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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12

Colonists' Protection League

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Colonists' Protection League.

Report of the Central Committee for the Year 1872-3.

General Statement.

The League consider it desirable to place before their Subscribers and the Public, a brief Report of their proceedings, and at the same time to press upon the attention of their fellow-colonists,—Manufacturers in particular,—the necessity of combining to urge forward the principle of Protection, as a means of encouraging Home productions.

There are indications both in the Imperial and Colonial Governments, which encourage the League in pursuing their object; and the opinion is, they believe, steadily gaining ground that the circumstances of a new colony render Protection imperative, as well as expedient.


The Treasurer's Statement was audited and found correct, and is so far satisfactory, that it shows the League to be free from debt.

Inauguration of the League.

The League was inaugurated at the public meeting at Otahuhu, September 13, 1871, under the name of "The Agricultural League." There was a good attendance; great unanimity, and oven enthusiasm, in the cause was manifested.

First Circular.

The first Circular issued by the League, as the result of the above meeting, was sent to the various Highway Boards of the province. It elicited from many quarters expressions of approval and sympathy. Some districts desired to be visited by an Agent of the League, but the means were wanting. To meet the suggestion offered by others, the subscription of Country Members was reduced to 5s.

Name of the League.

The original name, "The Agricultural League," was considered objectionable, because it came to be confounded with the Agricultural Society. It seemed also to confine its objects to agriculture. The League felt that this would never do, but that the manufacturing interest must ever go hand in hand with the agricultural interest, to render the country prosperous and self-reliant,—to unite all classes, to find permanent employment for labourers and artizans, and a market for our produce. To embrace these views, the title "The Colonists' Protection League" was adopted.

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Influence in Parliament.

The League at once (Sept. 1871) prepared a Petition to the House of Representatives, presented by John Williamson, Esq., M.H.R., praying that moderate protective duties might be laid on imported produce, and they had the satisfaction of seeing a move taken in that direction. A list is given below of the Premiums offered by the Government to encourage homo production.*

The Imperial Act Respecting the Australian Customs.

The League congratulate their fellow-colonists on the concession obtained from the Imperial Government by the passing of this Act. They anticipate that it will be the means of largely increasing the trade between this and the Australian colonies, and particularly that it will be the means of introducing here the wines of Australia at a moderate price; probably they will be happy to receive our malt liquors, barley and hops, in return, now that the restrictions which hitherto prevented reciprocal duties are removed.

The New Market.

The League lost no time in urging the erection of the Market-house. A letter was addressed to the Mayor respecting it, dated Sept. 18, 1871. His Worship courteously replied, mentioning the state of the matter, and expressing his willingness to receive any suggestions from the League as to the requirements which they considered necessary for the market. When the plans were prepared, the Mayor was good enough to submit them to the Chairman and two other members of the League. They attended the City Council, and expressed their approval of the plan, and suggested that the two front yards should be roofed over, so that loaded carts and produce might remain there under cover. At the commencement of the building, the League were invited to take part in the proceedings, and at the Opening on June 20th, a committee of the League co-operated with the City Council, at their request, in forming the arrangements respecting the Exhibition of Produce, Implements, &c. The League congratulate their friends and the public, that such a well-arranged and commodious structure has been erected, primarily for the benefit of the farming interests, and every way a credit to the Corporation and the town. The day of the Opening was a marked event in our local history; probably no other public occasion has called forth such a spontaneous, hearty, and sustained interest among all classes. It augurs well for the future, that all will heartily co-operate to secure success to this important undertaking.

Statement of the Views of the League.

It was soon found that considerable misunderstanding existed in the mind of the public, respecting the views of the League, even page 3 among some who had at first occupied a prominent position in its formation. Some thought we should endanger our success if we openly professed Protection principles, and that we ought to proceed in some undefined way without challenging opposition. The League, however, considered that an open straightforward course was the safest and best to adopt; if it was opposed, they had sufficient confidence in their principles to defend them. They therefore drew up and published a "Statement of their views," early in January, 1872, and sent it round to the various Highway Boards. No valid objections have been raised against this "Statement;" it may be considered, therefore, that the fear of opposition was groundless. At any rate misunderstandings disappeared, and were heard of no longer. Some remaining copies were subsequently transmitted to John Williamson, Esq., M.H.R., at Wellington; he laid the Statement on the table of the House, and circulated some copies among the members. Mr Williamson soon telegraphed for a larger supply, but unfortunately there were none left. In order to preserve this paper as a standing explanation of the views of the League, it is printed in the appendix to this Report.

The League express their thanks to Mr Williamson, for the interest and trouble which he has taken in forwarding their objects, and also especially for a copy of Hansard debates, which he procured for the use of the League.

The Pamphlet, "A Bone to Pick for Free-Traders."

This pamphlet, written by a gentleman of high standing, long resident in Auckland, having been sent to the Chairman, it was felt to be so opportune and so well to express the principles of protection, that the League had a thousand copies printed and circulated at the Agricultural Show in November last, and among the Highway Boards, &c., as before.

Change of Day of Meeting, Resignation of Mr Andrews as Honorary Secretary.

