NEW ZEALAND PARLIAMENT.
LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL. Tuesday, July 19. The Council met at 2.30 p. m. The Regulations of Elections Bill was read a first time. The Otago University Reserves Vesting Bill was thrown out, on the motion of Dr Pollen, by 13 to 11. The Volunteers, Lunatics, and Fisheries Bills were read a second time without debate.
The Affirmation in Lieu of Oaths Extention Bill was thrown out, on th* motion of Dr Pollen, by 14 votes to 12. The Banks and Bankers’ Act was recommitted, and on amendment it was earned by 13 to 9 “ that any person defacing a bank-note should not be able to pass it.” The Council rose at 5 p.m.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Tuesday, July 19. The House met at 2.30 p.m. NOTICES OF MOTION. Mr Reeves gave notice he would move —“ That it is desirous Resident Magistrates and Wardens of Goldfields be removed every three years; also that an export duty be imposed on wool.” Mr Murray gave notice he would move “ That in view of the plentiful supply and cheapness of money, it is advisable railway works should be pushed on without delay.” s INSPECTOR OF PRISONS" REPORT. Replying to Mr Turnbull, Mr Dick said the Government had not yet considered the report sent in by the Inspector of Prisons, and were not yet prepared to say what would be done regarding the recommendations to abolish schools in different prisons, to weigh prisoner* periodically in order to test whether they are losing or gaining flesh, to alter the present dietary scale so as to check any propensity on the part of prisoners to increase in weight, the appointment of a Medical Board to decide upon a dietary scale, and that gaolers be permitted to punish prisoners without the consent of Visiting Justices. FIRST READING. The following Bill was introduced and read a first time : —Harbor Act 1878 Amendment No. 2 (Mr Wright). ABOLITION OF PROVINCES. Mr Sheehan, before moving the introduction of a Bill to repeal the Abolition of Provinces Act of 1875, asked Government to state what course they intended pursuing in the matter. All manner of rumors on the subject had been in circulation about the lobbies. Mr Hall said the motion was one which raised the vital question of policy, and it was desirable as little business as possible should bo gone on with until it was brought to an issue. Government would not object to the Bill being introduced and read a first time as proposed, but that in order that it should be disposed of with as little delay as possible, they proposed to oppose the motion to fix a date for the second reading, and to take the debate on that question that evening at 7.30 o’clock. Mr Sheehan said that he had brought in the Bill entirely on his own responsibility ; but if those with whom he usually acted were opposed to taking the debate that night, he would not be prepared to go on. Mr Macandrew demurred to Government accepting the notion as a vote of want of confidence. The Government was not responsible for the abolition having been carried*
Mr Brown moved that it be postponed until that day six months. Mr Gisborne said that Government had a Bill on the paper that would raise the whole question of local government, and it was not necessary to push it on this issue. This was simply an attempt to draw a red herring over the track. He contended that this Bill should not be taken out of the ordinary course. Mr Sheehan said then in that case ho would not ask leave to introduce the Bill.
Mr Hall said that it was arranged to take the debate that evening, and the attempt to retreat from the position in the way proposed was most unfair. He moved the adjournment of the House pro forma. Mr Sheehan said that the proposal of Sir George Grey re local government was quite as radical as his proposal, and ho challenged Government to accept that as a vote of want of confidence. Referring to the reference made about an arrangement, he said he had only answered the Premier for himself when he assented to taking the debate that evening. He and his friends had no desire to see the business interrupted, and furthmore he desired to see an exhaustive debate on the subject. He would therefore withdraw the motion for leave to introduce the Bill. If Sir George Grey’s Bill did not achieve the purposes aimed at, then most assuredly he would take steps to have the House divided on the point. Mr Montgomery would have preferred that the debate had gone on, and the question been settled at once. It was not a motion put forward by the Opposition, accordingly he would vote against it, and he knew of others of the party who were prepared to follow the same course. Mr Sheehan said he was known to be a provincialist to the core, and the previous speaker had no right to blame him for bringing forward a motion in accordance with his belief on the subject. Ho could assure him that within the next few days he would give him an opportunity for recording his protest against any return to provincialism. Mr Macandrew objected to any question of provincialism being discussed in the present aspect of the question, and on his suggestion the motion for adjournment was withdrawn, and the business of the Order Paper proceeded with.
