Reform Government of New Zealand

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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.

Contents

Significant policies

Industrial

Public service

Health

Welfare

Education

Foreign affairs and military

Formation

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 Oh, listen to the band; the new concert party at Parliament House.jpg
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 coalition

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 election

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 election

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 election

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 election

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 results

ElectionParliamentSeatsTotal votesPercentageGain (loss)Seats wonChangeMajority
1911 18th 80590,04237
1914 19th 80616,04340+30
1919 20th 80683,42047+77
1922 21st 80700,11139.4%37-10
1925 22nd 80678,87747.79%+8.39%55+1815
1928 23rd 80844,63334.8%-12.99%27-28

Prime ministers

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 Ministers

PortfolioMinisterPartyStartEnd
Prime Minister William Massey Reform10 July 191210 May 1925
Francis Bell Reform14 May 192530 May 1925
Gordon Coates Reform30 May 192510 December 1928
Minister of Agriculture William Massey Reform10 July 191212 August 1915
William MacDonald Liberal12 August 191522 August 1919
William Nosworthy Reform22 August 191918 January 1926
Oswald Hawken Reform18 January 192624 August 1928
Attorney-General Alexander Herdman Reform10 July 19124 February 1918
Francis Bell Reform4 February 191818 January 1926
William Downie Stewart Reform18 January 192624 May 1926
Frank Rolleston Reform24 May 192610 December 1928
Minister of Customs Francis Fisher Reform18 January 19267 January 1915
William Herries Reform12 August 19156 December 1935
Arthur Myers Liberal12 August 191522 August 1919
William Herries Reform22 August 19197 February 1921
William Downie Stewart Reform9 March 192110 December 1928
Minister of Defence James Allen Reform10 July 191228 April 1920
Heaton Rhodes Reform21 July 192018 January 1926
Frank Rolleston Reform18 January 192626 November 1928
William Downie Stewart Reform26 November 192810 December 1928
Minister of Education James Allen Reform10 July 191212 August 1915
Josiah Hanan Liberal12 August 191522 August 1919
Francis Bell Reform22 August 19193 April 1920
James Parr Reform3 April 192024 May 1926
Robert Alexander Wright Reform24 May 192624 August 1928
Minister of Finance James Allen Reform10 July 191212 August 1915
Joseph Ward Liberal12 August 191522 August 1919
James Allen Reform22 August 191928 April 1920
William Massey Reform12 May 192010 May 1925
William Nosworthy Reform10 May 192524 May 1926
William Downie Stewart Reform24 May 192624 August 1928
Minister of Foreign Affairs James Allen Reform24 November 191928 April 1920
Ernest Lee Reform17 May 192013 January 1923
Francis Bell Reform7 June 192318 January 1926
William Nosworthy Reform24 May 192624 August 1928
Gordon Coates Reform25 August 192810 December 1928
Commissioner of State Forests Francis Bell Reform10 July 191221 February 1922
Heaton Rhodes Reform21 February 192218 January 1926
Oswald Hawken Reform18 January 192628 November 1928
Kenneth Williams Reform28 November 192810 December 1928
Minister of Health Heaton Rhodes Reform10 July 191212 August 1915
George Warren Russell Liberal12 August 191522 August 1919
Francis Bell Reform4 September 19193 April 1920
James Parr Reform3 April 19207 June 1923
Maui Pomare Reform7 June 192318 January 1926
Alexander Young Reform18 January 192610 December 1928
Minister of Immigration Francis Bell Reform10 July 191212 August 1915
Josiah Hanan Liberal12 August 191516 August 1915
Francis Bell Reform16 August 191514 May 1920
William Nosworthy Reform14 May 192010 December 1928
Minister of Industries and Commerce William Fraser Reform10 July 191226 July 1912
William Massey Reform26 July 191222 June 1920
Ernest Lee Reform22 June 192013 January 1923
William Downie Stewart Reform13 January 192324 May 1926
Alexander McLeod Reform24 May 192628 November 1928
