ONE Out of SIX Under Arms
HON. WALTER NASH New Zealand's Minister to Washington
New Zealand saw it coming; that’s why she has taken this war in her stride—and it's a long, long stride!
When Hon. Walter Nash, New Zealand Minister to Washington, visited Canada last spring, Maclean’s asked him to write an article on the war and its particular relation to New Zealand and Canada. The article which we print below is that not. only of a man who has been Acting Prime Minister in his own country but who, throughout the long troubled months of this year, has been a member of the Pacific War Council in Washington.—The Editor.
NEW ZEALANDERS can, like Canadians, claim to be realists. We are (I think) both peoples who like facts rather than theories. Perhaps it is the long years of struggle against a hard environment of mountains, forests and a stubborn, though rich earth, which has molded us into a people who like to look matters squarely in the face and to go out to meet problems and dangers rather than retreat from them. That is why we have basically a common approach to the two great problems of today—the waging of the war and the rebuilding of the world afterward. In this article I want to tell you something of what New Zealand is doing both about the war and about preparing for the peace that will follow.
New Zealand consists, as you know, of two big islands lying in the South Pacific 1,2-10 miles south-
east of Australia and 1,600 miles north of the ice packs of the South Pole. These islands are extremely mountainous, but also extremely fertile, for the soil in among the great mountain ranges is some of the richest in the world. The ranges stand up out of the sea very much as if the country were just two long spurs of the Rockies surrounded by the blue Pacific. The Maoris called it Ao-tea-Roa that is, “the long white cloud”—because as they sailed toward it in their canoes, away back about the time the Battle of Hastings was being fought, the first glimpse of snow-clad hills was like that of clouds on the horizon.
There are ordy 1,640,000 people living in New Zealand, almost all of them of English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish parentage except for 90,000 Maoris, who are a very high type of Pacific native and who share all the rights and the responsibilities of the white people.
If you were to sail directly north from New Zealand and keep on going you would ultimately skirt the edge of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska and reach Siberia. That is why New Zealand today has a common strategic problem with Canada—
how to defeat and drive back the Japanese from the Pacific.
New Zealand forms the extreme left flank of the great defensive arc which covers the western shores of Canada and the United States. The right flank of the arc is, of course, Alaska where you now stand side by side with the United States forces, then to the south come the Aleutian Islands. In the centre come Midway and Hawaii. Farther south Samoa, Fiji and the newly won Solomons, then New Caledonia and finally New Zealand, where Admiral Ghormley, Commander of the South Pacific, has his headquarters.
WE IN New Zealand naturally watch the Pacific with the most taut attention. But only half of our attention is centred there. For we have a great part of our armed forces fighting overseas. Just as you in Canada at once sent an Expeditionary Force to England, so we in New Zealand, fired by the same belief that the place to fight the enemy is on his territory and not our own, sent an Expedi-
tionary Force to the Middle East within the first four months of the outbreak of the war. A Second Echelon of that force was en route for Egypt when France collapsed. It was at once diverted to England where it stood side by side with the Canadians and Australians throughout those anxious months when invasion threatened the British homeland.
When the end of the year came and the invasion threat faded, that force was sent out to the Middle East to join the remainder of the New Zealand Division which had been formed under General Sir Bernard Freyberg, V.C. They were sent to Greece and to Crete where they played a role every bit as important in this war as that played by that great Canadian Division which stopped the break through at Loos in 1915.
Since then the New Zealanders have fought in the winter campaign in Libya and again in the vitally important struggle in Egypt this summer.
But let us turn back for the moment away from the Middle East to that area which is closer to both Canada’s and New Zealand’s interest, the Pacific.
WTe in New Zealand had been keeping a wary eye on the Japanese for a long time. The New Zealand Government vigorously opposed any form of appeasement in the years leading to the war. More particularly we opposed appeasement in the Far East. We have always felt that foreign policy ought to be based on principle and not on expediency, and that a first essential principle is that aggression in any shape or form should never be condoned but collectively resisted. Accordingly we prohibited the export of scrap iron and similar materials to Japan in 1936.
In 1940 when the Burma Road was closed we protested vigorously. In the summer of 1939, when even away down there in the South Pacific we could see the portents of war as clearly written in the skies as the lights of our own extraordinary aurora australis (our local version of the Northern Lights), we called a conference to discuss the defense of the South Pacific. At that conference we agreed to take over responsibility for the garrisoning of certain islands, including Fiji, which we considered the Japanese might use as a base from which to attack New Zealand. In October 1940 our troops went to these places and welded them into strongholds which today are ready to resist any attack.
