THE POLL TAX.— PUBLIC MEETING AT PARNELL.
A |meetino waß held laßt night, in the Presbyterian School-room, Parnel), "to take into consideration the imposition of the poll tax." Notwithstanding the showery evening, and the very bad approach to tho place of meeting, the school-room was filled. Mr. John George proposed that Colonel Nation should take the chair. Mr. Irons seconded the motion, which was carried by acclamation. Colonel Nation, having taken the chair, said that he felt very much the honour conferred upon him by calling him to preside. He would now read the advertisement calliug the meeting, and after that he hoped the speakers would have a fair hearing. (The Chairman then read from the Dailt Soothers Cboss the advertisement calling the meeting.) That was all h« had to any on the subject, and he supposed that the gentlemen who had signed the Advertisement would now address the meeting. Mr. John George said he was not an orator, and would not attempt to address the meeting at great leugth. He considered that the members for Parnell in the Provincial Council had done a gross wrong in voting, without consulting their constituents, foe a poll-tax, a kind of tax which had never been known in England for 300 years. (Cheers) They had not oome to New Zealand to be subjected to such conduct as that. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) Be said that the endowments, if they had but been properly used, would have been sufficient for the sick and destitute without imposing such an extraordinary tax as was now sought to be levied from the people of that province. (Cheers.) He considered that the poll tax was an unnecessary tax — (cheers) — and he .believed that if the endowments had. been properly used, at they orient to have been for the (tick and destitut*, they would not have had this call made upon them. ■It was high time that they had ret-enchmeut, and the sooner that provincial iustt .tions were swept' away tie better, (Great cheeriug. ) Between the t'Xatiou imposed by the General Government and that imposed, by the Provincial Government, an ho< est man could not live — only a rogue could lire. (Laughter.) A man must be a rogue if he got on at all. The General and' Provincial Government* swallowed up alt the people's means, and the sooner one of them , w»s abolished the better, (Hear, hear) They came upon the people with tax upon tax, local taxes, and other taxes, and were going to tax their 1 bit of house property. Many houses were let at that time, and no rent could' be got, and who was to ' pay the poll tax ? (Laughter.) A poor' man could get nothing, and yet he tuust pay all the tues imposed, or else lose his land. It was abominable' — (oheers)— and not t) be tolerated— (renewed cheering 1 ) — and he protested against it. Let them be united, and send down petitions to the General Assembly againet the tax. Let their members there do what they ought to do — not «uch oonduct as that of Colonel Hault-un and Mr. MacfFarlane, who had robbed the people of Auckland of their rights. If the Auckland members would not do their duty, let them resign, and better men would be got. Colonel HaulUin had ceitainly not done his duty, and as for Mr. Macffurlane, he had been the cause of their losing the bydney steamer, and he pretended to be asleep when the vote was taken. Why did he not do hid duty ? He should have cast all personal considerations aiide, and have done what was best for his constituents. (Hear, hear.) The sooner they got provincial institutions abolished the better, as it would relieve them from the taxation required to keep them up. They did not want to have another £500, 0U0 borrowed to be wastefully spent. (Cheers.) He saw that the City Board had almost unanimously resigned because they could not bear the pressure pub upon them by the provincial authorities. (Cheers.) He would send a petition to the House of .Representatives against the Act. He (Mr. George) always understood that the Governor and the Executive had to sanction an Act before ie became law, but the Governor had never sanctioned that bill as legal. He supposed the loss would come upon the province — Auckland would suffer for the lot. He would say, in conclusion, that they had the matter in their own hands, aud they ought strongly to to protest against the t «x. (Chears ) For his part he would not pay the tax unless forced to do so — (great cheering) — and he hoped all there would do the same. (Cheers.) The Chairman asked if any other gent'eman wished to address the meeting. A Voice : " Mr. Wrigley." Mr. Jambs Wrigley said he thought that Mr. Hale had signed the requisition, and he should like to hear his views on the subject. The Chairman said the nexb name on the Kst of requisition^ was that of Mr. Me In tyre. Mr. id ALB, addressing Mr, Wrigley, said: I beg your pardon, but you have been misinformed, as my my name is nob to the advertisement. A Voice : " Well then, the more shame to you." (Laughter and cheers,) The Chairman then read fie names of the gentlemen signing the advertisement, and asked if any of them wished to address the meeting. Mr. Cross said he quits coincided with what had been said by Mr. George. (Oheers.) Mr. Whig ley said he was ceitainly rather astonished that, for a meeting called to consider such a matter, the building was not crammed in every part. (Cheers.) He could only imagine tlidt it arose from the notion being so short. (Hear, heir.) For his patt, he should like to see that meetiog adjourned so as to give every opportunity for the strong feeling