THE FINANCIAL DEBATE.
[From Ora Pabliamentart Eepoeteb.]
_ • WELLINGTON, October 27. The Financial.debate has -entered oh its second week.' -The speakers at yesterday afternoon’s sitting were Messrs Hunter and E. G. Allen, while, as was expected, Mr Soobie Mackenzie (who took,up the running at the evening sitting) galvanised life into the dreary discussion , with a speech (made to the gallery) replete with point and humor. .
Mr Hunter, in tho course of a short address, said that the Government had started with a bursting-up, self-reliant, nonborrowing policy. The bursting-up policy! had succeeded in bursting up the greatest “ social pest” in New Zealand—tHTe Bank of New Zealand.; and the self-reliant and non-borrowing policy had resulted in the Public Debt of. the colony being, increased from £43,552.324 last year to £50,301,128, wnicb would be the- indebtedness on March 31 next, He objected to the Premier Occupying the position he did on the Anglo-. Continental Syndicate. Quoting from the. Scriptures in support of bis contention that no man can serve two masters, he said it was .inevitable that the diverse . interests must .sometimes ■; clash. To summarise the position generally, there had been an increase of .the. burdens of the people all, roundincreased taxation per head of the popU*. lation, increase of the national indebtedness, increase of .the interest charges, and increase of charitable.aid expenditure. i; ... Mr, E..,G. Allen generally approved of. the Budget, saying that every page of fit was permeated with- ey ideuce of - the prosperity of the‘colony. The policy outlined in it was one' which would guarantee a continuation of. that prosperity and the bright prospects. they now had. Regarding Ministers acting on private, companies, he said that Ministers were paid a paltry salary, and it was not fair to prevent them from holding positions of this kind. As to the fishing industry, he counselled the Government to reintrodube the bonus system with a view to reviving the trade. He expressed his satisfaction at the intention of the Government to subsidise trawling in order to test the deep sea fishing grounds. , He hoped that the Government would countenance and subsidise the fish hatchery about to be established at Purakanu’. Mr Scobie Mackenzie said that to address .the Government on the subject under discussion was veiy like thrashing straw and not getting a grain of wheat out of it. He had no hesitation in saying that a worse document than the present Financial-State-ment had never been thrown down on the table of the House, and in this conueotion he deprecated the manner in which the Statement was brought down. The Statement was divided into two portions—a very small portion to finance and the rest to padding. The financial portion had come bodily from tho Treasury, with a few words added by the Treasurer himself. The remainder might L be termed the “ Idle thoughts of an idle fellow.”—(Laughter). Its object was really to disguise, the- finances of the colony. A Financial Statement ought to be a plain exposition of the financial affairs of the colony. Instead of that it was a mere piece of “ Liberal pamphleteering puffery.” He was at a loss to understand why members of the House did not rise in a body and protest against the reference to “ the wretched past ” of a colony which was one of the finest depen-; dencies of the British Crown.. He quoted figures to show the progress of settlement, and asked : What had “the wretched past” done for labor? (Mr R. M'Kexzie: “ Nothing.”) The hen. member for Buffer said “Nothing” because he knew nothing about it. It was “the wretched pastwhich had anticipated a great deal of the State Socialism of the present day—as, for . instance, the Government Insurance Department, the Public Trust Office, etc. What had the present Uovernment done? They had made some few amendments to various Bills which had originated in “ the wretched past.” “The wretched past” had .done everything for this grand colony, and had done more lor labor than the gentlemen who sat on the Treasury benches had ever done or ever would d 0.,, If there-was one,man who was a party man it was the Premier, and he always' stuck loyally to his party, except when his opponents brought in a loan. Than he either voted for it or abstained from voting at all; The Premier's career had been one of unblushing recklessness in borro wing—an organised depredation upon the public purse. Session after session he had gone home to his district staggering under his load of plunder. The Premier had been trading upon the name of Mr Ballance for years past in a manner unspeakably odious to thousands of right-feeling people in the colony. When, it served his purpose he would uphold Mr Ballance, but he was just as ready to turn against him. It had been contended that the present Administration were not a borrowing Government, but when borrowing was plainly proved the argument was advanced that it was a different kind of borrowing to the ordinary borrowing. Leaving out of consideration the borrowing for Advances to Settlers Department and the Bank of New Zealand, for he -wished to be fair, the net. addition to the Public Debt by the present Government was £4.200,000, and for this sura they had. bet ween ten and twenty miles of the North Island Main Trunk Railway, about twenty-six miles of the Eketahuna-Wood-ville Railway, and twenty-two miles of the O ago Central, Why, with four millions they, could not only have finished every line in the colony, bat have given enough money for roads and bridges at the same time, and a great many requisites for public works. Did they believe that the people would have returned the Government to power had they known that their policy would result in them bon owing four millions in this brief space by. deception and imposture? The people were led to believe that it was a nonborrowing Government. And why had this money been spent in roads and bridges instead of on railways? He would tell them. It was because roads and bridges were ■ convenient means of political corruption, and railways wore pot. It was a public scandal that the costs in the Horowhenua case were not paid, Why was no reference made in the Financial Statement to theraj and why was no reference made to that dark and infamous night. in 1894 when the House went to the rescue of the Bank of New Zealand ? He did not blame the Government. It was a mistake, but what a mistake I The coat of one night of Liberalism £2,000,000, He wished to say a serious word to the Premier upon his position on the Anglo-Continental Syndicate! Would any member tolerate a Minister of Native Affairs taking office in a syndicate formed for the purpose of bey ing up Native lands? Did not Mr Cadman, when brought into the Cabinet, resign his connection with a few paltry affairs ? And, taking another case, would they tolerate for an instant the Minister of :L*nds occupying a position upon a foreign syndicate set up for .the purchase of Crown lands ? Not a bit of it. Then why should they tolerate the Premier occupying a similar position on a foreign mining syndicate? However honest he might be it could not fail to influence him, and it was a scandalthat .it was allowed to continue. Ha demanded the Premier to tell them why. he required the mining engineer (Mr Gordon) to present a supplementary report within twenty-one days of his mines report coming down. It was done to provide a prospectus for the London market for the Ziman Company. Eighteen out of the twenty-one claims referred to in that supplementary report were those of. the Ziman Company. He (Mr Mackenzie) condemned the attitude of the Government, and was interrupted by the time limit.
