Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70

Important colonial questions of the day … An exposition of the platform of the National Association of New Zealand

Front Cover

page break

Important Colonial Questions of the Day. By F. G. Ewington, J.P.

An Exposition of the Platform Of The National Association of New Zealand.

Wilsons & Horton, Printers, Auckland. 1892.

page break
page break


Having taken the initial step and a prominent part in establishing the National Association of New Zealand, which now embraces in its membership many of the most loyal, able, and intelligent men of all ranks in the Colony, I desired to place on record an exposition of its aims and objects.

The first edition of these articles that appeared in The New Zealand Herald was written without the official cognizance of the Association; but the articles being deemed worthy of republication I cheerfully consented, at the request of the Council of the Association, to their appearing in the more permanent form in which they are now presented.

I hope they will stimulate to renewed efforts all patriots who are endeavouring to rescue New Zealand from the control of those political adventurers who have purchased popularity and power by class legislation. If we combine and are loyal to each other we have nothing to fear,—"United we stand, divided we fall."

F. G. Ewington.

page break

A National Sentiment.


As a private member of the National Association of New Zealand, I would like to offer a few remarks on the five planks in its platform, the first of which is "To promote a national sentiment, as opposed to sectional and class interests." "What a truly noble ideal! If a national sentiment prevailed here the people of this Colony would be united in object, effort, and feeling, instead of disunited and forgetting that they are "members one of another." Never before except at the close of the last decade was there such a pronounced and distrustful feeling between the classes as exists to-day. It reached a climax in September, 1890, when a wave of delusive sentiment swept over Australasia. In this Colony it was characterised as "Millarism;" because an unknown, obscure, and irresponsible man at a distance, exercising despotic power, led thousands of thoughtless men to throw up their situations without valid reason for their action, or a week's wages to fall back upon. With a single stroke they struck work and the knell of prosperity.

Desolate Homes.

So overpowering was the class bias and sentiment that old, tried, and faithful servants turned against their masters as unreasonably as did the Sepoy privates on their officers in India in 1857. In some instances employers were deserted in the midst of responsible engagements and contracts, and teams of their horses were left by the drivers at a moment's notice, like batteries deserted by their gunners. Men's minds had been worked up to a morbid state by self-interested agitators, who involved multitudes in unhappiness and ruin. Ever since then many men who had good situations and happy homes have been wanderers in quest of work, and one by one their household goods have been sacrificed for daily bread. Part of the depression we are now suffering from was caused by that strike and the consequent uncertainty about what would happen next; especially as some societies promulgated anarchical doctrines which if put into practice would involve a resort to

"The good old rule,
The simple plan
That he should take who has the power
And he should keep who can."

In addition to the absence of sympathetic accord between Labour and Capital, and the increasing friction between the "haves" and the "have nots," there are animosities between page 6 political parties which throw theological rancour into the shade; and they are fanned into diabolic flames by ambitious demagogues who clutch at political power and emoluments. That is bad, because in this young Colony, where our lot is cast and our children were born and bred, we should disdain to be bound with the grave-clothes of a narrow factional party spirit. Unless we all set our faces against that evil sentiment of sect and class which is being imported from older and unhappier lands by artful panderers to a class, we shall bequeath to our children a heritage of bias which will vent itself in the destruction of all that makes life worth living.

Recognising how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity, and how evil a thing anarchy is, I was glad to find the National Association, comprising hundreds of intelligent men, pledging itself to promote a national sentiment, as opposed to sectional and class interests. Except that sentiment prevail, there will be jealousies, discord, divisions, and tyranny of the worst type; and an important minority will be ignored, if not trampled on. Legislation is becoming a mere struggle between the "ins" and the "outs,"and many politicians are addressing themselves more zealously to party support than to national service. Colonial interests are tossed about like shuttlecocks, and principle yields to expedience. Merit, unsupported with sufficient votes, is bowed out into the cold.

The People's Power.

But the matter is in the hands of the people; Parliament is only a reflex of the people. We get served and represented as well as we deserve. The people are the real rulers, and it is only because they forget that, and are set one against the other, divided, inflamed, and distracted, that place-seekers can use them as tools or stepping stones. Men who have never done, and are not likely to do them-selves or their own kith and kin, any good, are those who most lavishly promise to do great things for their party if they be returned. They will promise almost anything and everything for their party; but they seldom dream of promising to do what is best for the Colony as a whole.

