MR ANSON AT AKAROA.
Mr Anoon, ono of tho candidates for the Akaroa seat, addressed a largo and influential meeting of tbe electors on Friday July 22, at the Oddfellows' Hall, Akaroa. Hiß Worship tho Mayor (Mr W. B. Tosswill) presided, and in introducing Mr Anaon, referred to the great loss that not only the Akaroa constituency, but the whole Colony had sustained by the retiroinent from active political life of their late member, Mr Montgomery. Mr Anson, who was received with applause, commenced his address by heartily endorsing what had fallen from his Worship the Mayor with regard to Mr Montgomery. He had contested tho Boat with the hon gentleman at the last election, but the result of that contest had been that a warm personal friendship between them had arisen. He would also point out that if thoy had been addressed by Mr Montgomery as a candidate they would have been listening to a probable member of tho next Ministry, whereas he himself, if elected, would be simply ono of the ninety-one members of the House. (Applause.) In referring to the political questions of the day, he would first bespeak their attention to the most important one of all, viz., the finances of tho Colony. There was no doubt that these were at present in a highly unsatisfactory Btate. Most people were aware of the fact that the publio and privato debt of the- Colony was estimated at about .£00,000,000, while their producing power was not much more than .£7,000,000, while no less than £1,500,000 had to be sent Homo annually for interest. In view of these iacta the moat rigid economy was necessary. Two things operated to the disadvantage lof settlers, viz., the high price of money and the heavy taxation. The taxes at present seemed to be as high aa they could bear them, and yet, in the face of this, a deficit had arisen of no less than £200,000. It was therefore the duty of all to endeavour to find a remedy for this state of affairs. The fact of this deficit existing meant that, if they continued expending at the present rate, the taxation was not sufficiently high, and every man, woman, and child in the Colony would have to pay seven shillings additional, so as to make both ends meet. In order to avoid adding to their public debt, this additional seven shillings would have to he paid, unless the expenditure was correspondingly lowered. The people of New Zealand had now, therefore, to decide if it were not possible to face this difficulty, and by the striotest economy overcome it. Only one other course remained, which was to make an addition to their permanent indebtedness. This course, he considered, would eventually result in hopeless ruin. New Zealand was a country of immense resources. She possessed large deposits of minerals, a magnificent climate, a wonderfully fertile soil, and a grand coast line. In fact, all the requisites for future prosperity that could be thought of. It was a » country where, in the words of the poet, " Every prospect pleases, and only man is vile." (Laughter, and hear, hear.) The most decided retrenchment, he was certain, they would all consider necessary, and thiß must be begun at once if they wished for future prosperity. From all parts of the country they heard expressions of a like opinion; in fact, the whole Colony was most urgent for retrenchment. The question would bo how it was to be brought about. Tho following had all been spoken of as a means to that end : — A reduction in the number of members, the lowering of the honorarium, the cutting down of the Civil Service estimates, and also of the vote for education purposes • He would give his opinion on these different courses. He believed that what was really required was an entire ohange in the system of Government. At present it was costly and extravagant. The affairs of the Colony should be managed in a similar manner to those of a man of business or of the head of a household, viz., on Btrictly economical principles. With regard to the reduction in the number of members, he considered that this course would be unwise. A great injustice would be inflicted on some communities. In their own district, under the new Electoral Act they had an instance of this. Under the new order of things, a piece of the Plains district, with which they had no interests in common, had been added to their electorate. Ab affairs now stood, the electors in this part of the dis£ict, being so much more in number than the added ones from the Plains, did not suffer. But if the number of members had been greatly reduced, a large proportion of electors from the Plains would be added, and the Peninsula voters swamped ; in short, they would be in a similar position to the unfortunate voters from the Plains, who had been tacked on to their constituency by the Commissioners under the Electoral Act. He Bhould not, therefore, be inclined to vote for a reduction in the number of members. (Hear, hear.) The question of reducing: the honorarium he considered somewhat a personal one ; but he thought such a sum should be fixed as would defray the actual expenses of members, who should not contemplate making money by their services in Parliament. The cure actually required was unknown to him, but he considered that a great objection to a large honorarium was the temptation held out to persons to seek election to the House as a means of livelihood, a thing which he thought could not be tolerated at all. The members of the Legislative Council being nominated, could decline the honour, and therefore their services should not be paid for. If prepared to benefit the Colony by serving in the Council, they were in a very different position from membera of the Lower House. The Legislative Council represented the Colonial House of Lords, and membera were chosen from the wealthy olasses. They should therefore pay for the honour conferred upon them. (Hear, hear.) As to reduction in the salaries of the Governor and others, he thought this savoured more of meanness than economy. The sum Raved would be comparatively email, and he thought it -would be derogatory to the Colony to effect it. He held the same views with regard to the Civil Service. Civil Servants should be paid a fair day's wage for a fair day'a work, just as any labourer would be, but their services should be dispensed with if nob absolutely necessary. A great reduction at all events would doubtless be made in the
