There was a large attendance of electors at the Provincial Hall, on Monday evening, March 30th, when Mr John Graham, city member, delivered his post sessional address. The audience Included a large number of lady electors. Mr. Graham upon entering the room with his Chairman was warmly applauded.
Mr John Sharp, the chairman, in his prefatory remarks said that he was presiding in the absence of the Mayor. He said that it would to his mind be a great pity if all agreed in politics, as he was quite aware they did not, but he was sure that a fair hearing would be given Mr Graham. (Applause.) He was the member for the district, and whether or not the majority of electors were with the side Mr Graham represented he was entitled of a fair hearing, which he (Mr Sharp) was sure would be accorded. At the dose of his address Mr Graham would be pleased to answer any questions put to him from the platform. As chairman, he would not accept any anonymous questions, as he did not think it fair to the speaker. If anyone had a fair question to put, let him come forward and put it on the platform. (Applause.) He then called upon Mr Graham to deliver his address.
Mr Graham on rising was received with applause, on the abatement of which he expressed his sincere thanks to the large page 2 number who had attended so punctually to hear him, for the cordial reception given him, and to the Chairman. Continuing he said that since he had announced his intention to speak that evening one of the greatest calamities the Colony had ever known had overtaken them. Such a calamity that it had drawn attention almost wholly away from political subjects. Since the occurrence he had been engaged with other gentlemen doing what only could be done to assuage the distressful condition of those bereaved, and he had that day done a hard day's work, so that he would ask their consideration if he was not up to the mark physically, for what he said he asked no more consideration than they deemed right.
Public attention had been aroused upon general politics in consequence of the leaders of the two sides of the House addressing meetings in different ports of the Colony on general political subjects—Captain Russel speaking at Hastings, and the Premier honoring Nelson by making it the theatre for his reply thereto Both speakers had dealt with general legislation, only one denying that which had been done was good, and the other affirming that that which had been done was the proper thing do, but neither went into particulars. As their member, however, it was his duty to tell them what was done at the last session. The session was a long one, of four months duration, and if he spoke twice as long as the Premier had done he could not give more than a synopsis of what had gone on. He would not endeavor, however, to do that, but confine himself to what to his mind were the most important subjects dealt with. In doing this he might miss something upon which information was desired. If this was so he hoped that questions would be asked, for he would not omit anything with a desire to screen it from his constituents, but from want of time. (Applause.)
Two Questions Answered.
He had been told that two questions were to be asked him. First, whether he had pledged himself absolutely to support the present Ministry in any proposals they might bring forward? and second, what was his position with regard to the present state of the House of Representatives ? He would try, if possible, to explain himself so fully that it would not be necessary to put these questions. With reference to the first, a statement had been insidiously circulated that he had bound himself in writing to support the Government in whatever measures they brought forward That simply was not true. (Applause.) Since he had been their member he had written many letters to the Premier, and in reply to one from Mr Seddon asking his views, he had stated what he had stated to his constituents, viz., that he would support the policy inaugurated by the late John Balance, but he reserved to page 3 himself absolute freedom upon any questions brought forward which were outside that policy. A gentleman had gone to Motueka and told another person that he had seen such a written pledge, but it was not true, and he (Mr Graham) knew the names of the parties he was referring to. (Applause.) He had spoken to Mr Seddon about the matter the day after his speech in Nelson, and Mr Seddon had replied that it was absolutely untrue, and that the would, had the matter been mentioned to him before, have publicly refuted it at his meeting from the spot where he (Mr Graham) then stood. (Applause.) But he did not wish that, he would rather explain to his constituents himself, and he believed that his statement would be accepted. (Applause.) He did say to the Premier that if necessary he would ask his support of the statement just made. Then, with reference to which side of the house he Would support. He had stated at the beginning that he would support the John Balance policy, and he had not budged one iota from that statement, and would not then. The main points of that policy were the substitution of the Land and Income Tax for the Property Tax, and the division of the land into portions sufficiently large to make homesteads for the people. The Opposition, on the other hand, were in favor of the Property Tax, and he had it from one of the leaders of the Opposition that that Party would, could they do so revert to the Property Tax. The Land and Income Tax had reduced the payments of the poorer portion of the people, and increased those of the richer. (Applause.) But the Government, while maintaining the leading portions of Mr Balance's policy, had done things he did not agree with, and some things he strongly disagreed with, and in doing so he believed he was doing what he had been sent to do. When some of the supporters of the Government objected to things, the Opposition would bring forward a motion of want of confidence in the hope of obtaining the votes of these Government supporters who were in disagreement. Then the choice lay between voting against those partially disagreed with. That was his position two or three times, and he had to vote with the Government, not because he agreed with them in everything, but because they were carrying out the main features of the Ballance policy. It was a case of Scylla and Charybdis, and he thought it better to stick to the rock than go into the whirlpool and be absolutely lost. (Applause.)
