The Ashburton Guardian. Magna es Veritas et Prævalebit. FRIDAY, JULY 18, 1890. THE SKINFLINT MAJORITY.
The Government of New Zealand at the present moment consists of eleven men. The several constituencies have returned to Parliament ninety-four members, but the opinions of eightythree of the number go for nothing under the present conditions of Party Government. The eleven members referred to, and who are known as the Skinflint Party, represent the balance of power-between the Government and Opposition, and are m a position to dictate terms to , either party. Under normal conditions of Party Government there is always an intermediate party, known as " Independents," for whose votes Government and Opposition alike make important bids; but the wants and opinions of the " Independents " are usually of so varied a character that the party lacks consolidation, and Government or Opposition may., at will, split them up by conceding abridge here, a road there, or a railway to nowhere m particular. In the New Zealand Parliament, however, at the present juncture there is cohesion and determination m the Middle Party ranks, and they claim to dictate a policy to the Government under a threat of going over to the Opposition if this policy is not carried out. In order te retain pay and power, the Government have submitted to the indignity thus put upon them, and the Skinflints are masters of the situation. Under pressure from the Middle Party the Cabinet, although previously saying such a thing was impossible, have pledged themselves to further retrench to the extent of £50,000 a year! The Opposition refused to give this promise, or join issue with the Skinflint Party m the effort to draw blood from a stone, and consequently lo3t the votes of these self-assertive rulers of the House and the people. The Opposition leader, as well as the Government, know it is impossible to squeeze another j£50,000 from salaries of already underpaid public officials, or to further reduce public services by a return to primitive expedients; but the Government, with less regard for principle than their opponents, have given a promise which they well know it is impossible to fulfil. If the Government should attempt to cut clown Education expenditure by lessening educational advantages, they well know that public indignation will follow ; and should an attempt be made at further cheese-paring by cutting down salaries, after the recent reductions, they may find themselves faced with a Civil Service Strike, the like of which has never been dreamt of before. The Government realise this, and their estimates of expenditure for the incoming year have been based upon a continuance of present salaries and present conveniences. They have however, m the face of this,undertaken a task which they know is impossible ; and they must now either break faith with the public on the education question or with the Civil Servants whose salaries have been already cut down on the understanding that they would not be further touched. Failing either of these courses, they must break faith with the extreme Retrenchment Party who have placed them m a dilemma so humiliating and unenviable. The position, however, serves to illustrate the absurdity of Government by party m a, small colony like this. The Government and Opposition alike, who have some knowledge of the subject, have asserted that it is impossible to save £50,000 » year; but the Skinflints, the irresponsible party who know nothing of the insurmountable difficulties m the way, say it can be done, and the Government have undertaken to do it. We wait for the result, and can only hope that this latest and maddest freak of panic legislation will not result m driving away another 18,000 of population from the colony.