The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 55
The newspaper is the great educator of the nineteenth century. There is no force compared with it. It is book, pulpit, platform, Jorum, all in one. And there is not an interest religious, literary, commercial, scientific, agricultural, or mechanical—that is not within its grasp.
Dunedin. July 29, 1885.
The bitter opposition to the removal from the Harbour Board of the Dock Trust raised by the two or three speakers on the subject at the recent meeting of the Chamber of Commerce points to an under-current of feeling which is neither creditable to the authors nor conducive to the welfare of the colony. Although no open admission was made as to the exact nature thereof, it is freely asserted outside the mystic circle of the Harbour Board that, by a lengthened delay of the work of constructing the dock, some erratic movement of Fortune's wheel may enable it to be built at Dunedin—altogether ignoring the fact that Dunedin has no more moral right to a dock provided by the present endowments than would Port Chalmers have a right to the revenue from the endowments set apart for the benefit of Dunedin. Mr Ritchie's speech was a tirade of abuse against the Government, and for what? For insisting that justice shall be done, for discountenancing the "dog in the manger" policy of the Otago Harbour Board, and for endeavouring to maintain the prestige of the Port, and promote the interest of its shipping. We think the Government have assumed a most commendable attitude in demanding that the intentions of the Legislature should be strictly carried out with regard to providing dock accommodation for the large steamers. The question was deemed one of vital importance at the time Parliament consented to the alienation from the Crown of the valuable endowments whereon to raise the necessary funds for its accomplishment, and at a time when only one direct steam service was talked about. Now there are two services actively engaged, and the time may not be far distant when the whole of the intercolonial trade will be conveyed in vessels of large tonnage. At the time that Parliment consented to the alienation, the same Chamber of Commerce that now defends the action of the Harbour Board in not providing a "second dock," and denounces the Government in angry terms for its "impudence" in telling the Board that unless it took steps towards doing its duty it would be relieved from that duty, sent two of its members to Wellington as a deputation to urge the necessity of the undertaking upon the Government. It would be difficult to conceive a grosser piece of inconsistency. Whatever the ulterior intentions of the Harbour Board may be with regard to the new dock, its ostensible ones are the want of revenue to pay interest. Were these the true reasons, would it not be politic to give every facility to another body who would relieve them of so disagreeable a responsibility instead of offering strenuous opposition. Self-sacrifice is a virtue for which we have profound veneration, so long as it does not interfere with the rights and privileges of others, but in the case of that of the Board we say that a great check to the prosperity of Otago is the result. Mr Ritchie seemed to be badly informed as to the nature of the Trust to which Government intend to hand over dock matters. He asserted it was the Corporation of Port Chalmers, which is not correct. The intention is core-constitute the original Trust in which will be comprised the Mayors of Dunedin and Port Chalmers, the Chairmen of the Chamber of Commerce and Harbour Board, and a number nominated by the Government. Whoever the Trust may be composed of, we hope they will be men earnest in the work and loyal to their country, men who will not trifle with the prosperity of our port, who will not follow the example of the "faithless servant," and "hide their talent in a napkin," like the Harbour Board has done, but will discharge their duties honestly and vigorously.