To the Editor. Sir, —Reading yonr article of July 28, upon local industries, I was much amused at the naive way in which you wind up your article about giving advice in the matter, and “it is, of course, an easy thing to write in the strain we have done,” etc.; but if you come to sober facts, it will soon be apparent that Ashburton is not the place a manufacturer would select to commence a business, and I will now proceed to show you why. The manufacturer sets out with the following rule :—First, what produce can I buy on the spot, its first cost, cost of wages in its manufacture, what markets ? I will take your first article—woollen factory : There are already two in the field, and their productions will suffice for the wants of New Zealand for some time, and I question if you wanted a continuous supply of wool it could be obtained unless you went to Christchurch to purchase. Leather : What quantity of hides could you get from your local butchers ; and where do you get your bark 1 Import it, do you say ? Yes, but that means extra cost—and, then, your market 1 Soap : You might ' get about one ton of rough fat per week from your local butchers. If that was made into soap, where would you sell it ? Add to cost of fat the charge for caustic soda, coals, etc., and how much profit would it leave? Oatmeal, again : Where are your consumers ? It cannot be exported for long distances. Ashburton has the disadvantage of high railway freight, dear labor, and absence of markets.' It may do very well as a depot for agricultural produce, and keep jogging a few middlemen and publicans, but as a manufacturing locale it is quite out of the question. Does it not seem monstrous to charge 3jd. per bushel for wheat to Lyttelton, and Id. more to ship it, or 13s. lOd. per ton — equal to one-third of the freight to the United Kingdom, and more than the freight charged from New York to England. Coals—your first prime mover in all industries : 12s. Id. per ton is charged from Lyttelton to Ashburton. Again, timber is charged 2s. per 1,000 ft., or about 20 per cent, on its first cost. General goods are charged from 15s. to 40s. per ton. Then, again—labor : You must not come to Ashburton to get it, or you will have to pay some 12J per cent, dearer than in Christchurch. If you want to purchase a ton of potatoes, you have to pay from L2 ss. to L2 10s. here ; you can purchase the same in Christchurch for LI ss. to LI 10s., clearly a saving of LI per ton on first cost. This is only as an example of your market. It is all very well to set out upon paper —and paper has done much for Ashburton —what could or should be done ; but the practical man knows that he cannot get a sufficient quantity of any goods. The first cost is as dear as in Christchurch. Add to this the exorbitant cost of carriage per railway, and the manufacturer is completely shut out from the local markets ; and it is only to the farming portion that Ashburton can look for support. If some of your capitalists would form a syndicate and purchase land ; divide it into medium-sized farms, of from, say, 200 acres upwards ; build upon the same decent residences and outhouses, and sell the same upon deferred payments to practical farmers, not “ scrapers,” they will thus encourage the only possible or payable industry, and in the dim future some small local industry may crop up, which is the sincere wish of yours, etc., A Would-be Manufacturer. July 29, 1880.
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