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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 60

Differential Railway Charges

Differential Railway Charges.

Mr. S. Vaile, in accordance with notice, moved—1. "That in the opinion of this Chamber the 'differential rating' imposed against Auckland by the 'scale of fares, rates, and charges' now in use on the New Zealand Railways is unfair and unjust, and that it ought to be at once removed. 2. That copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Auckland members, with a request that they will bring this matter forcibly under the attention of the Government." In moving the resolutions Mr. Vaile said he would not have brought them up but that he had been urged by many gentlemen in the country to do so. In page 26 travelling through the country he found that there was an unfortunate feeling existing regarding not only this Chamber, but all Chambers of Commerce, that they only studied the interests of the city, and not those of the country, and that the interests of the city and country were not identical. He had done his best to remove that impression. He had been written to to bring this matter under the notice of the Chamber. Since he spoke in Invercargill and Dunedin action had been taken in regard to differential charges, and they had been removed. He also spoke in Wellington, and a deputation of the Chamber of Commerce had waited on the Minister of Public Works, but with what result he did not know. Mr. Vaile pointed out a number of anomalies in the charges between the South and the North, and also in the North Island railways themselves—as, for instance, the variance in the charges from Auckland to Cambridge and from Auckland to Te Awamutu. Having pointed out this differential rating in several classes, he proposed the resolutions of which he had given notice.

Mr. Andrew Bell seconded the resolutions, and said the labour taken by Mr. Vaile on the question of railways deserved all commendation. In the country, as he knew from his own experience, there were complaints from one end to the other, and he hoped these matters would receive the consideration of the Committee.

Mr. Lamb said it had to be taken into consideration that the Waikato railway had to travel through a large expanse of country from which there was no return, and where there was no one living, so that the profits of one portion were eaten up by the other; but there was one matter on which they had to congratulate themselves, and that was the cheapness of their railways as compared with other colonies. There was only one colony which had an income above their own, so that if they compared with other colonies they had no reason to be ashamed. Of course the Committee should look into this matter of differential rates.

Mr. Lodder said that as nearly the whole of the traffic beyond Helensville passed through his hands, he had taken some steps, and had consulted Mr. Maxwell on the subject. His reply was that where one ton was shipped here ten tons were shipped in the South. He had asked Mr. Maxwell to adopt the ordinary shipping rules, and make only five or six classes, but nothing had been done. He thought. Mr. Vaile deserved every credit for the way in which he had stuck to this matter, and thought the differential rating should be abolished.

Mr. G. Aickin said, to disabuse the minds of the country settlers, he might say that two years ago, when Mr. Nathan was President, this matter had been brought up by Mr. Vaile, and they referred the matter to the Government, and they should still keep on until they got the injustice rectified.

Mr. Vaile replied, and referring to the question of local managing Boards, said they would only be buffers between the Government and the public. They would get all the blame, the Government would get all the credit, and the people would have all the loss.

The Chairman supported the resolutions, and said that last year there was a conference of Chambers of Commerce in Wellington, which recommended the appointment of non-political Boards of Management for railways. Personally he had an objection to these conferences, and thought this Chamber quite able to manage its own affairs.

The motion was then put and carried.