The Ashburton Guardian. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1880. The Tariff Meetings.
TOWN EDITION. [lssued at sp.m. ]
The meetings of farmers, merchants, and the general public that have beenheld this/week, tb be'held, and the’speeches That have; been delivered both at those meetings! and at the County Council, gave a very! clear idea of how public opinion trends: in regard to the railway tariff. The meetings have not been organised as many electioneering and other meetings are, with a view simply to make unpopular the particular party or thing they oppose, .and to give license to uncontrolled arid uriweighed declamation. They have not been held by men opposed to the Government in office, buUby -men, they great majority Of whom recorded' their 'votes ’aV last election to support the Hon. John Hall’s ministry, and who still accord a warm general support to that administration. It must therefore be from a very strong feeling of injustice done and injury suffered that they thus meet together apd denourice -what they feel to be the ode great 'efror made by the party they support. In most things the population of the Ashburton County are with the party in power, but in this thing of-,.the Railway ,-tariff the Hall Miiristry|are|nof receiving ja bitter and 'uncompromising opposition, and that simply because it is a gross blunder that is worse than a crime—a blunder that evidently arises more from ignorance and incpinpet e pcyAhpn /frpm any desire to irijure ‘the agricultural interests of the colony. There is no gainsaying the fact, that upon the plough depends New Zealand’s life; upon the -- facilities ; offend/ to her farmers, and file 1 encouragement given to them to produce grain depend her hope for the future. She has to compete in this article of grain with the most formidable rival imaginable—the greatest grain producing country in the world. Up to this time she has held her own fairly with the great Continent of America, and has gathered good prices in the •' English I market 'in' the very teeth of American competition. America’s producing power will in time reach its maximum,,. Arid we shall yet get to know all that she can do when at her best, and how much we are required to do to maintain our position, against hbrri Tlds'is M’dritidak tinife, 1 and about the worst possible that could have been chosen to cause a single penny more cost to -the producer of grain in his competition with this power. The railway authorities call this new and absurd tariff of theirs a “ tentative” one —tentative, we presume, as to how many straws the camel’s back will bear before it reaches the last and breaking point. But it should be remembered,. that, vyitlG America in the market, the colony's; grain-producing is also an experiment, and one that has not been fully solved as to ho\v r far New Zealand .can .depend, with assured results upon her grain ; yet, in this incomplete state of things, Government steps in and does its best to prevent the result, or rather to .bringabout a result which Government itself, we feel assured,- would; .only be too sorry to see —ckiriely,’' -New Zealand driven out of the grain market, and England fed on American .wheat,instead of the breadstiiffs of her own colony. Government want a revenue from the railways, they say, finding that. Hielr /greatest . railway is derived' froth*the 'carriage of grain, they are short-sighted enough to overlook all consideration of the circumstances of agriculture in the colony, and impose a specially high rate on corn. The Government last session were loud in their protestations : 6jT affection for local industry, and their desire to encourage it. They sent their Commission over the land torseeh but the best means of aiding and develop.ing local industries, and promised to do all in their power to -cultivate, find foster every one that gave a hope of success, and to countenance the introduction of new branches. Regarding the railways as -a local industry they began to do their best to cultivate and prune them. All suckers in the shape 'of.-superfluous officials, unprofitable trains, and other public conveniences that had only public convenience without. remuneration to recommend them" were ’ swept away. And now this newly made pet industry is to be made “highly remunerative but how? At the cost and to the endangering of the greatest industry of the colony, the one that requires most of all the care and nurture, not of the Government only, but of every man in New Zealand. The railways as a whole dq nqt pay, because they.are, r i|o| workedJmAmsifless pririfciples, /When a man finds his store not yielding revenue to his liking, he does his best to increase his business. He reduces expenses as far as he can with safety, but he also reduces prices, with a view to inducing.business. His profits are less on the articles he sellp, but he disposes of fnore of them, arid of course finds his profits on the whole increased. His prices are laid on according to an arithmetical and rational scale—if he sells a pound of sugar at 6d., he will sell two at a shilling, and three at
eighteenpencecj j-J-Jjb will not be such a fool as to adopt A- scale, like what Mr. C. P. Cox, in hfs speehli'-.on Tuesday evening, showetl the railway had adopted—rcharge 6d. fdr the first pound, is. jzdj for the secondhand is. sd. for the ..third.' .Yet sortie such absurd principle as this the railway has adopted, and instead of doing their best to increase'' business and revenue, they set about simply trying to see how fair they can play with the colonial estate and the colonial prosperity. We have spoken of America' in this article, and America has, been referred to in the tariff meeting speeches. - The American railwaycompanies have been lauded for their,, liberality to the farmer in the carriage of his grain, and the great distances for a small ebst that they take his produce.; It is well, however, to add that the’ American Government is at; the bottom of these low figures, and not - the companies. Numbers of the great-Ameri-' can companies are handsomely sub-/ sidised and endowed by the American Government, both with 1 money hnd' land/ Irion’e crise the line'is allowed three and a half per cent, annually on its cpst,: besides several millions of acres •that were given to it to start. This will easily account for the lowness of their grain tariff/ - .which is also, an inducement to farmers to buy and settle upon, the land the companies. o\vn,. arid through which their lines run. ' This is how the American: Government aids -in) the'development'of its agriculture, and it is a telling commentary upon the ■ Miserable policy of the rhefiAvho pte-' : tend to guide our railway affairs—and : institute a carriage tariff on a principle that,the,.hurpblest owner of an- orange barrow: would, laugh at. We hope- the farmers ' will agitate this tariff repeal question, and that wherever • art: wince:ofgrain Is grown, meetings expressive' of- 1 the growers’ dissatisfaction ’will 'be' held. Unity is strength, and it will be a bold and a suicidal Government indeed that will dare to brave the opposition .of the whole farming comniqnity united to protest against,a decided and palpable injustice to their best interests, and-the best interests of the colony itself;"' /,
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