The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1890. THE PREMIER'S MANIFESTO.
The great Ministerial election gun has been iired at Hawera, and first saw the light of day m the columns of a North Island up-country tiewspapcr known m its limited orbit as the I' Hawera Star." The nature of the Ministerial explosion on this occasion was kept a profound State secret; it was known that the document had been carefully considered m Cabinet, and that though professedly an address by the Premier to his constituents, it was intended to be an address from the Ministry to the electors on the eve of a most important general election. This was all that was known, and all that was allowed to transpire, and special correspondents of favored journals have, as a consequence, been going round Wellington tearing their hair and covering themselves with sackcloth 1 and ashes because they have been denied a firs* glimpse at a document which was expected to turn the election m favor of the Government. But the mourning of the Pressmen has been turned into joy. Instead of the Premier's manifesto containing anything of startling importance, it is a fery commonplace reproduction of the last Financial Statement, with one or two new features introduced of secondary importance. The best side is, of or course, put forward from a Ministerial standpoint, but at its best it is a sorry picture. A great deal of credit is claimed by the Premier for economical administration by his Cabinet; and to judge from the telegraphed portion of the address, it would appear as if the cry for economy originated with the Cabinet, and not with the people. But the fact is the other way about— the people demanded economy, and any Ministry who refused to carry it out would require to make room for those who would. Much is made of an alleged surplus during the Ministry's three years' term of office, but nothing is said of the fact that this surplus has been squeezed from the pockets of over-" bui-dened taxpayers. It would not do to mention, the latter fact, or it might set people thinking that as much unnecessary taxation had been heaped up at a most unfortunate period as the alleged surplus represented. That would be a reflection on Ministerial finance, and would never do. Then stress is laid upon the fact that the result of the colony's financial operations during the paßt few years has proved that we can dispense with borrowing; but this agreeable statement is immediataly discounted by the proposal shadowed forth m the Financial Statement that m order to settle the colony we must borrow from somewhere, and that because outside capitalists will not accomodate us we must borroir m an unlimited fashion m the colony itself. This is equivalent to saying.that New Zealand capitalists have less discretion than foreign money lender*, or they are blest with the most unbounded patriotism—a presumption which has not hitherto been made apparent when extra taxation had to be imposed m order to meet the obligations of the colony. In eifect the Premier says; Our obligation to the foreign bondholder precludes us from going to the Home money market fora loan, but we can borrow m the colony by a side-wind. This latter proposal is | ingenious—-like everything else thnt has emanated from Jfew Zealand's only Treasurer —but we think one of its first effects, if carried out, will be to depreciate the value of New Zealand securities m the Home market, and CfUise New Zealand capitalists to look with suspicion upon a proposal whereby they ap# flaked to lend money at a low r»te of intevetyfc fco the State, and upon which successive (governments will impose extra taxation m order to meet the interest due to the new bondholders, In reference to land settlement the Premier takes credit for the fact that during his Ministry's term of office 1,082,771 acres of land hgw been disposed of, and argues from this that settlement is progressing at a most rapid rate, "We have repeatedly pointed out that land dfsppsjd does not necessarily mean land aett^ment. Vast amounts of land were disposal #£ m forner years to few persons, and we $/cc afraujl from the evidence which eamo out at the recent Dummyism Inquiry that the bulk ol tl>e Jand disposed ot during the past .jbhree ye&v* | baa goatf Jo, j&J **«« v9^^i v*
" , i are a greater number of persons l'epresented as buyers, but many of the purchases merely represent additions to estates already too large. One interesting feature- came out m the course of the Premier's address under this hear], and that is, that he is personally opposed tr» the alteration made m the perpetual lease system by his colleague, the Minister of Lands, whereby a perpetual lease holding may be transformed into a freehold. Under this head the Premier appears to recognise that the term "perpetual lease" is a misnomer. ' The other matters dealt with m, the address are, so far.as we have been able to see from a hasty perusal, of no special importance, and so tar as the general electors are concerned, do not throw any light upon the political situation. There is, however, one remark which the Premier might have saved the country, and that was his apology for no£ bringing forward a heroic policy. One might as well expect to find grapes on thorns and figs on thistles as a policy of that character from a Ministry incapable of leading the House, and whose late policy has been largely filched from their predecessors, or dictated by the country. Heroic policies are not a predominant feature of Atkinspnian finance, and the Premier acted wisely m leaving such a proceeding to the Opposition or the country.