The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79
Explanatory Comments — Re Some of the Most Important Planks Suggested for the Independent-Labour Party's Platform
Re Some of the Most Important Planks Suggested for the Independent-Labour Party's Platform.
Plank 4. The capitalists dearly love cheap labour—indent or coolie labour, permit labour, female labour, child labour—" equal pay for equal work" will stop unfair competition between the sexes.
Plank 6. (Industries). This is the most far-reaching Plank in the Platform, as it deals with monopolies and trusts, and the much needed extension of the industrial functions of the State. It has been proven conclusively that as a class the capitalists will not deal fairly with the people in regard to profitable productive works until compelled to do so. Once a genuine start is made by the people to actually control production trade and profits, the balance of the road to a glad new time will be comparatively easy. Sir Joseph Ward, at Winton, reminded the country that "Competition is the Life of Trade"—State competition is the only kind of competition in which the people can hope to benefit permanently. When a monopoly exists, the most effective plan for restoring the industry to the people is for the State to purchase the business outright as a going concern. If the holders are page 30 too exacting as to the price to be paid, etc., then the alternative is for the State to establish a genuine and up-to-date competitive plant. If a private monopoly is paying low wages, adulterating or slighting the goods, importing heavily instead of manufacturing, or charging monopoly prices as is quite frequent, a competitive State plant will absolutely rectify all these evils by example, and eventually check or drive the unfair monopoly off the market. State competition in such cases would ensure justice for the workers and the consumers as no other system can. State competition will also prevent the protected manufacturers from taking advantage of the people, as is customary, by increasing prices to the consumers in proportion to the percentage of protection. Labour benefits in no way by tariff protection, excepting a chance for more steady employment. The modern combination and co-operation of the scattered and warring parts of each industry in New Zealand, is in every way desirable and good business, especially when profits are minimised by State competition. To enact anti-trust laws, as proposed by the Premier, is to court failure, as experienced in the trust-ridden United States and wherever tried. Active and genuine State competition is the only sure cure. The kind of competition shown in handling State coal is a sample of Liberal Conservative administration in the interests of page 31 their class. State coal is not in reality a competitor in the coal market at all. The Minister of Mines for Victoria stated recently that he could supply State coal, delivered at the railroad sidings, at 14/-per ton and make a profit. We are now paying from 30/-to 35/-; the poorer the purchasers, the more they have to pay. The secret is that all Liberal-Conservative Governments stand for the maintenance of conditions as they are. They are pledged to permit and assist private enterprise to take such a toll from the people as can be extorted under various pretences, bolstered up by musty precedents, class law and customs in their favour. It will also be found that State competition will prove a very helpful means for the workers to checkmate the rapacity of the private employers in conjunction with Conciliation and Arbitration. Conciliation will no doubt prove useful for a time, but active State competitive plants, managed under a sympathetic Independent-Labour Government, would work wonders for the workers who may find it necessary to arbitrate. The private employers would find it expedient to follow the example and lead of the State in the matter of wages, conditions, the quality of goods, and the prices charged to the consumers, even though State competition did somewhat minimise their profits. This must be very apparent to all.page 32
Plank 7. The land can only be acquired by the State gradually. However, "what we have we will hold," and not an acre of land shall be sold hereafter. Leasehold must be the only form of tenure, and the terms shall be most sympathetic and reasonable. The tenants may use their ready cash in making improvements. The rent shall be moderate and the occupation secure, with full rights to all improvements, should any tenant wish to vacate. The State Farms, intended mainly for the absorption of surplus labour, shall be located near the chief centre of population.