All that sort of thing could be remedied if a national sentiment prevailed, but so long as electors are content with those who can merely say" shibboleth," so long will class bias and interests predominate over patriotism and national progress. It only requires that a few earnest, fearless, able men should enter upon a crusade against political cant and humbug, and should educate the people in order to arouse the country. Sentiment can be stirred and educated into a conviction.

page 7


Richard Cobden and John Bright proved it when they moved England to repeal the corn laws; Mr. Gladstone, in his Midlothian campaign, almost single-handed winning victory for the Liberal party, proved it; Sepoy leaders proved it when they inflamed the native mind about greased cartridges, and caused the great mutiny; Garibaldi proved it when he stirred the hearts of nations, and won Italian unity. Yes; people may "pooh-pooh" sentiment, but it sways the world to-day. It may be used for the weal or woe of nations; it may prove to be like the beneficence of heaven or the malevolence of hell.

Despise sentiment? The flag of Old England, which has "braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze," is only a bit of rag, but the proudest nations salute and respect it, and brave troops glory to die for it.

The outburst of loyalty when the Earl of Onslow left New Zealand was only sentiment, but it proclaimed to the world our devotion to the Crown and Throne of England. Such sentiment is a greater defence of our shores than our forts and armed leviathans. A nation without a national sentiment is united with a rope of sand; with it the nation's bulwarks are the bared breasts of its bravest manhood. Sentiment inspired a little band of Spartans to defend the Pass at Thermopylae against a host; it nerved Jewish patriots to defend their temple and country against Titus and his legions; it nerved Wallace at Stirling, and Bruce at Bannockburn; it inspired the Light Brigade at Balaklava, and the heroes at Rorke's Drift; and it has nerved soldiers for the forlorn hope. It was but sentiment that induced universal tokens of grief throughout the Empire when the Duke of Clarence died, but it did more than doubling the army and navy would have done to establish the English Throne.


But sentiment is a good servant and a bad master. It is not to be trifled with. The other day it led to a run on the bank in Sydney, and it has sometimes plunged nations into war. Commercial panics, religious persecutions, and political upheavals have resulted from sentiment. We ought to be very careful lest we do anything to cause a panic, and we should cautiously criticise governments and public measures, because it is so easy to create a scare. This sentiment or fear is locking up much capital at present. Mr. Battley, head of one of the greatest financial institutions in the Colony, and whose public utterances are most significant, said to a representative of the Press, the other day," . . . if moderate counsels obtain, and inequalities and blots in the Act of last session are adjusted by the Government . . . so that everyone has a fair chance, with avoidance of mere class legislation, then, page 8 so far as I could hear, there is a general disposition to let the party in power have a fair innings." Exactly so. I would fight tooth and nail for any Government which will do that; but can we expect it from a Government which studiously slights Chambers of Commerce and Employers' Associations, and defers to Trade and Labour Councils? which treats landowners as "social pests," and pays workingmen more than its own officers certify they are entitled to? When properly directed, sentiment impels men to benign activity; but when it gets the ascendancy of reason, it crucifies the world's best benefactors.

New Zealand's Ideal—What?

In this Colony there is no national sentiment, unless horse racing and betting can be dignified with that term. How few of our young men are thrilled with a knowledge of New Zealand history; how few adequately prize her climate, resources, and free institutions; how few realise that our Colony is a veritable earthly paradise, and how few believe in her marvellous destiny! What a field for the National or any association to work in, to raise for instance young New Zealand above political sect or party; to insist on equal opportunities for all men; to assist any Government that will be fair to all alike; to imbue men with a national instead of a mere class sentiment.

That such a state is possible I am hopeful, if the right cry be raised, a proper ideal set up, and the work properly gone about, for the heart of man is more impressionable than the photographer's plate; and if its chords be deftly touched, it will vibrate with patriotism from the North Cape to Stewart Island.

National Progress.


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.


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.


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.


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.

page 12

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.

The Best Men Available.