The Session of 1895
was a long one, too long. The real business was delayed through the absence of the Treasurer, and there had been some loss of time through this. He had to complain again of the all-night sittings, which resulted in important business being carried on by a House half empty, and of those present half were often asleep. Then when a division was necessary those absent would be rung page 4 up, and come in and vote without knowing all that had gone on. He urged that the business of the country should be transacted in daytime as other business was. (Applause.) If this was done there would be no necessity for Bellamy's and it could be abolished. (Applause.) In the session before last no fewer than 200 Bills had been brought forward, about one-half of which had been dropped; in the past session 91 had been passed into law, and 85 lost or otherwise disposed of. He thought it would be far better for the Government to bring forward their bills earlier, and allow them to be properly digested, Some of the bills drafted were of the most important character, and one of these, the Local Government Bill, would have to come up again, for it was recognised that far too much was being spent in local government for the benefit derived. Then again the means of dispensing charitable aid required revision, and he would like to see it embodied in any new measure, that women should have a considerable amount to do with dispensing charitable aid. (Applause.)
The Public Debt
was one of the most important things that concerned each man, woman, and child in the Colony, for they had to pay the interest on it. Leading politicians had stated the position with regard to the public debt, and each differently. Mr Ward, speaking in the House said that the debt since the Government took office had increased by £1,556,614. Sir Robert Stout said that it had increased £2,281,624, and Captain Russell shortly after had declared that the increase was £3,811,218. Which was right? As far as he went the Treasurer was. He stated that in 1891, when the Government took office, the gross debt was £38,880,850, and upon March 31st last it had increased to £40,386,964, the difference being the amount already named. Sir R. Stout had, in the house, disputed the Treasurer's assertion, and asked for a return of the debt for ten years. The proposal for this return was refused in the House, but carried by the Council to the return of whose order it was obtained from the Audit Department. This return showed that to the amount for 1891 named by Mr Ward there was to be deducted credits of £389,000, and to be added for deficiency and Treasury bills £716,100, which gave a gross debt of £89,157,450 ' and to Mr Ward's figures for 1895, £493,000 was to be deducted for credit, and £810,000 added for deficiency bills, making the gross amount of debt £40,703,964. The increase to gross debt between the periods was thus shown to be £10,100 less than given by Mr Ward, but it was also stated in the return that in 1891 there was Sinking Fund of £1,487,042, which had decreased to £751,932 in 1895. The difference between these two amounts, less the page 5 £100,100 added to Mr Ward's figures, gave the amount of increase stated by Sir Robert Stout to a shilling. (Applause.)
Revision of the Tariff
Captain Russell had said that between 1893 and 1895 there had been a decrease in Customs duties of £95,000, and Sir Robert Stout said that in 1895 they had increased by nearly £50,000. The Premier had said that both these statements could not be correct. In 1893-91 the duties amounted to £l,655,502, in 1894-95 to £1,569,784, a decrease of £85,718. Ciptain Russel was wrong by £10,000 in his substruction. The real reasion for revision of the tariff was not to remove anomalies,. but to raise revenue, and for the year ending December 31st last here had been an increase in the amount of duty paid of .£47,503. this increase was not due to an increase of imports, for by the 'Gazette' of February 6th showing the relative imports of '94-95 the imports for '94 were shown to be £6,788,620, and for '95 £6,399,722. or £388,298 less. By 'Gazette' of January 23, the duties paid in 1894 were shown to be £1,572,467, and in 1895 £1,619,970, showing the amount he had stated as increase of duty. The cost of the Tariff Revision Commission totalled about £2,300 for no practical purpose
How the Debt was Increased.
