Page:The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.djvu/42

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DICTIONARY OF AUSTRALASIAN BIOGRAPHY.

opponents being the late W. S. Moorhouse and Sir Harry Atkinson. Although considered by his friends practically safe, he retired in favour of the latter candidate on his pledging himself to support Sir Edward Stafford. He was elected for Wanganui in 1875 on the Abolition (of provinces) ticket, having taken for many years a prominent part in local politics in opposition to the provincial system, then in existence. He marked his first session by introducing a bill to enable municipalities to raise loans by vote of the ratepayers on security of a special rate without the necessity of permissory legislation in each case. This important measure passed the House, but was rejected in the Council by a narrow majority; and in the following session it was embodied in the Municipal Corporations Bill by Sir Julius Vogel, who freely acknowledged his indebtedness to the author of the scheme. The measure finally became law, and was found to work admirably. In the session of 1877 Mr. Ballance moved an amendment to the Native Land Court Bill, against free trade in native lands, and the bill was ultimately withdrawn by the Government. Throughout that session he supported the newly formed Grey Ministry, refusing, however, to accept a portfolio whilst the Cabinet was being formed. Shortly after the termination of the session, the Ministry again pressing office upon him, and Sir George Grey himself soliciting his assistance, Mr. Ballance accepted the post of Minister of Education in Jan. 1878, which he exchanged for that of Colonial Treasurer in July of the same year; but in June 1879 he resigned rather than comply with what he regarded as the arbitrary methods of the Premier. At the general election in the same year he stood for Wanganui, and defeated Sir William Fox, Messrs. Ballance and Bryce, the late leader of the Opposition, being the two successful candidates. During the successive sessions of 1879, 1880, and 1881 he took a very active part in opposition to the Hall and Whitaker Ministries. At the general election in Dec. 1881 he stood for Wanganui, and was defeated by W. H. Watt, but by a majority of only four. At the general election of 1884 he was elected by a majority of two to one over Messrs. Watt and George Hutchinson, and at the general election of 1887 by a similar majority over Mr. G. Carson. He was returned again for Wanganui at the general election of 1890, but by a greatly reduced majority. In Sept. 1884 Mr. Ballance joined the Stout-Vogel administration as Native Minister and Minister for Defence and Lands, and retained office till the retirement of that Ministry in Oct. 1887. In the following year he was formally chosen as leader of the Opposition; and he became Premier, Colonial Treasurer, and Commissioner of Customs on the resignation of Sir Harry Atkinson's Government in Jan. 1891. Outside of politics Mr. Ballance has done the colony good service. In 1868, when the Maori insurgents under Titokowaru were ravaging the district, Mr. Ballance helped to raise the Wanganui Cavalry and took his place in the ranks, but was immediately elected Cornet of the corps, which afterwards did good service in the field. He was, however, removed from his military position for having contributed to his paper some criticisms on the campaign which gave umbrage to the Government. Mr. Ballance was the author of the scheme for returning to the local bodies one-third of the land revenue derived from deferred payments, having introduced it into the Land Bill of 1877, when it was before the Waste Lands Committee; and the principle has since been extended to the perpetual lease system. Soon after first taking office in 1878, he announced that the Government would introduce a measure conferring the residential franchise, virtually manhood suffrage, this being the first announcement of the kind ever made in any of the colonies. As Colonial Treasurer in 1878 he introduced a land tax, and carried it into law. It was, however, repealed by the Atkinson Ministry in the following year. In the Stout-Vogel Ministry Mr. Ballance introduced and put in practice the village homestead system, under which a thousand families were placed on the land in eighteen months. He also inaugurated the policy by which a large military force to overawe the natives was got rid of, and the Maori people brought under the ordinary civil law, a policy which proved completely successful. As Defence Minister he fortified the principal ports and organised a colonial military force

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