs of the world Britain had not departed from tiie principle of voluntary military service and he hoped it would not do so. The military spirit which had produced the present ghastly war was a result, be believed, of the conscript system, which had-enabled militarism to dominate Europe. A national insurance scheme was one of the planks in the Social Democrat party's platform. If a war tax were required it should be placed upon the broad shoulders which were those of the owners of the huge land values. A vote of thanks to Mr Sullivan for his address and of confidence in him as candidate for the Avon seat was carried unanimously amid cheers.
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THE AVON SEAT., Star, Issue 11215, 22 October 1914
THE AVON SEAT. Star, Issue 11215, 22 October 1914
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