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DEFEAT OF THE OTAGO CENTRAL.

The collapse of the Otago Central Railway Bill was not altogether unforeseen by us as a probable issue, and some weeks ago, Whilst exhorting patience on the part of our people, we had occasion to point out that the very fact of its having been adopted as a Government measure lessened the chance of its success. With singular inconsistency, members on both sides of the House who voted last session for bestowing an absolute grant of Crown lands to any company who would continue the construction of the line have now refused to grant a small proportion not more than 26 per cent,, in fact—of the amount received for pastoral rents for the country to _be traversed and benefited by the line. How they can reconcile this to their logical perceptions it is not in the power of any sane man to comprehend. the giving of a portion of the rentals a smaller concession than the parting with absolutely of a large tract of valuable country. As we said yesterday, Mr BallanCE, the Leader of the Opposition has irretrievably damaged his political character and his position by the discreditable somersault he perpetrated on Thursday night. What was the motive of his extraordinary change of front ? The answer is apparent. The members of his little partyjwantlittle railways—this one to Seaward Bush, this other from Eketahuna to Woodville ; others from Greymouth to Hokitika ; and others again demand a continuation from Wellington to the suburb of Te Aro. Be it remembered, however, that this last is only a part of Wellington proper, and that trams are running every few minutes to and fro. Then there is the North Auckland Railway, and so on, and so on. These discontented members retired into the Cave of Adullam. The Leader of the Opposition found himself on the horns of a dilemma, and _he had_ to sacrifice his conscience or his political position, and he chose the former. Perish conscience and right-doing if they stand in the way of ambition ! To this extent Mr Ballance showed his capacity as a leader, but no further. His attempted explanation of his political tergiversation is without parallel in the annals of Parliament, and he received a well-merited rebuke—quite a number of rebukes, and hard ones too —from Sir Harry Atkinson, who turned his frivolous pretensions inside out, and left him at last a thoroughly dilapidated specimen of a mock-statesman. The pretence of not desiring trust funds to be used in advance for expenditure on the works was blown to the winds by Sir Harry’s offer to eliminate that portion of the Bill in committee, and nothing remains to excuse the selfish action of the opponents of the Bill. Mr Fergus, Mr Scobxe Mackenzie, and Mr Pike seem to have made most energetic appeals to the House to grant the small percentage asked for, for the purposes of the railway, but the Auckland members, with a few honorable exceptions, voted blindly against it as being something for the benefit of the South Island, Whatever may be said of the Canterbury members (who, almost to a man, voted against the Bill, they having by the aid of the Otago members, as we have already shown, received the Midland _ Railway, or at least a prospective promise of some part of it, at an enormous cost to the Colony) they now show theolovenhoof and refuse to the Colony this much-needed railway line. As to the action of Mr Larnach, it is utterly incomprehensible. He is, in fact, if not in name, a Dunedin representative ; yet he voted against a measure having for its object the benefit of not only Dunedin but all Central Otago. We were not at all surprised at the vote given by the representative of Waitaki, but we confess to very genuine surprise at the suicidal votes of Messrs Ward and Feldwick. They should know, but apparently do not, that the completion of the Otago Central Railway to the interior goldfields would forcibly increase the demand for timber, with which the Southland forests abound, and which would be required for fencing and bnUding and for the timbering of the mines, in the event of facilities being given for its conveyance thereto. The members North and South who have on such narrow and selfish grounds voted against the Otago Central Railway will have plenty of leisure to repent of their rash and inconsiderate conduct. What will be the result? There will be hundreds of men thrown out of employment through the discontinuance of the work; the interior of Otago must continue to remain a wilderness; and the longdesired prosperity of Otago be postponed. Let it not be forgotten who they are who have assisted to contribute to this state of things. The present position is a stoppage of public works throughout the Colony ; or, on the other hand, there is that alternative to which the words and action of the Leader of the Opposition distinctly and unequivocally point—the renewal of borrowing, to find sufficient money to satisfy the insatiable cravings of the parish politicians who, to the detriment and degradation of New Zealand, occupy seats in the House of Representatives. To this complexion have as now come under the guidance of the ar of the Opposition,

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890824.2.2

Bibliographic details

DEFEAT OF THE OTAGO CENTRAL., Evening Star, Issue 7994, 24 August 1889

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879

DEFEAT OF THE OTAGO CENTRAL. Evening Star, Issue 7994, 24 August 1889

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