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MINISTERIAL REPUDIATION.

In the darkest period of the depression from which the Colony some time ago was suffering, and wliich is now happily, we are fain to believe, passing away, there were a few croakers who shook their heads and talked of repudiation as within measurable distance ; the repudiation which they contemplated being the possible— rather, perhaps we should say the impossible—refusal of the Colony to recognise its responsibilities to, and to keep its engagements with, the public creditor. But beyond these few birds of evil omen there was no one who for a moment entertained the faintest belief in anything of the sort happening. Yet such a thing as repudiation has actually occurred and that within the past few days, and by the Government of the Colony of New Zealand. Let not our readers be alarmed. None of the Colony's bonds has been dishonored, nor has any payment of intei'est at the due date failed to be made.l " Our credit has not been shaken in the London market, nor has a single creditor suffered—one person only has been the sufferer, poor Mr Fergus !' Heralded by newspaper paragraphs announcing that the Minister of Mines was about to address his constituents, and that he would on that occasion take the opportunity of letting the country know something of the policy of the Government, poor Mr Fergus duly made his appearance at Queenstown and unburdened his soul of great thoughts and big schemes, only alas ! with the result of first astonishing the country, and then it would appear of astonishing his colleagues, who in their

turn doubtless astonished him by repudiating all his utterances in the most thorough and complete manner. Nor has the repudiation been confined ,to his fellow occupants of the Government benches, for one by one the rank and file of the Ministerial party have also lifted up their voices in disclaimer, disbelief, or denunciation of the several proposals shadowed forth on the shores of Lake Wakatip. Among those who have joined in the chorus of disapproval none has been more trenchant in his hostile criticism that the hon, member for Manawatu, Mr Macarthur, Treating of Mr Fergus' proposal for the consolidation of local loans, and his subsequent lame attempt to show that all that he meant was that when these loans had to be renewed the re-borrow-ing should take place under Colonial guarantee, Mr Macarthur pointed out that if the proposal only referred to contingencies which would happen 10, 15, or 20 years hence " it was meaningless " and argued, as we. think, irrefutably, that "what the Minister must have meant was that the loans should be guaranteed by the Government at once," stating that "he Avas fortified in the supposition that Mr Fergus meant immediate consolidation or conversion by his quoting the cases of the New Plymouth harbour board and the Gisborne harbor board, Avhich it w#s well known were defaulting their interest to the English bondholders." Nov; as to the effect upon the Colonial taxpayer of the taking over of the whole of the debts of local bodies— 'Vhich, rightly oi* wrongly, Mr Macarthur regards as the inevitable ultimate result of their being covered by colonial guarantee—he (the member for M.inawatu) goes on to say;—■" On the 31st March, 1888, according to the Registrar-General, harbor boards owed £3,000,000, municipalities, £2,527,000; ChristchurchDrainageßoard£2oo,ooo; river boards, £48,000 ; while county councils, voa,d boards, and town boards owed in all £320,000, out of the total of over £6,000,000, or about £1 for every £19 owed by the harbor boards and municipalities. The £350,000 owed by rural local bodies was made up of £30.000 overdraft, £280,000 under the Loans to Local Bodies Act, and £101,0Q0 under the Roads and Bridges Construction Act, So that in any scheme which would lead to the interest of the local bodies' indebtedness being thrown upon the general purse, the taxpayers represented by the county councils $nd road boaixls would be paying more than their equitable share." This is only one passage out of a long reference to this particular part of the Queenstown programme, in which not only this but also the companion proposals are condemned root and branch, and yet Mr Macarthur's is only one voice among a, general chorus of condemnation from Ministerial followers aud Ministerial papers in particular. At the same time, as Mr Macarthur goes on to show—(( Mr Fergus was very precise and emphatic in declaring that he was pi-omulgating the policy of the Cabinet. His words were,.' as far as I may do at the present time to indicate what policy the Government intend to pursue with regard to the colony in the incoming session, and during the succeeding Parliament,' Throughout the speech Mr Fergus used the phrases, ' the Government think,' ' the Government are of the opinion,' ' the Government hold,' and similar expressions, iudicating that he was speaking in the name of the Cabinet, and at the end of his speech one of the electors remarked, without contradiction by Mr Fergus, that a great honor had been done the constituency in that their member had been delegated by the Premier to unfold the policy of the Government in his address to them." But for all that the member for Manawatu declines to believe "that the Government had agreed upon any such wild schemes " as were shadowed forth by the Minister of Mines, and not only promptly repudiates Mr Fergus' proposals, but also Mr Fergus' pretensions to be the mouthpiece of the Ministry. And Ministerial journals and Ministers themselves, if we are to believe Ministerial correspondents, join in the repudiation. Poor Mr Fergus! The only tiling now that is needed to make this repudiation business complete all round is for Mr Fergus, in Ids turn, to repudiate his colleagues

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900610.2.5

Bibliographic details

MINISTERIAL REPUDIATION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2437, 10 June 1890

Word Count
957

MINISTERIAL REPUDIATION. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2437, 10 June 1890

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