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Evening Star, Issue 15666, 3 December 1914
The Foodstuffs Commission, who are conscientiously proving with almost pathetic honesty and thoroughness the ineffectiveness of State control of commerce and trade by Commission, should obtain some interesting information in Dunedin as to the position of the local flour market. It is possible that they will be unable to discover any proof of exploitation —political authorities and their solicitous supporters assert that the Government’s Regulation of Trade and Commerce Act, which was designed to fix prices of essential commodities, prevents any wolfish business—but they should have no difficulty in proving that there is a distinct tendency on the part of a few commercial firms and farmers to cross the statutory boundary of prices. It is stated authoritatively, jnd it is a fact, that one milling company in the City have found it commercially expedient (a nice way of putting it) to break from the association who have hitherto fixed the price of flour locally, and to trade alone in flour at £l4 10s a ton—£l more than the State-fixed price. This looks like something to swear at these days, but it is better to curb bitterness and look at all the circumstances.
Flour £l4 10s a Ton I
In the first place, it is considered that this increase is not a deliberate Haunting of the spirit and purpose of the law governing the fixing of trade prices, it being claimed that the provisions of tho Regulation of Trade and Commerce Act do not really apply to Dunedin. This interpretation is based on tho crudo wording of the proclamation:—“ Nothing in this “ Order in Council shall apply to tho salo “ of flour in any case in which tho nearest ‘‘ port, as herein defined, is any port other “than Lyttelton, Tirnnru, and Oamaru.’’ That is tho legislative style of writing, and by this stylo the need of amending legislation “ takes on the nature of infinity”—a good thing for politicians. But even if the increase referred to ts contrary to the provisions of the Act, it is pointed out that the milling company in question are not singular in offending. We arc informed that Dunedin agents of Northern millers were selling flour at £ls per ton until the local lirrn, who have managed at extra expense to keep their mill working, set the price at £l4 10s. The Flour-millers’ Association apparently do not consider it necessary to raise the price beyond £ls 10s a ton, and are reported to be determined, if the Government can supply wheat at 5s 3d per bushel, or cause hoarders of wheat to place their slocks on the market at tho statutory price, to keep tho wholesale, rate for flour at the standard fixed by the Government on tho recommendation of the Commission. Tho retort of those merchants who are not in the association is that it is easy for that organisation to talk of fine resolutions when they have no flour or verv little flour to sell.
It has been suggested in a manner that would cause impulsive critics to infer that one firm have been guilty of unpatriotic eagerness for extra profit, that if tho Government had not allotted to Dunedin millers a portion of the shipment of wheat from Australia the milling company in question could not have carried on business. This is a grave charge that should not bo accepted without absolute proof. Tho fact that any firm may elect, for a reason best known to themselves, to secede from a commercial association and experience a certain amount of freedom, and perhaps a saving of the commission usually charged for effecting sales, is purely the business of that firm and the association. As far as the purchasing public are concerned, defection in commercial organisations usually leads to concessions to the purchaser. That the result has not been ir. that direction on this occasion does not disprove the rule. The question with which the community is concerned is this: Do all the circumstances justify an increase in the price of flour? The firm concerned say that they do, and that they had, in order to keep manufacturing while other millers closed down, to buy wheat at a price which necessitated an increase in the wholesale cost of the product of their mill. The firm’s explanation must stand, as far as an impartial critic is concerned. It appears from the report of customers that the firni have done all they could to supply those to whom inability to obtain flour would have meant the ruin of bakery businesses, which : u many cases represented laborious upbuilding for years—an aspect of the position that has been rather overlooked by muddling authorities. It is stated, too, that unless further supplies of wheat come to Dunedin all the manufacturers of flour will be forced to close their mills. The need of compelling unpatriotic hoarders of wheat to unload is urgent and clamant. Is there a politician in the country strong enough to take action? There is no moving force in loud talk that “ the Government will not allow any "storing of wheat supplies for tho pur- ** pose of exploiting the public.” Was the power that broke the strike last year broken with the spirit of the rash Red Feds. ? The fact is : politicians at their AUQQ&Sfe are “ a. feeble ffiUtt”
Mr Paulin’s forecast :—Strong N.E. to N.W. winds, changing to S.W., with electrical rain showers.
