The Clutha Leader. BALCLUTHA : FRIDAY, SEP. 30, 1887.
Clutha Leader, Volume XIV, Issue 689, 30 September 1887, Page 5
The Clutha Leader. BALCLUTHA FRIDAY, SEP. 30, 1887.
The election deckled on Monday last proved the most exciting general electiou that has yet been held in New Zealand. From the North Cape to the Bluff the interest of the people seems to have been thoroughly excited, and public men and public affairs have had such an overhauling as they never had before. This is a hopeful sign, and so far proves the truth of the old proverb that It's an ill wind that blows no one good." For undoubtedly the depression that has so long prevailed has to a large extent been the cause of the excitement through which the country has just passed. Had the price obtained for produce been good, work abundant, and wages high, only a comparatively small section of the community would have greatly interested themselves as to the state of the public affairs of the country, or as to whether one candidate or the other was to be their representative in Parliament. But the people have long felt the pinch of hard times, and have cast the blame almost entirely upon the Government. Sir Julius promised when he returned to Parliament three years ago that he would make the country progress by leaps and bounds of which he has often been reminded V>ut fcMs promise he has failed to implement. On the contrary, under his management financial affairs have steadily gone further to the bad the revenue has decreased by leaps and bounds, while the expenditure has continued to increase. The people foolishly centred all their hopes for prosperity in the Government, and have been bitterly disappointed. Now, we have always thought an undue amount of blame has been east upon the Government in connection with the matter. They were, to blame in raising hopes and expectations they knew they could not meet they have been to blame in maintaining the old rate of expenditure when they found the revenue falling so short of that estimated they have been to blame for their personal extravagance and in many other ways but they have had but very little influence in either causing or perpetuating the depression that has everywhere been so severely felt. That depression was caused by the great falling-off in price of the produce of the country, and its continuance is due to the continued low price of that produce. It was as foolish to look to the Government alone for prosperity as it is unjust to cast upon it the blame of the adversity that has been experienced. The new .Parliament that has just been elected and the new Government that will shortly be formed may, and it is to be hoped will, bring about a measure of that retrenchment which has been so loudly called for and so freely promised but the people may depend on it that any such retrenchment will have but very little, if any, appreciable effect in lifting the present depression. To accomplish this the people must trust more to themselves, their own ing3nuity, economy, and exertions. They must economise with their own personal expenditure, reduce the cost of
production to the lowest possible figure, endeavour to find out new and more profitable markets for their produce, and in this and other ways do with their private affairs what they call on the Government to do with the public affairs bring their expenditure well within their revenue. We are satisfied that were the people to trust, more to themselves and their own efforts they would accomplish far more in the way of removing the depression than by trusting to anything the Government can do in the matter.
During the past few weeks we have placed before the electors, as clearly and concisely as possible, the issue submitted by the Government for their decision. That issue was additional heavy burdens in the shape of customs' duties and taxation, as against a reduction of the expenditure. During the contest many side and subordinate issues were raised and harped on by Ministers and their supporters, with a view to confuse the public and lead their minds away from the main question. But very little success attended these devices, and the result of the appeal we never for a moment doubted. But few, however, anticipated that the defeat would be so crushing. The Government secured only 36 seats, little more than a third, while the Opposition secured 53, the remainder being ranked amongst the independents or doubtfuls. Perhaps the most surprising thing in connection with the matter is how the Government could have been so infatuated as to have selected such a question upon which to make their appeal. It certainly was very bad generalship. It shews that Ministers had a very exaggerated conception of their own power, and the power of their supporters, to hoodwink tho public. And it shows also that notwithstanding Ministers have been in the habit of spending the great proportion of their time in travelling through the country, at the public expense, they had but a very imperfect idea of the public feeling on the question of finance. The public have always been given to understand that it is necessary for Ministers to travel in order that they may know the wants of the various districts, and the state of public feeling. So far as the present Ministry are concerned, these objects have not been gained, and their journeyings have only been labour in vain, and a waste of public money. It is to be hoped that thoso about to take their places will abandon those pleasure excursions, stop at their offices, and attend to the business of the country. The people expect to receive value for their money from Ministers as well as from other servants, both public and private.
