The announcement that the Hon. the Premier (Mr. R. Stout) would address a meeting of the citizens of Auckland at the Theatre Royal last night, at the request of the Liberal Association, was sufficient to bring together almost as large an audience as ever assembled within its walls. The body of the hall was a dense mass of humanity, and the dress circle, which was reserved for ladies, and gentlemen who accompanied them, and for admission to which a charge was made, was well filled. The stage was also filled with a large number of leading citizens, members of the City Council, Harbour Board, and other public bodies. Amongst them were the Hon. Sir Fredk. Whitaker, the Hon. W. Swanson, Messrs. Thompson, Peacock, Hamlin, and Dargaville, M.H.R.'s.
When the Hon. the Premier entered, accompanied by Ilis Worship the Mayor, he was greeted with prolonged applause, which was continued as he advanced to the front and took his seat.
His Worship the Mayor (Mr. W. R. Waddel) opened the proceedings by reading the advertisement and briefly introducing the speaker.
Mr. Stout, who, on rising to speak, was received with renewed cheers, said : Mr. Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen,—Before I begin to address you on the subject that I have chosen to-night, I wish to say a few words as to my position here. Some time ago the Auckland Liberal Association sent a request to me that if I came to Auckland I should address a meeting under its auspices, and I at once assented, because I call myself a Liberal—(cheers),—and I am exceedingly glad to see that in Auckland there is still political life and still anxiety for liberal principles. (Hear). I have not forgotten that in years gone by—in 1875—I was fighting on the same side as the majority of the Auckland people, fighting in favour of Provincialism, and I felt sure that the people who then had fought so nobly for local self-government were actuated by some high political principles, and had not forgotten them. I felt, however, in a difficulty in choosing a subject on which to speak. My colleague, Sir J. Vogel, had spoken to you on general politics. Your own representatives have no doubt, and others will no doubt, give you an account of what took place in the House of Representatives, and I do not desire in a meeting of this kind to enter upon any question of party politics.
I thought I would be doing myself the better justice and paying you a higher compliment by seeing if I could point out some political ideals that I believe every true colonist should have ever before him, and perhaps help you to see how we might attain them. (Cheers.) To-night, therefore, I have chosen this subject for my address. Before I begin to speak upon it I want to show you why I think it is an exceedingly practical subject.
We have heard, and I am glad to think that in Auckland the subject is popular, the need of technical education. (Cheers.) Now what does that imply? It does not mean teaching a boy to be a carpenter or an engineer or a mason. We have various kinds of education. We have a literary education, an education that will acquaint the boy with, perhaps, many languages and the literature of many tongues. Wo have also scientific education, an education that will give a boy or a lad a bias towards scientific pursuits. These two different kinds of education have their advantages. A literary education is a noble end in itself. It teaches culture, and it is perhaps one of the best mental gymnastics to which any boy or lad can be put. And so with scientific education. I has a useful end in itself. A boy by it becomes acquainted with nature, with its many marvels, and he becomes also mentally or intellectually trained. What, then, it may be asked, is a technical education? What does a technical education imply? It implies that there is in the most practical work that a man can do, that there is even in carpentering, engineering, and I could mention a hundred other works that mechanics are employed on, that there is lying underneath them all a principle or law, and that though you may have in a technical school a carpenter's bench or a turning lathe, that is really not technical education alone. A boy must learn the law of mechanics. He must see that in the most practical things of life there is an ideal behind by which, if he is to be a practical man, he must shape his work. That is what is meant by technical education; and by proper technical education also we hope to see our youth having a bias towards industry, and not being ashamed of work, and of hard work too. (Cheers.) If then there is in this most practical thing of life,—labour, hard labour, mechanical labour, some law to be learned, some idea to be set before the man who is to become a skilled mechanic—is there such a thing in politics?
Practical Politics and Technical Education.
