Marton, N.Z. Printed at the Office of the Rangitikei Advocate. 1905.
Ladies and Gentlemen,—
This is only the first of what I hope will be a series of addresses I shall have the great pleasure of delivering before you during the electoral campaign that has now begun. Instead of at once submitting to you, as I hope to do so on a future occasion, my detailed views on the specific questions that are likely ere long to engage the attention of Parliament, it seemed best that I should give you an outline sketch of how the political situation appears to me as a whole, and what are the general aims with which I seek to enter colonial public life. We will leave details till a later time. The Rangitikei and Feilding papers have, it is true, been put in possession of some of the special "planks" in my "platform," and I may touch on them this evening, but only briefly. This, therefore, is merely an introductory address. And in giving it I may be at a disadvantage, as compared with some of my opponents, in confronting a part of the electorate where I am as yet a comparative stranger. But, ladies and gentlemen, I take heart of grace by reflecting that in Rangitikei and in Manawatu, from the banks of which river I hail, we are all one district, and are all going to work together as friends for the advancement of that district and of the grand young country of which we are fellow citizens.
It is also a very particular gratification that I derive from the fact that I can address you as "Ladies and Gentlemen." From boyhood upwards I have worked for Woman Suffrage. Long before it was carried, either here or anywhere else except in Wyoming in the United States, I have button-holed members of Parliament, I have made myself "all things to all men" in endeavouring to appeal to the idiosyncrasies of each, and was much inclined to sing a "Nunc Dimittis" when the great measure was passed in New Zealand—the first to adopt it among the dominions of the British Crown. You may therefore imagine my pleasure on mounting a platform in my first political campaign, at being able to hail all our sisters as full fellow-citizens—arbiters, equally with our brothers, of the Parliamentary aspirant's fate.
I make no apology for appearing before you as a candidate to-night, because—although not long an actual resident in your midst—my special interests in and in connection with this district, and my residence in the colony of New Zealand (interrupted, it is true, for a decade), stretch back, across thirty years, almost to the early days of settlement. For fifteen years and more, while resident in Wellington as a member of the Civil Service of the colony, I have watched the progress of settlement in the Manawatu district, which was the centre of my friendships, and—later—of my family connections. And, ladies and gentlemen, I have shown by page 4 my actions that there is no place in the whole world to which I would rather devote any qualifications I may possess than the district for which I am now standing as a Parliamentary candidate. I have no sooner been in a position to determine the place of my residence by choice instead of by necessity, than I have settled down amongst you, made my investments in your midst, and still further tied down the future of my family to your welfare and progress. Your future is my future and that of ray children. But why do I, on returning to the colony where the bulk of my life has been spent, feel specially impelled to seek to take part not only, as I do already—for my own portion of the district—in municipal politics, but also in the general counsels of the nation? That is what I want now to explain.
I am not in need of the Parliamentary salary, having already enough to live on in my simple way. I have no large estate that would give me a personal "axe to grind," but I crave to enter politics because my always ardent feelings on political issues have received, from the peculiar circumstances of my experience, a particularly keen edge,—and in a way which will soon be clear to you.
Comparison of New Zealand with other Countries.
