The Ashburton Guardian. MAGNA EST VERITAS ET PREVALEBIT MONDAY, JUNE 30, 1890. NERO FIDDLING WHILE ROME IS BURNING.
The present New Zealand Government either do not or will not realise the serious importance of the "Exodus" question. The fact is acknowledged on all hands that hundreds of persons who have resided in New Zealand for years, and who came to the Colony with the: determination of making it their permanent home, have been and are at the present. time, leaving our shores for other lands. That this is a calamity the present Government persistently refuse to acknowledge; for, while admitting that our people are leaving us, the last two budgets have stated, in effect, that those who are going can well be spared. The insinuation is freely made that those Tvho are forsaking us have lived upon loan expenditure, and, therefore, when we stopped borrowing, and had no more foreign money to share withj them, they have betaken themselves' 1 to other fields and j astures. This argument is ingenious, but it is contrary to, fact and illogical. The class of persons who have left the Colony, and who are still leaving it, is a class whom ye would gladly retain; and any statement to the contrary, coming from the present occupants of the Cabinet savours somewhat of the cry of " sour grapes." Where.the; Colonial Treasurer gets his information from as to the quality of those who have left the Colony it is hard to imagine. Colonists whose friends and relatives have been compelled to seek work elsewhere, and who have had to, go elsewhere to get land on which to,settle, will be able to estimate the Treasurer's specious excuse at its true value. Members of Benefit Societies, Mechanic Institutes, Farmers' Clubs, and such like organisations, by looking over their member rolls for the last three years, can readily, ascertain for themselves the class of colonists who are forsaking us; and they will be best able to judge whether any class that may be introduced will be better able to fill the vacancies. The officers of these organisations would tell the-Treasurer, if he consulted them, that the members who have left their, ranks were esteemed for their thrift, industry, perseverance, and skill as mechanics in the workshop, as business men behind the desk or counter, or as farmers tilling the soil. Cn,n we afford, in a new country like this, to lose so desirable a class of colonist? That is the question the voters represented in these organipa-, tions will be asked' to decide at the next election; and if we know anything of the patriotism which animates them we • feel sure their answer will be,," Decidedly not." In the last Budget, dealing with, this question the Treasurer says :—" We want the men and women of the Old Country and elsewhere, looking for a new home for themselves and children after them, to know truly what this country lis ; that would draw them here, and then we want to put them on the land." With every word of the foregoing statement we thoroughly agree. We do want men and women from the Home country to come and make their home with us. There is ample room for them; and there is ample room also for those who are al ready here. But we take it that the best method to attract people from the tlome Country to make New Zealand their future home is not by permitting our own people to depart from us and carry a dismal tale abroad of our condition, And the incapacity of our legislators. What is wanted is not only to attract others, but to retain those already here. And the way to do this is not to preach against people swarming into the towns, but to offer liberal inducements to New Zealand born youth to settle in the country. The sons of the soil have the first claim to the soil, but, according to the New Zealand Treasurer's political ethics, the sons may go, and the strangers come. Not only so, but after having squeezed as much taxation as possible .out of them, and when they can no longer make a living here, the' New Zealand Treasurer practically abuses them for going .away, and, adding insult to injury, makes the unjustifiable assertion that during their residence in the polony they have been nothing but a burden. If it' is true that those who have left the colony—and we are astonished at the hardihood of any public man in making such an aswertion—have been supported entirely out of loan money, it is also true 'that, while they remained with us, they shared our burden of taxation; and, had they continued to remain, they would be doing so still. If they had remained in the colony they would also have assisted farmers by consuming the surplus grain now lying unrealisable in the sheds throughout the country. If the land that has been disposed of in such large, quantities by the present Ministry had fallen into; the hands of those who have left the colony and also into the hands of those who have arrived—and who will doubtless go away again also unless' new arrangements are made—we should not now bemoan the dullness of the times. No reasonable or rational excuse be forthcoming for paople flocking from a young country in greater numbers than others arrive, unless it be that the country is not fit for settle-! ment, or, as we fear is the case in New Zealand, the Government j entrusted with the land disposal arc a parcel of bunglers., A country like New Zealand, properly piloted,' .should be able; not only to retain its present population, but attract others also. If those who have already been here cannot make a home, there lg little chance, of new arrivals being able to do so who havfj no experience of colonial life. What New Zealand especially needs at present is a Government who will inspire the confidence of the people remaining in the country. If they are treated liberally in the matter of aquiring lands, their pros-
perity will be noised abroad, and others will readily be attracted to swell their ranks. The Financial Statement, however, just delivered, proves that such a policy is not to be expected from the Atkinson Cabinet, and the sooner a radical change is enforced by the people) the better it, will be for the country.