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  • doug.butler 17 Nov 2011 at 00:31
    Computer-generated heading "12 Jan 1867 - Mr Neville ... instead of "12 July (etc)

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The public are aware that Mr. Neville Blyth, one of the members for the district of East Torrens, has resigned his seat in Parliament in consequence of the antici-

pated action cf the Legislature on the subject of the pastoral leases. Mr. Blyth says that he considers it desirable that the electors should be represented by men untrammelled by pledges given under dif ferent circumstances, and holding this view, he has deemed it to be his duty to resign. Of course, this means that at pre- sent Mr. Blyth is trammelled by pledges, and that as he cannot carry them out, the only course open to him is the one he has adopted. We have not gone back to see what was the precise nature of the pledge given by Mr. Blyth to his consti- tuents, but to the best of our recollection it was that he would uphold Goyder's valuations. We have, however, yet to learn that it is proposed to abrogate them. Mr. Blyth is evidently anticipating the action of the Government on the Report of the Northern Runs Commission. That Commission, however, was not appointed to consider Goyder's valuations, and certainly they very clearly understood their duty in this particular. For ex- ample, Mr. A. Hallett, in his evidence (question 1,289) was about to refer to Goyder's valuations when he was stopped by the Chairman, and in the printed minutes we find this memorandum—" The Commission de- cided that evidence as to the valua- tions was irrelevant." On other occasions, witnesses were stopped when commenting on Goyder's valuations, and throughout the investigation the Com- missioners kept carefully aloof from the subject of the valuations, repeatedly stating that their enquiry was limited to the subject of the drought, and that it was neither competent for them to take evidence on the valuations generally nor to report upon them; and on reference to the report itself, it will be found that there is not a word of allusion to Goyder's valuations. It will also be re membered that the petitions presented last session, praying for the appointment ofthe Commission, carefully avoided all reference to Goyder's valuations, and the debates of Parliament at the time will show that the appointment of the Commission was advocated by many hon. members avowedly on the ground that it was an enquiry into the nature and extent of losses occasioned by the drought, and not an enquiry into Goyder's valuations. The fact is, by very much the greater portion of the country dealt with by the Commission has never been valued by Goyder at all, and of course it is impossible to maintain that his valuations are affected by dealing with country not included in the valua- tions. If it be said that portions of it will, gradually, come under valuation, the answer is that a pledge given to sup- port Goyder's valuations can only apply to such valuations as had been made before the pledge was given, as it would be absurd in the extreme for any one to give a pledge in reference to matters yet future and unknown. The only way in which the report of the Com- mission can at all clash with a pledge to uphold Goyder's valuations, is in respect of any runs included in the report which had been valued by Goyder before such pledge was given. As already pointed out, the great bulk of the dry country has not been valued by Goyder, but it is equally true that a few of the dry runs have been valued ; and the question now to be decided is, whether those few lessees whose runs have suffered from the drought equally with others are to bo excluded from the benefit of a measure compre- hending the dry country as a whole, simply because they were valued before the drought by Mr. Goyder! We say most   confidently that no one wishes to make exceptional victims of these gentlemen for such a reason. The enquiry relates to country suffering from the drought, irrespective altogether of the valuations, which formed no part of the subject matter of the investigation; and we do not see how any pledge formerly given to uphold Goyder's valuations can operate to prevent concessions being granted on  

account of an unparalleled Providential visitation.   Besides, if a pledge to uphold Goyder's valuations is to operate to prevent con- cessions on account of losses by drought, Mr. Neville Blyth, and all others who supported Goyder's valuations, have already violated their pledges. Conces- sions in the shape of remission of rent and other advantages have already been granted to lessees whose runs were valued by Mr. Goyder, and Mr. Neville Blyth was a consenting party to those conces- sions. Further, it might be argued that if additional concessions are incompatible with the maintenance of such a pledge as Mr. Neville Blyth refers to, the hon. gentleman ought not to have joined in making the recommendations embodied in the report. His resigning his seat after recommending a course incompatible   with the observance of his pledge, is like repenting when it is too late. But again, we say that a pledge to uphold Goyder's valuations ought not to be so rigidly interpreted as to prevent the Legislature from dealing with a par ticular tract of country which is shown by painful experience to require special legislation. It may also be remarked that if the course pursued by Mr. Neville Blyth is the only one now open to him, then all other members having given similar pledges would be equally bound to resign, and the business of Parliament would be brought to a standstill at the very moment when the interests of the country imperatively demand the prompt and energetic prosecution of public business. What we think would have answered all purposes, would have been for Mr. Neville Blyth to have called a meeting of his consti- tuents, to have laid the whole matter before them, and to have taken the sense of the meeting whether he should retire or not. If all members who are inclined to make concessions on account of the drought were to resign their seats, it would stop the business of the country, put the colony to a heavy expense, and as a more unfortunate time of the year for elections could scarcely be chosen, the result, after all, would be anything but satisfactory. However, we have no doubt as to the excellence of Mr. Blyth's motives, and as a public meeting is shortly about to be held, there will be a good opportunity for eliciting public opinion on the subject. — Express and   Telegraph.