The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 60
Auckland Chamber of Commerce. — Report of Committee — For the Year Ending 1884-1885. — Report
Auckland Chamber of Commerce.
Report of Committee
For the Year Ending 1884-1885.
The retiring Committee have the pleasure to submit the following Report, containing a retrospect of the various, and, in many instances, important matters which have come under consideration during the past year.
The last Annual General Meeting was held on 25th June, 1884, but owing to a resolution passed at the Quarterly Meeting held in July, which was made special for the purpose, it was decided for the future to hold the Annual General Meeting on the second Thursday in July of each year.
The following are the subjects that have occupied the attention of your Committee:—
Conference of Associated Chambers of New Zealand.
In conformity with a resolution passed at the last Annual General Meeting, Messrs. Peacock and Thompson, Ms. H.R., were appointed by your Committee to attend the Conference at Wellington on behalf of the Chamber, and they have to acknowledge with thanks the services rendered by these gentlemen on that occasion.
Reports of the Conference have been printed and have been open for the perusal of members.
Bankraptcy Act—Customs Tariff Management of New Zealand Railways page 8 Locus Standi of Chambers of Commerce Courts of Arbitration—Decimal System.
Mail Service—Returns of Exports Rabbit Pest.
The Conference also dealt with its future action and objects.
So far as this Chamber is concerned, the Committee, whilst fully concurring in the objects for which the Conference was called together, are of opinion that in any such future assembly it is essential, for the due protection of the interests involved, that previous matured consideration should be given, and, if possible, resolutions framed, by the different Chambers on the subjects proposed to be brought before the Conference.
Auckland Harbour Board Bill.
The Auckland Harbour Board having prepared a Bill for sub-mission to the House during last session, your Committee took steps to see that this Chamber should be duly represented in the proposed new Constitution.
The Bill was not passed, but a new Bill for the reconstruction of the Harbour Board has been drafted to be brought before the House during the coming session.
This Bill has not yet come under the consideration of your Committee, but they understand that the representation of this Chamber is provided for by one of its members being eligible for appointment by the Chamber.
It is also understood that the representation of Onehunga on the Board, which was provided for in the former Bill, has been eliminated. In the opinion of your Committee it is a matter of regret that there should be a divided control of the two harbours, seeing that their proximity must lead to a close identification of interests.
North Island Trunk Railway.
This subject has at various times been before your Committee, and during last session Parliament decided on the Central route viâ Marton.page 9
"That this Chamber, whilst believing that the Western route proposed for the North Island Main Trunk Railway would be best for the commercial interests of Auckland, and most immediately remunerative to the Colony, resolved notwithstanding to recommend our representatives not to obstruct the Central route as adopted by the Committee of the House, but endeavour to obtain a pledge for the construction of branch lines to open districts to the westward of the main line."
The connection of the Main Trunk Line with the West and East Coasts is so obviously essential for the further development of the commercial interests of the Province, that it will be the duty of succeeding Committees to steadily keep in view the necessity of procuring the junction of the Trunk Line with the chief ports on the East and West Coasts.
The railway returns for the past financial year have been published, and the results are satisfactory as exhibiting the increased material prosperity of the North Island—the increase of revenue over expenditure for this island being 11 shillings per cent., as against 8 shillings and 1 penny for the Middle Island. The North Island, possessing only 476 miles, constructed at a cost of £3,740,631, yielded £2 6s. 2d. net rate of interest. The Middle Island, with 928 miles, at a cost of £7,511,002, yielded £3 11s. 7d. net rate of interest.
Members will have observed that the Government propose to improve the effective working of the railways by the constitution of Boards of Commissioners, to whom will be entrusted the general management of the railways. It will be the duty of this Chamber to see that the interests of this Province are protected, and that this Chamber's representation on any such Board should be procured. The Committee refer to their successors the questions of differential rating, of reductions in passenger fares, and of how best to develop the trade and resources of our district by means of the railway.
Customhouse for Auckland.
In September your Committee forwarded a copy of a resolution to the Government recommending that more suitable accommodation for Government offices in Auckland should be provided. They have now the satisfaction to report that plans have been called for with the object of erecting a suitable building on the page 10 original Customhouse site at the corner of Customs and Albert Streets.
It may be also mentioned that improvements in the General Post-office are now being carried out.
Mail Service via San Francisco.
The importance of maintaining the continuation of the Postal Service between London and New Zealand viâ San Francisco has been fully recognised by your Committee, especially in view of the contemplated withdrawal of New South Wales from the contract. Your Committee can only repeat the tenor of the resolutions that have already been adopted, to the effect that whether our Government is supported by New South Wales or not, the San Francisco Mail Service must be maintained, believing, further, that it eclipses all other routes in the important element of time.
