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Public Meeting at Wakanui. The farmers iu.tho Wakanui district evidently feel keenly on the subject of the railway tariff, for, notwithstanding the strong nor’-wester that was blowing last night, between fifty and sixty of the best man in the district attended at the Wakanui schoolroom to enter their protest against the now railway tariff, and to add their signatures to the memorial on the subject, to be presented (o the Government.

The meeting was summoned under the auspices of the Road Hoard', and nearly all the members were present. In the absence of Mr. H, T. Winter, the chairman of the Hoard, Mr. A. G. Earle was voted ho the chair, and explained the, object of the meeting, which was mure particularly to allow the farmers to express publicly their dissatisfaction with the tariff as it now existed, and which bore with undue severity upon the fanners of the colony and of the district of Ashburton in particular. Before they left that evening a memorial to the Government would be presented to them for signature, and lie felt sure every man would add bis name. (Hoar, hoar.)

Mr. James Brown moved the following resolution :—“ That this meeting is of opinion that the present railway charges for the convej’anco of agricultural produce arc very much too high, and ought to bo immediately reduced" to what they were the last grain season.” He spoke very strongly against the tariff, as did also Mr. David Wilson, who seconded the motion.

In response to a question by Mr Paynter, Mr. Fricdlander, Mayor of Ashburton, explained that the difference in the freight of wheat from Ashburton to Christchurch between the old tariff and the new one was o|d. per bushel. In speaking on the subject of the tariff he said ho was not astonished that at this time of the year that farmers had not much time to read the newspapers, but, though they were not perhaps in possession of all the details of the unfair working of the tariff’, they al! know that it would tell with great effect upon their incomes this year. This ■ county, exported more than a fourth of the grain grown in the colony, and conseit would feel the pinch of a heavy tariff on grain more than any other part of the colony. But the great grievance of which the farmers in this district had to complain, was that it was expected by Ministers when the railways were first laid, that if they paid five per cent, they would do well; The Canterbury lines paid more than five per cent, on the cost of their construction, while the Otago lines which had been constructed at great cost, did not pay. anything like that par contage, and the tariff had boon raised at an equal rate all over the colony, Canterbury thus having to pay for the unproductive'railways in the colony. A writer in the Morning Herald, in Dunedin, had stated that the Canterbury people were making a great cry about this matter, but that they were making an outcry: about what they knew nothing. The writer evidently was writing on a subject of which ha knew nothing, or he never w r ould have ignored the very much larger quantity of grain that was carried over the Canterbury lines than over those of any other district. After further noticing what had been said and written in Otago in regard to Canterbury lines, he went on, in reply to a question by Mr. Load ley, to say that no opposition was being made by Otago people to this tariff because it W'as to their interest to support it. Were the linos south and north to have tariffs imposed according to their cost of construction, the Otago lines, which had been made over Lilly country, would require to carry their traffic at a far heavier rate than those in this district, and therefore it did not suit the southern people to make an outcry about this tariff being too heavy. An adjustment according to coat of construction would of course make the southern lines charge a still heavier tariff’, and the southern people of course did not want that. After some further remarks from other speakers, the resolution was unanimously passed. Mr. David Wilson moved the following resolution : “ That tins meeting thoroughly approves of the memorial drawn up by the Committee appointed by the public meeting held at Tinwald to the Minister for Public Works, giving cogent reasons why the railway charges should bo reduced, and pointing out the great injustice arising from the many inconsistencies of the present railway tariff..” The memorial to the Minister was then read, at the request of several gentlemen. Mr. Brown seconded the resolution. Mr. George Loadley said it had to be borne in mind that, while Canterbury’s railways wore paying a profit of 9 per cent., an increase of o|d. per bushel had been made on their carriage, while only

the same increase had been made upon

the tariff in force on lines which were not yielding anything like that rate of profit. The tariff' would be felt with special severity by this district, as grain was the staple product of it. The resolution was carried unanimously.

Sir. D. Butterick moved—“ That this meeting pledges itself to use every incans in its power to have the railway tariff purged from its many inconsistencies, and to place our public works under the management of a Minister who has some knowledge of his business, and some sense of justice as between one part of the country and another.”

Mr. F. Cass seconded the motion. Between Rolleston and Christchurch they wore not holding any meetings, as they were doing here, but were simply setting about carting their traffic, instead of sending it by railway 7. That was, perhaps, the most striking protest that could be made against the tariff. (Applause.)

Mr. Brown said the tariff would cost farmers a penny more per bushel for the carriage of their grain, and this would mean a stiff item &n their cost. The Railway Commission had urged that the lines all round should be made to pay 5 per cent., and by this new tariff, Canterbury 7 lines—which already paid 9 per cent. were made to contribute a shave of this 5 per cent. After referring to some of the irregularities of the tariff, Mr. Brown concluded by saying that the Goverment who supported this new impost ought to be opposed by all the farmers. Mr. George Colo asked what was the increase on the carriage of cat Te. It was explained that the increase was 4s. per truck to Christchurch. Mr. Earle spoke of Mr. Maxwell as a gentleman who was very willing and ready 7 to hear ail their complaints, but when a deputation from Southbridge wanted to wait upon him recently he found it convenient to shuffle off’ to Wellington. Mr. Wilson said that in the event of his being charged an additional penny one y 7 ear he would not pay 7 it a second year, for grain-growing was unremunerative enough already. Mr. Harrison said there were so many inconsistencies in the tariff that he scarcely knew where to begin. The Mayor, at the Ashburton meeting, mentioned one in particular where it was cheaper to send goods from Christchurch to Timaru and then back to Tomuka, than it was to send them direct to Temuka. He made some other extracts from the tariff showing its absurdity, and then proceeded to describe the difficulties that had been encountered in the construction of some af the southern lines as compared with the easily made lines thx-ough level Canterbury. After a reference to the cheap rate at which grain could be carried in America, ho "went on to say that it was not so much incompetence on the part of the southern people that caused this blunder as it was a feeling of antagonism to Canterbury. He had seen this feeling cropping out in,

many cases, but it was a most suicidal one, as many farm implements manufactured in the South found their way into Canterbury, notably those of Reid-and Gray. Instead of doing all it could against Canterbury, Otago should do its best to favor it, as the welfare of the one province was the welfare of the other.

The motion having been passed unanimously, a vote of thanks was passed to the Chairman, and to Messrs. Friedlandor and Harrison, and the meeting terminated, after every fanner in the room had signed tire memorial.

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Bibliographic details

THE RAILWAY TARIFF., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 213, 10 December 1880

Word Count

THE RAILWAY TARIFF. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 213, 10 December 1880

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