The third plank in the platform is as follows:—To promote the due registration of Parlimentary electors, true representation in Parliament, and the election of the best men available." This important plank is divisible into three parts. The first is registration. It must be apparent to all thoughtful persons that man hood suffrage is useless unless men register and exercise their votes. Many an election has been unfairly won through the names of dead men and absentees, for there is always some roll-stuffing and personation at elections. It is difficult to get some men to register. They assign many reasons against doing so. None refrain from doing it for their country's good. They by no means deem themselves unworthy of the trust and privilege, but selfishness deters them from registering.

The Reason Why.

So great a scandal has the neglect of the Parliamentary franchise become that legal disabilities are likely to be imposed on shirkers. Serve them right. They will enjoy all the benefits of good Government, and be the loudest complainers if things do not please them, but will not perform their political duty as members of the State. They "Don't want to take sides;" but they hypocritically "sit on a rail" and wish both sides success. They are like the lukewarm Laodiceans—they turn people sick As a rule they want to please both sides for fear of making an enemy or losing a customer or Government patronage, and they offend both sides.


Electors should remember that they are trustees, holding in trust for the nation the only power which can secure the return to Parliament of the best men available. If they do not use their powers to do that good work, they' are morally guilty of the ills the colony suffers at the hands of inferior men. The old proverb says, "Doing nothing is doing ill." Wilful neglect to thwart the murderer's thrust at his victim, or to lead the blind child off page 18 the line out of the way of the approaching train, would involve condemnation by political and moral laws, and it is equally bad to neglect to register and to vote for the best representatives available. Legislators entail weal or woe on nations. Those electors who shirk their political duties are disloyal to the constitution, unfair to other electors, and unworthy of the rights and privileges of citizenship. Registration and voting are not matters of choice but are moral obligations. Men ought to do those things, and it is now doubly necessary that all who have families and property should do so because the one-man-one-vote system gives the street-corner lounger and men with criminal instincts as much voting power as the large manufacturer, farmer, capitalist, or thrifty artisan.

True Representation.

That we have not now got true representation in Parliament must be patent to anyone who reflects. The true principle of government is the government of the whole people by the whole people equally represented. That is a very different thing from what we have got—viz., the government of the whole people by a majority of the people exclusively represented. Sometimes the elections are won by the barest majority, and an immense minority is unrepresented. The result of the last elections left certain classes and interests unrepresented. Indeed, some of those who went into Parliament would never have got there at all except for their artfully pronounced bias against certain classes and interests. By the present system the wisest and best men in the Colony get defeated by noisy, self-assertive carpet-baggers, who only take to politics for a living when all else fails them; as if, forsooth, those who cannot successfully manage their own affairs can successfully manage the more complicated affairs of the nation. What a delusion! (I except those who fail not through their own fault but through the fault of others.) But one test of a men's prospects of successfully managing the affairs of our 650,000 colonists is this: How has he managed his own affairs? Members in pecuniary embarrassment are exposed to temptations which people well off escape. The former are not their own masters, and cannot afford to be independent or to refuse office. Their very impecuniosity makes some men desperately anxious to get into Parliament, and they promise the electors impossible things to secure election. When elected they cannot hold their heads erect as among equals and be impartial to all classes.

Proportional Representation.

This question is too large for ample discussion here, and must be otherwise elaborated. Those who desire to study it will find it discussed by the late Charles Buxton in "Ideas of the Day on Policy;" by Sydney Buxton in "Political Questions of the Day;" page 14 by J. S. Mill in "Representative Government;" by Thomas Hare in "Representation;" and by Sir John Lubbock in a handy little book on "Representation." The exposition of this subject will devolve on those who feel it their duty to bring about an improvement in our present system. I am of opinion that minorities need protection and representation, and that the best form of government will not be obtained if the better taught classes and those who have most property at stake be swamped by mere numbers.

"Majorities Must Rule."

Some will exclaim: "Oh! but majorities must rule."

Must they? Not unless they are right and just.

The majority cried "Barabbas!" The majority condemned Galileo. The majority goaded America to rebellion and lost her to England. The majority has swamped Poland. The majority is sometimes unbearably tyrannical. The majority to-day may be the minority to-morrow—it frequently changes, but right is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. Hence the value of the Legislative Council, which being raised above the turmoil of prejudice of the Lower House can block unjust and hasty Bills.

