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HANSARD PICKINGS., Issue 8008, 10 September 1889
WANTED—A DICTATOR. If you could get a political and financial expert such as Mr Goschen it might be very safely queried whether he would not be cheap at L 30,000 a year if he became dictator of all our affairs for, say, seven years. We might then say “ Take away that bauble ! " You, sir, might disappear from the scene; the doors of this House might be locked; and at the end of seven years our affairs would be so far retrieved that possibly we might again endure another ten or twelve years of responsible government such as we have had. Ido not wish such a thing to be done, because I would much sooner see us retrieve our own affairs.—Dr Hodgkinson. SELL THE RAILWAYS. I see no other thing for it except one—and that one, unfortunately, is what this House is not educated up to, and this country is not educated up to, though it is strange it should be so. The very best thing we could do to relieve ourselves of this enormous burden of taxation, and to get rid of this property tax, would be to realise our assets if we could. Now what is the present position of the colony? I think I am justified in making a comparison. Let us go back, say, eighteen years, and I think we may compare this colony to an individual, say a farmer. Well, this man is plodding along, just able to make a fair living, and to put away a little, and lie could go on doing that; but, unfortunately for him, one of those adventurous clever fellows, such as are described under the well-known term “ a man too clever by half,” aud who in America, I think, would bo called a “ carpet bagger ”—a man of genius and theories—a man who has no stake in the country, and no concern for the welfare of the man he is advising, but only a wish to benefit himself—well, this clever fellow gets hold of this simple man and persuades him that he is a foolish man to go plodding along in the way he does. Ho tells him that ho should raise a huge loan and set up in business, say as a brewer—for, as Dr Johnson says, in that there is remarkable potentiality of riches—and this simple man is beguiled by this adventurer. He borrows and sets up as a brewer, but some years after ho finds he can neither brew good ale nor get a sale for it, and he is getting deeper and deeper into debt every year, he can barely pay interest on what ho has borrowed, and is on the very brink of ruin. Now, under such circumstances, if he were fortunate enough to meet a purchaser who really understood the business he has gone into, and who would pay him for his plant aud take it all off his hands—well, if he did not accept such an offer he ought to be placed in a lunatic asylum. That, I understand, is the position of the colony. The only thing 1 have any doubt about is, that 1 am not quite as sure as other hon, members are, and as the Premier is, that we should meet with a purchaser for our railways at ‘a price near what they have cost. That is the question.—(Dr Hodgkinson). THE PRICE OF LAND. I recollect once hearing the late Mr James Macandrew state in this House that there was not an acre of land in the colony worth less than LI; and at a more recent date I heard the hon. member for Thorndon soy that there was not an acre in the provincial district of Wellington that was not worth LI. Still, in spite of these assertions, my opinion is that there is a great deal of land in the colony which cannot bo profitably occupied unless the selectors get it at considerably less price than LI per acre. When all the low grounds and the best land have been picked out, and nothing but broken and hilly country—in many instances covered with bush—is left, that land will not pay for settlement at the price of LI an acre. Wc have in the North Island been dealing with considerable areas of land at various prices below LI an acre, and there are large areas of land that would never have been settled upon but for the reduction in price. And there 1s in Nelson a considerable area of poor birch-land for sale at 10s an acre. It has been offered for sale at 10s for years, and it is quite clear that even at that price this land cannot be sold and will not be sold.—Mr G. F. Richardson, SUCCESS OF VILLAGE SETTLEMENTS.
I do not pretend to know so much about these village settlements as the Minister of Lands or the hon. member for Wanganui, but I say that if you have only got 50 per cent, of these people to stay on the land, instead of travelling about the country or making a noise in the towns, the system has worked very well.—Mr J, M'Kenzie.
A WARNING THIRTY-FIVE YEARS OLD,
I should like to bring before the attention of hon. members the words of a gentleman who once occupied a position in this House —Mr Gibbon Wakefield, one of the farseeing founders of the colony, who in this House, on the 11th July, 1854, spoke as follows:—“At Nelson nearly all the land is gone. There and in other provinces—if in other provinces the land should be similarly monopolised by a few—the people will soon find out that the land has been disposed of without any regard to the industrious classes of settlers, has got wrongfully into the hands of speculators and monopolists, and then the people will take tho land back again for the public by means of confiscating laws. I wish to record my conviction that this will be the inevitable result. It may not happen—though I think it will—till many of us are dead and forgotten; but that this measure, which parts with the waste lands without a single precaution to guard the interests of the great majority of the people, will lead to a confiscating democracy, I feel very sure I have not the slightest doubt.” These were the words of a statesman in the year 1854 ; but I believe that the imposition of a fair land tax will prevent any such measure as that being adopted in the future.—Mr Harkuess. A PERORATION. Oh, New Zealand, poor New Zealand ! if you could only get men to conduct your politics regardless of merely selfish considerations, and with that loyalty of spirit that would disdain to substitute trickery for politics, in which unscrupulous intrigue could have no place 1 Oh, if but men were sent here to conduct your business with a true regard to your honor and to the welfare of the people, well would it be for you.— Mr Monk. EDUCATION BOARDS’ EXPENSES.
