The Ashburton Guardian. COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 1880.
Recent advices from England toll us that it was a fortunate thing for New Zealand that the five million loan was floated before Major Atkinson’s budget was laid before the House of Representatives. He announced an alarming deficit, and had British capitalists been in possession of the figures lie supplied before they contributed the £5,000,000 loan to the colony, it is very questionable if, at this date, we would have been able to rejoice over the continuance of our ability to get into debt. The capitalists were taken by surprise by the Major’s statement of the colony’s finance, and very naturally they were curious to know how it came that a Premier before his Parliament, and possessing, as at least he ought to have possessed, a full knowledge of the state of the colony’s money chest, could rush into the money market, with glowing accounts of New Zealand’s financial position, while at the same time he knew that hia Estimates of the previous year had not been realised by nearly £400,000. The capitalists, trusting to the colony’s previous good name, put their names to its paper in ignorance of the fact that the then Premier had already disposed of a large share of the loan in anticipation. Having lent their money, so to speak, under false pretences, there was a considerable amount of growling done by those who for a time felt themselves taken in ; but the same statement which had caused them so much anxiety contained also what was needful to allay their fears. The Major came forward before the colony with a courageous statement of the facts that his predecessors had concealed—viz., that a deficit existed, and was likely to increase. He pointed out that there had been extravagance in the administration of his predecessors, and for the colony to redeem itself there was only the one course open, that of increasing the revenue by the unwelcome means of taxation. An announcement of this kind is scarcely what would be expected from a new Government, and one with only a small majority—a government who, to live, might be expected to court popularity in every way. But duplicity was not one of the cards the Hall Government relied on. They chose the honest and straightforward course of letting the country know the exact position of affairs, and though the knowledge was not of a palatable kind, and was howled at by the Opposition as calculated to ruin the colony’s credit in the Home money market, yet the course followed by Major Atkinson has had the effect, not of ruining, but of establishing the credit of New Zealand at Home. The capitalists there, after calmly looking at the state of affairs and considering Major Atkinson’s proposals for meeting the deficiency he had announced, had their confidence restored, and there can bo no doubt that, learning the fate of the Grey Government had much to do with the restitution of the colony’s credit, the office of the team who had pulled so unevenly, so blunderingly, and with such costliness to the waggon of state, was a source of satisfaction and comfort, and we may safely say that the knowledge of the true financial situation, and who are now the masters of it, has done more to strengthen confidence in the colony than can be well calculated. The opinion held of our resources, of the fertility of our soil, of our genial climate, and the untapped riches that yet lie in the bosom of our mines, is still as high, and with the strengthening belief that the colonies are the only safe and sure investment ground for the surplus wealth of England, we need not fear for the future so far as the popularity of the colony at Home is concerned, either with the laborer, the capitalist settler, or the money-lender. * The amateur players who are to favor us on Friday and Saturday evening with a representation, with georgeous scenic effects, of Hazlewood’s piece “ Ashore and Afloat ” have scared up an agent of the Dramatic Authors' Society, who makes a demand upon the local company of 15s. as a fee for liberty to play the piece, and that sum must be paid before “ Ashore and Afloat ” can be enacted, under a penalty of 40s. to the agent, or at his option the entire proceeds of the performance, together with double costs of the suit in a court of law. Up to the passing of the Fine Arts Copyright Act Amendment Act last year, local and even professional players could reproduce the dramatic works in the catalogue of the Dramatic Authors’ Society almost without question, and certainly with impunity so far as the law was concerned ; but the passing of this Act has changed all this, and now it is exceedingly dangerous to attempt amateur dramatic performances without first ascertaining whether the pieces to bo represented are or are not in the catalogue of works for the performance of which a fee is chargeable. It was only a fortnight ago that Mr. E. T. Gillon, of Wellington, the accredited agent of the English Dramatic Authors’ Society, recovered the minimum penalty of 40s. from the Invercargill Garrick Club for the production by that Club without leave of the farce, “ Hunting a Turtle,” and the costs in the case were something solid. It will henceforth be wise on the part of amateur players, before they advertise a copyright piece to pay the toll that is now demanded by the agent, otherwise consequences may ensue far more disastrous than being hissed from the platform by an audience of a dozen. Wo are glad to notice that “ Ashore and Afloat” has been licensed, and that there is ‘every prospect of the two representati'-ns of it being successful in the highest degree.