The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas et Prævalebit. TUESDAY, JULY 12, 1881. The Financial Statement.
TOWN EDITION. [Jssued at 4.10 p.m.]
The Treasurer’s Financial Statement last week is something more than merely satisfactory; it is a brilliant success. The strong" point of the present Ministry is their finance; and Major Atkinson is clearly their trump card. There is little doubt that the statement of the way in which the finances of the colony have been managed during the past year, and are to be managed in future, will restore that confidence in the Ministry which their weakness and vacillation with regard to the Licensing Bill and some other matters —though not any active wrong doing on their part—have much impaired. The Statement also is all the more satisfactory as coming from Major Atkinson, the Bayard of colonial financiers, “sans peur et sans reproche ,” whose fearlessness and integrity are guarantees against the ambiguity, delusion, and deception which by far the larger number of Colonial Treasurers unfortunately practise.
There was a credit balance from last year’s transactions, after, however, an addition of a million had been made to the already enormous debt, of L 38,555. The revenue during the year, exclusive of land sales, was £3,123,961, and the expenditure L 3,168,113, so that there had been a deficit, reckoning the land transactions as a separate account, of L 5,667; but as the expenditure from
land sales has still been treated practically in the old manner, and not made part of a separate account, and has amounted to L 32.273 less than the receipts, there has been an actual surplus of 1,2 6,706 upon the transactions completed within the year. To use Major Atkinson’s words, “ after closing the accounts of the year ended the 31st March, 1881, we can see our way to provide out of the ordinary revenue for the liabilities outstanding at that date, with every prospect of a fair margin of receipts in excess of expenditure at the end of the year ; and this, notwithstanding the fact that the interest we have to pay has been increased by some L 300,000 a year.” The difficult problem, therefore, of making our current revenue meet our current expenditure has been practically solved. It is perfectly true, indeed, that we shall not start for the current year with quite so large a credit balance, and it is quite true also that it would be better to have the proceeds of land sales entirely free from all charges of the ordinary expenditure, to be devoted entirely to public works; but considering how small a sum has been appropriated in these two ways, and considering also the rapid growth of our commerce, and the rapid increase of our population, there are the best reasons for believing that next year the credit balance will be considerably larger than on the present occasion, and that it will thenceforth increase from year to year. This conclusion is all the more probable, not to say certain, from the fact that in one item alone, the railway revenue, there has been so large an increase that it now amounts to per cent, clear on the cost of construction, and will, at the same rate of increase, be next year 4or per cent, of clear profit. The great bulk of the Land Fund—almost all of it, in fact—will be available for public works, and no additional taxation will be imposed. On the contrary, taxation will be reduced, as the dues on moleskins, axes, and other articles largely used by laboring men, and also half the Property Tax, are to be taken off.
Considering the alarming state in which the finances were at the time when the Grey Government were driven from office, when there was an impending deficit of nearly a million, and the colony was so close to insolvency that only at the last moment were funds found to pay interest on the colonial debentures, we may well congratulate ourselves on the change from Messrs Macandrew and Ballance to Major Atkinson. Notwithstanding the petty carping criticisms of these gentlemen, and their denials of the state of the finances at the close of the Grey regime, the fact remains that the exposure of the real state of things in alMts naked deformity was made at the time, and that they were utterly unable to explain it away. Want of readiness of speech was in their case certainly not the real reason for this. Words and plausibility were the last things they were likely to lack. And although they may still contend, with more show of reason, that the present comparatively favorable financial prospect is due not to good management on the part of the Ministry, but to an excellent harvest, they may easily be reminded that with them, whether the harvests were good or bad, there was always reckless management, which would have squandered any probable surplus, no matter how large. The harvest was not exceptionally good, when Mr Macandrew, three years ago, made his preposterous proposal for constructing railways and other public works to cost L 8,500,000. If there had been a large surplus, therefore, more than the whole of it would have been jspent. It is satisfactory to learn from Major Atkinson’s Statement, also, that the Public Works and Immigration policy of 1881 has not proved a failure; but quite the contrary, as regards both the increase of our trade and the pressure of taxation. In 1870 our imports and exports amounted to four millions and odd pounds te-, spectively ; in 1880 to six millions and over, being an increase of about 50 per cent. Our taxation per head, after allowing for the 9s qd per head since incurred as the annual cost of education, is actually 2s 6d per head less than it was in 1870. A more complete vindication of the soundness of that policy could scarcely be furnished. We may daily expect to hear that, in consequence of the Treasurer’s Statement, increased confidence in New Zealand has so far been inspired in the Home country, that the price of our securities has largely advanced, and that if we have occasion again to borrow, it will be on easier terms than ever before. But we maintain that New Zealand has no right whatever to borrow any more money for several years to come. Our debt amounts now to a nett sum of L28,040,i7o —an amount per head unparallelled in the world. Far more prudent would it be, by means of those further reductions in expenditure which the Ministry promise, and of the increased receipts which are sure to come from our progress in wealth, to wipe off gradually a large part of our debt, and thus save a good deal of that burden of taxation which every man now pays as his share of the interest due to British bondholders. If we want to compete with other colonics, we should be less trammelled with taxation than we arc now.
