Auckland: Printed at the "Herald" Office, Wyndham Street, Auckland. MDCCCLXXV.
Sir George Grey's
Address to the Electors of the Thames.
His Honor the Superintendent, Sir George Grey, addressed the Thames electors, in the Theatre Royal, Grahamstown, on Saturday evening last. About fifteen hundred persons were present. The stalls, pit, gallery, and even the stage, were crowded long before Sir George Grey entered the building. Upon His Honor making his appearance he was received with echoing cheers from all sides, and those who were not already standing rose to greet him.
Mr. Lawlor was proposed to take the chair,
Mr. T. W. Gudgeon proposed that the Mayor take the chair.
This was seconded by Mr. William J. Speight, and carried.
The Mayor took the chair, and said: Gentlemen,—This meeting has been called with the view of giving Sir George Grey an opportunity of addressing the electors of the Thames. I am only sorry that Sir George Grey upon his arrival here did not come under more favourable circumstances than he did. I just wish to set myself right, as well as some of the public, in regard to the meeting called to receive Sir George Grey here. I believe that if a public meeting had been properly called, Sir George Grey's reception would have been such as we should all think him worthy to have welcomed him back to the Thames. Gentlemen, it is needless for me to speak of Sir George Grey in flattering terms. We all look upon him, as we always have done, as a man able and willing to perform his duty, and he will, without doubt, do so to the best of his ability. To a great extent he has performed his duties as a statesman and as a thorough gentleman. Unfortunately, gentlemen, we have happened to differ from him on one essential point, and he, as leader of the Opposition, cannot therefore expect us, perhaps, to receive him as he was received in Auckland, in conformity to the public wishes. Still, at the same time, as our Superintendent, I am sure that I echo the wish of everyone when I welcome him here. Now, he has but a short time to remain, so I will at once call upon Sir George Grey to be kind enough at once to deliver his promised address.
Sir George Grey, who was received with loud and enthusiastic applause, said : Mr. Mayor and gentlemen,—I appear before you here to-night, as your Superintendent,—(cheers)—as the person specially charged with your welfare, in regard to all administrative questions. When asked to address you, I explained, in the most distinct manner, that that was the character in which it was my duty to appear before you. You will remember that when many of the inhabitants of this province wished me to become the Superintendent of the province of Auckland, I then appeared before you and explained unhesitatingly my views upon all points in regard to which you were interested. On that occasion I had the pleasure of seeing my friend the Mayor in the chair,—(cheers.)—a gentleman whom I have known and appreciated for a good many years. He has devoted himself to your service, and to him I trust you are all grateful for what he has done. He, in reference to Grahamstown, holds somewhat the same position which I do with regard to the whole province, that is, he is the chief administrative officer here. I have done my utmost to help him in the performance of his duties, and I have done so with a view to your welfare, and also I must admit to some extent from the personal regard for himself—a regard based, as I tell you, upon an acquaintance of many, many years. Well, I now appear again before you as your Superintendent to again fulfil what I understand to be your desire, that is, that I should address you with regard to what was done for your interests during the last session of the General Assembly, and that I should point out to you what I think this part of the province of Auckland requires to be done for it under present circumstances, with a view to the future welfare of its inhabitants generally, and of the mining population in especial. Now, with regard to what passed in the General Assembly. As you are well aware, I was not your representative, and in that respect you had no special claim, as it were, upon my attention, but knowing the Thames district to have been what page 4 I thought scandalously non-represented—(cheers),—having only one member allowed to its vast population, while, comparatively speaking, villages had as many as two or three representatives in some cases, I felt it my duty to give your representative—your one representative—every possible assistance in doing that which we judged your interests required us to do. As you are aware, between him and myself a difference existed upon some political questions; but hardly any difference ever existed between us upon any point which concerned your welfare; and I need not tell you that when we had to consider questions of that kind, that is, questions concerning the interests of the population of the Thames, we let greater political questions cause no difference whatever between us. I therefore can assure you that it was impossible that I could have done more, under any circumstances, to promote your interests in the Assembly than I endeavoured to do last session. (Cheers.) First of all, upon the subject of your representation : As you are aware, a second member has been given to you. In justice you are entitled to three members at least—in fact, in proportion to the population here, a greater number than that might, with very great fairness and impartiality, have been given. For reasons which I myself cannot understand, it was determined by those in power that you should only have two representatives, and