THE OTAGO CENTRAL.
DEFEAT OF THE BILL. A CHAMELEON STATESMAN. MR FERGUS ON THE WARPATH. [From Owe Parliamentary Reporter,j WELLINGTON. August 22. At the evening sitting of the House the debate on the second reading of the Otago Central Railway Bill was resumed by Mr Guinness (Greymouth), who withdrew the amendment of which he had given notice, that the Bill should be read a second time that day six months, as he understood that there was a general wish that it should be allowed to go into committee. Mr Smith (Woodville) moved another amendment: “That the Bill he postponed in order that the Government may have an opportunity of including it with other unlinished lines.” He strongly urged the claims of the Eketahuna-Woodville line to early completion by the Government as one which would pay handsome interest upon the capital expended. Ha blamed the Government for withholding expenditure upon that line because in their opinion it would compote with one owned by a private company, maintaining that the interests of the colony’s railways and of settlers should be of paramount consideration. Mr Grimmond (Hokitika) seconded the amendment, and advanced the claims of the Greymouth-Hokitika Railway, The Minister of Justice : I do not think I am called upon to speak at any great length, but in reference to the remark of the hon. members who have just preceded me, and who have moved and seconded this amendment, it seems to me patent to the comprehension of any hon. gentleman knowing anything at all about the geo- , graphy of the country that the cases of the Eketahuna-Woodville and Greymouth-Hokitika Railways are not at all parallel with that of the Otago Central. I think, without saying anything in disparagement of these railways, that I shall be able to show before I sit down that this Otago railway is entitled to consideration at the hands of this House. In the brief memorandum which is attached to this Bill the Premier sets forth a few of the reasons which justify and authorise the Government 1 to bring in the measure which is presented to the House; but I think I may be pardoned if I give a few facts and elaborate to some extent the arguments which the Premier has therein advanced. I think that I am competent to do so, from a very special knowledge of the district through which this railway goes, from the place where it leaves the Taieri Plain to the place ' where it must ultimately cud that is, Hawea Lake. Mr Pvke : The West Coast, Mr Fergus : The West Coast, the member for Duustan says. I have no doubt that by-and-bye it will go there. I know the country, its inhabitants, its capabilities, its resources, and so forth. Ido not speak tonight as one who is compelled by reason of certain pressure from my district to advocate the claims of this railway, because as a matter of fact the bulk of my constituents are not affected by it. The whole of the upper part of the Wakatipu electorate will not be to any considerable extent—at least it will not be served by this railway ; but I speak upon the matter as one of some considerable importance, as one which has for ten or eleven years engaged tho attention of this House. The first vote for this line, as shown by the Premier in his memo., was taken in 1878, and the hon. member for the Dunstan in that year—on the 17th June, I think it was—dug the first sod of this railway. But no one could ever have dreamt at that time —I was present at the ceremony myself—that after eleven years of weary waiting, and after the expenditure of some half a million of money, this railway should not be of any benefit at all to the people of the colony, We have had in the history of the colony examples of works being delayed, and long delayed, but we have no parallel example of a great work of this kind having been so long delayed and so drearily carried on. The House at various times and in various years has appropriated for it out of various loans, and tho entire expeuditure on it to the present time amounts to something like L 452,000, with liabilities which bring up the total cost to something like L 520,000. Anyone who will take the trouble to look at the map of the colony will see that the bulk of the railways skirt the seaboard, and that very few of them can be called settlement lines at all. This circumstance, to a great extent, is attributed to the natural features of the colony, because, especially in the South Island, and to a great extent in the North, the land for settlement is between a range of mountains and the seaboards, consequently the line; in order to connect the scattered districts, have bad to go along the seaboard from small settlement to small settlement to the large ports of exportation. There are only two lines in the colony which can legitimately be called settlement lines. The North Island Main Trunk line is one and tho Otago Central the other. But the great difference between these two lines is that the one has been laid off through lands which do not, to a very considerable extent, belong to the Crown at the present time, and the other passes through Us entire length through land which is still the property of the colony, and which is yielding very large returns. For the benefit of hon. gentlemen who may not be