Premier Seddon promotes state mining

Premier Seddon promotes state mining

Extract from report of Premier Richard Seddon speaking at Seddonville on 21 February 1902.

Transcript (of full report)


Speaking at Seddonville to-day on the question of the State Mine, the Premier said that it required a strong mine to succeed where private enterprise had failed. A large amount of money had been sunk and lost in the Cardiff mine, but he was sanguine as to its future. Although he had not seen the recent report by commissioners, he had been informed by the Minister of Mines that it was generally favorable. If that was the case he (Mr Seddon) was quite willing to expend certain monies to connect the Cave area with the binns and other plant, so that a start could be made and a fair trial given. As to exactly how soon a start could be made, that could only be settled after he consulted his colleagues, and. with that end in view he would bring the matter before the cabinet immediately on his return to Wellington. As far as himself was concerned he hoped to get the tramway started and the mine developed. He wished it to be clearly understood the state would not treat the miners differently from private employers and impressed it upon the miners present that they should demonstrate to the country by honest work that the state could work the mines as profitably as private people. He had no anxiety as to the results. The Premier made it quite clear that he was not going to bave what was commonly called "Government stroke" by members of the opposition during the debate on the state Mines Bill. He believed in fair day's wage for fair day's work. A manager would be appointed having full and complete control and placed above all political influence.

At the social the Premier said he saw there was to be a dearth of coal during the coming winter and private companies had been increasing prices. In respect to Government contracts, he intended to make it clear that he would wrest this down. The Government would fix the maximum price and private enterprise should be satisfied with a fair profit and not try for exorbitant profits as in the case of one or two companies on the coast. He was convinced that the State Coal mine would start under favorable auspices. Referring to the Press assertions that he had changed his mind in regard to the advisability of starting a State Coal mine, he said that as far back as 1891 he advocated the formation of a State Coal mine, but private enterprise was too much for him. Now he would be happy to state that he was square with them. Government had no desire to go in for sweating, but would fix the price of coal, hewing, etc. In connection with different works he approached the case with the utmost confidence. Referring to the old time remark as to the advanced socialistic tendency of the administration of which he was the head, he said he was glad to find the past distrust of him almost disappeared in the colony.

Mr and Mrs Seddon, accompanied by representative citizens and ladies, visited the Westport Harbor Board quarries. The Ministerial party leaves at midnight for Wellington.

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