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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 55

A Plea for the Coalition

A Plea for the Coalition.

You have been told that the present Government is a coalition Government. It is a coalition Government because it unites the elements of theoretical politics with those of a more practical nature. When I came into office first in 1869, with Sir Wm. Fox, the country was in a position which I think I may characterise as purely miserable. Parliament gave up nearly the Whole of its consideration to questions relating to native affairs. It was our theory when We went into office that the native difficulty was not the cause but the effect of the non development of I industrial pursuits In the colony — (hear, hear). We proved it to be the case, because as the industrial pursuits of the colony, and as colonisation progressed, the native difficulty shrank into insignificance; It is a noticeable fact that when there was in office a Government which gave A half-hearted countenance to the industrial development of the country, the native difficulty reasserted itself, and usurped almost exclusive attention from Parliament. Now, under the new regime which we have inaugurated, of devoting attention to the material wants of the colony, you will find the native difficulty will shrink back into insignificance. I don't think I can better picture the position of New Zealand than by having recourse to a metaphor. You know that when a person is supposed to be extremely ill, it is the usual thing to call in two persons—one to attend to his moral, the other to his physical wants. Now it happened that the Government which had been in office for a few years back took a gloomy view of the position of New Zealand. They considered it was in extrtmis, if I may use the expression, and they thought it was necessary to give it the very minimum of physical sustenance, and the maximum of moral dosing. Hence there grew the disposition to sift out the cinders and ashes of the knotty questions which agitate the old world, but which, in my opinion, have a small significance in a country like this in which there is a mere handful of people. Those questions largely relate to the overcrowded resorts of the old world, but are on quite a different footing in a new country like this. I do not wish to Underestimate their importance, but I am bound to tell you that to my mind they have much unreality. Intelligence has reigned supreme since the world began, and there is no doubt the educated and intelligent man has hold in subjection—aye, in galling subjection—the masses of the people, uneducated and unconscious of their own rights. Of late years education and intelligence have permeated the masses, and they have begun to understand what their rights are, and to insist on asserting them. You do not want to fight out these questions for the old world. The old world is quite competent to do so itself, and as regards this colony the masses are sufficiently intelligent and educated to know what their rights are and to insist upon having them. You might just as well stand by the sea shore and forbid the tide rising as to attempt to prevent the masses in New Zealand gaining that power and control to which their numbers and intelligence entitle them. (Cheers.)