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■ Last evening Mr O. W. Purnell addressed a meeting of the electors of the Wakanui constituency in the Temperance Hall, Tinwald. ■ Mr W. Biggs was voted to the chair, and briefly introduced the candidate. Mr Purnell prefaced his remarks by saying that he intended to confine himself to practical politics, which, he was aware, were not so attractive as theoretical questions, nor did they equal scope for rhetorical display. Their representative would be judged in Wellington not by his capacity for making declamatory speeches, but for taking part in practical legislation. The two questions of chief moment were that of local government (with which finance was intimately connected) and that of native affairs. There was also the matter of railway management, which was of vital interest to a farming district like Wakanui. After reviewing the financial state of the country since the present Government first took office, the candidate said he had been asked if-he was in favor of an Income Tax in preference to the Property Tax. At first sight the Property Tax appeared to be a fair one, as it professed to tax a mail, on surplus wealth, an exemption being al-j lowed to the extent of LSOO, and it was urged that such a tax made rich men contribute to the revenue in proportion to their wealth. But in reality the Property Tax pressed hardly on the industrial classes. For instance, a farmer might have a good harvest one year and a bad one the year following, and yet, the assessment taking place only once in three years, he would be required to pay an equal tax each year. Again, a man of business might make a dead loss one year, and yet he would have to pay the same amount as when his income amounted to thousands of pounds. Further, the Property Tax was somewhat expensive in collecting. Last year the tax yielded L 219,716. The coat of collection and assessment was L 31,000. It was true the assessment took place but once in three years, and the Treasurer had estimated that during this and next year the annual cost of valuation would be but L 6,000. To attain this result, however, he proposed to use the machinery of the post office, and he (Mr Purnell) thought it objectionable on principle that people should be expected to virtually disclose their private affairs to the post office officials; The Property Tax was also objectionable as it contained numerous exemptions, and was, so to speak, eccentric in its incidence. An Income Tax had this advantage that a farmer who had a bad season, and a tradesman who experienced an unfortunyear, would not be called on to pay the same amount of tax as in prosperous times. : The man who earned L2OO in a year would pay on that L2OO, while the man who made LI,OOO would pay on his LI,OOO, It had been argued in favor of an Income Tax that it would reach professionalmen, wno nngnrescape - uimor w Property Tax. He doubted if there was much in this argument. At the same time, if the Income Tax was likely to affect any class which now escaped, this would be an additional argument in its favor. He would impose the Income Tax on a graduated scale, so that wealthy men might contribute proportionately to the revenue of the country. It would bo cheaper to collect an Income Tax, no assessment being required. The frequent - objection that an Income Tax was inquisitorial applied equally to the Property Tax. At Home the Income Tax had come to be part of the permanent revenue of the country, and was found to be a convenient means of regulating revenue. Mr Purnell then proceeded to deal with the question of Local Government, urging the necessity of reconstituting the general government on a cheaper and simpler basis, and dwelling on the immense amount of local and other work that now devolved on the General Assembly. For example, last session the House of Representatives had been expected to deal with 161 Bills, some of them of great importance, such as the Licensing Bill, a lengthy and complicated measure, dealing with many conflicting interests ; and also the Railways Construction Bill. There were twenty-six Select and standing Committees appointed—and it must be, remembered the real work of the House was done in these Committees —which brought up 468 reports, and each of these the Assembly was supposed to carefully consider. A mass of motions had also been made, including a vote of want of confidence which had occupied the attention of the House for a fortnight. The number of petitions presented had been 385, and all this work was expected to be done in seventy-two meeting days. The want of consideration which petitioners were subjected to at the hands of the Assembly was a serious matter, and had been repeatedly alluded to in the Assembly itself. In regard to the functions of the Assembly the spirit of the Constitution Act was that the General Assembly should be strictly a legislative body. Referring to railway management, the candidate showed that this question vitally affected the farmers. The grain trade m New Zealand, whose exports now amounted to a million sterling per annum, yet rested on a frail foumiation, inasmuch as it depended on the London market, where we were exposed to the competition of the whole world. In 187 J, for example, the United States raised 460 000,000 bushels of wheat, of which 180* 000,000 were available for export, and the area laid down in wheat was, increasing every year. Rhappenedthat, as estimated, there would be 70,000,000 bushels less for export this year than last in America. But this was a mere chance, and the keenness of American, Russian, and other competition should be borne carefully in mind in the management of our railways. Referring to the Legislative Council, Mr Purnell maintained that there were two principal defects in its constitution. In the first place, it was almost exclusively composed of wealthy men. In the second, the members of the Council were nominated, and for life. The first fault was not inherent in the constitution of the Council, since the Constitution Act imposed no property qualification, but, for some inscrutable reasons, successive Ministries had thought fit to nominate wealthy men alono.-lt was, therefore, necessary to legislate for the purpose of curing this seeming defect. To nominations for life he was quitmop posed. The usual cure for the «yil; - was an elective Council, but the of Victoria showed that the Council might be elective and yet be neither popular m its sympathies nor capable of working m harmony with the Lower House. It might be urged, however, that until recently the members of the Victorian Council Were elected on a very high property qualificattion. To make the qualification-it lowtbne would result in the formation Of u two Houses deriving their power from the same source; and, in the event of a quar-

