THE NO-CONFIDENCE DEBATE.
On Thursday night’s sitting of the House The Hon. John Hall moved —“ That all Orders of the Day be postponed, so as to enable Sir George Grey to move the second reading of the Property Assessment and Property Tax Acts Repeal Bill. ” The Bill was of a nature to justify Government in pursuing that course. The motion was carried. Sir G. Grey then moved that the Bill be discharged, Government having taken this as a vote of want of confidence. He proposed to move such a vote on a much broader basis. He would ask leave to move instead —“ That the financial pro- . prosals of the Government are not as a whole adapted to promote the welfare of New Zealand.” The Premier opposed this proceeding. Sir G. Grey asked Government to consent to the discussion of the no-confidence ; to-morrow. Mr. M'Lean said the financial pro- 1 posals would come on then independently of the no-confidence. To admit of the no-conlidence motion being proceeded with, Sir George moved the second reading of his Bill, and Mr. Beethara moved that it be read that day six months, which was passed, after a division on Sir George’s motion, which gave a result of Ayes, 29 ; Noes, 41. Major Atkinson then moved for Committee, of Supply. Sir George Grey moved as an amendment— * ‘ That the financial proposals of the Government as a whole are not adapted to promote the welfare tf New Zealand.” Sir George admitted that after the exhibition they had just had of the Government’s strength his task was hopeless, but he had a vast majority beyond the walls of the House. That night would be historical, for in other lands their proceedings "were being watched. Land-holders were attempting to oppress the mass of the population. The Premier was a vampire sucking the people’s blood while he fanned them to rest with his wings. The people believed Mr. Hall’s statement that only possessors of 1500 worth of property would be taxed as they believed the illusions of a juggler, and they would find that ! .t was only an illusion. This properly tax fell on consumers. Take a wool store The wool was first taxed on the sheej), then in the merchants hands, then in the hands of the retail dealer. Then the bumpkins of Leeston would buy it and find that they had been deluded. The tax was no joke to the community. The man who invested his own money in tho colony would have to pay, but the men who invested other people’s outside the colony would escape. Such a tax had never been introduced in any British colony before. Better a tax on the necessaries of life than this tax, which was a premium on dishonesty. There would have been no deficiency necessitating this tax had Government done years ago what it was now doing—reducing their own salaries, those of the Civil Service, and imposing a beer tax. Had they taken warning in time, the present difficulties would not have arisen. The Colonial Treasurer had damaged the colony’s credit by his reports, which contained more than the truth. Sir George then went over the Government proposals—to abolish subsidies and substitute power for the local taxation of native and waste lands, and for increased self taxation to the extent of 2s. in the £ ; to restrict borrowing ; to tax Europeans for the purpose of paying rates for the natives. The latter proposal was cruel, and would foster discord between the races. Native lands receiving benefit should be fairly rated, and the natives would cheerfully pay it. It was better to pay the direct subsidy than take the round-about course of taxing waste lands of the Crown. Sir George denounced the new Boards of Works that were to be instituted, and foretold a scramble amongst local bodies. Ho severely criticised the charitable aid proposals as instituting a pauper class in a colony, where a poor law had never been known and was not necessary, and which would ruin the population, and lower its character. He held up the system of charity in France to admiration, and denounced the pauper system of England. The difference between the two systems arose from the fact that the land of France was owned by 5,500,000 people, while in England the whole land was owned by only a few persons. He further denounced the permission of Chinese immigration at a time when the labor market was glutted. Unless the abuses he referred to were remedied things would become unbearable. He challenged them to go to the
country, and said the time would come when they would lament their gridironing, and their destruction of this fair land. lie asked Government to abolish the Agent-General’s Department, the Legislative Council, the Governor’s salary, and not attack the Civil Service alone. They would not do that, but there were a few in their midst who would never cease their efforts till these objects were secured, and fight their noble fight in spite of newspaper criticism, and everything else. When the appeal came to be made to the people, a Parliament would be returned that would respect the true rights of the people. The Hon. John Hall said the speech was weak and transparently erroneous. It had not said a word about the colony’s finances. They had hoard all the gush it contained before, and the speech was a studied insult to the majority of the House. He regretted that an elderly gentleman like Sir George should use the language he had adopted simply because the House would not gratify his lust for office. The comparisons to a vampire and a juggler did not hurt him (the speaker)but he objected to his constituents being abused as they had been, and called bumpkins. He would only retort by saying the Thames people were a worthy community, but they came to the House for more than their fair share of public expenditure. The Premier then replied to Sir George’s attack on the Property Tax, saying it was immaterial whether taxation came in the name of property tax or income tax ; and, regarding the challenged appeal to the country, said within the last nine months they had been to the country, and the Property Tax had been accepted in preference to the Land Tax by the people. Sir George had not thought of reducing his own salary when in office, and had drawn more from the public fund than ever had been drawn by him (the Premier). Sir George had increased the Civil Service while he was in office, and I now turned round upon it when he was out. Government wished to teach the I native mind that their land must bear a share of the public burden, and their present course was only paving the way to that. How that Government had delegated local affaii’s to a Board outside Government influence altogether, and thus tried to avoid a charge of bribery, they were still complained of. The Land Tax was doubled, not taken off. When they took office they found engagements months deep for the despatch of immigrants, and Sir George had sent home for 6,000. This showed the hollowness of Sir George’s sincerity in behalf of the laboring class. The wholething resolved itself into the question —Should Government go out and let the honorable gentleman go in ? All Sir George’s sounding promises had been left unfulfilled, and yet he asked a renewal of his lease of power. The present Government had saved the colony from the brink of ruin. Mr. Moss resumed the debate on the no-conficlence motion yesterday. He reviewed the financial proposals, stating that the total deficiency amounted to L9!)5,000 in round numbers. To make good that deficiency the Treasurer had had recourse to the Public Works Fund. When that fund was exhausted he would like to know what would be done. If the late Public Works Loan had not been floated, he would like to know in what position they would have found themselves placed. They had the country literally bleeding at their feet. Such being the case, Government ought to welcome an Opposition organised for the express purpose of discussing and advising respecting this serious state of matters. Instead of that they had shown a disposition to stamp out opposition, and sat silent on their benches, instead of entering heartily into the debate. The taxation they proposed was to be taken from men’s necessities, and the natural consequence would be, if they got it in that way, they would lose it in another. Apart from additional taxation the expenditure in excess of estimated revenue was L 583,000. After making these calculations it would be found that a deficiency of L 133,000 still existed. To meet that L 50,000 was to be taken off departmental salaries. That was a most unsatisfactory proposal. It simply ment that poor underpaid persons would be still further ground down and oppressed, while the better paid officials escaped. The remaining deficiency of LIBO,OOO was proposed to be manipulated in some sort of an extraordinary way, so as to transform it into a nominal surplus of L 41,000. The plan proposed was a mere subterfuge, and he called upon them to be honest, and frankly admit that a deficiency had to be faced. He denounced the Waimate Plains expenditure as being the employment of some GOO men for making a road into a swamp which was utterly useless. Mr. Bryce denied the assertion that the road in question was useless. Colonel Trimble spoke in favor of the Government, stating that the Properly Tax agitation going on throughout the country was simply a political dodge, and that many of the men by whom it was carried on were men who could not possibly be got at by the tax at all. (Speaking of the Land Tax, he compared the land tenure of the Home country with that of New Zealand. The former was originally held for military and other services. When these services were no longer required, that condition was computed, very properly, into money consideration. Here the case was different. The land was sold at its full market value, and, as such, it had no more right to bear
exceptional taxation than any other marketable community. The debate was interrupted by the 5.30 adjourxxment.
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