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The Evening Star FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 1889.

Though the political quidnuncs at the seat of Government prognosticate an „ I’* 10 . . uneventful and short session, we Programme think that their anticipations * are not likely to be fulfilled. The Address which tho new Governor delivered yesterday presents no startling features, but it provides material that should give our legislators employment for many weeks to come, and the indications are sufficient to warrant tho belief that private members, unless they arc restrained, will find no difficulty in filling out time in ventilating theft crotchets. It remains to bo seen whether the Government will faro better this year in their attempts to restrain tho flood of talk and to break down Hie tactics of small irresponsible minorities, who purposely waste time and clog the wheels of the legislative machine in the hope of attaining notoriety. It lias been found necessary all over the world to afford protection to tho majority in Parliament, so that the will of a nation shall find embodiment in law wilh reasonable Speed, and wo know of no reason why this Colony should bo almost alone in granting immunity to tho windbag or professional stoncwaller. What tho country wants from its Parliament is simply honexi wort. Ministers arc fairly entitled to take credit for having restored the financial credit of tho Colony, which to-day stands higher than it has clone for many years. They assumed office charged with tho duty of maintaining tho equilibrium between revenue and expenditure—living within our income, to adopt a more homely phrase ; and a vigorous policy of retrenchment, that has not impaired the efficiency Of the I’ubiio Service, though it has in some respeotn curtailed the enjoyment of minor privileges, has enabled them to fulfil their pledges in this respect. Tho surplus of £72,000, whieh lias been semi • officially announced, will, wo venture to think, be found on examination to come mainly from the increased Customs dues levied last year; and it is not consoling to hear, despite the unmistakeable signs of expanding trade and the return of prosperity, that there is no intention of reducing any of tho burthens of taxation. True, the Property Tax is to be amended “ with a view to removing “ objections, which experience has shown “ can reasonably be done”; but the Premier’s fondness for his pet measure, which enables him to obtain the sinews of war with little trouble or friction, will hot permit of many crumbs of comfort Coming from that source. Indeed, we are frankly told that “ the state of tho Colony’s finances ” renders material relief from that quarter very problematical. The improved state of trade and the gradual settlement of the laud are noted with satisfaction, and the reference to “ the largo amount "of capital expended in industries which have “ been found remunerative” may bo accepted as alluding to the spurt that flax dressing has lately received, and to the steady expansion of the dairying industry, which is rapidly coming to the front. After all, agriculture in its varied branches will be the mainstay of this country, and the Government will do signal service by creating at the earliest possible moment a portfolio of Agriculture, and directing its holder to foster and encourage the industry by every legitimate means. There arc numerous ways in which this can be done, to the undoubted advantage of ono of the most important sections of tho community. Except in regard to one or two matters, of which we shall hear somethiagby-and-bye,theadminh> tration of the Land Department has been highly creditable, and the Minister in charge is deserving of commendation. Concerning the future administration of the railways, we have frequently said that the new Board are entitled to a fair trial, and that the Chief Commissioner and his colleagues have shown a disposition to study the public convenience in a way that augurs well for tho success of what, after all, is an experiment. Legislative reform occupies a large share of the Speech, as it will necessarily do of tho attention of Parliament. The Upper House, as at present constituted, is not only completely out of tonch with public opinion, but It is notorious that the Government are in such a decided minority there that their measures are often subjected to ungenerous treatment. Ministers have a right to expect that policy Bills shall be discussed on their merits, and would doubtless take measures to strengthen their position in that Chamber were it not that their hands are tied, so to speak, by their repeated pledge not to make any nominations while the relative numerical proportion ul the two branches la not leriously disturbed. But seeing the large jirnnber of members who h-v/e been removed during the past two years, or are physically incapable of discharging their duties, and that* tho provincial districts are anything but fairly represented now, it is a moot question whether the Government should I |) 9 allowed to re-eseroitft t'am power of

nomination. That the Counoil must bo brought more in touch with public opinion goes without saying, but whether the Lower House should nominate to fill future vacancies, or whether a wider constituency than the members of the representative Chamber have should elect for a specified number,of years—-eight or ten—ls ft questibfi that will, we imagine, bo ultimately relegated to the constituencies for determination. Our opinion has always been in favor of the latter, and the experience of Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia goes to show that it has none of the evils so often ascribed to it. The Government will, we fancy, have considerable difficulty la persuading the House to adopt their modification of the Hake system, not because it has not inherent merits or will not achieve the principal result claimed for it, of returning men who aim at statesmanship instead of men with “ ward ” ideas, but because it is not “ understood of the people” ( and they must be educated Up to ft, before such a large reform can be successfully attempted. Respite the change of front on the part of many members, who supported the reduction of members when they thought their own scats were beyond peril of enlargement or extinction, there is the strongest reason for thinking that that reform will not ho disturbed ; hut wo fancy that tho combination of country members in favor of increasing the “quota” will bo oo strong (luil Ministers will bo obliged to make terms with ilium. There, is no need, an we pointed out in a recent issue, for an appeal to tlie country at this juncture, and every means mast he adopted to avert such a contingency, As a set-oil' to increasing the “ quota,” Ministers might fairly call on the country party to vote for the amalgamation of the city constituencies, which is almost universally demanded; and a compromise of that sort would get over the fancied difficulty. We have not room in this article to deal with the questions of Civil Service reform, Charitable Aid reform, and remodelling the Bankruptcy Law, bA.t shall take them iip latcr. , We see n'othfng in the Ministerial programme to excite even the suspicion that the Government have trouble ahead of them. The Opposition are practically disorganised —without a leader under whose banner its divergent sections Would unite, except for the solitary purpose of ejecting the present occupants of the Treasury Bench—and the Government have not been guilty of any sins of commission or omission that afford pegs on which to hang a want-of-confidenco motion. There will unquestionably be a good deal of guerilla warfare—not objectless, however, because those who intend waging it want to prove that “ one man policy ” exists, and is a menace to the State ; but wo opine that some'af Sir Harry's colleagues have long since emerged from their political apprenticeship, and arc capable of demonstrating their claims to statecraft. Any way, the political barometer now reads “settled weather, - and Ministers will have only themselves to blame if they so shape their measures or conduct as to raise such a storm as may strand or wreck their bark.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890621.2.7

Bibliographic details

The Evening Star FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 1889., Issue 7939, 21 June 1889

Word Count
1,341

The Evening Star FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 1889. Issue 7939, 21 June 1889

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