To anyone who returns here after a long residence abroad, there must, among the many impressions which crowd upon his mind, be one impression which, if he is a student of social conditions, will be of overwhelming strength. It is that New Zealand is politically unique among the nations,—that the blessings enjoyed here are unprecedented. A long series of youthful years spent in this Paradise of the South may have left him comparatively indifferent to these advantages. He may have taken them for granted, like the fresh air and the sunshine, as facts of Nature that come to us without our seeking. He may have thought that, as it is here, so it would be anywhere else—at least in the so-called "civilised" world; that peace and plenty, liberty and opportunities for all, would prevail as surely as God's sunshine and His rain. He had, indeed, heard from others, or he had read in books, that all countries were not as a fact equally so blessed; but the tidings had made little impression upon him, and he had assumed—in a careless way—that as it is here, so it is everywhere (or at least generally) and always. English-speaking peoples, whatever may be true of foreigners, would always, he might think, manage to make a fair success of popular government, would be sure to retain the blessings of political liberty, of security, and of a sufficiency of food for all. Such a New Zealander goes abroad. He has been told perhaps, and rightly, of the superior advancement of some of the Northern countries in the arts and conveniences of life. He has perhaps chafed under the hardships which fall to the lot of the pioneer settler in a young country where everything is necessarily new, and where the conveniences of an older civilisation are only gradually assimilated as settlement progresses He visits these Northern countries. He resides in them for a number of years it may be in England, it may be in America. If he is fortunate enough to have secured a good niche in the economic structure of the country of his adoption, he lives perhaps very happily, and enjoys to the full the smoothness and amenity of the more advanced civilisation. Life, it is true, is more strenuous for him, unless he have independent means, than it was in New Zealand. Competition is fierce and relentless Every year, every month, every day, in his own walk of life, competitors drop out of the game, crushed by the Juggernaut car which comes on them from behind. But for the survivors in this struggle for existence life is a thing of much amenity and pleasure, along with much toil. Many page 5 there are who, successful themselves and keeping their own heads above water, give little thought to the sufferings of their weaker brethren whom this fierce natural selection of the Northern countries is crowding out of existence. But to anyone who can take a broader view, the undertone of life in these countries is a very sad one. Endless misery for generation after generation of the wage-workers, or at least for the "submerged tenth" of the people, has come to be accepted as a normal lot. "The poor ye have with you always" was said nineteen hundred years ago, and it is as appalling a truth now, save in this favoured land in which we stand, as it has been during any of the intervening centuries. "Can nothing be done?" is the agonised cry of every lover of his kind. In an old and crowded country like England a great natural law (the Malthusian) is held by many thinkers to be responsible for the horrors under which millions suffer want, and slave incessantly throughout life—suffer poverty and endure hard work such as are unknown in New Zealand, while hundreds enjoy wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, wealth as compared with which that of our richest citizens is like pauperism. But if this horror is due only to a natural law, if it is only because Great Britain, unlike New Zealand, is an old and crowded country, why, ladies and gentlemen, is the horror reproduced, in some respects in intensified form, in America? There you have a country, young like New Zealand, with the most enormous extent of virgin territory ever offered to civilised mankind, and yet, after a couple of centuries or so of progress, with the surface of the soil scarcely scratched as compared to the old countries of Europe, you have ten millions of people, as Robert Hunter has proved in his recent work entitled "Poverty," who are constantly on the verge of actual destitution, while John D. Rockefeller has accumulated a fortune so huge that if converted into silver it would weigh down two first-class battleships, and if taken in one-dollar bank notes it would make a girdle twice round the world with fifteen hundred miles to spare. Ladies and gentlemen, there must be something politically wrong where these things can be. The American poor are the victims of no mere physical stress, but of some maladjustment in the relations between man and man—some maladjustment which law, and law alone, can remedy, and which we in this colony have (for the time being, at any rate) obviated already.
The New Zealander I have described, upon whose mind has been produced this overwhelming impression of the superiority of political conditions here, is essentially, ladies and gentlemen, the candidate who stands before you to-day. But there has also been produced on him an anxious, a haunting impression of the peril of losing these superior conditions. Were I convinced that the political status we enjoy here, and which during the last fourteen years has made New Zealand the admiration of the civilised world—were I convinced that these advantages were in their very nature eternal and perpetual, I might not trouble to solicit your suffrages now, and might continue to devote myself to the philosophical studies which have been my chief enjoyment since retiring from active life. But, persuaded as I am, that "eternal vigilance is the price" not only of liberty, as the old saw has it, but of all political blessings, I do not see how I can better spend the evening of my life than in helping my small best to safeguard and even increase those blessings, if I should be fortunate enough to be chosen for the honour of serving you in the Assembly to which you are about to elect a representative.
Political Leanings and Party Affiliations.
