The Provincial Council virtually closed its session on Monday, when the Appropriation Bill finally passed through committee, and when the amount authorised to be borrowed by the Superintendent was fixed at £70,000. A fresh page in our current history is now turned over, in the meeting of the General Assembly,—and this new demand on our space,will not only preclude our completing our full reports of the debates in the Council (in which accidental circumstances have caused a gap), but will prevent us for the present from directing the close attention that we could wish to some of the more recent measures introduced by the Executive. Honourable members from the other Provinces who have come up to the General Assembly, will now have an opportunity of studying the new code of legislation according to which, when a Province is suffering under exaggerated commercial “depression”— (the main foundation for which is a temporary glut in the potato market)—its Executive, by way of cordial-stimulant, doubles the establishment expenses, flings upon the Provincial Revenue a heavy outlay which legitimately belongs to the Municipality, and winds- up by persisting in offering ten per cent, on a loan of .£“0,000, wliicb, were it obtained through the General Government, might be procured for eight if not seven per cent. The subject is one too grave for treating lightly—it is one, moreover, which must, erelong, come before the' General Assembly in connexion with the present and future financial policy of the entire Colony. But there is really something of the serio-comic-in such a practical commentary, as the Auckland Appropriation Bill (1856) furnishes, on the unnecessarily lachrymose warning in which our Superintendent was advised to indulge in his opening address to the Provincial Council.
Since we last adverted to them, the Land Regulations as passed by the Council have been forwarded by his Honour, and now only wait the sanction of his Excellency the Governor. It would be a weary waste of time to recapitulate the many changes that have taken place in this “ simple and workable code” from their announcement to their ‘ breeching and running alone.’ The Independent members may, however, congratulate themselves on having secured, although in a modified and deteriorated shape, the recognition of the Special Occupation principle—and so kept open the door for the entrance of Labour among the ranks of the landowners of this Colony. It is true that the Independent members have been defeated in endeavouring to preserve the Naval and Military Settlers’ Clauses, and in continuing the setting apart of • sites for places of religious worship. But they have not failed in their duty on these points; and it will remain for his Excellency’s decision whether the Executive have sent up for his approval such a set of Laud Regulations as will enable him to affix his sign-manual to them, and at the same time act up to the tenor of his Instructions under the Commission he has received from her Majesty. AVc have our doubts. The mention of the Naval and Military Settlers’ clauses, naturally recalls the “ Naval and Military Scrip Bill,” which the Executive have brought in in redemption of their much vaunted promises to do justice to the claims of the brave fellows who have fought in this Province. This was the sop held out to stay them from taking part in the movement against the proposed new Land Regulations initiated by the Pensioners. The munificent provision made in performance of those liberal promises .turns out to be scrip to the amount of £2O ! which is to be allowed 1 in exchange for, or on purchases of land. An endeavour was made—we regret to say in vain—ln' one of the members for the Pensioner Settlements, to get the amount doubled. The Bill must be accepted as it was proposed—and so the soldier who took part in the Northern campaign, and he alone, is to be entitled to the privilege of contending against the wealthy capitalist at auction, of paying 35 per cent, more for his land than its intrinsic value, and then of being allowed a remission of £2O, or probably about per cent, upon the amount of his purchase. Truly it is no wonder that such a Bill was denounced as an affront to the military, anti as a piece of the sheerest political claptrap and humbug. Another of the measures which has just been scurried through is the Native Lands Purchase Ordinance Amendment Act. Wc shall he somewhat curious to see what opr-*
hum his Excellency entertains of this .Hill, after having disallowed the Act for repealing Hie Ordinance in question. Its being brought forward at all, after the disallowance of the former measure, was in very questionable taste—and the matter became still worse when it was known that the Governor had instituted a private commission of inquiry as to the best and most feasible means that can be adopted of settling the difficulties - of the Native Laud Purchase controversy. As, however, the Provincial Secretary —an astute authority in constitutional law !!—has ruled that an “ AmcndmenP 5 Act, which is to all intents more potent for mischief than the “ Repeal” Rill, falls within the sphere of Provincial legislation, while the latter does not, —it is possible his Excellency may be induced to take a similar view of the matter. In such case, the work of information being left open to anybody, instead of (as under the existing Ordinance) being left to await the action of the Surveyor General, we shall look with some interest to see how our Legislative Paid Magistrate will deal with the sundry informations that may most assuredly be preferred •against some of his most intimate political colleagues. The Roads Ordinance or Highways Bill, the only “ country” measure brought forward by the Executive, appears to have been abandoned for the Session, as no mention lias been made of it since it passed through Committee.
The City and Harbour Acts have been repealed—the “Progress” Executive construing that word to signify the suppression of the municipal institutions which, in their eye, appear to be utterly opposed to the eminently Saxon-English principle of local self-government to which that consistent “ conservative,” the Provincial Secretary, omits no opportunity of proclaiming his adherence and attachment. e are, however, promised the resuscitation, some day or other,—when a permissive legal opinion from England shall have arrived, —and when the friends of Municipal Institutions shall be as numerous (!) as the opponents of a grant in aid of Education, —that the now dormant Corporation shall be revived. This is, ccrtcs, great consolation under the mass of crude and indigestible legislation which has been imposed upon the Province at the heel-end of the session ! Indeed, for all practical purposes likely to result from the entire proceedings of the session, we place far more reliance upon the vote in aid of the opening up of Steam Communication between this Province and Melbourne, for which, as well as for the re-establishment of the Special Occupation or Credit Land System, the Independent members may fairly claim to themselves the credit.
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New Zealander, New Zealander, Volume 12, Issue 1043, 16 April 1856
New Zealander New Zealander, Volume 12, Issue 1043, 16 April 1856
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