that number you are to have for the future. I can only say again, with reference to your representatives, that you may rely upon it that even if I was not Superintendent of the province, I should still give your representatives, whoever they may be, every assistance in my power to procure what is good and necessary for yourselves. (Loud cheers.) Now, I would wish to explain one point to you, that there may be no misunderstanding upon the subject, and that is, what the line of action was which I followed in reference to what is termed" the question of the abolition of the provinces and I do this that you may know exactly the view that the Superintendent of this province took. What I contended for was this: that the Constitutional law of the Empire required that no great change of that kind should take place until the constituencies had been appealed to, and that was a point upon which I had the assistance of many powerful and influential minds in the General Assembly, so that at last we succeeded in gaining that privilege for the constituencies of New Zealand, namely, that they themselves are to be heard upon these most momentous questions, and the future destinies of the colony now lie in your own hands. I tell you, as I have stated to all other persons throughout New Zealand to whom I have spoken, that my own views upon this question, after years of reflection, after repeated conversations with some of the greatest minds of the present age—some of whom have now departed to another world—after giving the utmost attention to it, my own views are entirely and unalterably fixed as to what will be best for yourselves and for the human race in future. But every man in the world must know this, that he cannot have all things ever his own way; that if people are bent upon any particular project, he can only do his best to instruct them, to endeavour to win them to agree with himself; but when once their determination is made up, it is the duty of every good citizen to accept whatever form of government may be formally established by the will of the people—(cheers)—and, utterly forgetting himself, to do his best to render that form of government productive of the happiness and welfare of the community at large. It is not for any single individual to decide himself how men are to be governed. I throughout have contended that it is for the people themselves to decide that, and when they have decided, that it is the duty of every citizen to conform to the form of government set up, and to do his best to render the public prosperous and contented under it, and you may rely upon it that is the course I will pursue. (Cheers.) But let me tell you again, that in your future Constitution there should be certain main features to which, I think, you should pay great attention, and insist upon those features being introduced into your Constitution, and being constantly and permanently kept in view. Now, the one thing that is most essential, in my mind, is this, that there should be no secrecy in the Government—(cheers),—that every action of the Government should take place before the public eye, and that the fullest information should be supplied to the public upon all points. (Hear, hear.) And this will be a very difficult matter to attain, but it is a thing you should all insist upon being attained in the greatest possible degree. At the present moment the population of New Zealand know little or nothing of matters most important to their own interest; that is the case under the form of government existing here, that is, a Government sitting in an isolated locality, with nothing like a Press capable of disseminating information throughout the country. Now, in saying that, I make no comment upon the general conductors of the Press, because many of them are friends of my own, and I can assure you, that in ability and disinterestedness, they equal the members of any Press in any country in which I have ever been; but to bring out such a newspaper as the Times, or one of the other great London newspapers, in which every speech in Parliament, and every step of the Government is reported, requires the expenditure of an enormous sum of money,—so vast a sum of money that the population of New Zealand are not capable of supporting a paper of that kind, and you cannot therefore expect the same facilities in that direction as are enjoyed by the people of Great Britain. The necessary result of this is, to take one instance, some of the most important committees which sat last session—committees upon which the whole future welfare of the Thames district depends page 5 —are comparatively unknown to you; for instance, the committee that sat to investigate the questions connected with the Tairua. (Cheers.) I believe that at the present moment no copy of the proceedings of that committee has reached this district, and in truth your whole future in some respects hangs upon those proceedings. Indeed, such was the difficulty of getting matters of this kind printed at Wellington, that it was with the greatest difficulty I, who was chairman of that committee, was able to obtain only two copies of it. You will see, from that cause alone, that it is quite impossible you can be put in possession of that information which you require, unless some adequate and different means from those now in existence are adopted, and I think that, in pursuit of your own interest, you should carefully watch for some possible means by which you may have all necessary information afforded to you without any delay. Now that is one point I have alluded to, but there are other matters close to us that under the present form of government