The Ashburton Guardian. COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 1880.
The Premier and Mr. Rolleston have been taking an airing up North, and the hamlets through which they have passed have of course taken the opportunity to air their grievances and their wants. Wherever the Ministers have gone their welcome has been warm and kindly, but no sooner have the plaudits that heralded their arrival at the various places visited by them died away, than the inevitable deputation bowed itself into their presence, with the also inevitable request that some, and of coui’se always necessary, work should be proceeded with at once. The deputation is the skeleton in the Ministerial closet. It is an article of luggage, too, which the unfortunate Cabinet member has to carry with him when he takes his walks abroad either on business or on pleasure. Should he leave the sultry north for a tour in the more bracing south in genial autumn, he must be prepared to encounter at every railway station where he calls a halt, a phalanx of municipal or other dignitaries, ever ready with a request to proffer, and the enthusiastic deputation never forgets to pour into the great man’s ear tales of the grandeur and greatness of the patch of country on which it is, at that particular moment, the distinguished honor of the Minister to stand. The future of the place is painted in the most roseate hues; its resources arc lauded to the skies ; and its progress and the enterprise of its people are dwelt upon with a fervor that almost kindles into poetry. No matter where the Minister stays on his journey, the vampire deputation mingles with his pleasures and destroys his enjoyment of them. If lie should direct his steps from the bracing south to the warmer north he has to endure the deputation nuisance intensified to a far greater degree, foi the north has a chronic grievance rankling at its heart in a belief that the more fortunate south is having its interests fostered at the expense of its neighbor beyond the Straits. This craving for public works, paid for out of the purse of the General Government, has assumed almost the character of a disease with some communities, for we find the horse-leech cry “Give, give,” is just as loud and emphatic and lusty to-day, when the borrowed millions are well spent, as it was when the colony was rolling in the plenty that these millions supplied before we had got down to within sight of the last hundred of our fictitious wealth. It never seems to dawn upon the cravers that the end of borrowing must come sooner or later, and that the c dony will bo thrown back upon its own resources to supply such necessary works as may be undertaken by the Government, and that these resources are—taxation. The fact has no significance to the deputations that the public ledger shows a balance of six figures that will soon be seven on the wrong side, and that every new' work undertaken only goes to increase that debtor balance. No matter what the state of the public money chest, the demands for expenditure are still made as boldly as ever, and when a quiet reference is made to the impossibility of taking the breeches off a Highlaiidman, the requisitionists rave about the injustice being done to their districts. This craving for public works is one possessed by not one New Zealand community more than another, but by all. His supposed ability to gratify it, and his readiness to try, are the aspiring politician’s claims to a seat in the House of Representatives, arid too often men are sent there whose vision is so limited as not to range beyond the boundaries of their districts, and those districts are to them their political creed, paternoster, and decalogue. Hence the log - rolling so loudly complained of now and again at political meetings, and hence it is that Governments are tempted to buy, wdth the expenditure of public money, the support of the self-seeking representatives of the districts enjoying the benefits of this money. We say selfseeking, but in using the term we identify the representative with the district, and do not apply it to the individual member whom the district has sent. The colony lias reached a stage in its history when it will require to economise in earnest. When a man in business discovers that his income is below his expenditure, he finds that it is time to put up his shutters, unless he can reverse the ratio of the figures, and if he cannot increase his income the only other course is to reduce his expenditure. This is what New Zealand will have to do, and this is what her Government is trying to do, but to do it to purpose we must learn the lesson Ministers are striving to teach us that extravagant expenditure on works that can very well be done without, and that must be done without, must be avoided if their efforts to keep on the right side of the account are to be successful. We have all along, ever since the
Yogelian policy of public works and immigration was started, looked to Government money as always to be had for the dunning for. We must now disabuse our minds of that fallacy, and learn to wait until the colony’s bank book is more healthy. This is a lesson that must be learned not by one district only, but by all without exception ; and until New Zealand has learned that lesson, and thus aided the public treasurer _ to keep his revenue and disbursements in equal ratio, we cannot expect the colony to avoid a deficiency that additional taxation must be resorted to to cover.