The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. FRIDAY, MAY 10, 1889. OUR DRINK BILL.
In tho 4< Temperance Herald " there appears Mr 0. M. Gray's annual review of the expenditure of the colony m intoxicating liquors, tho results shown for the year 1888 being highly encouraging to temperance reformers, and not to them only, but to all who wish to see the evils of the drink traffic minimised. Mr Gray published his first Colonial Drink J Bill m 1879--just ten years ago — and showed that for the year 1878 the expenditure of New Zealand npon intoxicating liquors amounted to -£2,586,095, which, divided by the total of the then population — 482,519 — gave a sum per boad of £5 19s 6d, Since then there has been a progressive and steady reduction, the average per head m 1888 being only £3 2s 10£ d, having thus fallen very nearly to one half of the average of ten years ago. Tho total gross con sumption was, indeed, 22 per cent less m 1878 than m 1888, notwithstanding that the total number of tho population had increased 50 per cent. This is an unmistakable proof of the docroase of excessive indulgence, and of tho spread of temperance, and is cause for general congratulation. The following table supplied by -Mr Gray gives particulars for the financial year ended March 31st, 1889, of the various kinds of " alcoholic liquors cleared for consumption, together with the amount of money expended thereon, viz :— -r. pints, 469,988ga15, at 40s, £989,876; Wines, 101,838 gals, at 40s, £208,676 ; English alo, 268,391ga18, at 6s, £80,517 ; Colonial beer, 4,084,160ga15, at 4s, £816,882. Total, 4;924,827ga15, J52.040.901." The totals for six previous years are also given, and aro as follows, viz : — 1882, 6,204,8 12gals, £2,658,092 ; 1883, 5,678,860ga15, £2,497,754 ; 1884, 5,541,452ga15, £2,394,176 * 1885, 4,475,762ga15, £2,289,514 ; 1880, 0,103,388ga1_, £2,180,350 *, 1887, 5,017, 194 gals, £2,000,543 ; 1888, 4,924,327ga15, £2,040,901, Tho foregoing figures, says Mr Gray, •' contain tho cheering information that tho New Zealand Drink Bill of 1888 has beaten all previous records for upwards of twenty years. Compared with 1887, the diminution amounts to £19,642. If we go back to tho year 1882, and compare tho amount spent during that year with tho amount expended during 1888, the falling off amounts to the very substantia! sum of £617,191. As a result of tho steady and continuous falling off m our colonial drink expenditure for tho past six years, the average last year . . . was considerably smaller average ihan thoso of Victoria and New South Wales, and is a)sp slightly lower tban that of tho United Kingdom. Tho latest figures to hand Bhow tho average to be — Victoria, £5 5s por head ; Now South Wales, £4 19s 6d por head ; Unitod Kingdom, £8 6s 8d per head ; New Zealand (aB above stated), £3 2s 10£ d." A s might have been anticipated, as tho natural corollary of the lessened consumption of intoxicants, the consumption of toa and sugar shows a marked and corresponding increase, Mr Gray going on to show that while •' m 1878 tho quantity of tea consumed amounted to 2,895,7201 b ; last year the total was J8,962,0001b, an increase of 1,065,2801 b, or equal tp pearly 87 jtor cent, and while m 1878 the .consumption of sugar amounted to 30,764;7201b . m 18Q§ it £jm_ risen to 51,024,&601 b, an increase of 20 260 r^k, or equal to nearly 66 por ! cont." '"These uro9 * peak , for _ thom T j solves and will, as wo havC * lread y f« d » bo very pleasing to all well-wißhere 0' tho colony. Tho results shown are, no i doubt, traceable to moro than ono cause. Unquestionably, tho times of depression through which wo have been passing havo played thoir part by restricting the i spending power of tho population, and this has had somo share m tho reduction of tho drink bill. And another and more powerful factor has been tho natural increase of tho population as distinguished from accretions of population from beyond bobb. For while tho imported population brings with it Old World habitß, the ohildren and young people born and reared m tho oolony display, owing to climatic and other causes, a leßser tendenoy to use stimulants than do those who form part of the older generation, and tho steady inorease of tho proportion of the nativeborn element would alone, we believe, effect a steady deoreaso m tho averago consumption of intoxicantß. But while both these causes have helped to produce tho effeot noted, thoro is also room to boliovo that tho various total abstinence organisations havo played a not unimportant part, and that a fair share of tbo credit for tho change produced may safely bo given to tempcranoo roformors nnd tho propagandists of toototal principles. Tho drink ovil is the greatest curse of modern timos and those who aro banded together ngairiHt it may well rejoice m tho fact so clearly shown by Mr Gray that m Now Zealand at nnyralo, it is surely, if slowly, buccumbing beforo tho advance of roforra and enlightenment, and m viow of tho success of their efforts m tho past may well thank God aud tafce courage fs*c . tho. frttyrv,