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OTAGO CENTRAL RAILWAY EXTENSION BILL.

THE OPPOSITION LEADER SUPPORTS IT.

MR PYKE SATISFIED. {From Ora Parliamentary Reporter.] WELLINGTON, July 5. The Premier, in moving the second reading of the above Bill, said that the principle of making railways on the land grant system had already been affirmed by Parliament. The principle had been acknowledged in the case of the Manawatu and Midland Railways, and it had also been admitted by large majorities in the case of the Otago Central Railway. But in connection with the laßt-named work a considerable section of the House was not satisfied with the proposal to give away land in the centre of Otago, fearing that the mining inuustry might be very seriously crippled by the Crown lands passing into private hands. The Government therefore undertook that during the recess they would try and devise a means for the prosecution of this railway. As he said in his Financial Statement, they had made up their minds not to ask for any fresh loan. The Government had, however, seen their way to make such aproposal, which he thought would effect the object the House had in view, because it had distinctly declared that this railway ought to be constructed in a large measure out of the lands whiehjwould be benefited by it. The Government felt that there was a great deal of force in the contention that it would be unwise to part with lands that were auriferous or might be so; and, therefore, they had devised a means of getting over that difficulty. What the_ Bill proposed to do was simply this: that reasonable amounts arising from the rents from the runs that would be benefited by this railway should be set apart permanently until the work now proposed to be executed was executed. He thought that that plan would commend itself to all reasonable and prudent members of the House, and was a preferable plan to giving away the land. The first point of consideration was : Could they afford to set aside from the Consolidated Revenue theLls,ooo annually required for this purpose ? He did not think it was . necessary to go into any lengthy argument to show that we could. It had been shown by the Financial Statement that this amount could prudently be set aside for this important work.—(Hear.) He confessed that the Government could not see their way to sotting apart a larger amount for this work ; but f£ey were anxious to do what was prudent in the matter. He was anxious not to raise doubts in anyone's mind that this was a bona fide proposal, or that the Government were . merely anxious t) take from the Consolidated Fund a reasonable amount for the construction of this work, but at the same time were providing a sum which would enable the line to be construsted in a reasonable time. He hoped that the revenue might expand, so that they might be enabled hereafter to set apart a larger sum. He (the Premier) must now ask members to go back to the fact that this House had already more than once declared that the line ought to be constructed out of land in the neighborhood, and he would call their attention to the saorifice of almost the same amount of pastoral rents having already been made in the case of the Canterbury pastoral runs for the construction of the Nelson-Canterbury line. ' Then it was proposed to set apart another L 15.000 out of the unallotted L 70.000, which was struck out of last year's loan, the proposal of the Government at that time being to devote it to immigration. A portion of that L 70.000 had been expended on , various works, but there still. remained L 35.000. If the House agreed to set apart the L 15.000 asked for there would in October be some L 30.000 for starting, as it were, the railway tiust account, and by the end of two years—the time which it would take to construct the first contract—via., to Hyde—there would be no less than L 60.000 available with wbioh to pay an estimated amount of L90.0C0. Then provision was made in the Bill for obtaining advances from the Government on the rents which might become due from the adjacent lands. This was a safe and very wise investment. Ho hoped that the Bill would prove generally acceptable to members, because it seemed to him a reasonable way of getting out of a difficulty whioh had in the past proved serious, and would remain a serious difficulty till it'wasj disposed of. He wished also to poinHeutJ as ie had mentioned in his memorandum gircnlated with the Bill, that if the railway

were extended to Eweburn, an additional thirty-eight miles, it would command a traffic sufficient to pay beyond working expenses interest on the L 200,000, the estimated cost of this extension, with a reasonable expectation that at no distant date a substantial surplus would be forthcoming. The extension of the line would also give great assistance to some 15,000 or 20,000 deserving settlers. Having personally visited the district, he could testify that the railway would open up, not only a large mining district, but an agricultural and fruit country, with a soil of a very fertile nature. All that was required was irrigation. In conclusion he remarked that, as between L 40.000 and L 60,000 was being derived as revenue from pastoral lands in the district to be benefited by the railway, the sum asked for under the Bill was a very reasonable one. The Hon. Mr Ballance said that while no doubt it was inexpedient to raise a loan for the extension of the Otago Central Railway, the means devised for its construction by this Bill should receive the approval of hon. members. It was a great advantage compared with the proposals of last year, which entailed the sacrifice of lands to the value of a quarter of a million. He regretted that the information now before the House had not been before it two years ago ; for, if the Premier's memo, meant anything at all, it meant that it was not j expedient to carry this railway beyond Eweburn.

The Premier : No; Ido not say that. The hon. gentleman has misunderstood me. What I propose is that Eweburn shall be the terminus to which at present I see my way to carry the line. The Hon. Mr Ballance took that to be the real essence of the case. The line would not be taken beyond Eweburn. He was perfectly willing to support the Bill if the Premier saw his way to lose L 15,000 a-year from the Consolidated Revenue. The Premier : Yes, I do.