acquainted with the character of the country which is traversed by the Otago Central Railway, I may be allowed to put the case before them in a very few words. The railway, _ for thirty miles after it leaves the Lower Taieri, follows the course of the Taieri River. The country is rather rugged, and presents difficulties in the construction of the line. On the eastern slope the land is purely pastoral, and is bringing in a considerable rental at the present time to the Crown. On the western side, some 700 ft above the level of the railway line, there are vast table lands, which can be occupied and settled by an agricultural population. A great deal of this land is at present in the hands of the Crown also. At the end of this thirty miles the line enters the Strath Taieri Valley—a large area of agricultural laud. This agricultural land broadens out on each side ot the river, and, after going for eighteen miles or so, it goes into a little more broken country round the mining and agricultural township of Hyde. Eight or ten miles further on it reaches the Taieri Lake, and here it taps the vast Maniototo Plain referred to by the Railway Commissioners in their report as one of the most valuable estates in the hands of the Government. It is spoken of in the last paragraph. They say “ the extension of it to E.vtbiira will enhance the value of the larijest and most valuable estate of Crown lands in the colony.” The point to which the Government desire to carry this line is a few miles from the township of Naseby—or Mount Ida, I may say that a few miles beyond this point we come to the extensive Idabnrn Valley, and round the corner of tho Rugged Ridge to Manuherikia Plains. Beyond that the Dunstan Plains, and still beyond that the Upper Clutha Valley and the Cromwell and Bannockburn Valleys will be tapped by this ' railway. Two million acres of Crown lands at present occupied by pastoralists, and very rich in minerals, will be opened up and rendered
more valuable by the construction of this very Important work. If any hon. gentleman Will take his pencil in his hand and make a slight calculation he will see that if the 2,000,000 aores of land spoken of by the Railway Commissioners are to be affected in value to the extent of 2a per acre by tho construction of this railway, the whole of the oost of the loan will be reoouped, and the whole of the money sought to be spent by the Government will be restored to the coffers of the oolony. To those hon. gentlemen who say that the line traverses country whioh is of itself of little value, I have to point to this very pregnant faot: that if you take tho land contiguous to the railway in the four counties affeoted by the line according to the rentals received from this land, we find that we shall get no less a sum than L 60.000 per annum for the rentals of Crown lands and reserves therein situated. This must be a very patent fact. You cannot point to any parallel case in the wholo colony, and it is one that demands some consideration at least at the hands of the House. Not only is that the case, but we find in the counties of Taieri, Maniototo, and Vincent that there are 1,200,000 sheep and 40,000 head of cattle. These figures and facts speak for themselves in the strongest possible terms ; and,sir.notonlyisthisthecase,but I am sorry to say that in these vast interior plains, which could be made so fertile and productive, there are a few settlers only, scattered here and there, sufficient to grow grain to enable the miners to carry on their occupations, and to supply the wants of the teamsters who bring supplies into the interior. But we have somo thousands of hardworking miners who have been there for many years, and who, amidst great difficulties, have maintained themselves far away from communication with the seaboard. Well, sir, the miners in that part of the country have enriched the colony by no less than L 156.000. That was the vjluc of the yold which was taken out of tho ground by the miners in that district last year. The colony of late years has been giving very considerable attention in the way of protecting the manufacturers on the seaboard and the artizans employed in our factories by granting bonuses to the one and protection to the other ; but I fail to see where tho colony has ever to any appreciable extent, or to any extent at all, afforded protection or encouragement to the men who have done more, I venture to say, for the prosperity of the colony than any other men the miners in the interior who are occupying portions of the waste lands of the colony. Wo were told the other night, and again and again, that there are numbers of unemployed in our cities, and the Press resounds with the cry_ of distress and hard times. But you never find in the auriferous districts of the colony the cry of the unemployed. There is work there for every man who will work, and I never knew of a shilling of charitable aid bsing distributed among tho peop'c there. The fact of the matter is that in those places there is work for all,-food for all; and, in order to develop the country as it ought to be developed, I say make this railway, and the benefit of the work will be felt from the north to the south of the colony. One reason why the House should take this line into consideration is this faot, which may not be known to members of this House: that from the time you leave tho Taieri Plain until the line just touches the Hawea Lake there is not one stick of timber. There you have nothing bigger than a flax bush, except around somo homestead or digger's humble abode. There is no timber to enable the minera to develop tho auriferous drifts, cr to seek the gold that lies buried in tho numerous reefs with which this country abound*. But if weenryon thi3 railway, on which so mu.