that existed on the subject to be manifested. (Cheers.) He himself felt strongly on the subject He considered that thanks were I due to those gentlemen who had called the meeting, j so that they niiuut have an opportunity of expressing themselves on the subject of the poll tax. (Cheers.) He (Mr. W figley) had tried to purchase a copy of the Act imposing the poll tax, but he could not get one. And yet a collector was going about collecting money under that Act. He did not know tue provisions of the Act, and he did not believe it was legal to enforce the Act until copies could be had. As to the procedure with reference to the meeting, he thought it would have been betber if they had had » few gentlemen as a committee to consider what course it would be best to take. (Hear, hear.) He had come there t> listen, but, rather than that the meeting should be without speakers, he would say a word or two. He thought it did not require much argument to show the injustice of the poll tax. (Hear, and cheers,) It was an un-English— (cheers) — an unju t — (cheers) — an unequal — (cheers) — and an infamous tx. (Great cheering.) Within the lust five centuries they had had no precedent for such % thing in England, and if any man had had the hardihood to get up in the House of Commons and propose such a thing, he would never have got a seconder. This tax had been proposed by the . Provincial Government, and carried at the fag-end of a session — just ut the last minute, without people having an opportunity to prote&t against it, or to discuss it in auy way. He believed that, if sufneieut time had been given, there would have been such an outcry agaiubt the tix that it never would have beeu passed. At fmt the only man who opposed the tiX was Mr. Ball, but before the bill passed the numbers were only 9 to 6. Mr, George said he believed that at the end there was scat eely a quorum in the Council. Mr. Wrigley said so much the worse. A bill' such as that ought not to have been brought in at the fag-end of a session. They said it Was absolutely necessary, but that was false, and was- only <&' humbugging way of putting it. It was a' tax impoied to support provincialism and provincial officials, (Hear, hear.) There was a deficiency in the provincial' revenue, which was caused by the fact' that (last year > they had squandered money in wilful waste. . They / had spent £50,000 in establishments, and not one penny for public works ; and yet they had no money. According to the Finance Committee they bad spent £23,000 more than the income, and that was taken from the remainder of the loan. It was their past extravagance that had driven them to such quibbles and shift* and outrageous things aa » poll tax, (Hear, aud cheers.) He did not think it required muoh argument to show its injustice aud inequality, when it made the poor man pay an equal sum with the rich. That was against all political economy, and no one would dream of attempting such » thing in England. Ytt the provincial economists brought out this new thing. He was sorry that longer notice had not been given of the meeting* as he was sure that, if that had bsen given, those present would have been only a fragment to those who would have come. (Cheers.) He would like some resolution proposed about the poll tax, and the question should be, how could they upset it? — (hear, hear) — how could they devise means to prevent them carrying out this robbery ? — for it was nothing else. (Cheers.) He thought that petitions should be sent to Wellington requesting the Governor to disallow the bill. (Cheers.) If the Governor and Executive disallowed the bill, they would of course hear nothing further about it. He saw that summonses had been issued against eight persons for this poll tax — (hisses)— and the cares would come before Mr. Beckham on Tuesday next. He would suggest that they should subscribe to defend these people, and carry the cases to the Supreme Couit. (Loud , cheering.) He would give £1 for, that purpose, i
rather than 10a. for the tax— (cheers)— because he believed it was an unconstitutional tax, and against the 'pint of the English law. (Cheers, and a voice : " And the Irish, too.") He included them all. He would like to hear some discussion on the subject. Another resolution which he would like to see proposed was on this subject. He thought their members ought to have come there to have given them aomo excuse for the way in which they had acted — (hear, hoar)— to show some reason why they had taken such a course — to have explained their votes. (Cries of "They dare not.") fie would have a resolution passed strongly censuring their members. (Hear, hear.) These gentlemen knew that their consttuent3 were against such a tax to a man. (Cheers.) Mr. George eaid he had called the meeting because he saw that no one else was doing so, and a beginning must be made. It was necessary to take Time by the forelock, and call the meeting at once. It would require all the time they had if they were to send down petitions to the Assembly to have the bill abolished altogether. Tae Rev. S. JB-dger, who was received with great cheering, said : I for one feel that our thanks are due to those gentlemen who have called this meeting. