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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 4 (July 1, 1935.)

Seddon's Legislation

Seddon's Legislation.

The law-making of the Seddon period was well described as adventurous legislation. One Labour law after another, one Socialistic measure after another, were passed in rapid succession. Seddon and his colleagues carried on and amplified John Ballance's programme of legislation regulating hours of labour, the conduct of factories and shops, the regulation in fact of every department of industry.

Labour was liberated and enthroned, greatly to the disgust of very many employers. Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration was provided for as a means of settling disputes. Women were enfranchised; old age pensions were established; advances to settlers were instituted (on the initiative of Sir Joseph Ward), and various other measures all making for the betterment of social conditions were placed on the Statute book. These measures attracted a great amount of attention in the outside world, and publicists from Britain, Europe and America visited the Colony to study its wonderful essays in experimental Socialism. There were naturally loud complaints from those with whose interests the new brand of legislation conflicted. But as a historian has expressed it, Seddon held New Zealand in the hollow of his hand until the last. He had for better or for worse captured the country. He was the big voice, and that voice was heard with apparently undiminished vigour until the giant frame suddenly collapsed and he died at only sixty-one.

Sir John McKenzie, his most stalwart supporter and the breaker-up of big estates in an almost ruthless manner, wore himself out like Seddon, and as Ballance had done before him. Sir Joseph Ward, his successor, similarly followed the fatal lure of militant politics until his health broke down, and still he held to office and what he considered the call of duty.