The League considered it desirable to change their day of meeting from Saturday to Friday, as being the Market-day. They regretted to find that Mr Andrews felt obliged in consequence to resign the post of Honorary Secretary, the duties of which he had so zealously undertaken from the commencement. Mr Kempthorne, the Treasurer, undertook the office of Secretary at the request of the League, with the understanding that he should receive remuneration, if the funds should permit, and also that the Rules of the League should at an early opportunity be altered and amended in order to harmonize with some changes which have been made in the times of the meeting, and by the resolutions. The amended Rules are subjoined to this Report. His Worship the Mayor has kindly offered the use of a room in the City Council offices for the League to meet in, but hitherto Mr Sceats has freely allowed his room, which, on some accounts, offers great convenience.

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The Press.—Public Opinion.

The League have pleasure in expressing a strong sense of the obligation they are under to that portion of the public Press which has steadily and ably supported the principle of protection. They hope that ere long the same course will be generally adopted by the Press everywhere. We must remember that the Press has great influence in the formation of public opinion. This matter was pointedly referred to in the League's statement as a great object. The League have adopted a practical method of furthering this object, by determining to open communication with the Protection Society of Melbourne, where the principle has maintained great strength and influence.

* Bonuses: In compliance with a Resolution of House of Representatives, 22nd October, 1872:—

1Iron.—£5,000 offered for the production in New Zealand of 1,000 tons of Pig-iron of marketable quality.
2Steel.—£1,000 similarly of 100 tons of marketable steel from iron-sand or ore.
3Sugar.—£2,000 for 250 tons of sugar made from beet-root in New Zealand.
4Paper.—£2,500 for 100 tons of printing-paper made in New Zealand by machinery.
5Fish.—4s. per cwt. on cured fish,—dry or pickled,—exported from the colony for use abroad. Placed before Parliament.

The Objects and Rules of the League.

The Objects.

The objects which this Association have in view are:—
1st.To form a bond of union and a centre of counsel and action among the cultivators of the soil and the manufacturers, as the proper means of giving strength and weight to their influence. All classes will thus have an opportunity of making their wants known and of promoting the common interest.
2nd.The great aim of the League, is to advance the general prosperity of the country, by the encouragement and promotion of Home productions and manufactures, with a view to the employment of a largely-increased population by immigration. As one great means to this end, they advocate the placing moderate Protective duties on all articles and produce which can be supplied and raised in the colony.
Lastly:They desire to maintain a friendly intercourse, and to co-operate with kindred societies in the other provinces, and in the Australian colonies, in reference to the above objects and aims.


The affairs of the League to be conducted by a committee of seven Members (with power to add to their number), three to form a quorum. The committee shall retire at the Annual Meeting, but shall be eligible for re-election.

The Committee meet on the first Friday in every month at 2 o'clock while Parliament is sitting, otherwise every alternate month, as shall be found convenient. Their Meetings shall be open to the Members of the League, who shall be entitled to take part, and the Associate-Members may vote.

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The Annual Meeting of the League shall take place early in July; a Report of the year's proceedings shall be laid before it, and a statement of the Accounts properly audited.

The present Committee consist of—
  • Albin Martin, Esq., Chairman
  • Hon. H. Chamberlin, M.L.C.
  • Hon. E. MacLean, M.L.C.
  • Major Walmsley
  • William Woodward, Esq.
  • H. S. Andrews, Esq.
  • E. Woolfield, Esq.
  • R. Bent, Esq.

S. Kempthorne, Secretary and Treasurer.

A Subscription of 10s. yearly constitutes an Associate-Member of the League. A like subscription of 5s. constitutes a Country Member, and a subscriber of 2s. 6d. shall be entered as a "Subscriber." The votes of two Subscribers shall count as one vote at the Annual or Special Meetings of the League.

A Secretary, Treasurer and Auditor shall be appointed at the Annual Meeting and shall continue to act from year to year, unless a notice of motion for a change shall have been given by some member, at a previous meeting in June.

The Secretary and Treasurer shall be ex officio members of the Committee.

N.B.—The Standing Orders adopted by the Provincial Council shall, as far as practicable, generally guide the League in the conduct of their meetings.


The Committee shall have the power to enact by-laws for their guidance, which shall have effect till the next Annual or Special Meeting, when they shall be submitted to the Meeting for approval.

The following By-laws were passed 30th September, 1871:—
1No alteration of Rules, nor any motion of importance; nor any motion objected to by two Members, shall be brought before the Monthly Meeting, without notice being given at the previous Meeting.
2The Treasurer to furnish a Statement of Accounts at the Monthly Meetings.
3All important papers, circulars, and petitions, &c., from time to time, to be entered on the Minutes.
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"Colonists' Protection League," Auckland.

Statement of Views of the Central Committee.