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) I have been astonished at the apathy, and I may say the servitude, of the people of Auckland. Instead of calling meetings long before, they had left it to the country districts. These have initiated the matter, and they will carry it out. (Cheers.) I know a little of the country districts, and I am quite sure they will not pay the tax. (Cheers.) It has occurred t> me, whether it would not be better to adjourn the metting, say, until next Monday. I thick that then t'lere would be a very much larger attendance, and it seems to me a pity that the resolutions should not come from a really influential and numerous meeting. Ido not look upon this as a question of paying 10s. — that is a trifle, — but whether the people of this province will submit to be trodden upon — (cheerc) — whether de«pot3 shall be permitted to override our laws by this utterly un-English Act, and really to take away our liberties, (Cheers.) I believe this occasion is one of the most important in the history of New Zealand, I will move that this meating be ad« journed till Monday evening next. It will be advisable that the meeting should be held before the Tuesday when those eight geutlemen who have been summoned for the tix will have to appear. It will be better also to have a larger hall. There is the Parnell Hall. (Cheers,) I will undertake to say—^although it is not a usual thing to do— that, if it accords with the feeling, the hall shall he had free. (Great cheering.) I think also that a small committee should be nominated to arrange matters. Mr. George : I second that. Mr* Wbigley ; I think it would be better that the motion should not ba put until we have appointed the committee. If we pass that motion we can do nothing. Mr, Edghb : I will add the names of the committee, and make it one resolution. Mr. W. J. hPEiGHT, jun., said : Whilst the list of names is being dr».vn up I think ib would be wise that this meeting should instruct the committee as to the nature of their duties. I think it would be uselets and a waste of time to appoint a committee unless you give them distinct directions as to the nature of the duties they are to perform. For my pare I think the committee you appoint now should be authorised and prepared to receive^ subscriptions from the date of their appointment aa a fund for the defence of those men, who we are informed have been summoned. (Loud cheers.) Mr. Chairman, I landed in this colony a few months since, because 1 believed I was coming out to seek for myself comparative independence, but I nerer anticipated that I should have to submit to a t»x that would lower me more in my own estimation than in that of any one else, because 1 believe if I pay such an infamous and degrading tax I should become a mere John Chinaman — (Cheers) — unlike one of a nation to whom I think we are and ought to be morally and intellectually superior, (Cheers,) Sir, I feel very strongly on this tax, and, as the collector of this tax is present, I say it distinctly in hia hearing— and he may note down my words if he chooses— l will never pay this infamous tax — (cheers) — and I will go into the Stockade before I will ever pay one farthing of it. (Loud cheers.) It seems to me that the meeting has nob been called by persons whose duty it was to call it, but by working- men. It seems to me to have been questioned by some persons that the meeting should have been called by the persons whose names are attached to the advertisement published iv the Southern Cross. I say all honour to them, and more discredit to the people of Auckland that it remained foi working-men to call such a meeting, Mr. Wkigley : If you allude to anything that 1 said, I say more credit to these people for calling it. (Cheers.) It was tie hurnedness of it that 1 alluded to. Mr. Speight : It remained for these working-men to take the matter up, when the very men whe presume to lead public opinion and to be the leaders of the people failed in their duty. (Cheers.) But tb.9 men who should have been leaders of public opinion in this matter have all more or less got theii bands in the public purse — (cheers) — aad they therefore decline to tike action in any matter which might have tie effect of lessening the income they thus derive. (Cheers.) It remains for us t> show that, though our provincial legislators may flatter themselves that they have done a fine thing by imposing this tax — it remains for us to thow our addleheaded legislators th,.t they have over-reached themselves, and that when they attempted to impose upon the working-classes of the public of Auckland they never made a greater mtst ik& in their lives. (Loud and prolonged cheering.) In spite of the powei those men derive from their place and their wealth, the public spirit in the men of Auckland is the same true English spirit, which cannot be crushed out oi trampled upon, and which has hurled those from place and power who have att amptid to override the libeities ot the people, and to prostitute their offices. (Loud cheers.) I want tj know why the members oi the Council for Parnell have not dared to btand face to face with the meeting to-night. I spoke to one of them about that tax, and he endeavoured to appease my wrath — aye, I will say, my righteous wrath — by saying that this t«c would only last for a year. I say it is adding insult to injury to attempt to make us tamely submit to such a shamefully unjubt import, and to swallow our just indignation by hugging the delusive hope to ourselves that it will never be repeat sd. I say resist it in the first. (Loud cheers.) Mr. Edger : Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I will read the resolution as it stinds for the adjournment. Of course there will be plenty of latitude for discussion. The motion now stands thus :—": — " That this meeting adjourn till