But if these are the feelings and aspirations with which I seek to enter politics, if what is dearest to my heart is the perpetuation and even the improvement of the happy lot here of the settlers and the wage-workers, page 6 then can you doubt on which side of the House I should feel myself constrained to vote? Impressed, through all my residence abroad, with an overwhelming feeling of the misery and down-trodden condition of manual labour (a condition which those of you who have not seen it, cannot realise)—looking back, all the time, on New Zealand as the land of hope, the "city set on a hill," the "candle put on a candlestick" to light the other nations along the passage which leads to comfort for all instead of luxury for a few,—can you doubt that I should substantially give my support to the great man who for nearly fourteen years has so guided us along this path that we are fitted to be an example to all nations of the earth? Those of you who have never left this country can form but a poor idea of the potential miseries that Mr Seddon has saved us from. Nothing could well be sadder than that this young nation should, on its small scale, take for its ideal a kind of progress which, on the great scale, has been exemplified by that other young nation—America,—a progress, unprecedented indeed in the material arts, but heading from good to bad and from bad to worse, so far as the welfare of its less fortunate citizens is concerned. Read "Amanda of the Mill"—that wonderful novel of American factory life,—and ponder how little children of the once democratic Republic, instead of having a free and happy existence like our children at the State schools here, are made to slave their little lives to death to satisfy the greed (for cheap labour and consequent increased profits) of employers whose enormous wealth can buy all legislation that is needed to perpetuate iniquity. Can you wonder if I tell you that, in my horror at this stultification of representative government, I was a member of the Direct Legislation League while resident in America, and that I put the Swiss institutions of the Initiative and Referendum in the forefront of my political platform?
It is our land and labour legislation-our general political trend, as focussed in McKenzie, in Stout, in Seddon, in Tregear—which has saved us from the fate of America—a fate that may yet overtake us if we allow the shibboleths of "unlimited free contract' and "every man for himself" to regain dominion over our minds. The names of Ballance, of McKenzie, of Reeves, of Seddon, win, in my opinion, go down to history as among the greatest social pioneers and social saviours the world has ever seen. Such views may or may not be popular in this constituency. They may or may not be regarded as fanciful and extravagant. But they are not considered extravagant or fanciful—they are commonplaces—among the most thoughtful sociologists and unselfish citizens in America and in England. Many an American, groaning under the plutocratic tendencies of industry in this age, and especially in his country, wishes it were possible to install under the Stars and Stripes an administration comparable to that of the Liberal Party which has held office in New Zealand for fourteen, years. I have in my possession, given me by a dear American friend a vice-president of the New York Life Insurance Company, a large book called "The Story of New Zeal and, by the great American, Professor Frank Parsons, which I would earnestly commend to anyone in this electorate in order to show him or her how our political blessings appeal to the foreigner who is less fortunate.
You may have read two days ago the article, "A Land of Plenty," in the "Manawatu Evening Standard" :—
"In the spring of 1904, while at St. Louis, I became acquainted with Mr T. E. Donne, chief of the New Zealand Tourist Department, who represented your Government at the World's Fair. Through conversations I page 7 had with him, and through the illustrated and printed matter he had bearing on New Zealand, I became very much interested in your country, and in a joking way I told Mr Donne I would take a run over and see for myself whether you had so many scenic charms and points of attraction as were being so extensively claimed by you. When Mr Donne left America I promised I would come over this winter and see what the country was really like. When it became known in America that I contemplated such a trip, a large number of magazines, daily papers, and agricultural journals requested me to write a series of articles for them to show the readers of American journalism my impressions of New Zealand."
And are your impressions favourable?
"Very much so. I have recently visited the hot springs at Rotorua and the mountain scenery in its vicinity. I then made the trip down the Wanganui River, which comprises the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. Wherever I have gone in your country I have received the greatest courtesy. I have nothing but words of praise for your people and your scenery."
It is to be regretted that you have visited our country at a time of year which shows it rather at a disadvantage?
"I am," replied Mr Leffingwell, "on the contrary, very glad I came here in winter, because if this is your worst season it must be simply delightful when you have summer. In America in winter we have snow blizzards, and freezing weather, when all the foliage is brown and apparently devoid of life, whereas here I see nothing but green foliage, green grass, just as it is in summer in America. All this indicates a land of plenty and of great promise."