Civil Service, in which a thorough reform was absolutely needed throughout the whole Bystem, but a mere general cutting down of salaries would not avail. He noxt referred to the education system of tho Colony, the co3t of which had lately been much disoussed. Many had been astonished at the enormous amount of it, nearly approaching .£500,000 per annum. It did seem a large sum, but they Bhould imitate, as a nation, the conduct of a wise father of a family, and use economy in everything else, but spend thoir utmost in the education of tho children. He should be averse to Bee tho effectiveness of the present system in any way impaired. Th"ey had in New Zoaland just cause to be proud of it. Tho Education Act of 1877 might not be perfect, though Mr Montgomery and others thought otherwise, and he coincided with those who thought that Act should be carried out at all costs; for he
thought thab economy in management could be effected. Primary education Bhould not be meddled with in any way. (Applause.) But if the Colony really could not meet its engagements, secondary should Buffer for the benefit of primary education, whioh latter was the most
important, and which they should have at all costs. As far as taxation was affected, such matters as he had mentioned were mere trifles. A more economical system of Government was the only means by which the taxation could he diminished. He would not detain them by a lengthy dissertation on local government, but he really thought they were somewhat over-governed. Under statutes passed in Wellington great expense was thrown on the Local Bodies, and yet this was obligatory. More latitude should, he thought,, be given to the Local
Bodies, and a greab deal of what wag now done in Wellington might be effected in the various localities. No necessity existed for such a number of Local Bodies as at present. There seemed to be no end to them. Whab with County Councils, Road Boards, River Boards, Cemetery Boards, School Committees, and so forth—an amalgamation of these bodies would, he thought, bo desirable. There might be a controlling body, which could be called by any name they liked j he would not Buggest County Council. (Laughter). Two classes of Local Bodies were all that were required — one to manage the schools, roads, and other essentially local matters ; the other a central body, to receive recommendations from, and be a medium between the Local Bodies and the Government. By some Buch means as this he thought the departmental expenditure could be materially reduced, and a portion of the money going to the Civil Servioo expended locally. Thus they would be able more readily to have matters enquired into, and reforms, if necessary, carried put. TMb was now done in Wellington, and they had no power to rectify any mistake or uphold or oppose anything they desired. A Local Body should, he thought, have the power to express its opinion concerning any matter directly affecting its district or the expenditure within it. He trusted that an increase of power in this direction would be attained. A country, he considered, should be divided into small local districts, so that the central body could use their great looal experience with no excessive demand on their time. A more effective and economical system than the present could, he was certain, be instituted. The whole question of local self-government was, however, so large a one that he could not, as he had previously remarked, go fully into it that evening. Even if a reform were inaugurated and the cost of it reduced the taxe3 would still remain as high as now, unless other stringent measures, with a view to economy, were taken. He entirely disagreed with two of the principal points of Sir Julius Vogel's Financial Statement. The first was the heavy additional taxation he proposed to levy by means of the excise duties ; the second was the scheme of a graduated Property-tar. He (the speaker) was a staunch Freetrader, and he thought that no agriculturist could avoid being one, since no protective duty, as such, could add to the price of produce. What was really meant by Protection was that the producing classes and the owners of rural land should contribute for the benefit of the manufacturers ; in fact, that the latter should grow rich at the expense of the former. Certain so-called arguments had been promulgated by the upholders of Protection, which seemed to have somewhat affected the public generally. The fostering of local industries and consequent increase of population, and therefore of food consumers, was one of them. Most assuredly they should encourage local industries; but this should not be done at the expense of the farming and pastoral industries, which he considered the most important in ithis country of all. (Applause.) Encouragement might be given to manufacturers without causing the articles the f armera were obliged to purchase to have a fictitious value. Moreover, the great distances, and consequent high cost of transit, of foreign manufacturers would give local productions a sufficiently great advantage. Another idea brought forward by the Protectionists was that of retaliatory duties. He would give an instance : Suppose that Australia were to impose a duty on the produce exported by them, such as cheese, the Protectionist would retaliate by imposing a duty on Australian wines; but this was surely an erroneous procedure, and productive of harm instead of good. For, if they took the case of a farmer here, who was partial to Australian wines, because Australia imposed