The Ashburton Guardian. Magna et Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 1890. SUPPRESSING CONSULTATIONS.
Under the provisions of the Hon. Mr Mitchelson's Post Office Acts amendment Bill, permission is proposed to be given to the postal authori ties to open and detain all letters forwarded from or received m New Zealand which they have reason to believe contain moneys for sweeps, such proceeds to swell the revenue. This stringent enactment.will, itife' believed, prevent money from being sent out, of the colony for " consultation " purpurposes, and will effectually stop "sweep" organisers from publishing their intentions m New Zealand. With the object Mr Mitchelson has m view we are m entire sympathy.. The "consultation" form .of gambling assumed such gigantic proportions within our own colony that stringent repressive legislation had to be introduced to entirely suppress it. Newspapers were forbidden to advertise consultations, and consultationists rendered themselves liable to fine and imprisonment if they persisted m following their occupation. By these means a growing evil was stamped out at home, ■but not from abroad. At present foreign "consultationists" may send letters through the New Zealand post, and advertise themselves to their heart's content, but such a proceeding on the part of a New Zealand colonist would result m a heavy fine or imprisonment. Mr Mitchelson's measure aims at remedying these defects, but we fear, eren if the measure passea'into law, it will not have the desired effect, and *will place too much power m the hands of postmasters to open other private letters than those on Bw,»?epti business. The sweep promoters over the water, although debarred from sending letters through the post, may send newspapers containing " consultation" advertisements, and while it might do to prevent New Zealand newspapers containing such advertisements going through the post, it would scarcely do for the State to "boycott" newspapers from the Australian colonies. These advertisements being seen, there is nothing to prevent colonists from posting money to personal friends on the other side of the water to invest for them m consultations. The whole subject is surrounded with difficulty, and we fear that, much as we should like to see Australian sweep imposterg prohibited from drawing a revenue from this colony, the repressive measures proposed by the Minister are likely to do more harm than good. Nothing requires more careful and jealous guarding than the privacy of a sealed letter, and no pretext should be afforded for opening same on its. passage through the Post Office. The evil to be repressed is a great one, but the repressive measures proposed are calculated to introduce a still greater evil m another direction. By allowing too much latitude to* Post Office officials to open or retain letters on the pretext of their being upon " consultation" business, a door will be opened for a vast amount of official corruption. While expressing every sympathy, therefore, with lMr Mitchelson m his efforts to suppress consultations, we cannot approve of the Post Office Acts Amendment Bill m its present form.