MR STOUT AND THE PROPERTY TAX.
, TO THE EPITOR.
Sir —Mr. Robert Stout’s letter to the “ Otago Daily Times,” on the Property Tax, has appeared in a number of papers, and doubtless will in due course find its way into your columns. May I bo permitted to, make a few remarks.
Mr. Robert Stout, the ex-legal adviser of the defunct Grey administration, has certainly worked out to a correct issue, thoj four sums .respecting the taxes the hard working settler, the struggling city tradesman, the manufacturer, and the merchant would have to pay, under the proposal made by the present Colonial Treasurer for a Property Tax. One can scarcely imagine a lawyer, above all other professional gentlemen, making such a creditable exposition of knowledge of figures. Mr. Stout certainly understand s working out suppositional sums. He puts the case and .brings out the . results ■ with great aptitude- It is a pity the present olonial Treasurer has not a man of the ex-Crown law adviser’s wonderful calibre, sitting in opposition, for I feel certain, out of a multitude of such heads—some good might naturally be expected to follow. There are, no doubt, many persons to. be found whose pockets will suffer to an extent in proportion to their means, as is so masterly propounded by this learned gentleman of the law. But I. must, certainly take, exception to the style of the letter I have referred to. There is a certain amount of “dirt, throwing” when Mr. Stout says in effect the Conservative Government, as he terms it, has taxed the hard working pioneer settler most outrageously—in fact, done something, one might be led to designate as entirely reprehensible. He has used ,as a comparison one imaginary instance where a tax payer lias been “got at” to the tune of Lll 6s. extra,, and in-another something like L 33 6s. Bd., and in another something likeL636 Bs., minus. L 5 4s, 2d. In the,latter case' the merchant’s position would yearly be worse LSB 2s. 6d. in taxes. Under the Grey and Stout administrative policy the merchants in question would have to pay only L 5 4s.- 2d., while under the iniquitous Hall Government he wotdd, with stock, &c.,.valued at L 12,500, be spoiled to the extent of LSB 2s. Cd. extra. Truly, Mr. Stout, the ex-Crown law adviser, ’tis a curious world ! Now, what are the facts ? Government after Government attempted to carry on the management of. New Zealand—Mr. Stout, of course, having a finger, in the pie—until a : state of affairs is arrived at which is . appalling in the extreme. Money has been borrowed, and . expended ,in works of a non-productive kind, until it takes in round .numbers million pounds sterling annually to pay the interest on. our public debt. Or, to go more into detail, and work out the “rule of three ” sum which never prevail cates in the answer —for the groupd work of my sum I propose to take the population of New Zealand, man, womaq, and child, at 423,465, with. an annual interest of, say, L 1,500,000. The out-come of this is—that every head is fixed for interest alone at the rate of L 3 10s. 10,d- Our estimated expenditure is put at L 4,013,078, .or L 9 15s. Bd. per head. This is the state the so called “ Liberal” people’s Govern-; ment have frorii time to time financed the country into. ... .... The following comparisons will show the utter mess, the amateur politicians have steered the country into. , Of course. Mr. Stout will scarcely have, the hardihood to say he was not for a time one of the able conductors of the New Zealand form of Government. It is to, be;,hoped we shall hear less of the actions of those (I mean the present Ministry) wflq ran out of power Sir George Grey and his followers. This is the statement-
Name of Revenue Rate pei Colony. for 1878. head. £ £ £ s- <»• N. S. Wales 677,979 4.983.864 7 5 6 Victoria 869,040 4,504,413 538 S. Australia 243.253 *.592,635 6 4 4 Queensland 206,797 1.559."* 7 10 9 Tasmania 108,525 386,060., 311 2 W. Australia 28,002 163,344 517 o
Total 2,133,596 13,189,427 646 New Zealand 423,465 4 013,078 915 8 The first six named colonies, with a total population of 2,133,696, have a public debt of 144,898,200 while our liberally-governed New Zealand, with only a population of 423,465, or less than one fifth has a public debt, incurred and to be asked for, amounting to L 27,112,304. For' the sake, of convenience say L 27,000,000. I have to go back to this branch of my education—computation— as I wish to show the number of people we should have, in comparing our indebtedness with the other six colonies, ■ based upon population. I think Mr. Stout will agree with me that the following will bring it out: —As 144,898,200 : 2,133,595 :; L 27,000,000 : 1,283,000, It is clear, then, to place ns in the same position as the six colonies/our population should be 1,283,000, or about ihree people to where there is now one. It is therefore a fact the handful of people in New Zealand are doing this-'—one man has State obligations to three times the toxtent of our neighbors. This is the correct solution of my sum. At the same time it is quite possible that the immaculate late member fcr Dunedin may endeavor to twist it differently. It is true Now Zealand is bv far the heaviest burdened of any of the colonies. The public debt of the six colonies there named is t/20 13s B£d per head, while New Zealand stands with a public debt of L 27,000,000 or L 63 14s B|d per head, or over three times that of our neighb ws.
The money raised in the neighboring colonies for governing purposes is L 6 4s.
6d. per head ; in New Zealand it is L 9 15a. 3cl. per head. Again the public debt is only L2O 13s. Sid per head, while that of New Zealand is the modest sum of L 63 14s. Bkl. per head. These facta are not pleasant. They should be a signal of caution for the stake holders in New Zealand to take care that none but responsible men should go to Parliament. The cry is to re-arrange the electoral division, for universal suffrage, and such nonsense, instead of keeping the overloaded ship from running ashore. South Australia, with a population of 243,253, has a revenue of LI ,502,635, while her public debt is only L 5.329,600..329,600. Her exports are L 6,355,021. New Zealands pays an annual interest on borrowed money of about the same amount as South Australia’s revenue.
Outjof onr public debt of L27,000,0g0, onr exports are only L 6,015,525. South Australia’s exports are L 22 O.s. 3jd. per head,' while those of New Zealand are only Ll'4 4s. 14d. per head. These results are specially dedicated for the information of Mr. Stout.—l enclose you my card, I am, &c., P. C. N. [We publish Mr. Stout’s letter in another column.—Ed.]
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