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Historical Records of New Zealand

Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst

Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst.

New South Wales, Government House, Sydney, 15th May, 1817.

My Lord,—

A long attention to, and serious consideration of the commercial and shipping interests of this colony, and an anxious desire to promote them, as well for the sake of the colony itself, as with a view to the eventually relieving the Mother Country from a portion of that burthen she now bears, in consequence of the few means hitherto possessed by this country to lessen its weight, have convinced me that the imposts or duties laid here on articles the produce of the South Sea Islands, or surrounding seas, are as impolitic in principle as they have been proved by the experience of several years to be unproductive in revenue.

The duties to which I allude are those on sandal wood, pearl shells, beche-de-mer, fish oil, seal, and kangaroo skins, all of which articles (the last excepted) being collected at a weighty expense in the outfit of the necessary shipping, and principally with a view to re-exportation to England or China, the subjecting them when brought hither to a weighty impost as at present renders it impossible for our merchants to send them to England on such advantageous terms as to hold out sufficient encouragement for them to persevere in the trade; and the consequence has been that the spirit of enterprize which prompted the merchants of Sydney a few years ago to equip vessels for the trade of these seas has been declining, and is likely to decline still further unless some relief be extended to it.

It is to be observed that at present this country is not so unfortunate as to furnish almost any one article of its own growth or produce worthy of export, and the consequence has been that its efforts to obtain exports have been turned to the procuring the oil, skins, shells, &c., which the surrounding seas and South Sea Islands produce, but then being taxed here, and afterwards on importation into England, the profits of the trade are unequal to the support of it.

page 416

On these grounds, my Lord, I conceive that the entire duty chargeable on the articles alluded to should be confined solely to that portion of them which may be consumed here, and that a draw-back of the duty should be allowed on what is re-exported.

This measure would hold out a considerable encouragement to the trade and would not be felt in the amount of the revenue, for the weight of the duties at present acts nearly as a prohibition to it, and I therefore beg to recommend to Your Lordship’s superior judgment the expediency of authorizing a draw-back on all the articles enumerated in the accompanying schedule to be made on being re-shipped for another market.

I have, &c.,

L. Macquarie.

The Right Honorable Earl Bathurst, His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, &c., &c.