On the occasion of the Postmaster-General's recent visit to Auckland a deputation of the Chamber waited upon him with a view of ascertaining whether some arrangement might not be come to whereby the service might be accelerated, so as to make it a 30 days' service from London. It was suggested that the mails should be despatched from London on the Saturday, instead of Thursday, as at present, to enable them to be sent by fast steamers of the Cunard or Guion Companies.
Your Committee have since been informed by Government that the Imperial Post-office has an agreement with the White Star Line to carry the mails until August 30th, and therefore no other arrangement can be made until then. But the question of what should be done for securing after August the best steamers for the Atlantic Mail Service will soon be brought forward, as Mr. Baxter, M.P., had a notice on the Paper when the Imperial Parliament met.
It must also be a source of satisfaction that the Government of the United States is fully alive to the necessity of subsidising the lines conveying foreign mails, Congress having passed an appropriation of £160,000 for this purpose; and it is only reasonable to conclude that the Pacific Mail Company will participate in the allocation of the vote.
Direct Mail Service by Sea.
The Chamber approved of the proposal to establish a monthly service for the Colony by direct steamers in substitution of the former service viâ Suez, and they have the satisfaction of reporting page 11 that a service, under contract with the Government, is now being carried on by the New Zealand Shipping Company.
The Committee also took steps to see that the departure of the mails had been arranged so as to enable letters received by the San Francisco route being answered by the direct mail steamers.
Direct Steamers to Auckland.
The Import and Export trade of Auckland having been placed at a disadvantage by a temporary withdrawal of direct steamers, the Committee placed themselves in communication with the two Companies trading between London and New Zealand. The Committee are glad to be able to state that from both Companies favourable replies have been received, and that they have resumed steam communication with this port. Now that the frozen meat industry has been established on a large scale we may fairly anticipate an uninterrupted service.
Direct Steam Communication with the South Sea Islands.
Members will doubtless have noticed with considerable satisfaction the opening of direct steam communication with various island groups in the South Pacific, under mail contract with the Government, and they have no doubt that this new service, the pioneer vessel of which is the "Janet Nicoll," together with that already in existence by the Union Company's steamers to Fiji, will tend greatly to increase the commercial relations of the Islands with this port. From particulars which have been compiled it would appear that in 1883, the exports from New Zealand to the South Sea Islands amounted to £115,969, of which sum Auckland contributed £111,067. The imports amounted to £81,260, of which £75,844 were received at Auckland.
Government having recently placed at the disposal of the Chamber a free passage by the "Janet Nicoll" for a delegate to visit and report upon the commercial aspects of the places touched at, your Committee have appointed Mr. Kelly to undertake the mission, and his report, which will be published immediately on his return, may be looked for with interest.
The Committee have been actively engaged in endeavouring to promote the opening of Foreign markets for the produce of this district, and had important communications with a delegate from page 12 Belgium and with the Belgian Consul General for Australia, also with the Austrian Consular delegate, who arrived in His Imperial Majesty's war vessel "Saida." The Committee having also received some suggestions as to the question of a trade with Brazil, have addressed communications to the Chamber of Commerce at Rio de Janeiro on the subject, to which a reply may shortly be expected.
Complaints having come under the notice of the Committee with regard to the Quarantine Island, and quarantine regulations generally, the Committee, accompanied by Mr. O. Mays, Immigration Officer, and by the Mercantile Marine Association, visited the island of Motuihi, and submitted certain recommendations to the Hon. Colonial Secretary, which resulted in much needed improvements being carried out. A further recommendation, that the island be connected with Auckland by telephone or cable, has not yet been acted upon.
Your Committee's recommendation that a survey for a suitable site for erection of a light-house on Couvier Island or Red Mercury Island has been given effect to, and provision for the works has been made in the Public Works estimate.
This subject was carefully considered in the early part of the year, in conjunction with a report by the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce, and a full report dealing with the anomalies of the Tariff of 1882 was submitted to the Government. A new Tariff has just been laid before Parliament by the Colonial Treasurer; but, as it considerably increases the Customs Duties and the number of dutiable articles, partly with the excuse of protecting colonial manufacturers, the Chamber unanimously expressed their disapproval of it, and resolved that in their opinion a Customs tariff should be for fiscal purposes only.
Bills of Lading.
Correspondence on this subject has taken place with various Chambers of Commerce, but beyond this no special action was taken during the current year, as this Chamber has been awaiting the results of the resolutions passed in September, 1883, and which it is observed are still under consideration of the London Chamber of Commerce.