Alexander Young Reform28 November 192810 December 1928
Minister of Internal Affairs Francis Bell Reform10 July 191212 August 1915
George Warren Russell Liberal12 August 191525 August 1919
John Bird Hine Reform4 September 191917 January 1920
Francis Bell Reform17 January 192010 May 1925
George James Anderson Reform17 May 19201 March 1921
William Downie Stewart Reform1 March 192127 June 1923
Richard Bollard Reform27 June 192325 August 1927
Māui Pōmare Reform25 August 192810 December 1928
Minister of Island Territories James Allen Reform24 November 191928 April 1920
Ernest Lee Reform17 May 192013 January 1923
Francis Bell Reform7 June 192318 January 1926
William Nosworthy Reform24 May 192624 August 1928
Gordon Coates Reform25 August 192810 December 1928
Minister of Justice Alexander Herdman Reform10 July 191212 August 1915
Robert McNab Liberal12 August 191520 February 1917
Josiah Hanan Liberal20 February 191714 November 1917
Thomas Wilford Liberal14 November 191725 August 1919
Gordon Coates Reform4 September 19193 April 1920
Ernest Lee Reform3 April 192013 January 1923
Francis Bell Reform13 January 192327 June 1923
James Parr Reform27 June 192318 January 1926
Frank Rolleston Reform18 January 192626 November 1928
William Downie Stewart Reform26 November 192810 December 1928
Minister of Labour William Massey Reform10 July 191214 May 1920
William Herries Reform17 May 19207 February 1921
George Anderson Reform1 March 192126 November 1928
Robert Alexander Wright Reform26 November 192810 December 1928
Minister of Marine Francis Fisher Reform10 July 19127 January 1915
William Herries Reform7 January 191512 August 1915
Robert McNab Liberal12 August 19153 February 1917
George Warren Russell Liberal20 February 191714 November 1917
Thomas Wilford Liberal14 November 191725 August 1919
William Herries Reform4 September 19197 February 1921
Francis Bell Reform1 March 192121 February 1922
George Anderson Reform21 February 192224 August 1928
Francis Bell Reform24 August 192810 December 1928
Minister of Mines William Fraser Reform10 July 191212 August 1915
William MacDonald Liberal12 August 191522 August 1919
William Fraser Reform4 September 191927 July 1920
William Massey Reform3 April 192015 April 1921
George Anderson Reform15 April 192128 November 1928
Gordon Coates Reform28 November 192810 December 1928
Minister of Native Affairs William Herries Reform10 July 19127 February 1921
Gordon Coates Reform7 February 192110 December 1928
Postmaster-General Heaton Rhodes Reform10 July 191212 August 1915
Joseph Ward Liberal12 August 19154 September 1919
Gordon Coates Reform4 September 191930 May 1925
James Parr Reform30 May 192524 May 1926
William Nosworthy Reform24 May 192610 December 1928
Minister of Railways William Herries Reform10 July 19123 September 1919
William Massey Reform3 September 191916 May 1922
David Guthrie Reform16 May 19226 June 1923
Gordon Coates Reform6 June 192310 December 1928
Minister of Revenue James Allen Reform10 July 191212 August 1915
Joseph Ward Liberal12 August 191521 August 1919
James Allen Reform4 September 191928 April 1920
William Massey Reform28 April 192010 May 1925
William Nosworthy Reform14 May 192524 May 1926
William Downie Stewart Reform24 May 192610 December 1928
Minister of Works William Fraser Reform10 July 19123 April 1920
Gordon Coates Reform3 April 192012 June 1926
Kenneth Williams Reform12 June 192610 December 1928

See also

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References

  1. Sinclair 2000, p. 218.
  2. King 2003, pp. 307–313.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Poverty and Progress in New Zealand: A Re-assessment by William Ball Sutch
  4. "Public Service Act passed into law". Ministry of Culture and Heritage. 14 September 2020. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Maintaining sole parent families in New Zealand: An historical review - Ministry of Social Development".
  6. Pragmatism and Progress: Social Security in the Seventies by Brian Easton
  7. Breadwinning: New Zealand Women and the State by Melanie Nolan
  8. "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)
  9. Sinclair 2000, pp. 247–252.

Further reading