1The League disclaims any intention or desire to advance or advocate exclusively, what are called Class interests,—be they Agricultural or Manufacturing. Our desire is to combine together in one compact body,—with a Central Committee,—all who will endeavour to retain in the Province, all the money required for necessaries or luxuries, as far as they can be produced here, and who would thus prevent the capital of the Colonists from being sent to foreign parts, to profit those who care nothing for us, and pay nothing towards our taxes.
2We state decidedly, that we entertain neither the wish or intention of raising the price of bread or of other necessaries and conveniences of life to the labourer or to the poor man. We do not believe that such would be the result of a moderate Protective duty. On the contrary, we believe that if the Home-producer is fairly protected and encouraged, the Market will be freed from those extraordinary fluctuations, which we every now and then experience to our loss and detriment. Under a Protective system we should know on what we can depend here; the supply will be more regular,—the returns more secure,—and the price in consequence less fluctuating.

Is it necessary to relate, how the Producer has been constantly harrassed and checked by the market being glutted with foreign produce, when he was ready to bring his produce for sale? Heavy losses have been sustained in this way by corn growers, which has caused them to abandon their efforts in despair, to the great and permanent detriment of the Province and to the discouragement of their fellow colonists. In like manner, owners of cattle have seen the value of their stock diminished one half its value within the last eighteen months (as stated in our Petition to the House of Representatives) the result of importations from without.* What business can stand or prosper under such disastrous losses? So in Dairy or Garden produce; Cheese has been kept at home unsaleable; Butter scarce worth the making; Grapes and other fruits have been suffered to rot page 7 on the ground; Lemons from the North, after paying all expenses of packing, freight, carriage and wharf dues, have been given away, because large free importations had previously arrived from Sydney. The Bucket and the Broom trade, which were commenced here with fair prospects, have been similarly knocked on the head, through importations from the Gaols (!) of the United States.

Free Trade and Home Production are thus seen not to harmonize;—which are we to choose? Are we to continue protecting the foreigner and ruining ourselves? The people of America and Victoria are practical and hard headed and show us the way,—it is high time we followed it.

Numberless articles can be easily produced and manufactured here, if they were for a time fairly protected and encouraged. Woollens, blankets, flannels, tweeds, wool-packs, sacking, ropes, paper, beet-root sugar, tobacco, linseed and other oils, jams and pickles, agricultural machinery, and implements of all kinds. What indeed cannot be raised and manufactured here? Would the price of them be enhanced?—We think not: But even supposing for a time, the price might be increased in some degree; is it nothing to the credit side, that the money paid for the articles, is retained to be circulated in the Province among ourselves, instead of being sent away?

4Looking at the above facts and principles, if. we, the Agriculturists and Manufacturers, wish to become a real power in the State we must combine and form a united body, so as to act together and influence the Government. Then we shall be listened to,—not before. One step in the direction we desire has been taken. The Government has, of its own motion, initiated duties on imports, for the purposes of revenue. Our endeavour must be to lead them to adopt a much more comprehensive and important policy, viz.: that of fostering the cultivation of our soil and encouraging our own manufactures, by securing our Colonists in their efforts, by a general revise of the Customs Tariff, protecting all home productions.
5Another powerful motive for protection presents itself to our notice, at this peculiar crisis of the Colony. The Government have embarked in great schemes, involving enormous loans, and immense responsibilities for the future. It may be comparatively easy to initiate these great measures, making us dependent on the money-lender; but will it always be easy to meet the day of reckoning? That is a question which affects every man in the country. Who in the end are likely to bear the brunt of the burden but the main body of the Landowners? If a Land Tax should loom in the distance, how are we to meet it? Are we prepared to do so in our present depressed state? Can we make the foreign importer (whom we now protect) pay? What necessity then exists to improve and consolidate the position of the Home producer? If, by the adoption of sound and proper self-protecting measures, we can feel our prospects in a fair way of recovering a good and healthy state, we may then prepare for the worst. But let no man shut his eyes to the danger which lies before us, if we stand still and leave affairs to take their chance.
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Practical Conclusions.

To launch our League well before the public, we urge every man, who agrees with us, to come forward and enrol his name as a Member or Subscriber.

The Central Committee on entering upon so extensive, so important, and so difficult an undertaking need funds, and especially in forming and organizing Associations. Several parties in the country have urged the necessity of an Agent being sent for this purpose, and very naturally, but where are the funds to come from, unless they unite to supply them? No such organization has yet been called into exercise in the Colony, and it will require unity of strength and purpose to make it successful.

The Central Committee value the moral support of the sympathy so generally expressed by their country friends, but moral support cannot alone overcome the hard work before them. Give us then your name at once as an Associate Member subscribing 10s. yearly, or, if you desire it, as a Country Member at 5s. yearly, or as a Subscriber at 2s. 6d., and exert yourself to gain as many Members as possible.

In the meantime we say "May God speed the Plough and the Loom!" and help those who endeavour to help themselves.

Signed on behalf of the Central Committee,

Albin Mastin, Chairman.

Auckland, January 6, 1872.

N.B.—Subscriptions will be received by Mr Kempthorne, the Treasurer, by any Member of the Committee, and at the Bank of New South Wales, Auckland.

Atkin, General Printer, High Street. Auckland.

* At the present time (July, 1873) large importations of Hay render our own stacks unsaleable.