Since its start we have participated in the magnificent Empire Air Training Scheme which has been carried out in Canada. New Zealand airmen now fight over Germany, over France, in the South Pacific and on many other fronts.
160,000 Fighting Men
INCLUDING Army and Navy as well as the Air Force we have 160,000 men in full-time military service either overseas or in New Zealand, while the Home Guard numbers 100,000.
Today one person out of six of the total New Zealand population is bearing arms. One out of two of all males between 16 and 60 is serving in the armed forces.
Every man in New Zealand between the ages of 18 and 66 must register. If fit and under 46 years of age he must serve for the duration in the Expeditionary Force or in the Home Defense Force. If not so fit and under 51 years of age, he must join the Home Guard, to which is assigned the job of defending New Zealand’s coast line and vital road connections in the event of invasion. Members of the Home Guard follow their civil occupations during working hours, training at night and during the week ends, so that they will be ready for a¡ y emergency that might arise. All men who are unfit either for the permanent forces or for the Home Guard must enroll in the Emergency Precautions Scheme and lend a hand in civil defense preparations.
The withdrawal of such a tremendously large proportion of the country’s manpower from production would, under normal circumstances, have caused a very substantial fall in the output from farms and factories. The volume of produc-
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tion, however, far from having been reduced has actually increased during the past production year by no less than 15 per cent. This has been due not only to harder work by those who have remained in industry but to the manner in which New Zealand women have stepped into the breach, many of whom with their husbands away fighting have gone back into the factories and to the farms in order to keep the wheels of industry revolving.
To the extent that shipping is available, all that can be exported is sent on the long 13,000 mile voyage to the besieged British Isles. The magnitude of the contribution which New Zealand has made toward the feeding and clothing of the people of Britain is reflected in the tremendous volume of produce which has left New Zealand during the past two years of war—550,000,000 pounds of butter; 500,000,000 pounds of cheese; 1,500,000,000 pounds of meat; 600,000,000 pounds of wool. Food production has been one form—perhaps the most important form—that New Zealand’s war effort has taken.
This achievement has involved not only great effort but careful planning. Under a series of farreaching orders the labor supply of the Dominion is carefully regulated. Certain industries have been declared essential to the war, an obligation being placed on both employers and employees to maintain production. No employee in an essential industry can terminate his engagement or transfer to any other employment, nor can he be discharged without the Government’s consent. The flow of workers to nonessentialj industries is rigidly restricted. This means, for example, that no one can leave an essential job and go to work in a retail shop unless it is engaged in the distribution of food or drugs or fuel.
In this way the whole of New Zealand’s male population has been brought within the scope of the National Service Department. A post for everyone and everyone trained for his post—equality of sacrifice and service—these are the objectives at which the Government has aimed in its marshalling of the manpower and the womanpower of New Zealand.
Compared to the United States and Canada, New Zealand as an industrial nation is still in her infancy. The extent to which New Zealand can meet her own requirements of heavy armaments and war materials is necessarily limited by her lack of iron and steel and the other raw materials that have enabled Canada to achieve such remarkable expansion during the past three years of war. Nevertheless, very considerable progress has been made in
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meeting our own needs so far as light armaments and munitions are concerned. In addition also to equipping our own forces with uniforms, boots and blankets and many other needs, New Zealand factories have turned out large supplies for other overseas theatres of war.
Have Much to Lose
THE New Zealand people have over the years won for themselves many freedoms. Having won so much they believe they have much to lose. Everything they have is staked to win and they are ready and anxious to play their full part in this war so that the heritage bequeathed to them may be handed down enriched and strengthened to those who follow.
Let us then look beyond the war— let us look for a minute with that same realism I mentioned earlier at the world in which both Canada and New Zealand will live after this ghastly turmoil has been ended.
I believe that New Zealand today, partly from accident, and partly by design, is to some extent a blueprint of what may be the typical country of tomorrow. We have carried through in New Zealand to an astonishing degree those trends of central control and of integrated social organization which are everywhere apparent as the main lines of social development. With us they have come a little more rapidly than in most other countries.