Mr Wilson accused the last speaker of indulging in mock heroics, and defended the Government from the accusation of spending money on roads and bridges. Why, he asked, had hot Mr Mackenzie quoted the past connection of Ministers oh hie own side with foreign syndicates instead of attacking the Premier? As to Horowhenua, he counselled the House to. wait till the last chapter pf that story was written before condemning the action of the Minister of Lands.
Mr Pibani, who followed, amused the House by raking up the journalistic contributions of the member ' for Wellington. Suburbs as showing the'extreme
opinions held by him since entering politics. Referring to Mr Wilson’s allusions to pennv-a-limng in “the wretched ;past” he .quoted several articles by that gentleman, in one of j i -5 “bribed MrLarnaoh as a “ big, red-faced man: with a large button-hole,” and wondering“how he'got into Parliament, and what good he was there,” while in another article Mr Seddon was depicted as a “big, burly man, who looked like a bush publican,” and who was addicted to blatant bluster. He was proceeding to gibbet Mr Wilson, when the latter declared that he was not the author of the articles in question, but Mr Pirani reiterated that he knew .what he was stating to be. the, fact. Then, the member for Palmerston North quoted what had been written in the 1 Mar ton Mercury ’ by Mr Wilson concerning himself, and which, to quote the words of ‘ Pinafore, 1 were greatly to his credit, though he himself had said it.”
Mr Wilson, who had been ill at ease, jumped to his feet with the assertion that at the time the article quoted was published he had ceased for three years to edit the paper m question, but " Mr Pirani fairly convulsed the House by saying: “ Why, the hon. gentleman told me that he - wrote, the . article. X may say that it is not the only .'article he has written the authorship of .which he has since denied.” He (Mr Pirani) expressed surprise at *Mr Wilson’s statement that evening that he respected and revered Sir R. Stout, seeing that at the time of the Wellington election ho indulged in exceedingly strong-language concerning that hon. gentleman, and had gone so far as to say that he (Sir R; Stout) had no religion at all. As to Horowhenua, Mr Pirani said it was a scandalous statement to make that the last chapter of its history had not been written. It was rumored that the proposed. Bill would - provide not . only for declaring Block 14 Native lands,, but farther to provide for paying the costs of the Public Trustee, and the rumor further went that unless the main part of the Bill was passed the Public Trustee would not get his costs. Then on the House would be thrown the responsibility of saying that it had refused to pay the ocsts of the Trustee. Touching on ;the statement of the Premier to a Native deputation on Monday, that he had been tripped np in the Legislative ConnciL by the insertion of the word “ mortgage” in the Native Land Laws Bill, ia 1896, he (Mr Pirani) said he had the assurance of the member for the Northern Maori District that when the conference of the two branches of the Legislature was taking place he called the Premier’s attention to the very amendment, and that gentleman pooh - poohed . the idea of there being anything in it, and allowed it to go. The amendment was, moreover, made at the instance of one of the Premier’s appointees to the Upper House, Mr Pirani asserted that the Legislative Council had of late years been a perfect sink for making amendments in Native Bills. The rest of the speech dealt largely with land legislation and administration. There was «>mething, he said, in the Financial Statement about assistance for technical education. He hoped that this matter would be put on a more satisfactory footing than in the past, biothing more than assisting by money grant was needed. He condemned the lowering of the rate of interest in the Post Office B wings Banks to below the rate paid by the banks—(The Premier : “I understood that they were reducing them at the same time.”) He thought the Premier might have waited until the banks had lowered their rates.
The Premier expressed surprise at the statement just made that the member for the Northern Maori District had told him in 1898 of the amendment made by the Legislative Council in the Native Land Laws Amendment Bill before it became law. He had no recollection of it, but he would accept the hon. member’s assurance of the circumstance if it were given. This brought Mr Hone Here up with the remark tb&t the statement. made by Mr Pirani was correct. Before the Conference was held ■he called Mr Saddon’a attention to the innova, tion that had been made, suggesting that the amendment ought to be disagreed with, bat the Premier pooh-poohed the matter,— (Opposition cheers.) The other speakers were Mr Lang (Opposition) and Mr M‘Gowan (Government),
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THE FINANCIAL DEBATE., Evening Star, Issue 10455, 27 October 1897
THE FINANCIAL DEBATE. Evening Star, Issue 10455, 27 October 1897
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