LICENSING BILL. Mr Dick moved that the report on the Bill be agreed to. Mr Lundon took exception to the Bill, in respect of no provision being made for compensating publicans from whom the licenses might be withdrawn under the options of the Act. Mr Seddon also objected to the Bill, expressing a hope that the permissive clauses would bo thrown out by the Council. He blamed Government for nit having stuck more firmly to the text of their Bill.
The Bill was then reported, and Mr Dick moved that it be read a third time. Mr Macandrew moved as an amendment—“ That no License Bill will be suitable to the requirements of every part of the colony unless there be reserved to such Provincial Districts a right to determine the nature of the licenses and the fees payable therefor within the district.” On the suggestion of Mr Hutchison, Mr Macandrew agreed to substitute County Councils and Boroughs instead of Provincial Districts.
The House divided on the motion for the third reading—Ayes, 46 ; noea, 26. The Bill was then read a third time and passed. SECOND READING. On the motion of Mr Hall the Public Works Bill was read a second time. CROWN AND NATIVE LANDS RATING BILL. Mr Sutton renewed the debate on the second reading of the Crown and Native Lands Bating Bill. He reviewed the whole financial proposals of Government, and spoke in favor of the property tax as it stood, expressing regret at the announcement that it was proposed to be reduced. Regarding the Bill before the House, he said that he would not oppose the motion, but in Committee would itserve the right to make certain alterations which he believed would make it more workable.
On the motion of Mr Tomoana, the debate was adjourned till the evening. The House adjourned at 5.30 p.m. and resumed at 7.30 p.m. Mr Saunders resumed the debate on the second reading of the Crown and Native Lands Rating Bill. He referred to the Treasurer’s speech has being highly unsatisfactory. It proposed nothing, did nothing, and said nothing, and he did not believe two members of Government were agreed as to what local government should be. He had never changed his opinion on the subject. It was to give districts as much power as possible to take the same out of the hands of the central power. The Treasurer was purely a Wellington man in his associations, and if he went about the colony a little more he would find that a strong feeling existed in favor of decentralisation. The effect of the Bill would be to take from districts in which money could be profitably spent what money they l ad, and to spend it on land in the midst of uninhabited localities—in the wilderness. As a representative of Kaikoura the proposals of the Bill would be good, but as representing the whole colony, he could not look upon them otherwise than vicious. The Treasurer said that some idea appeared to be abroad that they could raise money by some kind of jugglery, and yet this Bill simply proposed to propogate the delusion. .There were millions of acres of land in the colony that were not worth one farthing an acre, and yet they were proposed to be rated at 6s 8d per acre. The great mistake was that they had ranged too far and induced the settlement of isolated patches in districts wholly separated from the bulk of the population. What they should have done was to keep the population as much together as possible, and allow it to radiate as necessity arose. This Bill was calculated to aggravate this description of evil. When they were told the provinces were to be abolished they were given to understand they were going to get something great in their place. Now what had they got but another sort of Road Boards alongside of those Boards then in existence ?J His idea was they required some body with more power than the Boards. He thought that the Treasurer had been so long in office that he had come to the conclusion that the people of New Zealand were of opinion that he should have sole power, and that the smallest possible portion of that power should be parted with to the district. Before abolition there was in each province a Superintendent who was responsible to the people, and that was a greater advantage to the people than they were aware of. He did not propose that they should re-establish provincialism as it was before, but they might improve on it. He was disappointed with Sir George Grey’s Local Governmont Bill. Its financial proposals were weak. After this House had taken what it wanted, very little would be left for the districts. He believed a modified provincialism would save, over and oyer again, their expense and great saving would be effected had they never been swept away. Amongst other evils connected with provincialism was their lawmaking power. He would establish executive bodies, but would give them no power of law-making. Then again provincialism allowed selfish men to manipulate the land laws of their particular districts. These were some of the great evils they had to guard against in any system of local Government they might adopt. Provincialism had been complained against from the extent to which i it gave rise to log-rolling in that House ; but he contended that log-rolling was rampant as ever amongst thsm. He be-