Monday evening at 7 o'clock, in the Parneli Hall, and that the following gentlemen be appointed a provisional cummittee to make arrangements for that meeting, and to comoiunicata with all the members of the Provincial Council in Auckland to request their attendance. The following gentlemen to be the oom mittee ; — Messrs. John George, J. B. M duty re, William Cross, William bale, William Vaughan, Henry Pearce, William J. Speight ; .Rev. S. Edger; Meisis. Jamea Wrigley, anu George Fraser." Of course the duty of the committee will be to arrange for certaia resolutions to be moved and seconded by certain gentlemeD, who, it is suggested, should form the committee. I can only add that I 1 fully concur in the remarks made in reference to the 1 necessity of defending these men who are likely to Ibe prosecuted ; and, if a subscription is commenced ' to-night to defend them, I should be very happy to lay down my £1 to it. fLoud cheers.) Mr. Field : In seconding the resolation that has i just been moved, I' would beg to refer to what I consider a very objectionable phase connected with ' this poll tax. I ask you whether in presenting it to us they did not do so under the mask of hypocrisy. They oome forward and pretend to be actuated by a desire to provide for the sick and destitute. That is, I say, nothing more or less than a hypocritical pretence. These men held certain offices for which they were paid salaries, and why did they not apply the money they received in that way, in the first instance, to the support of the sick and destitute, and allow their own salaries to fall short— (cheers) — and then appeal to the public, saying, •• We want to impose a poll tax with which to pay our own salaries" ? (Cheers ) 1 hat is the proper light in which to put tbis obnoxious, this iniquitous, this unbearable imposition. (Loud cheers.) I hope, gentlemen, that we shall resist it constitutionally to the utmost, and I hope also effectually. (A. voice : s ' Physically. ") I have very great pleasure in seconding the resolution that has been proposed, and I 1 hope the members of the committee will find their hands materially strengthened, in what constitutes the real sinews of war. I hope the subscriptions will flow in to enable them to carry out the great object of this meeting. For it is a great object — it is a determined stand we are called upon t > make in defence of our commonest liberties. (Cheers.) If we will be fiee, let us oppose the poll tax. (Cheers.) I shall leave the resolution with you. (Cheers.) The Chairman : If no other gentleman has »ny remarks to make, I shall put the motion. A call was here made for Mr. Diddams, who was observed to be present, amidst great merriment. Mr. Wkiglbt : Is it Mr. Diddams you want to •peak ? (Loud-one* of " Yes,") j Well, »i he i» the J
only representative of the poll t*x here, I think he ought to s»y something for it. (Cheers and laughter.) Mr. Diddams then came forward amidst great laughter and cheers, and laid : Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I have heard it intimated that the movement that has been initiated is about to be strengthened by this, that, and the other. You must excuse me, seeing that lamto be strengthened — I am some* what weakened. ( Loud laughter and cheers ) lam sure you will treat me with the greatest amount of tenderness. (Laughter and cheer*.) I have one request to make— if you study my feelings, by all means "draw it mild/ (Ironical cheers and laughter.) You forgtt that lam a poll tax payer as well as a poll tax collector. (Cheers.) Wbatavec - you do, one way or bhe other, it will answer my purpose, A Voice : You will lose your billet ; don't you wish you may get it 1 Several persons in the body of the meeting here called loudly for Mr. Strange to addres* them, and a call was also made for Mr. Fraser. Mr. Wbigley : Before the resolution is put I may say that I should like the people of Parnell who are here to-night to come again next time, and every man that is here bring three or four of his friends, and let us have a large meeting ; let us have the Parnell Hall chock-full, and pass resolutions that will astonish them. (Loud cheers.) Mr. Eraser : I wish to make one or two remarks. One of the speakers has said his feelings were so strong that his language was strong also. My feelings are so strong that I cannot fiud language in which, to express my detestation of this tax. (Cheers.) I am not an Englishman ; but I come from that country where the people love and cherish freedom, and will maintain it till death. (Cheers.) In the country to which I have the honour to belong there is a sajing, "The man who would be free himself must strike the blow" — (cheers)— and if we would be free from this infamous and tyrannic »l poll tax, we ouraelves must also strike the blow. (L"Ud cheers.) With these remarks I sib down, trusting tha.fc (h meeting to be held on Monday evening ntxt wi|l be. a large and influential one, and that the poll tax ha not many days to live, (Loud cheers.) Mr. ft. Hale : Perhaps Mr. Wiigley will give us; a few more remarks. Mr. J. George : Mr. Robert Hale might do that I think he is the best "spouter." The Chairman : I will just put this motion in a few words, viz., " That this meeting adjourn to the Parnell Ball, at seven o'clock on Monday evening next." Those who are in favour of the motion vrill please hold up their hands. The motion was carried unanimously j and, after a vote of thanks to the ohairman, the meeting dispersed,
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