The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29
Agitation for Reforms
Agitation for Reforms.
It is necessary to consider attentively these electoral defects, giving political pre-ponderance to wealth and power over the humble daily workers; because without equality in these e'ectoral powers, all conflicts for political reforms of a more equitable character to the humbler classes must be fought at a disadvantage.
Advocates of reform in taxation, should therefore also advocate extension of the franchise, allotment of representation according to numbers, and reform in the manner of obtaining and using the electoral franchise.
Agitation for political reform of any kind is to be carried on by discussion in private as well as in public. By giving or supporting lectures in public, or taking part in private conversation on the subject; by forming Working Men's Clubs, and Reform Societies; by sufforting the diffusion of popular knowledge on the subject through the purchase and distribution of pamphlets and tracts, and especially by supporting newspapers that contain information and arguments favourable to the reforms: by all these means, the way can be prepared.
At meetings preparatory to elections, those who wish for the reforms should unite to support candidates favourable to them, irrespective of their opinions on questions of less public importance, of local or distant residence, or of personal gratitude or attachment to the member or candidate, or his busy friends.
Attention should not be diverted from the main subject by listening to any attempt at raising up other questions, as grounds for party differences. Whether the Land Fund be spent where it is raised or not; whether the price of public land shall continue to be different in different parts of the Colony, or established at an uniform rate throughout it; whether local self-government should be administered by Counties or Road Boards, or by a mixture of both; whether education shall be free, secular, compulsory, high or low class. All such and many other questions, however important in themselves, are of little importance comparatively, and can afford to wait, until Justice shall have been obtained in the practical establishment of a System of Taxation under which every inhabitant of New Zealand shall contribute to the cost of its Government, not in proportion to his personal expenditure, but in proportion to the personal revenue which good Government enables him to receive.page 46
Let us by all means have free trade in land tenure as well as in commerce; also in taxation. Let no class be protected against paying its just share. If our Democratic Constitution was granted to us in order that a Monied and Landed Aristocracy should be founded, and endowed with all political power, and if that un-natural appendage prove persistently unwilling to yield any of its exclusive advantages, let it be compelled at least to contribute to the public revenue fairly in proportion to those advantages, and not continue to make the mass of the people, under the delusive pretence of a liberal suffrage and equal laws, pay the largest proportion of the cost of Government wielded by the few, and of the yearly interest of borrowed money so lavishly spent for the improvement and increased value of all landed and other property, and for the multiplication of incomes far above the necessary wants of those who so cheerfully receive them, but who so churlishly grudge their fair contribution in return to the common purse.
I conclude by asking every reader of this pamphlet, who may approve of its object, to recommend others not only to read it, but to buy other copies for themseives and their friends. Thus I shall be aided as well as encouraged in further active efforts to help Sir George Grey and others in achieving a most necessary, just, and therefore popular measure of
Printed at the "Times" Office, Gloucester Street, Christchurch.