are not to my mind sufficiently explained. In any other country in which I have been, if there was a question of acquiring lands for the public, every step taken in reference to the acquisition of such lands would be known from day to clay to the whole population. Everybody would know what chance there was of acquiring a particular block of land, at what date the purchase was likely to be completed, what was the nature of the land it contained, and what parts of the land would be offered for sale. [A Voice: "It wouldn't do to know that in this country."] Well, unless you have information of that kind, it is quite certain you can never possibly look after your own interests in that respect. I know that even Provincial Governments—the Superintendents of provinces, who are the persons mainly interested in such subjects, can obtain no information on them, and you should, I think, see that, when a future form of government is set up, alterations are made in that direction. It is my duty to give you points of this kind, in which your own welfare is so completely and mainly concerned. Then there is another point which has particularly occurred to me since I have been here, which I think requires very careful consideration upon your part. Now, that is the question of what are called endowments in the General Assembly, which are to be given to your Road Boards, and I speak seriously this to all of you—to you, gentlemen, upon the platform, and to all others here,—because it is a point which I have never seen touched upon, and I was anxious to delay touching upon it till I came here; because it is one of the cardinal points in my mind upon which your whole future welfare hangs. You are aware it is proposed to give you what are called "endowments," and, as I have pointed out elsewhere, these endowments consist of taxes to be taken out of your own pockets. (Cheers and laughter.) To some extent I should not object to that system under a different mode of taxation, but you will see presently why I particularly object to it as a general principle, and why I considered that acting in your own special interest, it was my duty to object to the utmost of my power to such endowments as were proposed in that form. Now, just consider for one moment—let us take, for example, the Middle Island and the Road Boards there. The Middle Island is a country with but a very small native population, occupied either by farmers upon, comparatively speaking, farms of no very great extent, or by large pastoral tenants of the Crown—in some cases by gentlemen who have purchased very considerable properties from the Crown. Road Boards there—like Road Boards here—are only allowed to rate property to a certain amount;—that is, they are not allowed to lay very heavy hands upon the large proprietors. (Cheers and laughter.) Well, I object to that, but I object to something much more in your own case. You will see this, that they can tax all lands to the small extent to which they are allowed to tax them, and I hope that under my assistance and by the assistance of my friends they will have additional power given them by which they will be able to get more from large landed proprietors, who ought to pay more than they do. Now, just follow me in this. When in the Middle Island in that way they have raised one pound by these rates—two pounds is to be given them from the general revenue of the whole colony—from taxes raised from yourselves as well as from everyone else,—from taxes raised upon tea, sugar, clothes—from taxes paid by the children for their sugar-plums and lolypops. Out of taxes so raised they will get two pounds for every one pound raised by local taxation. But, now, what are you to do here in the midst of a great native population? if you were to try to make them pay road rates, or local taxes of that kind they would not like you to have roads through their territory. You will be able to raise only very slight sums in this way, and those sums only near the towns, so that you will get little in the form of the one pound, and, in comparison, hardly anything at all in the form of the two pounds; but you will go on contributing from your earnings, to the falsely called endowments to be given to the rest of New Zealand. I do not know if I have made myself quite clear upon that point and how your interests here hang upon that question. This is a matter which may still be avoided to a great extent by a change in the system of taxation. It is to make taxation fall upon property in a way that it does not now—(loud cheers),—and by taking care that what are called "endowments," are given to the people in some proportion to their contributions to the whole revenue, and to their necessities. I will briefly touch on one point now, in regard to what I mean, which I will allude to more fully hereafter. Now, what I say is that our wants in this part of New Zealand are much greater than the wants of the settlers in other parts of New Zealand, and wants of a kind which entitle us to a page 6 sympathy which has not hitherto been extended to us. For instance, I see we are on excellent terms with the native population now—that is, with the great mass of them,—at least, the greater part of them in our vicinity. Nothing would have tended more to give us power to consolidate the state of things existing between us and the natives than to give us railways here as in the South; whereas, we have hardly any railroads, and yet we have to defray the same proportion in regard to population of the cost of these railroads as is defrayed by the persons who have them. We are in many instances much the larger population and have most need of