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UNNECESSARY RAILWAYS.

Mr Hanan can generally be trusted to speak his mind forcibly, and his denunciation of the Ivawrence-Roxburgh line lades nothing in breadth and comprehensiveness. It seems that Government has resolved to stop work on the Roxburgi. extension, at least for the time, a-nd the Premier has been very severely taken to task in Otago for his decision. For the Lawrence-Roxburgh line has been steadily supported for 6ome years past by leading Otago journals and politicians; and last August the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce coupled it with the Otago Central and the inevitable Catlins-Tahakopa line as demanding immediate prosecution. The Dunedin "Evening Star" urged that at lenst one-third of the Otago Central vote should be diverted to the LawrenceRoxburgh line, and the sum of £ 30,000 was actually allocated for this purpose in last year's public works appropriations. After all the strenuous efforts made on behalf of this line and the vociferous enthusiasm displayed over it in Otago, it is something of a shock to learn that Government has felt compelled to stop work an it because there seems to be no adequate reason for going on, and that its action has been strongly approved by a politician who knows so much about the resources and prospects of Southland and Otago as Mr Hanan.

We are, of course, aware that Mr Hanan has always been an advocate of the Heriot Roxburgh connection, to which Dunedin objects on the ground that it would draw the Central Otago fruit trade , towards Southland. But the point is, that while Dunedin has been for years past "barracking" actively for the Law-rence-Roxburgh connection, there has been so much room for difference of opinion about the route that a well-known public man familiar with the requirements of the district can denounce the project as "a shameless waste of public money," and that Government has actually felt compelled to intervene and stop the work of construction. It will be interesting to discover how much public money has already been thrown away upon this futile and extravagant scheme. Even last year, the LawrenceRoxburgh line, in spite of the keen competition for railway votes, was able to secure £30,000, while the KawakawaGrahamtown line got only £40,000, and the Gisborne-Rotorua linp only £00,000. Mr Hanan declares that the route originally authorised was shorter and cheaper, and would have opened up valuable country, nnd he considers that the line just stopped was altogether "an unwarranted item of expenditure." Yet this is the line that Otago has forced upon public attention for years past as one of the projects absolutely necessary to its development, nnd on this plea has extracted large votes from Government, while other railways with undoubted claims for consideration have been ignored. The whole incident is a very depressing commentary on the system by which the i'ublic Works fund is distributed here. There is far too general a tendency to subordinate the public interests of the whole country to purely local considerations, and to the necessity for securing votes. It is nothing less "than scandalous that at a time when Government finds it necesary to retrench and economise on every hand, claims such Sts these should be bolstered up by local agitations, and the State Treasury should be thus shamelessly plundered to satisfy selfish, parochial prejudices and imaginary needs. We hope that the Government will not be content with what they have done in this case, but that they will carefully investigate the conditions under which all our railways are being constructed, and will ruthlessly strike out all projects whicli do not appear to be immediately required in the public interest.

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UNNECESSARY RAILWAYS. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 85, 10 April 1909

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