THE LOCAL INDUSTRY QUESTION.
A number of merchants and others met in the Town Hall, on Tuesday, called together by circular signed by the Mayor, to consider what steps could be taken to find out what industries might be profitably carried on in Ashburton, ana how these could be established and fostered. It was only recently that we called attention to this question in these columns, and though a correspondent (whose judgment and knowledge we have every respect for) took us to task and expressed a very adverse opinion as to the hopefulness of any industrial venture in this township, it is evident that “ there is more between heaven and earth than is dream’t of in his philosophy ” if we may judge by the enthusiasm with which some of the business men of the district discuss the industrial question. The number of gentlemen who attended Tuesday’s meeting shows how much the importance of the question is felt, and we trust that, now an association has been formed to watch the interests of Ashburton in the matter of industries, nothing will he left undone that will tend to encourage enterprise and promote the development of resources of which Ashburton has not a' few. We have heard it said that one hindrance to New Zealand’s manufacturing progress is that the kind of labor wanted is not to be found in New Zealand —that the immigration policy of the colony had directed itself more to securing agricultural labor than skilled labor of any other class. It is quite true that ostensibly such was the policy Government claimed to follow. But it is equally true that that policy was a glaring failure, and that thousands of the immigrants w’ho wore brought to the colony were only agriculturists on paper, and for a time—only till they had been accepted by the agents and sent to sea. The farmers of New Zealand who have employed many of these men would perhaps be more able than the returns of Government to give reliable information as to what trades and callings were brought to the colony instead of the agricultural one that was wanted. We contend that there are thousands of bad ploughmen and pick and,shovel men in this colony who only want an announcement to be made that work of the kind theywere trained to was to be had, to forsake the plough and the shovel, and take at once to the shuttle or whatever else the work may be. The formation of Associations throughout the colony of the kind that preliminaries have been taken for in Ashburton, would be a sure indication that the people had been cured of the national weakness that has fallen upon us with the introduction of borrowed money, that the depression had left us clothed and in our right mind, with our eyes open to the fact that upon our own efforts and enterprise, and by the development of our own resources must we henceforth live, and not by the borrowed cash of the English money-lenders. The beginnings may be small—they must be ; but it was from small beginnings that almost every factory in the Old Country rose, and this we ought to keep in mind when the owlet croak of faint-heartedness or cynicism tries to discourage us.
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