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Copra and Prohibition

Copra and Prohibition.

In spite of the apparent hurry and scurry to get away, the Royal Commission, after devoting a lot of time to the inquiry on the Copra policy of the Administration, which, after all, was not one of the complaints of the Mau, and finding that "it cannot be said that the conditions under which the Samoans sold their copra to the traders were just or reasonable," they go on to say that the system was a matter of policy, and "does not come within the scope of the inquiry." Yet they continue by saying:—

"We have not found it necessary to come to any determination upon the submissions of the traders that they were not making undue profit . . . nor do we think it a material matter for our inquiry whether the costs and charges debited by the Reparation Estates against the sale proceeds are not sufficient."

If this is not the height of inconsistency, then I should like to know what is.

After going to great pains to disclose errors in the report of the Citizens' Committee on Finance, the Royal Commission reports: "At the same time, we wish to make it clear that it was impossible for us to enter into a detailed inquiry as to the organisation or staffing of the Administration." The citizens have contended throughout that there was excessive overstaffing, and that, on the whole, the finances of the Territory page 26 were wantonly squandered. New Zealand has, in the past, subsidised the the Samoan Treasury with anything up to £20,000 per annum, and more will now be required. It has been pointed out more than once to the New Zealand Government that there would be no need for this subsidy if over-staffing and excessive salaries to officials were eliminated. If there is a department which still requires a "detailed inquiry" it is the Treasury. The Commission could not find time for this. A year or two hence the Mau will probably be blamed for the first loan of £100,000 from New Zealand, which amount was expended before the Samoan people knew anything about it.

The law prohibiting the importation and sale of alcoholic liquors by and to Europeans was not defended by the Administration. Government officials gave evidence against Prohibition, and not a single witness was called in favour of it. After hearing all the evidence offering, the Commission reports: "The consideration of this matter is not within the scope of the inquiry which we were directed to hold, and we are not entitled to express an opinion on it." Further on, the Report states: "It appears clear that the (Prohibition) legislation has proved effective, etc." If this is not an opinion, what is it?

Let me say at once that Prohibition has nothing to do with the present unrest, and the Samoans have always been prohibited. Prohibition is not General Richardson's baby. It was in force before he arrived. He has openly told the Europeans in Samoa that he does not believe in it. He knows his officials are brewing beer. He did not give evidence in favour of Prohibition before the Royal Commission. No official gave such evidence. The Inspector of Police and other leading officials gave evidence against Prohibition. The Europeans, whilst they dislike Prohibition, do not blame General Richardson for it. Prohibition has nothing to do with the present unrest, and Mr. Coates knows that as well as he knows the falseness of his statement about copra.

In respect to the complaint that the system of government permitted of an absolute dictatorship by the Administrator, the Royal Commission reports: "This charge will be carefully dealt with later on, and shown to be, in our opinion, unfounded." If the arbitrary banishment of Samoans, the deprivation of hereditary titles, the deportation of Europeans, all without proper trial, can be effected by other than a dictator, then I will stand corrected.

Regarding the method of appointing Faipules, the Commission reports: "We are satisfied that he (General Richardson) did consult the people of the district before appointing a Faipule and assured himself that the appointment would be an agreeable one to them." But few of the Mau (comprising over 90 per cent, of the Samoans) remember ever having been consulted in the appointment of a Faipule.

The Samoan people have openly protested against the present Faipules and the method of their appointment. The anomalous position to-day is that the Faipules stand by the Administrator and his drastic policies in opposition to practically the whole of their constituents. This should justify the claim that the Faipules are not representatives of the people, but are what the Administrator himself terms his "chief officials in the districts."