The Ashburton Guardian. Magna et Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 6, 1890. THE MELBOURNE UN EMPLOYED.
The unemployed agitation now taking place m Melbourne is doubtless a consequence of the inflated period of prosperity through which that Colony has just passed. During the land boom " marvellous Melbourne," as it is now the fashion to call the capital of the neighbouring colony, was the centre of a feverish tide of immigration. Everyone out of employment m the other colonies, and those dissatisfied with their condition elsewhere, attracted by an inflated prosperity, made their way to Melbourne. Many of these no doubt found employment, but others, less fortunate, found themselves m a large city without capital and with few friends. The number of the latter during the " boom " was not great, but, with the collapse of abnormal prosperity, their ranks were rapidly swelled by those who had only obtained temporary employment. At present the unemployed may be counted by thousands, and they are clamoring for work at the State doors, but this is refused. The Victorian Government have definitely asserted that it is no part of the State's duty to provide employment for those who cannot find it for themselves. This refusal has created much dissatisfaction, and the manner of making it has provoked antagonism. Hence it is that the mob, viewing the matter only from the standpoint of their immediate necessities, have recently conducted themselves m a riotous manner. It is open to question whether it is a part of the State's duty to provide further for the wants of the subject than to give sufficient succour to prevent death from starvation during season's of distress. This far, however, the State is bound to go, and the principle is recognised m every civilised country by more or less perfect systems of charitable aid distribution j and it becomes a question with every Government to decide whether it is preferable to distribute charity purely, or put the recipients m such a position that they will be able to earn what they eat or wear. In the ranks of the 10,000 unemployed, or elsewhere, there are doubtless many lazy, lounging, loafiiig fellows, whose necessitous condition has been brought about by their own criminal folly; but the vast number of the army are no doubt disappointed and unfortunate men who have made a mistake m rushing to the prosperous colony without taking any precaution to ascertain if there was a probability of permanent work for them m their respective callings when they arrived there. The present bitter experience, of the latter class will doubtless serve them m good stead on future occasions, I but for the former class no sympathy is [ called for. Judging by the manner m which the Victorian Government have met the " unemployed " deputations, however, it would seem that Ministers are endeavoring to create a public impression that the Melbourne out-of-Hlki'k army are .1 pack of worthless This cannot be so, and many of them may be to for their present unfortunate P^sition, it is absolutely cruel to taunt them with their misfortune, and call them harsh names. The unemployed are there, and work must either be provided for them by the State or the community, or they must exist upon private charity. The accounts coming from Melbourne, however, should act as a warning to New Zealanders not to readily flock to the other side, where the labor market is already overstocked. The Victorian Government are borrowing and expending millions m developing public works, but notwithstanding this, it would seem that employment cannot be found for those willing to work, and but for the efforts put forth by the Salvation Army the Government would be at present face to face with one of the most serious social problems that have as yet engaged the attention of colonial politicians, viz., what is to be clone by the State for the vast army, who, either through misfortune or infirmity, can do nothing for themselves. The population m the colonies is not yet so great that there should exist the " unemployed " cries heard from time to time. There is therefore something wrong m our social administration j when this is the case, and it behoves colonial public men to investigate the cause and provide a cure.