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The New-Zealander.

AUCKLAND, SATURDAY, MAY 20, 1854.

He just and fear not; Let all the ends thou aim’st at, he thy Country’s, Thy (Jon’s, and Truth’s.

Although wc arc now within four davs the dale fixed for the first Meeting of the General Assembly under the New Constitution Act, we cannot be said in any considerable degree to be yet involved, as a community, in the excitement which the near approach of an event so marked in the history of the Colony might he supposed likely to produce. The bulk of the Representatives from the other Provinces have not yet reached Auckland, although I heir arrival by the Government Hng, or the steamer Nelson, or both is daily anticipated. The buildings projected for the accommodation of the Assembly arc indeed progressing before our view, and notwithstanding the difficulties with which the contractor has had to encounter in obtaining materialsand labour, and through the unfavourable stale of the weather for the last two or three weeks—there is every reason to believe that they will he in a stale of sufficient completeness on the appointed day for all immediate purposes. Rut as regards preparations by members for the business to be transacted within the edifice, little has as yet come before the public. Wc are aware, however, that a measure for the settlement of the important questions connected with the Marriage Law—on which there has been so much anxiety, inconvenience, and dissatisfaction, especially since the disallowance of the Marriage Amendment Ordinance of 18ol— exists in draft, and will be brought forward by a Member of the House of Representatives: and, as it will be chiefly based upon the recommendation of the Secretary ofSlale,ami will recognise throughout the principle of religious equality on the one hand, and that of non-interference with religious convictions or the ecclesiastical requirements ol omj Church on ilieolher--il ill,

wc trust, commend itself in the main to the approbation of the great majority of the Legislature, as we have reason to belie\e it will to that of the great majority of the people. . . Wc have also the declaration of views on several important questions agreed to by the Wellington members, and forwarded by them some weeks since to this and other parts of the colony. On one or two of the measures thus indicated there has already been so general an expression of favourable opinion in the several Provinces that we do not anticipate any more serious disagreement than may arise out of those differences on details which are consistent with substantial concuraencc in the main object. Such as the proposal that the entire administration of the Waste Lands within each Province shall be transferred to the respective Provincial Councils, “subject to general rules to be framed by the General Assembly.” There may obviously be various opinions respecting the nature and extent of these rules; but that some such regulations should be made will scarcely be denied, although it appears equally clear that they should bo as few T , as simple, and as little subversive of Provincial authority in the management of Provincial concerns, as they can be rendered with safety to the common interests of the Colony regarded as “a political unit,” and with the necessary compliance with the spirit of the Constitution Act. So again, “the permanent appropriation to each Province of a due proportion of all General Revenue of the Colony raised within the Province,” will, we expect, meet with little opposition ; although here, as in the former case, the details—particularly as to the question what the “ due proportion'’ may be,—may admit of difference of opinion, and will, undoubtedly demand the most careful consideration. On that question which the Wellington members consider “above all” important,— viz., “ Responsible Government,” it is not so easy to speak, for this reason mainly—that, so far as we have seen, there has been no distinct statement of the plan by which they propose practically to carry their theory into execution. One or two of the latest numbers of the Wellington Spectator which have reached us, contain articles on the subject whichmanifest by internal evidence that they proceed from a pen not unused to the enunciation of theories and the development and advocacy of political schemes. Rut notwithstanding their opening with professions of an intention to be explanatory, they leave ns almost wholly in the dark as lo the programme of proceedings by which the wrilerwould work his theory into actual operation. Still, the subject is one which merits—and, we cannot doubt, will receive—deliberate attention. When the matters of immediate and practical moment to the colony have been discussed and adjusted, it will be most proper lo lake this large and weighty constitutional topic into that patient consideration lo which its magnitude entitles it; and should there be an agreement upon a plan the Bill in which that plan is embodied can be transmitted for the consideration of the Imperial Authorities in sufficient lime lo obtain the judgment of the Home Government and the Parliament upon it, before the next session sf the General Assembly. Wc presume it would involve one of those constitutional changes which the GBlh clause of ! the Constitution Act—in its spirit, if not in its letter—requires should be reserved for the signification of Her Majesty’s pleasure thereon, precluding even the signification of the Royal pleasure, however, until the Bill shall have been laid before both Houses of Parliament for the space of thirty days. Even were ibis not absolutely enjoined, we ! cannot think it probable that the Governor I of the Colony for the time being would lake | upon himself the responsibility of adopting i any other course than reserving such a Bill for the signification of Her Majesty’s pleasure; still less can we think it probable that an Officer merely administering the Government during the perhaps very short interval until the reins of ibis power shall pass into ollier hands, would concentrate upon himself | a responsibility which may be so great, and which the Constitution Act evidently intends should be shared—if not chiefly borne—by the Imperial Authorities. Regarding this subject then,—from its own inherent character, and the conditions and circumstances by which it must be sur-

rounded—as ono for discussion, not for practical application, during the approaching Session, its consideration may well be postponed until measures of pressing im - poriancc and of immediate applicability have been duly cared for. Of such measures as these, we cannot doubt that several in addition to those of which any announcement has been made—are in contemplation ; and to their consideration we trust the Members from all the Provinces will bend their energies with a patriotic forgetfulness of local interests so far as they would clash with the general good of the colony, and a every jealous or selfish feeling in a combined effort for the permanent advance, ment of the country of their common adoption. The Southern Representatives, whose arrival is now hourly expected, will, we arc satisfied, be received in Auckland with all cordiality, and with every disposition to co-operate with them in the great and noble object of laying foundations for the future welfare of New Zealand—the strength and stability of which will be consolidated, not weakened, by the course of events and the lapse of years. We willingly believe that they will come animated by similar feelings, and directing their steps to the same honourable goal. It will in a paramount degree depend upon the policy and conduct of the General Assembly during this its first Session, how far the great experiment of colonial “ Free Institutions”—which in New Zealand is put to the lest on a scale and in a form not previously attempted under the British Crown—will bo declared safe, salutary, and successful ; whether, in short, such a Constitution Act as has been granted to this Colony will be hereafter regarded as a model to be imitated, or as a beacon to warn off danger.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZ18540520.2.9

Bibliographic details

The New-Zealander. AUCKLAND, SATURDAY, MAY 20, 1854., New Zealander, Volume 10, Issue 845, 20 May 1854

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1,318

The New-Zealander. AUCKLAND, SATURDAY, MAY 20, 1854. New Zealander, Volume 10, Issue 845, 20 May 1854

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