the railroads, but we don't get them, though we pay most for them. I will go more at large now into that point. As an example of what I mean, let a railroad run from here to the Waikato. What a different position we should all be in? (Cheers.) Imagine the strengthening that it would give to these two communities—what I may call the great community of the Thames, and the rapidly augmenting European community of the Waikato. If within so short a period of time they could then communicate with each other, just consider the growth of commerce that would be given to this place, if only the produce of the Waikato could be poured down into it by the railroad. Conceive the population it would probably attract to these shores, and you will see that the railroad would remove all chance of further collision between the natives and the European population of this country. That is what I mean by saying we have claims upon the sympathy of New Zealand generally, which have not hitherto been sufficiently recognised. (Cheers.) In connection with that point—because it bears upon the question of taxation,—as your Superintendent, I ought to speak to you upon one or two other subjects. You are all aware that I think in my own mind that the gold duty ought to have been taken off. I was told that my proposal for that purpose was exceedingly unpopular here. [Cries of "No, no!"—A voice : "Only by two in the corner !"] I state what was generally alleged in the General Assembly of New Zealand, and answered to me always. That there may be no misunderstanding on the question, I wish first to reason it out with you. Now, the reason alleged in favour of the maintenance of that gold duty was that, by raising it, £2 for every contributed to the gold revenue would be given for public works to the people of the Thames. I may be wrong or I may not be wrong; but I did not believe myself that that sum of money would ever be contributed for more than one year at the most. (Cheers.) I believed that, when you came to pay a million of interest on your debt, which you will have to do in a year or so, it would be found very difficult to get the necessary sums of money to pay these large so-called endowments without a total change of taxation and reduction of expenditure, and I saw no chance of that change of taxation or reduction of expenditure taking place. I also felt this, that the gold duty was an excessively unfair tax, and I heard no reason whatever alleged to the contrary. I wish to make no misrepresentation of the reasons given; in fact, they amounted simply to this, that it was a duty very easily levied, that the people had got accustomed to it, and the Colonial Treasurer said in the most positive manner that the incidence of the tax was this,—that it only took fivepence a-day from the wages of each miner. Well, now, that created a very great sensation. The statement was deliberately made, and it created a great sensation because I put it in this form, that it amounted to something considerably more than a loaf of bread a-day to every miner's family, and then they answered me that the calculation was wrong. This was found out by another gentleman when he found the sensation produced. He said that the Colonial Treasurer had made a mistake (a thing he certainly ought not to have done), and that it only amounted to three halfpence per day from each miner, and another gentleman said that it was not altogether a hard tax, because in the winter, when the miners could not work in the mines, the tax would then afford means to employ them on the roads. If that argument meant anything at all it was this: that so much was to be taken from them in the summer to make them pay themselves for working in the winter. (Loud cheers and laughter.) Well, all this, instead of convincing me, as they thought it ought to have done, only confirmed me in my own opinion, and I will still do my very utmost to get "that duty taken off, and all those present can testify that the Assembly was very angry with me; but what brought me into the greatest disgrace of all was this, that I said, "If some special taxation is to be put on, give me a halfpenny in the pound on wool instead of this," upon which a gentleman in the Assembly who was largely interested in pastoral pursuits, rose and said that a great mistake had been made by the people,—they had believed it was the greatest blessing I had come back from private life, and he thought that it was the greatest misfortune that had ever occurred. (Loud and prolonged cheers, and laughter.) Well, now, I still tell you I am confirmed in my own opinion that this duty upon gold is not a good system of taxation. The imposition of two shillings an ounce on gold has practically the effect of preventing mines being worked which, if this duty did not exist, might be profitably worked. (A voice: "You are quite right." It is my belief, that a special tax of that kind upon a commodity found in such a fluctuating manner is not a proper or judicious tax to impose, and you will all bear in mind there is no excuse here for the imposition of such a tax. It was imposed in the Australian colonies when there was a very turbulent, and what I may call rude, lot of people collected there from all parts of the world; when an enormous police force was necessary, when robberies and murders were of frequent occurrence, and I page 7 hardly like to say so, but I believe that the tax looks very much like a reflection upon you. We have only about eight policemen here, certainly not more than ten, and I do not think it is necessary to raise a great many thousand pounds in order to keep them, and I do think that it is hard that