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THE Marlbarough Express. PUBLISHED EVERY EVENING. SATURDAY, JULY 19, 1884. MR WARD'S MARE'S NEST.

Ma Joseph Ward, with tho public spirited and disinterested assistance of the Times, has discovered a pretty mare's next m connection with theWairau Bridge. Without re-calling to the Hon. Walter Johnston's : recollection the circumstances which attended the negotiations bstwesn the members for thia district and the Whitaker- Atkinson Government m 1882 oa the subject of the bridge, Mr Ward telegraphel to Mr Johnston to enquire whether it waa correct that a certain conversation took place between Mr Dodson and. himself. Mr Walter Johnston, who never saw the Wairau bridga m his life,' and .from whose mind the details of his official career must long ago have completely vanished, naturally replied that Mr Dodson's statement was absolutely incorrect. Whereupon the Times, with the crow of a political barndoor rooster, triumphantly asks, " Wijat verdict can tho electors prononnos m fjhe teeth of thia extraordinary disclosure,?" Befo.re we copsider what that verdict ought to be, let us look for a moment at the conversation which Mr Dods|on alleges— and no doubt alleges with perfect truth— took place between h{mself and Mr Johnston, tho Minister for Public Works m 1832, at a private interview, no one else but the Minister and i'tlie "member for Wairau ~bsing ' present. Mr Dodson (we quote from our contemporary's report ' r of-'hi3 i;l speech at Matlboroughtown, and give it the benefit iof ' tH glaring errors which pervaded that re- : port, frojn beginning to. end) stated : V I "told the Mfnister of Publio Works (Mr Johnston) that unless he promised to'cqnstruot the Wairau Bridge I would oppose the .Roads and Bridges Construction. Sill and lead & party, which the town mejnbers would join, and the resultjwould Bbc that the Government would get .the IJill baok m their teeth." Mr Johnson said, "Do not do anything of the kind. IyM build the bridge." Now, we unhesitatingly affirm, and. nothing but the- base rancour of his political opponents could breathe anything to the «patrary, that Mr Dodaon'a publio and (private career Has marked him throughout as the soul jot truth and, honor, and that the Times j is not justified; m its malicious 'haste, m the assumption that because Mr Johnston say a oue tiling therefore Mr Dodson waa untruthful- in, .saying another. O^e 1 man's word is as good as another's id a mattor of thia kind, especially wh?niit refers' to a subject which to' Mr Johnstin waa one of very slight and passing interest, but which to Mr Dodson was' a question so absorbing that it could not possibly go out of his mind. But we are not content to rest the matter there. We ask the elootors to look at the surrounding circumstances of the dass, and see if they do not invest Mr Dodson's story wtth an air of absolute certainty. On the 27th June the deputation went over to Wellington on tho subjeot of the Wairau Bridge, " to aid aud a»siat their member," aa Mi Josoph Ward, with ohild-liko innooence, chooses to put it. On the 28th Juno they saw the Minister for Publio Works, and on the 29th June tho Express — au authority whioh the literaty genius of the Tiraea will not, under byyono oirouiaatanoeg, have the impudence to question— contained the following account of the interview : — " Mossra

