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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 61


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To my Fellow Colonists

My object in writing this pamphlet is to point out the very unsatisfactory position of everything connected with our railways, and also to try and indicate a remedy for the evil.

It is my intention to print and distribute, at my own expense, an edition of 500 copies of this work.

To do any real good a copy should be sent into the home of every elector. If, therefore, my readers should think it has sufficient merit, I would suggest that committees be formed in the various centres to collect funds and reprint and distribute.

I wish to apologize for the very strong language sometimes used, but as the Minister for Public Works, the Hon. Edward Richardson, and the General Manager of New Zealand Railways, Mr. Joseph Prime Maxwell, have thought proper to loudly accuse me of ignorance, and have not hesitated to resort to the grossest untruth in the endeavour to impose upon the public, and make them believe their assertions, I have been compelled to expose them thoroughly.

If the statements they have made had been made by men of inferior position and education, I should have passed them by with but slight notice; but when men in their position descend to such means, I consider no treatment is too severe.

I would strongly urge upon my fellow colonists the advisability of forming Railway Reform Leagues in the various centres, and of never ceasing to agitate till every district and every individual is placed on a footing of equality as regards the use of our railways, and until everything in the shape of political rating is done away with.

I would also urge the absolute necessity that exists for appointing a commission to enquire into the whole question of railway administration. This cannot be delayed much longer.

We must firmly insist that this shall not be a Parliamentary commission, but that it shall be composed mainly, if not altogether, of gentlemen outside Parliament. I have elsewhere in this pamphlet indicated my idea of how it should be composed. I mean no disrespect to Parliament, but Parliamentary commissions are, necessarily, always more or less under the influence of the Ministry of the day.

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Mr. Richardson and Mr. Maxwell profess to have examined my proposals; They have never done so. I once spent about twenty minutes with Mr. Maxwell; he neither asked, nor received any information from me, but contended himself with the assertion that the Department alone could form an opinion on the subject. Mr. Richardson also never saw me for more than half an hour; their information must therefore be derived from my letters and newspaper reports, and they have given abundant evidence of their inability to read them intelligently, or that they wilfully misrepresent.

I wish again to direct particular attention to the fact that all I have attempted to deal with is a question of commercial and financial policy. In other countries, the manipulation of railway traffic is left to the traffic managers, while the Boards, which are composed mainly of commercial and financial men, settle the rates and fares that are to be charged. This is the only part of the subject I have spoken about, and I think my long commercial training entitles me to do so with some little authority. We have made the mistake of supposing that because the Minister for Public Works was a railway contractor, and the General Manager an engineer, that they therefore must necessarily be able to frame a proper railway tariff of fares and rates.

I gladly avail myself of this opportunity of thanking the press of the colony for the very liberal space they have afforded me, and for their fair, impartial, and kindly criticisms. My thanks are also due to those professional gentlemen who from time to time have carefully examined my proposals and certified to their soundness. I wish also to thank those numerous friends who from all parts of the Colony have sent me valuable information, and to express the hope that they will be good enough to continue their contributions.

Samuel Vaile.

The Avenue, Auckland,