The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY, AUGUST 23, 1890. THE ATKINSON GOVERNMENT.
The position of the Atkinson Government, now tottering upon its last legs, is humiliating m the extreme. Appointed to office at a period m the colony's history when there was widespread depression, Sir H. Atkinson and his colleagues undertook to set the colony again on the high road to prosperity. This happy result was to be accomplished by carrying out the people's now historic*! " roar for retrenchment," and without the aid of borrowing or heaping up additional taxation. In neither respect have these promises been fulfilled. Half r hearted efforts were made to cut down expenditure, but throughout the whole scheme there has been visible a desire to dispense entirely with useful public services rather than to cut down the cost of administration. Taxation to double the amount intended by the previous Government has been heaped up, and having spent all it was possible to spend, the Government now come forward, vide the lats Financial Statement, with proposals to borrow sub rosa m the colony for the professed purpose of roading native lands, but virtually to enable the Government to continue the land gambling policy which haa been the curse of the colony since its very foundation. The Government, which started on its career three years ago with the avowed intention of cutting down official expenditure, is now found pleading piteously on behalf of over-paid heads of department, who have been instrumental m reducing sub-ordinates, but have been extremely careful to leave themselves unmolested. Entering upon office as extreme economists the Atkinson Ministry are now playing the role of anti-economists, and are .sneering at those who would effect legitimate savings m the public expenditure. With the accession of the Atkinson party to power panic legislation was the order of the day, and the colony was painted m such doleful colours that a large proportion of the population fled from the country as if it were plague-stricken. In the administration of the Justice Department the Government hare displayed strong partisanship, about which, for the Government credit and feelings of recently appointed Judges, the less said the better. In dealing with charges of mal-administration brought against them, certain members of the Ministry have resorted to personal abuse and bitter persecution, instead of meeting the charges with sound convincing argument. During the three years m which they have held office the Ministry have brought down several feeble measures dignified with the name of «'i Government policy, but these have been rejected—the Ministry clinging, limpet-like, to the Benches nevertheless. The members of the Government, during their tenure of office, have been led by, instead of leading the House, and h.tvc been at the beck and call of every faction and party. Like so many marionettes, Ministers have only danced when the House played, and the closing scene of theircareerhas been fittingly marked by a virtual capitulation to the Opposition. The Opposition have at last become masters of the situation, and the Government are willing to do their, bidding, and accept the small mercies allowed them, until a stronger, firmer, and altogether more capable set of men fill their places. The compact recently made between the Ministry and the Opposition is an open conf essiorv of the weakness and incompetence of the Government, and we shall be much surprised if the country does not emphasise this view at the forthcoming election, by rejecting every candidate who has supported ov is willing to support a Ministry so disorganised and helpless.