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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12

Report of the Central Committee for the Year 1872-3

Report of the Central Committee for the Year 1872-3.

General Statement.

The League consider it desirable to place before their Subscribers and the Public, a brief Report of their proceedings, and at the same time to press upon the attention of their fellow-colonists,—Manufacturers in particular,—the necessity of combining to urge forward the principle of Protection, as a means of encouraging Home productions.

There are indications both in the Imperial and Colonial Governments, which encourage the League in pursuing their object; and the opinion is, they believe, steadily gaining ground that the circumstances of a new colony render Protection imperative, as well as expedient.


The Treasurer's Statement was audited and found correct, and is so far satisfactory, that it shows the League to be free from debt.

Inauguration of the League.

The League was inaugurated at the public meeting at Otahuhu, September 13, 1871, under the name of "The Agricultural League." There was a good attendance; great unanimity, and oven enthusiasm, in the cause was manifested.

First Circular.

The first Circular issued by the League, as the result of the above meeting, was sent to the various Highway Boards of the province. It elicited from many quarters expressions of approval and sympathy. Some districts desired to be visited by an Agent of the League, but the means were wanting. To meet the suggestion offered by others, the subscription of Country Members was reduced to 5s.

Name of the League.

The original name, "The Agricultural League," was considered objectionable, because it came to be confounded with the Agricultural Society. It seemed also to confine its objects to agriculture. The League felt that this would never do, but that the manufacturing interest must ever go hand in hand with the agricultural interest, to render the country prosperous and self-reliant,—to unite all classes, to find permanent employment for labourers and artizans, and a market for our produce. To embrace these views, the title "The Colonists' Protection League" was adopted.

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Influence in Parliament.

The League at once (Sept. 1871) prepared a Petition to the House of Representatives, presented by John Williamson, Esq., M.H.R., praying that moderate protective duties might be laid on imported produce, and they had the satisfaction of seeing a move taken in that direction. A list is given below of the Premiums offered by the Government to encourage homo production.*

The Imperial Act Respecting the Australian Customs.

The League congratulate their fellow-colonists on the concession obtained from the Imperial Government by the passing of this Act. They anticipate that it will be the means of largely increasing the trade between this and the Australian colonies, and particularly that it will be the means of introducing here the wines of Australia at a moderate price; probably they will be happy to receive our malt liquors, barley and hops, in return, now that the restrictions which hitherto prevented reciprocal duties are removed.

The New Market.

The League lost no time in urging the erection of the Market-house. A letter was addressed to the Mayor respecting it, dated Sept. 18, 1871. His Worship courteously replied, mentioning the state of the matter, and expressing his willingness to receive any suggestions from the League as to the requirements which they considered necessary for the market. When the plans were prepared, the Mayor was good enough to submit them to the Chairman and two other members of the League. They attended the City Council, and expressed their approval of the plan, and suggested that the two front yards should be roofed over, so that loaded carts and produce might remain there under cover. At the commencement of the building, the League were invited to take part in the proceedings, and at the Opening on June 20th, a committee of the League co-operated with the City Council, at their request, in forming the arrangements respecting the Exhibition of Produce, Implements, &c. The League congratulate their friends and the public, that such a well-arranged and commodious structure has been erected, primarily for the benefit of the farming interests, and every way a credit to the Corporation and the town. The day of the Opening was a marked event in our local history; probably no other public occasion has called forth such a spontaneous, hearty, and sustained interest among all classes. It augurs well for the future, that all will heartily co-operate to secure success to this important undertaking.

Statement of the Views of the League.

It was soon found that considerable misunderstanding existed in the mind of the public, respecting the views of the League, even page 3 among some who had at first occupied a prominent position in its formation. Some thought we should endanger our success if we openly professed Protection principles, and that we ought to proceed in some undefined way without challenging opposition. The League, however, considered that an open straightforward course was the safest and best to adopt; if it was opposed, they had sufficient confidence in their principles to defend them. They therefore drew up and published a "Statement of their views," early in January, 1872, and sent it round to the various Highway Boards. No valid objections have been raised against this "Statement;" it may be considered, therefore, that the fear of opposition was groundless. At any rate misunderstandings disappeared, and were heard of no longer. Some remaining copies were subsequently transmitted to John Williamson, Esq., M.H.R., at Wellington; he laid the Statement on the table of the House, and circulated some copies among the members. Mr Williamson soon telegraphed for a larger supply, but unfortunately there were none left. In order to preserve this paper as a standing explanation of the views of the League, it is printed in the appendix to this Report.

The League express their thanks to Mr Williamson, for the interest and trouble which he has taken in forwarding their objects, and also especially for a copy of Hansard debates, which he procured for the use of the League.

The Pamphlet, "A Bone to Pick for Free-Traders."

This pamphlet, written by a gentleman of high standing, long resident in Auckland, having been sent to the Chairman, it was felt to be so opportune and so well to express the principles of protection, that the League had a thousand copies printed and circulated at the Agricultural Show in November last, and among the Highway Boards, &c., as before.

Change of Day of Meeting, Resignation of Mr Andrews as Honorary Secretary.

The League considered it desirable to change their day of meeting from Saturday to Friday, as being the Market-day. They regretted to find that Mr Andrews felt obliged in consequence to resign the post of Honorary Secretary, the duties of which he had so zealously undertaken from the commencement. Mr Kempthorne, the Treasurer, undertook the office of Secretary at the request of the League, with the understanding that he should receive remuneration, if the funds should permit, and also that the Rules of the League should at an early opportunity be altered and amended in order to harmonize with some changes which have been made in the times of the meeting, and by the resolutions. The amended Rules are subjoined to this Report. His Worship the Mayor has kindly offered the use of a room in the City Council offices for the League to meet in, but hitherto Mr Sceats has freely allowed his room, which, on some accounts, offers great convenience.

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The Press.—Public Opinion.

The League have pleasure in expressing a strong sense of the obligation they are under to that portion of the public Press which has steadily and ably supported the principle of protection. They hope that ere long the same course will be generally adopted by the Press everywhere. We must remember that the Press has great influence in the formation of public opinion. This matter was pointedly referred to in the League's statement as a great object. The League have adopted a practical method of furthering this object, by determining to open communication with the Protection Society of Melbourne, where the principle has maintained great strength and influence.

* Bonuses: In compliance with a Resolution of House of Representatives, 22nd October, 1872:—

1Iron.—£5,000 offered for the production in New Zealand of 1,000 tons of Pig-iron of marketable quality.
2Steel.—£1,000 similarly of 100 tons of marketable steel from iron-sand or ore.
3Sugar.—£2,000 for 250 tons of sugar made from beet-root in New Zealand.
4Paper.—£2,500 for 100 tons of printing-paper made in New Zealand by machinery.
5Fish.—4s. per cwt. on cured fish,—dry or pickled,—exported from the colony for use abroad. Placed before Parliament.