The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 1880.
It perhaps the most disagreeable position in the bestowal of the New Zealand Government—that of a Eoyal Commissioner-. After pouring out a number of very unpalateable truths, and making a number of suggestions just as disagreeable for those concerned, the Civil Service Commissioners handed over their Commissions, and were discharged, but while their report was before the public they were the best abused men in the colony : Why ? Just because they said things that were very unpleasant. The Railway Commissioners are likly to enjoy the same experience. In the abstract, every district and township in New Zealand is going to be, in the very near future, the hub of the Colony. It is going to be at some time the centre of a great agricultural country ; the centre of a great mining industry, or the home of manufacturing emprise. And it only wants a railway to do the job for it. The railway line is the great means by which the springs of industry will be loosened ; by which the land will wave with golden grain, and flow with milk and honey ; which will impel the sinking of the shaft and the raising of the minerals; build the great factory, raise the tall stalk, and spin the busy wheel and run the dexterous loom. When the Railway Commissioners came to analyse the claims of the various districts to be suppliers of traffic to proposed railways they found many of their claims as hollow as could be, and if they have not as mercilessly exposed their hollowness as the Civil Service Commissioners did the sore points of the departments they were appointed to probe, they have . effectually enough hinted where Government will make mistakes if they go on with their railway making policy, and have given a pretty safe guide to what lines will be remunerative if constructed. But the Commissioners have not yet reached the thickest of the mud that will be showered upon them. When the Public Works Statement comes to be discussed, and it should be found that Government have adopted the recommendations of the Commission then will be the opening of the vials of wrath. Dozens of districts Fondly believing themselves to be undeniably places through which railways ought to pass, have found themselves left out in the cold, and the lines they trusted to see made at some time or other, if not removed from the map of probable railways, at least so coldly treated by the Commission that the hearts of the trustful ones will be sick indeed with deferred hope before the hope they once held so lively can become lively again. The representatives of these districts will not be slow to cast stones at the Commissioners. These representatives will never admit that their pet lines could ever turn out losing concerns, and even if that fact should be proved to them to a demonstration they will still fall back on the old and fusty argument of “justice.” It is from the representatives of such districts that the Commissioners will receive the most abuse ; but doubtless they will be able to survive it.
It is to be hoped, however, that the storm raised by.selfish districts will affect the Ministry as little as it will the Commissioners. If Government should be swayed—though we have no fear that they will—by the throats of interested members, and should neglect the advice given by the Commission, then the labors of the latter body will be valueless ; and the least concession to log-rolling will be a mistake. Public works are undoubtedly a good in the main, but public works that do not pay intrrest on the cost of construction, J.ejmrn in the fewer of such works wa have the better.
For a very long time past the term “ unemployed ” has been quite a household word throughout New Zealand. The story of their wrongs, real and imaginary, and accounts of the distress and want which exist among some of them, have occupied a deal of the space in most of the journals of the colony. Meetings have been held in the principal centres of population, and the most eloquent of the unemployed’s number have been selected to interview Government and lay before the Ministry their grievances. Recently arrived immigrants, who, before leaving their native land, were led to believe they were emigrating to a country that was speedily to lift them from poverty to a competence, but whose hopes vanished like the dew before the rising sun, have aired their complaints in the newspapers of the Old Country, warning their friends not to be led away by the miraje which has been so destructive to their happiness, and in the endeavor to realise which the ties of home and friendship were severed. Kind-hearted and sympathetic colonists have, both as individuals and as members of public bodies, put forth a hand to alleviate genuine distress whenever ithas cropped up. There is little doubt but that, as a whole, the unemployed of the colony are a class who are deserving of the warmest sympathy and kindest consideration of their fellowcitizens. Coming, as many of them did, from England at a time when the colony was not ripe to receive them, casting their lot. amongst us as strangers in a strange land, and whoso efforts to obtain employment have been a continued round of non-success, it is no wonder that many of them curse the day when they fist lent an ear to the silvery notes which chimed the praises of this fair land. But while many of these men are worthy of our pity and assistance, there are some of them—and we trust and believe they are few—whom we can only characterise as most inveterate “loafers.” This latter class are oftentimes the loudest in their execrations of the Government of the day in not supplying them with work, but are generally conspicuous by their absence if there is any immediate likelihood of employment for them being found in the neighborhood where they are located. Others there are who, because the rate of wages is not so high as it once was, scorn to accept employment at those rates which at present rule the labor market. It is to this class that we venture to offer friendly counsel ; to such men we are inclined to think a word of advice will not be without effect. The ‘‘ loafer” class is one upon which we feel advice would be lost, and from that body, it is to be feared, our gaols will be constantly filled. But to those men who, while they may he willing to work if they can only obtain a high price fer, the value of their labor, we offer a “ word in season.” Work of any descrip tion, and at any reasonable price, should in the present state of the colony, be a* once accepted. There is no one who will admit that New Zealand has seen her best days, and when a few years have rolled over our heads there is a bright prospect of, as it were, the phoenix rising from its ashes. If our recently-arrived fellowcolonists will only be willing to accept the low wages now ruling, even though it be but a bare livelihood, it will neverthet less, to speak vulgarly, “ keep the poboiling” until a brighter day dawns, and the colony become, what eventually will bo the case, a prosperous and happy country. All that is needed now is patience, and a willingness to plod on, and the time will come when the glowing pictures which have been painted of New Zealand, and the golden anticipations of its wildest dreamer will become a solid reality.
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