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THE MINISTER OF MINES., Issue 8056, 5 November 1889
THE MINISTER OF MINES.
The redistribution of portfolios in the Ministry cannot fail to give satisfaction to the miners, in so far as the portfolio of Mines is concerned. Mr Richardson is an excellent Minister of Lands; but, either through apathy or from want of sympathy, he has earned the unpleasant sobriquet of “ Minister against the Mines.” It is true that this appellation was conferred by the West Coast miners, who are the most rapacious of their class, and this to a great extent deadens the sting. It would be difficult to say in what respect he has^f- Jailed in the discharge of the office, but undoubtedly the impression that he has done so has gained a certain amount of credence. It was therefore a politic movement to replace him by Mr Fergus, who, as representing a gold mining constituency, is certainly more in accord with that portion of the community with the care of whose interests he is now directly charged. It is fortunate also that the change is made at a time when the mining industry is suffering a recovery. After a long spell of inertia, new life and vigor are being infused into every branch of mining, and the presence of an expert at the head of affairs is becoming daily more necessary. We do not know that actual experience with pick and shovel is required to ensure the proper administration of the Mining Department; but it is well that the administrator should possess some practical, as well as theoretical, acquaintance with the business entrusted to his superintendence. And in this respect Mr Fergus has an advantage over his predecessor. Much of his mature manhood has been spent on the goldfields, and be cannot ha ve f ai' ed to gain an insight into matters which are altogether unintelligible to outsiders. To doubt this would be to question his powers of perception, and this will not be done by those who have watched his political career. The steady development of our mineral resources is the special function of the Minister of Mines. It is rather by attention to this, and by judicious fostering, than by any special coddling, that f the mining interests will be best' promoted ; and to this purpose Mr Fergus must address himself. His new position gives him an almost unlimited power for good or evil in this direction, and it is noteworthy that already his appointment has been hailed with satisfaction by those whom it chiefly concerns. - The combination of the office of Public Works with that of Mines is also a step in the right direction. Here again Mr Fergus is in his proper element. His experience in this connection and his knowledge of the country tell in his favor, and his indomitable energy in whatsoever he undertakes augurs well for a successful issue to his labors. What is termed the “ reconstruction” of the Ministry is, in fact, only a rearrangement, with the exception of the new feature represented by the addition of Captain Russell to the Cabinet. And the Ministry is much stronger by reason of the changes that have been made. The inclusion of so many untried men was a bold experiment in the first instance. The old practice was to ring the changes between a few old stagers; and Sir Harry Atkinson is to be congratulated on his courage in assuming office with younger politicians, and no less on the success that has rewarded the venture. It is always odious to draw comparisons, but this much may be said: that, whereas there were formerly some round sticks in square holes, the sticks and the. holes are now squared together. Mhiist upon this subject, it may he urged upon Mr Fergus that he should not lose any time in exploring his new dominions—that is to say, he should, as early as possible, and certainly before next session, make himself thoroughly acquainted with the condition of mines and public works throughout the Colony. So much will be expected of him, and may fairly be anticipated. The offices he now holds are very onerous, and will tax his energies to render them full justice.
THE MINISTER OF MINES., Issue 8056, 5 November 1889
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