The Premier said that of the increase to the public debt £1,330,000 was interest bearing. That was quite correct, £529,000 bad been loaned to public bodies, and was bearing interest at the rate of 5 per cent. For the purchase of the Cheviot estate £250,000 had been used, and for native lands purchase, lands for settlement, lands improvement and New Zealand consols £555,000 was absorbed. In addition £642,000 had to be paid as premiums to enable loans to be converted. One great incentive to the conversion of loan was to release sinking funds which could not under Vogel's Act of 1884, be touched in any other way. Possibly it was the best thing to do, for the Colony must carry on to enable it to do so and pay liabilities, otherwise one of three things had to be done, either increase the already heavy taxation, reduce expenditure, or go in for fresh loans.
The Loans to Local Bodies.
had a feature the public should understand. In the Act of 1886 it was provided that the borrowing local bodies should pay the Government 5 per cent, for 26 years on advances, and at the end of the period the principal sum would be wiped out, and the Bill provided for a sinking fund, to be made by appropriation, but this appropriation had never been made. In 1892 Mr Ballance had and that this was bad finance, and he brought down a bill by which 1½ per cent of the interest on the loans should be set page 6 aside together with an additional half per cent from the land transfer assurance fund, for a sinking fund, so that in twenty-six years the outside creditor might be paid off. The fund had accumulated till in March last there was £64,400, and the present year's accretions would make a sinking fend of £85,000 against the Government loans to local bodies. But the Government law officers had discovered that this sinking fund could be appropriated, and appropriated it had been, though opposed by the Public Accounts Committee. There result would simply be that, as matters now stood, all the money so far advanced by the Government to local bodies would become in 26 years an addition to the public debt. Applause). The Auditor-General and the Public Accounts Committee said it was bad finance not to provide a sinking fund, and said he thought they ought to make provision where by the Colony would extinguish its debts at the same time the local bodies paid off their liabilities. (Applause). That was one thing that the Premier said should be left to posterity, but that was one of the points on which he differed from the Premier. (Applause). He would like to refer again to the Customs tarif with regard to the proposed
Duty on Fruit.
He was accused of speaking one way and voting another Alterations to the Tariff were, according to custom, brought down by resolution, so that they might be given temprary-effect to, till the House had had time to consider and [unclear: den] whether the alterations should be permanent. He was in formed it was the usual custom to pass these resolution and to adjust matters when the Bill was under consideration. Sir Robert Stout, who was going South, wished [unclear: a] give an expression of his opinion against the duty on Island fruit, and moved in that direction, but the Premier promised [unclear: a] amend, and the resolutions were voted for. The Premier kept his word, and what he objected to was not included in the [unclear: a] the Government having agreed to eliminate the duty on Island fruits, bananas, etc., which would have drawn £20,000 a year from the consumers. They prevented that duty being imposed and in the quietest possible manner.
There were some who advocated the further borrowing large sums, but he did not think the Colony, with its burden debt, and in its present position, was prepared for such a [unclear: fl] and he certainly was not. Mr Larnach, for instance, advocats the borrowing, by instalments of five millions, and [unclear: a] Opposition, or at any rate some of them, while [unclear: condemines] the present increase of their indebtedness, wished to go [unclear: ior] further public loans. Dr Newman said borrow two million page 7 Therefore, if the Opposition were in power they would increase the debt, and the question was, was it necessary ? (An elector: We don't want more borrowing.) He said they ought as far as they could to live within their means. At present they had to raise £4,360,000 a year by taxation and for services, through the Railway, Postal and other Government Departments. That amounted to £3 7s per head of the population, and nearly £10 a head for the workers. The proper way of stating the debt of the Colony was not per head of the whole population, but per head of the workers, and it was nearly £150 per head of the breadwinners. As proof of this just look at the terrible calamity at Brunnerton. There were 67 bread winners called away, and nearly 250 widows and children left. How could the latter pay the £58 per head of liabilities. Why they were all, at the present, trying to assist these poor people to bear their own burdens. (Applause.)
