Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 61

Secresy is Essential

Secresy is Essential

To carrying out this system effectively; secresy, as I have before said, can only be secured by so confusing and complicating the rates and charges that nobody can understand them.* That it is the wish and intention of the Department to bring about this stale of things here as speedily and completely as possible, let Mr. Maxwell's own words testify. This is what he says in his report for 1884:—

"The system of rating differentially in this Colony is not carried far enough, and the difficulty which stands in the way is the impatience of the public to submit to different treatment in different cases, and the reluctance to place in the hands of the railway officers the power that would be necessary for carrying out the principle extensively. Whilst retaining publicity by gazetting each rate, were such a principle more widely introduced, the public would not be able to do what it now to some extent essays to do—read and interpret the rates generally; but the practice followed elsewhere would be necessary—the customer would appear to the station each time he waited a rate quoted; and whether

* During Mr. Richardson's term of office he has added at least 50 per cent to the complication, and a reference to his Public Works Statement will show that he prides himself on the performance.

page 26 the railways were managed by a Minister or Board, more power and freedom in respect to rating would have to be placed in the officers' hands. The sensitiveness of the public then, is the chief difficulty; but this is not allowed to intervene in cases where many millions of revenue are concerned, and can be no doubt overcome here by patience and time, provided that the Colony recognises that the principle is desirable, and gives the necessary power to administer it. Maximum rates might be fixed by law, and a suitable Court of Appeal be constituted to prevent abuses of the powers given."

Imagine what would be the effect of giving power like this to a man of Mr. Maxwell's stamp, who does not hesitate to tell users of the railways that it is his business to take the utmost advantage he can of their necessities. The Colony has not "recognised" that the differential rating principle is desirable, nor has it given the power to enforce it, but the Department has seized the power, and they now favour one district and oppress another, just as they please. To prove the truth of this assertion, I will give a few examples.

A farmer living at Southbridge, in Canterbury, 31 miles from Christchurch, could have 1½ cwt. of butter delivered in that city for is. An Auckland man, for the same service rendered, would have to pay 3s. 6d., and an Otago man 2s.

The Southbridge farmer could send 3 cwt. of "loose" bacon the 31 miles for is. 10d. The Auckland man must pay 4S. 11d., and the Otago man 3s. 5d.

A ton of cheese, packed, can be sent the 31 miles in Canterbury for 8s. 6d. In Auckland the charge would be 16s. 7d., in Otago 16 s.

It is easy to understand how it is that Canterbury dairy produce floods all the centres of population in New Zealand.*

The charge for carrying a ton of goods of class A for a distance of twenty-one (21) miles in the various districts of the Colony is as follows:—
s. d.
Wellington 17 4
Auckland 15 8
Invercargill 15 4
Dunedin 15 1
Nelson 14 0
Napier 14 0
Wanganui 14 0
Christchurch 8 0

* I trust my Canterbury friends will not think that I seek to deprive them of any of these advantages. I only seek to secure greater ones for every part of the Colony.

page 27

On what principle can charges like these be justified? Why should an Auckland or Wellington man pay double, or more than double, the charge to a Christchurch man? The department says that where there is a large quantity of work to do, they ought to charge a less price; then, why are four of the larger centres charged more than three of the smaller ones? The fact is, justice or right principle is never considered in the slightest degree. The only question asked is, What district will stand most plundering quietly? Let me try and describe how the