Funeral. —The funeral o f the late Mrs J. Purchas took place this morning, and was attended by a large concourse of the friends of Mr Purchas. The Rev. J. Nixon conducted the funeral service, which was read in an impressive manner. Much sympathy is felt with Mr Purchas in his bereavement. The Orangemen. The anniversary dinner of the Orangemen will take place this evening at Shearman’s Somerset Hotel. h Wakanui School. —A lecture will be given this evening by the Rev. W. Keall at the Wakanui schoolroom on the subject of “ Stability and instability of character.” Library Concert. The next of the winter series of concerts in aid of the public library funds will he given to. morrow evening the Library Hall. The programme is said to be a very varied and interesting one. Labor and Loan Society. —At the half-yearly meeting of the Friends of Labor and Loan Society, held at Christchurch, it was reported that there were 286 members, holding 854 shares. The capital now amounts to L 3,690 18s Id. During the half-year, L 2,274 had been grantodjin loans to members. The profit amounted to L 430, and a dividend of 7J per cent, was declared.
Acknowledgment. The Master of the Old Men’s Home wishes to acknowledge, with thanks, the receipt of a parcel of tobacco and newspapers from Mr Shearman, Somerset Hotel.
Treks. —Mr Alfred Harrison announces an extensive sale of fruit and forest trees, to bo held at his rooms tomorrow.
Phrenology. —lt is announced by advertisement published elsewhere that Professor W. G. Simon will visit this town in the early part of next week, and will deliver lectures in the Town Hall on the above subject. In the day time, during his stay here, the professor will hold levees for the purpose of giving private readings of character. The Southern press speaks most highly of the proven ability of Mr Simon, and doubtless many persons will take advantage of this opportunity to acquire a knowledge of their good and bad qualities. Consultation. —In another column will bo found Mr J. Herman’s announcement notifying a sweep on the Canterbury Jockey Club Handicap, to be run in November next. This is Mr Herman’s third Consultation, his previous efforts in this direction having met with every success, and the manner in which the sweeps have been carried out given every satisfaction to investors. The present is for 2,000 at 10a, and the prizes number seventy five. Earthquake! —Earthquakes have been so common in the last fortnight that they are scarcely worth notice. We may mention however, that one was experienced in Ashburton yesterday at 5 minutes to 2 o’clock. This is probably the same as the one reported as having occurred at Amberley at 5 minutes past 2 o’clock. Even earthquakes take a little time to travel.
The Ministry. The Parliamentary correspondent of the Timaru Herald says :—The want of leadership in the House is only too apparent. The Ministry have a large majority if they used it properly, but they are so overcrowded in their departments, and some of them are so much out of health, that they let things take their chance, and thus the Parliamentary business falls into disorder, and only the hopeless disunion among the Opposition prevents any serious result arising from this. But it cannot last much longer without very much weakening the Ministry.
Hares not Game now. The Nelson Colonist says :—“The proclamation which placed hares in the list of game, only to be slaughtered by license has now, we learn, been withdrawn, and consequently it is competent for any one to destroy these animals, which have proved so groat a nuisance to those who have planted fruit trees.”
. Improvements in Timaru. —Prominent among the numerous Recent improvements instituted in Timaru, and most certain to strike the eye of the visitor, is the conversion of the row of buildings fronting the railway station, and running up George street to the junction of the Main street, for many years unoccupied, into a row of neat shops. This work has been carried out by Mr J. Malcolm, formerly of Waimate, and forms a moat important feature in .the town. The whole of the shops have been in occupation since the date of completion. In one of these Mr Malcolm has established a seed and grain merchant’s business, his stock comprising every class of seed required by the agricultural community of the district, and, owing to its adjacency to the railway station, no difficulty in the respect of transit is experienced by those conferring on him their orders.
Charge of Malicious Prosecution. —At the Supreme Court sittings in Christchurch yesterday, a commencement was made of the hearing of the case Arthur O’Neill v. Robert M'lntyre, in which a sum of LSOO damages was claimed for malicious prosecution. Mr Joynt appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr Wilding for the defendant. The case arose out of the loss of a watch by the defendant. It appeared from the evidence that though MTntyro suspected o : Neil of stealing the watch, such was not the fact, it had in reality been dropped in a paddock, and was found by a man named Bradford. M'lntyre, howe' er, had O’Neil arrested in Ashburton. On his being brought before the Court the case was dismissed. In the meantime, however, he had been put to some expense, and had lost in credit in the town. The case was adjourned until to-day. We learn by a telegram, received just before going to press this afternon, a verdict for the defendant was given.
South Rakaia Roard Board.— The ordinary meeting of the Board was held on the 7th instant. There wore present— Messrs O. N. Mackie (in the chair), Holmes, Coster, and Allan. A petition asking the Board to form Bowen street from Chapman street to the Main South road ; Fergusson street from Railway Terraco East to South road; and Bridge street from South Rakaia road to the South Town Belt, was granted, and it was resolved that tenders should be invited for the works at once. It was also resolved, on the application of the Mount Hutt Road Board, to pay half the cost of forming the whole of the improved portions of Thompson’s Track. On the motion of Mr Holmes, it was resolved that the Board form the road bn the south side of the plantation from Sodtown to the North Town Belt, and get the cutting sodded up. Tenders were accepted for forming McCroy’a road, at 5s per chain, and Winchmore road at 4s fid; walling up cuttings on Duncan’s road, L 9; forming Bailie’s road, at 12s fid per chain; re-form-ing Mainwaring’s road, at 4s per chain; and forming Great South road, at 5s lOd per chain. Accounts amounting to LIBO 12s Id were passed for payment. The Council then adjourned.