the labouring portion of the population of the Thames should be taxed in that direct manner when in all other parts of New Zealand the population are allowed to go free. The miner pays the gold duty—in this district some £13,000 a-year; he pays, also, the same taxes as all the other inhabitants of the colony. From these latter taxes in every other portion of New Zealand, the Government executes all the public works it carries on. In this gold mining district the gold duty is returned to it as a boon to be expended on public works. But a very small portion of the ordinary taxation which elsewhere pays for Government public works is in consequence spent here; the gold revenue takes its place. In this respect the goldfields here are, therefore, far worse off than any other portion of the colony, and are not justly treated. The gold revenue being returned to them as a boon, distracts, in fact, their attention from their just rights on the ordinary revenue of the colony. When the gold duty is returned to them to pay for public works, they are in the same position as any other part of the colony, when it has not yet had one penny given to it to expend on public works. Observe, also, that the miner takes from the public nothing which the whole community could readily utilise. He takes no product from the surface of the soil, accessible to all. What he takes is by his own hard labour won from the bowels of the earth. The squatter, on the other hand, by the means of cattle and sheep, takes from the surface of the earth a natural product which is accessible to all,—and which would yield far more wealth to the many than the few, and would enrich most adequately large numbers, instead of enormously enriching a very small number—which is the common property of all, which all have an equal claim to, which vast numbers desire to be allowed to utilise, and could do so to the advantage of all, and which is now to an enormous extent wasted and lost to mankind, from being given as a monopoly to a very few, instead of being improved and augmented by being thrown open to the industry of thousands. Which, therefore, is most justly liable to an export duty—gold or wool? Well, then, another subject of the same kind, regarding which I was assured I was entirely opposing popular opinion, was my desire that the taxes should be taken off the immediate necessaries of life. They called me a very great many hard names about that which, to them, appeared to be a kind of mad philantrophy, but the odd thing was that all the greatest statesmen in England have done the very same thing; that is, taxes have there been entirely taken off sugar, also reduced almost to nothing upon tea, and upon flour the duty was removed. Knowing that taking off these taxes would have taken off something like £185,000 a-year in taxation, and upon the whole about £250,000 from the population in New Zealand, I mentioned that it would be giving a loaf a-day to every family, and that it would be a good thing for parents to know that their children might have as many puddings and pies as they like, with as much sugar as they wanted, and that they would be saved from paying that enormous sum. You must recollect that the amount of the taxation does not represent what you have to pay. You have to pay the cost of bonding the taxed goods, and interest upon the taxes. For every fresh hand into which these taxed commodities pass, adds the cost, the taxes, and other charges together. The whole of these make up the cost of the commodity to the seller, and it is upon the whole sum that he charges his profit, before he parts with it to the consumer. The consumer has also to pay the cost of collecting the duties, and to pay a great number of clerks to keep books, and the largest audit staff in the world, in accordance with the business, I believe, to look after those clerks, and to take care that they do not cheat the public. You will see, therefore, that you have to pay a great deal more than the taxes represent in other ways. Every fresh tax of that class calls into existence with it a large number of tax-collectors, and a large number of people to look after all these things, and thus the more we simplify our taxation and reduce such enormous taxes, the better. I was therefore extremely anxious to see this done, and I was told that in doing so I was rendering myself obnoxious to the people of New Zealand. [A Voice : "No such thing."] These points are what I may say not strictly political, because any Government may carry them out, and any party may assist; but it is really right that you should deliberate upon questions of this kind, and make up your minds as to what is to be done with regard to them in the future,—how the alterations in the taxation I have told you of could be so made. I am sure that everyone will inform you that an enormous reduction may be made in the expenditure, and that is one point. The next is that by a totally different system of taxation—a system by which property and absentees would contribute to some extent as far as they ought—the public burdens may be lightened, and a much larger revenue may be raised, pressing much more lightly upon the people at large, and requiring less machinery to collect it. I, therefore, as your Superintendent, earnestly advise you, in forming your minds in regard to the future, to take care that the cardinal points—first, the reduction of the expenditure; and secondly, an alteration in the manner of taxation—are carried out with the least possible delay. I talk of the reduction of the expenditure. Many of you can hardly know what your expenditure is. I can only tell you that as a member