a duty on his cheese ; they were, so to speak, jumping on him by making him pay a higher price for the Australian wine he wished to import. (Applause.) This was, however, scarcely a matter of purely local interest. It did not affect the County politics at all; but he would Bimply reiterate that he was a thorough Freetrader. Our great distance from the other manufacturing centres of the world, and the 16 per cent ad valorem duties now in force, were sufficient, to his mind, for the fostering of local industiies. If not he could not conceive what would be sufficient ; and it still was a fact that the industries were increasing from year to year. They were not, perhaps, flourishing at the present time, but were the farmers flourishing? All farming stock and produce was at an exceedingly lowvalue at present. This, together with the heavy taxation and high rate of money, equally pressed upon all. Why, therefore, should any one section of the community receive special privileges? (Applause.) The truth was, the farmer should co-ope-rate with the manufacturer, and both work together. Sir Julius Vogel's remedy for the existing depression, and to make up the deficiency, waß a graduated Propertytar. At first sight this would appear reasonable; the richer man being more heavily taxed than before. However, when they examined the proposal, it would simply turn oub to be the beginning of further depression. They had to thank Mr M'L&chlan, who was a candidate for the Selwyn seat, for exposing the real nature of the scheme. This gentleman had stated that if the Property - tax were a half-penny for a comparatively poor man, those owning over £5000 should pay a penny; those over £10,000 three halfpence ; and so on. If they studied the natural result of adopting such a scale, they would perceive that it would certainly end in extra taxation. They wished a reduotion in the price of money, and to obtain ie at lower rates of interest, yet here was a proposal to put such a tax on capital as would drive it from the country. He believed that the borrowers of money would be the sufferers from a graduated Property-tax. The Property-tax had raised the rate of interest nearly one-half per cent, but a graduated tax would simply frighten the capitalist from the country altogether. An element of uncertainty would be introduced, which would be most detrimental to those wishing to invest. Investments were required to be certain and fixed by capitalists. A course like this was not calculated to induce men to ! settle in the Colony, but was far more likely to scare them away from it. People liked to be assured that they would not be jumped upon. Our land laws were bo difficult to understand that actual obstacles were placed in the way of settlement. Not many could # study the " Crown Lands Guide," for instance, and comprehend all the regulations peculiar to each Provincial district — the various prices charged, not to mention the village settlement and homestead system. The late Government had prided itself on the number of people settled on the land ; but it still was a fact that d£GO,OOO or £70,000 had been expended by the Minister of Lands without the authority of Parliament ; and this on the experiment of putting men temporarily on Government land. He would ask them if they thought that it would pay men during the last yeara of low returns to put money and time on such lands. Numbers of Bettlers in New Zealand during the occurrence of these heavy taxations and reduced prices of produce would leave the Colony unless they were too securely tied. Yet in the face of this fact the Premier regretted that the land had been sold out and out. In such bad times if the land were not sold and the capitalists were free, they would very soon ascertain the fate of New Zealand. In fact she would go helplessly to grief, if men who held land could afford to leave ifc. The proposed settlers^ on the land would have to be what might be termed " spoon-fed " by the Government, and when Buch aid was withdrawn they would immediately give up their land. This would be unfair not only to these men, but also to those to whom other land had been previously sold. If it were right to sell land to them in the first place, it would be surely unjust to tax them after they had so purchased it and laboured to make the soil profitable, thereby indirectly inducing others to settle. The unemployed difficulty was not done away with by these village settlements. It resulted from the depressed condition, of the various industries and the fact that people were obliged to discbarge some of their em-
ployees. Heavy taxation and high interest made a reduction imperative. After personal expenses were reduced, a discharge of labour was the next step, and so men were thrown out of work. It would be far preferable for the farmers directly to employ men than for the Government to spend the money. It was not wise to employ men at such wages as 3s or 4s per day and raise the Bum required to defray auch wagea by taxation. The interests of all classes were the same, and it was a great error to imagine that landowners could profit by grinding down the working man, or thai; the manufacturer could profit by compelling the farmers to contribute to his special profit. If they viewed the matter in what he considered the right light, the interests of the labourer, the farmer, the tradesman, and the merchant were identical. (Applause.) They would have to listen to five more candidates, so that he would not detain them. He had merely addressed them on matters of Colonial interest. The time being so short he had been unable to amplify on matters, each of which in itself would form the subject of an evening's lectnre. He had purposely omitted mention of local matters, hut there was one subject, partly local and partly of Colonial importance, he should to refer to, and that was the Colonial defences. Many people seemed to think JJ200,000 too large an expenditure, the