-li has been spent—half a million or more—for this thirty-eight miles further, yr-u will open the door to the timber tr-d;: from Southland, and enable all these reeh which are at present lying dormant and which arc only awaiting cheap carriage a'id appliances to be developed for the benefit not only of the interior but of the entire colony. It is a most shortsighted policy on the part of the opponents of this measure who will not allow us to take a very Email amount of the lind—2s per cent. i 3 all wc ask—to carry on this railway to some point where it will be of value to the colony. We do not ask it out of loan, but out of the rent 3 that are derived from these lands themselves. We have to congratulate ourselves, just now at least, in the South and in the Province of Wellington on tho improved prospects of the colony. They say that there is a a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune ; and there is also a tide in the affairs of young countries which, if taken at the flood, must lead on to prosperity. lam one of those who believe that the tide in the affairs of this colony has come to the flood, and we aa a 0 r.vernment wish to take advantage of it. We can now do so to our great benefit. Settlement, &s we were told the other night by the Miaister of Lands has been admitted by the Press of the colony, never was progressing at a moro rapid or more satisfactory rate than at the present time, and here we ha\c immense areas of land fit for settlement and ready for occupation. We have not to clear it of timber, as is the case elsewhere. We have simply to put on the plough—tickle it with tho hoe—to bring forth an abundant harvest. The House should not grudge the very small amount required to make tlm Hue. An Hon. Member : You have roads there. Mr Fergus : The roads are self-made. The country is as level as a bowliDg green when you get through the mountains intervening between the seashore and the interior. By constructing tho line to Middlemarch you simply get beyond the barrier, and then enter the plans. From there to the place where the line meets the waters of the Hawea, and with the exception of thrco small sections at Hyde and Idaburn Gorge and Cromwell, the whole of the remainder of the line is almost through a dead-level plain. We ought to take care that we do not stop the settlement of tbe country. If hon. members had seen, as those have sesn who accompanied the Premier on tho tour he made of the country—if they knew the numbers of men who are willing to settle there, and who are praying that they might get communication with the seaboard in order to increase the productions of their land—l say if hon. members knew these things as I do they would have different opinions from those they have formed from incomplete knowledge and from incomplete information. Since this railway was started in 1878 the province of Otago has poured into the colonial chest from rents of the land alone—from the pastoral leases—no less a sum than L 900.000. That is a fact, and is easily verified. We have poured into the coffers of the colony L 900.000 from the rents of the land, and tho land still remains the property of the Crown. To this has to be added the very large sum of money which has been received from settlers for land which has been completely alienated. We have still in the province of Otago seven and a-half million acres of land—l admit that some of it on the western slope is of _ very little value even from a pastoral point of view but we have on the route of this railway three million acres of agricultural and pastoral land which will be benefited by this railway, and which will amply repay the little sum we seek to spend at the present time. These aro the figures I have received officially. The Railway Commissioners say: " Two million acres will be benefited by the extension (if the line to Eweburn, and three millions if you take it beyond that." That is a safe margin on which to go. Three million acres contiguous to the line and two million acres beyond will be immediately benefited if the line is constructed to Eweburn. One of tho most hopoful signs jast now is the large revival in tho mining iudustry. lam glad to hear that new methods and new appliances are producing a reaction. in the mining world. I find that almost all the bedß of the streams which flow into tho large rivers are being taken up, and somo of them are being worked at a very considerable profit. I believe that if we got cheap machinery, cheap carriage, and cheap timber these profits would be increased to a considerable extent. Even since this House has been in session we find that within fifteen miles of the Otago Central Railway, at a point called the Sutton, a large reefing district has been discovered, and a large population has flocked to Nenthorn. The other day I received from London a report of a meeting of
