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NOTES., Issue 7904, 11 May 1889
The last advices from the grain markets of Sydney and Melbourne show The fconsuiuer most conclusively that the Pays, burden of Protection falls on tho consumer. By the Victorian Tariff d duty of 2s per 1001b is levied on flour and .wheat, and all kinds of grain, bran, etc. In New Siouth Wales all these are admitted free. And this is how it works out in practice: -Imported flour is LI per ton dearer in Melbourne than in Sydney, wheat is Is per bushel dearer, oats 6d per bushel, bran 4d, and so on throughout the list. Now who pays the difference ? Not the importer; for he gets, as nearly as possible, the same price in either port. The difference to the Victorian consumer is made up by the import duty, and increased profits on the enhanced cost thereby created. Not the producer from New Zealand, who obtains equal prices in either port, failing which lie would send all his corn to the market in which he could command the highest price. The Victorian operative, therefore, has to pay an extra price for his daily bread, and the purchasing power of his wages is correspondingly reduced. There are duties on flour and wheat in New Zealand ; but they yield nothing to the revenue, because our people can supply, not only this Colony, but our neighbors, and Britain also, with the " staff of life." They may as well, therefore, be abrogated, for their mere presence on the Statute Book is an implied slur en the capabilities of the country. But to the Victorian the impost of two shillings per cental means a charge of one penny for every loaf of bread he consumes, which is rather a heavy penalty to pay for the blessings of Protection. South Australia levies equal duties with Victoria on flour and grain, but excepts wheat imported overland, which is admitted duty free, a I process by which she attracts to her markets the produce of the New South Wales and Victorian borders. As South Australian grain heads the record for quality, she ! incurs no risk from foreign competition; but the case of the sister colony is different. However, there is nothing like consistency ; and, if the artisan is coddled with protective duties, so should the food-producer be, The one pays more for his locally manufactured goods, the other pays more for his food, and neither is enriched in the long run,
The Professor of Chemistry is still pursuing his researches for tin in Stewart I J* t Island, and the University Strayed, students, for whose instruction he is specially engaged, are awaiting his return with what grace they may. Why he should be permitted to roam at large on his own private and peculiar business, to the neglect of his educational duties, is not explained, and scarcely can be explained satisfactorily. If all the other professors were to absent themselves after the same fashion, how would the work of the University go on? Either Professor Black is wanted in his proper place, or he is not wanted at all. It is a little too much that he should be allowed to absent himself during the University session, leaving his students in the lurch. It is urged that they will not ouffor in his absence j but this is such a cruel apology that we hesitate to endorse it. Really, it is not the Professor who is so much to blame as the University Council, In what way can these gentlemen reconcile it with their obligations to the students or the public to allow the occupant of an important chair to absent himself from his post ? Tin mines may be very good things, but Professor Black is not paid to prospect the country. Plenty of more practical miners can be got to do that sort of work at half the cost. Either he has mistaken his vocation, or the Council have appointed the wrong man to the professorial chair. It is about time that he made his election between Stewart Island and the University, and it is more than time that those who are intrusted with the charge of that institution put a stop to his vagaries. There is not another professor to whom anything like the same latitude would be allowed ; and there is no sufficient reason why an exception should be made in the case of Professor Black.
Ok what value are the agricultural statistics just sent forth? They were Bokub compiled from imperfect inforStatlstlcs. mation—mere guess work, in fact—in February last, and their issue has been delayed until the results of the harvest have disproved their accuracy. From one point of view this is rather fortunate than otherwise, because the crops were very much under-estimated, as we know now, and publication at an earlier period might have operated injuriously. But under no circumstances could such purely speculative returns be beneficial. They were, and as a rule always are, taken at a period when it is utterly impossible to arrive at a correct estimate. Constables are sent all over the country to collect the returns when the harvest is green, clerks are set at work to collate them, and finally they are sent out when the harvest has been gathered, and the returns are worse than useless. All this means the wasteful expenditure of public money, and the publication of misleading statistical returns. Could not these precious statistics be collected at a more reasonable time, so as to furnish a safe and trustworthy record of our harvests ? That time is surely after and not before the harvest has been garnered. The value of correct information on this subject is very great, and in exact proportion to its value is the worthlessneßS of the fancy figures ostentatiously paraded under the present absurd system as " Agricultural statistics." We do not know which Minister is responsible for this, but the Registrar-General should be admonished to set about the collection of his returns at a more suitable season.
