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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 63

Chapter VII. — The Public Works and Immigration Policy

Chapter VII.

The Public Works and Immigration Policy.

The Egyptians built pyramids over the dead : we build roads to give life and swiftness to the living. The Chinese erect a wall to shut themselves in : we open roads and ports, and span the ocean itself with floating bridges, that we may go everywhere and behold the coming of all people.

Dr. Bushnell.

No political scheme was ever launched with a more certain prospect of success—at least according to its projector—than this. Its future course was definitely marked. The unerring finger of its author pointed out its future development with an assumption of absolute certainty. His prophetic eye, piercing the shades and clouds which hide the future from ordinary mortals, saw in the coming years the golden harvest while yet the seed remained unsown, and his melodious voice told with accents of unerring foresight the ultimate glory of New Zealand; when, unmindful of the fact that she had but just emerged from her infancy, she would rise to her full maturity, and take her proud position among the other nations" of the earth. Julius Vogel introduced his great scheme with a becoming modesty. He spoke of his pet scheme as Cromwell or Blake might have spoken of some immortal victory; the only difference being that they generally spoke after the victory was achieved, and not when they were starting forth to meet the foe. A nearer likeness to the style of the statement in which the Public Works and Immigration policy was introduced to New Zealand is found in the soliloquy of that ill-starred dreamer in the Arabian Nights, who, taking a basket of his wares to market, mapped out clearly in his own mind the course of speculation by which, with the proceeds, he should rise to wealth, and at last become the husband of the Sultan's or Vizier's daughter. The end however of his forecasting was but a sorry termination to a dream so bright, and it is not at all impossible that the end of Mr. Vogel's day-dream may be equally disastrous. No project was ever pro- page 28 mulgated with greater particularity of circumstantial detail as to its future development and consequences. The statement in which Mr. Vogel laid the great Public Works and Immigration scheme before the Assembly is more like the prospectus of a Gigantic Bubble Company than the calm delineation of a national policy. Indeed it may well be called the prospectus of "The New Zealand Public Works and Immigration Association." Incorporated by Act of Parliament. Capital, £10,000,000, in 10,000,000 shares of £1 each. Liability unlimited. Managing director—Hon. Julius Vogel. In this vast Company every colonist of New Zealand is compelled by law to hold one or more shares. The managing director has power to borrow eight and a-half millions of money, to be spent partly on the construction of roads and railways, partly on telegraphs and public buildings, partly on introducing immigrants to the country, and last, but by no means least, partly to create offices for the friends of the directors, to build and furnish fine houses for those gentlemen, to bribe and corrupt the persons who could elect other directors to manage the great Company, and in a thousand ways to please the directors by sending them on jolly trips to England and elsewhere, with all the style and cost of ambassadors, and by providing them and their friends with nice percentages on borrowed moneys and fat contracts. To secure the eight and a-half millions to be borrowed by the directors they were authorised to pledge part of the waste lands of the Colony, and the whole credit of the people. While commending this new speculation to the House Mr. Vogel was modestly enthusiastic. He displayed with charming innocence a quiet acknowledgment of a "higher power." He admitted that the success of the undertaking must depend upon a power greater than that of mortal cabinets. But he was gratefully thankful to believe that the hand of the Supreme Governor would endorse the patriotic and brilliant plans of Julius Vogel. Providence had indeed been good to this land. The very best proof was to be found in the gift of such a heaven-born statesman as himself. The projector then pointed out to the House and country the limits and conditions of the plan. 1st. The public credit was to be very carefully guarded, and therefore only £850,000 a-year were to be borrowed and spent, thus spreading the loans over ten years, from 1870 to 1880. 2nd. The Government, fully acknowledging the danger arising from undue competition in labour, were to be on their guard lest by taking too much in hand at once they should create a demand for the working power of the country which would draw the labouring classes from their ordinary employment. 3rd. It was remembered that the Colony as a whole would be responsible for the borrowed money, but that the expenditure would more immediately and largely benefit the public lands, and thereby benefit the Provinces; and it was provided that in these cases a sufficiency of lands thus improved should be taken to become a solid guarantee to the Government, the people, and the public creditor for the moneys so spent. 4th. The ordinary functions of the Government were not to be interfered with. The Provinces were to receive a regular payment of £2 per head of their population, besides a special grant of £50,000 a-year. The two pounds per head was to be liable to a reduction of 2s. per year till it fell to 30s. per head, and there it was to stop. 5th. The taxation of the people was not to be increased. The borrowed money was to be page 29 so spent, and the public works so carried on, as to avoid casting any additional burdens upon the shoulders of the people—already, indeed, more heavily taxed than any other community. 6th. No organic change in the Constitution was to be attempted, at any rate, as to the Provincial and Central question.

