The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29
I propose, therefore, that a tax of 2s. 6d. per acre should be payable by every purchaser of land directly from a native, and a proportional tax by every lessee, such tax to become a portion of the Consolidated, or Ordinary Revenue: helping to make up any deficiency that may still remain after the general income and property tax, and the contribution from the Land Funds of the several Provincial Land Districts: and, if those resources alone should avail to make up the deficiency, then the tax on private page 39 land transactions with Natives should be appropriated as surplus revenue, in such manner as Parliament may deem best adapted to compensate the country for the evils inflicted on it by the abandonment of the Government's exclusive right of pre-emption.
I cannot pretend to estimate correctly the amount of new revenue which may be raised in this way. It would depend on the greater or less facilities afforded by any changes in further legislation on the subject. The Murimotu Company would claim their transaction as a purchase by Government, assisted by them as volunteer agents, on the condition of the pastoral occupation of 75 per cent, of the whole block being secured preferentially for 14 years to the speculators, at the nominal rent fixed by the old Wellington land regulations, while they would be in a position to compete at great advantage with any other intending purchasers for the 25 per cent, to be reserved as public land by the Government. Instead of being a purchase or leasing from the Natives by Government, aided by a few monied speculators, it will virtually be a purchase or leasing by those favoured individuals, specially assisted by Government to exclude men of less monied and Parliamentary influence from the advantages of the transaction. If so treated, this purchase alone would furnish, at 2s. 6d. an acre, £25,000 to the public revenue instead of furnishing nothing but 50,000 acres of land which would lie waste as pasturage free of rent for the holders of the 150,000; because everybody would know that those holders could afford to run him up to a price above his highest bid, whenever that land, according to the Wellington "land regulations," should be offered at 5s. per acre upset price by public auction. But the imposition of the tax of 2s. 6d. an acre on the purchase of the whole, or a proportionate sum on the lease, would probably result in making the favoured holders exert themselves to produce more taxable income from their private property or occupation than they otherwise would: while even the sum of £25,000 would be only a fragment of the inexhaustible "loaves and fishes" which those "honourable gentlemen and gentlemen" would other-wise secure for themselves alone, and only a very meagre salve to the wound which, even while paying it, they would inflict by their giant monopoly on the public good, or Commonwealth.
The late Sir Donald McLean left as a legacy to his only son the vast fortune described in former pages—about £25,000 a year, untaxed except in proportion to the expenditure of one individual and his possible family on dutiable articles. The Murimotu transaction is only one of many legacies of a very different character which he left to New Zealand, winning "golden opinions"—from those who benefited by them, or who hoped to benefit by the like.