FRIDAY, AUGUST 4.
Clutha Leader, Rōrahi III, Putanga 109, 11 Hereturikōkā 1876, Page 3
FRIDAY, AUGUST 4.
Mr Sees referred at once to the Premier's remarks in reply to Sir G. i Grey, and said he-was surprised at
them, for they were always the' same ' in. substance, being merely the old speeches broken up and re-arranged. The Premier said the member for the Thames was a visionary, buo let him look back upon his own political career and say whether there had ever been such an author of visionary schemes. What a visionary scheme was that of tbe way to pay off the National Debt of England. He wondered how the Premier could refer to Sir G. Grey as he did to one so much his intellectual superior ; indeed, he was surprised how the Premier could have blinded the House and people of the Colony to his deficiency as a statesman or debater. He could not account for it unless he had thrown a glamour over them. Two years ago he (Mr Rees) published a little pamphlet, and the statements therein had never yet been contradicted by the Premier or any of his followers. As to the honorable members who were going to vote for the resolutions, but who would cut off tbeir hands sooner than see Sir George Grey in power — he challenged that honourable gentleman to name a single member who had given any intimation to that effect. Sir George Grey was asked why he did not at onco proceed against the Government by a Bill of Impeachment, but he (the Premier) ought to know, if he, did not, that, according to law, that could not be done. The member for Thames bad been twitted with a socalled inconsistency between his position this year and last, o.nd was asked why ho did not admit ho was all wrongthen. But 7 would it not be as pertinent to ask the Government why they did not come to the House, and say — " Gentlemen, we have enjoyed an enormous expenditure, and promised to bring great prosperity about, but we regret we have kept nono of our promises, and have broken every pledge." Addressing himself to the resolutions themselves, tbe hon. gentleman said he agreed with tho member for Waikato, tliat our finances were so confused and involved that it was almost impossible to understand thorn,. He bad, however? given great attention to the finances of the Colony, and ho was prepared to prove that the Treasurer's statement was absolutely incorrect, and did not agree with the published figures of the Government themselves. Ho would also prove that unless some prompt remedy were adopted, the most serious . financial difficulties must ensue. The hon. gentleman then proceeded to show that the Statement of the Colonial Treasurer, and the Statement of the Minister of Public Works last year did not agree at all - * that in fact there were discrepancies of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Yet, notwithstanding these discrepancies, the totals were mostly made to come out the same. - He quoted from theso documents to show that in respect of railways alone there was one discrepancy of L 400,000. - The hon. gentleman then proceeded' to criticise the Financial Statement of this year to show that the public accounts were not kept properly. He went copiously into the details, and informed the House that, the amount of income and expenditure showed tbe Colony was L 400,000 to the bad. So grossly wrong was the Statement that he found , payments which should have been paid last year, were passed over and put down to this year, and would have to be paid. If members would compare the items of expenditure as put down in the Statement with the actual amounts recorded, they would find that almost in every instance the figures had been put down by mere guess work. . They were about LIOO.OOO out in an expenditure of L 700,000. This ought to arrest the attention 'of tho House, or, instead of being L' 400,000 out, they would soon be 1-500,000 out. By the end of the third quarter of last year, the last of the L-i-,000,000 loan was exhausted, and ever since the 31st of March they had been using the balance of former loans, guaranteed and unguaranteed. The balance of L 1,400,000, 400,000 Which was shown in the Statement did not and could not exist, There might possibly be half, but certainly not more. It was easy to put figures down, but how would it be when they were unable to meet the drafts of the Crown agents. : The hon. gentleman then quoted from his pamphlet to show that the promises made by the Premier when he brought forward his scheme had all been broken, and that, had the people of the Colony an idea that all those conditions would' have been systematically broken, they would never have' endorsed that glowing policy. He also quoted further from his pamphlet to show that all the predictions he had made then , were borne out by results. According to the honorable gentleman's figures, the Colony would owe L25;000,000 by the time the Public Works scheme, was completed, and the whole of "the revenue would be required to pay interest and sinking fund. Prom ail the so-called deposits in the Bank of New Zealand, not one single penny had been received by ihe Colony.' 1 Our whole systeni oi finance was fallacious, the Statements delusive and not meant to enlighten th. people of the Colony as to 6Ui* position. In fact, it made them thiuk it better than it was. He took exception to.the estimated cost of Government in taking over the whole of the Provincial machinery. It was .absolutely fallacious on the face of : it. He regretted tha i the House did not appear to . foresee that a great reaction would follow the i completion of the Public Works. I