De Tocqueville once said: "If ever liberty is lost in America, the fault will be with the omnipotence of the majority in driving the minority to despair." Mill said that "the institution of society should make provision for keeping up . . . as a shelter for freedom of thought and individuality of character, a perpetual and standing opposition to the will of the majority." America is finding that some of her greatest dangers result from the unlimited power of the majority—it is threatening freedom of speech and civil liberty.

If a majority of the landless in New Zealand decreed, through their representatives, "Land nationalisation without compensation" the minority would have sufficient spirit left to them to appeal to "a more fundamental law than legislation." Governments and Parliaments have no more moral right to rob than individuals have. When they attempt robbery, they must be resisted. To nationalise the land which the State has been paid for, without compensating the owners, would be robbery. Single-taxers would not have the State take the land; they would only make it take all its value for occupation. Like Henry George, they would take the kernel and leave the shell, because they say: "Historically, as ethically, private property in land is robbery " (Progress and Poverty, p. 262). "When the will of the majority is opposed to the eternal law of right, then men who deserve the name of men, will not submit to it.

page 15

The Best Men Available.

I should not like to be summoned before the bar of the House for defaming either senior or junior members; so, not to put too fine a point upon it, there is room for improvement in the personnel of our representatives. Surely it is not libellous to say that some of our members have never been specially designed by nature to guide the destinies of New Zealand.


Before doctors, lawyers, chemists, and blacksmiths can practise their professions or trade they have to specially prepare themselves at their own expense, and then in some cases pay for certificates of efficiency. Damages would be given against them for loss and pain through incompetence. No one would knowingly employ the unskilled.

Now if the less scientific businesses—such as horseshoeing, bootmaking, etc.—require special preparation, how much more the difficult science of politics, which implies a good knowledge of sociology, history, human nature, the law of nations, political economy, and the possession of education, based not only on book knowledge, but experience? Our doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc., are not allowed to live on the taxpayers while they are learning the necessary qualifications for their callings.

Have We Got the Best Men!

There are some educated, experienced, conscientious, and hard-working legislators amongst those elected, but on the other hand there are some who reflect no credit on the House, and render no service to the Colony. They are learning their new vocation at the expense of the taxpayers. In the next elections men, not measures, will decide the choice. Good legislators will not pass bad laws—bad men cannot pass good ones. The country is safer in the hands of good men than bad ones, and therefore we all ought to exert ourselves to induce upright men to stand for election, and to defend them from the bullying political persecution that hitherto have deterred the best men from serving us.

page 16

Economic Legislative and Constitutional Reform.


The fourth plank is: To promote economic legislative and constitutional reform.

Economics, are those principles which regulate the production, distribution, and exchange of wealth; and an adequate discussion of them involves a consideration of value, rent, wages, and the relative functions of land, labour, and capital in the creation of wealth, also the question of land tenure.

In proposing to effect economic reforms, the National Association has shown a boldness of policy which will tax the wisdom of its wisest members, and if it succeeds in economic reforms, it may do immense good to the Colony. But it should prosecute such reforms very warily, for the air is electric with economic theories, and any unwise interference with existing customs may do harm. The Association should, however, boldly try to do something to solve the economic problems which demand solution. If it should succeed, it will do good to all, and if it fail, it will fail in a noble effort, in which it were better to honestly try and fail than never to try at all.

The Coming Struggle.

There is great necessity for the Association's help. The outlook in the world is not cheering. People absorbed in money making and self-indulgence, and people whose knowledge of current events is bounded by the horizon of their own little district, smile at any expressed misgivings about the future; but those who have been close observers of men, things, and events, and are discerners of the signs of the times, realise that even before this decade terminates we may have such a social and political eruption as may involve the old order in ruin. Even in England the police and the household troops mutiny; in Germany, in spite of his threats to shoot "Westphalian miners, the Emperor's palace has been besieged with thousands of rioters; Poland is kept down with 170,000 Russian troops; Austria and Italy are alarmed at the social unrest of their people; France is in a war with Anarchists; Australia has labour and poverty problems, that may make the approaching season one of the blackest in her history; an armed labour struggle rages in America; and New Zealand has a legacy of class feeling from the last strike, which renders a large section dangerously sensitive to labour and Socialistic disturbances elsewhere. Never before was there such universal unrest, distrust, and impatience as to-day.