In the 1890’s New Zealand put through a vigorous social program of Old-Age Pensions, Factory Laws and other social reforms which gave the Dominion its reputation as a social laboratory. We have been, as it were, an experimental station in which many schemes were tried out. This has been due in some measure to our size. In a small country like New Zealand the central state authority is liable to be called on to intercede in economic affairs where in a country like Canada it may often be the province or even the city to which people turn in a crisis. But New Zealand’s development is due, in some measure, also to a constant social philosophy Which the mass of people in New Zealand have held. This philosophy is not embodied in any political dogma or economic theory, it has developed because it has seemed to the majority of New Zealanders and their political leaders to be the best line of life for themselves and their children.
Let us look for a minute then at what sort of life this is, and at the kind of laws and institutions in which it finds expression. In the first place, a great number of services in New Zealand which are run by private concerns in most other countries are run by the Government. The Government runs the railways, the telephone and telegraph system and deals with a great deal of legal business under the Public Trust. It owns and controls the Reserve Bank and through the Reserve Bank the currency and credit system. It operates the Dominion’s Broadcasting Services, I
both national and commercial. Incidentally, all main parliamentary debates are broadcast. The Government controls, too, all the hydroelectric power stations; it operates State-owned coal mines, State life and fire insurance offices.
AN INTERESTING development ■ within recent years has been the institution of a system of guaranteed prices combined with Government controlled marketing that has covered a large section of New Zealand’s farming industry. This guaranteed price scheme was operative prior to the war but has been extended very greatly since the war began. From 1937 onward all the butter and cheese produced in New Zealand— and remember that New Zealand is the world’s largest exporter of these commodities has been purchased by the Government and sold through a State Marketing Department to agents in Great Britain and other countries, as well as to licensed wholesalers in New Zealand itself. The marketing of apples and pears was similarly organized in 1938.
Following the outbreak of war, wool, meat, tallow and other commodities were also purchased by the Government for sale largely to the United Kingdom, under bulk purchase agreements. In effect, although with some minor qualifications, it can be said that New Zealand today buys the whole of the farmers’ produce and accepts full responsibility for its subsequent disposal.
But of all New Zealand’s achievements, perhaps it is our Social Security System that has attracted most attention. This legislation ensures that no individual need ever lack an income sufficient to provide the necessities of life. It recognizes more fully and completely, I believe, than has been recognized anywhere else, the need for the community, as a whole, to accept responsibility directly for the economic welfare of its members—that, against the hazards incidental to the competitive struggle for private gain must be set the need for collective organization of security. Long hard years of pioneering in a new and undeveloped country brought home very forcibly to New Zealanders the necessity of self-help. They have learned that lesson and learned it well. But they learned too, during those pioneering years, that the individual can only thrive if all join in helping one another. Today, therefore, there is a widespread appreciation of the fact that the modern problem, among those who are pioneering a new social order, is one of knowing how to distribute and how to consume the gifts of nature and the fruits of productive labor. New Zealand has gone a long way toward meeting this problem. There is still a long way to go; but much that is worth while has been achieved.
For those over sixty years of age, for widows, for deserted wives and for orphans, for the invalids, the sick, for war veterans, disabled ex-service men, for the unemployed—men and women alike—both the fact and the fear of destitution no longer exist in New Zealand. Monetary benefits
provided under the Dominion’s Social Security scheme, not in the spirit of individual charity, but as a national obligation to persons who have a just and rightful claim on the resources of the nation, are payable on a generous scale to all those whom I have indicated.
No Strings Attached
THIS means, for example, that every person who is sixty years of age or over, men or women, gets thirty shillings a week. If they are married and both over 60, they still receive their 30 shillings each. They may own their own home; they can have up to £500 in the Post Office Savings Bank or in any other form of security; they can have a private income up to £1 a week; without any of these considerations affecting their Social Security Benefit. A widow gets 25 shillings a week for herself and 10 shillings per week for each child under 16—continued up to the age of 18 if the mother is anxious to keep her children at school.
The next benefit is for the invalid. Every invalid who is not able to follow permanent employment automatically receives 30 shillings a week for himself; 10 shillings for his wife; and 10 shillings for each dependent child up to the age of 18 years.
Another extra benefit that I think is the most helpful of any is what we call the Family Benefit. The Family Benefit is a payment made to the mother for every child, provided the income of the home does not exceed £5/5/0 a week. If the income of the home does not exceed five guineas a week, then six shillings a week is paid to the mother in respect of every child. If the income of the home exceeds £5/5/0, the total benefit payable in respect of any family is reduced by the amount of the excess.
