The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 55
Now, gentlemen, I wish to refer to those exhibitions which we are beginning to inaugurate, and the first of which is to be held at the end of this year. The object is to afford a means for the development of the industries of the colony, and to assist also in the development of local talent. We feel that by means of these periodical exhibitions a knowledge would be gained of the progress of industries throughout the different parts of the country, which would be a vast gain to those concerned in these industries, and we also feel that the competition thus engendered must have a beneficial effect. These exhibitions are likewise the means of encouraging native talent. An instance was brought under my notice not long ago. In one of the counties of England, a small industrial exhibition was held, quite local to the county. One of the artisans who exhibited at it—an artisan in the receipt of very small amount of weekly salary, some 25s or 30s I think—produced work of such rare excellence that he was at once engaged at a salary of £6 per week, and he is now becoming a very rich man. Gentlemen, if the effect of one exhibition is to find out that so small a number as ten artisans receiving, say, £2 10s per week each, have talent undeveloped which is well worth paying £6 per week for, you have only to take the average of these lives as twenty years, and you will be astonished at the difference produced in the remuneration of the latent talent which that exhibition brought out. It would be no less than £36,000. That is, of course, supposing twenty years to be the average length of life these artisans lived subsequently. Believe me, it is a great work, and one of which the results will show themselves in discovering and putting to use the latent talent to be found in the various parts of the colony. (Applause) Gentlemen, in connection with this I should like to draw your attention to a circular which was lately issued by my colleague, Mr. Stout in reference to technical education. He has announced his determination to introduce into the schools of the colony a system of technical education. I cannot help thinking that if it is carried out it will be the means of developing a vast amount of wealth and prosperity. (Applause.) I cannot conceal from myself the feeling that I would rather be the author of a successful scheme of technical education than of all those so-called Radical measures with which my colleagues name is associated. (Dissent.) It has lately been said by a gentleman in the southern part of the colony—I mean Mr. McKenzie—that I care only for trade and commerce. Now, I admit that I am very utilitarian in my views, but do not make trade and commerce my standard. The standard I make is industry I say that when you have the maximum of well-employed labour, and the minimum of unemployed, there you have the best test of the prosperity of the people of the country.