Reform Government of New Zealand

The Reform Government of New Zealand was the government of New Zealand from 1912 to 1928. It is perhaps best remembered for its anti-trade union stance in the Waihi miners' strike of 1912 and a dockworkers' strike the following year. It also governed during World War I, during which a temporary coalition was formed with the Liberal Party.

Significant policiesEdit

IndustrialEdit

HealthEdit

  • Compulsory medical inspection of schoolchildren was introduced (1912).[3]
  • A minimum drinking age of 21 was introduced (1914).[3]
  • A Board of Health was set up (1920).[3]

WelfareEdit

  • A juvenile probation scheme was established (1913).[3]
  • Widow's pensions were extended to the wives of mental hospital patients (1912).[4]
  • From 1914 onwards, a dependent child's exemption for income tax purposes was provided.[5]
  • The Miners Phthisis Act (1915) introduced pensions for completely incapacitated victims of pneumoconiosis.[6]
  • Pensions were introduced for miners' widows (1915).[4]
  • The War Pensions Act of 1915 introduced war widows pensions, which were paid without a means test from 1916 onwards.[4]
  • The Housing Act (1919) specified sums of government money "that local authorities could borrow to erect workers' dwellings".[7]
  • The war pensions system was extended (1919).[3]
  • Women were made eligible for Parliament (1919).[3]
  • Pensions for the blind were introduced (1924).[3]
  • Family allowances were introduced for the second child onwards (1926).[3]
  • Legislation was introduced (1922) which increasingly placed farm products under the control of boards.[3]
  • Children's Courts were established (1925).[3]
  • Borstal institutions were established (1924).[3]
  • The Child Welfare Act 1925 introduced compulsory inquiries into the living circumstances of all children born outside marriage.[4]

EducationEdit

  • The Education Act (1914) made it compulsory for public secondary schools to take free-place pupils.[3]
  • The school-leaving age was raised to 14 (1914).[3]

Foreign affairs and militaryEdit

FormationEdit

From the start of representative government in New Zealand, in the mid nineteenth century, until the 1890s, New Zealand governments were not formed on a party basis but were rather loose and shifting groups of individuals. In the 1880s and 1890s a group of politicians formed themselves into New Zealand's first true political party, the Liberals, which became the Liberal government in 1890. It remained in power for more than two decades, testimony not only to its popular policies and dynamic leadership but also to its organisation and party structure.

 
1912 cartoon about the Massey Government

The opposition was initially disorganised and fractured. John Bryce was briefly recognised as Leader of the Opposition in 1891, then William Rolleston from 1891 to 1893 and William Russell from 1894 to 1901. William Massey held the position from 1903, and by 1909 the opposition had coalesced into a new party known as the Reform Party under Massey's leadership.

Although the 1911 election saw Reform win 37 seats to the Liberal Party's 33, the balance of power was held by several independent Members of Parliament, who supported the Liberals. Over the next few months, however, enough switched sides for the Liberal government to lose a confidence vote, thus bringing Reform to power in July 1912.

1914 election and wartime coalitionEdit

Following the 1914 election, Reform held only 40 seats in the 80 seat parliament. By this time only one independent MP remained, the left-wing John Payne. Neither he nor the two small workers' parties (United Labour and Social Democrats) in parliament were likely to ally with the right-wing Reform Party.

However, the outbreak of World War I earlier in the year had created a need for national unity, and a hitherto unlikely coalition was formed between Reform and the party Reform had been set up to defeat, the Liberals. Massey retained his position as Prime Minister, with Liberal leader Joseph Ward becoming unofficial co-leader. Payne also supported the war, but both United Labour and the Social Democrats were against it, especially conscription. In 1916 they combined to form the New Zealand Labour Party, which became the official opposition. Several Labour MPs were jailed for their anti-conscription activities or for refusing military service.

1919 electionEdit

The coalition became increasingly difficult to manage, due partly to a personality clash between Massey and Ward. Following the end of the war in November 1918, the coalition dissolved, the two parties fought the subsequent election separately. Reform won an additional six seats, gaining a working majority at last.

1922 electionEdit

Economic problems had reduced the government's popularity, and the election left Reform with only 37 seats - four short of a majority. Massey was forced to cobble together a coalition of Reform, independents, and two Liberal MPs who were later rewarded with seats in the Legislative Council. The Labour Party was gaining considerable support, causing Massey to worry that it would soon supersede the Liberals.

1925 electionEdit

Labour continued to grow in popularity, and in the 1925 election gained more seats than the Liberals. The two parties were competing for many of the same voters, and for the anti-government vote in particular, and this worked to Reform's benefit. Although the party gained an additional 18 seats, its share of the vote rose by only 8.3%, suggesting that it benefitted from vote-splitting in many electorates.