Although the attention of the electors throughout the Colony has been much occupied with the contests in their respective districts there can be no question that the mind of the whole public has been very much centred in the struggle in Dunedin East. The circumstances here were peculiar and the result momentous. The genial and popular Premier of the Colony was opposed by a young, untried, and comparatively unknown man. It no doubt was at first regarded as impertinence on his part to oppose Sir Robert Stout, and many believed he would reap the full reward of that impertinence. His candidature was atfirst treated as agood joke, and it wasnot doubted that it would end in a fiasco. It was soon discovered, however, that the young stripling had struck a note that found an echo in the heart of the great body of the people, and serious alarm was aroused. But it was not merely a contest beween Sir Robert Stout and Mr Allen. The fate of the Government was involved, for everyone knew that the defeat of the Premier meant the overthrow of the Ministry. Here then was a young man, a stranger to politics, trying single handed to do what the whole of the people's representatives in Parliament had been unable to accomplish viz., to turnout the Stout- Yogel combination and he did it Why was this? Sir Robert has longbeen the idol worshipped by Dunedin. For many years he held the proud position of being the most popular member of the New Zealand Parliament. His moral character has ever been absolutely irreproachable, and a more genial, likeable, obliging man is not in the Colony. Why then is he cast off now The truth is, Sir Robert, like many another good -hearted, favourite boy has fallen into bad company of late. He has exposed himself to the jibes and sneers of his opponents, while his friends have pleaded and scolded to no purpose. He only got the more stubborn, and the more strongly attached to his spendthrift companion. Sir Robert formerly was prudent and economical in the management of the purse and estate of his patron his loved democracy—but under the influence of his new companion this estate has rapidly been disseminated by the game of village settlements and otherwise, while the money was disappearing at an alarming rate and the finances were becoming quite embanassed. This was often pointed out to him by his friends, who reasoned with him and urged a reformation, but all to no avail. Under these loving expostulations he has of late got restive, has virtually abandoned his office duties, and devoted his time and talents to
travel and to lecturing in the cause of the ill-favoured Ministerial combination. He has also disregarded the wishes of the dear democracy in the matter of the introduction of the Bible into public schools, and other small but important matters. His friends therefore saw there was nothing for it but to withold the supplies, and forcibly break up the ill-asserted companionship. With this object in view, Dunedin East returned" Mr Allen. Sir Eobert has been offered numerous other seats, but distinctly declared that if defeated, he would retire into private life for three years. In face of such a declaration, we do not believe he will consider any of the offers now made. These offers have been made subsequent to his resolution to retire being known all over the Colony, and this gives room for the suspicion that some people might not have been so self-sacrificing, had they not believed Sir Robert would adhere to his resolution. We believe he will adhere to his resolution he has formed and publicly announced. We also believe that in his retirement Sir Robert will" consider, and take to heart the bitter lesson he has been taught, and that at the end of his self-enforced exile he will return to Parliament a much better, more practical, and more useful man than even he has yet proved to be.
Much regret is being expressed all over the colony at the defeat of so many old, tried, and trusted politicians Sir Ilobert Stout, Messrs Rolleston and Bryce, Colonel Trimble, Mr Thomson, and Mr Buckland, all of whom have been defeated. The Daily Times says Mr Thomson was an excellent member, industrious, prudent, and staunch and regards his loss as a heavy one. In these opinions and expressions of regret we heartily join. But the future of Now Zealand is not bound up in any one man, or any set of men and it seems a provision of Providence that when good men drop out of any sphere of life others are ready worthily to fill their places. New Zealand is not yet an entirely Godforsaken place and we have no doubt that in the new Parliament will be found men both able and willing to manage the affairs of the State with energy, prudence, and economy.