THE PROTECTION LEAGUE.
A general meeting of the Dunedin branch of the Protection League was held at the Coffee Palace last night, and attended by about twenty-five members ; Mr \V, Hutchi son (president) in the chair. The following report was submitted by the Council:—
Nothing of an exciting nature has taken place since last general meeting. It was then agreed that the Otago Protectionists should make common cause with those of Canterbury in seeking to substitute a progressive land and income tax for the present property tax, which acts as a preventative to the investment of oapital in industrial pursuits in the colony. The annual Conference will take place at Christohuich on "Wednesday, the sth of June next, and it devolves upon the members now present to elect one or more of their number to represent them thereat. The Council hope that the deliberations will be of so earnest and practical a chaiacter as to give a decided stimulus to the protective policy.
There is no doubt that the new tariff has been very useful, but the people ought not to rest, satisfied with what has been accomplished. It will onjy be by augmenting the rural population—filling up the back country—and thus developing its pastoral, agricultural, and mineral resources, that the colony will enjoy large and general prosperity. Since last g neral meeting the Council has issued a circular asking for information in regard to the working of the tariff, copy of which is appended hereto. The Council appointed Messrs Mantz and Swan, along with the secretary, to report upon these returns, and their report is appended hereto. W. Dickson, Hon. See. The following is the report alluded to : Having been, appointed to examine the answers to the Protection circular, we have the pleasure of reporting that some of the pirtiee have gone thoroughly into the questions submitted to them. This plan of seeking information will be found an excellent one. We gather, generally, that the piesent tariff tends to aid our colonial manufactures, and also wherein it has to a certain extent failed, chiefly as we gather from the fact that in a good many instances the duty on the raw materials does not bear a due proportion to that of the manufactured imports that in every case where the raw material cannot be producod in the colony it is suggested that it Bhould be duty free. In view of tho present agitation on the sweating system this point deserves careful public attention. It is not within our province to mention more specially the opinions of those persons who have filled up the papers ; it is better to leave that pari; of the bauiness to be compared along with those collected by the other branches of the League,
WILLIAM Diokson, William Swan. E. S. MANT2.
The Chairman moved the adoption of the report, which was seconded by Mr M'Kenzie.
DrFiTCHETT, M.H.R., said the report had his hearty approval, inasmuch as by the protective tariff which the League had to a great extent been instrumental in bringing about they had imposed taxation, and it was therefore equally their duty to see that its incidence was as little burdensome as possible. They knew how iniquitous the property tax was, and it seemed to him quite within the province of the League to try and bring about a change on the lines indicated by the report. He was sure if united action were taken by the Protectionists throughout the colony in this direction it would have a pronounced effect in the House. But there were also other directions in which they might well attempt to alter the incidence of taxation—he referred particularly to the absentee tax.—(Applause.) No jnster tax could be conceived. Tho Premier had been preaching on the subject times out of number, bnt was never prepared to do anything in it, and the speaker thought if there were united action by the League throughout the country, members would agree upon some way of reaching the people who drew their wealth from the colony but did not contribute anything towards its support. Mr H. S. Fish, M.H.R., regretted having to differ to some extent from his colleague, Dr Fitchett, but to his mind the Protection League, until it had Becured its objects entirely, should not risk them by going into any side issues, no matter how important they might be. The efforts of the League, backed up by the general consensus of public opinion, had, he was glad to say, led to a considerable amount of protection being afforded to the colony, for which, as far as it had gone, they had reason to be thankful. But to bis mind the battle was not won. They were undoubtedly indebted to Sir H. Atkinson for the measure of Protection enjoyed at present, but what puzzled the speaker and crippled his appreciation of the Premier's efforts in this direction was the fact that in all his public utterances he declined to assert that the present was a protective tariff. This caused him (Mr Fish) to look upon the Premier's remarks as diplomatic, and as indicating that he meant to retrace his steps if found desirable. What he should like, seeing that the Premier had done what he had done would be to hear him declare emphatically that the tariff was protective, and that he himself was a Protectionist. Until the Premier or some other leader avowed this, the speaker would not give him unhesitating faith and un. swerving loyalty. As regarded Protection, they would have none in a true sense until upon their banner was inscribed the word •' prohibition." There was no dividing line. They must first be careful to know what they oould protect fairly without disadvantage to the consumers, and then their password, their catch cry, the word in the mouths of their representatives should be the one word "prohibition," and no other. Therefore if they valued the cause they had so ably upheld, let them keep their attention confined at present to this one subject. It was unnecessary to tell them that he had preached a graduated land and income tax for ten years at any rate, and was thoroughly in favor of it. Nothing he had heard from the Premier during the recess had shaken his opinion in any manner, but they could weaken the chief oause they had at heart by incorporating with it anything else. An absentee tax, again, was a very good thing, whioh they would all like to see, and a very popular sort of thing to talk about; but, important as it was, it was absolutely insignificant compared with what they were banded together for. Mr O'Connell agreed with much that Mr Fish had said. Their objects were not all carried ; many might be Protectionists and yet against a land and income tax, and it would not do to breed dissension.
Mr Kempthorne also agreed with Mr Fish in the main, but did not like the word "prohibition." He did not suppose Mr Fish meant that such absurd duties should be imposed that people could not send import* in competition with local manufacturers. That would be unwise. What local manufacturers wanted was to be on a par with importers ; no more. As regarded the League, he advocated it confining itself to Protection until it had got everything that was wanted,
Mr Mantz favored the views of Dr Fitchetfc, and, as regarded the Premier and Protection, said he would rather have an open foe than an unreliable friend. He would never allow the imported to come into competition with the local artiele. Mr Neil thought the League should stick to its platform, and leave other matters to other societies,
Dr Fitchett urged that it behoved them, having got a measure of Protection, to see that the incidence of taxation was made as little burdensome as possible. Mr Dickson argued that a progressive land and income tax would have the effect of promoting settlement in the interior. The Chairman thought it the duty of the League to show that they desired all reasonable reforms which would help on the future of the colony. The report embodied merely a recommendation to the Conference.
Mr Bkoad held that there were weighty reasons why they should keep only one plank in their platform. He inquired as to the truth of a report he had seen to the effect that part of the work of the League was to be the establishment of distilleries.
The Chairman said he knew nothing of this matter.
After further discussion a vote was taken, and the motion to adopt it was carried by 9 to 8.
Messrs Swap and Mantz were then appointed delegates to the Conference. Some discussion ensued as to the instructions to be given the delegates, and it was finally resolved that they govern their action by what had passed at that meeting. Messrß Gore and Hunter were added to the Council of the League. , The proceedings then olo.sqd.,
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THE PROTECTION LEAGUE., Evening Star, Issue 7918, 28 May 1889
THE PROTECTION LEAGUE. Evening Star, Issue 7918, 28 May 1889
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