On what particular point do you write to your papers?
"My mission is a varied one. I have to write as to your climate, resources, your arbitration laws, your labour laws, municipal ownership, Land for Settlers Act, and in short everything pertaining to the colony—anything that may tend to show just what New Zealand is."
I suppose it is safe to say that Americans can have little idea what this country is really like?
"America has no idea," was the quick reply, "that there is such a beautiful land in existence. I recall the condition of the middle states of America, some years ago, when they had advanced to just about the point New Zealand is to-day. What you need here is population. Population means prosperity. It fills the farms, increases the census in the cities, builds factories and means financial success to all progressive people."
Is the government of our colony making an impression with your people ?
"The Government of New Zealand is much talked of in America. Indeed, it has the reputation there of being the best in the World."
You mention your intention of studying our arbitration laws. The reason, of course, is the outcome of the strikes in America?
"That is so. I especially desire to look into your arbitration laws for just that reason. The strikes in America and the frequent conflict between employers and employees are the curse of my country."
And you think we have found the solution of the problem?
"Most decidedly. And more than that, I feel positive that after reporting my investigations to my countrymen, your New Zealand laws on arbitration will, to a certain extent, be copied in America."
New Zealand, then, you think, shows some acumen in the direction of law-making?
"What I consider is that you ought to be highly flattered—being so young a nation—that you should be looked up to in the matter of legislation by a country such as America. Also, I think it highly creditable to you that you should have inaugurated and put into effective use labour laws that are so highly thought of, not only in America, but throughout the nations of the world."
Only a week ago we had a telegram about President Roosevelt, which most of you doubtless saw in the newspapers, saying that he took a "great interest in Australia and New Zealand, but especially in New Zealand." It is no wonder. For well he knows, as anyone else might know, that what New Zealand in, other nations ought to be.
But, ladies and gentlemen, in any case, even if I cannot communicate to you the ardour of my faith, even if I lose my election by trying to do so, even if I were to go to the poll without a single vote recorded in my favour, I would rather it were so than that I should lose this opportunity of publicly proclaiming the faith that is in me—the democratic faith that has been in me from boyhood—of irrevocably nailing my colours to the mast.
Democracy and Progress
And yet, friends, while the kind of "strenuousness" exemplified in America is to be avoided as inflicting a hell upon earth—to say nothing of its injustice—on the vast masses at the base of the social pyramid, we must not, on the other hand, in our desire to redress inequalities of wealth, destroy the stimulus to exertion or the reward of exceptional ability. And this is where many would-be reformers have gone wrong in their political and social theories. They have forgotten that while much can be done towards equalising human lots without in the least reducing—perhaps sometimes even increasing—the total industry of the community, yet, if we go too far along this road, the energies of its members may be diminished even to paralysis, and the equality resulting will be an equality of destitution, and not an equality of comfort. Now who, of political administrators on the earth, has come so near to the happy medium in this matter as he who, for more than a decade, has made New Zealand the Utopia of all Socialistic reformers, and yet, at the same time, has so safeguarded its business energy and progressive enterprise that reactionaries, the world over, are gnashing their teeth in impotent rage at the stubborn refusal of our community to break down as they had hoped and expected it would? A hundred times, during my residence abroad, I have seen in the capitalist Press venomous articles by anti-labourite writers, of which one in the London "Financial News" may serve as example:—
"Break-down of the New Zealand Commune." "Mr. Seddon's Policy a Failure," stared me in the face in flaming headlines; while perhaps, in the very same issue there would be an article lauding him for the South African contingent—welcome boon to the capitalist employers of the Rand! Yet we go on, obstinately refusing to "fail," and our prosperity advances, as page 9 Sir Julius Vogel would have said, by "leaps and bounds." If we have a temporary set-back (as here in flax), to what administrator could your member go with more hope that all a government can do would be done to recover our market? Not Emperor William himself is a better Consul General of his nation than Mr Seddon has been of our little country. And, in speaking to farmers, as I do in this electorate, can I not appeal to gratitude alone for endorsement of the substantial support I propose to accord the administration? I have been here many years ago—before the "Advances to Settlers Act" was passed. I know what the regime of dear money meant. Ten per cent, was very pleasant for us mortgagees, and it used to constitute a nice little addition to my salary as a civil servant. But how many thousands of struggling pioneers has not Mr Seddon put on their legs by the regime of 5 and 4½ per cent? Do not abandon the tried friend in favour of leaders who might lead—I tremble to think where.
