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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 61


page 53

As these paragraphs of Mr. Maxwell's report have no reference to anything I have ever said or done, it is not necessary for me to reply to the twaddle they contain. I may however, remark that when Mr. Maxwell talks about the cheapness of labour on the English lines, he appears to be unaware of the fact that it takes an average of 19 men per mile to work those lines, while here we manage with less than three. I presume he will admit that 19 men in England cost more than three here. His talk, then, about their cheap labour is, as I say, twaddle. He has not studied his subject, and is not entitled to speak with authority.

I have now waded through this disgracefully untruthful document with the best patience I could command. If it fairly represents the reports usually presented to Parliment, it is a poor look-out, for it is quite certain that this one must have been made with the intention of deceiving and misleading the House and the country. I, however, do not believe that it does, and I very much doubt if in the whole Civil Service any other man than Mr. Joseph Prime Maxwell could be found to sign his name to such a paper.

It will be remembered that Mr. Richardson in the House has, on three separate occasions, stated that I have proposed several schemes of railway management. I presume his object was to create an impression that I did not know what I wanted. The whole country knows that I have never proposed any but the one scheme, and if that is so silly why did he and other Ministers order "a great many" reports to be made upon it. I call attention to the fact that Mr. Maxwell's report does not bear out the statements of the Minister, and that he never attempts to report on more than one plan.

If the Government had wished to act rightly they would not have refused the prayer of the Reform League's petition to submit the matter to an impartial tribunal. As they have not hesitated to resort to direct untruth to prove me wrong, they certainly would have availed themselves of this opportunity had they not felt sure that the result of the enquiry would have been to show that I am right.

In concluding, I wish to express my deep regret at the personal tone this discussion has taken, but I have had little else than personalities to reply to. Why the Department—or rather the present Minister and general manager—should have imported so much personal feeling into a great public question, I am at a loss to imagine. I have never asked or expected anything from them, but, on the contrary, have endeavoured, to the best of my ability, to render them and the country a great service.

page 54

Personalities were first introduced by a most insolent letter from Mr. Maxwell to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce in answer to resolutions I moved as a member of that body. What that letter was like may be inferred from the fact that the Chamber asked an explanation from the Government, and an apology was sent

I, however, hope that good will result. The country must now see that no help can be expected from the present Government, that they are determined to stifle enquiry, and persevere in a system that is fast ruining the country; therefore the people must help themselves, and during the next session of Parliment not only make their voices heard, but also their actions felt.