Fortunately, things are not very bad in New Zealand. Elsewhere they are bad enough.

page 17


Men cannot resist Democracy, but they can direct it, and their wisdom is to unite and make peace and order too valuable to the masses for them to jeopardise them with disturbance; to make such happy conditions in life as the masses will wish and labour to preserve. That can be done by securing for labour its proper reward. It cannot be done by land nationalisation, Socialism, and State regulation of everything; and its efforts to effect economic reforms which may tend to the welfare of the Colony, entitle the National Association to goodwill and a fair trial.

But it must not be expected that it will aim at equalising men's condition in life, for that is absolutely impossible. The drunkard, dunce, spendthrift, loafer, and habitual criminal cannot expect to have sober, studious, economical, industrious, and law-abiding citizens levelled down to their level. But we can secure equal opportunities for all, that is, so far as human wisdom can do it, in spite of natural differences. That is all men can expect and will get—fair play to all alike; and as a private member of the National Association, I believe that it honestly intends justice for all. That is true Liberalism.

Remove Restrictions.

Possibly the best way to secure that desirable end is to zealously aim at the removing of restrictions, instead of experimenting with new panaceas. Wherever an inequality exists, remove it. Anything which impedes the production, distribution, and exchange of wealth should be removed. There has not always been fair play in the past. Wealth has counted for more than loyal hearts and moral worth. To go no further than New Zealand: Railways have sometimes been made at the poor man's cost for the rich man's benefit; the State has been used as a milch cow by moneyed men; public works and the sale of the public estate have sometimes been manipulated for the benefit of a class, and now if democracy is somewhat slow and awkward in holding the scales of Justice evenly balanced, it is little wonder. There must be patience. Democracy has not had a long innings.

Man Versus the State.

But the State cannot save us. State regulation cannot make us rich and happy. We shall have to be content to progress slowly. Competence can only come after years of hard toil and patient waiting. There is no short cut to riches. Possibly that is a good thing, for one might "wax fat and kick." Easy come easy go. The tortoise beat the hare. It is the steady plodding at one thing, unallured by outside speculations, that tells. The page 18 great political superstition is in trusting to Government instead of oneself. The wolf in the heart often brings a wolf to the door. Material progress is not necessarily real welfare, and much discontent arises from the mistaken belief that it is. It is, of course, desirable that all men should be able to earn decent livings without being overworked. That depends more on self-help, humanitarian and moral, than legal remedies. Legislative interference will only intensify trade depression and obstruct industrial opportunities.

Our northern settlers have proved that self-reliance, hard work, and frugality can win victory from even an uncongenial soil on the margin of cultivation, where roads are bad and markets distant.

State regulation of interest, rent, hours of labour and of shopping, factory work, mining and general economic interests will make matters worse. There is too much legislation; there are too many experiments, too many bids for popularity and office, and the Association will do well to put on the brake to retard State coercion. Self-reliance is needed; and unless the people have that, no laws can help them.

Legislative and Constitutional Reform.

Herein, too, great care must be exercised. That certain reforms are necessary was evidenced by the Select Committee of the House of Representatives, which last year reported to Parliament on constitutional reform.

Governments and Parliaments have done some queer things, High functionaries have been liberally provided for at the tax-payers' expense. They have, in the words of the Select Committee, "pandered to any popular delusions of the hour," to retain power and emoluments; they have "bought off opposition by the expenditure of public money"; have sacrificed the country's best interests for party purposes, and sometimes encouraged class antagonisms; public loans have been raised for one purpose and used for another, and extravagance of administration has sometimes been shameful.


