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POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 7942, 25 June 1889
[From Our Parliamentary Reporter.)
WELLINGTON, Juke 25,
Clutha River Improvement.
The matter of the Clutha River navigation is occupying the attention of Mr Pyke, from whom I learn that the Board of Conservators have agreed to increase the number of their members so that Beaumont and Roxburgh may be represented on the Board. A Bill will be introduced shortly by Mr Pyke or Mr Mackenzie to give effect to that purpose. Tbe Ministerial Row. There is a strong feeling among a section of the House that the correspondence which passed between the Premier and Mr Fisher, and culminated in the latter’s resignation from the Cabinet, ought not to be kid on the table. Mr Fisher, however, is of opinion that be has been maligned and slandered throughout the country, and will not rest till the whole correspondence has been made public. If the Government decline to give effect to the Premier's promise made on Friday last, Mr Fisher will table a motion having for its object theproduction of the correspondence ; and if this be carried, and Sir Harry Atkinson still declines to publish it on the ground that doing so would be establishing a bad precedent, then tbe esMinister of Education will himself put it in the hands of hon. members. Having been permitted to scan it over, 1 have no hesitation in saying that some of the language employed is decidedly warm, and that more mud is cast in the most recent effusions than is generally thrown between two gentlemen who have had the honor of sitting together as Ministers of the Crown, The trouble really began over the Beer Duty prosecutions, in which Mr Fisher (as Commissioner of Customs) is charged with having declined to instruct prosecutions for most flagrant breaches of tbe Act to be initiated, because, it is alleged, the offender was a personal friend of his. After a few
days’ reflection on the position, Mr Fisher decided to resign as a member of the Executive, and, in doing so, expressed the conviction that his attitude in connection with the Beer Duty cases had been merely used as a pretext for dismissing him from office, tbe actual fact being that serious differences of opinion bad arisen between the Premier and himself regarding the treatment of Mr Rae, tbe railway expert from Home, in connection with the appointment of the Railway Board; also as to the appointment of a successor to Judge Johnston, over the v% rn .• ,i ra » i « *
Property Tax question, the Premier’s land nationalisation utterances, etc. This letter drew from Sir H. A. Atkinson a stronglyworded reply, in which he charged Mr Fisher with publishing, in a most irregnlar and unwarrantable manner, a synopsis of the Education Bill in the ‘Evening Post ’ before submitting it to the Premier for the consideration of the Cabinet; and he says that though the Bill was prepared by direction of the Cabinet, and was drafted entirely by Inspector-General Habeas, it was never submitted to the Premier, and after the exMinister of Education had several copies printed he ordered the type to be distributed without sending a single copy of the Bill to the Education Office, or returning the original manuscript, which was an official document. The Premier explains that he recommended His Excellency the ActingGovernor to dismiss Mr Fisher from the Executive because during the last few days that he held office he made such an extraordinary use of his Ministerial position that it was not right that he should longer remain in a position which enabled him to deal with the public records in an improper manner. Mr Fisher had caused to be printed at the public expense, but for his own use, papers relating to the brewery prosecutions, with official and Ministerial minutes. Thqse being printed, apparently for distribution, without the
knowledge of the Premier, he felt that it would be a public scandal' for Mr Fisher to remain a day longer than could be helped as a Minister of the Grown. As to the list of larger questions on which Mr Fisher claims to have at various times differed from the Cabinet, Sir H. A. Atkinson alleges that this is the first time he had had the lightest intimation of any serious difference between the late Minister of Education and the Cabinet or himself upon any of these questions. The foregoing extracts will give your readers some idea of the nature of the correspondence, from the Ministerial standpoint, that has passed between the Premier and his late colleague.
The Property Tax. The Government’s proposals re the Property Tax will be disclosed in the Statement to-night. The Ministerial organ this morning writing on the subject says:—“ltis believed, however, that even allowing for the solution of all individual differences among its opponents, there is a elear majority in fayor of the Property Tax as the most convenient mode of direct taxation, having regard to all the conditions to be satisfied; that is to say, if the plain question of the Property Tax versus a land and income tax were to be put to the vote on the issue of the main principle involved—so far as present calculations go—the result would be in favor of the former. What would probably assist in bringing about this result is the knowledge that a vote of the Honse against the Property Tax would inevitably mean a dissolution and general election. This is a question on which the Government wonld unquestionably appeal to the country.” It further says that the Property Tax has always been a feature of the present Premier’s fiscal policy, and that “as from the first he has ‘nailed his colors to the mast ’ it is unlike'y that he will now haul them down,”
Jottings. Sir G. Grey arrived by the Hinemoa last evening. A meeting of town members has been called for to-morrow to counteract the move by the country representatives re increased representation. The Public Works Statement is ready for the consideration of the Cabinet, and unless unforeseen circumstances arise it* will be delivered on Friday week. Mr M'Gregor (Akaroa) and Major Jackson (Waikato) are again acting as Government whips. Strong opposition is being worked np against the Hare system, and when the Electoral Bill comes on the Ministerial proposals on this head will probably receive a short shrift. • Land (tor Settlement. The necessity of having thrown open for settlement large areas of land having been
’brought under the notice of the Mjnlatfer of Lands by the member for Clutha, the Hon, Mr Richardson has promised to instruct the •ohief surveyors of each provincial district to have prepared a list showing the actual quantity of land that it is proposed to open lor settlement during the ensuing year, and the Government will then determine whether sufficient is provided to meet the •demands of those desirous of becoming permanent settlers. The Minister has also promised that votes shall be put on the Estimates for opening up lands in the Gatlins River district particularly, but he does not recognise it to be the duty of the Government to get all the roads made, that being county work, as the county councils receive the rates and subsidies.
Further Property Tax Exemptions. I believe that the Ministerial proposals re the Property Tax, which will be an important feature of the Budget, provide for the exemption from taxation of unoccupied premises, and for the exemption of machinery and motive power.
POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 7942, 25 June 1889
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