Plank 8. (Banking). We all know that banking is a very profitable business. An examination of the Bank of New Zealand balance-sheet, in which we are interested, will satisfy on that point. Our State Bank plank must be explicit, broad and firm. The Redemption Clause in paper money and the complete control of gold have done good service for the bankers for many years, and it is now time that some of the profits of banking should accrue to the people. The outcry of the banking corporations about making a paper medium of exchange that is not redeemable in gold, is not well founded. The Independent Labour Party can have no objection to keep a gold reserve, equal to say 25 per cent, of the proposed State Note Issue, for legitimate redemption purposes, or such a percentage of page 33 convenient reserve as world-wide banking experience actually demands. We have liad ample proof in the past, that private corporate banks and bank notes were not safe, even when the private notes were supposed to be redeemable in gold. New Zealand State Bank notes, declared a full legal tender, and having a gold reserve, and also all the resources of New Zealand behind every note, would be absolutely safe and free at all times from panic conditions. If the State (our bankers) and the public accept our legal tender notes (as they would) as payment for all taxes, duties and other obligations of every kind, that is all we require as a local medium of exchange. New Zealand's foreign debts and obligations will be provided for precisely the same as at present. It is well known that the private banks in this and other countries have found it necessary to call upon the Government for assistance. The bankers of Australia have intimated that the Government should declare their private note issue a legal tender for six months at a time, which of course would mean, from time to time as required in order to ward off disaster. It is proposed to make by legal enactment, our own supplementary medium of exchange, a full continuous legal tender, the same as gold, within New Zealand. It Is further proposed to make the Post Office Savings Bank part of our State Bank, which shall do all our State banking, and also compete for the New Zealand banking business page 34 generally. The New Zealand State Bank shall issue all the (legal tender) paper money required in New Zealand, and supply the private banks with their proportionate share of said paper money as they may require £ for £ in exchange for gold. If a private bank withdraws from business in New Zealand, then the New Zealand State Bank shall receive from such private bank our paper medium of exchange used by said bank, at par, and return therefor gold coin or bullion. Cold and silver mining companies will be required to exchange with our State Bank sufficient coin or bullion in lieu of legal tender State notes to pay their annual expenditure for wages, etc., within New Zealand. Any citizen who wishes to carry his wealth elsewhere, may have either gold or, more likely, a gold draft. State Bank note will be as good as gold and better than private bank notes for exchange purposes in our own country, and anyone having a quantity in hand when leaving New Zealand, may have sovereigns or a gold draft in exchange. Private bank notes taken to Australia have to pay a discount. Nothing more would happen if New Zealand State notes were taken, besides we shall have branches of our State Bank, if required, in Australia, England, etc. The State notes issued will effect a large saving for New Zealand in both principal and interest with trifling expense and no bonded debt. New Zealand notes in conjunction with gold, will, however, page 35 be strictly limited at all times to the actual requirements of our population, trade and commerce. The Independent-Labour Party will encourage and not restrict the production of good and necessary municipal and national assets, so long as we have able men to do work and an abundance of raw materials. The "no money" plea and the ruinous stagnation and postponement of needful works now caused by dependence on the private banks and the foreign money-lenders, must terminate. One of the main reasons for borrowing a medium of exchange and for giving interest bearing bonds in lieu thereof, is to perpetuate private enterprise, and to preserve uniformity in an old established custom, suited to the bankers and privileged private money-lenders to exploit the people by way of interest. The gold bond and bondage system is a standing check on progress and a sure means of enslaving the present generation and posterity. The two old parties are a unit in preserving the system. The Hon. Mr. Millar stated on his return from Australia recently that "he was opposed to State banking." If the Bank of New Zealand is not converted into a genuine State Bank, then the £1,500,000 of the people's good gold money in the Bank of New Zealand and our share of the reserve shall be realised and withdrawn and used with the proceeds of the State notes as part of the gold capital required in establishing our State Bank. In any case the one- page 36 sided partnership with the Bunk of New Zealand must terminate. Our State Bank shall, when established, be independent of partisan control.
Plank 10. It is not always recognised that 50 feet frontage on a main street in one of our cities may pay more taxes than many hundreds of acres in the back blocks. The revenue derived from our Competitive State Industries would be very considerable and quite enough to meet the cost of the proposed Humanitarian Pensions, also to enable the rapid extension of other State enterprises.
Plank 11. (Coastal Shipping). This Plank covers all that can be reasonably expected at present, and would be a great advance on what we now have. It means more State competition and our full due so far as the express business and the carrying of our coals are concerned.
Plank 15. A pension at the age of 65 years, after having resided in the country 25 years, is not good enough. There are many worthy citizens badly in need of a pension who will not live to the age of 65 years. After proper investigation, if the actual need is established, we as a Christian and humanitarian people cannot justly shirk our plain duty.
Plank 16. (Birth-rate). Complaint is made about the shrinkage in the birth-rate, page 37 and we are told that "the children are our best national asset." There is only one way to overcome the population difficulty, viz., to make life tolerable by supplying such industrial conditions, and other assistance as will assure our people, male and female, against the present impossible obligation of assuming full citizenship. It is a fact that the great masses of the people merely subsist by their daily toil under unnecessary competitive industrial conditions which effectually prevent comfort and the exercise of will, wish or desire. For the average man with a family, a fortnight out of work means disgrace, misery and destitution. Planks 15 and 16 would take the place of Old Age Pensions and Charitable Aid, and remove their limitations.