Tho Reform candidate for Avon, in the course of an address to the electors o : . the constituency last evening, suggested that the Government, in addition to their purchases of wheat in Australia and Canada, might borrow suilicient wheat from Australia pending the harvesting of our own crop, and return it when our own was reaped. This would smash any jiossible attempt to exploit tho public by holding wheat or flour. A meeting of the Otago ' General Laborers’ Union was held last evening, when the following resolution was carried :—‘‘That meeting emphatically protest against the action of the Hon. VV. F. Massey, Minister of Labor, in declining (after promising live months ago) to control the enforcement of our union’s industrial award, on which the seal of the Arbitration Court was affixed by His Honor Mr Justice Sira, and wo urge our fellow-workers of all classes to use their best efforts on election day to relegate himself and all parliamentary candidates pledged to support him to tho arena allotted to fallen political opportunists, in order to secure an impartial administration of the Arbitration Act.” For tho second time this week there was a clean sheet m the Police Court this morning.
The chairman of the Tramways Committoe (Cr Myers) and the tramways manager (Mr C. F, Alexander) submitted a minute to the committee yesterday on the advisability of altering the box cars so as to make them larger, and also altering the tram sheds and curves. It was finally de'cided to reffr the .matter to the manager to bring up another report as to the cost of the alterations. If the committee decide to proceed with the work, it will then be for the Finance Committee to sayhow the money should he raised—whether it should be taken out of overdraft and repaid by revenue, or whether a special loan should ho raised. A largo number of tho residents of St. Kilda attended the concert given by the local band in tho rotunda last evening. The night being somewhat stormy, it was slightly unpleasant for performers and listeners alike. The programme submitted was; March chorus, ‘Our Territorials’; Japanese romance. ‘ Poppies ’ ; selection of popular songs, ‘ The Season’s Plums ’ ; American march. ‘Darkie’s Holiday’; waltz, ‘Power of Lovo ’; ‘Patriotic Melodies’; and ’ God Save the King.’ Tho programme concluded at 9.15.
Extremely boisterous weather has been experienced in Tapir.ui and surounding districts during the past three days, and as a consequence there has been a fairly heavy mortality amongst newly-shorn shep. Shearing, however, in these parts will not be general for a week or two at least. Tho cold snap has had A decidedly adverse effect on the growth of grass and cereal crops, the latter of which arc making little or no progress, while in several in tanccs farmers aro complaining of a shortage of grass feed. It is feared in many cases that tho crops will turn out a failure unless a material change for the better takes place immediately. It is also noticeable, that the birds have been creating more havoc than usual on early-sown turnips, and in two instances at least it has been found necessary to resow the seed.
A noticeable feature of the fitting out of the Vcrda.la and Willoehra at Port Chalmers is that the original exterior nainting of the vessels has not been changed. The only alteration in this respect is that the name of each steamer liar, been painted out and “11.M.N.Z.T. », ’’ in largo white tatters has taken the place of the original name. The 12 troopships which have np to date left our shores were, painted a dull ashen hue from the top of the ’must:, to the water lino, and it is said that the cost of doing so ran into many thousands of pounds. The cost of repainting thcßo vessels their original color must also have been enormous. A return showing the amount of money spent on what must now ho admitted to have been a. useless work would make interesting reading.
