The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29
Grand Master's Annual Address
Grand Master's Annual Address.
Officers and Representatives,—
The lapse of time brings us together to ascertain what progress our Order has made since last session, and to legislate with an object of promoting the welfare of the members and Lodges under our jurisdiction. Permit me to congratulate all present upon being spared to meet together on this occasion. Nearly all are old familiar faces of brothers who have pioneered the Order during many trials. Herewith is a summary of the main items for the past twelve months, transcribed from the Grand Secretary's statements. An idea of our correct position cannot be given, through neglect of several Sub-Lodge Secretaries. Whom it will be my duty to bring under your notice.
|At Credit of General Funeral Fund||1,047||14||11|
|At Credit of General Management Fund||50||0||0|
|Stock on hand||50||0||0|
Represented as follows :—
Relating to Sub-Lodges.page 6
From these figures £241 14s. 7d. has been added during the year to the worth of the Grand Lodge, £239 18s. 10d. of which goes to the credit of the funeral Fund, and £1 15s. 9d. to the credit of Stock. The sum of £57 6s. 3d. has been transferred from the Incidental Fund of the previous year to the credit of the Funeral Fund, making in all £297 5s. 1d. credited to the .Funeral Fund during the year just closed. Perhaps it would be advisable to consider the propriety of reducing the assessment of Lodges to the G. L. Management Fund from 1s. to 9d. per member. This amount would be amply sufficient for general purposes, and would reduce the management expenses of the Lodges.
The number of members in the Marton and Winchester Lodges are not included in the foregoing figures; we have therefore made material progress, which is alike satisfactory and creditable, especially in the face of several Lodges who have sent no returns. Winchester Lodge has sent none since it was instituted, and none received from the Marton since June, 1870. Returns have not been received from the following:—Rangitikei, since June, 1876; Mount Ida, since March, 1877; Star of Otago, and Linden, since December, 1876. The sum of £212 11s. 4d. is owing by Sub-Lodges. It will be your duty to initiate steps at once to alter this pernicious system of neglect. The members that belong to those Lodges who are in arrears of dues must surely know that if any of themselves or their wives died, the Grand Lodge could refuse to pay their funeral claims. It behoves them to bring this matter before their Lodges, so as to settle present debts at once, and send dues promptly every quarter to the Grand Secretary, or else an example will have to be made. This neglect (mainly the Secretaries') is the bane of our Society, and it is impossible, through this cause, to ascertain truly how the Order stands. It is provoking to complain of this matter every Session, but the evil is increasing, and at all costs it should be dealt with without further leniency.
Two new Lodges have been instituted during the year—viz., Green Island Lodge, on 6th October, 1876, with a membership now of 24; and the Avon Lodge, Christchurch, on December 4, 1876, which has a membership of 36. Both are working successfully, and my hope is, they may be productive of good fruits to the Order.
The desirability of Lodges having their own halls has always been a pet theme of mine. Meeting in hotels is inconsistent with the spirit of the principles of our Order, and even when Lodges cannot get halls of their own, they should meet in places away from hotel influences. Each year lately we are making a step in advance in this direction. A new hall for the Pioneer Lodge will be erected in Rattray-street, Dunedin, to cost about £2,100. A tender is accepted, and work commenced. The bottom storey will be conveniently arranged for public purposes, to accommodate 500 persons; and the upper storey will comprise a Lodge-room, with three ante-rooms. This is a commendable step on the part of the Brothers of our parent Lodge, who inaugurated this movement, and their enterprise deserves every success. The financial success attending the Leith Lodge, as also the Star of Canterbury's Hall, have exceeded my anticipations of last year. Not only have they paid all expenses and interest of cost, but realised a good round sum to pay towards the cost. The Temuka Lodge has purchased a plot of ground to build a hall on.
New Rates of Contributions.
This vital matter was left in the hands of the Standing Committee to report upon. From repeated investigations we found that to promulgate rates which would be equitable to all members, the matter wanted going into on actuarial principles. This basis involves calculations of considerable magnitude, which very few can do except trained actuaries, therefore as it would take up more time than was at our disposal, and wanting to bring something tangible before this session, we engaged the services of Messrs. Leslie and Black (two gentlemen well qualified) to prepare four tables, copies of which have been distributed.page 7
Table A represents what subscription should be paid, with present initiation, fees, for present benefits, and enables us at a glance to perceive that our present contributions are sufficient only up to age 25. Table B shows the initiation fees necessary for the usual benefits, with a uniform weekly contribution of 7d. per week to the Sick and Funeral Fund. Both these tables prove the fallacy of our present rates in vogue. Table C shows contributions necessary for the usual benefits without initiation fees. Table D represents subscriptions necessary during life for the usual benefits and an annuity of 10s. per week after age 65. The rates in these tables are only calculated for the Sick and Funeral Fund, and no provision is made for management; but for purposes of comparison 7½d. per week per member can be taken, as it is the general average of cost for general expenses in Lodges. After mature deliberation, Table C is suggested by the Standing Committee for adoption, and a uniform rate of 7½d. per week per member is to be added for working expenses, and an initiation fee of £1 at all ages. If at any time the expenses of a Lodge exceed the rate of 7½d. per week, the difference must be met by a levy, so as to keep the Sick and Funeral Funds intact. Present members of the order to be charged according to the age they were admitted. So as to give an idea of how Table C, including contribution of 7½d. per week in addition for Management Fund, would generally affect us, I have prepared the annexed Table (see p. 9).