In relation to the Provincial and Central question, Mr. Vogel said : "I have already said it is desirable to avoid as much as possible mixing up organic political changes with the great colonizing question. I would not shrink from declaring that if the existence of the present institutions of the country are inconsistent with the promotion of public works and immigration, and a choice must be made, I would infinitely prefer the total remodelling of those institutions to abandoning that stimulating aid which, as I believe, the condition of the Colony actually demands. But violent political changes are much to be deprecated, and in the present case they would net answer the end in view. You may sweep away the Provinces and Provincial institutions by legislation, but you could not destroy those feelings of separate and distinct interests which have grown up with the settlement of the Provinces. In the course of time as the separate interests become blended, the distinctive sentiment will subside; but time and the progress of settlement and inter-communication must work their undemonstrative yet inevitable effects. To attempt to anticipate their action would be to induce an exciting political struggle, in the determination of which public attention would be so much absorbed as to lead to the neglect of the great colonizing question. . . . . . . . We may undervalue local distinctions, but why should the inhabitants of one Province submit to a lengthened period of depression whilst the means they partly contribute are devoted to consolidating the prosperity of another Province? It is very well to talk about narrow views, but one body of settlers is entitled to just as much consideration as another. If the settlers in any Province understood they were occupying an outlying district which would only be entitled to attention after more favored districts had been served, we might then deal with the Colony as with others; but it is quite otherwise. Each Provincial community has been taught to believe itself on a par with its neighbours, and a colonizing scheme, to aid which the credit of the whole Colony was pledged, would be looked upon as a gross injustice if it did not provide for due consideration to every Province. That is why we must pledge ourselves to a large scheme if we wish to do justice to all. Inter-provincial barriers will in time be removed; but the removal should be effected through the agency of prosperity—not of adversity."

Passing then from the conditions of the proposed plan he sketched the results which would surely follow the introduction of his scheme :—1st. The taxation of the people was to be reduced. 2nd. The public works were to be of such a character that they were gradually to repay the cost of their construction. 3rd. The revenue from the public works, the sale of lands made valuable by the roads and railways, and from stamps, &c., was to be sufficient to pay the increasing interest upon the public debt. In the tables so elaborately got up by Mr. Vogel the following are the results submitted to the House and country. The interest on the borrowed money was to be:— page 30
1st. year £23,375
2nd year 70,125
3rd year 116,875
4th year 163,625
5th year 210,375
6th year 257,125
7th year 303,875
8th year 350,625
9th year 397,375
10th year 444,125

"On the other side," said Mr. Vogel "merely as conjecture recollect, let us see to what desperate lengths this might drive the. Colony." He then goes on to say that six millions of acres of land may be taken as railway estate. That two and a-half millions of acres would be directly given for public works, and that three and a-half millions could be sold or leased, producing as follows :—"1st. year, £5,000, and ranging onward till in the tenth year the sum would be £130,000. In the same way the railways were to repay over and above working expenses, beginning with the third year £10,000, and going on the tenth year up to £250,000. The stamp duties also were to yield from £80,000 to £170,000 on the tenth year, the half of which would be available, making a total of receipts for the first year of £45,000, and the tenth year of £465,000. Thus there would always be a surplus of receipts over current expenditure." "Now as to the modes of paying for these railways. It is essential, in order that we do not proceed too fast and undertake more than our means will justify, that we should fix a very effectual limit to the liabilities to be incurred. Speaking broadly, I contend that during the next ten years the Colony will run no risk if it commit itself to an expenditure, or a proportionate liability for guarantee of interest of ten millions for railways, and for other purposes comprised in these proposals." 4th. As the general outcome of the whole scheme Mr. Vogel portrayed with a becoming and subdued pride the brightest picture ever presented to a Colonial audience. New Zealand, like the Phoenix, was to rise glorious from its ashes. No quack, no charlatan from a donkey-cart in a fair, ever descanted in more glowing language upon the virtue of his wares than did Mr. Vogel upon the universal merits of his scheme. Holloway's pills and ointment were nonsense beside the panacea mixed by Julius Vogel for the welfare of this body politic. It was once said of Mr. Gladstone, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he made the figures of his Budget burst into flowers and become interesting to a Parliament which hated figures; and in this matter Mr. Vogel aspired to wear the mantle and wield the rod of the greatest statesman of modern days, But Mr. Vogel's rod is not like the rod of Aaron, which budded, nor has the cloak of Gladstone fallen upon the shoulders of Vogel. Any person who choose to look behind the pretty array of figures neatly set down in Mr. Vogel's financial statement could see that the so-called policy shadowed forth was not a sketch by a master hand, but rather a sort of public-house daub, in which colours were plentiful and details amplified. There was, so to speak, no backbone in it. It had a limp and all-too-pliable appearance. The true architect will sketch out his plan in bold and decided, perhaps rough strokes; the draughtsman may put in the page 31 details and colours. Mr. Vogel's plan was in truth no plan, but a mass of details and colours. The plan, so far as any exists, has been made since. The colouring, however, if not tasteful, was at any rate profuse. Raphæl in his best clays could not have equalled it. Turner would have died with chagrin at the sight. Had Ruskin or Carlyle but heard that statement with a full knowledge of New Zealand either would have immortalised Mr. Vogel in spirit-stirring sentences. As it was Mr. Vogel seemed anxious to emulate the prophetic vision of Isaiah when that great Prophet looked over the clouds and wars of centuries to the distant glories of the millennium. The wilderness and the solitary place was to be glad. The desert would rejoice and blossom as the rose. The valleys would be covered over with com. Cattle would feed upon a thousand hills. The valleys should be exalted, the mountains and hills made low. He would plant in the wilderness the cedar, the myrtle and the oil tree, and in the desert the fir tree and the pine. Mr. Vogel, however, did not intend to wait until the days of universal peace for the fulfilment of his hopes. In a single decade his public works and immigration policy was to effect a mighty change. The silent recesses of the forest would be for ever penetrated by the iron road, and echo to the tread of civilised life. Upon the sacred ground where once the Maori scraped in solitude the bones of his fathers the spire of the village church would point with silent finger to the skies. On plains, and pathless swamps, and gentle uplands the golden corn would bend beneath the reaper's arm. Upon a hundred village greens the lads would pitch the wicket or urge the merry football to the goal. The seas would be white with the sails of commerce, and the land instinct with prosperity; and then as a fitting climax Mr. Vogel, still with prophetic vision, saw in the distance, in the purple haze, the golden and amber tints of the summer of New Zealand's prosperity, the demarcations and divisions of the Provinces fading and melting away until through this happy state of things New Zealand would throw off its chrysalis sheath of Provincial existence and burst into the warm sunshine a gorgeous butterfly. But no violence was to be used in this transformation. No sacrilegious hand was to touch the Constitution of the Colony. The natural inherent power of growth in a young nation—especially aided by the genius of a Vogel, and warmed and fostered by the pure administration of public works and immigration—would accomplish the desired consummation amid the rejoicings of a happy and contented people. Now no reasonable man would be likely to object to a proper scheme of public works and immigration. I use the term "proper" in contradistinction to the Vogelian scheme. In Mr. Vogel's enterprise the money was first borrowed, and then the Government found out ways in which to spend it. There was nothing like a well-digested plan of railroads and other public undertakings for which the money was borrowed. The whole thing degenerated into a scramble—Province against Province, locality versus locality—until the results are what they are. Strange it may seem, but it is no more strange than true, that every limit and condition of the scheme has been broken and abandoned, and every prophecy concerning its results—so far at any rate as we are yet permitted to see them—has signally and disastrously failed. To a large extent, however, this might have been anticipated and provided for. It needs more than the mere enunciation of any plan, however wise and prudent, to convert New Zealand into a second edition page 32 of fruitful and wealthy England. Patient must be the toil, stern the endurance, indomitable the spirit of that colonist or that Colony which aspires to achieve a true success. And New Zealand must not fail to remember that whilst its aims are high and its projects ambitious these very aims and projects will in the nature of things entail corresponding risks and burdens. And with the history of so many partial failures before it the Assembly might have been guarded enough to receive with caution the highly-spiced anticipations of Mr. Vogel. In India the railways have cost fabulous sums of money, and yet amid the teeming population of that vast territory the Government has to spend between two and three millions a-year over the receipts to keep those railways in operation. Canada and Tasmania both furnish useful instances of the necessity for caution not only in the construction of railways but in the indulgence of strong hopes that they will immediately prove payable.

