The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30
With regard to this question he said that the tariff was constructed to encourage colonial industry. They believed it was so arranged as to fall with the least possible weight upon the community. On the other side of the question the Chambers of Commerce had come forward—with the exception of the Wangauni Chamber, a happy and fortunate exception—with resolutions that the tariff was bad, and the incidence of taxation unjust. They had proposals of their own, and what were they? In nearly every case they wanted to put extra duties on tea and sugar, i e, the necessaries of life. They did not want any extra taxation on articles which could be made in this colony, and which were coming into it from other places. All their sympathies were with articles that must be brought here and which the people must consume; none of their sympathy was with those articles which people could make here, and which need not be imported (cheers). The Wellington Chamber of Commerce did not stop at tea and sugar, they went as far as salt, and made distinctions between fine and coarse salt. They thought they could realise £30,000 more by a duty on fine and coarse salt. He would ask whether it was better for the people that this taxation should be on the necessaries of life, such as tea and sugar which must be brought into the colony, and which are consumed by the vast body of the people, or put on those things which to a large extent can be made by the people in the colony (applause); The Government said that it was not wise to further tax the necessaries of life, but that where taxation was required it should fall on the things made in the colony in order to give employment to the people. He would ask them to decide between the position taken up by the Chambers of Commerce and the Government (cheers).