The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 5, 1890. THE ELECTIONS.
At the last general election the colony had two distinct issues before it. Thes« issues were rigid retrenchment or overwhelming taxation. The country unanimously chose the former, and returned to the House a majority of members pledged to carry out economy. During the progress of the elections it was made clearly manifest that the electors had no confidence either in Sir Julius Vogel or Sir Harry Atkinson as economical administrators. These financiers had had the control qf the Treasury cheat of the colony more or less uninter ruptedly ever since the inauguration of the Public Works and Immigration borrowing policy in 1870, and the result had been anything but satisfactory. The colony was head over ears in debt; expensive public works had been carried out providing for the requirements of a teeming population ; but the population came not, and the majority of those who did come Went away again, and a handful of people were left with the full responsibility of a burdensome debt. The electors performed their work manfully under these conditions, practically taking the Government of the colony into their own hands, and formulating a policy for the guidanes of elected representatives. Owingto the Premier of the then Government having bean defeated in his own electorate, the Ministry, on the assembly of the neM House, resigned ; and out of the chaos sprang into existence the Atkinson combination, w hose term of office has ju st expired by effluxion of time. When the Atkinson combination first entered upon office, it became evident that the Ministry had not the confidence of the people; there was little faith in the leader, and little confidence in his followers. Sir Harry Atkinson had previously had charge of the public finances for a longer period than any other public man who had ever sat on the Government Benches, and the result had been involved accounts, heavy indebtedness, little settlement on the "lands, and a small population. The new Premier who was to lead the House was known to be a public spendthrift, and although he had put on economical garments they were an unmistakeable misfit, and were likely to be thrown on one side at any moment. The people's representatives, therefore, saw that it was necessary to keep the Premier and his colleague* Up to their work, and this they did, with th« result that good hottest retrenchment wa« effected in admmißtrtition of public affairs for the B pace of two years. While the House and country were at work watching the Premier carry out economies, that astute individual was busy in another important direction — heaping up additional taxation by means of the Property Tax, Customs duties, Primage duty, and so forth, The House, with a murmur, sanctioned the latter as a necessary adjunct to the former. One of the arguments used to reconcile the House and country to the increased burden of taxation was that when the full effects of the economies practised were felt, it would result in a corresponding reduction of the public burden. The latter promise Ims not been kept so far as the Ministry is concerned as the Cabinet fought tooth and nail last session to retain the Primage duty; but the House, utronger than the Ministry, asserted itself, and this burden, the creation of the Colonial Treasure!*, has now been abolished. In the matter of public economy also the Oibinet has turned a complete somersault, tost session having witnessed the erstwhile economical administrators using every endeavor to increase salaries of officers already too well paid, and fighting against the maiorftjr f)i the House who vigorously protested *g»jnst a return to public extravagance. Bit- H. Atkinson had been too long ass<iijatod with a scatter-cash policy to fcak© kindly to s» retrenchment policy, and, on the first opportunity, when it was thought the Homae and country had relaxed its watchfulness, a de liberate attempt wft* m«4« *Q Vl^o $& good work already doiw, I» ftfo matter the House also proved thftfc it wt» master of the situation, and, ex. tensi-r« <egpnomies were forced upon the Cabinet Pwng the ptet session there has lw W i^f PvTrtWWW
struggle to compel the Atkinson Combination to continue 'the practice of | economy, and the Ministry have shown a determined desire on several occasions to kick over the traces. The question at this election is therefore, so far as State 'policy is concerned, the same as throe years ago—economy or increased taxation. These are the issues, and it remains for the electors to give no uncertain sound as to what opinion, they hold on the matter. It is a significant fact in connection with the history of the preient Government that when they forsook the path of economy, a large* number of their supporters also forsook them, remaining true to their election pledges given at the last election. It now remains for the electors to be consistent, and strengthen the hands of the economical party in the late House by returning members pledged to oppose any Government or combination who will not eftect further and more sweeping reductions in public expenditure, or who will not undertake to lessen the heavy burden of taxation which is hanging like a millstone round the neck of the colony. '■