But let us see what foundation there exists for the statement just made, that every limit of the policy of 1870 has been passed, and every condition of it broken.

1st. The maximum amount of money originally to be borrowed during ten years is already in four years vastly exceeded. Instead of £850,000 a-year for four years, or a total of £3,400,000, having been borrowed, we have spent £8,000,000, and authorised the borrowing of four more; and it is evident that still another loan of at least millions will be required before even the present system of railways is completed. The elaborate statement of Mr. Richardson, the Minister of Public Works, read with the various statements of Mr. Vogel, shew the following facts and figures :—In 1870 four millions were authorised for public works and immigration, and one million for defence and other purposes. In 1873 about three millions more were authorised; in all about eight millions. Of this six millions are absolutely spent, and there are liabilities upon the public works alone of £1,973,688 16s. 4d., or in round numbers, two millions. On immigration also there is a heavy liability, but the amount is as yet unknown; but it may safely be put down, however, that the total unascertained liabilities of the Government are considerably more than a quarter-of-a-million more. Thus, then, if accounts were balanced, at the present we have spent 8¼ millions of borrowed money since 1870. Of this, as we have seen, millions are unpaid, and indeed unborrowed. Another vote for 4 millions, which means 3½ millions available for new works, has now been passed. Thus the Government, to pay their railway and other debts, have to get 2¼ millions, and then proceed to borrow 3¾ more to go on with further works already authorized by the Assembly. It must not, however, be forgotten that the borrowing of 6 millions does not mean that we are to get the full amount. If the whole of this vast sum be taken up at 95 per cent., then add 1 per cent, for charges, commissions, &c., and for our 6 millions we actually receive 94 per cent., or £5,640,000; the cost of getting the 6 millions, or rather £5,640,000, being £360,000. From this, taking the present liabilities, millions, and we have the nett sum of £3,390,000. Against this amount, then, let us place the authorised works and undertakings of the Government—
Railways £1,914,519 0 0
New Works in 1874 421,000 0 0
Public Buildings 144,980 1 0page 33
Immigration £500,000 0 0
Land Purchases for North Island 500,000 0 0
Various purposes, 1874 500,000 0 0
Immigration will cover at least this as well as the other amount 250,000 0 0
Total £4,230,499 1 0
To this may well be added for increase of price and contingencies, extras, and new works, such as Harbours, &c 500,000 0 0
And new works necessary to complete and join together railways, &c 500,000 0 0
£5,230,499 1 0

To meet, therefore, an expenditure of £5,230,499 1s. 0d., the Government will have an available sum under the present loans of £3,390,000, or a deficiency of £1,840,499 1s. 0d., or nearly two millions. Two millions and a-half will therefore be required to finish the works now authorised and the necessary small additions and incidentals. The two and a-half millions will be reduced by discounts and charges to at most £2,350,000, little enough to finish when we can see ahead nearly two millions charged against it. In 1870 the total public debt was £7,500,000. Twelve millions have since been authorised, and two and a-half millions more will be required. In two years therefore from this time the Colony will owe—supposing that the efforts to float these loans be successful—twenty-two millions. Instead therefore of borrowing eight and a-half millions in ten years we shall have borrowed fourteen and a-half millions in six years. It will then be found that our public credit has received a serious blow.

