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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 53

Delivery of Goods at Dunedin

Delivery of Goods at Dunedin.

There is a considerable and unnecessary-delay in the delivery of cargo at this end, arising from the following causes.

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  • 1st. The failure of many importers to pass their entries and take away their goods within a reasonable time.
  • 2nd. Want of sufficent shed accommodation at the Railway and the Harbour Wharf.
  • 3rd. Occasional scarcity of carters.

The average time for delivery of Drapery and fine goods, reckoning from date of arrival of ship to date of receiving the last package into warehouse, is 21 days, while that for rough goods including pig iron and cement, is frequently protracted to from 30 to 50 days, while cases are on record where vessels have been particularly wanted for re-loading or for quick despatch to another port, in which the whole cargo has been discharged and sent up to town in from three to 11 days. Their cargoes, however, were not all taken away from the sheds for ten days or a fortnight after the last package had been sent up.

Importers who have only a few packages in any one vessel can frequently get delivery quicker by Railway than by Lighter, but for the bulk of the cargo there is little to choose between the two modes of transit.

The Committee beg to make the following recommendations:—

(a) With Reference to Transhipment Cargo.

  • 1st. That it should be strongly urged upon the loading firms in England to assort the goods and have all packages intended for a particular port stowed by themselves and not mixed up indiscriminately with the cargo as at present. This method would at once obviate a most vexatious delay which nearly always occurs, and would enable importers of these transhipment goods to get forward their parcels in one steamer, instead of receiving them in driblets as they do now.
  • 2nd. That the Government should provide a shed at Port Chalmers for the reception of transhipment goods where they could remain until the coasting steamers could take them on board.

The District Traffic Manager of the Railway stated to the Committee that the Government had purchased a shed at Port Chalmers and that it was available for the purpose, but, as no siding runs through it, the use of it would involve unloading and reloading goods, the expense of which would practically be prohibitive. Moreover, two of the three Shipping Companies were not aware of its existence for such a purpose. What is wanted, is a shed where Railway trucks loaded with transhipment goods could stand for a day or two until the steamer could come alongside the Pier and receive them. In addition to the transhipment cargo proper coming forward under through Bill of Lading, importers frequently sell goods from their Dunedin parcels for delivery to ports along the coast, and expect the ships to keep these goods on board free of charge until the coasting steamers can take deliver. As page 9 this entails both delay and expense to the ship, the Committee are of opinion that such goods should be subject to a charge for putting them into the transhipment shed.

(b) With Reference to the Delivery of Goods at Dunedin.

  • 1st That a Queen's Bonded Warehouse should be established, and that all goods for which entries have not been passed and delivery taken within two days of their arrival at Dunedin, should be placed in it at the Importers' expense.

The Railway and the Harbour Board have the right to charge storage on goods not taken away within a given time, but owing to competition between the Railway and the Lighters this right has never been enforced.

  • 2nd. That sufficient shed accommodation be provided at the Railway Station and the Harbour Wharf, to allow the goods to be sorted as they come to hand—those for which entries have been passed to be put into a convenient place ready for delivery, while those which have not been entered should be put aside and not allowed to interfere with the rest of the cargo.

Some attempt has, indeed, been made by the Railway at such an assortment, but importers of fine goods who are anxious to get delivery complain that it is yet frequently impossible to get at their packages owing to cargo for which no entry has been passed being piled up in front, and causing often a delay of days, sometimes even weeks.

  • 3rd. That each importer should be allowed to employ his own carter.

If these recommendations were carried out the Committee are of opinion that vessels might easily discharge their cargoes in fourteen days with their own crews, and in seven to ten days if extra gangs of men were employed.

The President delivered the following Address:—

Gentlemen,—It is my pleasure and duty to address you a second time at the close of a financial year, and in doing so I have the privilege to state at the outset of my remarks that the proceedings of our past year have not been wanting in really good and useful work done on the part of this Chamber.

In the first place, allow me to remind you that I am speaking now within the walls of a handsome building, erected and dedicated for the purpose of considering and promoting the well-being and commerce of Dunedin City and its districts. At our last annual meeting I spoke to you of the page 10 terms and conditions under which it was proposed to secure for this city a proper building in which to conduct the business appertaining to a Chamber of Commerce, and it is a satisfaction to me—and I feel sure it is also one to each of you—to meet to-day in our own Chamber in our young City, with facilities and material capable of discussing the commerce of the world.

Chief among some of our anticipations on the acquirement of new offices, that of a considerable increase in the number of our members, has been fairly realised. In the preceding year our ranks counted 147, now we can claim 174 members. While the change is in the right direction, I feel that I am not presuming to dictate to my fellow-citizens in asking all who treat with, or take an interest in Commerce, to rally round us and join our meetings. Assist us in our discussions and deliberations.

