The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER SATURDAY, MAY 29, 1880.
Parliament has been opened, and in a few days the work of the session will commence. Whether that session will be productive of great and good results to the colony, or be barren and unprofitable, is a matterof useless speculation. Thespeech of his Excellency, however, is a very hopeful one, if only "a condensation of the Premier’s speech at Leeston, and if all the work that Government has cut out in it for Parliament is got through, the Legislature will have accomplished much. After a reference to the monetary pressure—now happily to a great extent relaxed, and to the depression in various branches of trade and industry, which, let us hope, will soon be relieved, his Excellency goes on to notice the degree of confidence which has been inspired by the abundant harvest and the rise in the price of wool. He views these with satisfaction, as all well wishers of the colony must, but at the same time he is fully alive to the colony’s condition. The Government, speakingthroiighbis Excellency, know that the abundant harvest and the rise in the price of wool have not accomplished all the reaction that was necessary to raise the working classes out of the state of despondency into which the dullness of the times have placed them, and a clause in the speech refers to the fact, with aa expression of hope and trust that this dullness may be only temporary. This is the hope and trust of all, but in a good many cases, we fear, men are thus hoping against hope, and are looking with anxiety for some foundation on which lo build those hopes more securely. The Government tell us that this question of the unemployed is engaging their attention, in proof of which the Royal Commission on Local Industries is pointed to. To the report of this Commission most people will anxiously look, and not a few virulent anti-Protectionisls are already on the qui five. Without opening up the question of protection, w T e fail to see how Parliament cm take any very effective steps to foster local industry, and we feel assured that protection is quite unpopular enough in the New Zealand Parliament as not to be adopted, or to be adopted to only a very innocent and harmless degree, in the nurture of our native industries. The speech then deals with the Native difficulty in a few words, expressive of a beb’eve that the firm yet fair course followed by Government will favorably effect the Maori feeling towards us, and there the question is left. On financial matters the Government is straight and outspoken. It is not forgetful of the fact that for a lengthened period the colony has been rolling in borrowed wealth, the limit of which havirg been reached a time of straituess was sure to ensue, and it points cut that t T >e falling off in the colony’s revenue from all sources is attributable to the cessation of the influx of foreign wealth, with which cessation must also come a diminution of the rate of progress towards development hitherto made. The present is a point all who carefully studied the Immigration and Public Works policy of Sir Julius Yogel plainly foresaw, and it was this slacking off our, so to speak, fast living that many of the opponents of that pol'cy had in view when they offered to ic their opposition. Glamored with the attractiveness of Vogel’s scheme sanguine and short-sighted men saw only the bright side it held to view, and that side was surely a golden and brilliantly burnished one. That bright side has been turned towards the people for ten years, pud it shone while the millions lasted. While they held out, railways spread out their iron arms, and the artizan’s hammer charged on public works, and there was plenty in every home. Like a flood, wealth rolled over the land, and all shared in it. Now, however, the fountain of that wealth is dry, and New Zealand has in the future to be dependent on her own resources. She will now find how far the reproductiveness of her borrowed millions will help her to pay the interest upon them, while at the same time he raises ordinary revenue sufficient to make both ends meet, and keep the wolf from the door. The paternal Government preaches economy—“ Expenditure must be decreased, luxuries must be curtailed, and public works already constructed must be made more reproductive.” The above is a pvegr ant sentence, and might be made to include between the few lines that make it up something like a revolution in our railway system, our civil service, and every public avenue of outlay that bleeds the treasury chest of the colony. Nothing short of some radical change will suffice to bring down the expenditure to a balance with revenue, for it seems to us the people of New Zealand have reached very near vhe limits of their taxable endurance, and that a few more turns of the screw will break the machine, and additional taxation will cease to increase the return. The wisest sentence in the whole speech is perhaps the one which tells us that henceforth we must look to industry and economy for the development of our resources and the maintenance of healthy progress. Pity that the lesson was not well conned over long ago. On the question of finance too, local bodies are promised a plan that is calculated to place their finances on a satisfactory basis and enable them to carry on their works in a self-reliant and independent manner. For this plan we we will look with some degree of curiosity. With the critical question of the colony’s finance to be satisfactorily solved, Parliament has a great and important work in itself on hand, and added to that Native affairs not yet squared, ample excuse may certainly be found for less pressing matters, that can well affoi’d to wait for handling, being laid aside for a time, though not overlooked. Notwithstanding, tire ragged ends of legislation unfinished last session are to be gathered up, and some very weighty questions will engage the attention of Parliament. As hinted by the Premier, the licensing laws will once more be on the anvil, and if a satisfactory measure can be framed out of the present inefficient liquor legislation something will have been done to mark the session of 1880. The vexed question of charitable aid will also appear, and a radical change in the judicature is hinted at. The latter question is too large to be grappled with in a moment, and how the legal procedure in the Courts of the colony can be simplified will form the subject of an inquiry the result of which will probably supply a basis for future legislation. The re-adjustment of representation will receive attention, as was expected, and measures for facilitating the extension of settlement are promised. It is worthy of note that the important question of education, a change in the pre- |
sent law regulating which was by many expected, is not even mentioned in the iSpcech. Altogether the programme of the session is a good one, and offers room for wise and good legislation. How far the carrying out of that programme will be satisfactory to the colony we can only surprise, and must wait till the legislature promised has developed itself under the hands of Parliament.