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Allairs in Wellington do not promise well for as ession productive of the legislation we had hoped for, and which every candidate, successful and unsuccessful, in the recent election was pledged to promote. No sooner had Parliament met than the vote of no-confidence on which the late Ministry went to the country was again passed, but by so narrow a majority that though the party led by the Hon. John Hall is now in power, its best friends cannot bespeak permanent security for its Government, But even if the whirligig of politics were to wheel round with its lucky nick facing the Greyite side, and that side were to be again pitchforked into office to-morrow, he would speak without his book who would say that security lay with them any more than with the Constitutionalists. How much, or rather how little the great measures members were sent to Parliament to pass have to do with the bestowal of their support of a Government is now being made manifest by the readiness with which, for a price named, votes can be bought. Some members put themselves up, so to speak, for the highest bidder to buy, and the one that will do most in the way of spending public money in the district represented by the coveted votes, is the side to which the support is given. Loudly was the log-rolling of the past denounced from every platform some weeks ago, but no sooner have the echoes of the denunciation died away, and the chance arises to repeat the trickery, than we find the same thing obtaining, and with such effect that, upon the log-rolling proficiency of either party depends that party’s future. “ The Great Liberal cause ” was the cry rung out in fullmouthed chorus by the supporters of the late Government, and one would have thought that the collective patriotism of the colony had centred in that party. But when it is found that to obtain power they are quite prepared to hypothecate to the grinding of local axes a large slice of the five million loan about to be raised, so that the sympathies of these localities may be bought, the Grey party cannot complain if another bill of indictment is brought against the sincerity of that much vaunted patriotism which has flowed in honeyed words from the lips of their chief. The political grasshopper, Mr Vincent Pyke, who for a time danced to the music of the Constitutional pipe, and then went over once again to the “ Great Liberal cause,” was followed by the exceedingly reliable member for Waimea, and there are others who, though knowing and freely admitting the danger of againbringing the old team back to power, are perfectly willing to accord their support to the recently defeated ones if the loaves and fishes are sufficiently plentiful. The result of this trading in votes is that before the end of the week we may expect the political wheel to have again revolved with Sir George Grey’s party uppermost at the sticking point. It is patent that the policy enunciated in the Governor’s speech at the opening of the first of this year’s two sessions, and reiterated at the opening of the second, is in no sense whatever the bone of contention between the two parties. The real difference is —how are the five millions to be spent ? Shall we squander the money in small, detached works here and there throughout the colony—works that will enhance the value of property in the districts where they have been executed, but will not for many a day, if ever, return a fraction to the public coffers : or shall wc lay the money out in works that will develop the resources of the colony, and at the same time bring in a return on the money spent. Just as the two parties decide between the two courses above indicated will their fates be sealed. Whichever will be most lavish to the clamant members, who look upon Parliament as a huge Board of Works, will be the party that will hold the reins. The Hon. John Hall will be no party to laying down the public money at the foot of an unproductive hill, while Sir George’s party, to gain the upper hand, will not hesitate to carry the money to the very summit.
These are the real politics of New Zealand, sentimentalise as we may over the wider, higher, and nobler questions dangle! from the hustings. Those higher questions afforded opportunities for a display of what, after all, was meaningless oratory, that only served to gloss over the darker groundwork of selfishness of which our whole political fabric seems to be built. We heard accusations made by the Greyite party against the then Opposition that in its ranks were to be found men who had enriched themselves at the expense of the colony, men who had manipulated the land laws for their own aggrandisement, and cared not a straw for the colony’s future if their own were secured. These accusations came with an excellent grace from a party who have shown their exceedingly warm solicitude for the colony’s future in the doings that Major Atkinson’s statement has laid bare. Well may they have rushed a £5,000,000 Loan Bill through the House, and made frantic efforts to have it placed on the London market with all speed. It was high time, when a million of it had already been traded upon, and a deficiency of nearly another million waited to be made apparent to the country to bo met by the budget of the session. If the £5,000,000 loan" is not yet floated, its buoyancy will scarcely be aided by the figures Major Atkinson gives us in his statement of finance. Yet the party under whose guidance we have been brought to this
pass have every hope of again coming into power. Just as Mr Macandrew has managed the public works of the colony, dropping a few thousand pounds’ worth here and there, as votes and popularity required to be secured for his Government, so has he done with members of the House who could be caught on the same principle, and “consideration,” either for the members themselves or their districts, is now being shown to be the real policy that rules.
When Sir Julius Vogel’s Public Works and Immigration policy was inaugurated, lie had in view works that in a reasonable time would he fairly remunerative, and the anticipations of Sir Julius have been fully realised where the principle of his policy has been followed, the exceptions being railways and other works constructed to suit party views, several of which could be easilv instanced, both in the North and Middle "islands. But when the statesmanlike policy embodied in the Immigration and Public Works Act was abandoned, and a wholesale system of favoritism to particular localities was shown, then the object of the Act was frustrated, and the first step was taken to ruin the credit of the country.
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