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LETTERS FOR THE TIMES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 148, 4 September 1880
LETTERS FOR THE TIMES.
To the Editor. Sir, —The conduct of Ministers during the recess and the session just concluded, fully justifies the assertion which I made in one of my previous letters,' namely, that the present Ministers are a set of political shams. Let us take the- re-ad-justment of the representation as. an example. Their criticism of Sir - George Grey’s Government in reference to this matter was as pungent as it was unjust ; indeed, only the wilful blindness of those who won’t see, could have induced any intelligent being to listen for a moment to the absurd accusations on this point, made by Mr. Hall and his party against their bete nuir —!Sir George Grey. These high; souled partisans insisted that the late Cabinet never could or would bring in a Bill to readjust the representation ; that the outcry about the mal-distribution of seats was merely got up for-the purpose of amusing that hydra-headed monster — the people—and that, if Sir George were allowed to retain office till the crack o’ doom, Taranaki would still rejoice in its triple membership, and Canterbury still lament the unfair restriction of its voting power in the Lower House of Assembly. In reply, they" were pointed to a Redistribution of Seats Bill lying on 'the table of the House of Representatives,. placed there by the Grey Government, ready to be discussed and, passed into law as soon as Mr. Hall and his friends saw fit to desist from their shameless struggles for office. These ..gentry, however, were equal to the occaasion. It is of jio use telling a lie by halves ; so they persisted that notwithstanding the Bill was there, it was never intended that it should ripen into a statute. Possibly.. some . members of the Assembly believed them—the Hall party possess the faith of saints—anyhow Sir George was deposed, and the Hon. John Hall- reigned in his stead. The Redistribution of Seats Bill disappeared with Sir George. The new Government was promptly asked what it intended to do about this imxjortanf'' question. Promptly it pledged itself -to introduce a Bill during the then current session. It broke its pledge of course. The recess followed—“ The Major” strolled up to Taranaki to find Government billets for his multitudinous brothers, brothers-in-law, cousins, and nephews ; Mr. Bryce set a thousand/policemen to work making roads at the colonial expense for the benefit of Taranaki ; Mr. Rolleston vanished into the recesses of the Waikato ; Mr. Oliver concentrated his gigantic intellect upon the scrutiny of the ironmongers’ bills sent, in to Ilia department ; while Mr. Hall, having started off several packs of Royal Commissioners (cost —L 5,000 odd) sat down to compose a speech that would astonish the Houston “ bumpkins.” The wheel of time rolled round in duo season, and brought again the weary session, with its scenes and wrangles— dii ceriantes—and committments for contempt and apologies ; but the Representation Bill came with less alacrity. Strictly speaking, it did not comeat all, because it was laid on the table at such a time that it was hopeless to expect to pass it before the prorogation, and its careless authors did not profess to hope that their, offspring would survive. Consequently it died “ Unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.”
This is a grievous wrong. The most rabid admirer of land jobs and the rule of reckless mercantile speculators is forced to admit that the present distribution of seats in the Lower House of Assembly is grossly unfair, and ought to be changed. It does not want argument to show that Cheviot, with its sheep run and a couple of hundred electors', should injustice enjoy but a portion of the representation allotted to the flourishing district of Coleridge. It is equally plain that Taranaki, with a population /of similar magnitude, but without half the commercial importance, is absurdly overrepresented when it is permitted,to return three members, while the Coleridge electors are obliged to content themselves with but one. All through the colony preposterous inequalities occur, and Canterbury is the chief sufferer. It is an old story, and every paper in Canterbury and Otago has surfeited its readers with figures on the subject, so I need not go into details. Row, why do the Hall Ministry evade such a vital question, and leave Canterbury groaning under this mountain of wrong ? Her inhabitants are deprived of their full right of speech in the making of the laws which they are required to obey, and her revenues are scattered right and left by those who are hostile to her interests, while her natural guardians - , like Mr. Hall, calmly preside over the allotment of the plunder. The key to the Ministerial reluctance is easily found. A fair distribution of seats would be the death knell of Mr. Hall’s party. They would be committing political suicide by proposing it. They are the fag-end of the old party—now posing as Virtue’s own disciples—by whose aid land jobbers, loan companies, and the more reckless of the tribe of mercantile speculators ruled the colony for ma,ny years ; but whose power Has been shattered to the back-bone by Sir George Grey, whom they consequently hate .with the intensest of hatred, and cast in his face and at his back every calumny which a malicious mind can suggest in revenge for defeated iniquities. Let.the free electors of New Zealand never forget that, whatever opinions they may hold about Sir George Grey’s peculiar views on abstract questions —concerning which a wide difference, of opinion may well prevail,-—the real cause of the unprecedented animosity exhibited towards him is not dissent from those views, but , his bold and successful onslaught upon the corrupt and dangerous moneyed combinations which, under the guidance of Sir Julius Vogel, threatened at one time to reduce this colony to the condition of the most politically-degraded State in the American Union. The insensate virulence of these defeated speculators gets rather amusing now and then. A constant reader of newspapers can easily cull from the rabid articles which fill the leading columns of the Ministerial journals a choice selection of incongruous epithets and tirades abusive in the ascending scale against pur late Premier, trolled out by feeble-minded scribblers, whose ideal of a statesman is that of a careful superintendent of a Government office, and to whom an original idea is a thing of dread, and its author a dangerous 'Communist. “They think we’re honest, for they know we’re (full,” Mr. Hall miy possibly whisper to himself when reflecting upon the fond devotion tp the Ministry displayed, by the more com scientious of his supporters, and the ludicrous nature of thp criticisms to ylpph hia phief opponent " is sub', jected. Sir George Grey, we have been told qver and over and over again in forcible language, pregnant by its rough Simplicity, is a lunatic ; he is one of the most crafty of men, full of deep designs, totally untrustworthy, an habitual liar, “his word is not to be taken on the smallest trifle,” sticking at nothing to compass his ends a sort of Machiavelli and Talleyrand rolled into one; he is a visionary dreamer, his thoughts always dwelling in the proud Empyrean, full of grand and philanthropic schemes for the good of his fellow-creatures; but essentially unpracti-
cal and unfit for an active part in colonial politics; nevertheless, he is “just about *he hardest nail at a bargain in the country he is “a most remarkable man,” gifted with wonderful powers of oratory, and of securing the attention of largo masses of people ; but mad as a hatter. The Hall Ministry know that it is the Ministry, not of the colonists of New Zealand, not of the en ire electorate, but of a peculiarly constituted House of Representatives. It knows that the party which it represents has had its day, and its sun is now setting. This is its last innings. It naturally wishes to make that innings as long as possible. For the same reason it was quite prepared, when it took office, to swallow all the previous professions of its party and .adopt its opponents’ creed. With equal want of scruple did it fail to observe that creed in its integrity, and is now striving to evade a reform for which the country is hungering and thirsting, but which Mr. Hall and his colleagues regard as the serpent, ever creeping nigher, whose mission it is one dav to devour them. —lam&c..
C. W. Purnell. Ashburton, 3rd September, 1880.
LETTERS FOR THE TIMES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 148, 4 September 1880
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