lieved they could secure all the advan-' tages of provincialism in their loeal .government . system “without disadvantages. He would divide each island into four provinces, with a Superintendent and six Councillors, elected by the people of each electorate, exercising only one vote, and he would give a vole to every man and woman. He thought perhaps the provinces should be divided into six sub-districts, each district returning a member., Then he would have three members elected by the combined vote of the Road Boards. That would make in all nine members. Ho would multiply the Road Boards, as they were most inexpensive bodies. Instead of a number of small rates he would collect what they wanted at once by a tax im-.. posed by that House, and would leave most of it to the Road "Boards to expend. He would double the property tax, and leave at least two-thirds of it with the Road Boards of the districts it was raised in. That would put an end to the scrambling for money in that House. He would also put a tax on unimproved land which was capable of cultivation. Unimprovable land he would exempt, but improvable land he would not allow to be held •
by any one for merely speculative purposes. That tax he would devote, not to the Road Boards, but leave it in the hands of the Superintendent and executive for works outside the jurisdiction of the Hoad Boards. His great aim was to take the distribution of money out of the hands of that House. The one great evil of that House was they were called to distribute which ought never to come to the House, thereby losing the respect both of themselves and the country. Mr Ormond said his remarks would follow somewhat in the course of the previous speaker. Government had invited them to debate the whole of their proposals, and he would confine his remarks to local government and local finance. He sketched the progress of events which had led up to the present debate on local government, aud blamed Government for not having brought down the whole of its proposed Bills on the question. He also regretted they had not the Public Works Statement before them. The question of railway reform was one largely mixed up with the question of local government. The Premier invited them to discuss the alternative proposals by Sir George Grey. He argued that Government ought to lead the House on a question of that kind, and he for one was not going to be led away by a side issue of that kind. He was obliged to say he was unable to see anything satisfactory in the Government proposals. The present system of local gTvernraent—the co-existence of County and Road Boards—was a wrong system. If they had a proper system of finance, and would enable the Road Boards to develope into Shires, then they would be able enough to perform all the necessary functions without the County Councils at all. If he could not get his own views carried, he would rather be inclined to go further, and meet the views advanced by others than continue things as they were. Then again, when it was complained that the doing away with provincialism had swept away an important means for redress, the Treasurer told them that the House was the place for the redress of* their grievances. Now, what were the facts of the case ? They had certain Committees, and what was more common for those Committees than to report on petitions, and that they had no recommendations to make. That showed that this was not a suitable tribunal Ifor the redress of grievances. He believed that the people fooked back with regret to the days when they could state their grievances to a local body, and if they could not obtain redrew from them, at least obtain it through them. Then they had'been told that the waste lands administration was to be remodelled, and its administration centered in Wellington. That was a kind of deI centralisation which he could not understand. Whatever became of the Govern*
ment proposals, he hoped the House would not consent to allow the waste lands administration to come to Wellington. It was one of the functions which, above all, should devolve on local bodies. He ridiculed the idea of Road Boards absorbing Counties. Regarding the Bill be- ! fore the House, its principle was that all lands should be rated. In the case of native lands that would, to a great extent, amonns simply te confiscation. To his mind the whole of these proposals were of a most indefinite character. They had no finality. Then, again, the proposal to devote L 160,000, extending over three years, for the purpose of opening Crown lands, thei proposal was to charge the making of these roads on the land. That simply meant stopping the progress ef settlement in the North Island, at all events. Then again, how were the deferred payment lands to be dealt with ? Nothing whatever was said about how they were to be treated in this - respect. Altogether it appeared to him that these proposals were no proposals at all. They did not propose to give local government, but were of a highly centralised tendency. The finance was equally unsatisfactory. The