Couolly (Xr.H.R.), Ward, C. Redwood, H. Dodson (M.H.R), Doaslin, and J. Redwood urged the clniais of the district to have a bridge: The lion Mr Johnston said that worl»3 of that kind would be amply pro> vidoil for m Major Atkinson's Road Construe! ion Bill, the district having to flud onc-fnnrth of the cost only, 9nd that tho district could recoup itself this fourth by imposing toll Rates. Mr Dodson, M.H.R.,' pointed out that tho adjoining Boards were small, and that the other Boards would not join ; that toll gate 3 vrouM lead to angry feolinp;3, and be impossible m a district whore so many Boards existed, for if one. was oreuced other Boards woulJ do the same. Mr Mr Johnston said he could hot mako any distinct promises, but he admitted that tho district had special claims, nnd promissil to provido for the bridga by putting a sum upon tho Supplementary Estimates -should Major Atkinson's bill nofc pass." On the 29th August Major Atkinson moved the second reading of tho lloads and Bridges Construction Bill, Mr Dodoon supporting it iii a clear and argumentative speech, which elicited from the Major, when his turn came to reply upon the whole debate, the following significant remark:— "l hope that hon. members will address themaolve3 to tha subject m the same spirit m which tha hon. member for Wairau addressed himself to it on! the i present' occasion,, and then I feel quite certain that it will come out a really good and useful measure." Mr Dod«on further acted as ' teller for the Government, and the second reading' was carried the Bame night by 31 to 17, :or two to ons. On tl ?. following day — the 30th August — and the electors should mark the significance of • this, the Express published the following paragraph upon information supplied -by Mr Dodson:— "The Wairau Bridge.— We have it on the best authority that Mr Johnston, the Minister for Public Works, has given a promise to Messrs Dodson and Couolly to place a sum on the estimates for tho construction of tho proposed bridge over tho Wairau. Wo may add that the promise was made prior to the introduction of the Roads Construction Bill, and will consequently be outaido its operation." Does aot all this clearly point to the fact that tho grant for the Wairau Bridge was conceded to Mr Dodßon m reply to the support which he gave to the Koada and Bridges Construotion Bill ? On the 29th August he is complimented by Major Atkinson for tho assistance he had rendered him ; on the following morning the Government grant for the bridge is made public ; aud a few daysafterwsrds£loooforit appears on the Publio Works Estimates. To aoy disinterested person, calmly reviewing the facts, it must seem that an understanding, such as Mr Dodson alleges took place between himself and Mr Johnston, had certainly been arrived at with the Government. We will give our contemporary the benefit of one more quotation. On the 2nd September the Express complained that the Times had appropriated to itself tho information about the bridge grant, and had actually given the credit of it to the deputation, and the writer of the paragraph, who is exceedingly near and dear to the present editor of the Times, continued as follows : — " Let us for a moment recall to mind the promise given that' deputation. It was to the effect that if theRoads Construction Bill passed, we over here would be able, under the provisions of the Bill, to'raise the money to build the bridge, and; that, m the contrary event — namely, the" non-passage of the Bill— the Minister for Public Works would put a sufficient sum on the Estimates. The Bonds Construction Bill ia now before the House, and will puss m a day oi two, when Mr Johnston's promise to tho deputation will be at an end. It will consequently be seen that the obtaining of Mr Johnstpn'a promise before the passage of the Bill, to appropriate a sum for the Bridtje, is due to the exertions of our members, and to them alone the credit is due." The prediction was quite correct ; tho Boads and Bridges Construction Bill passed through Committee on the sth September, was read a third time on the 7th, an<? a day or two afterwards the L4OOO for the Wairau Bridge went through the House unchallenged. Everything points to the absolute correctness of Mr Dodson's account of his oonversation with Mr Johnaton. What is there "absurd" or '■peculiar" about that conversation ? There was, as is well known, great disiatisf action with the Bill on the part of the members for the large towns, which would get no benefit from it, and the adhesion to their side of a very few members who, like Mr Dqdßon, represented semi-urban and semi-rural'consti-tuencies, would have rendered -it impossible for the Government to pass their measure. Mr Dodson felt deeply on the Wairau Bridge question ; he saw that, owint; to the stupid and studied neglect by Marlborough representatives ia the past, the Wairau would, unless it gnt a Government grant before the Boads and Bridges Bill passed, ba very unfairly handicapped. There ia no elector of this district who would dare to blame him had he organised an opposition to a Government which refused to grant our just demands. And it was to organising such an opposition that Mr Dodson referred when he threatened Mr Johnston that he would " lead a party which the town members would join, and the result would be that the Government would get the bill back m their teeth." The idea of Mr Dodson boing able to lejad such a party m the House, so far from being absurd, was extremely .probable. Without aspiring to : be a leader'of men!in the sense that Mr Montgomery, Mr Joseph Ward, or Mr VVm. Fitzwilliam Terry occasionally: claim to be, Mr Dodson might, as other private members had often done before him, have brought such a compact opposition against the Ministry- that it must have given way. We wish to cast no reflections upon Mr. Johnston's failure of memory — to those who knew the man as a Minister it will not seem remarkable. But this much we fairly contend : that all the facts of the case point to Mr'Dodson's perfect truth and correotuess even m detail, atid that the verdict of the electors will, without doubt, he enthusiastically given, m his favor. • • ' '■ • j

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Bibliographic details

THE Marlbarough Express. PUBLISHED EVERY EVENING. SATURDAY, JULY 19, 1884. MR WARD'S MARE'S NEST., Marlborough Express, Volume XX, Issue 167, 19 July 1884

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1,628

THE Marlbarough Express. PUBLISHED EVERY EVENING. SATURDAY, JULY 19, 1884. MR WARD'S MARE'S NEST. Marlborough Express, Volume XX, Issue 167, 19 July 1884

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