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Sir R. Stout has addressed a long letter to the ‘New Zealand Times’ in reply to that journal’s strictures on his remarks relative to Government “parsimony.” Sir Robert says You state that when tho late Government left office there was a deficit of 1-528,009. Now this is ridiculously untrue. The deficit up to the 31st March, 1887, was L 92.293. We were not responsible for the deficit at the end of the 3lat March, 1888. According to our Budget we were prepared to meet the expected deficit by economies and new taxation. We were denied this opportunity, and those who refused to meet the wants of the colony by proper economies and taxation—w'e proposed both—are res ponsible. In October, when the present Government took office, they knew thcrevenue for the years 1887-88 could not meet the expenditure, and yet in their Budget they made no sufficient provision for it. On the Ist November, 1887, when the Colonial Treasurer delivered his Statement, ho said :—“ I _ have already informed the Committee that it is estimated the expenditure of the Consolidated Fund during the year ending March 31, 18SS, woald exceed the revenue by L3SD,3O;>, if expenditure proceeded at tho ‘ old rate, and further taxation were notimposed ’ ” (P. 14, 8111, session 1887). If we had remained in office we would have done both, and not have had the large sum added to the funded debt of the colony which the_ policy of the present Government necessitated. What economies theGovornment have made, and on what lines, and the new taxation imposed, I need not dwell on. Our taxation proposals were pronounced as atrocious. The colony saw and felt in 1888 a taxation beyond what we proposed, and the economies were neither systematic nor just. All I care to show, however, is that our deficit was but L 92,292, whilst tho deficit of our successors was 1382,074. I have omitted the Land Fund fiom our deficit as it never was usual to bring it under the ordinary revenue account; but if that be done the deficit would be increased by L 54,262, Now, I ask the most biassed party politician that evcr reail your paper, is it fair to charge ns with a deficit that took place at the end of March 31, 1888, when we ceased to be Ministers in October, 1887, and when, if our policy of economy and fresh taxation had been carried out, there would have been no deficit ? The summary of our proposals can be learned from this passage in the Budget:—“ The proposed expenditure being 14,071,804, and the anticipated revenue L 4,156,184, a surplus of 1.84,800 is the result. As regards the 190,300 deficiency of last year, although I hope to be able to pay it off this year out of the surplus, Ido not like to undertake to do so. I propose asking that it stand over until after the end of next session. If the transactions enable it to be sooner extinguished, as I hope may be the case, 1 shall be glad to pay it off” (P. 15, B 61, session 1887). What, then, becomes of your audacious statement that we are responsible for the deficit of our successors ? I consider one of the greatest blots on the present Administration is that knowing there would be a large deficit if fresh taxation were not imposed, they did not propose new taxation in 1887. So much for your criticism on the late Administration, And now a few words about your personal criticism on myself. I am very careless about your opinions about my views or my actions, and if you had not dealt with the action of the late Administration I never would have troubled you with any correspondence. You have wrongly assumed that in my letter to Mr Joyce I was criticising the acta of the present Administration. I was referring to the Young New Zealand party. Nor did I say one word against economy—l to parsimony. You seem to see no distinction between the two. Economy consists in the proper and careful spending of money. Parsimony is the withholding of expenditure. If parsimony had been the policy of the colony in the past, I doubt if ic would even have been a sheep-walk. There would have been no towns, no education system, no direct service, no railways—in fact, no enterprise. Parsimony thinks the highest aim in life is to accumulate money. Economy believes that wisely spending money, looking with hope to the future, is a higher aim in life. I favor economy—to parsimony lam opposed ; and I believe, so far as the idea of parsimony has tiken root amongst us, it has been injurious. We have seriously injured this colony by repeating the hated word “ depression,” so that people from a distance have believed us bankrupt. We have lost thousands of our population ; we have fiightened hundreds from coming hither. Immigration has been stopped, and a policy of pessimism preached; and this is the result of making a god of parsimony. What the Conservative reaction has done I need not now state fully. Let me just point out a few things(l) the honorarium has been reduced ; (2) the number of members has been reduced ; (3) the Minister’s salaries have been curtailed ; (4) aid to high schools has been withdrawn; (5) village settlement scheme abandoned; (6) perpetual lease system destroyed; (7) small run scheme destroyed ; (8) the tenure of pastoral lease largely increased, and in certain runs made secure for twenty-one years; (9) valuable land sold at 10a and 12s per acre without settlement conditions; (10) dummyism is left rampant without check or hindrance; (11) attempts made_ to weaken the State system of education; (12) last, but not least, 113,000,000 worth of property our State railways have bsen handed over to three irresponsible Civil servants. If these be not a good Conservative record, I do not know what it is, And all in two sessions, too. However, the time of reckoning will come, just as it came to those who in 1870 supported the Public Works policy and would not listen to any safeguard, and then, when their pockets were touched, cried out and denounced Sir Julius Vogel as if he alone were guilty. The very same journals that aided, supported, and clamored for the Public Works policy in 1870 were those who denounced it in 1887-88. And so it will be with the new Conservative reaction. Five years after this, if not sooner, when onr land is gone and little settlement is provided, therewill bs denunciation of that policy which is in t’io ascendant now, and which the to-be denouncers are now supporting. —I am, etc., Robert Stout,

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Bibliographic details

ECONOMY V. PARSIMONY., Evening Star, Issue 7910, 18 May 1889

Word Count

ECONOMY V. PARSIMONY. Evening Star, Issue 7910, 18 May 1889