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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73


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In complying with the request of a number of citizens that I should give a lecture on the subject of "Money and a currency for New Zealand," you will, I trust, believe that on a subject more or less complicated, and supposed generally to be one of difficulty, I am, like most of you, very much an enquirer, and want to know; but I have endeavored to make myself, if possible, master of the facts of the subject, and to think it out, so that I might have sure grounds for my conclusions. And this is very necessary, for every citizen in a country like New Zealand, in which the people are supposed to govern, because clearly our safety lies in the possession by the people of full and exact knowledge upon this as upon all other subjects which concern them socially, morally, and politically.

This question of money probably touches us all more deeply and sharply in every relation of life than any other question. We know, most of us, from personal experience, at the present time how seriously we are affected by what is variously expressed as want of money, tightness of money, hard times, low prices, and want of employment. In many cases the barest necessaries of life can scarcely be obtained, and a very substantial part of our working population are truly living on credit. And yet, strangely enough, this is so, although there is in New Zealand a superabundance of the articles or commodities which all require for food, clothing, shelter, and comfort—plenty of beef, mutton, grain, wool, &c. And, more strangely still, this is so, although the people who have such commodities are most anxious to sell to those who require them; page 2 indeed they run a great risk of being ruined unless they sell, and sell too at a price which can pay. Just reflect for a moment on such a remarkable anomaly! Why does it exist? There are about 728.000 people in New Zealand, and all the products of the country are produced for the express purpose of being purchased and consumed by those people. The prosperity of the Colony mainly and primarly depends on that consumption. And yet the Colony is suffering acutely from under-consumption, and those necessary and useful commodities which we would all like to have are being largely sacrificed, if not lost, because the people are unable to purchase them. Grain lies accumulating in huge stores, unlike Joseph's in Egypt to be served out to the people when the famine shall come. Cattle and sheep in crowds are eating off their heads in keep for the same reason. So in regard to other products—low prices and no sale.