the Board of Directors of the Cromwell Company's mine, and in that report the directors expressed their satisiaotion with the prospects of their property in the colony, a proSerty acquired by them some little time ago. ine of the points raised, however, was the enormous cost of the of machinery and timber to the mine. When hon. members recall the cost of conveying machinery, which has to be carted over a rough road for thirty or forty miles, and thenoverplainsseventyoreightymilesacross, they will realise whatthatexpensemust be. It would take rather a rich yield of gold to pay expenses under those conditions. Sir, taking the wholo of this country—the Nenthorn and Hindon reefs recently discovered, the reefs at St. Bathans, at Ophir, Rough Ridge, Blaekstone Hill, at Manuherikia, at the Dunstan, Beudigo, Biimoekburn, and Cardrona—l say that there are hundreds of reefs here which will give employment to many menif they cau only get cheaper carriage to the fiefds. lam afraid, sir, that too many in this fJou?c look upon this Otago Central simply us a local matter. But I ask hon. members lo extend the sune courtesy to this railway which the members from Otago have extended invariably to works in other parts of the colouy that gave promise of a successful result.--(rloN-. iMk.mijkks: "Oh!") Yes, I have been in the House nearly ten years, ami I say that so far as my experienco has gomj i that has been the attitude taken up by the Otago members in this House. I uok the House to take tliij into consideration. This is not the lirsfc time that this railway has been before it. Wo have twice practically passed this Bill. This House in a previous session passed a measure which was to construct this raiin-jy by setting aside for the purpose a vast extent of the waste lands, only a portion of the rents derived from which we now propose to devote to the purpose. Last year a somewhat similar measure was passed, as far as its second reading went, by a majority of 50 to 13. I think the House then affirmed the principle of constructing the line on the land grmt system, ttr.d the Bill was only stopped by a few gentlemen who did not like the land graut'system, Now we, as a Gove, nment', come down and ask the Homo to givo us a part of that which ho'ougs to ourselves, and which I hold really belongs to U3 now the Land Fund—to givo us 2i per cent, of the reuts accruing from the laud immediately abutting on this railway, so_ as to enable us to carry tho line to a point at which it will become of use—to a paint thirty-eight miles beyond where it is now constructed -so as to open up tho interior of the country. I ask every economist in this House—apart from any miction of sympathy— to vote for the second reading of this Bill. I ask everyo'.'.u who has the interests of the country at heart to vote for the second reading. I ask everyone who does not wish to see the colony launched again into a borrowing policy to vote for this Bill. (Hon. Members: "Oh.") Yes, sir; that is the fact. I, for one, wish to sea the colony bring its borrowing to a conclusion. I ask everyone who- wi.-hes to see the railways brought to a paying point, at which they will give us something in return for our expenditure on them, to vote for the second reading of this Bill. I can proiiiuc members this—and 1 speak more in this as an Otago member than as a member of the Ministry that they will receive the utmost courtesy from us in respect to the railways they may place before us, if they c:,n show us, as I have shown to the House ia respect of this Ofcago Centra!, that they Vi ill open up the country, promote settlement/ and develop the mining industry. Ti", ss are the advantages that I have shown will aseuie from the construction of this railway.
iho Moti. Mr Bau.anck strongly de- ' nonr.eed the proposal for undo*, hand borrow- j im:l from the tiust fund?, and twitted Mr fccivus with biibing other parts of tho mloliy with promkes tint if they supported this Kill their own railways would receive fair consideration. Tho "proposal was in dinct contravention of the promise given ■ by the Aye-it-General in 1837. If a poll wen taken of the depositors in the post ollhie savings banks a - i to whether they were i:i favor of investing their funds in the Otago ' Central Railway, they knew that the power would bj refused, lie denied that the completion of tho Eketahuna-Wood', ille Hue would do any harm to the Wellington- j Mana.vatu Rdhvay Company, and asked '. the Premier to give a district statement of , tho position of the Government in regard to borrowing. ! Mr Fraser (Thames) thought that the claims of the Otago Central Hue could not compare with those of theThamcs-Te Aroba Railway. ' Mr R. Ree\ lis opposed the Bill. I Mr Pvkb said that there was not another line in the colony that had three million J acres of land to construct it with, like too ' Otago Central had. Yet they only asked for 25 per cent, of their own money. j Mr BrausAN (Wairarapn) regarded the ! Bill as nothing more or less than a proposal to borrow in another form. !
