The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER. SATURDAY, AUGUST 28, 1880.
The session of Parliament is fast drawing to a close—only a few more sands of its hour to run. For many days the members have given signs that they are weary of their toil, and the House has been hurriedly gathering up and tying in a rough bundle the rude ends of its unfinished work. Members will look back upon Wellington from the decks of the steamers that carry them away to their homes with regret, for their work has been unsatisfactory. Seldom in the colony’s history has a session opened so full of promise as did the one just about to close—seldom have we had to chronicle one so barren of results. The opening of the session was pregnant with promises of measures that the colony desired, and the passing of which it looked forward to with in-: terest. Throughout the session these measures have danced before its eyes, and seemed to come very near to the pages of the statute book, but as the tide of the session rose they failed to rise with it, and now they have been swept back on the ebb, and for a year we shall hear no more of them. The Licensing Bill, a measure of great importance, has been shelved for a year ; and the Representation Bill, about which we heard so much last year, and during the currency of the present session, has been crushed into futurity, almost before we knew what were its provisions, while other Bills of importance have shared the same fate. Had these measures been deferred out of motives of caution —from an anxiety to give the fullest and most careful and attentive consideration to questions of the highest moment, we would have found no fault with the delay. . But they were not so deferred, for instead of bestowing attention upon important legislation like this, we find the House killing its time with such rubbish as the Wellington Racing Club Bill, and matters equally trifling. True, the work of the several Royal Commissions has been canvassed, and from it the colony has gained much knowledge on matters that materially affected its welfare ; but beyond affording a reason to Government for in -one case declining to go on with the construction of more railways than they had funds for, and in another for reducing the wages of civil servants ten per cent., nothing has come out of them. The native question has had the lion’s share of Government’s attention, and if the session’s legislation in that direstion will aid in removing the chronic trouble some good will have been done; but even that is, at best, problematical. Before Parliament met at all the colony knew that its own finance was not satisfactory—that its revenue was far to leeward of its expenditure, and that something would have to be done; and during the last recess Government took care to make the colony a sort of sweating-room for both the taxpayers and their representatives. Hence the readiness of the House to pass the financial measures that will, for a time at least, add considerably to the annual expenditure of every soul in the colony. The Government has had a strong and loyal majority—almost a “servile” majority, as Mr. Vincent Pyke was pleased to term it. Yet they do not seem to have been able to carry on the work they had set themselves so expeditiously as they might have done. It is perhaps an easy matter to obstruct, and easy for a dozen or so free lances, fighting each for his own hand and owning no leader, to throw themselves in front of the car of business and stop progress. Had there been an organised Opposition, with a recognised head, we would have heard a better tale told of the session’s work. But still we cannot but think that something might and ought to have been done to stop the prodigal waste of time of which the House has this session been guilty; and guilty to this waste it must plead, notwithstanding its many and long day and night sittings. We cannot think that a Government with such a following at its back was powerless to control its own supporters at least, and economy of time could well have been exercised had many of these orators been persuaded that their votes werefar more valuable than their oratory, and most valuable when their rhetoric was that silence which is golden. Such Opposition as existed—headless as it was—in the House seemed to have no policy beyond that of hindering work, and Government’s friends do not seem to have understood this, or at least were powerless to prevent it. Perhaps it is that the usages of Parliamentary warfare do not provide for fighting individuals as well as for dealing with an Opposition party ; but any way, the individual sharp-shooters who have carried on the warfare have this session inflicted an injury upon the colony. They have not weakened the Government, they have not rendered Government’s position one whit less secure; let us hope, though, that, if the same privateering sort of warfare is followed in the next session, that Government will be prepared with some plan for allowing the individual members of this amiable and patriotic Opposition to have an opportunity to talk themselves out without a reply from every Government follower, and so reach the end of a session that will show a list of finished work of which the House need not be ashamed.
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