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THE OTAGO CENTRAL., Issue 7964, 20 July 1889
THE OTAGO CENTRAL.
Provincial and local jealousies have not yet been stamped out. We have "scotched but not killed the snake," as Byron puts it. This is rendered apparent by the treatment accorded to the Otago Central Railway Bill Had the Government put it through at once after its introduction, it would have been carried almost without question. Delays are proverbially dangerous, and in this case we have what is now a perfect, and may perchance be to us a painful, illustration of the proverb. As a result of the delay which has taken place through the inertness of Ministers, applications of all kinds are cropping up in all quarters for more railways. Glancing over the Order Papers of the House, we find first a motion by Mr C. Smith inquiring if the Government will bring in a Bill to provide for the making of the railway line between Eketahuna and Woodville " on similar terms " to those proposed in connection with the Otago Central Railway. Then Mr Ward next day asked if the Government would bring in a Bill to continue the Seaward Bush Railway "on similar terms." Mr Duncan wanted to know if provision would be made for the extension of the Hakateramea Railway "on similar terms," and daily the list is increasing. Now, in the first place, it would be interesting to have a definition of the phrase " similar, terms," which seems to have stereotyped itself on the Legislative mind. It is delightfully vague and inconsequential, " signifying nothing." "The country through " which the Otago Central Railway runs '' is all Crown land; and, secondly, it " yields a revenue from the Taieri to " Eweburn alone." Can these things be affirmed of any or either of the other lines mentioned 1 Certainly not. In the case of the one line it may be said that taking into account the revenue derived from the occupants, in the shape of pastoral rents only, the land will make the line, leaving payments for other lands, sold or leased, still remaining as general revenue. Of the other lines, this can be asserted of neither the one nor the other. To construct them, therefore, " on similar terms" would mean relegating their construction to an infinite distance.
What then, we may ask, is the meaning of placing such awkward questions on the Order Paper 1 Is it the outcome of a Parliamentary cabal to prevent the line from being made at all 1 We confess it bears that semblance. There is but an abbreviated report of to-day's proceedings for our guidance; but so far as that will help to judge, the forced debate on Mr Smith's question above referred to appears to have been of a very acrimonious description. The Wellington members, Dr Newman andMrSTUARTMenteath, were excessively bitter in their diffusively unintelligent remarks ; aad Mr Seddon, of West Coast notoriety, fairly surpassed himself by the vindictive tone of his speech. The supporters of the Bill answered not, which was judicious. As Sir H. Atkinson said in his brief reply, the arguments used by the opponents of the line could be easily confuted, but that was not the time to do it. It was only a side issue on a question of adjournment, and the time to reply would be on the second reading. There is some agitation in Dunedin amongst the friends of the Bill and the line; but we are not disposed to believe that there is any reason to doubt the sincerity of Sir Harry Atkinson. He means to put the Bill through, but he will choose his opportunity fordoing so. Public meetingswill not help the matter now in the smallest degree, but, on the contrary, may do considerable harm by exciting other communities and districts to insist on their railways also being proceeded with. The delay that has taken place was a blunder, but haste now that the blunder has been perpetrated will only make things worse. We have no desire to drift into a fresh loan ; and if from all quarters there arises a Babel of demands for more public works, a fresh loan, which means increased taxation, will be inevitable. We in Otago have waited long and patiently for a line to open up the rich lands of the interior. Surely Parliament will concede the very trifling favor now asked, and allow us, our sons and daughters, to enjoy our own without further provocation or any more beating about the bush.
THE OTAGO CENTRAL., Issue 7964, 20 July 1889
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