The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1879.
Major Atkinson has been accused of crying down the colony’s credit in the Home money market, by placing upon the housetop the real present financial position of New Zealand, and what it will probably be at the end of the financial year. We have no idea that the disclosure to English capitalists of a million deficiency will hurt our credit so much as will the telegram that takes Home the information of a reaccession to power by the party whose admirable financing caused the tide of public wealth to ebb so low ; and whose diplomacy kept the true state of afiairs concealed from both the capitalists whoso good opinion we desire to court and the people of the colony who find the interest of the money already borrowed, and that of the £5,000,000 loan which is to be the next increase to our indebtedness.
If we are to borrow money, let us do it under no false pretence. Do not let us go into the market with a sounding boast that we are financially right, while the fact is we are financially wrong. In the end it will be better for us if we tell the truth about our position. Major Atkinson knows this, and has acted upon it, and the country is his debtor for the information he has given it. All the year through the colony has seen indications that the public exchequer was becoming light, and the hurry to get the £5,000,000 through Parliament gave token that things were not so promising as they ought to have been. But the late Government let not a syllable escape indicative of the true state of affairs. Their tactics have rather been to conceal this from the country, and to lull it to sleep in a fool’s paradise of security. The “speech from the throne,” which was so full of highly Liberal measures, hardly mentioned finance, and what it did say regarding that subject has scarcely met with a corroboration in the Financial Statement delivered last week. The Speech told us the colony was financially sound ; but it did not tell us of the falling off in revenue that confronts us in the Colonial Treasurer’s Statement. It did not tell us that, to make good the falling off, we should have to dig deeper than ever into our pockets to satisfy the taxcollector, nor that the duties recently remitted, with no benefit to the consumer of the articles set free, would have to be reimposed, and new and additional lines of taxation struck to make up the revenue to the level of expenditure. No indication of this kind was given to us. We were allowed to remain in ignorance of the real state of affairs, and the colony’s knowledge of its public finance was at best but a suspicion. Now the murder is out ; and when the hard, cold facts stare us in face, and we know that the Colony of New Zealand, as a going concern, balances with a deficiency, we hear the accountant who has struck the balance accused of injuring the concern’s credit when he writes down the figures. We repeat, those figures will not injure the colony. When the capitalist learns the position of the concern to which he is asked to loud his money, he will learn, we may be sure, in whose hands its affairs were when it got into difficulties. The sum short will not frighten him. It takes a good deal to break the credit of a colony like New Zealand. But when he learns that under Sir George Grey’s management the colony’s affairs financial got mixed, with no sign of effort made to extricate them from their involvement; when he learns that Sir George Grey’s Native Minister has been at liberty to do as he would with the funds of his department; that the same liberty was accorded to his Works Minister ; and that the same team is again in power ; he will think twice before he lets go his gold to make up the coveted £5,000,000. No, the deficiency will not hurt our credit, but our credit will be seriously injured if we allow the mis-man-aging directors of affairs again to come to the supremacy.
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