THE SOUTHERN CROSS. Tuesday, December 30, 1856.
LUCBO NON URO.
"If I have been cxtinpruished, yet there rise A thousand beacons from the spark I bore
The primary object of the new Provincial Government would appear to be, "confusion of responsibility." We employ this expression. Jq
preference to that which has come into more common use— "di vision of responsibility," but which is far from correctly expressing the meaning which it is now hild to convey. Division of responsibility, in its Literal sense, was part of the 5 system of the late Government, under which the heads of the various departments were interfered with as little as possible, each of them being held answerable for the conduct of his own particular department, — allowed all the credit,, but required to take all the blarae, and thus being made to feel himself an essential portion of the ' Government. This is the surest mode of stimulating public officers to exertion, a« indeed was amply proved by the result. There is no greater damper to exertion than systematic meddling. Reasonable supervision must of course be exercised, for the purpose of combining the action of the various departments; but when on<.e details are interfered with, the man who ought to be a thinker feeU himself lowered to the position of a mere mechanical agent, contenting himself with obeying orders. ADd he who once restricts himself to the limits of Jus absolute duty, will surely lapse by degrees into doing less than his duty. Let the heads of departments be made in fact what they are in name. The main responsibility — and that is no light one, which will then attach to the head of the Government, is that of putting "the right men in the right places." Under the late Government, every one knew at once upon whom to lay the blame, should blame be incurred. Under the present confusion or responsibility system, blame will be passed on from one to another, like a kick along a form by boys' at school. Firstly, we have confusion between the duties of the Executive Council, and those appertaining to thejheads of departments. These, bad been sedulously kept apart. The Superintendent has now two councils to advise with, entirely opposite in character, — an ornamental council, and a working council. The one consists of "menibers of the executive," to be consulted at pleasure, appointed and removable at pleasure, and therefore no check, — a mere fence, in fact, between the Superintendent and public opinion, interposed to shield him from its direct and immediate action; the other, by far the more important Council ,|iucluding the Provincial Secretary, or Chief Clerk,(wMchever he may happen to be termed,) the Provincial Law Officer, the Provincial Treasurer, and the President of the Board of Works, consisting of heads of departments, — with whom the Superintendent is necessarily thrown into daily communication, Unfortunately, in attempting to combine the operation of the two Councils, the ornaments interfere with the play of the machinery. He. c begins the confusion. Should anything go wrong, it is impossible for the public to ascertain where the fault really lies. When the creation of a Provincial executive Council was first proposed, under Colonel Wynyard's Superin tendency, we strenuously objected ito it, as merely tending to relieve him, in appearance, from the responsibility, in fact from the labour which he had voluntarily undertaken. Divided responsibility most surely induces carelessness, and only too often unscrupulousness. Corporations and companies — of whom it has been no less wittily than truly said that, "they have neither bodies to be kicked nor souls to be damned," are notorious for committing acts, of which perhaps no single individual composingone of them would be guilty in his private capacity. He would not venture to bear the whole brunt of it, alone, but may be not unwillingto bear his share; or, what is worse, to take bis chance of passing for one of the minority who may have opposed wrong-doing. — illos Defendit numerus, juncteeque umbone phalanges. Again, a Provincial Executive Council ,is a sham — a mere assunvng the paraphernalia of the general Government — an attempt to exalt the I Superin tendency to a position which it was never intended to hold. An attempt, we say ; forwhen the ass in the fable thought to pass himself off for alien by putting on the lion's hide, he betrayed himself by his voice. It is also a sham, as introducing a kind of half responsibility into the Provincial Council. Really responsible Provincial' Government has been attempted in the South — so far as we' can perceive, with little enough success ; but we can understand the attempt, for there is a meaning in it. In the Auckland scheme, there is none whatever. We admit, indeed, that the opposition, in the last Session, were clamorous for .Responsible Government : the Provincial Secretary told them that as he would be responsible for no man's acts but his own, if he assumed the Superintendent's responsibility, he should al-o claim the Superintendent's power; but that he felt very sure that the opposition would much sooner leave the power in the hands of Dr. Campbell, than transfer it to himself. This was a "settler" ; nothing more was heard about the matter for the rest of the Session. Dr. Campbell and his predecessor found an Executive Council imposed upon them by enactment, and complied with it, as they did with all enactments ,legal or illegal, making no exception, which had been framed within the province. But they never sought to relieve themselves still further from responsibility by making the Executive more than they found it. The Provincial Secretary told the opposition, at the commencement of the last Session, that in none of the Superintendent's Bills, as sent down, would the words "by and with the consent of the Executive Council" be introduced, because the Superintendent did not choose to propose the lightening of his own responsibility ; but that where the Provincial Council thought fit to do it for him, he had no objection. And the Provincial' Secretary offered to introduce those words wherever the opposition desired them. It is remarkable, that upon not one occasion did the opposition avail themselves of the proposal. By way of causing still further confusion of responsibility, we are told that there is no head to the present Executive in Council. .No member can now ascertain to which of them a question should be put with most propriety, or with the best chance of obtaining an answer ; nor does any member know against which of them he should direct bis attack, should be have fault to find. During the last Session, there was no difficulty at all events on* this score. All the vials of opposition wrath were poured out upon one devoted head, which, however, was never withdrawn from u.ider them. We have always admitted that an Executive Council was a most useful piece of machinery for carrying Government Bills through Council. A better invention could probably have been devised, but this one serves the purpose well enough. This is the proper function of the Executive, beyoTid which neither of the two last Superintendents ever proposed to lead it But this very function has been abdicated by the present Executive. They withdraw from the introduction of the most difficult measure of the Session, — the Land Regulations, — a measure winch requires knowledge, not verbiage, for its effective support — and hand it over to an abler member. They exonerate themselves from the very duty that specially and properly belongs to them. After this, comes another attempt, and from aft unexpected quarter, to avoid responsibility.
