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William Rolleston : a New Zealand statesman



Rolleston in a lengthy speech traversed the achievements of the Provincial Councils and reiterated the beneficent results of "a healthy conflict between localism and centralism as essential to good government". As indicated in an earlier chapter, though he was fully alive to the defects of the provincial system, he urged that what was wanted was not abolition but economy and simplification "leaving to page 114the localities such functions as they could best perform, with the Central Government still exercising a general superintendence and control without destroying, without abolishing and without tyrannising".

He denounced the inefficiency of the Central Government and their gross neglect of the gaols, asylums and other social institutions. He ended a lengthy and well-reasoned speech by saying: "Do not let it be said of us all that we hastily sanctioned a measure resigning our privileges and all that we have worked for at the instance of one who chose to say that he was tired of the Provinces." The Bill finally passed by a large majority, but was not to operate until Parliament met again the following year. In the meantime an election was held (in December 1875) and it clearly proved that Parliament had correctly gauged popular opinion in legislating for the abolition of the Provinces.