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The Evening Star TUESDAY, AUGUST 27, 1889.

The action of the Opposition, under Mr Ballance’s leadership, in deThe Otago feating the Otago Central RailCentral, way’s Construction Bill, though not without parallel in other colonies and qt Home, is disreputable to the party and every member who voted with them. It was a merely administrative Bill, that involved no political principle, that was acknowledged (even by those who opposed it) to be a desirable measure for opening up for settlement a vast area of fertile Tana still in the hands of the Government, for developing goldfields only partially worked or prospected, and for bringing townships already numerously populated into cheap and rapid connection with a port. It must therefore have commended itself to every member of the House as a colonial, not merely a local, undertaking—a railway that not only claimed precedence of construction on account of the heavy amount of money already expended on it yielding no return, but on account of the vast resources—agricultural, pastoral, and mining—that would be brought into profitable employment. It is idle to suppose these facts to be unknown by the most ignorant member of the Opposition, so powerfully were they brought under their notice by Sir Harry Atkinson, Mr Fergus, and others whose special acquaintance with the district enabled them to corroborate their statements. In fact, there was no denial of the advantages the Colony must derive from its construction. The silly reason alleged for throwing out the Bill was that it should be delayed until a Bill was prepared which should authorise other lines to be made and paid for on the same principle. A more childish, absurd, and unbusinesslike attempt at deluding the public never passed even the mock parliament of a debating society. Even the flimsy attempt at self-justification by the Leader and some of his obsequious followers and propellers, that the proposed mode of payment was a continuation of the system of " borrowing,” is too transparent a sham to be tolerated by any intelligent constituency. The play upon the word “borrowing” was as dishonest as the vote. Even after Sir Harry had offered to withdraw the proposal to invest trust funds in payment for immediate labor on the line, the word “ borrowing” was paraded, not for the deception of the House (for honorable members were not, nor could be, deceived), but with the evident desire to mislead the constituencies that had already approved of the Premier’s assurance that borrowing, for a time, should cease. This word “ borrowing,” as used by the Premier, and understood by all business men in and out of Parliament, applies only to obtaining loans from London or other foreign money markets. It can in no sense bo applied to Colonial investments; and especially it cannot apply to the terms on which the Otago Central Railway was proposed to be constructed. Most of the land through which it is to pass is held by the Crown ; is at present yielding no revenue, or at least a very infinitesimal one in proportion to its value; and the construction of the line would add so much to its worth as to recoup the money laid out, which would thus become a most profitable investment. The Colony as a whole would not have to contribute one farthing in additional taxation, bat would benefit largely in increased population and production; and it is an axiom in industrial development that every successful enterprise inevitably profits, more or less, every member of the community. So plain must this be to even the least instructed citizen that, for a member of Parliament to ignore it, even by his vote, is alike disreputable to himself and an insult to the Colony whose interest he has been elected to promote. On no ground of policy, honesty, or consistency can the opposition to the railway bo justified. Opposition for opposition’s sake is at all times reprehensible ; but > when to that is added attempts at justification, which are evidently intended to deceive the country, it is doubly to be condemned. The motives are too transparent. The action taken is not to do good to the country, but to prevent others promoting its welfare. Had the Bill passed, in what possible way could its adoption have prevented other lines being constructed on similar principles? Instead of its proving a hindrance, it would i have become a precedent, that, under like circumstances, would undoubtedly have been followed. As the matter now stands, it is possible that those members who, on the pretended ground of forwarding the interests of their districts, wish to prevent the continuation of the Otago Central until their own lines are authorised may have had the pleasure of cutting their own throats. In that very interesting work by Mr Vincent Fyke, the ‘ History of the Otago Gold Discoveries,’ he gives the text of a “Petition from Unemployed Workmen,” presented to the Provineial Council of Otago under date October 24, 1861. Those workmen urged upon the Council to take steps for developing the resources of the province, so that they might “ found an empire destined to exert healing influences over “ the remote and numerous isles that “spangle the bosom of the Pacific.” In order to realise this brilliant vision thus grandiloquently set before the.Council, they recognise that men equal to the occasion must be the main instruments for its accomplishment ; and they therefore close their petition by somewhat of a threat, which Is just now very applicable to the members of the Opposition, who would do well to ponder it. It is as follows:—“ That your peti- “ tioners, in conclusion, humbly bat firmly, “ would remind the Council that this is no “ time for trifling with public affairs ; for, “ if they will not prove themselves equal to “ exiting circumstances, abler, honester, “ and more adventurous men will inevitably “supersede them.” We trust the next election will verify the prediction of the unemployed of 1861 for the Colony’s sake.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890827.2.8

Bibliographic details

The Evening Star TUESDAY, AUGUST 27, 1889., Issue 7996, 27 August 1889

Word Count
988

The Evening Star TUESDAY, AUGUST 27, 1889. Issue 7996, 27 August 1889

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