Mr. Frankland's Independence.
But, ladies and gentlemen, no man is good enough to be a God. If you should do me the honour of electing me, you will have in Parliament a member who cannot see his way to blind support of any Premier, however able. If you want one who will say "My party, right or wrong," you must vote for someone else. On some few points, even—and I don't say it with "bated breath," either—my long residence in America may have fitted me to see more clearly than those who are far my superiors in general political ability. "Onlookers see most of the game" is an old adage; and while my opportunity of comparing what we enjoy in New Zealand with what exists elsewhere may make me more keenly alive to the blessings that we have secured, I am perhaps also more on the alert as to possible and insidious ways in which we may lose those blessings than even some of the very men who have won them for us. In a few days I shall distribute among you a circular I have had printed abridging what seems to be an epoch-making article in the Wellington "Evening Post" on the imminence of the Trust peril. And if there is any important concrete question on which I can for see the possibility of voting, through what they might regard as an excess of democratic zeal, against the administration, and with the small party of Independent Liberals that already exists in the House, it is precisely here. It is in regard to setting up constitutional machinery which I know, from my study at first hand of the Swiss system, to be effective in checking evils that I equally know, from my residence in America, to be both imminent and alarming.
Thus my great object in trying to enter New Zealand public life is to bear my part in the service of democratic ideals. Of those ideals it is i sober truth to say that the Liberal Party here has been for long the most grandly successful champion in the world, and it is my hope and belief that it will remain their conspicuous exponent for many a year to come. But, ladies and gentlemen, an out-and-out tied down "party man," in the ordinary acceptation of the word, is what I do not see my way to become. It may be that my inexperience misleads me and that, were I familiar with Parliamentary procedure, I should appreciate more highly the value of party discipline. I well remember, many years ago, my dear old chief, Sir Harry Atkinson, endeavouring to impress this new of the matter on me—but in vain. "I never saw such a House." he once said, soon after a general election. "The new members can't seem to see that they have got to choose between God and Baal." Now, if the party chiefs were truly "God and Baal," I should agree with Sir Harry as to the imperativeness of enlisting under one or the other banner for life, and the position of an "Independent Liberal" page 10 would in that case be an impertinence, if not a blasphemy. But, my friends, in the best and greatest of actual party leaders there are faults; and in connection with those Oppositionists to whom we are, on the whole most opposed, there are minor points as to which one is compelled to agree with them against one's own political friends. For this reason it is that I call myself an Independent Liberal, though it is needless to say that my attitude towards the administration is far, far different from that of the men who constitute, under the term "Independent Liberal" or "New" Liberal, the existing "Cave of Adullam" in the House of Representatives.
The Specific "Planks "of his "Platform."
|1.||Land Tenure: I favour the freehold tenure as recommended in No. 1 report of the Land Commission.|
|2.||I will give general but discriminating support to the existing administration, much on the lines formulated by some members of the present Independent Liberal Party in the House.|
|3.||Liquor Question: I favour Prohibition as the ultimate ideal; but under no circumstances without adequate and liberal compensation to existing vested interests.|
|4.||Referendum: I favour the referendum, with initiative, as an indispensable safeguard against the possible future introduction into the colony of plutocratising tendencies that are at work nearly everywhere else in the world.|
|5.||Bible in Schools: On this vexed question I advocate the application of the referendum, i.e., I favour the Bible in Schools Referendum League.|
|6.||Imperial: I favour any measures—fiscal or other—that would tend to strengthen existing ties between the colonies and the Motherland, and to give the colonies a proportionate voice in Imperial management.|
|7.||Local: I would endeavour to secure for the Manawatu a fair share of expenditure of public money.|
I had better supplement this enumeration of "planks" by telling you also what the "Manawatu Herald" said about my views a little more than a fortnight ago. That newspaper then wrote:—"We understand he will favour, among other things, the freehold tenure of land, with certain restrictions; maintenance of the independence of labour interests; the referendum with initiative; elective Upper House and (theoretically) elective Executive. As however, Mr Frankland avows himself an ardent Imperialist, he would not press the last proposition, which might conflict with Imperial tradition and sentiment."
