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POST SESSIONAL ADDRESSES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 299, 22 March 1881
POST SESSIONAL ADDRESSES.
Major Atkinson at Patea, The Hon the Colonial Treasurer addressed his constituents at ■ Patea last evening. There was a crowded meeting, the chair being occupied by Mr Sherwood, Chairman of the Patea Harbor Board. Major Atkinson opened his address by explaining his not addressing his constituents during the last recess, as occasioned by want of time and the nonnecessity of his so doing when the recency of the previous election was borne in mind. The first duty devolving on the Government was retrenchment, the deficiency existing when they entered office being no less than L 900,000. Tho elimination of the land fund from tho ordinary revenue, and the imposition of fresh Customs duties and a Property Tax ware rendered necessary, for as the taxation of a country must be moderately heavy, the points to be considered in taxing wore that every subject should contribute to the support of Government in proportion to his means ; secondly, that every tax-payer, should pay his quota in the best way and at the most convenient time to himself ; thirdly, that every tax should be certain and uuarbitrary, and that each man should know how much ho had to pay ; and fourthly that taxation should take as little as possible out of the pockets of the people. These rules were practically impossible of attainment, for .an income tax certainly would not secure these ends, and then came the question of which tax went nearest to the result. Taxes must be levied to catch different classes in different ways, and he claimed that the Property Tax possessed the merit that it caught classes which could not bo otherwise reached, while that class which received the benefit of exemption was amply taxed by the Customs He was sorry to say that the only effect of tho increase of Customs duties had been that tho total yield was no-more now .than it had been two years and a half before. That showed that much more economy was observed in the colony, and some might agree that it indicated decreased spending, but from- examination of statistics ho was convinced that the spend, ing power of the people of New Zealand was higher than that of any other part of the world. Then there was the Beer tax. There were various objections to that impost, but the only question whichweighed with him was the inadvisability of commencing excise duties ; increased basis . of taxation was, however,, absolutely .necessary, and, .consequently, tho tax was unavoidable. It had been deemed inexpedient to im-
poae an incorne tax, as it merely touch eel a man according to what he received- The Property Tax had been characterised as inquisitorial, but this was a fault from which no tax was free. Direct taxation being necessary, the Government must certainly know what a man had before they could tax him on it. One great virtue of the tax was that it discouraged speculation in the purchasing of land which was intended to be enhanced in value by the expenditure and labor of adjoining settlers. An income tax would not have this effect, because the essence of the income tax was that it touched a man according to what he received, and if nothing were received in respect of these investments the income tax would not roach them. Another advantage was that a man was taxed upon what he himself possessed and not upon what was owned by others. The Land Tax was very unfair in that respect 5 .also because the man who was thviftful and energetic and made good use of his capital, had to pay more than the lazy man. That was not so with the Property Tax, for a man was not taxed because he was industrious and skilful, hut because be had amassed property which required protection. He objected to the Income tax because it was already paid through the Customs, and because it was necessary to n-ct at something besides income to maintain the finances in a sound state. This was really a practical question which would come before the electors for discussion at the ensuing election. It was proposed by some to impose a Land tax and an Income tax, but he confessed himself unable to find out what they meant, unless it, was to double the taxation upon the farmers and landholders. Income from land was just the same as income from anv other source, and he could not see where the line was to be drawn, but perhaps they would come forward and explain what the proposal really meant. The Colony wanted no more Land tax —a tax which simply meant confiscation to the present holders. It was clear that it was so, because any one could at once sec that if a person went to buy land he would capitalise the tax at the valuation for the time being, and give so much less for the land. Thus the entire loss would devolve on the present owner. The Government retrenchments had extended to £252,000. He considered that there had been no breach of faith in the withdrawal of the, subsidies from local bodies., When they were promised, there was no idea that in 1878 there would be, a. new departure, a launch into an enormous and costly scheme of Public Works ; but when that stop,was. taken it altogether altered the position of affairs. It was. impossible to pay them and.pay the £300,000 -of additional interest and sinking fund involved by the polioy of 1873 without' special taxation. If there was to be taxation for subsidies, it was much better to let the local bodies do the taxing themselves. Regarding the Native policy, that which the Government had laid out for themselves they had followed, and intended still to follow. It was this : They would have no hampering ; they would keep a tight hand over the. reins, but they would deal with strict justice towards the natives. They would not be hurried by any man ; nothing would deter them from doing at .the right time what they thought to be necessary, and so far he claimed that their policy had been successful. With regard to the coming session, he sliould like to see the House look - carefully into the finances, so that the retrenchment which theGoverumeatclaimed credit for might be found real, and the finances secured on a firm basis. That would be a great work, and if, in addition, the House passed the necessary Representatioa Act Bill, Charitable Aid and Hospital Bill, and a Licensing Bill, he should think the session by no means barren. What the country wanted -was careful administration and very little legislation. As to Public works he hoped an effort would be made to go on with the main arterial lines, but as for lines to suit particular districts ho thought-the past policy of the Government had been prudent and reasonable, and would be supported by the people, irrespective of local considerations. If the country would accept this view and proceed steadily and cautiously, he had no doubt that their future prosperity would be even greater than that which they had passed through. An amendment of a vote of confidence, to a motion of a vote of thanks, was carried amidst confusion.
Mr Shrimski at Oamaru. Mr Shrimski, M.H.R., addressed his constituents last evening. There was a large attendance. ‘ His remarks generally were directed against the policy of the present Government. • He contended that by a proper disposition of the. Crown Lands of the colony taxation. might be greatly lessened. At the conclusion of his address a vote of thanks and confidence was passed.
POST SESSIONAL ADDRESSES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 299, 22 March 1881
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