r b! arising. between . them both" would; be I ’’'entitled to' say,, * We represent jthe - 1 .people as, tniuchaayou do, abd : why,should ,I:! we be caDpd' on to give way 1” The J . J question had been .dangling befb're this ClO oqahtryldr a, ibng time, but no Minjietry y gwippje with it. : (He JS H ii?wiTd bb ; it/favor of 1 which woutS f ten 4 ,to mate the ! Oouncfl wore :: truly of .all, classes and ho r - ' Would’lipit the duration of appointments. s,! On the (Subject of colonial .Mr ]Purnq3,'jarged"it was of' hirfch hHpbrtsjnce to farmers, because local manufactures would create a local market. The question arose as to how Government cquld V encourage ; such industries. . / Virtually, there i were; but two methods—(l) The bonus had been tried ‘and / hqd.failed,; «?d, ,(%, Bflfp** to Protection ih a . njipre .or leas form. . Our 1 ■ tariff) .though nominally a FrpeTj-qde one, ri was .Pk® Bll *' Se brewing, irugl\t;he j used.ais an btration of this .fact, having been built ‘ by. bur Protective, tariff,,, At Home ,,T)ree -Trade was oh its trial,,’ an,d, a strong been formed ! called the Pair u party, to advocate prihciples which { yye?e\ really protective under another ' name. Prance had refused to renew the commercial treaty with England, America had created an extensive system i'Ofv.maiunfaotures ftndefc.a frotefetL^lb'tiriff.' f, He was . not prepared to support a tariff similar to';-that adopted in Yictoria, but > ~.,£ppf<jyed of spsalLdifferenilasldMie^whepe, it might they were likely 5 to f :esteldjsh Ipceij maniifactures. The License ing* Act opened a new era in our licensing Jaws, establishing a system of local option in regard to hew licenses, and also provid- .» □ CHthat licerising bbmhiittees should be ■ lug ■- V-'-by.-lhe ratepayers,’ Sir. Williamelectea he body whichhe represented, Pox, and v 'd that' the licensing jdisj had complaint, bid Act Were | too tricts under the Act provided large. The new , -boroughs 'like for smaller , districts, --'irate disAshburtoh' ‘ constituting ’ --roughs , tricts,, while each ward of .large K. ; like Chrietchmch would also be a distnv It was enacted, however, that each dubr trict should contain not less than 100 ratepayers. The Act was certainly; an experiment, but he (Mr Purnell) wou d not consent to its repeal until it should have received a fair trial. ’ln conclusion he said that he had refrained from per- ‘' Penally ’canvassing the 'district/ -because he considered ‘such canvassing to be objecin itself, and Contrary to- the spirit 1 of our election laws; nor bad he formed any committees, Or taken any of • the steps which were frequently taken to • ' ertsnre success at an election. He simply ' laid' his 1 views before them. Many of, them knew him peraphally, ‘and, if they thought his views Were in accord with theirs, he trusted they, would record their ' votes 1 in his favor. (Applause.) - 1 ; 1 ‘ In reply to Mr I). Tippetts, |Mr Purnell said he thought the Gaming and - - Lotteries Act was a mistake ; and that, ' in regard to the ten per; cent, reduction of the salaries, of Civil servants, the ex- - plauation given by Government was jthat _ the railway servants’ wages had not been restored to their former rate • ; was found that the present rates were equivalent to those paid by private j employers. XIC« „ v ‘ - In reply to Mr J.; H. Jones, Mr Purnell said he had taken an active part in promoting the meeting held at; Ashburton in : ...regard to-the Mount Somers Railway, V’and certamly thought the line should be completed without,delay.- ; ! ,•, On ;Mr Chichester’s motion, seconded by Hr G. Grant, a vote of thanks was unanimously accorded to the candidate, and the meeting terminated with! the usual compliment to the chair.

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Bibliographic details

MR PURNELL AT TINWALD., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 494, 5 November 1881

Word Count

MR PURNELL AT TINWALD. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 494, 5 November 1881

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