2nd. Although Mr. Vogel wisely determined in 1870 not to enter into undue competition with private employers of labour, yet since that time it is a fact patent to all men that the Government has positively ruined the labour market. So vast has been the demand created by the comparatively stupendous Government works that not only have private persons been compelled to draw in their circle of employment, but men have been tempted from their ordinary avocations by the present high prices of human industry. As a rule high wages are one of the indices of material prosperity and progress. Men who can remember the palmy days of California, Victoria, and Gabriel's Gully or the West Coast will tell us that when a man's wages were from 15s to £2 a day everybody did well. Credit was good. Money flowed like water, and the Bankruptcy Court or the debtors' prison was unknown. The reason was obvious, A man got his pound a day because his labour was worth that at least. His hands could draw it from the earth without thanking anybody, and nobody was the poorer. He was not getting it out of borrowed money, which carried interest and had to be repaid. Labour was not forced up to a fictitious price by undue and powerful competition, but because it was actually worth that in solid gold.

3rd. No land has ever been taken as security for the public works and railways paid for by the General Government, the solemn statement of Mr. Vogel that it should be done notwithstanding. Thus the Govern- page 34 ment have no security, nor the people who are liable, nor the public creditor, who to some extent at any rate must believe that the public lands are security for the public debt. The breach of this condition is now peculiarly interesting in view of Mr. Vogel's third resolution, and from the fact that Mr. Vogel now says that he will place the whole weight of the borrowed money upon the consolidated revenue.

4th. The promise that the ordinary functions of the Constitutional Government would certainly be continued, and that the Provinces would receive a sure and certain amount from the consolidated revenue, begin-ning at £2 per head of the population within each Province respectively, and sinking gradually "small by degrees and beautifully fine" to 30s. per head, reads in the light of the present as something like what Artemus Ward would call a "goak." The Provinces have been coolly robbed of their revenue, and then reproached because they don't find the means to support costly establishments and numerous public institutions. It is ridiculous to talk as Mr. Vogel and his followers do of the the "compact of 1856," and to ignore all the solemn engagements of the Government and Assembly, by which a large share of the Customs revenue became Provincial property. If the land funds are Provincial revenue by the "compact," are not a great portion of the Customs so by numerous "compacts?" And yet when in 1871—just a twelvemonth after the Provinces were positively assured of their future means of subsistence—Mr. Vogel said he must strike off their allowance no one thought of any "compact." The sooner the people of New Zealand sweep away all lies, and subterfuges, and tricks, and look their true position manfully in the face, the better. In 1874 the necessities of the position have grown so pressing that any money whatever is given back to the Provinces out of the general revenue with grudging and infinite grumbling.

It may be indeed a matter for congratulation that the question of the further existence of the Provincial system is brought before the public notice. It may be a good thing that the Provinces should be even squeezed out of existence, for most people believe that New Zealand will never have a fair footing on which to fight her battles until she is united. It is the old story of the bundle of sticks. But to do evil that good may come is bad in politics as well as theology. The people of New Zealand will repent for many a long day that they ever permitted their public men to put in practice such a doctrine. This condition of the policy of 1870 is absolutely gone. The Provinces are now denied their right to maintenance from the cousolidated revenue. They are told to make bricks not only without straw but without even the clay of which the bricks should be made. They are told to go and find clay for themselves.

5th. The taxation was not to be increased. No man in this country, however, needs now to be told that taxation has been increased. Nor does any man in this country need to be told that if we desire to meet our Colonial engagements taxation must be yet further increased. Said Mr. Vogel in one of the last debates of the session of 1874 :—"The country could afford to be taxed over and over again what it is taxed for the prosecution of public works and the carrying out of the policy we adopted in 1870." These words from such a source are at least ominous, The people may or may not be able to bear more taxation. Already, directly and indirectly, they pay nearly six pounds per head per annum page 35 in taxes. While the present high prices of labour continue they may pay this. But we seriously question whether they will pay any more even under present circumstances. It is a dangerous plan to experiment as to the last provocation which a patient people will bear. An engineer may work his boiler up to her greatest strength. If he go beyond that there is a smash, and the coroner and undertaker are called in. Things have now assumed a shape never before anticipated. As seven of the Provinces are pauperised by the acts of the Government they must also if they exist provide for the sinews of war. This can only be done by their taxing the people. Thus the Colony is to be taxed by two powers. And yet we remember the solemn condition on which the policy was built—that "taxation was not to be increased."

