PROSPECTS OF LABOR IN OTAGO.
(From tlie Daily Times, August 2) Tx the course of the late electioneering agitation, many foolish as well as manyjudicious things have been said by the several candidates for public honors. The wisest men are not always wise. Perhaps lew situations are more trying, except to a veteran and thoroughly seasoned politician, than the hustings — where every man who courts the sweet voices of the electors is expected to be at once a perfect encyclopaedia of abstract knowledge, a philosopher well read up in all the doctrines of the ancient and modern schools, and a complete embodiment of practical science. We referred yesterday to one topic upon which the candidates for Municipal honors had been very categorically examined by the electors. It belonged, however, to a class of questions upon which there is really small room for diversity of opinion, in the present general state of public enlightenment. The candidates for the Superintendency have had to pass through a more trying ordeal — as the sphere of official action incident to the position they aspire to 's more extended. And, sooth to say, in some instances they have come out of it but indifferently well. Mr M'Glashan has unwittingly raised a controversy by the utterance of some not verywell matured, or carefully expressed opinions on the subject of protection to native industry; and Mr Dick has exposed himself to censure by some probably misunderstood deliverances on the subject of immigration. If it be not true that language was given to man for the purpose of concealing his thoughts, it mnst be conceded that it is ; one of its attributes often to mystify and misrepresent them. Probably, Mr Dick holds as sound views as any other man ia the Province on the desirability of augmenting its settled population, as a meaas of developing its wealth and consolidating its prosperity. But, in some quarters, his | words have been interpreted into the expression of a desire to check immigration to Otago ; to discourage the advent to her shores of tho3e whose adventurous spirit might prompt them to try their fortunes here ; until " better times" come. N"o doubt, Mr Dick's language recei?ed its
tone and coloring from the consciousness of a present unusual depression in matters industrial and commercial. And the same feeling leads the majority of those who address public meetings on political topics, to apeak as if things were very bad, and the immediate prospects of the Province very dark. Perhaps, one of the most puzzling questions that can wtll be put to a candidate just now, has reference to his views on the subject of immigration. It has always, at the best of times, been a difficult problem to deal with. When a colony is at the height of prosperity, those who are reaping its abundant fruits arc, with the natural weakness of humanity, jealous of every additional hand that comes to share the spoil. It is not by the cla c ses whose selfish interests are more immediately affected by the question, that the true substantial value of a large and constant influx of population is most likely to be appreciated. And when we find a candidate for legislative or administrative honors, interrogated on the hustings as to his views on Immigration, we may be pretty sure that the querist belongs to the class who are always loudly proclaiming that the labor market is already overstocked. We may perhaps be tender to a politician who, pressed on this delicate point, avails himself of the convenient escape from a direct answer offered him by the present depressed times. Mr Dick's ambiguous reply tided him very smoothly over the difficulty. He " was opposed to " emigration from Great Britain until the " prosperity of the proviuce was a little " improved." Whatever the precise meaning of the words, they setm to involve a fallacy, viz , that the province should wait until it became more prosperous before it invited or encouraged immigration to its shores, rather than look to an augmented and fixed population as the means of renewing and advancing its prosperity. Language of this kind, which it has become customary for our public men to use with more or less thought — and in some instances it may be feared from an indisposition to grapple with the difficulties of a subject having large and complicated bearings — must of necessity operate most prejudicially to the province. It i=* read extensively in the colonies as well as at home. And in both cases it has a maiked tendenc}' to discourage the movement of population towards Otago. It has a tendency even beyond this — to promote a dissatisfied feeling amongst the working population already here, and to enhance the attractions of every new "rush." The feeling of want of confidence and insecurity is likely to spread. Is there any substantial justification for it ? Are not the people, under the injudicious guidance oi their leaders, actually talking themselves into a belief in a state of things that has no existence save in a distempered fancy ? The language that is employed is the more dargerous because it is sure to be taken as meaning more than it gives actual expre-ticn to. Ie is siugcstne of distress ; of v. ant of employment for the workman ; of the absence of opportun t ls for the investment of capital ; of the insufficiency of the resources of the Province, to make provision ior more people than are presently locs ittd in it. But all these suggestions a;e notoriously at variance wiih facts. What nre the proof's of the existence of" distre.-s." e-xo.-; t such occasional c;>ll for help as is inevitable in the mo c t prosperous communities in the best of times-? The reports of the Benevolent Instit'rion contain no records of ca--is in whi.h t l ic n.Uo-bodied man or woman is unable to fam the bread of life. Of the two c.u'.i.s i';r the temporary decline in our gold returns — the comparative shortness of the pre-ent Lours of kbor, and the decrease of laboring hands — the latter is the most operative. At the end of March last Mr Pyke estimated the number of actual mineis on the gold fields, at only 7000. But it is undoubted that the gold return produced by the-e 7000 hands, could beat once doubled, or trebled, if the number ef workers were doubled or trebled Many thousands of diggers could be absorbed before the gold fields of Otago •would be fully peopled. It is just now moreover that new auriferous prospects are opening. The discovery of rich goldbearing quartz reefs promises to mark a fresh era in the mining history of the Province. Little is generally known of the extensive and costly appliances which capital is appropriating to the service of mining enterprise, and of the vast scale on which preparations are maturing for realising the yet unworked gold deposits. W e publish in another column interesting and most valuable evidence of the new spirit in which mining enterprise is likely henceforth to be conducted. A sufficiency of labor only is needed to augment almost indefinitely the gold returns. As a manufacturing country, Otago has advantages perhaps unequalled in any of the colonies, in the possession of an enormous motive power in the waters of tbe great elevated lakes, which are capable of maintaining in perpetual and almost costless activity, the most colossal systems of machinery. What ia wanted
to bring high prosperity to the Province, but labor and the moderate capital necessary to set it to work ? Surely no more fallacious doctrine could be propounded, than that immigration is to be discouraged, until more prosperous time 3 are brought about by some occult agency. Let the efforts of our public men be directed to the great intelligible ohject of encouraging the incoming and settlement of population, and the better times for which Mr Dick waits will follow in natural sequence. It would be an office worthier of a Statesman to devise means for promoting a legitimate immigration, than to shelve the question by such a common place sentiment as "better wait for more prosperous times before we encourage more people to come amongst us."
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PROSPECTS OF LABOR IN OTAGO., Otago Witness, Issue 714, 5 August 1865
PROSPECTS OF LABOR IN OTAGO. Otago Witness, Issue 714, 5 August 1865
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