Now in reference to one part of the Government policy, the settlement of the people on the land, there was dispute and contradiction as to what the Government was doing. The Government said one thing and the Opposition said they did not believe it. He very considerable respect for the Hon. J. McKenzie, who was a much-abused, upright, honest administrator, and to his (the speaker's) mind, he understood the position better than anyoue there. In that he was confirmed by some of the leading men in the Opposition. (Applause.) Recently the Minister stated that since 1891 no fewer than 11,000 selectors had been placed on 2,400,000 acres, the average holding being about 200 acres, and there were 429 tenants of pastoral runs. A gentleman who was "Own Correspondent" to one of the Nelson papers said this was all fudge, but he happened to know that that correspondent was more remarkable for effervescent wit than veracity. He would give an example to guage from. When the Midland Railway arbitration was demanded, that correspondent said to him, "Now the Company has got the Colony by the wool, and you won't get free for less than a million and a quarter. Now they knew the result of that arbitration, and how far true the statement had proved. (A voice: " Jimmy was out of it.") In purchasing and for settlement no doubt there had been and still would be mistakes, but those purchases did not depend on the Ministry. There was a Land Purchase Board who reported on the property and on its report only could the Government act. The Government had been condemned for the purchase of the Blind River Estate in a neighboring province, and it was one he believed that ought not to have been bought; it was paying the lowest interest of any, but it was bought on the report of the Board. Statements had been made to disparage the gentleman who page 8 formerly owned it, but though he had not spoken to that person about it he said that the former owner did not approach the Government, but the latter approached him. The Government would not accept the acreage in the deed, and had it surveyed, when it was found to contain several hundreds more than appeared in the deed, and they had to pay accordingly. He simply stated facts, [The Chairman spoke to Mr Graham, who continued.] The Chairman liad just told him that he understood part of the Estate had grown such crops as had not been raised there before, so that after all the Board's advice might prove as profitable as in other cases. Then there was the Cheviot, in which the Colony had invested a quarter of a million, but there were now 900 souls on the estate instead of one runholder, and while it carried as much stock as before, and there were nearly 10,000 acres in crop. He had been assured that members of the Opposition who were deadly opposed to its purchase now believed the Government did the right thing. (Applause.)
Loans for Settlement Purposes.
The Premier had hinted that it would be necessary to raise money to place people on the lands, and others said they must legislate further for such purpose, but they appeared to have for gotten the Acts of 1894. The Land for Settlement Act provided that they might raise £250,000 a year for five years, while up to March last only £10,100 had been appropriated, so that there was no occasion for further legislation for that purpose. In l894, too, the Native Lands Improvement and Native Lands Acquisition Act provided that £250,000 might be raised for roads and bridges and £250,000 for purchase of native lands. Up till the next day (31st. March, 1896) however, only £147,000 would be spent on roads and bridges, and £140,000 for native lands so that there was nearly a million and a quarter not yet spent under the former Act, and some £212,000 under the latter had yet to bead appropriated, so there was no occasion for further legislation, at any rate at present. Regarding the
Advances to Setplers Act
this gave power to borrow a million and a half a year for two years. One million and a half had been borrowed at 3 per cent—lower than any previous loan. But while they borrowed at 8 per Cent, they borrowed at a discount, receiving only £94 8s 9d. for every £100 of that debt, thus losing £5 11s 3d for every £100. It had been said that the effect of that loan was to lower the rate of interest, but he said the borrowing at that rate was the result of low interest, and not the cause of it. He instanced other Australian loans to show this. He said they were paying £45,000 a year interest, and nearly £8,000 a year for management of the department, together £53,000; and up to the present only half page 9 a million had been advanced in two years. He said that more-over, the other Government departments were lending equally cheaply, and read advertisements, so that the Government was competing with itself. The Government had come to the conclusion that more money had not been lent under this Act, because people did not understand it. He believed the New Zealand people were as intelligent as any on the face of the earth, and he said that when the Act was passed phamplets had been scattered broadcast. He said it would be a further waste of money to send round officials to tell intelligent people what they could read for themselves. (Applause.)