From a careful perusal of these statements, which are so plain that "he who runs may read," it will be seen that the Government and the Assembly have departed from every condition by themselves laid down when the country was asked to accept or refuse Mr. Vogel's plan of immigration and public works. Even the wildest dreamer in 1870 would have stood aghast at the perils of our position had these acts been foreseen. Putting aside altogether the merits of the question, it is not too much to say that the scheme was radically unsound or inadequate to the wants of the country in the first instance, or that trickery and deliberate wrongdoing have been exhibited since by the Government.

But turning from the limits and conditions of the scheme let us see how far the anticipations and promises of Mr. Vogel have been accomplished. 1st. The taxation was to be reduced. In 1870-1 the revenue was £936,188 5s. 10d., levied from 250,000 people. In 1873-4 the revenue was £1,420,000, levied from under 300,000 people. The people therefore paid over one pound per head more to the revenue in 1873-4 than they did in 1870-1. Surely this is no decrease of taxation. On the contrary the Customs duties have been considerably increased. The population in the four years has only increased at the total rate of 20 per cent.; the Customs revenue has grown at the rate of 51.7 per cent. Indeed during the year 1873-4 the people of New Zealand paid nearly four pounds per head Customs duties. This is altogether unparalleled in the history of taxation. According to the census returns of 1874 the total male population of New Zealand was 170,903. Of these it may safely be said that the adults—who may be called the bread-winners or the producing classes—are not more than 80,000. These paid on an average as nearly as possible the sum of £14 on Customs duties only. The total General Government taxation for the same class is nearly £18. So far taxation has actually increased about a pound, or for the producing classes about four pounds per head yearly. This is the more serious, and destined to be of greater moment than at first appears when it is remembered that all taxation comes equally from the people. The labouring man with half-a-dozen children pays more to the revenue than the Cabinet Minister with only two, or the unmarried colonist with property in land and money worth five thousand a-year. There are some things which cannot go on. This is one of them. Taxation must be seriously increased to meet the increasing demands upon the revenue. From whence is it to be drawn? It may be possible, while the Government is supplying an artificial demand for labour, for the working classes to pay even the page 36 increased taxes they now endure. When the working man was getting five shillings a day, or thirty shillings a week, he paid about five shillings and sixpence a week taxation. Now on two pounds per week he can well afford to pay another eighteen-pence or two shillings a week. But when wages go back to five shillings per day—which will happen directly the Government money is spent, and perhaps before—and work is slack, will he then be content to pay the extra charge? Even if that be answered in the affirmative will he be able or willing to pay five pounds or ten pounds per year or three shillings a week extra? The cost of a passage to Australia is a mere nothing. Work is there certain and abundant; and if we tax our labouring classes so heavily, the pick and choice, the backbone and sinew of our toilers will be off to Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Brisbane. Already they are going. Already have many of the best workmen—miners, artizans, and others—old colonists and new, left the shores of this Colony for Australia. If this be the case when work is abundant, wages unexceptionally high, and taxes as they are, what shall we see when employment is scant, when wages have returned to their former level, and when a needy and imperious Government calls upon the people to pay more into the Colonial Treasury? Where then will the Government obtain the necessary funds? Will the owners of property propose and agree to a property tax? If not, where shall we get the wherewithal to pay our debts? Then the people were told that the public works were to be of such a character that they, together with the sale of lands made valuable by them, and from the increasing revenue of the country, would suffice to pay not only the interest on the loans but also gradually pay off the principal. This is as little likely to be fulfilled as the other prognostications. Up to this time it has utterly failed. So far from the railways paying interest over working expenses it is not likely that they even support themselves. At a guess it may be hazarded that when all the railway lines now authorised are completed that it will cost the country at least £200,000 a-year to keep them in repair and going. As to the improved lands helping to pay the Colonial debt, that Mr. Vogel himself shuts out by his famous Resolution. Perhaps the most promising and likely of all the previous vaticinations was that in which he spoke of the increasing by immigration the population of the country to a very large extent, and thereby decreasing in proportion the burdens of the people. As a matter of common sense and homely logic we may say that 900,000 people would feel but slightly a weight of national debt or aggregate taxation which would press with crushing weight upon a third of that number. And so it was that when Julius Vogel spoke of introducing a large number of immigrants into New Zealand it seemed reasonable that they would be able, nay obliged, to relieve us of some portion of the burdens we were about to take upon ourselves. But what are the results? About a million of money has been spent, and in round numbers forty thousand immigrants have been added to the population, or will have been in a few weeks. There is another half-million now voted which, as preliminary expenses are now paid, may introduce twenty-five thousand or even thirty thousand more. Seventy thousand persons then will have been added to the Colony. Without doubt this represents in a new and flourishing country a large tax-paying power, simply looked at as part of a revenue-producing machine. But this page 37 subject, like all others, is manysided. The members of the Assembly seem to have universally on subjects like this taken the premises laid down by Mr Vogel as correct, whereas in fact those premises are far short on the one side of truth or even probability. I say on the one side, because on the other they go far beyond the truth. Invariably Mr Vogel is a long way behind the truth in estimate of cost, liability, and trouble; while on the other hand he goes far beyond the truth in his estimates of production and