colony could not afford to pass such a scheme of finance. It was for these reasons he moved—--1 “ That the proposals of Government in respect to local government and finance are unsatisfactory. ” Mr Johnston said the reasons given were entirely out of accord with the motion itself. He contended that the last speaker had shadowed out nothing in the shape of a complete scheme of local government. He defended the Government against the charge of having done nothing, stating that during the present session they had only had 12 days for transacting Government business. In all parts of thetcolony abolition had met with universal acceptance, therefore the statement that provincialism was looked back to with regret was wholly without foundation. Sir George Grey’s Bill set forth provincialism in its very worst form. Centres of population were to he endowed with waste lands of the Crown, which simply meant that there was to be nothing given to the more remote districts. When he heard one member prescribe one cure for the disease, and another prescribe another cure, then he could not help thinking that there was no disease at all. The statement that the proposal for opening up Crown lands by putting a corresponding price on the upset price of the land stop settlement in the North Island was completely refuted by what had actually been their experience in that reepect. The fact was that , unless their waste lands were opened up in that way they could not be sold at all. The principle of their proposed Public Works Board was no new principle. It had been in operation for a long time in Great Britain, where it had operated most satisfactorily. The objection that the fund provided for the local Public Works Board would be too small, would be met in this way : the various applicaI tions would be restricted to a specified amount each year for each local body, sufficient to allow them all to participate. That was the course followed by Great Britain under a similar system. He would like to know what colonising powers the provinces possessed before abolition. He instanced the case of Wellington. The outlying districts were perfectly paralysed, and had not abolition taken place, the inhabitants must have left the settlement altogether. If that went to the country he asked what scheme of local government they would go upon. Mr Ormond had proposed nothing. He concluded by saying that the proposals would do more to advance their colonisation scheme than anything that had yet been heard of in the House. Mr Whitaker wanted to know what was wanted to-be achieved. Suppose the
’y amendment was carried, the state of M ' ' matters would be no better than it was ■ at present. >' Sir George Grey would not waive his scheme in favor of the scheme to be brought down by the mover of the amendment. He had no doubt after what Mr Ormond stated last session that this would be the outcome. What Mr Ormond wanted was not local Government, but the repeal of the property tax—a tax which bore on himself rather heavily. He had not informed the House how he proposed to raise funds for local government purposes. Then, again, Mr Saunders had told them he proposed to double the property tax, whereas Mr Ormond had already said that the tax, as it stood, was a grinding tax. How; then could Mr Saunders follow him into the lobby 1 The speech delivered by Mr Ormond was one of the most selfish ever delivered ,in that House. He had proposed to sell the Crown lands to get quit of the grinding taxation of the property tax. Mr McLean asked Mr Ormond to say if he had given notice to anyone on that side of the House with which he had hitherto acted, of hie intention to move this amendment. He had stated that abolition in the County he represented had worked so satisfactorily that a number of the Head Boards had petitioned to be merged in the County. Had the late financial panic coirie upon them with all the provinces in oneration thev could
noc have gone on or-met its obligations ; they must, of necessity, stopped payment. Immediately after abolition had been * carried the then Government was turned ont, and a government got in known to be antagonistic tojthe success of the Counties. Despite that fact the County system had been a success. Again, the land fund had gone which was the backbone of provincialism, and yet they were asked t» return to provincialism. Regarding the ~ question of redress of grievances, he said that were the claim made a first one he never found any real difficulty in obtaining redress on any grievance he took up. As to the proposals to abolish Waste Land Boards, the County Councils were far better qualified to advise the Government, and tiie proposal was in favor, not of centralisation, but of decentralisation. As to the local government question, he thought it would have to be left for settlement by the country. Mr Felton moved the adjournment of the debate, and the House rose at 12.30.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 400, 20 July 1881
NEW ZEALAND PARLIAMENT. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 400, 20 July 1881
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