The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1880.
One of the subjects brought under the notice of the County Council at its last meeting vaa the right of the County of Ashburton to have a voice in the deliberations of the Lyttelton Harbor Board. At present the latter body is constituted of ten members, who are all representatives or nominees of Lyttelton, Christchurch, or the County of Selwyn. Seeing that Ashburton will have this year well on to a million and a half bushels of wheat to ship from Lyttelton, the move made by the County Council is one which can hardly bo questioned when it is considered that the only shipping port by which Ashburton grain can be exported is Port Lyttelton. And it becomes more necessary, now that we are satisfied that the harvest work is at present so far advanced that we can no longer question the quantity of freight required for this County, and the consequent strain upon the capabilities of Lyttelton to combat the struggle between receiving full and supplying empty trucks to up country stations. The berthage space at port is limited, and it will therefore he necessary for the Harbor Board and the railway department to hurry on the loading of ships as rapidly as possible, for if trucks are not quickly discharged in port there is nonuse in struggling to fill them up here. The accommodation for ships at the various wharves is equal to berthing 20 ocean going vessels, 20 of a smaller class, G intercolonial steamers and about 30 coastal traders. Should everything bo kept on the move, and there is no reason why the work of transit and shipment should not be carried on quickly and effectually, tne grain of Canterbury should within three months be all on its way to Europe. It is therefore very desirable that Ashburton should be represented on the Harbor Board. But there is a point still to consider. It is this—while the County has no voice in the deliberations of the controlling body, it has no say in fixing the wharf charges on grain, which now stand at 2s. a ton, while, as was pointed out by Mr. B. G. Wright, the charges at Port Chalmers are only Is. per ton. However desirable it may be to reduce these charges, it is not at all likely that they will he reduced unless the grain growing districts can bring pressure enough to bear on those having the power to levy them. This points to the necessity of the country districts being well represented at the Board, or at least represented with some show of equality, and a member or two sent from the Ashburton Council might have the effect of bringing about the desired change of tariff, if it can be done with safety to the harbor revenue. A case of some importance was heard yesterday at the R. M. Court, which, although very trifling, so far as the amount sued for was concerned, is of great importance to local bodies seeking to recover their rates by legal process. The Longbeach Road Board, through their collector, -were plaintiffs, and the defendant was
sued for three shillings of rates due. The account attached to the summons was simply a demand for payment of rates due for 1879, without specifying the particular block of land upon which the said rate was owing, and the defendant took objection on the ground that the description was insufficient. The Court held the objection to bo a sound one, and gave judgment for defendant. Now, we are of opinion that this judgment was not in accordance with the spirit of the Rating Act of 1879, which provides for all contingencies likely to arise with respect to the recovery of rates, and we do not recollect any case where, when an action was brought in proper form, a Road Board failed to recover. In the case under notice, there is no doubt that, what between the Valuation Roll being to a certain extent defective, and the bill not being furnished to the defendant with full particulars of the case against him, the Board deserved to be mulcted for the costs in the action ; and if all ratepayers elect to defend their liability to pay rates on the same grounds as the defendant did yesterday, we imagine the revenues of the Boards will soon be reduced immensely from this cause. However, if collectors take ordinary care in the preparation of their plaints and set forth all the particulars of the demand, there can bo no doubt of their ability to recover the rates. The Rating Act of 1870, provides for the compilation of the Valuation Roll, which is publicly exhibited from January loth to February loth in each year, to give all the ratepayers an opportunity of objecting to any p rtion of it which may affect them —from having their properties rated at too high a value, or from having properties charged against them which they have parted with, or for any other cause —and their objections can be heard by the Assessment Court. But when once the Valuation Roll has been passed and signed by the judge of that Court, it becomes the roll of the year, and is unassailable. From this roll a rate-list is made out, and when compared and signed by three members of the Board, it becomes the record from which rate notices are made out, and upon which defaulting ratepayers may bo sued. We think that, as the name of the defendant was on the Valuation Roll for the year, also on the rate book, and that notices had been ssrved on him, the Act had been sufficiently complied with. It will, however, be a caution to collectors in suing for rates in the future, to give full particulars of all properties, and thus save the local bodies from the costly fgame of having cases given against them. The question of what the unemployed are to do during the winter of 1889 is one now being forcibly brought before our notice from the fact that at this moment, in the busiest part of the harvest season, there are still men about town who are out of work. That they have themselves to blame, in many instances, there cannot be be any doubt ; for it is nut to be expected, in these times, that the farmers will give the exorbitant ra J es of wages hitherto demanded at the busy season of the year. Laboring men have for years past been accustomed to make from £1 to £1 10s. a day for tying crops, and have looked upon those prices as the standard rate. They forget that times have altered, and that the fanner is now, comparatively speaking, independent of manual labor, and can afford to wait a little longer in harvesting his crops, now that the reaper and binder lias taken the place of human hands. We know of many instances of men who are the loudest in crying out about “no work,” who have refused fair wages, and prefer loafing about town because their extortionate demands have not been acceeded to. If they refuse to accept fair wages when work is open for them, we would ask them what they will expect when winter and really no work or prospect of any is staring them in the face. It is hard to say where occupation is to be found for them, and wo anticipate that the West Coast goldfields, although wretchedly poor in comparison with what they were in the early days, yet afford employment and bread for those willing to work. Now that some of the Government water-races are giving plenty of employment, the coast will have to bo the refuge of those who are too idle or too independent to lay by a few pounds, when the few pounds are to be earned, against the rainy day which is sure to come when employment is difficult to obtain in the slack season of the year. W 7 e do not wish to croak ; but it is patent that, with all the Road Board and County Council funds spent, and no prospect of public expenditure in the district beyond the amount likely to be laid out in the construction of the extension of the Mount Somers railway, there is a very poor show for the numerous laboring men in this district during the coming winter. We would advise the laboring men not to stand too much upon the platform they have been wont to, but to accept what the gods send them, or in other words, what the fanners offer them, and they will be all the better satisfied with themselves in three months’ time. The wire binders have effectually put a stop to the monopoly of labor, and capital lias now assumed the whip hand, and, as an old farmer remarked the other day, regarding the hands—“ They have had their innings, and it is our turn now. ” It is surely to be regretted that the demand for labor is greater than the supply, but it is equally to be regretted that when, ill such circumstances, wages like 80s. a week and all found, an ottered to men, the employer is laughed at. Av 7 c know several cases like this, and we arc afraid that the many men now “ waiting for the harvest ” will have to wait a long, long time until they get the wages that ruled before the birth of the binder.