Dunedin City, to my mind, is making strides far ahead of the steps yet taken by its Chamber of Commerce, and I can only hope that the latter will keep pace with the former by a continuous flow of new members into our midst, thereby imparting new ideas, from which will spring fresh subjects for thought and argument.

The principal questions that have claimed our attention during the past year I shall divide into three classes.

Firstly, those in which no advancement has been made, viz., The Otago Dock Trust, American Tariff on Wool, Otago Agricultural College, Associated Chamber of Commerce, Delays in Delivery of Cargo from Ships in Port, and Additional Wharf Accommodation.

Each of these matters has had the attention of your Committee at various times throughout the year, and regarding the Dock Trust, nothing further can be done towards pushing on the work under it until a satisfactory result can be shown by the operations of the new dredge on the Bar at the Heads, the Government having made that a sine quâ non before the endowments and powers of the trust are to be allowed to take effect.

No further progress has been made with a view to the abolishment of American duties on Australasian Wools, because nothing more at present in that direction can be done by your Committee. I can only say, therefore, that the matter rests entirely in the hands of the Legislature of the United States or America, and I cannot assert even yet that I abandon all hope of page 11 any concession in the future, although the movement may be tardy. I believe a change favourable to our Colonies will yet be made by our American Friends.

Your Committee have taken initiatory steps with the view of getting an Agricultural College established in Otago. That such an institution would be of great value to Colonists in this part of New Zealand I think you will agree. When we look around at our rising generation, it would be repugnant to the order of nature to suppose that all of our young men have tastes and abilities to enable them to follow learned professions, or have mechanical genius sufficient to perfect themselves in any of the many noble trades that abound in a manufacturing city like Dunedin. No; it is a wise provision of nature that each of us is not adapted for the same calling. So with our youth, while many have not the bodily physique to labour over the acquirement of a profession or a trade, a healthy out-door occupation pertaining to agriculture may train the boy to become a useful man and a valuable colonist. It is, therefore, desirable that this important question should be followed up until an Agricultural College is firmly established south of the Waitaki. On the whole subject of Technical Education I shall have something to say before I sit down.

Regarding an Associated Chamber of Commerce for this Colony, you will agree with me that this would be a body corporate very much in the interests of New Zealand to establish, and whether its half-yearly or annual meetings were held in one of the chief cities in the North or in the South Island would, so far as its usefulness was concerned, be immaterial. Such an institution as an Associated Chamber for New Zealand I would look upon as one likely to be productive of sound and beneficial results to the Commerce of the country in which we live. Its meetings and deliberations would, in a measure, assist to practically bridge over that insular separation which nature seems to have invited us to do if we are ever to hope for a closer unity of commercial interests between our two greater islands. In England, at certain periods of each year, the many Chambers of Commerce throughout that great commercial land, send delegates to London to assemble at the Associated Chamber, there to discuss, and think out, questions of vital importance to the well-being of every inhabitant of the United Kingdom, and of equal consequence to the wise Legislation that in many instances is governed by prudent and well-directed proceedings of Chambers of Commerce. If it ever should be possible to have one universal Tariff for our Australasian Colonies, a Federation of interest in that respect, you may depend upon the statement I now make to you, that Commercial Assemblies, such as ours, and page 12 of which we are but humble members, will have much to do hereafter in bringing about such a desirable state of things, quite as much so as the Zolverein undoubtedly had in the construction of the great German Empire.

It has long been evident to your Committee that very unnecessary delays occur in the delivery of goods from ships in Port, and consequently serious losses, not only to our Mercantile and trading classes, but also to the owners of vessels coming here. That a deficiency in wharf accommodation in our immediate neighbourhood has much to do with the evil, I admit, but your Committee being most anxious to discover a remedy for it, appointed a Sub-Committee to deal with the whole question. That the course adopted was a wise one, I need only refer Members to the Report brought up, and which is embodied in our proceedings of to-day. In my humble opinion, a more able and practical Report has never come before the Chamber. I commend it to the careful perusal of all who have not yet read it, and I trust that Members will continue to use every effort within their powers until the recommendations contained therein are carried out.

I now come to the second class of questions, in which a little progress only has been made during the year, viz:—The Otago Central Railway, Bankruptcy Amendment Act, and Bills of Sale. Regarding the Railway works, while I am able to report only moderate progress for many months past, it is satisfactory to be able to say that a considerable sum has been included in the Government estimates for public works for the year towards pushing on this great Arterial line; and, looking at the steady increase of bona fide settlement now going on in this part of New Zealand, much of which is in the direction of the track of the Otago Central Railway, I live in hope, that even the most bitter opponent to the prosecution of the work in former days, will now be prepared to give support to a useful national scheme that is destined ere long to become the harbinger of much benefit to the trade and Commerce of this City.