Now these political convictions, though they refer to matters the have been frequently discussed in the newspapers of late, require a little page 11 explanation. It is not that they have been wrongly put into my mouth, for they represent, in fact, an important part of my political creed, and were communicated to the Press by myself. But since formulating them, it has occurred to me that there are ambiguities at one or two points—ambiguities that require to be cleared up.
To begin with the first: As formulated, the plank looks like an unqualified endorsement of all that appears in the "No. 1 Report on Tenuies," signed by Messrs McKerrow, Hall, McCardle, McCutchan, and Matheson It might seem as if I saw no force whatever in the reasoning by which "No. 2 Report" has been so ably buttressed. Such is not the case. As a matter of theory, indeed, I have more affinity with the ideals of No. 2 and in large urban centres believe that much might be done to practicalise its conclusions. But, in country districts, like the constituency in which we stand, we are confronted, not by a theory, but by a condition. The interests of immediate settlement are paramount, and we must trust to taxation for the adjustment of ideal equities later.
"Denmark affords an excellent object lesson on the advantages of the freehold tenure and its benefit to the State, and the results attained there should be studied by the theorists who are advocating the State serfdom of land users. Towards the close of the last century the peasantry of Denmark were described as a class physically and mentally degraded, living in serfdom, oppressed by the nobles and Crown Lands regulations. It was Frederick VI. of Denmark who was wise enough to see the causes of the degeneracy of the people. He initiated a better state of affairs when Crown prince, and carried it further when he became King. He removed restrictions from Crown lands which kept back the peasants, and gave them every facility for acquiring freehold farms, with the result that in less than one hundred years, out of 280,000 families in the country districts of the Kingdom, 170,000 were owners of land, and the spread of the freehold still continues. Pauperism has practically vanished, schools have flourished, and the people are educated, industrious, honest, and capable. The freehold tenure is, indeed, the main requirement to create national prosperity and ensure the freedom of the people."
At the same time, while thus an advocate of the freehold in country districts in deference to the exigencies of the Colony's present stage of prowess, I am earnestly in favour of such restrictions in area as will forever prevent the growth in this country of a landed aristocracy like those which have been the curse of many an older nation.
I next come to the liquor question. What do I mean by favouring Prohibition "as the ultimate ideal?" I mean favouring Prohibition if we can get it, and if we can get it without injury to those whom Parliament has for so many years allowed to engage in a business which it would suddenly stop. Failing this, or if the financial burden of compensation without revenue to the Government be thought too heavy, I favour the buying out of existing interests by governmental authority, and the running of the liquor trade as a Government monopoly—either colonial or local. A local government monopoly of the liquor trade has been operated for many years, with excellent results, at the large town of Gothenburg, in Sweden, and—I believe—in other places, and has come to be known as the Gothenburg page 12 system. Its superiority over the present system is obvious, if only from the fact that the interests of private individuals are no longer opposed to the public good. The Government or borough purveyors of liquor would be paid by salary and, therefore, rather be interested in selling as little liquor as possible, in order to have a minimum of work. It is like paying your doctor by annuity as long as you live, instead of by fee for work done. It becomes his interest to have you ill as seldom as possible, instead of as often as possible—in order that he may draw his annuity without doing more work for it than need be.