The facts in these tables prove that not alone our own Society, but every other Friendly Society here are working upon insufficient rates of subscriptions and unsound financial systems. Our Order, however, has been working on better financial principles in these respects than any of the other Orders in Dunedin. There is not the slightest vestige of doubt in my mind but that the adoption of Table C is the only sure means of our being able to realise the benefits we promise to ourselves in the future, and it will be much easier to valuate the Lodges under this table, which the Government requires now every five years from registered Lodges. Let us anticipate our future permanency, and show that as soon as we knew our position was not secure we adjusted the difficulty at once, like men and Oddfellows, without being compelled, by any outside pressure, which the operations of the new
Friendly Societies Bill
will certainly accomplish. This Bill will prove a protection to the true interests of all Friendly Societies, and give them a locus standi in a court of law. One important fact which the Bill accomplishes is that our Grand Lodge can register all her branch sub-lodges and have control over them, which was denied in the old Act; and further, no Lodge can dissolve without the consent of the Grand Lodge : if so, the members thereof make themselves liable for heavy penalties. Another boon to Friendly Societies would be the establishment of a
for the whole of the Friendly Societies in Dunedin, with a view of getting the purest drugs at the cheapest cost. As it will be necessary to reduce expenses of management in Lodges, it would be advisable for each of our Lodges to send four delegates to the General Conference now in existence, and see if any saving can be effected in this direction. If drugs can be got by entering into this scheme at the same price as is paid to the chemist, it would be the duty of Lodges, for various reasons, to support it.
Letters were received from N.G. Bro. C. Lezard and Sec. Bro. J. J. Fryer, of the Avon Lodge, Christchurch, asking if it was in the power of their Lodge to "raise the fees of older members so as to reduce the scale for younger brethren." My reply was that the Grand Lodge, when in annual session, was the only power who could alter it. D.D.G.M. Bro. "Watt, Marton, states that the Marton Lodge had not met for six months, and the late members desired to appropriate the whole of the property, £55 cash and a section of land worth £80. Our reply was, that as they had no status in the Lodge or Order (being over six months' in arrears), just in the same manner that members of existing Lodges forfeited all claim to the property and funds of his Lodge if they owed more page 8 than three months' subscription, therefore they were not entitled to any property whatsoever. After further consideration, D.D.G.M. Bro. Watt was instructed to take over the effects of the Lodge and one-half of the real and personal property, the other half to be divided amongst the late members, to which no reply has been received.
D.D.G.M. Bro. M. White states that the Winchester Lodge intends to amalgamate with the Temuka Lodge, through there not being a surgeon in their place. My instructions were that nothing definitely should be arranged until a financial statement was first rendered to the Grand Lodge of the position of the Winchester Lodge, which has not been received to date.
G.S. Bro. Ridgley, G.L.U.S., has sent a large number of American reports, and stated that it was intended from the first there should have been a Supreme Grand Lodge of Australasia, to whom the other Grand Lodges of the colonies were to be subordinate. We contended, in reply, that such a principle would be expensive and unworkable, without any advantages; besides, we desired to retain the position we had hitherto had, viz., that of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand, coequal to the Grand Lodge of Australia, and subordinate only to the G.L.U.S. Copy of this letter was also sent to Bro. J. H. B. Curtis, Grand Secretary, Melbourne. Correspondence, being important, is herewith submitted and numbered in their order.
A Quarterly Report
issued by the Standing Committee would do a great deal of good, and would tend to check mistakes in time, and prevent the present neglect of Lodges to forward returns, &c. This is carried out by the Australian Grand Lodge, a copy of which is here for inspection.
Manchester Unity, I.O.O.F.
By the last annual report of this body at Home there is a recommendation adopted to cultivate intimate relationship with our Order in America, with a view of enabling members to visit each other's Lodges. My wish has always been that these Orders should amalgamate at head-quarters on equitable principles. They would then form a body of one million financial members, with Lodges all over the world. Their usefulness would be very much increased thereby.
It is my unpleasant duty to mention the death of P.G.S. Bro. John Lenton. He was one of the first brothers who entered the Order here, and held to it under many adverse circumstances; also Bro. Ferris, both of the Pioneer Lodge. We have to record the death also of Bro. Humphries, Wanganui Lodge; Bro. W. J. Fulton, Star of Canterbury Lodge; the wife of Bro. Fox, Geraldine; and wife of Bro. Parry, Leith Lodge.
Allow me to state that the subjects coming before you this session demand the exercise of calm, deliberate, and temperate discussion and judgment on your part. Let us hope the results will confer a material benefit on our Order. If anything has been omitted in this report your indulgence is craved. In retiring from the position held by me for two years, my grateful thanks are given to all those who have kindly assisted me in the prosecution of my duties, also to all those Lodges which have been visited by me, and who have always accorded me a hearty reception. To my colleagues, words are insufficient to acknowledge the many obligations they have placed me under. My connection with the Order has been of several years' duration, still time has not blunted the motto previously expressed by me—viz., the "Continued Prosperity of the Order."
Joseph Braithwaite, Grand Master.
Table C.—Contributions For The Following Benefits After 12 Months' Membership, Viz:—
Sick Benefits : 20s. per week for the first six months' sickness; 10s. per week for the second ditto; 5s. per week for any sickness after a continued sickness of twelve months.
Funeral Benefits : £20 on the death of a member; £10 on the death of a member's wife (for one wife only).
Initiation Fee . . . £1 per Member, at all Ages.
During the last two years the following are the numbers initiated, also ages when admitted, as far as Return Sheets show:—10 members from 18 to 20 years, go from 21 to 25 years, 56 from 26 to 30 years, 36 from 31 to 35 years, 9 from 36 to 10 years, 5 from 41 to 15 years of age. These figures will be useful for observing how the great majority who enter the Order will be affected by the above table.page 10
The Balance-sheet was then read and laid on the table.
Resolved—"That the Address of the G.M. and the Secretary's Balance-sheet be printed, and distributed to the members at next sitting."