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The Revolt of the Samoans

The Europeans, the Drink Problem, and Copra

The Europeans, the Drink Problem, and Copra

Mr. Coates has stated that the Europeans' antagonism to the New Zealand Administration at Samoa arises out of the fact that the Europeans want to introduce liquor into the Western Islands, and also that the traders desire to exploit the Natives by paying low prices for their copra. As to the first of these two points, I have repeatedly stated, both to the Europeans in Samoa and in the House, that the Labour Party will stand solidly against the introduction of liquor page 16 into the islands. It was part of the evidence before the Joint Samoa Committee, however, that intoxicating liquor is being freely manufactured in Samoa, both by Europeans and Natives, and that officials of the Administration are among those actively engaged in its manufacture and consumption. As to the charge against the traders: I have no doubt whatever that private capitalism in Samoa would nor greatly differ from capitalism in New Zealand or any other country; it would probably exploit the Native copra producers with the same avidity that it exploits the working-farmers and wage-workers here. But there is an easy and common-sensible way out of that difficult} Let the marketing of copra be nationalised; let the Administration constitute itself the sole purchaser of copra from the Natives and the sole wholesale distributor to purchasers abroad. This would give the Natives the benefit of the amount that now goes in middlemen's profits. When this was put to Mr. Coates in the House his reply seemed to indicate that he regarded the proposal as constituting too serious an interference with private enterprise. The Government apparently thinks that it would never do to administer the law in Samoa so as to ensure to the Natives the full social value of the product of their labour; and, accordingly, some traders are to be permitted to carry on with the work of exploitation.