The Provincial Law Officer objected to being designated by that appellation in Council, (which, j however, with all due deference, is the right one) as having nothing to do there with the Government. We ask, for what does he draw a salary equal in amount to that received by heads of departments, unless he be an integral part of the Provincial Government, in Council or out of [Council, wherever he may bo actiDg in a public capacity. It is customary in England, and in other colonios, to appropriate a much smaller salary for a law officer than for other officials of equal rank, because his work is supposed to be not equally severe — certainly not continuous, and because he is supposed to be in the enjoyment of private practice. But where the salary is brougbl up to equality with the rest, the duties are correspondingly enhanced. The objection to the late law officer was, that after the appointment was conferred . upon him, he declined to take his share in the Government of the Province, confining himself to giving formal law opinions when consulted, and to drawing Bills. In this he was clearly wrong, not performing the whole of what he had undertaken to do, or the whole of what he was paid for. With this view the present law officer entirely agreed, at the time when it was mentioned to him. • Major Greenwood, in the last Session, asked the Provincial Secretary " whether the Law Officer was paid by the month or by the job." The hon and gallant member's phraseology was objected to, at the time ; but we admit that, on ' the grounds already stated, the question was pertinent enongh. By paying merely for work done, a saving would have been effected to the Province. The law officer was avoiding trouble and government responsibility, yet was paid as if he incurred both. If a public officer choses to drive a hard bargain with the Province, he must not complain if the Province act in a similar spirit towards himself. We are no curtailerg of salaries below the amount that is fairly earned. We utterly repudiate the idea of putting up offices to a kind of Dutch auction, or descending sale, conferring them upon those who will undertake the duties for the least remuneration. We desire that a man should be paid, not only for his time — the number of hours he sits before a desk, but also for his knowledge, his thoughtfulness, and the weight of responsibility he incurs. We have always thought that the attorney who charged his client in the bill for anxiety of mind was not so far from reason, provided that he really did feel what he said he felt. Where sureties are required, the principle is admitted, the salary being for the most part raised in proportion to the amount of surety that has to be provided. But, whore an office holder restricts himself to mechanical work, we hold that he ought to be paid accordingly. We have been opposed, upon many occasions, to Mr. Whitaker ; but must do him the justice to observe that when he held the position of Provincial Law Officer, he was virtually the Government. He did the woik, in propria persona ; and his £500 a year was fairly earned, because he gave an adequate return for it in time and thought. Unable to agree with some of his measures, we still allow him all due credit for pains taking, and habitual industry. Since writing the above, we find that the Law Officer has been gazetted to tho Executive Council, and may assume that he will no longer demur to taking his share of the government work, or the Government responsibility, in the Provincial Council. From his knowledge of business, and better acquaintance with the formsof Council, he will be able to save his colleagues of the Executive from committing palpable absurdities ; and having his own professional reputation at stake, will be obliged to contend against whatever proceedings- would subject hinij in supporting them, to the loss of it.
u— — — - „ We have been requested from many quarters to inform the public as to what is doing in the ] Committee appointed to consider the personation j in the Suburbs. Our Readers must perceive that it would be improper for us to publish, the proceedings of the Committee before the bringing up of the report ; but there is no objection to stating what does not take place within the Committee, or what is made known by order of the Committee. Two meetings were called by the member for the Bay of Islands, the mover of the Committee, but on account of abs^ce of members, the election of a chairman was not proceeded with. Before proceeding to business, at the next meeting, the member for the Suburbs (Mr. Merriman) suggested the appointment of a commission, to be named by the Governor, if His Excellency would consent to do so, to hear evidence and dispose of the case. The member for the Bay expressed his willingness to accede to this proposition, as relieving the Committee and the Council from a very invidious duty. It was agreed that the Committee should meet again in two days, in order to give the member for the Suburbs time to arrange with the Executive. It was therefore deemed unnecessary to proceed to the election of a Chairman. At the expiration of the two days, it appeared that the Provincial Government declined acceding to the proposition, preferring the Committee as it stood. At the fourth meeting, the Committee proceeded to business. The Council for the Petitioner has been informed that his attendance would be required on the 6th of January, 1557, — that is to.say, on the very day on which the Committee report is ordered by Council to be brought up. Upon such a fact as this, we deem it unadvisable to offer comment.
