The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1897.
So far as wo are able to judge from the necessarily condensed reThe Financial• port, transmitted "by wire, Debate. the debate on the Financial 'Statement'was opened by Captain Russell in a speech studiously moderate in; language .arid tone, but forcible to conviction in severe iadicttrient
of the Government. The honorable gentleman seems at the outset to have indulged in a little pleasant badinage of the Treasurer, whose notions of a Financial Statement, he inferred, had'been confused by recent familiarity with official hand: books and tourists' guides. At all events, the Statement, with its thirty-nine pagesof closely printed matter and voluminous appendices and tables, contained very little practical information as to existing financial conditions, and declared no financial policy whatever- that he • could diecover. The Opposition Leader, proceeded to say that the figures in thl.varibus tables and returns compiled by the Treasury by .no means substantiated the assertion that " we still retain a buoyant " revenue and healthy exchequer; and that "the soundness of practising a strict "economy and maintaining a strong "finance has been abundantly demon'strated.'' The revenue was large, he admitted, owing to the heavy indirect taxation, but it could not properly be termed " buoyant," since for the cmv rent year it was estimated to yield somewhat less than iu 1896-97, although "no relief of taxation was proposed. In reference to the alleged surplus of £354,000 on the transactions of the past year, Captain Rossell pointed out that this was three times as much as the real balance between revenue and expenditure for the financial period, and was arrived at by carrying over £215,558 from the preceding year. The principle upon which these surpluses was obtained was, he said, entirely misleading, and a true statement of the finances of the Colony was not furnished at all, whiclj is exactly what we have always affirmed in these columns. The increase in the receipts from the Customs should, the honorable gentleman declared, rather than be regarded as a cause of gratification, open the eyes of the people as to the real tendency and effect of the Ministerial policy. There had been, he/stated, an actual increase of £310,000 in Customs duties since the tariff was altered, although when the Bill was before the House Ministers asserted that the object was the removal of anomalies, with more equitable adjustment, and that the increase of revenue— i.e., of indirect taxation through the Customs—was not estimated to exceed £IO,OOO a year. This is a matter, we need hardly say, of great moment to the people generally, who are thus mulcted, through a system which touches every individual man, woman, and child —for the maintenance of the profligately extravagant expenditure- of the present Government, which, according to the figures given in the Financial • Statement, has been growing at the rate of more than £IOO,OOO each year, and is not proposed to be even attempted to be retrenched. Captain Russell hit the Treasurer hard as to the "delightful vagueness " which characterised the Statement. There was really, he said, no policy in it relating to finance, no public works policy, no railway policy. Nothing really definite was proposed. Everything announced or hinted at was simply asserted to be "worthy of consideration." The House and the country, he affirmed, ought to be informed as to intentions of the Government with regard to borrowing. "It was "evident they could not construct railways out of bogus surpluses"; whilst the works the completion of which the Treasurer declared to be "imperative" would run into millions.
The points which the Opposition Leader evidently desired to emphasise were the large annual increases of the public debt and the ordinary expenditure, the material augmentation of taxation, and the absolute iguoring of economy by Mr Seddon and his colleagues in every branch of administration.
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The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1897., Evening Star, Issue 10449, 20 October 1897
The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1897. Evening Star, Issue 10449, 20 October 1897
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