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GLADSTONE ELECTION.

The nomination and election of a candidate to represent the Gladstone Dtstrict m the House of Pvcprcsentativcs took place at Mr. Studholme's woolshed, at the Waimate, on Friday last, the 23rd instant. "We were sorry to sic such a very small attendance, not more than half a dozen electors heing present. The Returning Officer, BelfieldWoollcoir.be, Esq., having read the writ, called upon any elector to propose a candidate. W. 11. Harris, Esq., on coming forward said it gave him much pleasure to propose a gentleman well known throughout the district. It they had picked the whole country round they could not have found any other so well suited to be their representative m the General Assembly as Mr. Jollie was. He was one of the oldest residents, and had always willingly come forward to assist m carrying on the work of the country, although he (Mr Harris) knew, at not a little personal inconvenience. He begged therefore to propose Mr. Francis Jollie as the most fit and proper person to represent the Gladstone District m the General Assembly. j Mr. Leonard I'kice briefly seconded the nomination. There being no other candidate, the .Returning Officer declared Mr. Francis Jollie duly elected. Mr. Joli.ie, after thanking Mr. Harris for the flattering terms m which he had proposed him, said they would he aware of the circumstances under which he had sought the representation of their particular portion of the late Timarn district, and those circumstances, and his attendance there that day, at some considerable distance from liia own home, m order to ascertain and conform to the pleasure of the electors of Gladstone, whatever that might prove to lie, would, he trusted, sufficiently attest to them not only the estimation m which he held the honor they had just done him by his uncontestcd election to the new Parliament of New Zealand, hut also the sense of responsibility under which he assumed, or he might almost say re-assumed, the many arduous duties of their representative. Trying times had lately occurred for the Colony, and trying times were perhaps for some years still m store for it. Questions of great difficulty and complication, some financial, and some of an organic and fundamental nature, still beset our path, divided public opinion, and to a certain extent obstructed public progress — questions m the consideration and determination of which men might widely differ, and possibly also make great mistakes, without impeachment of their political character or services. All that he asked them and the rest of the electors to believe, m reference to such questions and his possible public concern m them as the representative of Gladstone, (and he thought they would not refuse his request) — was that he should continue to do m the future as he had done m the past, — endeavour to exercise an independent judgment on all occasions and subjects, labour to get hold of the real facts and the true principles of each, and at the same time seek as far as possible to divest himself of that spirit of partizanship either to a cause or its upholders which they were all too apt to he betrayed into m the heat of political contention, and which, as they knew, often seriously impeaird the value of otherwise high character and services m public life. He had so recently met most of them either there or elsewhere, and so fully given them his views on the political subjects of general interest at the present time, that he did not think he should ba justified m detaining them now merely to hear a repetition of those views. But it would not be out of place, and perhaps it might not be unexpected of him, if he should refer for a moment to the announcement of his views and intentions made by Mr. Stafford m his speech the other day at Nelson. Mr. Stafford, who came into office, as they would remember, on the platform (to use an American phrase) of economy and retrenchment of expenditure m the various departments of the General Government, and ■\vho3e boast was that he could effect and had effected a reduction on the estimates of the Weld Government (that is to say, estimates of Revenue and Loan together) of £240,000, or at least m that proportion for the unexpired portion of the financial year— Mr. Stafford had announced that he meant to propose to the new House of Representatives both a stamp tax and an income tax, as being both requisite m the existing circumstances of the country. He (Mr. Jollie) must say he thought that a very extraordinary announcement to be made by a Minister m Mr. Stafford's position, and with his antecedents. He was prepared to admit that with the most jirudent and economical management that was possible of the expenditure of the Colony, some further ways and means must be devised for carrying on the public service efficiently ; but an income tax and a stamp tax tagether, m addition to existing burdens, seemed to him out of all reason and necessity. An income tax had long been a hobby of Mr. Stafford's, who would, no doubt, ride his hobby very hard and very far, but he (Mr. Jollie) did not believe that any House of Representatives that could be called together wonld tolerate the idea 6f imposing such a tax upon the country, — at least m combination with stamp duties, thongh Mr. Stafford might want the money ever so much to cany out certain little engagements of his to the Superintendent of Auckland, which they had lately read about m the newspapers. He (Mr. Jollie) was not going to travel into that subject, or to prejudge the question whether the whole circumstances of the case were such as to have justified Mr. Stafford m furnishing to Auckland temporary assistance from the balance of the Loan, or whether the Opotiki lands should or should not have been handed over", like the lands of the Waikato, to the Province of Auckland. He should endeavour to consider those questions fairly when the time came, and full information as to them had been laid before him. All that he now said was, that he did not think the country coidd or ought to bear further burdcus m the shape at once of income tax and stamp duties for any object whatever, but especially if the proceeds of such further taxation were to be, as seemed likely, devoted to the exclusive benefit of Auckland and other Provinces of the North Island, m addition to the lands which the Colony, with the aid of the mother country, had acquired by such a lavish expenditure of blood and treasure. It was impossible that the country •hottld consent to largely increased taxation for •nch purposes, and most certainly he thought if it should, agree entirely to forego its own just