In the matter of the Bankruptcy Amendment Act and Bills of Sale, we have felt for a long time past that improvements were necessary in the modes of proceedings in connection there with; and while the legislation now busy in Wellington points to an immediate alteration for the better in such cases, I am fearful that much room for improvement will still exist. A lessening of the vicious credit system, particularly for amounts below £100, in my opinion, would go a great way in rendering unnecessary a frequent operation of either Bills of Sale or Bankruptcy Laws.

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I now come to the third class of important matters that have engaged the attention of your Committee during the year, and with which satisfactory progress has been made viz.: Refrigerating Works, Direct Steam Communication with Great Britran, Central Railway Station, Dunedin; Jetty Street Crossing, Harbour Board's Amended Regulations, on Collection of Dues, Earlier delivery of Northern Mails, Law Procedure Act. Regarding the first great and new industry, it is a pleasure to report that our Refrigerating Works are now in full operation, and doing good work. Members I hope will excuse me in speaking in the possessive sense of these works, as I cannot forget that they count one of the useful undertakings which have been initiated by this Chamber during the last two years. It is expected that the first cargo of frozen sheep from the Company's Works will be ready for export during the end of this month, and the new steamer "Marsala" is now in Port receiving the shipment. As I told you on a former occasion, commencement of this modern industry would open up a prosperous era for New Zealand, and embrace in its fruitful results many classes of pursuits and trades. It must not be supposed that, by adding to the value of live stock and dairy produce, we are only directly benefiting the Land owner. I think like the schoolmaster the economist has been abroad in this Colony sufficiently, already, to have taught our people sounder politics. If we can enhance the selling values of the products of our lands, there need be no fear of the future of New Zealand,—where nature has been bountiful, both in soil and climate.

Allied to this industry is the instituting of a Direct Monthly Steam Service with Great Britain. I need not tell any gentlemen here that the success of the former will greatly depend on the establishment of the latter scheme; you will, therefore, join with me in deploring the want of unanimity that existed a few days ago among Members of the House of Representatives, in not giving support to the vote of £40,000—as an annual subsidy—for a direct Steam Service; and let us hope that the Government, notwithstanding the reduction of the vote, will wisely devise ways and means in connection with immigration, to have a suitable service set in motion before Parliament is called together next year. Whether as an agency for the fostering and extension of trade, or for promoting a stream of immigration of the right class, I feel convinced that even £60,000 per annum would be monies well and profitably spent in the interests of this Colony in thoroughly establishing a first class Monthly Steam Service with Britain.

It is satisfactory to remind you that the question of Dunedin Central Railway Station has been finally settled, and I have page 14 reason for hoping that the work of erecting the new buildings will shortly be proceeded with. The erection of large new goods sheds has already been commenced.

The vexed question of Jetty Street Crossing has also been disposed of happily, partly by the aid of your Committee in having suggested a transfer of the Bridge Crossing to Police Street.

After many Meetings between your Committee and a Committee of the Harbour Board, and much discussion of utility to the question, the Amended Regulations on the Collection of Dues have been agreed to, and the rates now fixed at an increase of one shilling per ton—whether on tonnage or measurement, making the charge now equal to three shillings per ton. If our District is to rejoice in the possession of a Harbour Board endowed with valuable trusts and important powers—with the responsibility of performing and completing a great work for the enlargement of our trade and Commerce; then, gentlemen, the simple moral is, we must be prepared to be called upon to contribute fair rates for the increased advantages that we hope to receive by an improvement of our Harbour and Shipping facilities. I am glad to report that through the courtesy and attention of the respective Heads of Railways and Post Offices here to representations made to them by your Committee, an earlier delivery of the Northern Mails by one hour and a-half has been established which is a step towards the advancement of the interests of the community it is our duty to protect.

The Supreme Court Law Procedure Act has become a Statute of the Colony, to take effect from the beginning of next year, and by it we hope that a cheapening and expedition of the hitherto expensive and tedious proceedings of our law courts will have been gained for the benefit of those who unfortunately may be compelled to resort to such a mode of settlement of difficulties that from time to time are sure to arise, even amongst the best regulated and right thinking communities. It would weary you to give here an abstract of all the clauses contained in the new Act, but one interesting to you all is that solicitors will be permitted to make a contract for the conduct of a suit for a fixed sum, somewhat similar I think to a provision in the English Attorneys' and Solicitors' Act, 1870, so that those who wish to fight at law may know beforehand what their bill of costs will come to. Picture to yourselves tenders being invited by advertisement in the usual way, from gentlemen learned in practising the law, for the supply of legal advice for one year to this Chamber. We are, indeed, living in page 15 an age of progress, and I presume there is no immediate necessity to appoint our solicitor until tenders have first been called, received, and opened.

Before I leave this subject, I would like to say a few words on Tribunals of Commerce. They are most useful offspring of Chambers of Commerce, and their functions are mainly to arbitrate and settle commercial disputes without the aid of law courts. From a recent Chamber of Commerce journal I have taken the following, which may be interesting to you.