In addition to caring for those who cannot care for themselves, the scheme makes provision for everybody, without discrimination, to receive free maternity services, including the services of a doctor, of the patient’s own choosing, free care and attention in public hospitals, free pharmaceutical requirements, and free medical attention.
Other features of New Zealand’s comprehensive social legislation, such, for example, as the provision made for systematic dental treatment through school dental clinics for school children, to the highly developed public health, maternal and infant welfare services, to the ecpial educational opportunities which exist for every boy and girl from the kindergarten to the university, are instances of that collective organization of security which the people of the Dominion have come to accept as a major objective of social progress.
How, it may be asked, are such benefits paid for? Their cost, in the main, is financed by a Social Security charge of five per cent on all salaries and wages and all other income, including the income of companies, the revenue from which is paid into a special account known as the Social Security Fund. Social Security benefits themselves and military pay and allowances are the only classes of income exempt from payment of the
charge. The tax is deducted at its source in the case of income derived from wages and salaries and in other cases is payable quarterly on the basis of an annual declaration of income received.
Into the Social Security Fund there is also paid each year a subsidy from general taxation revenue sufficient to meet the Fund’s annual budgetary requirements.
For the present financial year Social Security expenditure is estimated to reach ¿16,198,000, toward which sum Social Security taxation will yield ¿11,150,000,‘general taxation (transferred from the Consolidated Fund) ¿3,600,000—the balance being met from cash balances.
Every person and every company that pay the Social Security charge pay at the same time another 7)o per cent by way of a National Defense contribution. On top of this combined charge of 12J ^ per cent, income tax commences—subject to an exemption in respect of the first ¿200—at a rate of 12} ó per cent, to which is added a surcharge of 33 y per cent as a war contribution and an additional surcharge of 33y per cent if the income is unearned.
Direct taxation, including income tax, Social Security and National Security taxes, reaches a maximum of 18 shillings in the pound or 90 per cent on the income in excess of ¿2,500 in the case of unearned income and on income in excess of ¿3,700 in case of earned income.
Estimates place New Zealand’s war expenditure this year at £133,000,000 or 60 per cent of the National income—more than the National income itself onlysix years ago. Total Government expenditure will amount to ¿187,000,000.
To date, between a half and two thirds of New Zealand’s war expenditure has been met from revenue. This represents an essential feature of New Zealand’s domestic economic policy, the broad aims and methods of which may be stated as stabilization of prices and incomes—especially the prices of everyday necessities; the control of any inflationary tendency by high taxation; and the assurance to everyone that a legitimate share of essential goods will be available to them.
New Zealand taxpayers, by their cheerful acceptance of the heavy sacrifices the war has asked of them, are showing their readiness to pay for victory and their confidence in its ultimate achievement.
Most of us feel strongly, moreover, that those very principles and achievements, that have made New Zealand a country so worth fighting for, should not be needlessly sacrificed in the struggle. In the field of social reform, therefore, there has been no general retreat. Our Social Security system, in fact, has been continuously extended and improved—even since September, 1939.
When we were fighting to secure this type of security for the ordinary man and woman in New Zealand plenty of critics both in New' Zealand and outside used to claim that it was simply mollycoddling our people. The answer to that accusation has already been written on the mountain passes of Greece, in the olive groves of Crete and amid the stone
and sand of the Libyan Desert. Far from softening our manhood it has made them all the stronger and tougher.
We in New Zealand did not have to wait for a war to come along to take up our slack of unemployment. We did not have to try and train men rotted by years of idleness overnight into tough fighters capable of standing up against the Nazis or the Japanese. Our population was wellfed and its faculties were in that alert condition in which only the faculties of men who have known work and responsibility can really be.
Nor has it been just these material factors which have been on our side. The truth has been that the ordinary New Zealander has felt that in his own country he has something worth fighting for. He is determined to defend his way of life not only because it left him free to speak his own mind, elect his own rulers and live much as he wished, but because also it enabled him to fit himself and his family, clothe himself and his j family and go forward to work for a fuller future freed of some of those terrible fears which hang over so many of the populations of older countries.
It is this belief, often inarticulate but very profound, which has carried j our troops, airmen and sailors un; daunted through the worst battles I of the war and which has kept the courage and faith of their wives and mothers equally undaunted at home. The basis of this belief is that the New Zealanders of today have seen a glimpse of what they believe is the world of tomorrow.