There are at present fourteen education boards, the members of which receive travelling expenses, and sometimes some very novel circumstances take place. Take the case of tho Wellington Education Board. Tho country school districts of the Wairarapa elect members to attend tho meetings of the Education Board in the City of Wellington to represent tho interests of those country districts, and yet every now aud then wo see the chairman of the Board and one or two of the town members
travelling with him to the country districts to inquire what the requirements of those districts are, This, 1 think, is an abuse of the system.—Mr Fisher. “ WORKING THE ORACLE.” Now, with reference to the Property Tax, I am going to show you how this Bill works. It so happens that a gentleman who has a scat in this House, aud who is absent now, happens to own nine or ten acres of land in the Borough of Sydenham, The land was valued by the local valuator appointed for the purpose. The valuations were reviewed by the Board of Reviewers, and reasons were given for and against the valuation. The valuations, however, were affirmed. We found out a few days afterwards that this gentleman bad written to the Property Tax Commissioner, and had a reduction made of LIOO per acre, and the local authorities knew nothing about it until the roll was returned to them. Under a system of that kind, how can we expect the people to agree to the Property Tax Bill ? I cannot do so, because it is evident to my mind that it is a tax which relieves the rich man who knows how to work the oracle, and is against the poor man. I say that fearlessly and without fear ol contradiction ; and innumerable cases can be cited to prove it.—Mr Taylor, PERPETUAL LEASE. The term “perpetual lease" is quite a misnomer, because, after complying with the settlement conditions, if he thinks fit the selector can acquire the freehold ; and this fact, I am sure, will be very gratifying to the hon. member for Wanganui : that, though the selectors have the right_ to acquire the freeholds, so far I do not think there is one instance of their having exercised that right. I think, myself, that it is very improbable they will be disposed to exercise that right, for as long as they continue paying 5 per cent, on the capital value of their land it is more profitable for them to do that than to acquire its freehold; but, still, the sentiment is satisfied, and the knowledge that they can acquire the freehold leads to the perpetual-lease tenure being now the favorite one,—Mr G. F. Richardson.
FOOLING THE ASSESSORS. Mr Kerr: We have heard that people who have money cannot escape the Property Tax ; but the thing is ridiculous. When a man has a large amount on deposit at the bank, and he knows that the Property Tax man is coming round, what does he do ? He goes into the bank and fills up a deposit receipt, and tells them to remit that money to another colony. It costs him £ per cent. And then, when tho valuation is all over and done with, he gets the money back again. If a man has, say, LIO.OOO, in that way he saves a great deal. Mr Rhodes: Does the gold go to Australia ?
Mr Kerr: No, it never moves. But you know well how these things are done. That is defrauding the country ; but it is good business, and I say it is done to a considerable extent. Yet the Premier gets up here and says it is not done. . . . There is another effect of the Property Tax as it is at present carried out. A man gets thoroughly mortgaged—up to the eyes, as we call it—and is not able to meet his liabilities. What does he do ? This is a real fact. He gets hold of an old mowing machine and sends a man out to cut some of the fern off his land and sow a bit of grass seed, and then when the Property Tax assessor starts to value he says that he considers his property is worth more than it was at the previous valuations. The Property Tax assessor, without making inquiry and without inspecting the land—or, if he does, perhaps he does not know anything about tho matter—says “ How much?” The taxpayer says “Another thousand.” He gets the property valued at, say, L 3.000 instead of L 2,000, and, as soon as ho gets that, down he goes to the loan company and gets another LSOO, on the ground that his property is now worth L 3,000. That is how these things are done ; though the property was never worth more than LBOO to L 1,200. OUR ONLY FINANCIER. What is the notion of a Financial Statement ? Why, the whole people look on a Financial Statement as they would on Sanscrit. The Colonial Treasurer is looked upon as a wise man simply because they cannot understand Dim. It is very much like the man in the play—
If this old man expresses himself In words too deep (or me, Why, what an exceedingly deep old man This deep old man must be! It is actually the fact that the people do not understand, and therefore they think what an exceedingly clever and deep man he must be. It is exceedingly difficult to get the Treasurer to listen to anything. The hon, gentleman seems to think that finance is his sole prerogative, and that nobody else has any right whatever to criticise any action that be may take. As a matter of fact, if any question in regard to finance is put on the Order Paper the hon, gentleman is immediately ready to pull on his hobnailed boots and kick the person who has had the temerity to make inquiries,—Dr Newman. WHY WOOL WENT DP. As to the condition of the country, we have a little higher tide of prosperity this year than we had last year. The reason for this is very easily seen. In South America they had a great drought—they lost 22,000,000 of sheep ; and in Australia, likewise, they lost 10,000,000 or 11,000,000 of sheep ; taking the two together, about onethird of all the sheep of the world were lost. Owing to that large deduction from tho wool in the Homo market the price of wool went up, and we got a fair price for ours. But if America and Australia are blessed with rains for a time we shall find that in five or six years wool will be lower than it is now, for there will be more wool grown than the world requires, as was the case four years ago. The property must come down. These companies that have lent money on property which is not worth, in many cases, more than one-half of what has been advanced, and which, if sold, would not bring more than a third of the liabilities that are upon them, will then be in a very difficult position. These companies think they will be better able to turn the properties over when better times come. I hope that they will be able to do so, but I am very much afraid that instead of getting into shallow water they will find that they have gone into deeper water. It must be so in the case of these big properties ; and I am afraid that the little farmers are very much in the same position.—Mr Kerr.
HANSARD PICKINGS., Issue 8008, 10 September 1889
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