Mr ScoiuE Mackenzie asked what could be thought of the sincerity of the Leader of the Opposition, when it was recollected that two or three weeks ago he seconded the reading of this Bill, aud deliberately pronounced in favor of the proposals therein made for the construction of the line. Yet he now strongly opposed it. It was not the Bill that had changed or the amendment, but Mr Ballancc. And why had he changed 1 It was not on account of the demerits of tho Bill, but because a party fight wa3 taking place over it. The opposition to the Bill, so far as oac could judge, was factious. Ho denied that thcro was a word about borrowing in the Bill. He supported the measure because it would remove difficulties in the way of tho further prosecution of public works, aud showed the way to the entire cessation of borrowing. MrME.\'TEATH(Te Aro) said that the mandate at the last election was decidedly against further railway construction and direct; taxa'ion. If members who prated so much about economy in the abstract lent themselves to the construction of lines advocated by a knot of agitators, he saw no prospect for the colony but national disaster. Mr Fi.su spoke at great length, and charged Mr Ballancc with having made a speech that night in complete contradiction of his utterances on the second reading of the Bill, lie assured the House that tho people of Otago were determined to have this line made to a certain point. l)r Fitchett supported the Bill, but was opposed to the idea of utilising trust funds, lie held that the security offered by the rents of the land would enable all the requisite funds to be raised.
The Premier said that it was by direction of the House given last session that the Otago Central was dealt with in a way different from other lines. He spoke of tho extraordinary change of view expressed by Mr. Ballancc. That gentleman and the Canterbury members who had formerly supported the Bill were now simply actuated in their opposition to it by the desire to give the Government a slap in tho face. What was to be said when there was a man at the head of the Opposition who altered as Mr Ballance did? It was the act of an acrobat, and showed that there was no responsibility in the House. What was the principle to the Opposition if they could give the Government a slap in the face in that fashion? But tho Government would not accept tho slap, and would return it with interest. If it were desired, ha would take all reference to trust funds out of the Bill—to test the sincerity of the members who profeseed that that was the ground of their resistance—and insert a clause to make it impossible for the Government to borrow from trust funds. As to Mr Smith's comment upon the consideration shown to the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company, ho (the Premier) said that while he had been in office the interests of the public had always been paramount, much more so than with other Administrations. If it were desirable to make the Eketahuna - Woodville line, the colony ought to construct it at once, but it was not desirable to do so until the colony had plenty of money. The Eketahuna and Ot?g i works were not alike in any respect. Sir Harry went on to say : The amendment is a direction to undertake further borrowing. If the proposals of the Government are accepted, there will be no need to carry out further works for years. If the amendment be carried, the Government would take it as a direction to proceed with no new works at all this year. (Opposition
cheers.) But they wera not prepared to go on with other works until the Otago Central Railway was inoluded in the list. If the House wished to stop all works, It must take the responsibility of doing eo.— (Cheers.) Mr Monk and Mr Peldwick opposed the Bill. The motion for the second reading was put at 1.20, and negatived by 33 to 17. The division list was as follows:
Ates, 17. Noes, 33. Allen Ballanoe Atkinson Blake Harron Cadnian Bruce Feldwick Fergus Fisher Fish Fraser Fitchett Goldio His op Grimmond Humphreys Guinness Izud Harkncss Mackenzie, M. J. 8. Hutchison M'Gregor Kerr Mitchulson Lance pylce Larnach Richardson, G. F. Lawry Slesvarfc.W. O. Loughrcy Monk Mots Par it a Perceval Reeves, It II J. Keevo>, W. P. Rhodes ItusHl Saunders Seddun Smith Mcntctth Taiwliabga Taylor Thompson, T. Turnlmll Ward. Paips.
I-\.r. Against,. Fulton Samuel H. Ina Krwimu T. Hockci ss'.e Whyto Tinner Grey Kiii) I-;. Richardson Valentine Hodakinson Hall K-lly Orimnd O'Jonor V.. Thompson Wilhy Jones Buxton Carroll Macarlluir .1. M'Kenziu Walker Mi-chant, Wilson Own JoyeJ Anderson Du>ciu S vmcur Buchanan.
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THE OTAGO CENTRAL., Evening Star, Issue 7993, 23 August 1889
THE OTAGO CENTRAL. Evening Star, Issue 7993, 23 August 1889
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