The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 2 (June 2, 1930)
Empire-girdling Voices—Miss Amy Johnson Blows In—Anglo-Egyptian Conference Blows Out—Sacred Bonds of Sport.
The Impossible is Done.
During the month the Finnish barque Olive-bank, 156 days out from a Baltic port, arrived in Melbourne, and the human voice was transmitted from England to Australia as easily as one may speak from the kitchen to the dinning-room Anyone who had predicted such a thing at any time in the last century would have been in danger of being locked up. Formal opening of this great service of wireless telephony between Motherland and Commonwealth look the form of a conversation between the two Prime Ministers, who both happen to be Labour Prime Ministers. Their interesting dialogue has been cabled in full, but less attention has been paid to the exchanges between the two politicians who followed them—the Rt. Hon. David Lloyd George and the Rt. Hon. W. M. Hughes. It might have been thought that on such an occasion the two Opposition leaders would have followed the two Prime Ministers, but the choice fell on two leaders of third parties. The fact, however, that each of them is an ex-Prime Minister of world-wide fame makes their participation sufficiently notable. Moreover, “wireless” has a past, and both these men know it. “You remember,” said Mr. Hughes to Mr. Lloyd George, “how in 1921 that massed band of experts said this could not be done!” Within one decade the experts are confounded.
He certainly is a venturesome man who, in modern scientific development, utters the word “can't.” Achievement, however, has to over-come commercial as well as technical difficulties, and it is probable that the inner commercial history of wireless would be quite as interesting as its scientific record. Nor would it be by any means free of political contacts, as when Mr. Cecil Chesterton lampooned Mr. Lloyd George with charges that, years later, were refuted in detail by Lord Birkenhead. The veteran of many similar encounters, Mr. Lloyd George, met another such in Mr. Hughes, and the part the two Welshmen played in war and post-war councils has already been embalmed in war literature. Meanwhile, both remain vital sparks—or (as some would have it) stormy petrels. And that title Mr. Hughes would not disclaim. Press listeners at the wireless telephone opening heard him say to Mr. Lloyd George: “Politically, of course, you have your troubles… Yes, yes, full of troubles. I'm afraid wherever we are, trouble is very near us. If there's not trouble, we make some.” And Mr. Hughes in Australia gave a characteristic chuckle, which forthwith registered in London.
A Feminine Columbus.
That scientific urge that has made human conversation possible across the world—possible even for a man so conspicuously deaf as Mr. Hughes has been for many years—is not likely to leave flying development in its present transitory stage. Flying, like wireless, and like most other progressive development, is a commercial as well as a scientific problem. In age, flying is younger than wireless, for this century was several years old before the Wrights flew in the United States. But in some countries, at any rate, it does not lack pioneering capital; and though Stock Exchange publications have recently stated that flying companies do not pay, the confidence behind them in the United States, Germany and Britain is unabated. It does not, however, proclaim itself in the cablegrams as page 10 loudly as do the failures and accidents. Contrasting with these is the solo flight from England to Australia, of Miss Amy Johnson, a girl flier. Technically, her flight may not prove much, but psychologically it is for flying a magnificent advertisement.
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Ol Man River.
The Anglo-Egyptian negotiations to settle the terms of Egypt's independence did not produce an agreement. It is, however, only the first round. In that round, each party has carefully tested the strength and the weaknesses of the other party. Some people might have thought that Egypt was mainly employed in looking seaward towards the Suez Canal, and that she was not much concerned to look inland (up-river) at the Sudan. But the conference proceedings indicate that, after a demonstration along the canal, the Egyptian tacticians de-veloped a strong movement towards digging-in on the Upper Nile, wherefore control of the Sudan dominated the closing phases of the Sudan dominated the closing phases of the nego-tiations. Egypt's concern about the higher reaches of the Nile is understandable enough. The Suez Canal has been called the jugular vein of the Empire; if so, the Nile is no less the jugular vein of Egypt. If the lower Waikato were in New Zealand, if Hamilton and Arapuni were in the Sudan, and if Lake Taupo was in Abyssinia or Uganda, New Zealand would be able to realise only faintly what Egypt feels. But, in law, can it be said that Egypt's case in the Sudan is any stronger than Britain's in Egypt?
