LETTERS FOR THE TIMES.—No. 9.
, . To the Editor. Sir,--My'last two letters have, I fancy, disseminated a little ' useful information about the “commission” exacted from the colony by a favored few for their real or supposed services in connection with the raising of our loans, as well as upon that of the salaries and perquisites of Ministers,, while a flood of light has been thrown upon, the well-paid patriotism of sorao-of our legislators. A French proverb,, however, fells us that ioujours perdrix produces. satiety ; and figures, useful as they,, be as guides to the dark corners of colonial politics, soon become wearisome ; wc will, therefore turn our mental eyes for a brief season, in another direction, and see, if we can, the manifold blessings which we enjoy under a Canterbury Ministry. It will be remembered that when the late Government was in. office, the Hallites, on such rare occasions as happened when they could cairn their frantic souls sufficiently to give utterance to coherent remarks about Sir George Grey and his colleagues, were accustomed to declaim strongly against the undue weight of Otago and Auckland in the Cabinet, and the absurdity of this part of the colony expecting to get justice from a Ministry so constituted. And in order to preserve that rigid impartiality which has characterised these letters, I must admit that the members of the Grey Government and their principal supporters, privately, at all events, suggested that one excellent reason for keeping themselves, in office was, that their ejection would entail, as a necessary sequence, the political supremacy of Canterbury , the tyrannous domination of its ‘ shepherd kings; and the unchecked development of the interesting science of gridironing. It was
true the shepherd king ■ was in many instances, seated on an uncomfortable throne of mortgages, and there was very little land left to gridiron ; but it would never do for the political epigrammatist to permit himself to be baulked by awkward facts, and the. first duty of apolitical party is to abuse its adversaries and stick to office. One side was shouting to the Canterburyians. “ Hall .and heaven I l ' the other—“ Hall and Mr. Hall and his friends are now in office ; Canterbury influence is supposed to have culminated, but how ? are wo better off! Canterbury reigns, indeed, but, like the Queen, she does not govern. Mr. Hall is Premier, but Ms chiefs, as all the world knows, are Major Atkinson and Mr. Whitaker. They are our rulers. It is not the interests of Canterbury that are unduly looked after, but those of Taranaki and Auckland, or, to speak more precisely as to the latter, of the Auckland speculators. Canterbury interests seem to be the last thing thought of in any measure which may emanate from the Government workshop. Just take that last and startling piece of iniquity—the new railway tariff. ’ True to my text I eschew figures, and simply point to the broad facts of the case. The Canterbury railways are the only really paying lines in the colony, and her inhabitants are the most loyal of all. communities to the* present Government, while the Ashburton district, of all Canterbury districts, is the most anxious to discern the indiscernible merits of Mr. Hall and his friends ; yet the latter forthwith proceed to impose a special tax, under the guise of a railway charge, upon the most important industry of the Province, of which industry Ashburton is the core and heart. And for what 1 Simply to keep a number of paltry little railways—like the WaitaraRew Plymouth—going; to foster the timber industries of Auckland and Southland ; and to further subsidise those expensive collieries on the West Coast, whore every tori of coal produced costs the colony as much as it - does the producer. Meanwhile, Major Atkinson’s constituents are living in clover, the Taranaki storckeepei-s are growing fat,_ and the colonial money is freely circulating in that odd corner of the colony where paralysis supervenes directly the stream of military expenditure ceases to flow irom ’ the Rew Zealand Treasury. Times, however, must be hard indeed " when the Treasury supplies are cut off from Taranaki. Even when the Provincial land funds were seized to supply the insatiable wants of the General Government, Taranaki was virtually spared, and equally fortunate was she when the Treasurer, driven to his wits’ end for money, grasped the 20 per cent, allocated to the counties. 25 per cent, of her land sales was some years ago solemnly dedicated to the Rew Plymouth harbor works—the Lord knows why—and while all tho pledges which were given to the Otago arid Canterbury Provincialists have been treated as trifles light as air, this particular compact has been regarded as being located in the “ Holy of Holies hence we find the colony spending hundreds of thousands of pounds in keeping a i military force watching Te Whiti, and improving his 1 property by the construction of fine roads in its immediate neighborhood, and then when an opportunity occurs of recouping a portion of this enormous outlay by the sale of land on the Waimate Plains, one-fourth of the proceeds is coolly handed over to the Rew Plymouth Harbor Board for the purpose of being subsequently cast into the roaditead near the Sugar Loaves; It is absurd for Canterbury to expect fair treatment from politicians of the Hall type. Their minds are filled with an antiquated crotchet styled “ the Unity of the Colony,” which is another name for Government by bureaucracy—a system of Government alien to the feelings and traditions of Englishmen. Cleverer men get hold of them, play upon their weakness, . and the result is that Canterbury interests are sacrificed to a fad. Can any human, being suppose that if provincial institutions had still been in existence, and our local railways under the control of the Provincial Government, such a mischievous grain tariff would ever have been -imposed on these railways, or, if imposed by'some mischance, would not have been .promptly taken off. again? Under the existing system of centralised government, the just remonstrances of our farmers are met by the reply that the interests of the colony as a whole are the first thing to be considered, and that their interests, if necessary, must be sacrificed to those of other localities ; in short, they are to act the part of martyrs for the benefit of the inhabitants of more favored portions of Rew Zealand. Our farmers ask for bread, and the stone of fine phrases is given to them. It is time the reign of common aense-begau. ' I thipk that ffappy day is at hand, arid the members of the Hall Ministry may as well commence' packing up their portmanteaus. The 'official newspapers are getting discontented, and inviting the Premier to heave Mr. Oliver, of Port Chalmers railway fame, overboard, as a sort of Jonah. They glance dubiously at Mr. Dick—a remarkable person, indeed, to be discovered seated on the Treasury benches— Looking as such old Scotchmen dp, Trussed by decorum and stuffed with morals. gre&tU'kfc : a self-constituted censor morum, orthodox in the old style to the backbone, but certainly not a heaven-horn statesman. The editorial tail is twirled furiously in token of independence, leaders admonitory to the Government abound, and threats are uttered to the effect that the public weal is superior to party. These precious journals are evidently-ratting.—Yours, &c., C. W. Purnell. Ashburton, 28th Dec., 1880.
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