results. Excepting, indeed, where, as in the estimated Customs revenue in 1872-3, it suits him to disguise the real state of things that he may point in 1873-4 to the enormous surplus as an evidence of the wonderful prosperity of the country, when in fact it is but the evidence of an unscrupulous trick played upon the country by its Premier. Mr Vogel and the House do not seem at all to have looked upon the immigration and its consequences from any more than the one standpoint. This is their formula. Given a population which pays £5 a head to the revenue, add 70,000 to that population, and you increase the revenue £350,000 per year. This, however, may or may not be true absolutely; or it may or may not be true partially and conditionally. And surely it seems more reasonable to say that its truth will be materially affected by a multitude of conditions and events. The character of the immigrants themselves, their capabilities as workmen, the amount of wealth they possess, the scope of and, for their profitable employment, the permanency or otherwise of the employment itself—more than all, the question of their quick departure or final settlement in the country have to be considered. For what ultimate benefit would the Colony of New Zealand reap from the introduction of 80,000 immigrants if those immigrants, or an equivalent number of her working classes, were to leave this Colony for lands where wages are as high, where work is more constant, and where taxes are far less than here? What then should we possess for the million and a-half of debt expended by us and saddled upon four children? We should see that we had incurred these fearful liabilities in order to provide population, wealth and power, to the other Colonies of Australasia. No real colonist will fail to recognise with pleasure the growth of Australia. As the vast resources of that great group of Colonies become more and more apparent, as the energy and enterprise of Australians vindicate their claim to be called the foremost of the Colonies of Britain, as step by step they go on upon their prosperous course, laying the foundations of a confederation destined in the Eastern hemisphere to rival the colossal proportions of New England in the West, we of New Zealand, bound to them by so many ties, may rejoice. But if we find that by our own bad management and Governmental blunders we are simply spending millions to enrich Victoria and New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, we shall not be satisfied simply that we are at such a fearful cost aiding them to develop their latent powers and rise to swift greatness. And will any person venture to say how many people will leave New Zealand for Australia within the next five years? No adequate provision is being made for the settlement of immigrants. And when the Government works cease, as cease they must in the course of two or three years, when the reaction sets in—and that reaction will be fairly equal in intensity to the feverish excitement which produces it—when employment has to be sought, and in many cases found with difficulty— page 38 when as a consequence wages fall—when taxes increase and the revenues decrease—how many of all classes will, like swallows in the autumn, wing their way to happier and more peaceful climes. But besides these possibilities, the introduction of 70,000 or 80,000 immigrants and the extension of settlement, means an enormous increase in the cost of government. And although we are often met with the argument, Oh! the debt is truly growing, but the population grow and then the debt will be less felt: does it never strike our rulers that as the population grows in number and expands, the wants of the population will grow and expand also? Will no new works be wanted? Railways, roads, harbor works, public works, public buildings, and the thousand other wants of advancing colonization? Will not these take money? The danger is rather that our debt will grow faster than the population. Mr Vogel's Ministry have over and over again said that they intend finally to construct main trunk lines of railway through the two islands. If they do this, by the time those lines are complete the Colony will owe at least £30,000,000 of money. I am not here advocating their construction or deprecating it. I am simply pointing out the fact that there is but little likelihood of the Colonial liabilities being reduced by the increase of population over debt. But it is in the happy general summary of the future results of the policy of 1870 that Julius Vogel is most singularly unfortunate. Mount not again the mystic tripod, O! Premier; utter no more the prophetic words which tell of the future and unknown, lest the people ask, "Art thou indeed filled with a Divine afflatus, O Julius! or art thou for thine own purposes become a charlatan and a sham?" Have the triumphs foretold by Mr Vogel been achieved? Some of the railways have been constructed—some are in progress. Roads have been made in main districts, the electric telegraph has been extended, and in nearly all parts of the Colony the eight millions have produced alterations—mostly beneficial to the welfare of the people and to the value of property. No colonist can wish to deny any of the good effected. Indeed we should be glad that we have something for our money. It has not gone in a bloody and useless war. What we have for it—miserably below its value as it is and will be—will aid in the growth and settlement of New Zealand. We may be thankful so far as we have gone that it is no worse; but when we recall the, glowing language and splendid pictures of the Treasurer in 1870, even the most forgiving will experience a sentiment of indignation. In 1873 our imports were £6,464,387; exports, £5,610,471. True, everything is brisk. Imports and exports are both large, but the imports are enormously over the exports; indeed nearly a million sterling. Every man, woman, and child in New Zealand received in 1873 three pounds' worth of goods from abroad more than he or she sent away in exchange. In 1871 we exported £5,284,084, or within £330,000 of the exports of 1873, but imported only £4,078,192, nearly £2,400,000 less than the amount we imported in 1873. Here is a fearful discrepancy, yet we are told to regard this as an evidence of our prosperity. And it is so well known as scarcely to require to be stated, that we are buying now not only more than we could or did buy four years ago—that we are buying more than any other people in the world—but that we are buying more per head from the outside world than any Colony ever did, excepting Victoria, and perhaps New South Wales during the first few years after page 39 the discovery of gold in Australia. This is easily explained. We are paying for these things with borrowed money. In 1873 we imported £2,386,414 more than