The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 11 (June 1, 1930)
The Naval Limitation Conference saw two French Cabinets crack. At the moment Tardieu and Briand survive. Unemployment relief is greedy for the dollars spent on warships. Cheaper wheat may cheer the workless, but not the farmer. U.S. tariff still hanging fire.
Island Empire's Problem.
During the month that has intervened since last these notes were penned, the London conference to reduce navies has marked time, while French Ministers have come and gone. Of the Great Powers, France and Italy are still pictured as the stumbling block. Report suggests that Britain, the United States and Japan might agree on a substantial measure of naval limitation, but the unknown factor of France-Italian requirements obtrudes. This factor may not materially affect the United States and Japan, but it does affect Britain. Japan and the United States have no English Channel, Mediterranean Sea, or Suez Canal. Japan's narrow seas separate her from countries not at present high in the naval scale, China and the Soviet. If Japan and the United States were as much part and parcel of the European system as is Britain, their naval outlook would be powerfully affected. That fact is perhaps more clearly recognised in Japan than in the United States. The Japanese is an islander, the American a continental. And an islander—even in the peaceful isles of New Zealand—recognises intuitively the dangers of insularity. An American school geography once facetiously described Britain as a small island off the coast of Europe. If that simple geographical fact were borne in mind, the public of the great American Continent might see more clearly the complexities of Britain's naval policy and the courage shown by the British people in already committing themselves to a high degree of voluntary disarmament.
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Back to the Baltic.
While the naval delegates have been sitting in London listening to the cracking of the French Cabinet crockery, another sound comes across the North Sea, and it has on the whole a tranquillizing ring. It comes not from France, but from Germany, who is reported to have transferred her naval headquarters from the North Sea end of the Kiel Canal (Wilhelmshaven) to the Baltic end (Kiel). German motives are seldom entirely on the surface, but it has pleased some observers to regard this German movement as a gesture of goodwill to the Naval Limitation Conference. Let it then, pass at that. If the naval retirement from the North Sea to the Baltic is strategic and permanent, it is a striking commentary on the ex-Kaiser's drive in the opposite direction. The equipment of the Kiel Canal for the rapid transport of great warships was one of the significant facts of the pre-war period. Completion of the canal, combined with political happenings, directed by the lately deceased Admiral Von Tirpitz, forced the concentration of British naval power in the North Sea. Kiel canals and Channel tunnels are page 12 things that impress popular imagination. Some day, perhaps, their significance may be minimised by air transport. But that day is not just yet.
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Hunger's Part in Naval Policy.
From the naval to the economic front is but a step. Naval building is as much an economic as a moral question, and depressed industries provide part of the rea- Hunger's Part in son why governments Naval Policy. would like to waste less money on warships. People are beginning to ask whether ships should work for their owners, or owners for their ship's. Mercantile ships do work for their owners, but the owners of warships are working so hard (through taxation) that the question of armament reduction has long since ceased to be mere pacifism. Latest reports on the United States unemployed (variously estimated from three to six millions) and on the huge relief expenditure's undertaken, wipe out the fiction that the United States has “money to burn” on warships. President Hoover knows otherwise. And so does the American Federation of Labour. Neither of them claims to be master of any political magic that will dismiss unemployment with the wave of a wand. In fact, the Federation is credited by the cablegrams with the statement that “there is no immediate help for unemployed except through charity.” Money cannot be expended even in relief palliative's unless it is saved in other channels.
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Holding up Wheat.
Along with falling prices comes cheaper wheat. America reports the lowest wheat price for fifteen years. Cheaper food is not bad news for the unemployed, but it is not good news for the farmer and producer. For a few days the American Farm Board—largely capitalised by the State—was represented as helping the farmer in his effort to hold up the price of wheat, but later press communiques have tried to discount that impression. There are, of course, two opinions concerning any State-supported price-fixing movement affecting the supply and price of staple food, and the American Farm Board does not seem quite to know whether it is going or coming. The paradox of an over-production that cheapens commodities to some while it denies employment to others is being met with in most parts of the world. New methods need less labourers. In that case, says Sir Oliver Lodge, the labourers should work less hours. But he also says that they should work their less hours for less wages. And there's the rub!