We hear people say, "Oh, politics is a practical thing; we must have what are called practical politicians." I admit there must be practical politicians, but I say the true politicians must recognise that there are laws in the political world with which he must become acquainted, just as there are laws in mechanics and laws to be discovered by the scientific man; and, as if we wish to get a skilled mechanic, we must have him not merely taught the use of the plane or saw, but taught in the laws of mechanics, and given what is called technical training if he is to become a great mechanic, so in politics. The politician must have an ideal before him; and if we are practical politicians we must see there is a law, and that after all politics is not what is termed mere muddledom, having nothing to guide the politician through his political career. Let me give you another example. Suppose you want to become an expert miner,—how do you think a man can become a true miner, a scientific miner, by merely delving in the earth? Of course there are geniuses everywhere, even amongst the miners, where you have a man almost of no education who becomes a most skilled workman, just as you have geniuses in portrait painting, or music—some one who is known, we will say, as a born musician. He does not require, it may be, any technical training whatever. No doubt there are some such men amongst miners, but if we want to see a thoroughly skilled miner, who will not make blunders in carrying on his work, he requires to have technical training. In order to develop the great mineral wealth on the Continent schools of mines have been established, where the miner has to learn the science of mineralogy and engineering, &c., before he can get a proper certificate, that is, in fact, before he can be regarded as a qualified miner. Now what does that recognise? It recognises what I have said about technical education, that there are laws to be learnt, or in other words there are ideals to be set forth. If then, in these matters, in practical things like carpentry and mining, there are laws to be learnt, ideals to be set up by the mechanic and miner, so there are laws which guide us in all our practical actions, and it is the duty of the man who wishes to perform his duties of citizenship, to try and discover those laws, and to conform his political views and conduct with the ideal he sets before him.
Ideals to be Sought After.
I therefore propose to show that there are some ideals to be discovered which would ennoble us as colonists in our political action. I go further, and say unless your practical politician has got clear ideals before him, the laws of political and social page 3 life to be remembered and kept, you will find his political action like a mariner without a compass. He will he driven hither and thither with every wind, and you electors will be accusing him perhaps of insincerity, perhaps of "ratting" (laughter), accusing him of all sorts of political crimes, while after all the blame is not so much in him. He may he sincere enough, but has not perhaps set before him a true ideal, to which he is ever striving; and you perhaps for the same reason may have been as wayward as he, and changed hither and thither by the political winds which we know exist, even in colonies. (Laughter.) Let me say before I go further one or two words about the nature of this kind of political education. We hear a great deal of science nowadays. Scientific education, as it is termed, is more popular than classical education. Well, what is political science; what is social science? Isay political science or social science, using the latter to express something more than is ordinarily meant by it, is the grandest of all sciences. (Cheers.)
The Aim of Politics.
What is the aim of all politics? Do you think the aim of politics is solely to get a road here, a bridge there, and a railway in another place? If any constituency or colony has only that political ideal before it, it is not fulfilling it duties as a constituency of true citizens. You have in this town a Free Library, free schools, and other institutions. What is the aim of all these? It is to strive to have a more perfect man than we have yet had, in order that we may have a more perfect State than we have yet had. And if such be our ideals and aim in life, to have a more perfect man and more perfect State, you will find that the constituency which has this ideal before it, and has this aim before it, will not only be conferring a favour upon itself, but a favour upon those who are to come after us, which will in after years be inestimable to them. Let me draw your attention to some ideals we must keep before us if we wish to have a perfect State—ideals which, though they may be termed theoretical and idealistic, are just as practical as technical education for our mechanics, just as practical as anything in politics can be. (Cheers). We may start with two tilings. We have got what is termed the individual, and we have got the State. It has its organisation, its functions, its limitations, its rights, and its duties. Let me approach one ideal we must keep in mind as a State. A State must exist. It has to look after its own existence, and also to look after, as part of its duties, the maintenance of individual liberty, for I don't believe in Socialism. I believe if the race is to be saved and elevated, it will have to be by individual salvation. Here comes in perhaps the most difficult question in the whole range of social science—the rights and duties of the State as compared with the rights and duties of the individual. I have not time to-night to even sketch to you the views of some of our great philosophers 011 this question. Some of you have no doubt seen iecent articles of Herbert Spencer and others dealing with this question. But I come to one question, a practical question to us, and one, in fact, I intend mainly to deal with—
The Land Question
That is the question of the land. (Cheers). Let us see if we can discover the individual rights and the State's rights and duties in reference to this question of land, and let us see if we can agree amongst ourselves to have some ideal set before us in reference to the State dealing with this subject. We have still in our possession as a colony millions of acres of land. There is no question more practical to us than to lay down some rule for ourselves as to how the lands we have shall be dealt with. As to the lands which have passed from us and been sold, that is at present out of the range of our practical politics. ("No, no"). I will tell you why. No State can afford to enter upon a career of repudiation, or shake public credit. (Cheers). A State that is unjust will have its members unjust, and injustice in the Jend never succeeds. (Cheers). It is misleading to those who call themselves Liberals, by setting before them an ideal out of the range of their practical grasp, when there is a question within their own hands which needs all their energy and attention to carry out. (Cheers).