Official intimation lire been received that, owing to the continuance of the European war, the Imperial Frees Conference, which was to have been hold in Canada in July next, has been indefinitely postponed—a. very wise decision under the circumstances. Sir John Willison, tho president of the Canadian Associated. Press, says that it, hi quite hopeless to expect national representation, which is desired above all. while the Empire is at war. An interesting case was heard in tho City of London Court on September 22, before Judge R-c-ntoul. Messrs Wilson and Burton, proprietors of tho ‘New Zealand Herald ' and ‘Auckland Weekly- News.’ claimed £34 14s against Messrs Dougal and-,C0., next of-kin agents, 151 Strand. It was not disputed that the advertisements had appeared or that the charges were fair. The defence was that they were not ordered by defendants, but by one Tinsoii, who carried on business as advertisement agent. Tinson said he acted as a partner, and that there was an arrangement. that tho advertisements should be ordered nominally by him, because ho could be paid a commission. In fact, the commission was paid into the partnership business. Tinson was no longer in tho partnership. Mr E. H. Gough, plaintiffs’ London agent, said he received the order from Tinson as partner of Dougal and Co. Mr Tinson said there had been disputes about accounts with defendants. Mr Jones, for the defendants, contended that his clients owed the amount claimed, not to the plaintiffs, hut to Tinson, against whom defendants had substantial claims. Tho Judge found for plaintiffs, with costs. Giving evidence, before the Commonwealth Electoral Oammiseion, the editors of the Melbourne ‘Argus’ and "Ago - condemned the signed newspaper article order, while, the editor of the. ‘ Herald ’ favored the continuance of the present law.
Mr H. V. Widdowson. S.M., delivered judgment this morning _i.i the case. Antonia Gacaloni v. Francis J. Sullivan, in which a sum of £125 was claimed for salvage of the defendant's fishing launch, which was in difficulties outside Otago Heads on October 12, and flew signals of distress, to which plaintiff’s launch responded. Mr Widdowson said that the question of “ abatement ’’ of the action arose through the death of one of the parties (Mr Sullivan), but ‘he thought it better to give judgment, and leave it to the parties to settle that question. He and the assessor (Captain Beaumont) had given careful consideration to the evidence and the only conclusion they could come to was that the assistance really amounted only to towagp. They considered that £ls would be a fair allowance to make the claimant, and the award would be for that sum, with costs, amounting to £7 ss. The next batch of troopsliips which will leave the Dominion will carry a larae quantity of New Zealand products in addition to the provisions necessary for tho troops.
At the quarterly meeting of the Port Chalmers Old Identities’ Association yesterday evening a document of interest was handed to the chairman. This was a diary kept by Mr William Robertson of the passage from Glasgow to Port Chalmers of the ship Sevilla in 1852. Mr Leek, in handing the diary to the chairman, said he had received it from Mrs Jane Robertson, who res id as on the hill above Port Chalmers. A case of some inte.vst to aerated water manufacturers will be hoard in the Magistrate's Court next Tuesday, when a firm in this business will sue a bottle collector for the return of 80 dozen bottles, or for a payment of £lO, including the value and damages for detention. The prosecution involves the argument whether, when a person buys bottles of aerated water a company can sue for a return of the empty bottles—whether, in fact-, tho bottles are lent or sold.
The traffic relume on the City Corporation’s tramways for the past fortnight were nearly £l6O lose than for the same period last year.
“ Have one with me.” “ Thanks, I will. I’ll have Watson’s No. 10, please.”—[AdvtJ Watson’s No. 10 is a little dearer than most whkkies, but- is worth the money.— lAdvta
The Department Of Agriculture announces that a small quantity of flour for distribution to baker* will arrive in Dunedin on or about Saturday, Applications for supplies are invited in this issue. Those desiring to secure flour should give particulars of their output of bread for the last three months, and also of the quantities of flour they have on hand or which they have arranged to purchase. 6170" Eczema Cure is recommended for eczema and kindred troubles; 2a 6d box. Wilkinson and Son, chemists.—[Advt.] No lady should be without Martin’s Apioj and Steel Piilfl. Soldi by ali chemists and stores throughout Australasia.—[Advt.] Speight’s alo and stout are acknowledged by the Dominion public to be the beat on the market. —[Advt.]
Evening Star, Issue 15666, 3 December 1914
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