Next, as to the "constitutional" planks. I will group together the various constitutional measures for which I have been made sponsor. And here I may be pardoned a little natural pride at finding that measures which I preached in this colony, just as I did Female Suffrage, when hardly more than a boy (for these constitutional questions always interested me most keenly when I was a young man) have—thirty years later—been raised to the dignity of quasi-practical politics by enlisting the advocacy j of a definitive party in the present Parliament. The Initiative and Referendum, an Elective Upper House, an Elective Cabinet—these are the measures I contended for then; and these are the constitutional changes which, in a sense, I advocate still; but, oh, that I could adequately impress on you how different are my feelings towards the three measures enumerated! An "Elective Upper House?" Yes; but how elected? Do we want a Council which, boasting a popular election that shall raise its prestige to a level with that of the House, shall yet—be it through larger electoral areas, or be it through some narrowing of franchise—become an engine of reaction, like the elective Second Chamber of a sister colony, or that Millionaire Club which is known as the Senate of the United States? Surely a nominated chamber, however it may fall short of our theoretic ideal, serves our purpose far better than these checks on democratic progress, these bringers about of crisis and of deadlock? The elective Second Chamber of the Swiss Confederation, the "Standereth," as it is called, is, indeed, ideal. It represents the separate Cantons even as the United States Senate represents the individual States; but, unlike the latter, it has succumbed to no plutocratic influence, and co-operates with all the other elements of the Swiss Constitution in forming a harmonious, a model Republic. But here, in New Zealand, where we have no confederation of Provinical Districts—in spite of the belated attempt to re-introduce one that we read of in the newspapers—we have not the machinery to constitute a Second Chamber like the Swiss Standerath. One method only of electing our Legislative Council commends itself to me. It is a method I have advocated for thirty years; and, if I understand them aright, it is the method favoured by the Adullamites of the "New" Liberal Party. I mean election by the House of Representatives. But, ladies and gentlemen, is there any-thing urgent about a constitutional change like this? Does it possess much more than a mere academic advantage over our present system? I should not believe in it, even as an academic proposition, were it not coupled with the Referendum as a means of appeal to the people in the event of a deadlock between the two Chambers. Ah, but the Referendum! Would that I could impart to you my sense of the importance of this! No mere academic reform here. No mere captious criticism of existing arrangements in the pursuit of theoretic perfection. Perhaps, on the contrary, the one indispensable safeguard against submergence of all we hold most dear by the plutocratic wave which is sweeping over the planet. Let me tell you a little story; I was once very familiarly acquainted with an ex-member of the New York House of Representatives. "I am very anxious to hear details about your political career," I said to him. "Oh, Mr Frankland, it was the most disappointing thing you can imagine. For instance, I was por- page 13 mised 500 dollars for such and such a Bill in connection with New York City, and—would you believe it?—I never saw a cent of it! I was promised 250 dollars for such and such a Bill in connection with Brooklyn, and—you would hardly believe me—I never saw a cent of it!" Ladies and gentlemen, legislation is not bought and sold under the British flag. But if that time ever comes, it may be too late to talk about Initiatives and Referendums, because you might never be allowed to get them. If the fly delays to use its wings till it is actually entangled in the spider's web, it may find that all the subsequent buzzings are ineffectual to restore its lost freedom, In the interest of our children, and of our children's children, I beseech you to "be wise in time"! Build an effectual dam against the tidal wave of plutocracy that is even now sweeping toward the New Zealand shore.