This very important subject has likewise received attention, and a resolution was passed urging upon the Government the desirability of establishing a College of Agriculture for this district, pointing out that whilst the Middle Island reaps the benefit of a School of Instruction for scientific training and allied arts, the Auckland province, which possesses a different soil and sub-tropical climate, has no institution where the characteristics peculiar to the land and products may be studied. The Committee are glad to note that the Government has brought the subject before Parliament.
The Committee also recommend for the support of the Chamber a proposal to establish Schools of Industry and Mining, where the youth of this important mining and industrial centre may have the opportunity of acquiring that knowledge which is essential to enable them to aid in developing the latent resources of the province. It is satisfactory to note that the Hon. the Minister for Mines has moved that £1,700 be placed on the estimates towards the establishment of a School of Mines.
With reference to this matter your Committee have to report that the Harbour Board are taking the necessary steps to provide increased accommodation.
The Chamber recognises the desirability of assisting the Government in carrying out their views in this measure, believing that much good might be done by allowing manufacturers an opportunity of exhibiting what they were doing in manufacturing products in New Zealand. The exhibition will shortly be opened, and it is hoped that the results will be gratifying to the colony. The Committee recommend to their successors the duty of giving equal support to the proposed Colonial Exhibition to be held in London next year, and in which H.R.H. the Prince of Wales has taken such a prominent interest.
Defence of Auckland.
Owing to the strained relations between England and Russia respecting the Afghan difficulty, in the early part of the year, and the grave probability of the Empire being involved in war, a special meeting of the Chamber was convened for the purpose of calling upon Government to afford the necessary protection to the trade and commerce connected with this port. As members are page 14 aware, the Government have been actively engaged in providing the necessary means of defence.
The Act of 1883, having been fairly tested by the experience of the past two years, and reports having come under the notice of the Committee of the necessity of certain amendments, they took steps to make careful inquiries into the working of the Act, which, in the main, they find to be satisfactory; but, at the same time, it is evident that there have been omissions in framing the rules of procedure, which it is desirable to rectify, and provision should also be made for effecting private deeds of arrangement. A separate report is being prepared by the Committee for presentation to the House of Representatives. The Committee have to thank Mr. John Waymouth, Mr. Theo. Cooper, and Mr. John Lawson for valuable assistance and information in preparing this report.
Your Committee having in November last urged upon the Government the desirability of reducing the existing annual subscription to the Telephone Exchange, they were informed that the subject would be carefully considered when the estimates were being framed for the current financial year. It is satisfactory to state that the charges are being so further reduced that the telephone may be said to be within the means of all traders, aud concession is also made with regard to private residence connections.
Cable Rates between New Zealand and Australian Colonies.
The great success achieved by the reduction of rates on the Tasmanian cable to one-third, has led to the belief that a reduction in the cable rates between New Zealand and the Australian Colonies might be made with mutual advantage to the Company subsidised by this Colony, and to the general public. Your Committee joined in a movement to secure this end, and it is hoped that through the united representation of the Chambers of the Australasian colonies a sensible reduction in rates will be effected.
In last quarter's report it was stated that the consideration of this important question would be deferred until it had been developed into such a form that the bearing of the commercial aspect could be judged with greater certainty than at that time.page 15
Since then your Committee have received several printed sheets of a petition of the London Chamber of Commerce addressed to Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies Briefly summarised, the petition evidences the importance of the commercial relations between the colonies and the mother country, by appending reports of imports, exports, and navigation for the year 1883.
The return discloses that the exports to the United Kingdom from the dependencies of the British Empire amounted to £95,777,800, whilst the imports from the United Kingdom amount to £108,618,000. Of this vast volume of trade the Australasian colonies contributed as imports from the United Kingdom £32,234,000, and exports to United Kingdom, £27,413,000, making a grand total of £59,647,000; whilst the British shipping entered into and cleared from the colonies represent a tonnage amounting to 10,527,000 tons.
The petition also enumerates the various causes which would make a federal union desirable, and it will now be for the Chamber to give some expression of their opinion upon this important subject.
The Committee recommend that a reply be sent to the London Chamber expressing approval of the objects of the Imperial Federation League.
The Committee have altered the table of mercantile rates of commission and charges, which is usually appended to the printed annual report, as they find that, with the increased trade of the port, lower rates are now accepted.
The Committee have to report that during the month of February Mr. James Stoddart found it necessary to send in his resignation, and to retire from the position which he had held for many years. They were exceedingly fortunate in meeting with a gentleman of much ability and experience (Mr. E. Menzies), who is at present in temporary charge of the office, and they recommend their successors to confer the appointment upon him for the ensuing year, in accordance with By-law 19.page break page break