The following extract from the Parliamentary Report alluded to, should incite all loyal New Zealanders to demand reform:—

Next take the House of Representatives, where discord reigns; where party struggles obscure and obstruct the discharge of Parliamentary duties; where Government is supposed to lead, but really is itself driven by any combination strong enough to overthrow the balance of power; where members may be coerced by a threat of dissolution or corrupted by patronage—almost page 19 powerless for good—practically denied the right to initiate—where, with great waste, so much is commenced and so little finished—where so many abuses flourish under the vagaries of a system which leaves the representative a shadow of power, but a real discredit. Compare this also with a Parliament supreme; with a political atmosphere purified, with free scope to each member to exercise his privileges and vote honestly upon the merits of every question submitted to him. The people, too, would have issues simplified. The accretions of the past have left our political machinery clogged, encumbered, and disconnected. The voters' aspirations should lead to true and direct action; nothing less will satisfy their common sense. When an election takes place now, the people learn but little of the Legislature, and less still of the administration of public affairs; all is filtered through the bias of partisanship, and so obscured by personal considerations as to reduce public affairs to the second place.

Political Economy, Class Legislation and Civil Liberty.


The fifth and last plank in the platform is: "To promote sound political economy, and oppose class legislation and all undue interference with individual rights and liberty." Each of those three objects is of great importance to every colonist.

Few technical terms have a wider meaning, and few sciences have been more neglected or misapplied than political economy. Some members of Parliament are culpably ignorant of it, although most of the laws they pass have some direct or indirect bearing on money, exchange, taxation, land, labour, capital, and those other factors in political economy, which affect man's material and social welfare. A book-keeper, surgeon, lawyer, chemist, auditor, or blacksmith, who was no better qualified for his duty than many paid members of Parliament are for theirs, would be locked up for obtaining money under false pretences if he took fees or wages for work he could not do properly. If a surgeon or chemist killed a man through ignorance he would be imprisoned for manslaughter, but an ignorant member of Parliament can mar the happiness, injure citizens and nearly ruin the body politic at the price of £150 for three months and get off scot free. An examination would demonstrate that many M.H.R.'s have not mastered the rudiments of political economy—are culpably ignorant of those laws which govern supply and demand, and the page 20 creation and distribution of wealth. Some of them need, quite as much as the masses do, reliable information and definite opinions about the true relations between land, labour, and capital. If they had them they could not with clear consciences inculcate the lying delusion that land, labour, and capital are antagonistic, for they are mutually dependent one on the other.


With free trade in land, and free education there is nothing to prevent New Zealand from enjoying the economic peace and progress witnessed in Switzerland, France, and Saxony, if men will only be wise; but political economy must be better learnt Pamphlets, the platform, and the Press must be used to that end.

That such knowledge is desirable is evident to all who notice the mischievous meddlesomeness of many persons who delude the unthinking multitude with the belief that the State is almost omnipotent, and has only to pass laws that people may become rich and contented, whereas legislation may so disturb trade and injure the people as to raise a general outcry for its repeal. To go no further back than last session of Parliament; it is complained of in many quarters that the restrictions imposed on boy labour prevent widows with children getting from the elder boys the needful help to keep the wolf from the door, that the restrictions on women's labour have curtailed the labour of men: that the regulations respecting work in their homes have prevented some women from getting any labour at all, because they cannot leave their children to go and work in shops or factories; and that the Factory and other Acts are detrimental to both labour and capital. Even the best intentioned legislation frequently does more harm than good through ignorance of political economy on the part of legislators.

State Interference.

Witness protective laws. Our attempts to force, through Customs duties, the progress of industries in New Zealand for which the Colony is not so well suited as other places, have sadly failed, and the people have been compelled to pay more for their goods than was necessary. It has been just as bad in Victoria. Trades there which have been protected for twenty years need protecting still as much as ever. Let anyone see the New Zealand Trade Review, December 31, 1891, and "Liberty and Liberalism," p. 341. Victorians imposed a heavy duty on our New Zealand oats. We grow 2873 bushels to the acre, and Victorians grow only 22.25 bushels, because we have better soil and climate; but the citizens there are not allowed to spend their own money in buying oats where they please, but are compelled to buy where the Parliament dictates, even though they pay more and get worse served. But to benefit farmers they ruined cabmen, page 21 carriers, and 'bus owners. Similarly many departments of trade and labour are being injured through ignorance of true political economy. We tax Victorian cloth and leather to benefit our manufacturers, and Victorians retaliate by taxing our fanners and excluding their oats from their market. True political economy is such an adjustment of economic affairs as will benefit all alike, not one class at the expense of another class.