Colony not being liable to be attacked, if no tueasures for its defence were taken. He must say that he altogether disagreed from this view. If England and any foreign Power were to go to war, New Zealand would be considered as a nugget in the ocean. No Power would he foolish enough to overlook it, for he believed this Colony would be of exceptional value to a foreign Power— an opinion held, he knew, by many Powers. It was not at all likely that New Zealand would go to war herself, bnt she might be embroiled by the foreign policy of the Old Country, and for this reason the Colony and the Mother Country should unite in a scheme of joint defence. It would be a good plan to have a portion of the English Navy stationed on the coast of New Zealand, and partially maintained by the Colony. We ought to have a force that could assume the offensive, rather than defensive works waiting to be attacked. This matter affected them locally. Their harbour had hitherto been left out in the cold, but if a naval station were required, he was sure that an important body like the Admiralty would probably select Akaroa from its superiority to the other harbours on the coa3t. Indeed, he should not be surprised to see their harbour the depot of Her Majesty's Navy in these seas. This of course would be of great advantage to the country generally. In conclusion, he would urge them to remember that this was not an ordinary election. It was a critical point in their history, as the next Parliament would see the Colony either prospering or sinking yet lower. They could not afford either to sink lower, or remain as they were, so he hoped the next three years would be steps towards a better Btate of things — but this entirely depended upon the representatives selected by the electors. He assured them that if elected he would do his best to bring about a better Btate of things, and he hoped that the year 18S8, which was exceptional in its figures, would be likewise an exceptionally prosperous one, and that New Zealand would retrieve her fallen fortunes. (Loud applause.) In answer to questions, Mr Anson" said that he had endeavoured to show in his Bpeech that a reduction in the price of money was one of the means by which the depression would be lightened. He believed in much of what Mr Bathgate had said in the Legislative Council on that subject ; he did not think that the present financial condition of the Colony would permit of the establishment of a National Bank of Issue. If such a thing were feasible, it would meet with his support. He would not approve of an Incometax. In a Colony which possessed a free national system of education, people who worked by their braina should not be taxed for that work. He greatly preferred the Property-tax, which reached all who had become wealthy. He was not in favour of abolishing the totalisator. He was hardly sure that certain minor local offices were extravagances; if they were, he would be in favor of reducing them. A new system of local government waa what was really needed to regulate such matters, whereby a candidate would avoid the awkward position of having to answer questions affecting some of his constituents. He was in favour of facilitating the attendance at High Schools of clever children, but, nevertheless, did not hold with the idea of High Schools being turned into foundling hospitals. He thought that improvements were needed in the High School system, but he did not desire to see such Bchoola abolished, as by means of free scholarships they might be made valuable institutions So did net consider the railway to Akaroa to be at present within the range of practical politics. If the Akaroa railway reserves were sold, they would not realise sufficient to bring the railway to the foot of the hill. He had been misunderstood with regard to his action concerning these reserves. In the County Council he had proposed that they should be vested in the Council, and used for the advantage of the County. This proposition had been afterwards j altered so as to read that the reserves should be vested in the Council for making roads and bridges. Ab he had said, his opinion was that the proceeds of the Ellesmere reserves would be insufficient for carrying the railway through the hill. The Stout- Vogel ' Government would not hesitate in declaring, as it could construct the railway, they would re-take possession of the reserves. For that reason, he had wished them vested in the County Council, and he had hoped that when so vested and unalienable that the County Council, in conjunction with the leading men of the County, might form a Company or Association, so that, with the reserves and private capital conjoined, the railway might be made. If still found . insufficient, they might use tho proceeds of the sale of the reserves for roads and bridges ; but the railway was the primary object. But he was sure they would all agree that it would be well for the reserveß to be secured by being securely vested in the Council. He would do his very beßt to prevent the reserves being used for any other purpose than the railway. He did not agree with the idea of reducing the Governor's salary from X7500 to, say, X6OOO as proposed. It waa simply potty economy, beneath the dignity of the Colony. Under their present constitution they required a really good man, and he did not think the salary at all too high. He hoped that in the future the number of Ministers would be diminished ; the travelling and other expenses of Ministers required cutting down considerably. A vote of thanks to Mr Anson for his address was then passed, and after a similar compliment to his Worship the Mayor for presiding, the'meßting'terminated.
Permanent link to this item
MR ANSON AT AKAROA., Star, Issue 5993, 30 July 1887
MR ANSON AT AKAROA. Star, Issue 5993, 30 July 1887
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.
This newspaper was digitised in partnership with Christchurch City Libraries (1910-1920).