The Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit FRIDAY, JULY 11, 1890. NEW PLYMOUTH HARBOR OBLIGATIONS.
The .New Plymouth Harbor Board, by the recent failure to pay interest to the English bond-holder, has placed itself and the colony in a most unsatisfactory position. New Plymouth, like other seaside places in the colony, resolved to make a harbor, where nature never intended that a harbor should be, and the result has been complete failure. The failure has involved serious loss, and the losers would now gladly shift the consequences of their folly upon other shoulders. The Harbor Board and the English bondholders are of one mind that the colony should pay for Taranaki folly, and certain members of the Ministry think I similarly, as moneys have been paid from the Colonial Treasury, without Parliamentary sanction, to tide the New Plymouth Harbor Board over its difficulties. But whatever these persons may think, there is a general feeling throughout the colony that New Plymouth should be made to bear the consequences of its own act; and those who invested their money in a losing concern should likewise make the most of the circumstances, and exercise more forethought and discretion in future. We are entirely in sympathy with this popular feeling, and Avhile we regret that Ncav Plymouth cannot meet ita engagements, our regret is not of so practical a character as to warrant us putting our hands in our pockets to assist the Harbor Board and bond-holders out of their difficulties. It is quite true that the partial repudiation by New Plymouth of public obligation to the foreign money-lender is a reflection upon the colony as a whole, and is likely to be injurious to the public credit; but it may also be argued, on the same grounds, that the failure of a private individual to pay his debts is a reflection upon the community in which he resides. In neither case would the public be just to themselves or the parties concerned in coming to the rescue; by doing so, a premium would be offered to extravagance and rash speculation. Therefore, we think that the colony should set its face firmly against taking over New Plymouth or similar responsibilities, whatever the consequences may be to the public credit. Let the colony state, unequivocally, once and for all, that while able and willing to pay its own debts, it cannot undertake to guarantee repayment of loans to local bodies. This course would at once set the colony right in the eyes of the foreign money-lender, and would assist to prevent foreign capital from coming into the country in future to be squandered upon Utopian schemes. We respect the good opinion of the foreign moneylender as much as anyone, but we must decline, to bow before his dictum that, as a colony, we .should guarantee him against loss when lie chooses to invest liis money hi private enterprises. As a colony we have retrenched and taxed our people to the uttermost farthing to keep faith with the public creditor, but we protest against the proverbial last straw to the camel's back in the shape of the colony taking over the Indebtedness of local bodies in order that the English bond-holder may get everything and the colony lose everything. There is a danger of studying the public creditor to the serious detriment of the colonist, and we sincerely hope the colony will not fall into this error.