Mr Ballance was glad to hear that the revenue was so good and the prospects of its expansion so satisfactory. He was sure that Mr Pyke, who had done such_ meritorious wbrk in connection with this line, would be perfectly satisfied with the point to which the line was to be taken. It seemed to be a fair and reasonable proposal, and the best solution of the difficulty. He quite agreed with the Premier that the security was ample for the purpose, and had much pleasure in supporting the Bill. Mr Pyke would very much like to say a few words respecting the Bill. He accepted it as a hungry man accepted half a slice when he could not get a whole loaf. — (Laughter.) In the first place, he desired to say that the Premier had kept his promise. He had visited the country, and had brought down a measure which was likely to commend itself to the acceptance of the House. The part of Otago which he was interested in was not tapped, but the line as represented in the Bill, and the Premier would not, he hoped, be offended if he said it, did not quite satisfy him. He (Mr Pyke) would bo sure to get into trouble from his struggling friends in the Molyneux Valley, inasmuch as the Bill stopped in tne middle of the Maniototo Plains. When they visited Central Otago ho had tried to explain to the Premier and Minister of VVorks what he meant by the expression that the Dunstan Flat was the gate to the interior, and until that point was reached this line could never be expected to [ perform the work that was anticipated from it. He desired to call the attention of the House to the following remarks by the Railway Commissioners:—" Apart from the direct paying results of the line, the extension of it to Eweburn will enhance the value of the largest and most valuable estate of Crown lands in the colony," Now, the Chief Commissioner of Railways, who had been one of those to make these remarks, had solemnly denounced the line last session.— (An Hon. Mem her : "He's independent now.") That was probably the i reason. Last session Mr M'Kerrow wrote to order; now he expressed his own feelings. Although not perfectly satisfied with the Bill, because it did not go far enough, ho (Mr Pyke) was satisfied that the beneficial results of making the line to Eweburn would be so great that it would carry itself all the rest of the way, and the work of his life would then be practically done. For fourteen years he had persistently advocated the* construction of this line, and he knew that he could not get his passport to another world till he had driven the last spike of the railwny at Lake Hawea. (A Voice ; " Which world," and roars of laughter.) The hoa. gentleman proceeded, amid cheers, to say that he had not pressed the construction of the line by a syndicate or otherwise in the hope of any personal gain, but because he saw a vast tract of country adapted for settlement in a state of absolute desolation. The land, he asserted, was " full of the vine —rich in its products"; and he knew of no tract of country in the world so capable of growing the olive and the mulberry. He accepted the Bill, and in doing so could not do less than thank the Premier for the honorable performance of his promise which he made to the House last year. Mr John M'Kenzie, as one who had always opposed the wild schemes previously made in the House for the construction of this railway by the hon. gentleman who had just sat down, said that the Bill now before the House had his support, and in doing so he wished to congratulate the Premier and the Government on the way they had approached the subject. As one who had always advocated the construction of the railway to the centre of the Maniototo Plains, he had no hesitation in saying that this Bill was the proper one. He agreed withthe Premier that by extending the line to Eweburn it would serve a large number of industries and useful persons, and would enable what was really a large waste at present to be occupied by industrial settlers. He further said that he knew of no portion of New Zealand where irrigation could be better carried out than in this Maniototo Plain, and all that was wanted to make it thoroughly productive was water in the dry season. He defended Mr M'Kerrow, saying that that gentleman had always been in favor of making the railway to tho centre- of the Maniototo Plains ; but was opposed to the proposal to make it to Lake Wanaka. He (the speaker) had much pleasure in supporting the measure now before the House, because he thought it was a good solution of the difficulty. Dr Hodgkinson said he should call for a division and record his protest against the Bill if he could only find a second teller to aot with him.

Mr Downie Stkwaet said that the thanks of the Otago members were due to the Government for the instalment of justice they were obtaining in the present Bill. At present a large amount of money was lying idle, and it was in the interest of the whole colony to see the line completed to Ewebarn.

Mr Moss had always supported the Otago Central Railway, but thought the present Bill was as objectionable as any measure it was possible to conceive, because half a million of money had been spent in consequence of the railway being begun at the wrong end. But that was no reason why L 200.000 more should be expended. He objected to L 15.000 being taken annually from the Consolidated Revenue, and also to the power given to the Government to borrow money for the Trust Fund. These were objectionable provisions, as they gave the Government power over the district. Was the Otago Central to be the only combination ? He hoped to see a North Auckland combination for the construction of the north of Auckland railway. This 3ill was opening a new door to the corruption of public opinion which had been brought about by successive Governments by way of loon. At 10.30 the debate was adjourned till Tuesday. The measure will receive some slight opposition, probably from the Auckland members, but its passage through the Lower House by a substantial majority is assured.

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Bibliographic details

OTAGO CENTRAL RAILWAY EXTENSION BILL., Evening Star, Issue 7952, 6 July 1889

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OTAGO CENTRAL RAILWAY EXTENSION BILL. Evening Star, Issue 7952, 6 July 1889

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