myself—and I am quite sure every other member of the Assembly will tell you the same thing—I found it impossible almost to ascer- page 8 tain what was the expenditure or anything near it. For instance, in the case of the Native Department. (Cheers.) In the case of the Native Department there are enormous sums expended. There was one single item of £8,000, which was absolutely and entirely unexplained—a lump sum of £8,000 for contingent purposes! I asked curiously about that, anxious to get what information I could. We had been voting the salaries of officers, and I can assure you that on the part of the Assembly there was no desire to act illiberally towards the public servants, and, with the exception of the salaries paid to one or two officers, almost every one was carried as put down, and we were not told—[A voice: "We should like to reduce some of the large ones."]—that any additional salary was required for anybody, and when I asked what this £8,000 was to be employed in, I was told that—well, for instance, an officer has an additional salary of £50 given to him for attending to the natives. The real fact of it is that it is impossible, I believe, in any one instance, to tell the manner in which these sums are disbursed until they come before the Audit Department. They are voted in what I may call block sums, and I think that you should insist for the future that in all departments there are the most full and ample details given, and that there are no large amounts like that to be employed at their discretion by any persons whatever. I am sure that is an absolute necessity, and my own belief is that, if that is not done, the system at present in force must grow—and these things grow with a rapidity you can hardly conceive. People get into the habit of doing certain things, and the Assembly gets into habits too. Just think, at two o'clock in the morning, or after, I have begged to go away. I have been there from ten o'clock in the morning, to attend committees, and at two o'clock next morning I have asked for an adjournment, and it was refused; and it was often at that hour these sums were brought forward and hurried through. Now, what I tell you would be told you by anybody who was there. Well, then, in further illustration of what I mean,—the usual rule in Assemblies is, that committees should be constituted in a fair way. Formerly, in England, in the one case of Election Committees, they were most unfairly and unjustly constituted. Members of one party were, if possible, put on a committee, so as to form a majority, and they used to vote that their own man should be taken to be elected. This became so great an abuse that the power was taken from the Parliamentary committees, and given to the Judges, as is now the case in England in reference to election questions. But, in all such committees in the House of Commons, no effort of that kind is made, and if ever a Minister is found wrong in his department, and an enquiry is being made into acts he has committed in that department, the Minister does not go upon such Committee himself—at the most some Under-Secretary of State represents him. Here, on the contrary, in the Assembly the committees have to a great extent one or more Ministers, and a majority placed on them of persons who take particular views—who, in fact, were not chosen by ballot, but by individuals. I think, if possible, you should direct your minds to that subject, to secure in some manner or other that the committees of the Assembly should be so constituted that perfectly impartial tribunals shall be obtained. Now, I confess it would be impossible for myself, acting with a party, not to take party views upon many subjects, and I do not think that any party ought to be allowed to have a majority on any committee. I speak against myself as well as against others when I say I think that some means should be devised by which thoroughly impartial tribunals shall be obtained to decide upon questions brought before committees, and I recommend you thoughtfully to devote your attention to that subject. I find the time goes, and, therefore, I must hurry on to speak of your own future. Now, I wish particularly to consider the future of the Thames district. (Hear, hear.) As this is a point upon which you will all have quite as full knowledge as myself, you will know whether my statements, as far as concerns this district, are strictly accurate, as I trust they will be, and you will be perfectly well capable of judging whether what I address for your consideration are measures which are almost certain to promote your welfare. What I wish to say at first is this : You all know that this place was created by the mining interest, and by what I may call a rush of mining population to this place. You all know that in a fluctuating and uncertain manner gold has been found—sometimes in almost marvellous quantities in particular places; at other times in, comparatively speaking, small lots; but that upon the whole, beyond all doubt, the yield of gold has been wonderfully steady to what it is in most mining districts. Now, my own conviction is this; that the best places for gold here have never yet been struck. (Hear, hear.) I believe that the place has never been half prospected. I believe that much greater finds for the next century, or century and a half, will be made than have been made to the present day. But I believe that your chance of finding gold depends upon the magnitude of your population, and that if your population decreases, exactly in proportion as it does decrease, will your chance of doing well, even as miners, diminish. I think the larger your population