The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER THURSDAY, APRIL 15, 1880.
In our last issue we published a cablegram from Melbourne, via Reuter’s Agency, which announced the removal by the Victorian authorities of the import duty on oafs introduced into Victoria for the purpose of being converted into oatmeal. The cablegram gives no hint of the duty on oats imported for other uses being removed, and from this we are inclined to the belief that the millers have taken a new departure, and mean to direct their enterprise to grinding for export. If it bo to encourage some such object as this that the duty has been removed, so that advantage might be taken of the largo crop of oats which has been gathered in this colony, and at the same time continue protection to the Victorian farmers, then it is time that something were done in New Zealand in a similar direction. If oatmeal can be made in Victoria from New Zealand oats, and exported to the English or any other market, then surely it stands to reason that the oats could be ground on the soil on which they are grown ; and if the enterprise can be made payable by Victorian millers, is there anything to prevent it being made to pay in this colony ? There is not. We are fully assured there is sufficient milling power in Canterbury to make oatmeal of all the oats the province has grown this season, and if the game is worth the candle for Victoria, who has to import the raw mdterial, it ought surely to be much more an object to New Zealand, who this year has such an overplus of oats on hand. A rumor has been industriously circulated during the last two or three days that the price of grain has suffered a severe fall, and that buyers refuse to operate at a higher figure than 3s. 3d. for the best samples of wheat, and Is. 2d. for white Canadian oats, while only lid. is offered for long Tartars. If there is any truth in this rumor, and holders of grain will very soon be able to ascertain whether there is not, it ought to be an additional inducement for steps being taken to rescue the colony from the great loss it is bound to suffer on its oat crop this season. At Is. 2d. per bushel, oats must be a particularly heavy crop to pay, and only those who have been blessed with exceedingly heavy yields can hope to make at all out of oats, while the growers of “ long Tarters will be heavy losers. But the removal of the duty on oats for grinding in Victoria seems to us to be indicative of a change in the Victorian policy which will be joyfully hailed by all politicians of true Liberal principles. Since the enforced retirement of Mr. Berry a new regime may be expected, and it is perhaps not tco much to hope that the partial surrender of the oat duty is only the thin edge of the wedge, and that sooner or later the Victorian Parliament will be converted to the doctrine of Free Trade. At present the Protective tariff she indulges in militates sadly against her ininterest. The opening of Victoria to New Zealand oats would have a most beneficial effect upon oat-growing here, as transactions are on record that have resulted in a profit to the New Zealand exporter, even with the heavy duty of Is. per cental that is still charged on oats not for milling.