TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 5 p. m.] The Ashburton Guardian. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1881. The Intercolonial Conference.
There has been a gathering together of the great men of the Colonial World at Sydney, who clubbed their wisdom with a view to bringing about a multitude of good things for the benefit of the Australasia, from the separate parts of which they were drawn, and for the individual good of the component parts which they severally represented. Conferences are only of service in so far as, being composed of the representative men of the powers represented, they are presumed to be a reflex of public opinion the delegates have left behind them, and an indication of the probability or otherwise that exists for the attainment of such reforms or changes as may be proposed. This indication is arrived at by a comparison of the different opinions that exist on the various subjects discussed by the delegates, who, as we said before, are assumed to be a reflex of public opinion in the countries that sent them. There appears to have been a pretty fair oneness of opinion that the immigration of Chinese to Australia should be restricted, but at this point of the subject the unanimity stopped, and the extent to which restrictions ought to be imposed is still a moot point. Fairly unanimous, too, were the wise men on the subject of an Intercolonial Court of Appeal. This may be a very useful and desirable thing for the Australian Colonies, but for New Zealand we fail to see its advantages, inasmuch as to take an appeal case from any of the New Zealand Courts to Sydney or Melbourne, would be almost as costly as taking it to London, and if the principle involved or the amount at stake were worth the trouble of carrying a question to Australia for settlement, it would be worth taking it to London, and there, doubtless, in the end it would go should the Australian solution of it be unsatisfactory to the New Zealand appellant. The question of Intercolonial duties was also handled, and it is somewhat surprising to find the protectionist Berry advocating a proposal for what in effect is intercolonial free trade. The representative of the wine-growing districts of Australis desired an intercolonial trade in that commodity ; New South Wales, wished the reciprocity to be extended to colonial products generally; while suddenly, and apparently inconsistently, liberal Mr. Berry would have the extension to include manufactures. Of course nothing very tangible came out of the discussion. Mr. Berry, tvho at the first glance may appear to be grossly inconsistent in putting the coping stone of absolute free trade upon a motion which was, to begin with, only for free trade in one commodity. But Mr. Berry’s protection appears to be, not for the trade and commerce of Victoria alone, but for that of the whole of Australasia represented at the Conference, so that he was not so inconsistent after all as his conduct may appear when it is judged as that of an out and out protectionist. But we will have something to say of him in this connection in a future article. The best work done by the Conference is perhaps the most important and most pressing ; though, so far as the purposes for which the Conference met are concerned, it was a minor thing entirely. That work was the unanimous understanding the Conference came to on the subject of an extradition arrangement on the subject of bankrupts and wife deserters, and for the recovery of debts in one colony that have been contracted in another. In favor of reciprocal legislation on these subjects there was only one opinion, and that was that such legislation was absolutely necessary. We have referred to the wife deserters question in previous articles, and it now gives us pleasure to see a glimmer of hope that soon no colony in these seas will be a refuge to a cowardly deserter of his r wife and family. As the law at present stands any craven-hearted and soulless blackguard, sodden in hellbrewed selfishness, who tires of supporting his wife and family, may bolt away from New Zealand and find a safe refuge in any of the adjoining colonies. It Is the same with absconding debtors. Once in any of the other colonies of the group, there is no chance for the creditor obtaining jhij? money, even though judgment should hswe been given in the creditor’s favor ■; and a man may run upa large score in New Zealand fnd eVade’ payment by slipping over fo Australia. Of course the evil cuts on the other side of the water as well, and
New Zeala,ri|| affords an asylum for Australian debtors who do not care to “part.” If, however, all the colonies unite in legislation that will give a warrant issued in one colony the needful force in another, and enable a deb; to be recovered in one that bas been contracted in another, the end of the anomaly complained of will be reached, and no one colony will offer a haven of refuge to such men, as, dead to all sense of natural feeling, desert their wives and families; leaving them to the tender mercies of public charity—a burden on the community in which their hapless lot may have been cast. If such legislation result from the deliberations of the Conference, and we have every faith that it will, the Sydney sitting will .not have been an unproductive one.