is, the greater will be the prosperity, the greater the discovery of gold, and the greater the progress in the place. The question in my mind is, how should you augment your population and employ it? It is of no use bringing labourers in, because at the present moment you have not lands to put them on. You are not in possession of a great farming district like the South, where any man can buy a farm and employ page 9 labourers; but if any great number of immigrants were sent here, they would impoverish you. I mean, for instance, if a great number of carpenters were sent here—more than could find employment—it would seriously increase the competition, and then to make those injured pay for bringing the others to compete with them would be hardly fair. With the mining prospects that you have, I think everything should be done for you to render your place a growing place. First of all, I have spoken upon the subject of lands; and I tell you that some distance in the interior, and up your lovely river—a river suited for every purpose of inland navigation,—there is an abundance of good land, but I believe, if you do not look to it, that almost every bit of it will pass into the hands of private individuals by the assistance of the Government. (Cheers.) That is my conviction; and I believe this, that if you do not get a railroad made to the Waikato very soon, you will not get one until every acre of land along the line of road is claimed by some favoured individuals. I recommend, therefore, the people of the Thames to insist, which they may very well do, upon the construction of the railway between this and the Waikato river. Now, I would point out that the answer perhaps that will be made to that is this :—" Well, we are sorry there are no longer any funds; you should have spoken sooner. The whole of the millions we have borrowed are gone—that is, they are pledged to certain railroads." But that really is no valid answer, because, as I will tell you, in many other colonies the system that Governments make the railroads upon is by contractors in a way that has never been followed here. The plan is this,—that the Government wishing a line of railroad made, has it surveyed. An engineer is then sent to roughly estimate the cost of the railway. Then they will call for tenders in Great Britain and the colonies for the construction of the railway, stating the facts I have told you—the length of the railway, the nature of it and of the ground it has to go over, and the estimate of its cost; and they have gone on to say that they will receive tenders upon a certain date for the construction of the line, guaranteeing to make it to pay interest of 6 per cent., the Government having the power to see that it is properly conducted. Then tenders are sent in, and the lowest accepted. The result of that has been that the Government has not been required to do anything at all, because the company has managed to make better than six per cent, out of the railway, and nothing has had to be paid. But you will see that if two per cent, had to be paid, that would be nothing like the amount to be paid for the construction and maintenance of the roads themselves; whereas the benefit of such a railroad to this community would be beyond all count. No one can tell the degree to which it would promote your prosperity. I believe that if, by making the railroad, you got into the back country, and saw the land there, you would look out and take care that the land was not made away with by the Government. Why, many of you would like to get land there yourselves, and an interest in your minds would be excited which is not there now. To a great many of you that land is like the moon. I suppose the men I address have never passed over the country, and seen what magnificent homes might be created on it, and the large population it would maintain. I therefore advise the people of the Thames to do their utmost, through their representatives, and the Mayor and Borough Council will, I know, help them to the very utmost, to aid me in getting the Government to agree to such a plan as I have spoken of—(loud cheers)—and to get such a railroad made at once. (Continued cheers.) Well, then, now in connection with that I will pass to another point. The people of every part of New Zealand are determined to have harbours made, and some of them to have harbours made in the most unlikely and most difficult places. You can hardly imagine the difficulties that attach to some of their plans. Well, now, here you have really extraordinary facilities for the construction of great marine works, and I can assure you that in this, as the Mayor told me today, himself and Borough Council will give every assistance in their power, and give their minds to it. He himself has been a nautical man, and although I had a joke with him to-day about not having thought of it before, I am perfectly certain that his nautical proclivities will make him go headlong into a matter of this kind to the very utmost of his abilities. With regard to how you are to do that, there is no difficulty in the world, because it has been settled that an endowment, the value of which I can hardly calculate, is to be given to this place; and to a certain extent it is a real endowment. It is not to be taken out of your own pockets—many of which, I have no doubt, are very deep. But it is to be taken out of a much deeper place : it is to be taken out of the sea. It has been settled that the foreshore is to be given over for purposes of public works of that kind, and there is therefore a likelihood that you will have means at once of building-harbours, jetties, and of employing