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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70

National Progress. — II

National Progress.

II.

The second plank is "To promote agricultural, mining, commercial, and manufacturing enterprise by removing obstacles to their development." Surely all persons must wish the Association success in that work, for on the development of these things depends our prosperity and welfare. Now our sons are leaving our shores and our daughters are vegetating because there are no openings for their handiwork. If our industries flourished our children would thrive, there, would not be complaining in our streets, and those of us on whom devolve the burdens and responsibilities of families would not be fretting our hearts away with disappointments and losses that make life scarcely worth living. New Zealand is verily one of the most favoured countries page 9 under the sun in many respects, but over speculation and administrative mismanagement have imposed upon us burdens scarcely to be borne. It is needless to say I do not blame the present Government for what took place before its advent to power.

What Lord Selbourne said of England applies equally to New Zealand:—"The time has come when, if this country is to be preserved from serious perils, honest men must inquire not what anyone with whom they are invited to co-operate may call himself but what he is, and what the political objects are for which he would use the power if he had it." The National Association will use its power to remove any and every obstacle to progress by whomsoever made, be he dubbed Liberal or Conservative.

Rising Above Party.

It will know no party except the nation; it will hold no truce with political carpet-baggers; it throws down the gauntlet to every enemy of the Constitution, to every assailant of the rights of property and liberties of the people. The cottager, with his little freehold, and the depositor of hard earnings in the Savings Banks for old age and sickness, will be covered with its shield and defended as unflinchingly as will the greatest man in the land who faithfully discharges the duties incumbent on good citizens and Patriots. The land of our adoption is worth fighting for; and the day is not far distant when her sons will love her soil as fervently us the patriotic Swiss love their native hills, and the sons of Erin love the Emerald Isle. Our scenery is unsurpassed by the famous beauty of Southern Europe, our climate is second to none for health and longevity, our resources in sea and laud are boundless, and the masses of the population are worthy offspring of the most free, mighty, enlightened and progressive of nations.

Agriculture.

The agricultural capabilities of New Zealand are marvellous. Our cultivated land amounts to 8,500,000 acres, 703,329 of which are under grain crops. Our wheat crop last year was 5,723,610 bushels, the third greatest yield in Australasia. The year before that our yield was 8,770,246 bushels. In 1891 the average yield was 1899 bushels to the acre, being the second largest average in the colonies, Queensland being first with 2002. In 1890 we exported nearly 5,000,000 bushels of wheat. Our oat crop last year was 9,947,036 bushels, being an average of 28.73 bushels to the acre, that being greatly in excess of all the colonies. Our barley crop was 23.18 bushels per acre, and our potatoes 5.45 tons per acre. Our turnip crop was 50,000 acres larger last year than it was in 1890, owing to the increase of sheep farming. Our sheep now number 18,117,186. The horned cattle are page 10 831,831, and the horses (some of which are the best in the world) 211,040. "With our genial climate and truly liberal land settlement schemes, the agricultural prospects of New Zealand should be encouraging. In 1891 we sent away nearly 7,000,000lbs. of cheese, and over 16,250,000 lbs. of butter. The value of our frozen meat export in 1890 was £1,087,617. So these figures evidence that our agricultural interests are worthy of fostering care.

Mining.

The fact that our gold product to December, 1890, was valued at £46,425,629, shows that our mining interests are of immense value and importance. We, moreover, have taken out of the earth £134,997 worth of silver, and other minerals worth £8,969,020. The year before last our yield of precious metals and minerals was worth £1,523,836.

Industries and Manufactures.

In 1890, we had 2,570 industries, employing 29,880 hands, who earned £2,209,859 a year wages, and produced £9,422,146 worth of manufactures. The value of land, buildings, and plant used for the above industries is £5,826,976. These figures indicate progress on previous years, which is encouraging.

Commerce.

In 1890, 729 vessels carried from our shores exports worth £9,811,720! That was about 13,500,000 in excess of our imports.

National Association Work.

Now it may be noticed that the Association proposes to promote the above enterprises "by removing all unnecessary obstacle to their development." Are there any obstacles? Is there a [unclear: dam] in the way which, if it be removed, will let the flood of prosperity flow over the land? If so, where is it? "What is it? Who put it there? How can we get it away? Who is sufficient for that thing? Obstacle number one is want of confidence. Men with money are loth to invest it in anything at the present time. They say," If we buy land from the Government or private persons we may soon be penally taxed for the crime of doing so, and while Government panders to socialists on one hand and land nationalisers on the other hand, we may some day find ourselves minus our land and money too.

The land Question.

How can we wonder at their feeling nervous? For leading men of undoubted influence and probity even out-George Henry George. The Hon. J. Ballance said: "I go even further than he (i.e., Henry George) does, and I say that the State should own all land; I say that the State should not part with a single acre more page 11 of its land, for I believe thoroughly in land nationalisation." Hansard No. 21, p. 372. Mr. Withy, too, whose high moral standing gives his words weight, while Member for Newton, said to the electors: "The reading of his (i.e., Henry George's) books nine years ago convinced me that he was right. (Applause.) . . Since that time my conviction has been deepened year by year as I considered the facts, and asked myself regarding them—my conviction has deepened that he is right. Private ownership in land is a bad system, inimical to the best interests of a people. (Applause.) See pre-sessional address, pp. 13, 14. Sir Robert Stout said in July, 1890, to a representative of the Times: "I believe that in time to come the State will have to interfere far more with land-holding than it has ever attempted in the past, or than has, perhaps, ever been proposed by any Bill in the past." See New Zealand Herald, July 10, 1890.

State Socialism.

Add to the foregoing the fact that here in the North we have a Single Tax Society of earnest, able, brave men, advocating single tax, and the changing of the present absolute ownership into a perpetual right based on rent paid to the State; and in the South a National Liberal Association, comprising some of the present Ministers of the Crown, which clamours for the nationalisation of land, mines, railways, coastal service, and for other socialistic objects; and who then can wonder at the nervous feeling manifested? Confidence must first of all be restored before money will flow freely for investment in land, mining, manufactures, and commerce.

Our Industries.

But if our agricultural industries are contracted or suffer through want of confidence, do not our mining, commercial, and manufacturing enterprises suffer too? Is there any encouragement to invest money now? If men embark in any enterprise, is there any reasonable certainty that when the work is sufficiently advanced to expose capital to great risks that the workmen will not strike, or is there any certainty some protection fad here or elsewhere will not cause ruin? That's where the rub is. We want deep-level mining done, but who dare do it? Coal mines need developing, but what amount of profits are the men going to claim as theirs? Manufactures are needed, but where are the employers' liabilities and State interference to cease? If the State is to make men leave off work and people close their shops at certain hours, capital will flow into other channels where there are fewer obstructions. If law requires that the names of inspectors of factories be submitted to the Trades and Labour Council before appointment, employers will not feel over-confident about impartiality and freedom.

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Other obstacles will occur to the reader. State Socialism is the great obstacle to the development of our colonial enterprises; excessive taxation, begotten of extravagant administration, is another; inadequate access to markets, protection fads, and high railway tariffs are others. If the National Association can only in some degree arouse the people to put on the brake to check Socialistic experiments, which destroy confidence and exhaust the taxpayer, it will deserve well of every loyal New Zealander.