But, if the Elective Upper House be an academic issue, and the Referendum per contra perhaps the most burning question of the age, what are we to say of that third proposed measure—the direct election of the Cabinet by the House of Representatives? Earnestly would I say that, not only do I doubt whether the advantage of such a method over present forms is much more than academic, but that I am actually afraid of it. Without going as far as the Premier, who said, if my memory serves me, "I fear it would lead to chaos," we may recognise a certain danger that the break with traditions and forms that are dear to Britons all over the world, might render more difficult the consolidation of our Empire and even operate unsatisfactorily in New Zealand alone. The danger, however we may estimate its magnitude, hardly seems worth incurring for the sake of so very problematic an advantage. It is true that the plural elected Execute—elected, not by the people, but by the Legislature—has proved itself the ideal Administrative Committee where alone it is at present tried, viz., in Switzerland. In the Federal Palace at Berne, I have stood in the Chamber of the Swiss "Bandesrath,"—that Supreme Executive Council of the Swiss Republic, that Cabinet of seven members, each with a portfolio of his own, who are elected by the Federal Assembly and who administer the laws of the Confederation. And never have I felt such a thrill, politically, as when an attendant ushered me into this empty chamber where holds its sessions the ideal executive government of the earth. Well can I understand the feelings with which, in the remotest hamlets of Switzerland, householders hang up pictures of the Supreme Seven, even as in our village houses are to be found portraits of our King, and in American homes pictures of the President and Vice-President of the United States. These Seven Councillors are elected for three years by the two Houses of the Legislature sitting together from among their own number. They represent no party, they serve instead of leading the House, they are not required to initiate legislation, and, while retaining their seats, they lose their votes in the Federal Legislature, so as to impress on them that they are its honoured servants, but in nowise its masters. You see at once what a break the introduction of this system would involve in our organic structure. It would correspond to no gradual evolution where, in the words of the poet,
"Freedom slowly broadens down
From precedent to precedent."
It would resemble rather those sudden "mutations" in plant structure lately observed by Professor De Vries, which now threaten to profoundly modify the Darwinian theory. While cherishing the elected Executive as an ideal, and watching appreciatively its operation in the model republic of the world, and while seeking to accustom the Anglo-Saxon mind to the ideas which it embodies, I think we shall be wise to defer adopting it—at all events until our Empire has been transformed from its present somewhat amorphous condition into a more organic and consolidated whole.
Bible in Schools.
Incidentally I have now dealt with plank No. 6, and even touched on plank No 5, viz., the Bible-in-scliools question. For, if the Referendum is such a life and death matter on general grounds, we are predisposed to favour its application, other things equal, to a specific problem that is in any case troublesome, if only to accustom the people to political habits of thought that we deem essential to their salvation. Besides, unless our secularist friends are afraid that the decision of the people will be in favour of Scripture teaching, why do they so bitterly oppose the referendum in connection with the Bible-in-scliools? My dear friend, Mr John Gammell, has been writing to the Wellington newspapers and deprecating the popular reference as bowing to what he calls the "decision of uneducated servant-girls," and as flouting the majesty of that "Palladium of our liberties"—Parliament! Oh, if only Mr Gammell, instead of spending his time in New Zealand, where the House, whatever its faults, has as yet been truly the servant of the people, had been able to witness what has been well called the "breakdown of Parliaments" in some of the older countries, to say nothing of the unblushing purchase and sale of legislation in America! He would then have less trust in mere "representative" government as a "Palladium of liberties"—less awe in the presence of the mere "representative" chamber which is in other countries sometimes so sadly mis-representative. Danger there might be, I can conceive, in mere direct government by the people, without any representative assembly at all; though where it has been tried, as in the Forest Cantons of Switzerland, it has been ideally successful. But what "Palladium" can be imagined more safe, more inviolable, than a Parliament, checked by occasional direct exercise of sovereignty on the part of Parliament's masters? Representative government, with the Popular Initiative and Veto as Sovereign in the background—that is a combination which we may indeed call a Palladium of human liberties!
There remains now, of the seven planks, only the last and most directly important of all—that of adequate expenditure of public money on the wants of the District. On this all-important question I hope to meet you frequently in the future, when our time does not need to be taken up with the discussion of general politics, and when I have had opportunity to inform myself better than I am at present informed, of the special wants of this part of the electorate—wants with which two of my opponents are as yet much more familiar than I am. Meanwhile, I would suggest to you an exceedingly practical thought. What representative would be more likely to obtain justice for our district than one who is a supporter of the Government, who yet is not its tied down or hide bound supporter, and who has been accustomed as civil servant and as undersecretary and departmental head to personally deal with Ministers for many years? But, however that may be, I leave the issue in your hands—with a calm spirit: satisfied, to slightly change an utterance of Herbert Spencer's, that, if you elect me, "Well; if not, we'll also, though not so well."
Printed at the Office of the Rangitikei Advocate.