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Book Title:

The Good Old Days: Then and Now


The Good Old Days: Then and Now by S. Box

Published by: S. Box, The Firs, Marden, Hereford

Printed by: Reliance Printing Works, Halesowen, Worcs.

SECTION 2. Chapter 7.



The far-reaching effects of the Labour Government was her social security legislation, followed afterwards by other commonwealth countries. 

In 1898—the Old Age Pensions Act, 1911 extended to widows, in 1915 to miners, and in 1924 to the blind. 

In 1926 the Family Allowance Act was passed. One of the first of Labour's humane enactments was the payments of pensions to invalids.  

1939 saw the Social Security Act come into operation. This measure substantially increased  Old  Age  Pensions;  these  were  known as age benefits, which included monetary grants for the relief of orphans, payments to the sick, special grants in cases of hardship, a universal superannuation scheme in which every New Zealander, rich and poor, might participate at the age of sixty-five.  The Act made provision for every sick person to receive free medical treatment and medicine.  

A means test was applied to the Family Allowance Scheme until 1946; in that year it was made operative universally—every mother, rich or poor, being entitled to draw ten shillings a week for each child under sixteen years of age.  The money for this was raised by levies on incomes; the man with £1,200 a year paid twice as much as the man with £600, and four times as the man with £300 a year.

The effect of this being that a portion of the nation's income was being re-distributed, the poor benefitting at the expense of the wealthy, but each contributing according to their incomes—a just and equitable basis for all taxation.

These Acts freed all from fear of destitution. In 1944 the Annual Holidays Act was passed, making it compulsory for all workers to receive specified holidays with pay. 

The State took over the building of houses for rental and in 1946 built 20,000.

In 1936 free secondary education became available up to 19 years of age, and in 1944 the school leaving age was raised from fourteen to fifteen. 1938 students passing examinations receive grants to enable them to go to University Colleges for four years. County Libraries with free loans of books were established in 1938. Thus by Labour legislation New Zealand became an example to the world for its humane acts of Parliament and its progressive methods for economic development of the country for the benefit of all, without undue exploitation of the less fortunate.

Alas, a change of Government in 1949 brought troubles for the country in 1951. Strikes began, due to the same cause for which strikes in the main originate, viz., the prices of necessities soaring to such an extent that those engaged in the hard manual work found they could not meet their liabilities; at the same time sections of the community live in luxury and waste, some of whom do not contribute to the welfare of the country by rendering service in some form or another, they being content to live on the production of others. At present, whilst wages are higher than in Britain, the cost of living is much greater; even those common articles of food which New Zealand produces in abundance and little transport charges such as this country has to meet, to obtain sufficient food for its inhabitants.


In reading this you may ask: What has other Governments to do with us? A good question.

John Ballance

John Ballance (1839–1893), Premier of New Zealand and founder of the Liberal Party

The answer is simple, a good Government in any should be judged upon a vital principle—they should legislate for the greatest good for the greatest number. It is again a fact and truth that that was the fundamental principle that inspired John Ballance, the Irishman newspaper editor; Richard John Seddon, an engineer, loved by all and known as King Dick; these two were Liberal Prime Ministers of the same political outlook as Mr. Lloyd George, of Britain. The first Labour Prime Minister was Michael John Savage, a farm labourer and miner, elected in 1935; due largely to the effective work of Henry Holland, leader of the Labour Opposition in the previous Government (a printer by trade), Mr. Savage, whose work is previously given. He was followed by Peter Fraser, a Scotch labourer and waterside worker, as Labour Prime Minister. It is stated truthfully that men of all parties in New Zealand have been remarkably free from corruption.   Can we say this?

New Zealand, being a comparatively young country from the civilised point of view, has not the worn-out traditions of the past such as Britain, much of which should not be of any guidance to us in the future.  Some people cling tenaciously to these as if they were sacred—but the truth and facts are that they breed the superior and inferior complex in many of our citizens which result in a stupid and unchristian class distinctions. What folly!  It is the practice in most countries to distinguish people according to what they possess instead of by their character.  All now realise that often much folly, and some criminal is the result of wealth—particularly where the wealth has been obtained without any effort on the part of the possessor.   We see and read of the happenings at various night clubs and gambling dens.


The person who through his own efforts, however poor, builds up a character for truth, honesty and unselfishness. Persistent effort should be the most respected in a sane society.


