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PARLIAMENTARY, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2456, 2 July 1890
TUESDAY, JULY 1. A NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION. *'• Wellington, July 1. EVENING SITTING. The House resumed at 7.30 p.m. THK NO-CONFIDENCE DEBATE. On the motion that the House go into Committee of Supply, Mr Ballance rose, and said that if the amendment of which he had given notice should be carried, nobody expected that the Ministers on the benches would leave them. The Ministry, m his opinion, occupied rather an unfortunate position, but it seemed to be one of their own j choosing. They all knew the state of the I Premier's health, and he thought the determination to which the Ministerialist party had come, placed the House m the anomalous position that they had a nominal Premier and an acting Premier. They would all have liked to see the Premier m his place that night, and able to take part m the present debate; but he blamed the Ministry for having placed the House m its present position. Referring to the Financial Statement, he said that Government complained about a false impression being afloat as to the condition of the Colony, but he asked what had the present Ministry done to remove that false impression? They were told they had a surplus of £115,000, but the Government had a deficiency m 1888, and they naturally contrived to have a surplus this year. He asserted, however, that there was no surplus. The primage duty liad been accounted for, but the liabilities the year had not been taken into
account. The Treasurer said there had been £36,500 with which to begin the year, but that meant that £36,500, and not £115,000, was the real surplus. Then as to the primage duty. Did they not all understand that this duty was to be for only two years ? And now they were told it was to be continued for school buildings, whereas last year they were led to believe that the school buildings' vote came out of the consolidated fund. He quoted from the figures to prove that there was £45,000 deficiency in the land revenue for the two years by the Treasurer's own showing. If, therefore, that £45,000 were deducted from £36,500, there was not only not a surplus but a deficiency. Then there were other items to be added, making altogether a net deficiency of £18,039. While, therefore, the Treasurer contended there was a surplus, there actually existed a large deficiency. He referred at some length to the transactions in the Lands Department, and said there was a deficiency in the estimate of the Minister for Lands also. Then, as to borrowing. They were told that the Government were not prepared to recommend a system of ordinary borrowing, but they were prepared to revert to a system of extraordinary borrowing. They were told it would be a wise thing to borrow for making roads to open up lands for sale ; but to open up the country by means of the tortuous plan proposed would not be likely to commend itself to the House. They were also to borrow for the purchase of Native lands, but the proposed w»j of doing this was even a more treacherous way than the other. They had been told they were to have freetrade in Native land, but he asserted that freetrade in Native land had effected absolutely nothing, except the clearing up of old transactions. As to the administration of the Government, he alleged that there had been great extravagance and illegality. Mr Edwards had been appointed a Judge of the Native Lands Court at £1500 a year, when the same work could have been performed for £500. He contended that there was no precedent for appointing a Supreme Court Judge until his salary had first been fixed. He was not- aware whether Mr Edwards' acts as a Judge would be legal or not, but notice had been given of a Bill which he was informed was to validate Mr Edwards' appointment. He thought the House should be informed by the legal gentlemen in it as to whether this appointment was legally made or not. They were told last session that the Native Department should be abolished, but they actually found that the estimates of that department were increasing by the appointment of Native Land Judges. The Public Works Department was also to be abolished, but it had not been done, and additional appointments were actually being made. As to defence, they had spent 'nearly half a million of money in making fortifications, yet they must go further. His opinion was that they were amply defended at present for all purposes. As to school buildings, he would ask how was the Minister to take over part of theadministration of the money ? He thought the money would have been more economically spent, if say, one-sixth was provided from particular districts. He strongly condemned the proposal to send delegates to the Federation Convention, on the ground that we had already decided against federation. Coming to the Property-tax, he asserted that the Government shou.d have made progress towards changing the incidence of taxation. His idea was that a Land-tax was the best form of taxation. Such a tax had been in existence some years ago on Sir George Grey's motion, but was superseded by the Counties Act brought in by the present Premier. He thought that they should now take gradual steps to restore the Land-tax, but with exemption of improvements. He contended that it was the duty of the Government to announce some policy for the constituencies to consider at the next elections, but whether the Government did so or not, the Property tax question would occupy a large amount of attention during those elections. Referring to land settlement, he said that the policy of the present Ministry was that the more land alienated from the Colony, the more successful their policy would be ; but he (Mr Ballanco) asked whether that was a policy suited to the country, His idea was that the proper policy was that a large number of settlers should go on the land. The number of settlers at the present time whs actually decreasing, though the Government had the boldness to declare that their land policy compared favorably wth that of their predecessors, He quoted largely from statistics, contrasting the land policy of the present Government with that of the previous Government, and said that if there was more genuine settlement in the country the larger and more flourishing would be the towns. He defended the village settlement scheme, and asserted that those special settlers had paid 5| per cent'of the whole cost of the scheme. The Financial Statement as a whole was of a speculative nature, and the surplus was financially indefensible. The Government had no idea of land- settlement, and they w"ore promoting dummyism instead of stopping ifc, They were also increasing expenditure instead of reducing it. They were making unnecessary appointments, such as that of an Assistant Auditor-General, when one officer could have done all the work ; and that of Mr Edwards, who was not a fit and proper person to be a.fudge of the Supreme Court. The Government had offered no policy to attract people to the country, and they acknowledged that no pftifts had been taken to make known the position />£ the Colony to the people of England and Australia. He asked whether the Govern- | mentheld office constitutionally at present. 1 He thought the only remedy for the [ present state of things was an immediate dissolution, as twenfcy-one members were now sitting in the House who had no right to sit there. The only remedy was, therefore, for them to dissolve Parliament without delay. Mr Ballance then moved "That in the opinion of this House the primage duty is unsjeCGSsary, and is a distinct breach of the understanding arrived at when ib was first jm* posed; (2) that further retrenchment is imperatively demanded and can be effected withont imparing the efficiency of the public service ; (3) that the retention of the property tax in its present form, and the land policy pursued by the Government alike impede the progress of the country." The Government accepted the foregoing as a direct no-conndence niotioji, and Mr Richardson, in reply to Mr Ballance said the present Government had made a saving of nearly £300,000. He thought that the Government proposals for roading the lands of the country were very reasonable ones. Last year there were 400 agricultural holdings in excess of the largest average of any year for the !<ist four years. Large areas were in the market, and there was no reason for anyone to leave the country because they could not get laud. Dummy-ism did net exist, he was glad to say, at present to anything like the extent complained of, and the Govarnment were m anxious an any lion gentleman to stop it. Mr Reeves (St Albans) referred to tlic fact that the leader of the House had not replied to Mr Ballance's speech. As to the land administration of the Government they had had three distinct systems of land selling in Canterbury. Each system was worse than the others. The result was that the Province of Canterbury, which should be one of the nio^t flourishing dibtricts in the colony, wis now one of the most depressed and stagnant. He remarked that the uttei lack of enterprise in the colony, and the
■exodus of our people, was evidence that the colony was not m a hopeful condition. Mr Kerr moved the adjournment of the debate. The House rose at 11.45 p.m.
PARLIAMENTARY, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2456, 2 July 1890
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