The Lyttelton Times.
Sept. 17^,1853. The elections are over; the last closed on Saturday. During their progress, peoples', minds have been absorbed in the mere accidents of the occasion, the question, of choice between candidates, the noise and bustle of canvassing, speechmaking, and public meetings. All this is over, and we sit down in sober earnest tq take a grave view of the political future now opening upon us.
From henceforth our duties, as the organ and reflection of public opinion— it may be in some degree its guide— will be of a different kind from heretofore. Hitherto the apathy, resulting from the mere despotism out of which we have emerged, has left us little to do but to hasten, as far as in us lay,the day of emancipation, and to chronicle local events. Now -we have to watch the acts of a constitutional Government—a real, living, local Government— the true controul of which must rest in public opinion, the great engine of which is the press. We feel deeply the weight thus added to our own responsibilities. Taking a glance back at the events of the last month we have great cause for congratulation. In elections the mind of the constituency shews itself, either (as in too many instances lately in England) venal, self seeking, factious, unprincipled ; or (may we not without boast take the credit to ourselves r) singleminded, patriotic, and earnest, yet free from party spirit, or personal acrimony. If in this contrast we should seem to be guilty of too much self-compla-cency, it must be remembered that we commence our constitutional career free from the traditional taint of the electoral system of the mother country. Our political state is that of infancy, of which innocence is an attribute. Our working classes here too are independent. It maybe that as we advance in years the vices of manhood may grow upon us. Should that evil day arrive we must bear the penalty of the disgrace and struggle against it as we best may. Till then let us rejoice in the present good and turn it to account by making it an example for the future.
Of the members elected it would be invidious to speak particularly; indeed criticism would be premature and idle compliment out of place. They are for the most part untried and inexperienced ; but the colonists have exercised their privilege of choice with as much circumspection as the case would allow. We do not say that the Council, as composed,will exhaust the whole stock of our best men. We believe that others as capable of doing the State service may be.found : but we are satisfied that the management of our provincial affairs has not fallen into unworthy hands. One of our chief subjects of congratulation is, that the ablest and best men of the province (we speak of candidates generally, successful or unsuccessful) have indicated their readiness to undertake public duties—thus testifying their sense of the importance of the work, and the value of the constitutional privileges called into action. In this respect we mark the striking cantrast between the practical working of really free and important powers of self-govern-ment and those spurious imitations which have been at sundry times attempted to be palmed off. upon us, in the form of nominee, or semi-nominee councils, or petty municipalities, which have been invariably spurned with contempt. Here we recognize the wisdom of the British Parliament in giving freely,and with little reserve.such powers to the separate provinces as were'sqre to enlist the best men in their service.
We may note, by the bye, what strikes us at present, namely, the'sraall number of
members of the Council. Its powers are very, great, top great in our opinion to be permanently, or for any long time, lodged in' such few hands. In a small body each vote tells 'with proportionate force. The temptations and opportunities for intrigue are multiplied, and the risks of hasty and ill,' considered legislation enhanced. The number of recent candidates shews that the pro-, vince possesses a sufficiency of men willing and able to do its work. We wish room could be made for some of those who have bejen defeated. This defect may be cured by the; General Assembly, and we commend this point to the attention of those gentlemen who will represent us there. Turning to the future, we learn that the Superintendant proposes to exercise, with-; out delay, his power of convening the Council. It is to meet forthwith for the despatch of business. So far as we can judge, His Honor has, in this respect, acted with wise discretion, though little time will be allowed for the neoessary preparation of business. The difficulty must no doubt be increased by the want of all previous knowledge of the Governor's plans—even of his financial arrangements. We are not now making this a subject of complaint, we merely notice the fact, that the Appropriation Act expires on the 30th of the month ; that till the last week no intimation had been received of His Excellency's plans for the future ; and that after that date there will be no lawful means of providing for the public establishments, except |under the authority of the Provincial Council. It has doubtless weighed with the Superintendant that, in the first exercise of constitutional government, an example ought not to be set of transgres&ing its rules.
It might have been reasonably hoped for-, that, considering the novelty of the case, and the practical inexperience of those in whose hands the local government is now placed, some advice or instruction would have been supplied for their guidance, in constructing their machinery and initiating their first measures. The absence of this help must no doubt create additional difficulty. If, nevertheless, the Superintendant should be prepared to handle at once the reins of power, and the Provincial Council be found equal to their task, that circumstance will afford the best possible commentary on the wisdom of the Constitution Act, the best testimony in favour of the principle now at length recognized, of trusting to British colonists the management of their own affairs, and the severest condemnation of that policy which has so long and so injuriously withheld it from them. We look anxiously but hopefully for the^' result. v
By the " Mountain Maid," we learn from Wellington that several important changes in the Government have already been, or are immediately to be made.
In the department of the Central Government, the office of Post-master General is bestowed on the Hon. H. W. Petre. The management of the department of Customs is transferred from s:Her Majesty's Commissioners in England to the Governor. For each province is appointed a Collector: Mr. Hamilton is nominated to fill that office in Canterbury. Our advertising columns shew tljat the office of Sub-Treasurer will exist after the 30th inst., for the purpose only of closing the accounts of the General Government. After that date, the balance of revenue not remitted to the Central Government, will be paid over to the Provincial Treasurer.
