The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit TUESDAY, JUNE 3, 1890. THE POLITICAL OUTLOOK.
The probability of the early retirement of Sir Harry Atkinson from the political arena opens up a field of speculation as to who will be the colony's next Premier and; Colonial Treasurer* • New Zealand cair claim to have a liberal proportion'pit politicians to her 600,000 of" population, but of, all these only, two - financiers; of 'note have arisen—Sir Julius Vogel and Sir Harry Atkinson; The former, whatever charges of recklessness may hold good against him, was bold and hopeful in his financial proposals, and during his various terms of office succeeded in imparting some of his hopefulness to his followers. Sir Harry Atkinson, who took up finance after the departure of Sir Julius for other fields, followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, and by the importation of foreign capital into the colony—not always | judiciously expended—keptup a stream of immigration to our shores, inspired, the people with confidence in the future, and directed the attention of England and the neighboring colonies to New Zealand as one of the most go-ahead dependencies of the British Crown. After a time, however, the fictitious inflation brought about by | misspent money " upon immigration, upon useless roads and bridges, upon railways constructed to serve political ends rather than to open up the country for bona fide settlement by men of moderate means, came to an end. Public men, and the public also, awoke to the fact' that the State burden of debt had grown beyond the bounds of prudence. The country, almost to a man, stepped in, and said in effect there must be no more borrowing, and no more misspending. The English bondholder also became alarmed, and by various means brought such pressure to bear that, however desirous a speculative financier might be' to pursue a borrowing and spending policy blindly, he would not be allowed to do so. Then came a reaction in the present Treasurer's . policy. The spendthrift became parsimonious, and expressed himself as willing to cany' on the Government of the colony without borrowing a shilling. How far he has
been able to do so is apparent from the sicb rosa borrowing proposals shadowed forth in the speech of the Hon. MiFergus at Queensfcown, The VogelAtkinson financial policy, from start T}o finish, lias been a. borrowing and spending one, and it would now appear that the leopard cannot change his spots. Sir Julius Vogel' lias left the colony, and Sir Harry Atkinson is, in all probability, about to sever his connection with practical politics. When this latter event takes place, the House and the country will be called upon to select a financial successor to two men who have run the colony heavily into debt without any compensating advantage. Who ■will this successor be, and what are his qualifications? Rumor in Ministerial circles is already busy with the name of Sir John Hall; but his qualifications for the position of head of the financial department are more apparent to his immediate supporters than to the country. Ministerial rumor is also busy with the name of the Hon. Mr Bryce, but to the uninitiated it would appear that his only qualification for the position of either Premier or Colonial Treasurer is that he was a most expensive Native Minister in a former Government. These are the only names the Ministerial Party have put forward in the event of the retirement of the present Premier and Treasurer, and the fact is in itself an admission of the weakness of the present occupants of the Ministerial Benches. On the Opposition side of the House there is at least one man capable of taking charge of the finance of the country, 'and one who has already had some expei'ience. We refer to the present leader of the Party, the Hon. J. Ballance. His name is not intimately connected with reckless borrowing and equally reckless misspending. In this respect he would therefore command the confidence of the House in its pi'esent frame of mind, and also the confidence of the already over-burdened taxpayer. It is also jto be said in his favor that he holds sufficiently advanced views on land settlement to ensure that a Ministry under his leadership would comprise followers thoroughly sound on this allimportant question. His political history from the time he first entered the House has been identified with bona fide land settlement as distinguished from land disposal. Under any Government with which he has been associated it cannot be urged that population has left the colony because neither land for- settlement, nor employment at fair remuneration could be obtained. The leader of the Opposition combines two essential qualifications for the carrying on of the Government of the colony—a thorough knowledge of' finance, and ran intelligent and earnest desire to settle the land, and thus not only keep population in the country, but by means liberal inducements tempt industrious husbandry from neighbouring colonies and from the Mother Country to take up their abode of New Zealand. In the ranks of the Opposition or upon the Government Benches, in the House as at present constituted, there is no other member who would command the confidence of the country so fully as the member for Wanganui,-and in the event of Sir Hra-ry Atkinson's resignation—or indeed 'under'- any other circumstances—there is no member of the House more qualified to take up the reins at the present juncture,