When the Australians saw the splendid samples of wheat in the New Zealand court of the Melbourne Exhibition, and learned the average yield, they are said to have expressed great wonder and amazement that a colony so productive should have experienced such a severe depression. New Zealand is indeed one of the most fertile countries in the world; but even exceptional fertility may be more than counterbalanced by reckless Governments squandering borrowed money in political jobbery. The eyes of the Australians would have been opened could we have sent an exhibit rcprcscntingthe useless worksof one land and another which Government after Government have constructed for the sake of obtaining support, or which have been forced upon them by combinations of log-rolling members. Those Governments and their aiders and abettors traded on the reputed " inexhaustible resources" of the Colony ; but, while it is absurd to speak of exhausting the resources of any colony, it is a very easy matter, through misgovernment, to check its development This is exactly what has happeiu Ain New Zealand. When the heroic Public Works policy collapsed, the value of the staple products of the Colony fell abnormally; and, what with low prices and heavy taxation for payment of interest on unproductive works, as well as private debts, a check was given to enterprise, which sufferedfurtherthroughthespeculative prices given for land. Then came, necessarily, the depression, which has proved of unexampled severity and duration. Theother Australian colonies, of course, were equally affected by the decline in prices for similar products, but they rallied long before New Zealand. Excepting Queensland, their public debts were comparatively light ; so that it is a fair conclusion that the long stagnation in trade must be ascribed mainly to reckless financing. There is nothing more detrimental to a young country than heavy taxation; and it is to be hoped that this Colony will take a lesson from its recent experience, and reduce its burdens by every legitimate means. The tax collector is an impediment to increase of population and an obstacle to colonial development. New Zealand has, however, made steady progress all through these dismal years so far as settlement and production are concerned. Last year the increase was remarkable. There were 4,700,0001b more wool and nearly 3,000,000 bushels more wheat exported than during the previous year ; about 750,000 bushels more oats and barley ; over 150,000 more carcasses of frozen mutton, as well as a large increase in flax, coal, timber, and other articles. Prices also have advanced ; and the total value of our exports for 1888-89 was a million and three-quarters more than for 1887-88, and about two millions more than any preceding year. This is extremely satisfactory; but the fact that our trade is still somewhat dull in spite of such an extraordinary increase in our earnings shows how deeply the Colony must have suffered. New Zealand last year actually produced more grain than the whole of the Australian and when it is added that there is no country in the Southern Hemisphere better" suited for the production of meat, butter, and cheese, and that, our clip of wool is rapidly increasing while the yield of gold will probably be largely augmented, it will be seen that the prospects of the Colony point to an era of steady prosperity. Thanks to Sir Hakky Atkinson, the credit of New Zealand has been restored ; and if the economical reforms which have been initiated by the present Ministry are faithfully carried out, 'Hew Zealand will take and maintain her proper place among the leading British colonies. Already her credit stands much higher than it did when the Government began their retrenchments; and as we have just seen, a great stimulus has been given to the industry and enterprise of the colonists. Because of superior quality we still keep the lead in the frozen-meat trade, though the River Plate is making extraordinary exertions to get possession of the London market. That Government gives bonuses, and it is said the quality of the mutton is being steadily improved; and though New Zealand has no great reason to fear competition, too much care cannot be taken to export only prime carcasses. There have been many complaints as to the quality of the meat sent from this Colony. Meanwhile, the trade flourishes as well as could be desired, all the available space for cargo of this sort being bespoken for a year to come. Nor can it be doubted that a great future is in store for New Zealand as a graingrowing country. The chairman of the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, to whose address at the recent annual meeting we are indebted for some of the particulars we have mentioned, says that it is generally admitted that the United States have about reached " the maximum limit of the quantity "of wheat they will annually have "available for export to foreign "countries." New Zealand is thus sure of a steady market in Australia for most of her surplus grain, unless excluded by absurd Protection policies; and every now and again we may expect a sudden demand from that quarter for larger quantities of wheat and oats, at much higher prices than could be obtained in the Home market. Last year is a case in point; and as long as Australia is liable to
sjucli seven: droughts lief mpidiydncreasia:.' population will to look to New Zealand for the "-Vpply of their extraordinary wtints. But the prosperity of the Colony will not depend on two or three kinds of exports. A great variety of climates, such as it possesses, gives possibility to a great variety of products. No country of equal extent is more favorably situated iu this respect, and no country could be better fitted for every kind of manufacture. The outlook is again brightening, anil, witli ordinary prudence on the part of tho Government and the people—for the people have been as much to blame as the CJovernment—a long course of steady prosperity may W, safely predicted.
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UNKNOWN, Evening Star, Issue 8011, 13 September 1889
UNKNOWN Evening Star, Issue 8011, 13 September 1889
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