in 1871, but we only exported £328,287 more. And it would be interesting to know how much we are actually sending to England and elsewhere of the millions we are adding to our debt, which will be for ever lost, and how much remains in this country as wages, purchase-money, &c., to circulate amongst ourselves, and thus add to the actual floating wealth of New Zealand. Not only are we purchasing foreign goods of enormous value, which, alas! are mainly for eating and drinking, for clothing, pleasure and ornament, but we are largely buying of the very best and most expensive goods. It is thus that our Customs revenue is, incredible as it may seem, very much larger in proportion to our numbers than all the taxation of any other country in the world. Much as we desire to see a continuance of large revenue, and large commerce, we cannot hope that this will continue a single month after the borrowed money is spent. In 1871 our imports from which the Customs revenue is derived were about £15 6s. 0d. per head; in 1873,—thanks, as we have seen, to the wide diffusion of English capital—they were about £21 10s, 0d., or £6 4s. 0d. more. When things revert to their natural condition the Customs will also turn; and our revenue will go down, save the increase made by the ad valorem duties, to their former level. When we remember that the total revenue, including Customs for 1871-2, was only £1,031,082 18s. 7d., and see next year the interest on our debt and sinking fund will amount to about that sum, we may be able to see what the promises of the Hon. Julius Vogel are likely to result in. I propose, however, to take a higher standard than the monetary one. In our politics, since the present Ministry have been in power, there has been far too much heard and talked about money. Like Tom Hood's poem of Miss Killmansegg and her golden leg—all our talk, all our legislation, all our hopes, and all our fears have been about gold. Loans, interest, sinking fund, proceeds, discounts, always the same song, "Gold, gold, and nothing but gold." The golden calf has been set up by Mr. Vogel, and the New Zealand people have fallen down and worshipped. We were greedy and grasping before, and the operations of the last four years have by no means improved our character. Political gambling and Ministerial corruption have disgraced the people and the Assembly not only in the estimation of others, but in our own. The Houses of Parliament in this Colony at the present time are a bye-word, a scorn, and a reproach. The true character and position of the House of Representatives was sketched by Mr. Vogel himself. When he was reproached by Mr. Fitzherbert with introducing measures simply to create offices and emoluments by which he might purchase the support of members, the Premier is reported to have said that he had no need to do so; that the votes of the members were notoriously to be had, and indeed offered, at a very low price. This reproach has not, I dare to say, been equalled in any Anglo-Saxon Representative House. It came with peculiar force from one who has maintained himself in power by the means alluded to for years. The tempter reproached the miserable beings who had accepted his bribes and ministered to his ambition and his selfishness. In an assembly of honest men such an assertion would have led to the speaker being forcibly ejected. In an assembly of gentlemen he would have been horsewhipped page 40 or sent to Coventry. But in the New Zealand House of Representatives the words were felt to be true, and therefore they passed unchallenged. How galling it must be for those who, themselves above any such inducements, are yet compelled to endure the knowledge that to a great extent such things are true, and to feel themselves utterly powerless to rectify the evils they deplore. At Mr. Vogel's last appearance in New Zealand on the platform at Auckland he added the last finishing touches to the miserable picture of the House of Representatives. He said that after the Resolutions were carried a caucus of the members who had voted for them was held, and they then began to ask "What is the meaning of these Resolutions?" They first vote for them and carry them, and then they retire to ask each other and the Premier "What do they mean?" He then proceeded to say that it was quite allowable for private members to have secret reservations—in fact to say one tiling and mean another. And he said that various members decided in relation to the Resolution which fixed the seat of Government at Wellington that they did not want publicly to pledge themselves to that, as it might injure them with their constituents, but they counselled the voting of a large sum of money for public buildings which would have the same effect and not compromise them openly; and this was accordingly done. The same corruption permeates society. And there is a rankling spirit of discontent, a smouldering fire of uneasiness and indignation which a single breath might in a day or hour kindle to a flame. Look at the final result of Mr. Vogel's policy as foretold by himself. The Provinces, their prejudices and lines of demarcation destroyed by prosperous inter-communication and increasing wealth, were cheerfully to blend together to form a powerful and united people! Is this accomplished? Why at this very time there is a stronger feeling of antagonism between the Provinces than there ever was. Thanks to Mr. Vogel and his policy, seven of the Provinces are indeed placed side by side. It is however not in prosperity—but destitution. He has made them paupers. He held their trust funds, and he has devoted them to his own purposes. And now when they come to ask for some of their own money he turns upon them as Mr. Bumble turned upon poor Oliver Twist when, with his youthful and hungry stomach all unfilled, that hero approached the awful flunkey and said, "Please, sir, I want some more." And so far from the Provinces becoming extinct through success, Mr. Vogel has promised to strangle them with his own hand, because they are too poor to live and work. There is a feeling—to speak within bounds—at least dangerous both North and South. Under the pressure of increased taxation, general and provincial, the people of the seven bankrupt Provinces say—Take the land of the Colony for colonial debts and do not tax us any more. The two great and wealthy Provinces of Otago and Canterbury say—"No, our land is sacred. You shall not touch it." Unless report speaks untruly even threats of armed resistance have been made to any such proceeding. And in the North it is no secret that men talk openly of the possibility of that day arriving when in selfdefence the people of Auckland and other places similarly situated will forcibly take the Customs of their respective districts for the purposes of government. There may indeed