1928 electionEdit

Following its disastrous performance in the 1925 election, the Liberal Party reconstituted itself as the United Party and regained some of its lost popularity. Reform and United each won 27 seats, with the Labour Party holding the balance of power with 19. Labour were long-term opponents of Reform and supported United, enabling United to take power.

Election resultsEdit

Election Parliament Seats Total votes Percentage Gain (loss) Seats won Change Majority
1911 18th 80 590,042 37
1914 19th 80 616,043 40 +3 0
1919 20th 80 683,420 47 +7 7
1922 21st 80 700,111 39.4% 37 -10
1925 22nd 80 678,877 47.79% +8.39% 55 +18 15
1928 23rd 80 844,633 34.8% -12.99% 27 -28

Prime ministersEdit

The government was led by William Massey from 10 July 1912 until his death on 10 May 1925. Francis Bell, who had earlier been Acting Prime Minister, briefly became Prime Minister (from 14 to 30 May 1925) but declined his party's offer of the job on a permanent basis. Gordon Coates was then appointed from 30 May 1925, and held the position until 10 December 1928, as his party was defeated in the 1928 general election.

Cabinet MinistersEdit

Portfolio Minister Party Start End
Prime Minister William Massey Reform 10 July 1912 10 May 1925
Francis Bell Reform 14 May 1925 30 May 1925
Gordon Coates Reform 30 May 1925 10 December 1928
Minister of Agriculture William Massey Reform 10 July 1912 12 August 1915
William MacDonald Liberal 12 August 1915 22 August 1919
William Nosworthy Reform 22 August 1919 18 January 1926
Oswald Hawken Reform 18 January 1926 24 August 1928
Attorney-General Alexander Herdman Reform 10 July 1912 4 February 1918
Francis Bell Reform 4 February 1918 18 January 1926
William Downie Stewart Reform 18 January 1926 24 May 1926
Frank Rolleston Reform 24 May 1926 10 December 1928
Minister of Customs Francis Fisher Reform 18 January 1926 7 January 1915
William Herries Reform 12 August 1915 6 December 1935
Arthur Myers Liberal 12 August 1915 22 August 1919
William Herries Reform 22 August 1919 7 February 1921
William Downie Stewart Reform 9 March 1921 10 December 1928
Minister of Defence James Allen Reform 10 July 1912 28 April 1920
Heaton Rhodes Reform 21 July 1920 18 January 1926
Frank Rolleston Reform 18 January 1926 26 November 1928
William Downie Stewart Reform 26 November 1928 10 December 1928
Minister of Education James Allen Reform 10 July 1912 12 August 1915
Josiah Hanan Liberal 12 August 1915 22 August 1919
Francis Bell Reform 22 August 1919 3 April 1920
James Parr Reform 3 April 1920 24 May 1926
Robert Alexander Wright Reform 24 May 1926 24 August 1928
Minister of Finance James Allen Reform 10 July 1912 12 August 1915
Joseph Ward Liberal 12 August 1915 22 August 1919
James Allen Reform 22 August 1919 28 April 1920
William Massey Reform 12 May 1920 10 May 1925
William Nosworthy Reform 10 May 1925 24 May 1926
William Downie Stewart Reform 24 May 1926 24 August 1928
Minister of Foreign Affairs James Allen Reform 24 November 1919 28 April 1920
Ernest Lee Reform 17 May 1920 13 January 1923
Francis Bell Reform 7 June 1923 18 January 1926
William Nosworthy Reform 24 May 1926 24 August 1928
Gordon Coates Reform 25 August 1928 10 December 1928
Commissioner of State Forests Francis Bell Reform 10 July 1912 21 February 1922
Heaton Rhodes Reform 21 February 1922 18 January 1926
Oswald Hawken Reform 18 January 1926 28 November 1928
Kenneth Williams Reform 28 November 1928 10 December 1928
Minister of Health Heaton Rhodes Reform 10 July 1912 12 August 1915
George Warren Russell Liberal 12 August 1915 22 August 1919
Francis Bell Reform 4 September 1919 3 April 1920
James Parr Reform 3 April 1920 7 June 1923
Maui Pomare Reform 7 June 1923 18 January 1926
Alexander Young Reform 18 January 1926 10 December 1928
Minister of Immigration Francis Bell Reform 10 July 1912 12 August 1915
Josiah Hanan Liberal 12 August 1915 16 August 1915
Francis Bell Reform 16 August 1915 14 May 1920
William Nosworthy Reform 14 May 1920 10 December 1928
Minister of Industries and Commerce William Fraser Reform 10 July 1912 26 July 1912
William Massey Reform 26 July 1912 22 June 1920
Ernest Lee Reform 22 June 1920 13 January 1923
William Downie Stewart Reform 13 January 1923 24 May 1926
Alexander McLeod Reform 24 May 1926 28 November 1928
Alexander Young Reform 28 November 1928 10 December 1928
Minister of Internal Affairs Francis Bell Reform 10 July 1912 12 August 1915
