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Mr Macandrew at Port Chalmers.

We have not hitherto made any comment on Mr recent address to his constituent! at Port, Chalmers, mainly because there was nothing of any intrinsic % importance to comment upon. But as some of our contemporaries have referred to it, with much eulogistic eloquence of the windbag description, in £ manner to grieve the judicious, and make the puddinghead rejoice, it may be necessary for us also to have something to say per contra. Any one who examines the words

may soon find out for himself that it l ) is only the same old man whom we knew of yore, grinding out of the same old barrel organ, the same old tune we learnt by heart when provincialism was having its fling. The orator started off by giving us to understand that the business of the colony was very badly conducted ; and that is quite true, but then we were aware of that little fact long before Mr Macandrew called our attention to it. The fact is true ] enough, more true even than Mr Macandrew knows, because there is at any lime a chance that Mr Macandrew himself may be one of the very men to help in the misgovernment. Indeed, it is known that he is one of the elect in the coming Cabinet if the Opposition gets half a chance to scrape together a majority in the House of Representatives. As to his general theory of a reform of the New Zealand government so as to make it something like what it ought to be, that is just the same as before. One government for the whole colony is very extravagant and expensive, so we ought to have two or more governments, and then a great saving will be effected. Like the Irish tradesman, who made a loss on every sale he effected, but realised a fortune by the size of his business, the member for

Port Chalmers would be in the midst of financial bliss if he could only see the State’s money flying right and left to a vast number of officials attached to several distinct governments linked together by some undefined federal tie. It would not be profitable to discuss what the effect of such an arrangement would be. We had it in force for years, and we know what it actually was, namely, an extravagant, inefficient corrupt, dishonest, and centralising set of Provincial Governments, of which Mr Macandrew’s in Otago was one of the worst. Surely the old gentleman must suppose that colonists have very short memories or he would scarcely venture on referring to the Provincial Government of Otago as a success. In 1876 the balance-sheet of Mr Macandrew’s own Provincial Treasurer—for he was himself Superintendent at the time—showed that there was a large deficit, and that the province was insolvent at the time, and only got out of the mess by its debts being paid by the General Government ; and though it is true that people grumble now with justice about Wellington centralisation, they growled still more loudly then about , Dunedin centralisation, and about the land fund belonging to the Southland district, from the rich soil of Mataura, * Chatton, ' Forest Hill, Otautau, and elsewhere going time after time in the ■ Otago Provincial Treasury, only to put up palatial buildings in Dunedin. From Oamaru, and still more from Invercargill, there were vigorous ; complaints about their wealth going to Dunedin then, as there are from Dunedin and Christchurch now about their money going to Wellington, and if Mr Macandrew is j disgusted, as he may well be, at the jobbery prevalent at Wellington now, we should like to-know if he has for- ’ gotten the jobbery of the Western Dis--1 tricts railways contracts, and of the ' losses sustained through it; of the ac- ' ceptance of a tender which came in ‘ after the specified time, with blanks for 1 the date of completion of contract, and ’ the penalty to be enforced in case of : non-completion, and with no schedule ‘ prices filled in for bridges or culverts. : That contract was passed as approved ‘ under Mr Macandrew’s signature, and the result was that somehow the conJ tractors (Messrs Proudfoot Bros.) got : the amount they asked, or within a r fraction, when only about a tenth part of the work was procerly done. All this : was published at the time, and not con- > tradicted. But this was not all. Under Mr Macandrew’s administration of a ’ Cabinet office we should have had a repetition of a similar extravagance, had •. not the collapse of the Grey-Macandrew Government in 1879 stopped the ex- ‘ penditure of the proposed eight millions and a half of money on fancy 1 railways. Even if Otago could have : “ licked all creation,” as Mr Macan- ■ drew says it could and can, it could ‘ scarcely stand the racket of this. No doubt Otago has grand capabilities, so : has Canterbury and so perhaps have : Auckland, Taranaki, and Nelson, or for that matter, all the Provincial Districts of New Zealand, if the assertions of their residents are to be believed. The fact is, each of these districts reckons, like Mr Macandrew in the 1 case of Otago, that it derives all its traffic and wealth entirely from itself without any assistance from its neighbors. The reality of the case is widely different. Rich as even Otago was and is how would it fare K the whole trade of Canterbury in one direction, and Southland in another —for Southland still reckons itself a distinct Provincial District—were cut away ?

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Bibliographic details

Mr Macandrew at Port Chalmers., Ashburton Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 806, 30 November 1882

Word Count

Mr Macandrew at Port Chalmers. Ashburton Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 806, 30 November 1882