The apologists of the educated larrikins who figured so prominently and bo indeooroußlyatthe University commencement are, we are glad to believe, preoious few outside of the " inner circle," who declare that the bulk of the students were more sinned against than sinners on that occasion. Their opinions are voiced by the l University Review,' which asserts that the condemnation of the public and PreßS was founded on imperfect information, and was therefore unjust. "The fact is," it says, "that the disturbance was caused by i very few persons. These persons were really not students at all. A few raw boys, entirely unconnected with the University, and perhaps one or two very juvenile and somewhat too volatile first year men, were responsible for the whole disturbance. The unpleasant noise was certainly not caused by the bona fide students, who were perfectly well-behaved, and appeared somewhat disgusted at the unmeaning vagaries of the boy rioters." The excuse is extremely lame. To call the studied attempt to drown the utterances of the lecturer an " unpleasant noise " is surely a misuse of terms, and to say that it was conceived and carried out by a parcel of boys is—to use a very mild expression—to doubt the evidence of one's eyes. There were very "old boys," indeed, among the disturbers, and it behoved them, out of respect to themselves as men, if they do not attach much value to the good name of the University, to have suppressed the "noisily" disposed. The.' Review' says, too, that " a certain amount of liberty must be given to the students." We do not object to that; but there must be good care taken that that liberty does not degenerate, as it has done at more than one academic function, into lioense. The public look to the University men to comport themselves on all occasions and at all times as gentlemen, otherwise higher education fails in one of its essentials. There may be something in the suggestion that the commencement should be postponed for a week, to enable the students to take concerted action for the preservation of order; and, if they are willing to do so, the University authorities may possibly see their way to aoting on the hint. Let us hope that similar " unpleasant noises " will not be heard, because if they are we tell the students very plainly that the public voice will demand that somebody shall be taught a wholesome lesson.
A Lame Excuse.
It is sincerely to be hoped that Sir Robert Stout, while Aohillea-like he - M . , sulks in his tent, is not going to Muni»n&. atart ft Byßtem o f. epistolary comment upon political affairs. He never appears to more advantage than in
ibis" capacity; His letter to Mr Joyce is a deferable exhibition of pedagogic superiority, ceflSorio'ustiesa, atod spleen. One of the worst services S(ir filobert Stoat can do to New Zealand politics is c'tfntinM perpetration of twaddle about "the 1 liberal party." Why he should strive to galvanls* into life a party distinction which does not really exist is inconceivable, unless the knowledge that he has largely forsaken what he termed Liberalism makes him doubly anxious t# preserve the name. What are the distinctive principles of this "Liberal party " ? Seemingly ihefr He in a oomplete abrogation of all that is ti&ttlttiaalf meant by Liberalism. Retrenchment So be one of the watchwords of Liberalism, but its place is taken in Sir Robert's philosophy by extravagance, Vogelism, carle blanche in Ministerial travelling expenses, grants of land to Midland Railway, etc., etc. One would imagine that a sense of the utter incongruousness of the thing would prevent the ex-Premier from trying to identify the cause which suffered defeat in September, 1887, with political Liberalism.
"To exclude Sir Robert Stout from the
political sphere would be like Ditto! depriving the earth of the light of the sun or 3pring of its
flowers!" So writes our correspondent Mr E. 8. Mantz, and then, by a natural sequence, drops into poetry. No doubt it is a sad confession, but we really cannot work ourselves into the expected pitch of patriotic exaltation. We are told that " we must appeal to his (Sir Robert's) heart, his patriotism, and his deep-rooted sympathies for the working classes, and urge him on behalf of the community at large to forget past injuries," etc., etc. It is perhaps too bad to bring such a very prosaic force as common sense to bear upon Mr Mantz's almost lyrical periods; but we must take leave to observe that he takes for granted the existence of " past injuries," and that this is a mere arbitrary assumption/ The friends of every defeated candidate at an election may look upon his rejection as an " injury," but when they openly assert it to be so they are simply guilty of impertinence to those "democratic institutions" for whose interests Mr Mantz is so zealous. To lay down the law as to what a constituency ought to have done is an intolerable instance of undemocratic autocracy. We have no liking for the false Liberalism which practically says " Vote according to your own convictions and for the man who is likely to serve you best, but this is the man you must vote for." Depend upon it the electors of Dunedin East knew their own business best, and his friends do Sir Robert Stout a bad turn when they assert the contrary. We have no wish "to exclude Sir Robert Stout from the political sphere," though we cannot enter into the spirit of Mr Mantz's analogies from Nature, and though we certainly do not regret the needed reverse of 1887. It is Sir Robert who is now excluding himself from that sphere, for reasons which are, doubtless, adequate ; and we are inclined to sympathise with nim when supporters, more zealous than discreet, do their best to render him ridiculous by their dithyratnbic appeals. Let Sir Robert eschew letter-writing on politics, and try to induce his eager friends to do likewise.
NOTES., Issue 7904, 11 May 1889
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