Frank Langstone

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Frank Langstone

Frank Langstone (born December 10, 1881 in Bulls , † June 15, 1969 in Auckland ) was a New Zealand politician of the New Zealand Labor Party (NZLP) who was a member of parliament and minister for several years .


Family background and professional career

Langstone, who was born the fourth of five children to veterinarian Charles Walter Langstone and dressmaker Margaret McDermott, was orphaned at the age of nine and grew up with his older sister Katherine Langstone and received little formal education. He later lived with a foster family and initially worked as a blacksmith before he became the operator of the drinking halls in Masterton train station around 1906 . Shortly thereafter, on April 24, 1906, he married Agnes Clementine King and had five sons and two daughters with her.

Some time later committed Langstone in the union of shearers ( New Zealand Shearer's Union ) in Wellington and in the first Labor Party. At the time he ran a billiards place in Masterton before moving to Te Kuiti in 1913 and running a restaurant there. There he was president of the local association of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and in 1916 became a member of the newly founded New Zealand Labor Party (NZLP). After living in Auckland for some time , he returned to Te Kuiti and ran a restaurant again. In 1919 he also became the manager of another restaurant in Taumarunui .

In the elections of 1919 candidate Langstone in the constituency Waimarino unsuccessfully for NZLP for a parliamentary seat in the General Assembly ( General Assembly ). He then continued to work as a restaurateur and helped the New Zealand Worker's Union organize the local woodworkers.

Member of the General Assembly

In 1922, Langstone was first elected a member of the General Assembly in the Waimarino constituency. In his first speech to parliament in 1923, he spoke about topics that preoccupied him throughout his entire membership in parliament: the development of agricultural areas, financial security for small farmers and the establishment of a state bank. After he narrowly lost his constituency in the 1925 elections, he took over the restaurant again, which was now run by his wife. In 1926 he applied unsuccessfully to be a candidate for the Labor Party in the constituency of Eden .

In the 1928 election, Langstone was again elected to the General Assembly in the Waimarino constituency. Although he was elected President of the NLZP in 1933, he was unable to attend all of the party-political meetings in Wellington due to his residence in the King Country . Nonetheless, between 1934 and 1935 he published numerous partisan treatises on the Labor Party's plan for guaranteed prices for agricultural products, assisting state control over the issuance of currency and credit, and maintaining stable internal price levels by pegging money to production and consumption. Dissatisfied with the establishment of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand on August 1, 1934, he called for the nationalization of all custodians . Although influenced by Major CH Douglas' monetary theory , he rejected some of his ideas and condemned that Douglas did not go far enough in criticizing capitalism .


Promotion to Foreign Minister

In the parliamentary elections on November 27, 1935, the Labor Party won a landslide victory that they themselves did not expect, with 46.1% of the vote and 53 seats in the General Assembly. In the new government under Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage , which took office on December 6, 1935, Langstone was appointed Minister of Lands and Commissioner of State Forests . In these functions he was particularly concerned with issues of afforestation , soil erosion and river control. In addition, in June 1936 he was head of a delegation trip to Western Samoa and in 1939 representative of New Zealand at the International Labor Organization in Geneva .

After the death of Prime Minister Savage on March 27, 1940 Langstone was of his successor Peter Fraser on April 1, 1940 as the successor to Savage for Foreign Minister of New Zealand ( Minister of External Affairs appointed). At the same time he was Minister of the Cook Islands and Minister for the Affairs of Māori ( Minister of Māori Affairs ). In these functions Langstone, who spoke the Maori language fluently and was a general supporter of Māori affairs, had already served as Savage's representative. For example, as acting minister on a trip abroad from Savage in 1937, he tried to relocate the Māori from the orakei Korako together with the Undersecretary of State in the Treasury, John A. Lee . However, this decision was reversed by Savage, who had promised the Māori this settlement area, after his return. Despite a policy of racial equality and an end to discriminatory practices, only Langstone's tenure as Minister for Māori Affairs has seen few legislative initiatives.

While in the Cabinet, Langstone continued to support government control of credit to encourage low-interest credit for farms, homes, and industry, and was a supporter of the John A. Lee-led group that wanted a change in government policy and membership. He maintained his friendship with Lee even after his exclusion from the NZLP in March 1940 and later also wrote articles for his newspaper John A. Lee's Weekly . During this time he was concerned about the financial policy of the Labor Party, the reluctance of the House of Lords ( Legislative Council ) and the plans to form a war cabinet with the New Zealand National Party .

Resignation as minister

In June 1941, Langstone was entrusted by Prime Minister Fraser with a mission trip to the United States to sell raw materials there and to prepare the establishment of an embassy . However, his thoughts on running the legation were withdrawn after the then Finance Minister Walter Nash also became New Zealand's representative in the United States in November 1941.

In April 1942, Langstone was also High Commissioner in Canada . Six months later, he returned to New Zealand in October 1942 and publicly complained that Prime Minister Fraser had misled him in terms of both content and personnel about the United States mission. On December 21, 1942 he resigned as Foreign Minister and Minister for the Cook Islands and Māori Affairs, whereupon Prime Minister Fraser himself took over the Foreign Ministry, while the office of Minister for Māori Affairs was not taken over until July 7, 1943 by Rex Mason .

In September 1943, The Evening Post claimed that Langstone had resigned for serious misconduct. He then filed a defamation lawsuit seeking $ 2,000 in damages , and was awarded $ 200 in New Zealand in February.

In the following years he continued to demand state control over the Bank of New Zealand , which was officially supported at the 1944 NZLP congress, so that in 1945 the bank was nationalized.

Post-war period and leaving the NZLP

In the 1946 elections, Langstone was again elected to the General Assembly in the Roskill constituency. Although he was one of the leading lateral thinkers of the NZLP at the time, he was not reappointed to the cabinet by Prime Minister Fraser in 1947, whereupon he turned against New Zealand's accession to the International Monetary Fund .

Peter Fraser's support for maintaining conscription in peacetime after World War II ultimately led Langstone to resign from the NZLO on August 7, 1949. He had previously spoken out in the campaign for the referendum on conscription.

In the 1949 election, Langstone applied for a seat in the General Assembly as a non-party , but missed re-entry into parliament. However, he remained politically active and published a critical treatise on the so-called Waterfront Strike Emergency Regulations of that year in 1951 . In the elections in 1957 and 1960 he ran unsuccessfully for the New Zealand Social Credit Political League in the constituency of Roskill and spoke out in his election campaigns for the need for a stable monetary policy and a financial credit management system to promote debt-free loans for public projects.

Web links

  • Biography in The Encyclopedia of New Zealand