The Auckland Liberal Assciation, January, 1893
It is a wise and useful custom, sanctioned by time and accepted by experience, that at the beginning of a new year a review of the past should be taken, in order that our steps should be guided in the preparing of our future course. In sending forth this Circular we believe it is safe to say that, never since the introduction of Constitutional Government into New Zealand, has there been so much good done in so short a time as has been wrought during the past two years by our Parliament.
At the time this Association was founded, two years ago, the colony had been reduced to a state of depression, unparalleled for its severity and long continuance Many thousands of our people were brought to poverty, and in despair they broke up their home and quitted our shores, in order to find that employment in other colonies which they could not obtain here. The Tory Government was paralysed; they made no attempt to stem the torrent of the exodus, or give our people any hope for the future.
Just at that time a general election took place, and for the first time in our history we exercised the franchise upon the basis of manhood suffrage, or one man one vote. Prior to this election the number of votes each man claimed was governed by the possession of landed property. Somewhat similar conditions once existed in America, when the celebrated Benjamin Franklin asked on a memorable occasion "whether his vote had been cast by himself or by his donkey." That state of things is now past and gone, thanks, to our grand old man, Sir George Grey, He has stood by us in all our trials, disappointments, sorrows, and bondage, and he has led us through the Red Sea of our darkness into the light of liberty. The result of that election in 1890 was the complete page 2 overthrow of the Tory Party, and the advent to power of a Liberal Government, headed by Mr. John Ballance
During the past two years our Tory opponents have been furious at the loss of their power. They have used their wealth and press to slander and vilify the Ballance Government. They said our leaders were bent upon class legislation and robbery. One of their leading men in Auckland publicly prophesied the formation of a special rifle corps to shoot us down! Evidently these men judged us by their own inequitable and selfish standard—by the maxims which have influenced their own public career during the last twenty-five years.
At length a new era has dawned upon New Zealand; our freedom is broader and more secure to-day than ever before; our Parliament reflects the will of the vast majority of the people; our land laws are more comprehensive, and at the same time our Native land laws will soon be brought into accordance with a liberal and enlightened public opinion; our system of taxation, though not perfect, is greatly improved; our people are rapidly settling upon the lands.; employment is plentiful everywhere; capital is abundant; confidence and contentment reign all over the land; and, best of all, our people are coming back to "Home, sweet Home." We welcome them with joy. Where necessary the labour bureau will direct them where to find employment. The sweater's doom is announced; strikes will soon give place to arbitration; co-operative labour (which will aid so much in the solution of the great labour problem), is now the order of the day, and finds work for the weak as well as the strong; and New Zealand is to be congratulated upon the courage of the Ballance Government, which has determined to initiate the system of State Farms.
Here children are blessings, and he who bath most
Hath and for his fortune, and riches to boast;
Here a man is a man, if he's willing to toil,
And the humblest may gather the fruits of the soil.
For the first time in the world's history Labour has taken her place of honour, and is crowned. Working men sit in both Houses of our Legislature; working men sit upon the magisterial Bench to administer justice, and working men are included in the Ministry. Thus New Zealand possesses in its Legislature, its Executive and its Administration of Justice true representatives of the working and industrial classes.
Our progress as a community is solid. We have peace at home and honour abroad. Great statesmen and great political parties in other lands are watching our career with interest.
We enter upon the coming year with the confidence which comes from having a just cause. We know that the spirit of the age, and of justice, is in our favour; the tide of human affairs is rapidly advancing on our lines. Our opponents may try to hinder our progress, but it is too late. Democracy has come to stay. The page 3 Tories may adopt many devices to divide our ranks, and destroy our solidarity; but in spite of their efforts we shall remember that our cause is the cause of the whole people. Thus we shall go forward to the conflict of the next election with the fullest assurance of victory. We have not the slightest doubt of "victory" if our people arouse themselves, place their names on the rolls, and thereby enable us to send back the present Liberal Government to power, and so complete the policy which they have in augurated.
We are firm supporters of the Ballance Government, and candidates who wish to secure our support at the next general election must declare themselves accordingly.
The future labours of the Liberal party will be directed to solving those social and economic problems with which civilisation is now confronted in all lauds, and to secure political machinery as perfect as possible whereby the will of the people shall be absolutely supreme in the councils of the State. The country shall no longer he governed and the settlers plundered by rings of banks, land monopolists, or wealthy financiers.
The first steps in the perfecting of our Constitution are to secure the supremacy of the representative branch of the Legislature, and the election of our Governor by the direct voice of the people. As to the necessity of our having the right to elect our Governor, there will, we apprehend, be found few who will venture to affirm that the present system should be continued, whereby an English politician selects some unsophisticated peer, a stranger to our country, to be our supreme ruler. We will also work for the complete recognition in our law of the absolute political equality of every adult, by abolishing all qualifications for the right to vote, except the sole fact of residence in the colony. Our Parliament, too, should have its duration shortened, so as to keep it effectually under the control of the people.
When we shall have put our constitutional and electoral machinery in order, there will be a great work to be done so as to ensure a speedy settlement of the land, good and cheap communication, the re-adjustment of taxation so as to relieve the farmers and producing classes from unjust imposts; while educational reform, regulation of the hours of labour in cities, old-age pensions, protection of seamen, simplifying the law, and a host of other matters calculated to raise the masses of the people materially, morally, and intellectually, will afford scope for the exertions and wisdom of those true and loyal friends of the masses whom we must use our utmost exertions to secure as representatives in Parliament.
We now appeal to all amougst us who wish to see New [unclear: Zealand] at once free and prosperous to join The Auckland Liberal. Association. Our rooms, situated in High Street, are open daily. Books, publications, arid the Electoral Rolls may be seen there, Forms may be had, and your name placed upon the Roll free. We earnestly advise all to place thier names upon the Electoral Roll, so that when the day of battle comes our grand army shall be ready to march triumphantly to the poll, and thus secure the ground we have won already, and advance to further achievements for the happiness of our people.
The Auckland Liberal Association,
High Street, Auckland.
H. Brett. Printer, Star and Graphics Offices, Shokland and Fort Streets.