claims on the conquered lands, it would not do ko except upon the express condition that tho.se linds or the Provinces to which they shall be transferred, should thenceforth be liable for the whole police and native expenditure that might for the future be necessary m respect of them. There was one other point raised by what Mr. Stafford said at Nelson that he must allude to, especially as it was one of great financial importance, and bad been made the subject of severe animadversion by the Pre.is newspaper, and of earnest protest on the part of the late Attorney-General, Mr. Sewell. Mr. Stafford says he is paying the Provinces the usual three-eighths of the Customs Revenue — that there will be that for them this year, but no surplus. His words were these : —

" I confidently state that the provinces will receive three-eighths of the Customs, and that it will be all paid out of the ordinary revenue without trenching on the loan for such a purpose. But there will be no surplus, mind, for either year. ; . . I stake my political reputation against Mr. Sewell's that the provinces will have their three-eighths m full."

Mr. Sewcll, on the other hand, reverts to his late declaration m the House of Representatives and his more recent prophecy at Christchurch, that under Mr. Stafford's estimates three-eighths of the Customs could not be paid, but only half that amount. Now, Mr. Stafford ouoht to know what he is doing and what he says m an important matter of this kind ; he was not very likely to make excessive or illegal payments to the Provinces m the present state of the revenue and appropriations; and yet both Mr. Sewell and Mr. FitzGerald, guided by the language of his speech as reported, and no doubt correctly reported, — and interpreting that language fairly and naturally enough, as it appeared to him (Mr. Jollic), understood and accused him as if he actually had paid over, or was paying, to the Provinces, for their exclusive use, three-eighths of the Customs revenue — thereby violating his own A2>propriation Act as well as the Surplus Revenue Act itself, which does not permit the Provinces to receive anything more than the [ actual surplus of the year, which this year could not be much more than about £130,000 — Mr. Stafford having, as he (Mr. Jollie) mentioned at Timaru some weeks ago, charged against the revenue of the year instead of the balance of the Loan, the whole of the unauthorized expenditure of the three last years, both General and Provincial, — amounting to over £1G7,000. Now, where state doctors of such eminence and experience differed apparently so much either m their statement of facts or m their use or understanding of terms, it was perhaps presumptuous m him, who had no special or official knowledge of the very peculiar system of financial administration that prevailed m New Zealand as between the General aid Provincial Governments, to suggest that after all Mr. Stafford m what he said meant only that the usual payments of three-eighths had been made and would be continued — partly and chiefly to provide for the payment of the Provincial appropriations of the General Government for the current year, amounting to about £170,000, and partly to supply the Provincial exchequers with that portion of the general revenue applicable under the Surplus Revenues Act for provincial jmrposes, under the ordinary provincial appropriations. He (Mr. Jollie) did not exactly know how they managed these things, but he supposed that the sub-treasurer m each Province had instructions each quarter to pay to the different officers and departments of the General Government within it, the salaries and other charges specified m the estimates and Approjreiation Act of the current year, out of the Customs receipts or the threeeighths thereof, and then to pay over the balance to the Provincial Treasurer for local purposes, and that this was what Mr. Stafford really meant by the rather loose phraseology he employed, when he "confidently states that the Provinces will receive three-eighths of the Customs,"and stakes his political reputation against Mr. Sewell's "that the Provinces will have their threeeighths m full." He (Mr. Jollie) had not the Surplus Revenue Act to refer to, but he had a general knowledge of its provisions, and believed that neither m it nor any other Act of the Assembly did the phrase three-eighths of the Customs occur, nor was any such specific proportion anywhere authorised to be paid over to the Provinces. It was an expression which had come to be considered and repeated as law or authorised by law, but the fact appeared to be that the allocation of those three-eighths was a mere official arrangement, by means of which certain payments, on account, to the Provinces, out of the annual revenue of the Colony, were conveniently secured, and his belief was that although m former years, and a plentiful state of the revenue, the Provinces may have at once received the whole amount m aid of their own revenues, yet that out of that proportion of three-eighths there was properly payable from time to time, not only the General Government's contribution from its so-called Surplus Revenue towards the revenues of the provinces, but the portion due from time to time of the appropriations, provincially charged, for the various services of the General Government within the several Provinces. If it were not so, and the three eighths were now being paid to the Provinces without deduction of the Provincial appropriations, then indeed Mr. Stafford was justly open to the chiirge made by Mr. Sewell, that he was illegally disposing of the Colonial revenues or of the Loan, at the rate of over £150,000 per annum, and violating the terms of his own Appropriation Act, — the appropriations under which, taken m connection with the permanent charges, do not permit the Province, as Provinces, receiving more this year than about £130,000, whilst if they got three-eighths of the estimated Customs revenue they would actually be m receipt, at the end of the year, of not less than £292,000, supposing the Customs receipts to be maintained throughout up to the estimate, which, however, at present he believed was not quite the case. Now, he thought Mr. Stafford, whatever faidts might be alleged against him, was at any rate too slirewd an administrator to fall into so grave a blunder as this would amount to, and recollecting that it was that gentleman's former Government which passed the Ordinary Revenue Act of ISSS, and also the Surplus Revenue Act itself, and thereby originated the present, as he (Mr. Jollie) thought, far from satisfactory system of adjusting accounts with the Provinces, he considered it very possible that though the language he had used on this subject was somewhat loose, or at least vague and liable