The control over all the departments, except those of thePost-Office, the Customs, and, we suppose, the Land Office, is handed over to his Honor the Supevintendant, and the Provincial Council. Appointments will henceforth be filled up at the discretion :of
the chief provincial authorities. We hear that one-third of the net revenue of the Customs, and Post-Office is to be remitted to the Treasurer of New Zealand : the remaining two-thirds are to be paid over to the Provincial Treasurer, to be at the disposal of the Superintemlant and Council. Should the gross total of sums received by the Treasurer of New Zealand from each province, exceed the amount fixed for the Civil List, the surplus will be re-distributed in due proportion for .disposal by the Provincial Governments. We learn nothing from any quarter regarding the Land Offices : but conclude 4, that His Excellency does not intend permanently to saddle this Province with two such expensive.departmentsi when one will suffice. The delay that has so long continued in providing an efficient general administration of the land survey offices is most marvellous. We commend this question to the most serious attention of members of the General Assembly, trusting they will insist on its settlement at the very earliest day after meeting. The only facts'we can arrive at at present are, that the Commissioner receives salary and does nothing : the Agent of government does not receive salary and knows nothing : nothing we mean of the intentions of government. Every kind of inconvenience and disorder must continue to be experienced by the public,when what .naturally is the business of one department .is divided between two managers. Two heads, in this case, are not, we affirm, better than one. The land departments must be .combined. The General Assembly will not meet, at the earliest, before the end of December, or beginning of January. It has been entrusted to his Honor, the Superintendant, to convene the Provincial Council, and to propose to that body such measures as he may deem necessary to pass immediately. With regard to the petition which was drawn up against the return of Mr. Fitz ; Gerald, as Superintendant, and which was forwarded,we understand, to the Governor ; we hear that His Excellency has declined Xo interfere.
We were inadvertently guilty of an act of injustice to Mr. Caverhill, last week, in .making it appear, unintentionally, that he was purposely absent when fined for driving scabby sheep. Mr. Gayerhill had no idea the case would come on on Monday, otherwise he would have been present to state
the circumstances. It was a friendly action
brought forward to test the efficacy and [ '^ower of the law to restrain the driving of scabby sheep through the country. Mr. Higgins laid the information at Mr. Caverhili's suggestion for that purpose, in order, if possible, to restrain the arrival of large flocks of sheep from the Wairau in a scabby condition. The mere infliction of a £10 fine will not, however, haye any practical effect in so doing; and, unless a heavy poll-tax be substituted, Mr o Caverhill's praiseworthy intention will have been frustrated, and his ten pounds unprofitably sunk. The scab question will doubtless be one of those that will command the earliest attention of the Provincial Council, so soon, we are happy to state, about to assemble. It is one of paramount interest, and should be grappled with in a spirit commensurate ■with its importance, if we wish to obviate so great an evil, and keep our plains untainted. ' Once more we must express our regret at having wounded Mr. Caverhill's - susceptibilities iv their tenderest point; he is incapable of wilfully inflicting an injury on any one, and we have the less regret at having done him an injustice, as it enables us emphatically, to testify to the esteem in which he is held by all who have his acquaintance. . .
The " Ann," steamer of 154 tons, and 50 horse powei', arrived in our harbour on Thursday evening, at 9 o'clock. The "Ann" left Wellington on Tuesday evening, and made the passage in 50 hours against a strong head wind and sea, otherwise her arrival would have been considerably earlier. By her we have received papers from the other settlements, and from Sydney, but glean from them no news of importance. A letter from our Auckland correspondent furnishes ample information of all that has transpired in the North. Sir Geoi-ge Grey was still at Wellington when the " Ann" left. At the dinner given to his Excellency on the 7th, about 140 persons were present. We will give the particulars next week. Intelligence reached Wellington on Tuesday from Sydney, that a steamer had arrived in that port from England in 62 days, but without, a mail; the authorities at home having declined shipping one, owing to the hitherto unsatisfactory manner in which the postal service of the Australian Company's steamers had been conducted. Christohuech Country District Election.—The election of Members to serve in the Provincial Council for this district took place on Saturday last, and resulted in the return of Captain Simeon, and Messrs. Tancred, Hall, and Bowen. Mr. Bray, previous to the polling, retired from the contest. At 4 o'clock, the poll gave the following numbers : Christch. Lytt. Total. Simeon 132 26 158 Tancred 129 25 154 Hall 127 24 151 Bowen JII 21 132 Burke 24 2 26 The declaration of the poll took place at 6 o'clock on Saturday evening, when the successful candidates returned thanks to a select circle of some half-dozen individuals, the inclemency of the weather putting an effectual damper on any large amount of enthusiasm. This was the final election for the Province, and, like the first and the following ones, was conducted in a spirit that reflects the highest credit on all concerned. There is but one opinion, .that Canterbury has well and ably discharged the privileges bestowed upon it, and those in England who were so earnestly and perseveringly engaged in obtaining representative institutions for us, willTejoice to hear that we have not belied their anticipations,and that we appreciate to its fullest extent the free and liberal constitution under which we are now living.
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The Lyttelton Times., Lyttelton Times, Volume III, Issue 141, 17 September 1853
The Lyttelton Times. Lyttelton Times, Volume III, Issue 141, 17 September 1853
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