a very considerable population in carrying out works of that kind. Now, you will see that if you begin works, of that kind, and with endowments such as you will have, you may bring in a labouring population, for then you will have something for them to work upon, instead of interfering with, and what I may call despoiling, the present community. They will fall into their places at once. And if, in conjunction with works of that kind, and with a population so introduced, you get large tracts of land at the head of the river Thames, where the people can get farms if they please to settle, why, you will get popution in this, country, instead of driving them page 10 out of it. When I go to Otago, what do I see? Everywhere smiling farms, kept by miners. They did not run away from Otago when the gold grew slack, and make the best of their way off to some other country. On the contrary, they established prosperous homes, because everywhere about them there were lands upon which they could fix their homes. In connection with these two plans, to a certain extent, the benefits are not to be obtained unless you lay down another golden rule—I think it a golden-rule; of course, I may be wrong, and some may think it is not so, but that it is other material of a worthless kind, I believe it is golden—and that rule is this : that if any one seeks compensation for being disappointed with the natives, and should say that the natives had sold him some land, and not put him into possession, and if he had entered into some quasi contract with the Government or the natives, my advice is this,—say, whatever the law says a man shall have he must have; that must be respected. But when a man has no lawful right to take public lands, he shall not have them, they are wanted for the people. But, upon the other hand, if he has suffered any wrong, or has any claim, let it be fairly investigated, and let a liberal sum of money be given to him; but giving compensation for land, I think you should say, is a very dangerous thing. Mr. So-and-so says, "Oh, give me such a block of land in compensation." It may be worth three or four times more than his claim, although, comparatively speaking, of little use to him, but if whole tracts of country are taken in that way, any colony must be ruined; whereas, if money is paid, he has that which he can buy land with, if he choose; he has that with which he can go into any other undertaking; or he may invest it, lending it to people who will use it in profitable undertakings, and he can live upon the interest. The whole community are suited in that way, and no one is wronged; but you may depend upon it that to allow your lands to be taken wholesale in the way they are now taken, is nothing-more nor less than to say that your population must leave these shores and go elsewhere, to places where they can get land. (Cheers.) I have now only about seven minutes to reach the steamer. I have really told you that which lay near my heart, which I had a conviction that it was for your own good to hear. I have desired in every way to point out to you the things to which I think your attention should be really directed. My object has not been to irritate one mind against another, or to raise any party question amongst you, but fairly, fearlessly, and fully to state to you those points which I, think you ought to follow out in the pursuit of your own welfare, and in following out which, I assure you, I will assist you to the utmost of my ability and power. (Loud cheers.) So saying, and thanking you all for your conduct towards myself by your unanimous vote in putting me in the position of influence which you did, by returning me as Superintendent of this Province—I say, thanking you most sincerely, I now wish you good-by, and will promise very shortly to visit you again. (Prolonged cheers.)
Mr. J. Cawell came forward and said :—Mr. Mayor, and fellow-colonists, I beg to move the following resolution,—"That this meeting tenders its hearty thanks to His Honor Sir George Grey for the admirable address just delivered, and, having the highest opinion of his abilities as a statesman, together with full confidence in his integrity and honesty of purpose, endorses the numerously signed requisition to Sir George Grey to all low himself to be nominated for the electoral district of the Thames as one of its representatives in the next Assembly." [The reading of this motion was received with cheers, hisses, cries of "No, no!" "Yes, yes!" and general confusion.] The mover, exhibiting the requisition, said : That contains 750 names.
Mr. Lawlor seconded the motion.
Mr. Bagnall attempted to address the meeting against the motion, but could not obtain a hearing, and as he said he had not an amendment, he was ruled by the Chair to be out of order. He was greeted with cries of "Sit down ! sit down !"
The Chairman put it to the meeting whether they would hear Mr. Bagnall, but the question resulted in confusion, some shouting "No !" and others "Yes !"
Mr. Bagnall still attempted to address the meeting; but all that could be distinguished was :—Gentlemen,—This requisition has gone about in a way I am confident Sir George Grey does not approve of.
The Mayor : Gentlemen,—The time has come when Sir George Grey must leave, and he wishes to bid you all good night.
Sir George Grey : I will only say good night to you. I must catch the steamer. You may rely upon it that all I can do to promote your interests I will do.
A Voice : And he'll stand for the Thames. (Loud cheers.)
Sir George Grey was cheered repeatedly and heartily as he made his way from the hall to the steamer, which was waiting for him at the wharf.