Class Legislation.

There is a danger of that here. The Auckland Evening Star, November 18th, 1891, says:—"In New Zealand it (i.e., the Labour party) has kept a Government in power, in New South Wales it has turned out a Government, and yet in neither case have the Labour representatives been much more than one-fifth of the members of Parliament. Under such conditions there is undoubtedly ground for apprehending a resort to class legislation which may prove quite as pernicious as that which has been overthrown."

Now I am opposed to all class legislation, and always contend for one equal law for rich and poor alike. We do not want one law for Protestants, another for Roman Catholics, another for Irishmen, and another for Scotchmen. Before the law all should be equal, and all should equally help to pay for good government, according to benefits enjoyed and ability to pay taxes. That is a fundamental principle of our constitution. I believe in Catholic and Jewish emancipation, civil and religious freedom, and equal opportunities for all.

Assaults on Land.

Consequently I oppose the subtle and persistent attempts now being carried on here by disciples of Henry George to nationalise land, and make its owners pay all the taxation of the Colony. That done, without fair compensation, and as an absolute necessity of State, like the taking of land for forts and roads, would violate the 29th chapter of Magna Charta, which provides that "No freeman shall be . . . . deprived of his freehold" etc., etc. Single taxers say, "We will not take the land, but only the using value, or unearned increment;" but that means the same thing, and they only put it that way because the plain truth would arouse freeholders to resist the premeditated robbery. But while I would prevent the landless from confiscating to the State the using value or unearned increment of the land, I would give landlords no advantage over tenants. Now if a retail grocer, butcher, or bookseller, or other trader supplies goods to his landlord worth, say, £20, he can only sue for recovery of the debt, page 22 and if the landlord fail before his creditor gets paid, he must accept a dividend like the rest. But the landlord can distrain or assert a preference over other creditors. That does not seem to me to be fair and equal, and is a relic of those times when landlords could legislate as they pleased.

The Best Security.

We must have equal laws, giving equal opportunities to all; and he is an enemy of his race, be he Liberal or Conservative, who will truckle to one class by legislating against another class. I think the National Association is right in its resolve to oppose class legislation, but "what can we expect from M.H.R.'s who try to secure for their own wages better legal protection than they accord to working men's wages? And what a reprehensible piece of class bias it is which puts all the machinery of the State in motion to procure work for only a particular section of the unemployed. If some men are sent from place to place at the public expense, and found work, why should not all men who need work be treated the same? And why not the unemployed women? especially widows with families. Clerks, broken-down traders, and some others, cannot break stones or do navvy work; but, if the State finds work for the horny-handed, why not for clerks and others? Is it because the one-man-one-vote gives a section the power to make and unmake Governments or Parliaments, and therefore, that section must be provided for? This class bias will work much mischief, and the perpetrators of it will be execrated some day. The taxpayer is now literally forced to pay for State aid in getting work for a mere section of the unemployed, while other sections of it are ignored.

Undue Interference.

What is undue interference with our rights and liberty? I would lay down this general principle and venture to hope that the National Association will endorse it, that when any proposed legislative interference with men's rights and liberty is unnecessary for the common good, or is unequal in its bearing on the whole people, it should be resisted. Equal opportunities for all should be the test principle, and if any favour towards or bias against any particular individual or class be attempted, that should be resisted.

Note.—For reasons against Land Nationalisation and Single Tax, see my letters to the" New Zealand Herald," in its issues dated May 17, and 26, 1892.

page break

The National Association of New Zealand.

The Rooms comprise:—
(a)Lecture Hall (accommodating about 150).
(b)Reading Room.
(c)Council Room.
(d)Secretary's Room.

Reading Room.—The Reading Room is open daily. Several Home and Foreign Papers and Periodicals, as well as the daily papers, are filed. Voluntary donations of books are invited.

The Council trust that the Reading Room, being free to all members, will be fully taken advantage of, and that each present member will introduce at least One new member.

Members of the Association are required, under the amended regulations, to sign the prescribed Form of Application, and to pay an entrance fee of one shilling and upwards, and an annual subscription of one shilling and upwards. The funds are also derived from voluntary donations of members.