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PEE-SESSIONAI., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 349, 20 May 1881
Mr Macandrew. Mr Macandrew met the Port Chalmers electors last evening, about 2GO persons being present. In the course of his address, Mr Macandrew said the last session of Parliament, although distinguished by the usual amount of talking, had not been conducive to public interests. Its action had been very much retrogressive. The imposition of that most objectionable Properly Tax was one result of the session ; the depriving local bodies of twenty per cent, of the land fund, previously secured to them by law, was another ; the abandonment of the = railway policy initiated, and all but unanimously approved, in the session of 1878, was a third ; the stoppage of assisted immigration was a fourth, and the return to the system of local roads and bridges being constructed by direct appropriation of a Colonial Parliament, with all the favoritism and log-rolling which must • inevitably be lurched in it, was another. As a set-off against all this, there was the great policy of retrenchment. There was little or no attempt at retrenchment, as brought down by Government; it had been forced upon them by the House. He feared that after all it would be found that retrenchment had been “great cry and little wool.” Of all the absurd things under the sun, the New Zealand Legislature was one of the most absurd. It ft , was like a thousand horse-power engine, under full pressure of steam, driving a sewing I machine. Probably, the Grey Government had effected as much real retJWfodftment during their short terra of effi.ee as had been done since, only they did hot make so much fuss about it. Had they been allowed sufficient time they would have effected much larger reduc tions by simplifying the administration. He should set his face against any additional taxation for the mere purpose of governing the country. He adverted, at length, to the assertion of the Colonial Treasurer, that he (Mr Macandrew) had, before leaving office, committed the colony to liabilities exceeding three millions in the shape of outstanding contracts, while in reality the amount did not exceed half a million. In alluding to
the comparison which Major Atkinson had made between the expenditure under the late and under the present Governvernment, he said, the one was stated to be L 1.09,000 a week, the other LBO,OOO, thus, seeking it to be inferred that the present Government had economised to the tune of L 1,508,000 a year ; a statement too absurd to comment upon. He had no pretension to statesmanship like Major Atkinson, but he had common sense sufficient to tell him that it would have been the height of madness to have fleeced the colony to the extent which, for party purposes, had been so pertinaciously alleged. With a commercial crisis staring them in the face, and the uncertainty as to how it might affect the successful floating of the intended loan, the Grey Government would have deserved to be consigned to political perdition had they been guilty of the reckless conduct ascribed to them ; conduct which can only be compared to the Colonial Treasurer, when, like “Nero fiddling while Rome was burning,” he deliveredhimself of thatmemorableßudget speech on October 14, 1878, in which he told so much more than truth. Fortunately for the five million loan, it was fixed up before that speech was circulated in England, otherwise not one penny of the loan would have been floated except at an enormous loss. The bad odour in which New Zealand and its securities were held for a short time afterwards, was attributable to that speech, and the pledge given by the Bank of England when the former loan was raised. Had the late Government remained in office till the loan had been placed on the market, there would have been no necessity for sacrificing it, as the Premier had taken the precaution to have more than one string to his bow whereby the public credit might be maintainedin case of need on advantageous terms He was not going to run a tilt against the Government because they did not see with the same political optics that he did. They did their best according to their lights, but unfortunately for the country their lights were very dim. Many imagined that the colonial debt had been incurred lor public works and immigration, but not one half had yet been so incurred. Better ask what became of the other half, of the great financial doctors of the past, several of whom have been rewarded with sinecures, pensions, and imperial honors. Perhaps their friends in Taranaki might know something about it. .On the question of borrowing he said he had ho objection to borrowing to any extent for reproductive purposes, provided the interest was not sent out of the colony. The stoppage of assisted immigration was a blunder. He looked on immigration as the life-blood of a new colony, provided the immigrants adapted themselves to the colony’s circumstances. He desired to see a steady stream of immigration confined exclusively to the Mends of people in the colony, the immigrants to understand that they must take their chance of the labor market. Certainly New Zealand was capable of sup- ‘ porting millions of people in comfort and happiness, and the greater the number settled in the colony the more employment would there be for all. It was impossible to predict the results of the next session of Parliament, but he knew what they ought to bo. 1. The railway policy of 1878 ought to be carried out in its •entirety. 2. The Property Tax should be repealed, and nothing put in its place. 3. Immigration should be resumed on the principle he had indicated. 4. The cost of education should he greatly reduced by altering the minimum school age to six or seven years. He had always been "opposed to the education policy of the abolition Government, believing it to be a mistake to apply one cast-iron rule to the Whole colon}'. The readjustment of representation on the basis of population was one of the hardest nuts the Assembly had to crack. The number of representatives should not be increased. How the 1 question would be settled it was difficult to say, but knowing the complexion of Parliament it was almost hopeless to expect the right thing would be done. At the conclusion of bis address a vote of thanks and confidence were carried unanimously.
Mr Turnbull. Mr R. Turnbull addressed the Timaru electors last evening. There was a large - attendance. The hon. member advocated the substitution of a Land Tax in lieu of the Property Tax. He suggested that all holdings of over- 100 acres should be taxed, and for holdings of 500, 2,000, and 4,000 acres a tax on an increased ratio ■ should be levied. This, he believed, would have the effect of breaking up the large estates, and would result in great good to the community generally. He favored assistance to schools of any denomination. He should do what he could to reduce the Education vote, as he thought it was likely to grow larger than the country could bear. He was in favor of the Bible being read in schools. He should oppose immigration until the country was in a Eosition to use its present surplus of iboring population. He was not opposed 1 to the introduction of Chinese into the ’ colony, as the world was wide enough for t all,* and if people were starving in - their own country he believed they should - “have the right to go to any other country r i. to improve their position. But he would Insist on a Poll. Tax being paid by the ■ -Chinese, and would not allow them the privileges of Englishmen, as they did not invest their savings in the colony. He referred tw therecent split |n (he Cabinet,
,t .a s:> ; ! he considered that Mr Bryce, the hue Native Minister, was guilty of most unwarrantable conduct when he suggested ,the arrest of Te Whiti, and attempted t<> precipitate the colony into a native war. He characterised the present Colonial Treasurer as a financial juggler, and said he had to a great extent ciipplcd the country by crying “wolf,” and keeping hack money, the balance of the late 1 oan, which should have been expended in prosecuting and pushing on public works, and providing employment for people during a time of trade depression. He said Government would come down with a great flourish of trumpets, and a large credit balance, in order to carry the elections after the dissolution, but the public would be able to see through the move and give their support accordingly. He thoroughly approved of the 10 per cent, reduction in salaries of Civil servants. Mr Turnbull received a vote of thanks and confidence at the termination of this meeting.
PEE-SESSIONAI., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 349, 20 May 1881
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