The Ashburton Guardian. Magna et Veritas et Prævalebit. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1890. FARMERS' POLITICAL UNIONS.
The farmers of Central Otago have issued a political manifesto on their own account, totally distinct from that recently issued m the natne of ,tlie farmers by a nuriifter of mercantile gentlemen m Dnnedin. The farmers' manifesto emanating from Dunedin advocates freetrader reduced railway charges, retention' of the railways by the State, and Australasian federation. Central Otago farmers are more radical m their views, fintl urge (1) simplification of the land laws,: local land administration, settlement of people upon the lands, and abolition of Waste Lands Boards ; (2) sale of the railways ; (3) winding up of the Government Insurance Department and abolition of all speculative ventures on the part of the Government; (4) increased power to County Councils ; (5) further reduction m the number of members of the House of Representatives,and abolition of the Upper House entirely ; and (6) more stringent rabbit, suppression laws. There is not much m common between the two manifestoes ; m fact, m regard to the railways, the opiuions are diametrically opposite—one party advocating their retention by the State and the other their immediate sale. With the Dunedin farmers the land question is* of no importance ; but with the farmers m the interior, heiiimed m and surrounded with vast estates, the question is a live one, and forms, as it certainly should, the first plank m a practical farmer's political faith. The Central Otago farmers ignore both freetrade and protection, and don't care a fig about Australasian federation. The City farmers do not advocate anything m regard to reforms m the Upper House and House of Representatives, but the Central Otago farmers would abolish tho one and cripple the other. Variety is charming, even m political, and matters m Otago there is no Lick oi variety, if the two manifestoes under review are to be taken as a guide. We fear, however, that if political manifestoes were to be issued from every farming centre m the colony, a comparison would reveal the fact that the political views hold by tillers of the soil ate wide as the poles asunder. What aoplies to farmers m this respect applies equally to all political parties m the colony. There is no public question of a social or political character upon which there is anything Hire unanimity of opinion, and hence it is that there are so many political and semi-political organisations scattered up and down throughout the colony, pledged to carry out particular fads. Where there is such, a great divergence of opinion among the people, ib is little wonder that m the House of Representatives are to be found men pledged to oppose everything and everybody until their particular fads are given effect to. Under such conditions good government is almost impossible, and it is a wonder that any legislation at all finds its way into the Statute law of tho colony. In the two manifestoes issued by different farming organisations m Otago there i> only one thing on which both -are agreed, and that is the pressing necessity for substantial reductions m railway charges and freights. One body believes that the best method of securing this end is for the State to resume tho management and control of the lines, while the other body, equally earnest m the matter, contends that if the lines were sold to a private company they would be worked upon purely business principles, and a reduction of charges would certainly follow. With the latter view we think the majority of the farmers of tho colony will have no sympathy. The argument was used extensively m the House m support of handing over the railways to the present Commissioners; but the results have not been so satisfactory as anticipated. Instead of a reduction of fares and freights being made, as was anticipated, these, were raised, and the farmers are now more dissatisfied than ever they were. The trains are now run to suit the convenience of merchants m the* chief towns, and carpet-bag men travelling through the country, and the farmer's convenience is not studied m the least. That has been one effect of handing over the railways temporarily to private hands, and we are afraid if the change were made permanent the evils would be intensified. The manifestoes, however, prove that the farmers take a keen interest m. the railways, and are at one as to the urgent necessity for reductions m fares and freights, however divergent their opinions may he as to how this is to be brought about.