The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas, Bt Prevalebit. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1881. Sir George Grey at Auckland City East.
TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 430 p.m. j
“ How are the might fallen, and the weapons of war perished !” Something of this kind has probably been the exclamation of many an experienced New Zealand politician on reading the re ports of Sir George Grey’s address last week to the electors of Auckland City East. All the old fire, enthusiasm, and sensationalism were absent; the serfs were apparently dead, and the stage properties, in the way of gridiorns, had been carted away; and the audience had to listen to a speech composed of one or two palpable misstatements as to plain matters of fact, balanced by two or three palpable trusims, with which everybody was previously acquainted, and a certain quantity of padding consisting of a dry repetition of two or three articles of the Democratic creed of the day.
The ex-Premier started with a contradiction of the statement that there is now only one party in Parliament, and that all the members are avowed Liberals. He asserted that he and his parly had definite principles upon which they were united in opposition to the Ministry. But if this be so, where are these principles to be found, and who is their exponent ? Sir G. Grey, Messrs Macandrew, Ormond, Montgomery, and Ballance are all respectively called the leade r s of the Opposition, but no two of them agree as to the most important points of their political faith. Who is then the depository of the truth ? And if they are all wrong, except “ the great proconsul,” his party must be indeed a small one ; so small that Messrs Lundon and Speight would be about its only members. The speaker, however, passed on from the assertion of the existence of an organized opposition to denounce the present railway tariff as excessively heavy. We believe, in common with many other people, both Democrats and Conservatives, that it is; but an alteration of the railway carriage of grain by a penny a bushel is surely not sufficient to constitute a great principal of public policy, far less a policy by itself. And even this question Sir George Grey did not seem to have mastered, for the only proof he gave of the oppressiveness of the present tariff was that, while the carriage of grain from Timaru to Christchurch is as high as 3d per bushel, it is only 2d from New York to Liverpool. Probably, but any boy in a merchant’s office could have told him that land carriage is almost always more expensive than carriage by water. If, however, Sir George chooses to attack the existing railway tariff next session, and will post himself up with the proper information, he will do good, and will be supported by many members on both sides of the House.
The chief burden of the song of the dying swan was that the loss sustained through the lowering of the railway tariff was to be recouped by taxation of the property holders in those parts where the railway ran. Well, that has been done already. The railways now run pretty nearly all over the colony, and all property holders already have to pay the property tax. That property tax which he thinks ought to be levied has been already imposed by his most bitter enemies, the Hall Ministry. If in this case also, Sir George thinks the tax should be raised to what it was before, namely, id instead of j4d in the there will be several members on the Ministerial benches as well as his own little knot of followers who will support him ; but this item is no part of a distinctive policy. Altogether it may be safely assured, after reading the report of Sir George Grey’s speech, that if the Ministry have no policy of their own, neither have their opponents any either, at least so far as Sir George Grey knows, and it is not always a matter of necessity that there should be two mutually hostile political parties in our small colonial Parliament. Measures are often best discussed from the standpoint of their individual merits. After all we only form a population of half a million, and if our politics become parish veslry politics they are none the worse for that. Frogs that puff and blows; in the attempt to expand into oxen, generally burst themselves and come to grief. No doubt to the stump orator it is a melancholy thing to find that tall talk is in no demand, and the abstract rights of the whole human race and the most remote posterity are unsaleable commodities. But people of common sense and common honesty generally regard politics as a mere adapation ofparticular measures to gain certain ends in a very limited sphere of action. The larger part of a nation’s destiny the individuals who compose that nation must work out for themselves, and by themselves individually in their every day life.