New Zealand's present position has been the result of such men and women, imbued with similar characteristics. Entering a country of no old-fashioned traditions or worn-out creeds, the immigrants had a purpose in life; they later became Prime Ministers in the land of their adoption. Surely these are the persons we should designate as worthy of respect from all, cutting out the class. Even in this country we have a host of such, who in spite of lack of opportunity have by persistent effort raised themselves to high positions in the nation, whilst ignoring old traditions.


Fortunately the old systems pass away—as in the well-known and loved hymn—

" Change and decay in all around I see."

The doing away with class distinctions is not to teach hatred, as many do. There are no valid reasons why such folly should continue. It springs from a desire for all to recognise the Divine principle that all human beings are brothers and sisters, irrespective of creed or colour. Until this is universally accepted the old traditions and hates will continue to breed wars and destruction. As this has always been one of the root causes of wars, the craving of wealth at the expense of others, and the power wealth gives to subdue and control other people's lives.


It may be said: The world has no mercy for those who live in the past. Quite true, but those who live in the present have no ideas for the future of a progressive character unless they have full knowledge of past history.

This is one of my objects in attempting to describe the local history of the past. Mr. William Collins, in publishing my character in 1918, said I was a man of vision—May we examine the truth of this statement? We were firmly convinced that after a severe struggle the uplift of the workers would be an accomplished fact, and much of our propaganda was based upon our faith in our fellow man.

Much is yet to be done, to establish justice between man and man. Again some may remember—after the first world war—a cry went up from all nations and peoples for Peace.

The League of Nations was formed, but proved a dismal failure, due to the truths contained in the following verses I wrote in 1916, whilst waiting for a train at Ross station:—



Peace how sweet, how great a virtue
If we live and strive for this,
But alas, we must acknowledge,
Strife has come before the bliss.


Can we change our human nature
By a thoughtful, studious life?
Men have tried it, been defeated,
Passed away amidst the strife.


Peace, how beautiful the feeling
When we're led to stand aside,
With our God, the great Creator,
Who in life should be our guide.


From the myriads of temptation,
Of this world's alluring charms;
Subtle is their weaning influence.
Yet how deadly is the harm.


Wrought upon the human family,
Deeds of evil where'er sown,
In short time the blade appeareth,
Then the harvest and the corn.


For we always must remember
That God's word shall never fail,
Seeds of goodness bring their harvest,
Seeds of sin the same prevail.


Peace at present, how we're longing
For the Prince of Peace to reign,
Make an end of evil doing
And himself the world retain.


Men for peace are often striving,
But the strife will be in vain
While men live for selfish motives—
Lust and pride, honour and gain.


See to-day the Christian virtues
Scorned by pastors of the flock,
And we ask—is he my brother?
If he be of coloured stock.


Mangle, bruise and kill the enemy,
This is popular doctrine now,
In the lands where pagan doctrine
Helps along the Devil's vow.


Thus the word of Scripture proving
That this world shall ne'er be free
From the curse of war and conflict,
Till it's saved eternally.


Peace, do sane men e'er expect it,
While ambition's God's enthroned,
By a section of all nations,
Others' lives are only loaned.


For the building of a system
Competition is its name;
Let the strong crush out the weaker,
Selfishness and greed's to blame.


Peace: we view the hollow mockery
Of the peace palace at the Hague,
Built by blood-stained gold from Pittsburg,
Make it meaningless and vague.


Gold, that's sweated from the workers,
Causing misery and strife,
After given as conscience money,
Kill the cause it should give life.


Thus shall peace be e'er spasmodic,
Breathing time till the next war
Break again with greater fury,
Gathering nations from afar.


Until the final clash of battle
On the great Megiddo plain;
There the god of war shall perish
And Christ's spirit then shall reign.


Thus shall peace, longed for, for ages,
Be established evermore;
No more lust for gain and honours,
When the days of strife are o'er.


Then shall peace reign triumphant,
And all nations shall be one,
And all men shall then be brothers,
When our God's work is done.


There is only one way to avoid war — that is to appreciate that all men are brothers, whatever race, creed or colour. This cannot operate under the worship of Nationalism and can only be obtained through international understanding without any nation boasting they are superior and imbued with divine rights.

All sane persons must work and pray for that day.

These things shall be: A nobler race than e'er the world has seen shall rise.



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