The Land a Monopoly.
I look upon the land as a monopoly—(cheers)—and a monopoly the State has a right to control. (Cheers). I recognise in the land 110 individual rights unless subject to the rights of the whole community. I look upon land as in one respect like the air it must be free—it is needed for our use in a State, and no generation has a right to partition the land, or to say to the generation following, "We have decided for you page 4 how the earth's surface is to be." In fact, if some people's views were carried out to their logical conclusion, there would happen what a Maori representative in the Assembly pictured was going to happen in reference to native lands. He said the land was taken from them here and there until in time all that would be left to the Maoris would be in the main roads. (Laughter). And so with some people's ideas of the land. I %ay the State has a right to look after its own existence. What is meant by allowing the full right of private property in land? Suppose some person were to buy up the whole of Newton, if private property in land is to be everything, he might say to the people of Newton, "Be kind enough to clear off' here; I want Newton for myself." Don't think that it is an absurd proposition to put. You hear of evictions. I have seen one. I have seen a valley where men were living in the homes where their ancestors bad lived in for nearly 500 years, and I have seen it cleared of every living inhabitant, on a six months' notice to quit, and the houses torn down. ("Shame"). We have, therefore, a right to take care that in our legislation regarding land we have left the ills of the past, and that the wrongs done the people in other countries shall not be exacted here. (Cheers).
Before Henry George.
I am not stating anything new by saying that. I believe I was the first in New Zealand to bring forward in our Provincial Council a resolution that no more lands should be sold. I was the first to bring forward that proposition in the House of Representatives in 1875, and if you take the trouble to refer to the speech which I made on that occasion you will find succinctly stated the reasons for such a step. Long before Henry George had written any of his books I advocated those views, and I say still to all Liberal politicians the State should still control the land, and have large ownership over it. That ought to be the ideal of every Liberal politician.
The State and the Land.
How can we set about that? Well, I think that with your assistance, and the assistance of the colonists, we may yet accomplish that with a large portion of the territory of your colony. If you are only active in this question, and support it with deep enthusiasm, you and others would not only react on your members and tho House, but you would create such a feeling as would say that a State should benefit by its land.
The Unearned Increment.
I have pointed out to you what might happen if you allow private property in land to go to its full length. You may have men to control the lives of the citizens, or perhaps destroy the State, for after all what makes a State but the people. (Hear, hear.) Another thing in reference to land, which I suppose you are not altogether unacquainted with. We find land is not only a monopoly—in that respect different from other kinds of property, but that it increases in value without, perhaps, the landlord doing anything to make it increase. That is not unknown even in Auckland. (Hear, hear.) A man may have a block of land. He may do nothing with it, but his neighbours may improve their land all around him, and their improvements may double and treble the value of his land, and that goes on as the place increases in population and as your industries increase. Why, I may say every industrious man is doing what he can to add to the value of the land of his neighbour. It is not so in other things. It is not so with money. I remember when 174 per cent, was the ordinary rate of interest. It then went down to 15, then to 124, then to 10, and is now, I suppose, from 8 to 65. The man, therefore, who had his thousand pounds in money would derive less revenue now, although the colony has increased in wealth and enterprise. But what has happened to the man who has land near a settlement? Instead of his land being worth less, it may have increased in value a hundredfold.
State Leasing of Land.
Now, what would have happened if we had had a large portion of our lands leased! What will prevent your city from being overburdened with rates? You have city endowments leased. Had this colony begun a policy of State leasing we would have 'had just as prosperous colonists, less taxation, and far better chances of bearing additional burdens cast upon us if the progress of this colony is not to be stayed. What an advantage it would have been if we had been able to go to the money lender or capitalist in London and say, "You need not depend upon our Customs revenue or taxation, here we have millions of acres bringing in a certain rental per year. That page 5 is the best security in the world, and I hope as we have this leasing system in force to a very limited extent—only so far as goldfields and education reserves are concerned—we will have it extended. (Cheers).