be little likelihood of either of these contingencies occurring, but it is at any page 41 rate not pleasant to have the possibility of such things spoken of. So bitter is the feeling becoming that it will need some skill to steer the ship of State safely and in peace through the storms which are besetting her course. The reader will now see that not only has every condition of the policy of 1870 been deliberately broken, but that every promise or anticipation of Mr. Vogel has been completely and miserably unfulfilled. Was ever a failure so complete? We are now in the fifth year of Mr. Vogel's tables as to time. We have actually spent eight millions, and are therefore in the tenth year as to the expenditure of money. Where are the hundreds of thousands of proceeds we were promised, and on the faith of which the country and the House undertook the work. Where are they? And echo answers—"Where! "Taxation has been seriously increased—almost, if not quite, to its extreme limit. The Provinces have been plundered, and now their existence is threatened; and yet amid all this, because there is abundance of public money in certain districts, we are continually called upon to congratulate ourselves upon the "unexampled prosperity of the Colony." The argument raised from the increase to the population by means of the very large Immigration now being carried on, while to some extent sound, will not, it is feared, be sustained to anything like the length anticipated. It is a common thing to hear of our population being doubled, as if that were to be easily performed. Mr. Vogel speaks of millions making New Zealand their home sooner than they otherwise would do, and confidently stated at his last speech in Auckland that New Zealand was fast becoming the chief Colony of the Australasian group, and that there was a reasonable probability in our life time of New Zealand taking that proud position. Such a consummation is devoutly to be wished; but if it depend upon the present carrying out of the Public Works and Immigration, then there is not the remotest chance of its being seen or done. The figures in relation to Immigration are instructive, but somewhat startling. Colonists are fully prepared to hear of the rapid increase of numbers. In every large seaport town vessel after vessel has disgorged her living freight. Regiments of immigrants have marched through our streets. Public buildings have been overcrowded with them. It will therefore be heard with much surprise that in the three years ending the 31st of March, 1874—three years when the Immigration and Public Works were in full operation—New Zealand received from Immigration less permanent additions to her population than during any equal portion of time since 1856, when her people were very few, her towns were hamlets, and colonization in its infancy. Yet such is the fact. Examine the statistical returns for the last twelve years. On the 30th June, 1862, the population of this Colony was 112,416; on the 30th June, 1865, it was 182,113, being a gross increase in the three yeare of 69,697. Of these 11,445 were the natural growth, births over deaths, and the nett balance, 58,252, the results of immigration. This was increased by permanent immigration at the rate of 19,417½, or nearly twenty thousand a-year! In the six years from 30th June, 1865, to 30th June, 1871, the dullest and least progressive period in the history of the Colony, the additions to our population were 78,517, the numbers being—1865, 182,113; 1871, 260,630. Of these 41,392 were the balance of births over deaths, and 37,125 the fruit of immigra- page 42 tion, or 6,187¼ yearly. From the 30th June, 1871, to the 31st March, 1874, three years save three months, during which the public works and immigration were in full swing, the gross increase in numbers was 38,755; from 260,630 on the 30th June, 1871, to 299,385 on the 31st March, 1874. Of these 24,100 were increase of births over death, and the remainder, 14,055, have to be credited to immigration, or 5,312 per year. The most peculiar and ominous fact, however, is this : during this last period we imported 16,000 immigrants from abroad at an enormous cost, and yet there only are found in New Zealand 14,655. Where are the 1,3451 or rather where are the 1,345 people we have paid for, and all the voluntary immigrants who have arrived from abroad during the same period? If New Zealand had been reduced to such a position that the only population we could obtain was the surplus of the over-crowded communities of Europe, whose passages were provided for them by us—yet we might expect at any rate to have these in their full number to aid in the opening and settlement of the country and in bearing the taxation consequent partly upon their own journey here. We, however, are it seems doomed to disappointment. The stream has already commenced to flow from New Zealand to Australia. The Australian journals are but speaking in sober earnest when they say that New Zealand is providing for them a cheap immigration. And we shall find to our sorrow that the best of our working classes are going—to whom the new-comers on an average are not to be compared. The same rules which control all other mortal enterprizes control immigration. We cannot safely overdo it. The ground in summer may be parched, the rain falls upon it and continues falling; when the earth is saturated the water runs off the surface. So with men. If we bring such a stream of human beings into the Colony as the Colony cannot profitably absorb under conditions as favourable as those offered by the adjoining Colonies, then the stream will flow away. We cannot compel the people to stop here. If taxation be too heavy, if work be difficult to obtain, and not so well paid as in other lands, or if it be better for the working classes in neighbouring countries than here—then, although we introduced a hundred thousand people a-year, they would with equal speed leave us to enrich and populate at our expense the Colonies around. To an honest mind however there is a still worse feature in the present state of things than the most gloomy picture of our material condition; that is the unbridled profligacy, the shameless corruption of our political life. For New Zealand no doubt there is a brilliant career. The future is golden and radiant with hope. Her vast and almost limitless natural resources, which the wants and the skill of men will develope, her climate, her well-nigh unequalled advantages of situation, convince the mind that a great destiny is allotted to her by the hand of the Creator. But the political corruption and rottenness which has lately grown up under the shadow of these great schemes will do more to retard the progress of this land than twenty Public Works and Immigration schemes will accomplish in the opposite direction.