A parliamentary Patriarch.
The day of the patriarchs has gone, but Parliaments still have Fathers, some of them long-lived. In fact, it is almost necessary for a Parliament to have a Father, one to whom the finger of constancy can point as to a faithful brook—parties may come and parties may go, but the Father remains as the symbol of continuity and of that personal quality which (some people say) rises above partyism and factional strife. The House of Commons has lately lost a Father by death, and the New Zealand House of Representatives has lost its Father by his recent transference to another sphere. But the most notable of all Fathers of Parliaments has just broken his record reign through the bad taste of the democracy in Japan. Tokio cabled that the February general election resulted in the defeat of M. Motoda, a former Minister and Speaker, “who has been a member continuously since the Diet was inaugurated in 1889.” To have sat continuously throughout the whole history of the legislative body of a Great Power is surely a record unique. It is physically possible only because Japan stepped in one stride from bows and arrows to world politics.
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Tariff, Senate and Elector.
A good deal of the economic history of the British Empire in 1930 may be written in the United States. Will the new United States tariff be enacted as proposed? If it is, Canada and Argentina will consider retaliation, and the latter's trade concessions to Britain (including tariff reduction on British artificial silk, under the d'Abernon agreement) probably already reflect Argentine dislike of United States high protection, and of its possible further extension. The reaction in Canada to the U.S. tariff may reopen the whole question of extending preference within the Empire, yet some of the Canadians who talk most freely in that strain are also the critics of the treaty under which New Zealand has latterly been sending so much butter to Canada. But the United States tariff is not yet law. Will the Senate and the President stand by reprisal-provoking duties in order to please American protectionists, or will they compromise on the tariff sufficiently to ease the pressure in Canada and Argentina and avert a whole series of consequential results? American legislators operate under the shadow of the election in November next, when every seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and thirty-two of the ninety-six Senate seats, must be filled.
A Price-Raising Press Combine.
Following on what was said last month concerning newspaper chains, comes evidence from Sydney (per Press Association) of a control that includes four Sydney daily issues, and which has failed to induce an independent morning daily to join in a price-rise from 1d. to 1 ½d. The control then asked the newsagents not to handle any publication selling at less than ½d., except with the control's consent. But the Press Association cablegram very definitely states that the newsagents “passed a resolution unanimously to handle all newspapers at the prices at which they are published.” The next move is not clear. Another thing stated in this cablegram is that the control includes the two evening papers formerly in fierce competition. If newpaper chains are to include dailies of simultaneous publication, this form of combination assumes a new element of interest. If it is practicable to combine direct competitors, it is practicable to combine all competitors. The public is not interested at the price end only. It is still more concerned about the source of news. Until quite recently the placing of all a city's dailies under one domination would have been deemed fantastic. This incident in Sydney is the best possible indication of the way the wind is blowing.
1929 Champion Station Garden In Southland District.
The Orepuki Station garden, Southland, New Zealand. This station garden was formed in 1928 by the late Mr. A. R. Allen, at that time stationmaster at Orepuki, and its success in the recent competition is a praiseworthy recognition of the late stationmaster's work.
Camera-Shot Big Game.
Through the once Dark Continent, catching some malaria en route, has been travelling His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, on “safari.” At one time “safari” meant mostly a list of the slain, but there are indications that the practice of game-watching, as much as game-shooting, is now finding wider and wider adoption. To an increasing extent the photographic trophy is replacing the tusk and the hide. The other day a prominent English weekly devoted its first page to a splendid “shot” (camera-fired) of an elephant intently observing the photographer, whom it had just detected on the other side of the water-hole, 50ft. or 60ft. away. A series of such photographs was obtained in Kenya “during two short safaris” and “not a shot was fired in obtaining the photographs.” A former Wanganui College boy who is now a district commissioner in Uganda, tells that on numerous occasions he “has spent days within range of game, but never fired a shot, occupying his time studying the life of the jungle.” Big game hunting developed from bow and arrow, spear, muzzle-loader, and b.l. gun, to modern rapid fire. Now it shews a tendency to revert to bow and arrow, which is the actual armament that some of the hunter cult are now employing in Africa.