Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 10. June 14, 1939
Friday night's debate on defence was remarkable principally for the earnestness with which the speakers attacked the subject, and for the hard-working efforts of Kingi Tahiwi and friends to liven things up.
Not The Perry.
Proceedings were opened by a Mr. Perry not up to his usual standard. His comforting statement that there was at present no danger of attack from overseas was his only really clear and definite remark for the evening, and he passed on at once to state that the question of defence must nevertheless be faced, not because of any crisis at present, but because of Chamber lain. A sort of silent question mark reminiscent of pictorial advertising rising over the hall, he explained that the undemocratic foreign policy of the British Government ought not to be supported by a democratic colony. And since that leaves New Zealand a lonely, unsupported [unclear: morsel] to be gulped by anyone, he advocated a union of the great strongholds of enlightenment—Soviet Russia, Australia, Holland and the United States—in an intimidating strength which would safeguard peace. How this union was to be brought about was not explained.
In support, Norman Morrison, eminently open to conviction from the audience, gave a sound and practical resume of the disadvantages which would arise from increased defence—the heavy taxation necessary, which would reduce the standard of living, the fact that conscription would be a certainty.
For the opposition. Mr. Lewin spoke with a sincerity which almost hid the fact that his arguments were not very good. Claiming that our present [unclear: cofences] were inadequate, he said that we should support the League of Nations, and fulfil our responsibilities in them by more complete measures than at present. He also advanced the interesting opinion that we were safe from Japan only as long as we were supported by Britain, and that Japan would have attacked New Zealand in 1935 if she had thought she could get away with it.
Mr. Renouf, seconding, was courageous enough to face an unsympathetic audience and mention such things as women and children and liberty. He also demonstrated his faith in Chamberlain rather than in newspaper reports.
Among the speakers from the floor was Mr. Braybrooke, who suggested that hostile powers don't want agricultural countries (a suggestion [unclear: burn] out later by Mr. McWilliams' entirely [unclear: bana fiih] letter), but those with minerals. All consequently, that was necessary here was a small force capable of repelling scattered attacks.
Mr. Foley brought up the question or finance again, and Mr. O'Connor, whose good speech was rather overcome by his overcoat, said that our high standard of living is worth defending. Mr. Stacey, who is also a promising debater, declared that since in an emergency we would call on the Imperial forces for support, we should be willing in turn to support them. Nodding like the mandarin in Pygmalion. Mr. Edgley next rose in favour of increasing taxation for the sake of freedom. Though a man or peace, he would rather die ten times over than live in a Fascist state.
In his summing up the Judge, Mr. Taylor, placed Kingi Tahiwi apart from the other speakers because of his radio experience.
The Judge's remarks were received with interest by the speakers to whom they were addressed, and with apprehension by those whose turn was yet to come, since they were extremely detailed and corrected personal as well as argumentative faults. He placed first Mr. Perry, second Mr. Edgley, third Mr. Lewin, and Messrs. Renouf, Braybrooke, Foley and O'Connor followed in order of merit. A special vote of thanks to Mr. Taylor was passed by Mr. Edgley who showed truly dispassionate admiration in assuring him that his criticisms were very much valued.
The resolution was carried by a small majority.