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To Run Gauntlet in U. S. Senate
Although the Naval Conference, unlike the Anglo-Egyptian Conference, produced an immediate concrete result, its ratification by all three Legislatures (Britain, United States, and Japan, so far as the three-Power portion of the treaty is concerned) is not to be taken for granted. The United States Senate is notori-ously rebellious against certain kinds of Presidential policy, and is particularly suspicious of foreign entanglements, as Woodrow Wilson discovered, and as President Hoover may yet discover. As the President, however, has intimated his intention to submit the three-Power treaty to the Senate “almost immediately,” fresh light on that point may be expected any day. So far, American criticism of the naval limitation seems to have been as much directed against Japan's share of naval strength as against Britain's. And in Japan there are influential patriots who are equally convinced that Japan has been robbed. The full strength of this American-Japanese discontent is not yet apparent.
Sport, which has long been inter-Imperial, is now international, and the visits of athletic teams have assumed almost a dip omatic character. What Davis Cup tennis is internationally, cricket and football are Imperially, for they embrace all the self-governing units of the Empire outside of North America. It is, therefore, a red-letter sport year that sees a British Rugby team in New Zealand, and the Australian cricketers in England. Both games have so many armchair students that the effect of tours and test matches reaches the old as well as the young generation, and numerous veterans who played cricket when Grace and Giffen did, or football in the days of Gage and Stoddart, are in the game as much as ever when test results are broadcast, so Australia is not so much concerned about the end of the slump as about whether Grimmett, Hornibrook, Wall and company can restore the former effectiveness of the Australian attack. Conversely, the success of the New Zealand loan will hardly countervail the disappointment that will be felt if the Rugby rubber turns against the white All Blacks.
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Woman's Tyranny Over Trade.
Both cotton and wool have lost so much ground to artificial silk that they have separately started propagandist drives to recapture the public taste, which is mainly the feminine taste. In connection with National Cotton Week, held in Britain, May 5-12, it was stated that today a woman wears from three to four yards of cotton material, whereas her mother wore ten yards. Possibly that experience could be parallelled by the wool propagandists, who have lately been conducting special selling drives in New Zealand. Naturally a wool-producing country is more concerned about the recovery of woollens than of cotton goods; but both industries can make common cause against the short skirt. Whether they have exercised or can exercise the slightest influence on the partial return of the long skirt is another question. That it is worth their while to try to influence fashion is sufficiently proved by the estimate that Britain buys every year 400 million yards less cotton than she bought before the war.
An Overture to Reciprocity.
In 1925 New Zealand exported to Canada £ 423,068 worth of goods, and imported from Canada goods worth £ 3,916,237. In 1929 this huge adverse balance of trade had been much reduced, New Zealand's exports being worth £ 3,353,975, and her imports worth £ 4,787,181. In that readjustment of trade, a leading part was played by butter, which, benefiting by the treaty of 1925-a treaty which was made between Canada and Australia, but to the benefit of which New Zealand was admitted-gained entry to Canada on payment of a duty of one cent per pound. So far did New Zealand butter profit by this opportunity that in 1929, according to official figures, 80 per cent. in value of New Zealand's exports to Canada was butter. Now, however, the long delayed action of the Canadian Government has materialised, and the duty is to be raised from one cent to three cents. As the matter is in negotiation between the two countries no more need be said than to point out that overtures for closer trade, if prefaced by a trebling of the duty on 80 per cent. of the trade of one of the parties, start with a tremendous initial incubus.
Struggle of Old and New.
One of the problems of modern industry is to calculate the rate of obsolescence. At a time when a vast sum was sunk in silent pictures, the talking picture rattled the whole fabric, and there were predictions that the silent film was doomed. Seeing that there is still sail upon the sea and that there are still horses in the streets, predictions of total extinction probably require some discount. Indeed, the Australian Film Censorship Board, writing in the opposite strain, recently recorded its deliberate opinion that “the loss of the desirable characteristics of the silent picture outweighs any advantage that sound may have brought.” But in the meanwhile no evidence is discover-able of any decline in popularity of the highest class of talking pictures. A London cablegram dated 29th April credits one American producing organisation with having cleared, in 1929, twelve million sterling, and with the intention of spending some millions thereof in film production in England, the strategic importance of which country is considered to be increased since vocal films became multi-lingual. Already an English picture produced in two languages has run in Germany.
Maqris Honour Visiting British Footballers.
(Railway Publicity photo.)
Replying to the address of welcome at the official reception at Wanganui to the members of the British Rugby Team, Mr. James Baxter (Manager of the team) commented on the hospitality that is being showered upon them in New Zealand. The above picture, taken at Wanganui, shews, left to right: Mr. James Baxter, Wikatoria Maru maru, Mr. F. D. Prentice (Capt.), Paeroa Hunia, Mr. W.H. Sobey (Vice-capt.), and Takiwaiora Rikihana Hopa—the visitors wearing the mats presented to the team by the Rangitikei Maoris.