That the wife of Cassar should be above suspicion, Mr. Dry and the Editor of the ' New Zealander' have, on innumerable occasions, during the last few weeks, informed the readers of that journal. We do not deny it ; on the contrary, it is our purpose to supply what, in our opinion, is an illustration closely in point. When the present Superintendent was a candidate for offiqe, several objections were" taken to his being a fit 'and proper person, one of which was the fact of his being a contractor to a considerable extent for services required by the Provincial Government. This objection was taken up by Mr. Williamson, at several meetings, and combatted in the following, or equivalent terms: — " If elected, I need not tell those who know me that I will not compete for the government printing — will not be a contractor in any form." The declaration was received with applause, and no doubt added to the strength of Mr. Williamsons supporters. But those who heard that declaration undoubtedly regarded it as given in good faith — undoubtedly expected that its spirit, as well as its letter, should be carried out — nor probably ever dreamed that it was only given, if not absolutely to be broken like pie-crust, to be evaded by the very shallowest of subterfuges. Yet such; in our opinion, h,s been the case. Messrs. Williamson and Wilson, joint proprietors of the ' New Zealander,' do not tender, as a firm, for the printing of the Provincial Government ; but — a very palpable evasion — Mr. W. C. Wilson, one of the partners, is the tendering party. Mr. Wilson tenders nominally ; but every one is aware that Messrs. Williamson and Wilson tender virtually. Then, again, the tender for paper is on the same principle ; Mr. Williamsons partner comes to the rescue, and enables our present Superintendent ostensibly to keep the promise made in the face of the constituency. This, however, is not all. On Friday, after a gentle hint from ourselves, a copy of the tender for printing appeared in a • Provincial Government Gazette' ; this tender we had the curiosity to compare with that taken, six months previously, by the same firm. We found, much to our surprise, that the rates at which the public printing has been given for the ensuing six monthes are, in the aggregate, juat ojj?
htjndmo) and wptt-fivb »BR CBNi. higher than those at which it has been done ior the six months just ended ! We will name three items for the information of our readers : the brevier of bills and acts was, in last tender: -plain work £2 Bs., tabular, £2 165., tables £3 55. ; in the present :— plain £6 25., tabular £8 18s., tables £11 16s! In the one case, the addition of the prices is £63 9s. 3d. ; in the other, £161 12a.—labouT, be it observed, being just the same as it was six months ago, while general expenses may be presumed to be l<*s. It will doubtless be said, in extenuation of what hat xjjL.~ , commonly the appearance of a job, that the higbjuWr we allude to could not have been maintained against" competition Granted, but the fact of no other tenders having gone in should not have been taken advantage of to make the Province pay the piper ; nor is it a very encouraging prospect to parties in a position to tender, that they enter the field with the Superintendent himself as a competitoiy^who, be it observed, is after all not obliged to accept the lowest tender, but that which he may be pleased to consider as generally the most advantageous.
By the Overland mail we have Wellington papers to the 2sh and 29th ulto. The election for a" member to represent the Hutt in the. General Assembly, in lieu ot Mr. Ludlam, resigned, took place on the 27th. The candidates were Messrs. Revani and Hart, the former of whom was returned by a majority of 72— the numbers polled having been 96 and 24 respectively. The Hutt constituency consists of : between three and four hundred electors, but a large number declined to go to the poll, on the ground of not haying confidence in either candidate. Local political differences are, however, being put aside at Wellington by licit agreement, for the present, in order to ensnre the return of members who will act unanimously in the Assembly, and thereby give strength to the 'Wellington party. Mr. Revans stands pledged to oust the Stafford ministry. The organ of that party, the • Independent,' it unceasing in its attempts to diminish the confidence of the Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay electors in their representative Mr. Y. Smith — evidently hoping that another election, with a result similar to that of the Hutt, may occur. P v rom the tone of Mr. Smith's letters, in reply, such hope, however, is little likely to be realised. We observe that the ' Independent * of the 26th contains No. 5 of the series of articles upon the General Assembly. It is professedly a summary of the debate which followed Mr. Swell's enunciation of policy, but it places in very bold relief the comments of Messrs. Featherston, Fitzherbert, and Fox. Indeed the sayings and doings of those gentlemen pretty well monopolise the space which, under this heading, is afforded the readers of the • Independent ' Yet the best speech made upon that occasion was decidedly by Mr. Hall of Canterbury, which had 1 the unusual merit of not only producing a greater effect than any other upoa the House, hut also upon the gallery. Representative oratory is generally directed either to the one, or the other, and but rarely tells on both. We are informed that the report of Mr. FitzGerald's immediate resignation of the Canterbury Superintendency was incorrect.
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THE SOUTHERN CROSS. Tuesday, December 30, 1856., Daily Southern Cross, Volume XIII, Issue 992, 30 December 1856
THE SOUTHERN CROSS. Tuesday, December 30, 1856. Daily Southern Cross, Volume XIII, Issue 992, 30 December 1856
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