The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 1890. CHARITABLE AID ADMINISTRATION.
'*" One of J;lio measures the Atkinson Government intend to bring dpwn during the present session, if penfaiited to' do so,!is an amendment of the Hospital arid Charitable Aid Act. ', In what particular direction the Govern : merit intend to amend the Act is not. stated; but, from what has been previously stated by members of the Cabinet, the new measure will differ very little from previous proposals. The fate of the late proposals are well known. The House and country marked its sense of Cabinet incapacity in this direction by refusing to permit the Government measure to pass into law; and unless the new measure, should it ever reach a further stage than mere mention in the Governor's speech, is very much different, it will share a similar fate. The present system of administering charitable aid is anything but perfect, but it is preferable to a system of establishing what; would- practically be State Poor Houses, with , all .the objectionable features of a Poor Lay. Whatever other qualifications Sir H. Atkinson may have as a legislator, when grappling with the administration of Charitable Aid, he ie totally at sea. His. compulsory life assurance proposals in this direction, and his other efforts at various times, have amply demonstrated that he is th© least qualified of all New Zealand Premiers to deal with this difficult and delicate social problem.. The present measure needs amendment, but the present Cabinet, we are afraid, is not competent to deal with it. A mistake ha's been made in following in the. beaten track of older countries,., and making each district responsible for the cost of its own poor, instead of recognising the poor as the burden of,the whole colony. ' Under the present system we have the unpleasant revelation constantly arising of one district endeavouring to shoulder its burdens upon its neighbour. The poor and needy are packed on board a train or steamer, and sent from one district to another, and are received with anything but a cordial welcome anywhere. The money frittered away in train fares and steamer fares in this direction, would, we believe, if published, surprise the public, who are in blissful ignorance of the hitches constantly arising as .to what district is responsible for the care of a particular recipient of charitable aid. Some Charitable Aid Bdarclr, we have good authority for saying, when rendering assistance to the unfortunate from another district, save local taxation by making oxoos^ sive charges for the housing and looking after of a stray pauper sheep from a neighbor's flock. In all cases the barest pittance is doled out to the needy, and where there is the slightest excuse to shirk even this, it is availed of. Each Board enters upon its functions with the firm resolvQ tq screw down charitab|e aid taxation,, tvr|d this is acpqmplished in many cases by shunting legitimate burdens on to other localities, upon private benevolen.cfy upon already pool' relatives, op by ignoring the prayers and entreaties of those, in need, and by endeavouring to foster a public, opinion .that all appli-; cants for aid are imposters. Under a system where' each district is ■ made resppijajble for the maintenance of its. own pooi', scarcely any other- rcauji could be looked for. The local ratepayer's pocket is the supreme consideration ; the administration of charitable aid in the spirit in which it was conceived, is a secondary matter. And the constantly shifting and changing population offers a vajicl excuse, v^ ileay, in fau tqq ittanj instances to refuse temporary suocouii in deserving cases. A olass of people most likely to require assistance are those persons who, in order to provide for their wants, have to migrate from plage to place, and yet, should this class, through any sudden calamity j need assistance, J^fs, the IWiYP.F of the administrative bodies, to, refuse to give it on the technical ground of non-residence for a stipulated period. Hence we J have in the various newspapers such headings as these, " A Pauper Whom Nobody Owns," "A Deserving Case for Private Charity," etc. Each Board has full power to tax within its own boundaries for charitable purposes, but a Board that heaps up boo much taxation, no matter how much genuine distress is relieved, is not generally considered by local taxpayers to be a good governing body. On th# local gp.ygrprr"^ rrr i '"'r.Y t 1 '; Act seems $o b-e a r i:.i. '.••\-.\ i.v- ;■■-. and any 'alteration that is made, in order to give general satisfaction, must be upon broader lines. The poor of New Zealand will have to be recognised as the burden of New Zealand as a whole. But any hope of a comprehensive measure of this character is out of' the question frqni the present incompetent Administration.