George Warren Russell Liberal 12 August 1915 25 August 1919
John Bird Hine Reform 4 September 1919 17 January 1920
Francis Bell Reform 17 January 1920 10 May 1925
George James Anderson Reform 17 May 1920 1 March 1921
William Downie Stewart Reform 1 March 1921 27 June 1923
Richard Bollard Reform 27 June 1923 25 August 1927
Māui Pōmare Reform 25 August 1928 10 December 1928
Minister of Island Territories James Allen Reform 24 November 1919 28 April 1920
Ernest Lee Reform 17 May 1920 13 January 1923
Francis Bell Reform 7 June 1923 18 January 1926
William Nosworthy Reform 24 May 1926 24 August 1928
Gordon Coates Reform 25 August 1928 10 December 1928
Minister of Justice Alexander Herdman Reform 10 July 1912 12 August 1915
Robert McNab Liberal 12 August 1915 20 February 1917
Josiah Hanan Liberal 20 February 1917 14 November 1917
Thomas Wilford Liberal 14 November 1917 25 August 1919
Gordon Coates Reform 4 September 1919 3 April 1920
Ernest Lee Reform 3 April 1920 13 January 1923
Francis Bell Reform 13 January 1923 27 June 1923
James Parr Reform 27 June 1923 18 January 1926
Frank Rolleston Reform 18 January 1926 26 November 1928
William Downie Stewart Reform 26 November 1928 10 December 1928
Minister of Labour William Massey Reform 10 July 1912 14 May 1920
William Herries Reform 17 May 1920 7 February 1921
George Anderson Reform 1 March 1921 26 November 1928
Robert Alexander Wright Reform 26 November 1928 10 December 1928
Minister of Marine Francis Fisher Reform 10 July 1912 7 January 1915
William Herries Reform 7 January 1915 12 August 1915
Robert McNab Liberal 12 August 1915 3 February 1917
George Warren Russell Liberal 20 February 1917 14 November 1917
Thomas Wilford Liberal 14 November 1917 25 August 1919
William Herries Reform 4 September 1919 7 February 1921
Francis Bell Reform 1 March 1921 21 February 1922
George Anderson Reform 21 February 1922 24 August 1928
Francis Bell Reform 24 August 1928 10 December 1928
Minister of Mines William Fraser Reform 10 July 1912 12 August 1915
William MacDonald Liberal 12 August 1915 22 August 1919
William Fraser Reform 4 September 1919 27 July 1920
William Massey Reform 3 April 1920 15 April 1921
George Anderson Reform 15 April 1921 28 November 1928
Gordon Coates Reform 28 November 1928 10 December 1928
Minister of Native Affairs William Herries Reform 10 July 1912 7 February 1921
Gordon Coates Reform 7 February 1921 10 December 1928
Postmaster-General Heaton Rhodes Reform 10 July 1912 12 August 1915
Joseph Ward Liberal 12 August 1915 4 September 1919
Gordon Coates Reform 4 September 1919 30 May 1925
James Parr Reform 30 May 1925 24 May 1926
William Nosworthy Reform 24 May 1926 10 December 1928
Minister of Railways William Herries Reform 10 July 1912 3 September 1919
William Massey Reform 3 September 1919 16 May 1922
David Guthrie Reform 16 May 1922 6 June 1923
Gordon Coates Reform 6 June 1923 10 December 1928
Minister of Revenue James Allen Reform 10 July 1912 12 August 1915
Joseph Ward Liberal 12 August 1915 21 August 1919
James Allen Reform 4 September 1919 28 April 1920
William Massey Reform 28 April 1920 10 May 1925
William Nosworthy Reform 14 May 1925 24 May 1926
William Downie Stewart Reform 24 May 1926 10 December 1928
Minister of Works William Fraser Reform 10 July 1912 3 April 1920
Gordon Coates Reform 3 April 1920 12 June 1926
Kenneth Williams Reform 12 June 1926 10 December 1928

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Sinclair 2000, p. 218.
  2. ^ King 2003, pp. 307–313.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Poverty and Progress in New Zealand: A Re-assessment by William Ball Sutch
  4. ^ a b c d "Maintaining sole parent families in New Zealand: An historical review - Ministry of Social Development".
  5. ^ Pragmatism and Progress: Social Security in the Seventies by Brian Easton
  6. ^ Breadwinning: New Zealand Women and the State by Melanie Nolan
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 February 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Sinclair 2000, pp. 247–252.

Further readingEdit

  • King, Michael (2003). The Penguin History of New Zealand (First ed.). Auckland: Penguin Books. ISBN 0143018671.
  • Sinclair, Keith; Dalziel, Raewyn (2000). A History of New Zealand: Revised Edition (Fifth revised ed.). Auckland: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0140298758.