The Industrious Man and the Lazy Man.
There is another matter in connection with this land agitation. Emerson beautifully expresses it in the words "Corn won't grow without protection." He did not mean fences, but that unless a man shall be sure of reaping the reward of his industry he will not be industrious. And that what I say is the worst point in our socialistic schemes. I don't believe in the lazy man having as many good things as the active man. If a man was lazy and drunken then he ought to suffer for it. (Cheers). I warn you, in dealing with this question, to have this before you : that anything that tends to discourage thrift or to weaken the industrial tendencies of the race will inevitably endanger you. The ideal before you ought to be able to stand the most severe criticism of the most severe political economists. The people who till the land require to have certain tenure. You are not going to have a man improve land if he is not going to reap the reward of his industry. We must keep that in mind, and not mix land and capital together.
Land and Property.
I much regret that the people of this colony do not see a distinction between laud and other property. You in Auckland were all in favour of a property tax as compared with a land tax. ("No, no"). If you count by the members from the Auckland provincial district you will find I am not far wrong—(laughter)—and it would be paying you a poor compliment and them to think they for one moment that they misrepresent you. (Laughter.) The State ought to do its utmost to protect the savings of the industrious man and to encourage him, while as regards the lazy and thriftless man the whole community, to use a common phrase, should have a "down" upon him. And in dealing with this question of course it touches on the question of taxation.
You remember that as member of Sir George Grey's Ministry I supported the land tax, and I believe it was right. (Cheers.) I felt sorry, however, for this, that the farmers throughout the country, I don't know by what process of logic or reason they arrived at it, thought that if their houses and improvements, their furniture and stock, and their corn, were exempted from taxation, and only their lands taxed, they were worse off than if their land and stock and furniture were all taxed together. (Cheers.) I don't know by what logic they arrived at it, but that was the decision of a majority of the farmers. If you wish to obtain this position—that land is not like other property—you will have to modify your property tax, and I will say incidence of taxation, and you will have to meet your members and explain to them that you think land is not like other property, and they will perhaps remember that in the next session of Parliament. (Cheers). Now, I have dealt with land as a peculiar kind of property, as one ideal you can have before you, and that as we have millions of acres in this colony undisposed of, we as colonists shall so dispose of them that while we provide the means for colonists to improve themselves, and to reap the reward of their own industry, the State shall have sole control of the land. (Cheers.)
You have—I have seen some of them in the distance—immenee tracts of the most magnificent timber in the world, and I am sorry to hear from the Auckland people I meet that this one wants a railway, and that one wants a railway, so that this kauri in these blocks—extending, I am told, from 200,000 to 300,000 acres—may be cut and taken off the face of the earth. If Auckland is to retain its prosperity, the State must look after the conservation of your forest lands. If you are to look to a future with all your kauri gone, you will look to a future with less prosperity than you now possess. (Hear, hear.) See then how this land question affects you practically. I should say I was pained to see what I saw often in the short travels I made through part of your district—magnificent young kauris utterly destroyed by fire which, if they had remained for 50 or 100 years, would have furnished magnificent timber. The State cannot afford to see its great wealth destroyed in this way.
