Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 15. July 26, 1939
Labour or Not
A terrific crowd surged into the gym for the annual visitors' debate, including a row of Parliamentary gentlemen who had come to see a couple of their friends carry on with the day's work, and a refreshing number of strangers. The place was crammed to the back stairs, and Mr. Hatherley seized the opportunity to put over a little obvious propaganda with regard to better accommodation in the future. And then, with their minds made up, everyone settled down to discuss whether or not the Labour Government merits the continued support of the country.
Opening for the affirmative, Dr. Macmillan dwelt rapidly and briefly with the many tangible and psychological advantages which have resulted from the administration of the Labour Government during the last few years—a familiar enough recital which was still greeted with approval, and statements such as "The present government does not believe in conscription, but if necessary would conscript both men and wealth." and "Taxation has increased. We don't deny it. But the increase in the collective income is far higher than the increase in taxation" were greeted with as much applause as the startling statement that "We must keep one eye on the past and one on the future."
Seconding for the affirmative a very vigorous and at times flowery Mr. Lewin contrasted the past and present states of New Zealand in rather more detail, and also dealt at length with education as it was and as it is, probably in deference to his audience, and sat down like a gladiator who has killed his lion.
Mr. Holland's arguments for the negative hung together excellently well if one could admit their premises. The basis of his dissatisfaction with Labour's policy was their "tinkering promotion of class hatred. Believing that the farmer is the backbone of the country, he was antagonistic to a policy which, by "making the relief camps more attractive than the farms" had enticed the necessary man power from primary production. Farmers had in consequence to decrease the numbers of their dairy herds, which would in turn result in fewer exports and disturb our balance of trade.
Farthering this side of the argu ment, Mr. Edgley said that Labour could take no credit for the present prosperity of New Zealand, and mentioned various promises which had not been kept—that there would be no more strikes, for example.
From the Floor
The most outstanding speaker of the evening was undoubtedly Miss Carver. With a confidence that was superb, and a stage presence unequalled since the days of Margaret Shortall, she created a sensation. Her arguments were not new (neither were anyone else's, of course) but she presented them with force and vigour. Interjection could not stop her, nor the pun dismay, and she certainly had an effect upon her audience. The only other speaker from the floor to compare with her was Mr. Stacey, whose arguments eluded this reporter, but whose remarks (painstakingly taken down and preserved) were of the following nature: "Labour—a fallacious, fanatical creed covered with honeyed words was fed to the voters—they fell for it—suckers all! But already the house is falling down—the basement is flooded, there are holes in the walls!" Now that Mr. McDonald is unfortunately very quiet, Mr. Stacey is a welcome addition to any debate.
Messrs. Foley and O'Connor contributed some unremarkable remarks, and then Mr. Perry pointed out that if we don't plan and go ahead we must slide back into Fascism. Mr. Renouf adopted an economic approach, Mr. Simpson represented the middle view, and Mr. Castle assured those present that he was against the government's policy solely because, instead of going too far, it had not gone far enough with its unrivalled opportunities. Mr. Ongley's speech was memorable principally because it brought forth the worst pun of the evening: Mr. Ongley: "The wharfies are going slow." Voice (perfectly recognizable): "How wharful."