It is stated by commercial representa.
fives, ,-uid it is admitted Exploitation bv th~ administrative auln Wheat. thorities, that wheat is hoarded by certain farmers, millers, and speculators in the South Island for tho purpose of exploiting the public. This is a scandalous condition, which ~■?.]]s for more drastic methods of control than have yet been applied, and the public have just about lott faith in tho effectiveness of legislative means (such as they are) to prohibit commercial exploitation during war. Administrators seem to bo averse to employing repressive measures, and are experimenting in a sort of limited State commerce—purchasing and selling fairly large consignments of imported wheat. The Canadian Minister of Trade has announced that the Xew Zealand Government have bought 390,000 bushels of wheat,' the greater part of which has been shipped to New Zealand. 11 is satisfactory to note that the Prime Minister is not timorous in the matter of procuring fairly extensive supplies oJ wheat from abroad. There must surely he some great commercial difficulty not apparent to ordinary observers that prevents similar administrative activity In the direction of compelling holders of wheat in this country to unload their stocks.
A public exposure of the real exploiters would bo welcomed by many farmers and commercial firms, who have; made no attempt at all to make abnormal profit out of wheat during the present Imperial crisis, but who are being openly Warned for xinpatriotic exploitation by shallow critics with freely-wagging tongues. It has been asserted frequently in Dunedin, for example, that certain firms whose principal representatives have taken an active interest in all patriotic movements and organisations hold large stocks of wheat for exploitation—that, in short, to put the gossip plainly, they give handsome donations to war funds with tho right hand and hanl in huge profits with tho left. This, doubtless, is the sort of gossip that tickles shallow minds, but it represents a dangerous exerciso of gross
injustice .against commercial men -who arc thoroughly straightforward in their business, and who are absolutely innocent of any form of exploitation. If the administrative authorities desire to afford protection to what is so often termed tho capitalistic class, let them adequately protect those men and firms who are doing their best honestly to keep trado within normal limits. The only, -way to provide protection is to expose the real exploiters, and teach them a salutary lesson. One honorable name in the civic life of Dunedin has been frequently on the tongue of ignorant gossip of late as a representative of exploitation in wheat—that of Mr John Roberts, C.iVI.G. According to a. correspondent whose information is reliable, Mr Roberts is charged openly among workers as a colossal exploiter, holding for exploitation no fewer than 60,000 sacks of prime milling wheat. It vs hardly necessary to say that the allegation is a stupid falsehood. Mr Roberts, as representing an established commercial firm, would not lose much money if he scattered all the wheat in his possession as a Christmas gift to all the town sparrows. The story is nothing more than malicious gossip, and should bo denounced by honest men. It serves as another proof, however, of tho immediate need for drastic administrative measures against the real exploiters and for a complete j exposure of their tactics.
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Evening Star, Evening Star, Issue 15669, 7 December 1914