Turning to another question. The State has the right to look after its own existence. Of course I admit that the State is not to interfere with individual liberty. (Cheers.) page 6 We must remember how the State has grown, and remember that it is not yet firmly planted, and that we cannot afford to do anything that would weaken its hands. Don't think that because in an English colony we have great' liberty that all is plain sailing. There are dangers which threaten a democracy,—just as many as threaten despotism. (Cheers.) Just let me say that I am laying down for you some principles which the State must keep in view if it intends to retain its own existence. They have been summarised by a very able American—Mr. Abbot. He say this: A State has a right to exist and perpetuate its own existence, and that the individual is the social unit. What does this admission mean that the individual is a social unit? It admits that the child has rights as well as the parent, and that the child has a right to have its rights preserved by the State as much as the parent. (Cheers.) And again, he says that the State has a right, in order to perpetuate its own existence, to establish universal suffrage. (Cheers.) And that it has a right to establish universal intelligence and social morality as a necessary condition of universal suffrage. I ask you to follow me carefully in the enunciation of these principles, because one hangs on the other. Next, he says, it has a right to establish universal education, as a necessary condition of universal intelligence, of social morality, and of universal suffrage. (Hear.) And it has a right to establish a system of public schools, in order that there may be established a system of universal intelligence, and that it has a right to see that use is made of its schools, or that children are otherwise educated. It is on these principles that the rights of State education exist, because I admit at once that if you carry out individualism to what I might term an extreme, you would sweep away State education, and you would sweep away something more, that practically hangs perhaps on the same principles, you would sweep away hospitals. You would have the State giving no aid to hospitals, and I will show you that there are, from one point of view, stronger reasons against the State giving aid to hospitals than to schools. Now, you may think that strange. Let us see about hospitals. If you go to a doctor who looks—I am not speaking of a typical doctor—who looks simply at the perfection of physical man, who has no other conception of a man than as a living man, as a physical man, a strong physical man—he will tell you that hospitals injure the race, he will tell you that all the medical scientific education has had this effect, that it is tending to preserve weak lives, and tending to produce weak lives; and if we look simply at the physical man, if the physical man was to be the only perfect type of humanity, we would have no hospitals. But we look at something different from that. We have to look at the emotional side of man's nature, at the moral side of man's nature, and we see it would be injuring his emotional nature, and his moral nature, if the State or the community were to allow the sick to die without aid and assistance. Hence it is the State says this, although the physical man is injured, greater injury would result to the race to at once cease all aid, and to allow the sick and helpless to die. ('Cheers.) A greater moral injury would be inflicted on the race than any permanent physical advantage to be gained. Let me apply this to the schools. I say that if this colony is to make any advance on the past we must have universal education. (Hear, hear.) We must recognise that it is a huge disgrace to have one of our fellow-colonists unacquainted with our literature, and even of some of our scientific facts.
Where is the perfect State
Early most blest and late,
Perfect and bright
Tis where no palace stands
Trembling on shifting sands
Morning and night.
'Tis where the soil is free
Where, far as eye may see
Scattered o'er hill and lea
Where clean and broad and sweet
Market-square, land and street
Belted by leagues of wheat
Cities are found.
Where is the perfect State,
Early, most blest and late,
Gentle and good?
'Tis where no lives are seen
Huddling in lanes unseen,
Crying for food.
'Tis where the home is pure,
'Tis where the bread is sure,
'Tis where the wants are fewer
And each want fed.
Where plenty and peace abide,
Where health dwells heavenly-eyed,
Where in nooks beautified
Slumber the dead.
Where is the perfect State,
Unvexed by wrath and hate
Quiet and just?
Where to no form of creed
Fettered are thought and deed,
Reason and trust.
'Tis where the great free mart
Broadens, while from its heart
Forth the great ships depart,
Blown by the wind.
'Tis where the wise men's eyes,
Fixed on the earth and skies,
Seeking for signs, devise
Good for mankind.
Mr. Stout resumed his seat amidst loud and prolonged cheers.
Mr. Shera proposed that a hearty vote of thanks be cjiven to the lion, the Premier for the admirable address which he had just delivered. He was sure that the Hon. Mr. Stout was not received by them that evening only as Premier of the colony but as a well-known member of the Liberal party, a front rank man. (Cheers.)
Captain D. H. Mckenzie seconded the resolution, which was then put by the Mayor, and carried unanimously with acclamation.
The Hon. Mr. Stout, on rising, was received with renewed cheering. He thanked the audience not only for the vote of thanks, but for the patient, and considerate, and kindly hearing afforded him. His only regret was that he was unable to speak to them on many other subjects, but he assured them that he left Auckland with many pleasant recollections of the scenery and climate—he would like it a little colder though, and there, he thought, the South had the advantage of them—(loud laughter and cheers)—and the exceedingly kind way in which he had been treated since he came amongst them. He hoped they would accept this expression of thanks, and if he did not write to all to thank them, it was owing to his inability to do so, his friends had been so numerous. He begged to propose a vote of thanks to His Worship the Mayor, Mr. Waddel, for the able manner in which he had presided over the meeting.
The vote was carried by acclamation, and His Worship having briefly returned thanks, the meeting dispersed.
W. Atkin, General Printer, High Street, Auckland.