was always the case after large public expenditure, and he cited the case of Canada before the establishment of the Dominion of Canada. Yet there was not the slightest preparation for any such reaction in relation to tbe consolidated fund. He would impress on them the necessity' for retrenchment in expenditure and for devising some means whereby the current expenditure would be met without increasing the enormous burden under which the Colony was beginning" to stagger. The Premier deprecated an income tax, but he believed the House would have to consider whether or : not some such tax should be imposed. It was clearly the fairest they could possibly have recourse to. If the general public impression was any,; guide, they might make up their minds that the Colony coiild not go again into the money market before .1877. As to, the constitutional aspect of the case, it appeared to him that all the great advantages "enjoyed by New Zealand entering upon the race of prog*ress had been wasted, and the Government appeared to have become a mere Board of Works, and existed solely for the prosecution of -public works and the introduction of immigrants. The Government Surely had other duties to perform than these. If the Government had been carried on in the proper spirit of government thoy would not have been compelled to have recourse to such a disgraceful measure as the Disqualification Act Amendment Act of last session. The consequence of the Government sinking into a Board of Works was the growth of a national selfishness, and in the Counties Bill, if it were passed, they would see each of the thirty-nine Counties desiring' to get all it could for itself* because these communities had no conscience. He believed that the utterances of Sir G. Grey had done more to elevate the feelings and aspirations of the risinggeneration than twenty Public Works policies would do. Tho honorable gentleman, referring to the action of the Government v/ith regard to roads and public works north of Auckland, accused the Government of diverting fifteen thousand pounds from what it was intended for, and of creating discontent amongst the people of the outdistricts. They were nauseated with the cry of Abolition — a cry tbat almost made him ashamed of his fellow-creatures, What would Abolition do for them but sweep away their free and liberal institutions I—privileges1 — privileges which would be wretchedly compensated for by a thousand counties with their petty powers. Was it not the veriest nonsense to hear tbe Premier talking- about Road Boards working out their own destinies- Why he ought, when he passed' away from, this scene, to have as an epitaph — "The man who enabled Road Boards to work out their own destinies," placed on bis tomb. Touching the substantial endowments promised to the Counties and Road Boards, the Ll 12,000 they were to receive out oi consolidated revenue— well, he could assure tbe House it would never be obtained from that source. They would find that nothing but fresh taxation would ensue. The long and short of Abolition was that the General Government saw the Provinces had money that Was urgently demanded by their needs, and they wanted to seize that. It was quite a reasonable proposal to ask each island to work out its destiny. He made bold to say that no Central Government in Wellington could preserve the. peace of the Colony. It was well known that public feeling was so strong, in the North Island as well as in the South Island, that it was not all improbable they would resent by armed resistance the invasion of their rights and privileges. Let them look at the past history of the United States, and they would see that very similar circumstances preceded armed demonstrations. Little as Ministers knew of finance and public policy, they knew a great deal less of administration. Here was a Government that admitted it had given way so far to pressure as to spend a million and ahalf not contemplated. Could confidence be placed in a Government that would submit to such a pressure 1 So far as he could ascertain, every department of Government was mismanaged. In fact, he doubted whether Sir Julius Yogel, the Native Minister, or Dr Pollen had any legal right to a. seat in the Executive. The honorable gentleman referred to the action of the Government with regard to the Judges, and said that Sir G. Arney had been driven off the Bench in order to place i Judge Gillies there, and so get rid of a bitter political opponent. It. had also i been said— he did not know - with what i truth — the present Minister of, Justice i was made a Minister with the view of i being ultimately placed upon the Bench i of Justice.