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THE PRONUNCIAMENTO., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XII, Issue 2435, 27 May 1890
Mb Fergus has once more been deputed to be the mouthpiece of the Ministry, and Queenstow.n has again been selected as the platform from which to make known thY intentions of the Government; but as usual the " pronuriciamento" as it is, we see, termed in Wellington, has been uttered
in such a way that his astute chief can identify himself and his "Cabinet "with only just so much as he pleases, and throw upon the shoulders of his mag-nificently-bearded colleague, as being merely his (Mr Fergus') own views and opinions, all that does not appear to be readily assimilated by the public. Indeed,,throughout the whole deliverance there is one prominent characteristic, namely, a desire to see how the cat jumps—-to ascertain what the people of the colony desire, with a view to .shaping Ministerial policy, so as to meet their wishes. •In a word, it is a case of " them's my sentiment's, but if they don't suit why then they kin be altered." Mr Fergus lets the cat out of jthe bag by naively confessing, almost in. so many words, that Ministers would have gone in for a borrowing policy had the feelers recently put out shown that the country was ready to sanction another loan, but that they do not intend- to propose one, because "it has u been decided for them" by public opinion that it is not desirable further to increase the indebtedness of; the colony. Not, however, that Ministers are willing to do without borrowed money—they mean to have it if they can without apparently running counter to the. tide of public opinion. They mean "to keep the promise to the ear, and break it to the sense." And it is to be done, or proposed to be done, in this way. While abstaining from asking authority to raise another loan in London, they have in contemplation to invite permission to issue land debentures and road debentures to. be floated in the colony, and to be' redeemed -when the money derived from the sale of the Native lands, which it is proposed to purchase, comes in. It is also suggested j that funds raised in this way may, to the advantage .of the .colony, be employed in the re-purchase of areas of land required for settlement and now held in large blocks by companies and other , mortgagees to the detriment and hindrance of the progress of the Colony. Now we do not find fault with the proposal to acquire these lands itself, for we have long insisted upon the necessity of the Native lands, and the big estates being turned to better account, but we do find fault with the way in which it is put forward. Instead of a timid attempt to find out how the wind blows by casting up a straw there shouid be a bold declaration of a determination to attain the object in view, and an equally bold stand upon the measures put forth as the means to that end. It may be that some scheme of differential taxation might be devised which would effect the desired object without any borrowing at all, that is in so far as regards the big block evil, but if Ministers think otherwise and mean to j go in for a policy of expropriation, let !':!.in ...-. . . !■..• ':'■., :.ij>.| ■:',and by-the* I*■■.'■1 *- ■■.'■i 1 ;■■ ■■.■' .>i . .■■. What we
dislike is this timid fishing for a policy, this feeling of the public pulse with a view to adapt Ministerial proposals to outside opinion. As regards the apparent intention of Ministers to propose to repurchase lands required for settlement it has our entire approval, but in regard to the £10,000 vote for an experiment in this direction, which Mr Fergus takes credit to the Government for having proposed two sessions ago, and which, "having been carried in Committee of Supply,: was only struck .jaut by a cmaj6rity.of two on the resolution.being reported, it is only fair to remind, that gentleman'that, the vote in question was placed 'dn fthe Estimates in consequence of .tfre.iurgeiit representations of a number of honorable members, including many prominent members'of the Opposition; and that it might and could have been carried' had Ministers insisted upon it. ' Proof of that is afforded by .the fact that one of the Government. Whips, the late Major Jackson voted against Ministers on the final question, whereas had only his' vote been cast the other way the - item would undoubtedly.have btood. Next in importance to the matter to which we have alluded is .t-liat part of the Queenstown speech/ which refers to the consolidation of local loans. It is unquestionably greatly to be deplored that the ratepayers of localities which have obtained loana in the - London market should have to be taxed to pay interest running up to, in some instances, as much as 6, 6^ and even 7 per cent, when the money could have been; or could at least now be, borrowed by the Colony at 4 per cent, and it-would' be a great boon indeed if those localities could be relieved of the amount of burden represented by this wide difference."* But while we would gladly see this done, we fear that it is not possible .to make such a measure apply to all local' loans. There are some, for example the New Plymouth Harbor loan, which ] have been raised for works which have proved 1 a dead failure, and the liability for whicli must ,in no case be transferred the colony. . It therefore follows that any scheme of consolidation will require to be very carefully considered indeed, and none certainly 1 can be accepted whicli, under cover of consolidation,; really inpans ,the placing of additional burdens upon the backs of the colonial taxpayers. The only other ' important feature of the " pronunciarnento " which remains to be noticed is the reference made to the "local government" question. -• MiFergus thinks (and we presume we are to infer that the 1 Government as a whole thinks so too) that there is too much local government at present—to use his owu words that "local selfgovernment is grossly overdone " —that it has "to a certain extent broken down." His remedy is it seems a scheme of amalgamation, to be tried in the first instance on the West Coast, by making "three counties into one, and sd with other "institutions." Whether or not such a scheme would be acceptable we can scarcely judge till we are informed of its details, but of one thing we are assured, and that is that while the public generally might be content to accept some such scheme of doing away with a multiplicity of governing bodies, it would only be on the condition that to the substituted local bodies were given wore yeal and:
extensive self-governing power than local bodies at present possess,
THE PRONUNCIAMENTO., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XII, Issue 2435, 27 May 1890
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