to be misunderstood, Mr. Stafford might even m that particular not be without the sanction of the actual terms of law as well as ordinary official usage, when he stated that the Provinces would receive their three-eighths m full, especially as his attention must have been pointedly drawn to the subject by Mr. Sewull's repeated and very marked allusions to the small amount that would this year be available for the Provinces under the term 3of the Appropriation Act. He felt he had already sufficiently occupied their time, and should therefore forbear entering upon other subjects, such as the present unsatisfactory position of their Provincial and District afjjairs, but before concluding his remarks he desired to avail himself of the opportunity of expressing his great regret— and m doing so he knew he expressed theirs also— at the retirement of Mr. Weld from public life, owing to continued ill health. He was sorry for the sake of Mr. Weld himself, and also for the sake of the Colony, for the loss to its councils of a man of his character, capacity, and attainments, was a loss that would be seriously felt, and that could hardly be replaced. It was, of course, not to be expected that one would always accept his views or follow m the course he thought it right* to pursue ; but everyone felt and saw that m all he did and said Mr. Weld was honest, and that there was and could be nothing slippery or double-minded either about the man or the politician— that, m fact, he was essentially a gentleman. Let them hope that the voyage to England and the stay there for a j while, which he understood Mr. Weld purposed making, would restore him before long to this Colony, invigorated for many moi-e years of honorable service m its Government, for it was such men as Mr. Weld that they wanted here, to pivc a tone both to their institutions and to society. His retirement could not fail to exercise an immediate aud he (Mr. Jollie) feared an injurious influence upon the position of parties, and perhaps, also upon the course of events, but they all, he was sure, without distinction of party or class, united m wishing him health and happiness wherever he might be, assured that wherever he might be he would not fail to do his best for the interests and honour of New Zealand.

Mr. Jollie conclnded by thanking those present for the patient hearing they had given him, and by again expressing his sense of the continued confidence reposed m him by the body of the electors of the district.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/THD18660302.2.21

Bibliographic details

GLADSTONE ELECTION., Timaru Herald, Volume IV, Issue 94, 2 March 1866

Word Count
2,725

GLADSTONE ELECTION. Timaru Herald, Volume IV, Issue 94, 2 March 1866

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