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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

Wanganui Harbor Rating Bill

Wanganui Harbor Rating Bill.

On the question of the Harbour Bill Mr Ballance gave at length the history of last session's Bill, and quoted from Mr Bryce's speech to show his inconsistency in speaking against the Bill after he had agreed to withdraw all active opposition. With respect to the inclusion of Rangitikei Mr Ballance said he occupied an extraordinary position. He deprecated the introduction of Rangitikei, but was told that it was necessary to include Rangitikei and so do away with local opposition. He introduced the bill as it was prepared by the Harbour Board and it parsed its second reading. Mr Bruce presented a petition from his own constituents against the bill, stating that they would never use the port of Wanganui, and that it was injustice to tax them for harbour improvements. He was between two fires; the member for Rangitikei said his constituents did not use the port of Wanganui, and the member for Waitotara said the Harbour Board was bankrupt and the expenditure in his opinion would not be productive of any result. That portion of the bill relating to Rangitikei was thrown out, and he could not carry on the bill without Rangitikei on account of a compact made between the Harbour Board and the large land holders. What puzzled him was this:—Why if the expenditure was to do no good, and the Board was bankrupt, should those opposed to the bill want to draw Rangitikei into the maelstrom? Why saddle Rangitikei with works that were valueless? He came to the conclusion, whether it was justifiable or not, that these gentlemen were opposed to the Bill, and that Rangitikei was put into the Bill to kill it. He believed that if Rangitikei was included in any bill, the bill would be lost, and they were on the horns of a dilemma. Were they to have the Bill with Rangitikei or without it? If without Rangitikei, the Bill would be killed, and with Rangitikei it would be killed to a dead certainty. He was willing to do the best he could; it was for the people here to settle the matter for themselves, and he did not know that he could say anything further upon it.