Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 4 March 29, 1939
Capital's New Messiah — Oh, Dear, What Can The Batterbee
Capital's New Messiah
Oh, Dear, What Can The Batterbee
This time last year, the country was just beginning to wake up to the fact that there would be an election in a few months. Vested interests were happy, for they believed that they had a figure-head capable of winning popular support. Indeed, the sun of capitalistic fervour shone from the rubicund countenance of Mr. Adam Hamilton, and all was going to be well for the powers that be. But then there was the election campaign, and a few doubts began to impinge themselves upon the clear horizon of Reactionary hopes, when he was compared with Mr. Savage upon the political stage. The election removed all these doubts and the press thought it expedient to softpedal Mr. Hamilton. The powers that be were very glum for a while, but soon a new hope was born, and Mr. Hamilton's mana was transferred to a still unknown personage who was going to come and act as "deux ex machina" for the vested interests of this land. "Wait till Sir Harry Batterbee comes," was the new cry of hope wrung from the tortured lips of harried capitalists.
Sir Harry, one gathered, Hub going to tell Mr. Savage precisely where he (Mr. Savage) got off. He had came, one was informed, as a representative of the English Investor; he was going to keep those confounded socialists from interfering with international finances and show them that the Hank of England could still run the Empire to its own satisfaction—in other words to frustrate one of the most spirited and advanced democracies in the word to revoke the mandate of the people of New Zealand given to the labour Government last year. That was the modest programme mapped out for Sir Harry by the disgruntled opposition. Well, he will have to be a pretty powerful representative if he can carry it through.
"Salient" was cordially greeted by the High Commissioner, who made some polite conversation while offering him cigarette and a seat. When this was over. "Salient" opened fire with a question about how the outside world regards our social experiments.
"O dear." said Sir Harry. "I'm afraid I couldn't possibly answer that; would you please read the rest of your questions?"
"Salient" reeled off a few of the less pertinent ones he had in mind but each was greeted with a shake of the head.
"No, I could not answer any question of a political nature." he said. "You see. I am a civil servant, and cannot make any public statement on any political subject."
This knocked "Salient" back a bit for all the questions he had intended to ask were of a decidedly political nature. But Sir Harry came nobly to the rescue with the following statement.
"I am most anxious to see New Zealand and New Zealanders, and to meet all sections of the community; those in farming, commerce, the professions, public service and other walks of life in fact, to learn for myself the interests, outlook and ideas of the people of New Zealand." Sir Harry spoke beautifully and gave one the impression that he had the words already framed in his mind with which to express his purpose. He has a very fine voice and uses it magnificently.
"I am most struck by the resemblance between New Zealanders and those of the home-land in their ways of life and looking at things; you are a young nation and are working with the enthusiasm of a young
Purpose in Life
His present Job was the subject of the next question but he had that nicely on tap..
"My Job is to be an additional channel of communication to supplement the Information transmitted through the ordinary channels; to explain the reasons of the United Kingdom Government in making some communication, the object they have in view and the general purpose of their policy, to give as it were, the background and atmosphere of the official communication. In a word, it is the job of a High Commissioner to interpret the mind of one government to another. A High Commissioner has the wider duty also of trying to interpret the mind or one people to another, to do his best to get the peoples of the countries better acquainted and to strengthen the bond of sympathy and understanding which is the basis of the British Commonwealth. The British Commonwealth way of doing things is to roach agreement by negotiation and discussion; you must have a, person to effect that personal contact. You will never get agreement by writing or telegraphing one another; it is only by getting around a table and understanding the other fellow's ideas and point of view that agreement can be reached. I am doing here what Mr. Jordan is doing in London."
Sir Harry impresses one as being a man of culture and discretion, but nervous and always on his guard. He seemed to emphasise this statement of his duties so as to deny in advance the rumours of his real significance which are everywhere. It is impossible to form any clear opinion of the truth of these rumours by contact with the man but it seems extremely natural that the English investors should decide to exert pressure upon our democracy, and if someone has been sent, why not Sir Harry? If this is the case. Sir Harry's task will not be easy, for here is defiance of the principles of our conservative pioneer forbears, as well as of our progressive present-day Government. We do not think that [unclear: citizenes] of this nation will tamely [unclear: surender] their patrimony of freedom and self-determination, nor do we suppose that a financial dictatorship imposed from overseas will be or can be, disguised to such an extent as to be palatable to any Democrat, be he Arch-Tory or Communist.
We welcome Sir Harry Batterbee as a messenger of goodwill from England, and we trust that New Zealand will be left alone to work out her own destiny, untrammelled by the strangling bonds of an obsolete and unsound financial system.