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The Evening Star MONDAY, JUNE 17, 1889., Issue 7935, 17 June 1889
The Evening Star MONDAY, JUNE 17, 1889.
Mr Fish’s favorite axiom, “Circumstances alter cases,” was A Martyr to never more . fu % illuS ‘ Circumstances, tratecl than in his speech on Friday night. He went up to Wellington last session as an opponent of the Government, hut “ circumstances ” converted him into o supporter; and he is going up this time as a Government supporter, leaving a back-door open for ’verting again, if “ circumstances ” favor another change of front. Most strange of all his avowals is, that his “attitude to the Government ” will lie mainly influenced by their proposals regarding the Otago Central Railway, “ and their “disposition to do justice to this “ portion of the Colony in connection “ with that work.” Wonders will never cease. The force of public opinion combined, perhaps, with his inspection of the country beyond Dunedin has cleared his vision in respect to this important work. But let us not too curiously inquire into the cause of his conversion in this matter. There is more joy over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety-ancl-nine just men ; and therefore we gladly hail the “ circumstances,” whatever they may bo, which have caused the reclamation of Mr Fish from the error of his ways. Very remarkable is the prudential and semi-Conservative tone —induced possibly by his association with tho supporters of the party in power during the latter portion of last session—which is conspicuous in Mr Fish’s latest delivery. He was less blatant, and more reasonable than heretofore. Long may this mood continue! He disapproves of the appointment of the Railway Commissioners, but will not judge too hastily “asto what will be the result.” He strongly disapproves of Judge Ward having been passed over in tho appointment of a new Judge ; hut not wishing to disturb tho prestige of the judicial bench by harsh criticism of the appointment made, ho will not pursue the matter farther. This is very kind of him, and it is to be presumed that the “judicial bench” will feel correspondingly thankful. He believes that there is really a “ surplus,” hut very properly attributes it to extra taxation, and, in a lesser degree, to the prosperity of theOolony. Hewill not attempt to eject the present Government “for party purposes ” ; but if they bring down anything of which he does not approve—that is to say, if “ circumstances alter cases”—he will withdraw his patronage from them, especially if they are likely to be beaten. There is a great deal of high-toned political morality of this kind about Mr Fish’s speech. Indeed, it is a masterpiece in its way ; and, as he binds himself to nothing; positively, his constituents cannot hereafter tax him with broken promises or violated pledges. This is a safe course to take. For once, Mr Fish does not talk about party, because lie recognises, what must be apparent to everyone, that party, in any true sense of the word, there is none. The Parliament is at present a seething chaos of conflicting opinions, and Mr Fish is much too sharp a tactician to hamper himself with pledges that might trammel him when tho inevitable hurly-burly, awaiting all Governments, comes about. The proposals in the new Electoral Bill do not find favor in Mr Fish’s eyes. The Hark system, or any modification of it, is specially distasteful to him. He contemplates with uneasiness the amalgamation of the City electorates, though why he should include Ravensbourne and Opoho amongst them is a puzzle. But the reason of his distaste to the proposal is not far to seek. It is so obvious that it may be left to the reader to conjecture. If all Dunedin were made one electorate there would certainly be some names missing from the next Parliamentary roll, and others found there which are now missing. Contrary to Mr Fish, we believe the time has come when all local matters should be dealt with by local bpdies, when local government should be
expanded anti strengthened, and when local considerations should not hr mailers for Parliamentary interference. The business of Parliament is to enact laws, and its attention should not. lie distracted from this paramount duty, nor its deliberations influenced by matters savoring of the parish pump. Father he has been wrongly reported, or be lias made a terrible slip, in saying that “ some of “the country representatives had to “ ride a thousand miles to contest their “ present seats/' Considering that it is only about that distance from Invercargill to Auckland, it is to be supposed that he meant to say “ one hundred,” which is a little within the mark. But one thing he seems to have lost sight of is that “country representatives ” will have to ride about double Dint distance if the number of members is reduced, which is a sore point with them just now. > Upon some minor points the member for Dunedin South seems to he in accord with public opinion. Certainly the Charitable Aid Bill is a muddle—“cumbrous in the extreme” —and requires judicious amendment; as also docs the Education Bill. The Property Tax does not commend itself to the judgment of a large section of the colonists, because it is “a tax upon improvements, industry, and thrift ” ; and a land tax would be a more judicious mode of levying revenue, because, by its operation, the man who makes two blades of grass grow where one grows now would not be discouraged, for he would pay no more than he who allows the one blade to perish. The Fair Bent Bill, under proper restrictions against fraud, would bo a boon to the country. And the reform of the Legislative Council, howsoever effected, would alsobe a great boon to the country. Once or twice the Council has so acted as to deserve well of the country; but the members represent only themselves, and many of them have been, in the past, improperly and unfortunately appointed. One thing more. The chairman of the meeting acted with wisdom when he very peremptorily refused to allow Mr Cairns to put certain questions to the member for Dunedin South. There is a time for all things, and the time for this thing has gone past. At the last election such issues might have been properly pressed, but that opportunity was not taken advantage of, and the lapse of time that has since occurred puts the matter out of court. In saying so much we do not at all admit that the questions sought to be put have ever boon “ satisfactorily answered ”; but we deprecate the vendetta which Alr Cairns sought to prosecute on Friday night.
The Evening Star MONDAY, JUNE 17, 1889., Issue 7935, 17 June 1889
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