The Bank of New Zealand.
He had been asked what it was the Colony had really done for the Bank of New Zealand. He thought he could give them a clear synopsis. In past years the Bank had invested capital in landed estates, and a large part of its capital was thus locked up. A time came when the Bank had not enough to carry on its legitimate banking business, and it tried to raise two millions of additional capital, but failed. Then it came to the Government and said that unless it received that sum it must close. The Government considered the matter, and said it was able to say that two millions would set the Bank on a sound footing, that the Government could guarantee the sum mentioned, and the people would never be called on to pay a penny. The House accepted the assurance, and the guarantee being given, the Bank was able to get the two millions. Next session the Bank again came to the Government, and the matter was referred to a Select Committee of both Houses, and a lengthy report was brought down. The Committee reported what was known by many before, that the Estates Company and the Auckland Agricultural Company were practically one concern with the Bank. In a sense the Bank separated when the Estates Company was formed, but it did not sell, and held £1,850,000 worth of shares, while debts due to the Bank were stated at £1,426,702, making £3,276,702. They had the accounts, but few could give much information. In the balance sheet of the Bank at the 31st March last the assets were placed at £377,000 less than the liabilities. They had, too, the combined balance sheet of the Estates Company and Agricultural Company, showing a deficiency of £1,764,883, and that, with the Bank deficiency of £377,000, made a total of £2,141,00. The important question was, how could they put the concern so that it might carry on, for the Premier had said what was quite true—that vast misery would result from its stoppage. The first proposition was that the whole of the capital' should be wiped off—£900,000; next, that the proceeds of the half-million call on the reserve—£450,000—should be written off. But when that was written off there was still a gap of about £800,000. That was proposed to be dealt page 10 with in another way. It was proposed to establish a Realization Board to take over the estates from the Estates Company, valued at £1,879,000, for which it was to give £2,784,000, or £855,000 more than the book value, and this £855,01 0 was to bridge the gap referred to. That brought the assets and liabilities equal, but in addition the Colony was to give the Bank more capital by taking £500,000 worth of new shares, on which 3½ per cent interest is guaranteed that gave the Bank a clear half-millions carry on with. The collateral security taken was the remainder of the uncalled capital. What was their capital liability then of It was the £2,000,000 guaranteed in 1894, the £2,784,000 given in '95, and the £500,000 for new shares, or a total of £5,234,000 The annual liability for interest was £80 000 a year on the two millions, £95,600 on the debentures for assets realization, and £17,500 on the half million as shares. It had to earn £198,000 a year clear of expenses, or the taxpayers would have to make it up. To save this Bank, and to save a vast amount of misery, he did not think they would get free without losing two millions, and he feared, a good deal more, and he thought if the realzation of assets brought in a million it would do well. The first attempted sale had been a failure. 'I hey had, however, to bear in mind that this matter was forced on the Government, and whether any Government could have faced the position and done better he doubted very much. (Applause.)
The Midland Railway
was a question of great importance to the Colony, and of great concern to their district. In 1894, they would remember the Company desired to give up its contract, and make a new one for completing the line between the West Coast and Christchurch leaving Nelson out and giving up its land grants for £618,000 while the cost of building the railway from the West Coast be Christchurch was estimated at one million sterling. He objeted to the Colony giving the Company a sum equal to two-third of the cost of constructing that portion of the line, and it was matter of great difficulty to resist the powerful efforts of the Company in their endeavors he Government was in favor of acceding to the wishes of the Company, but that would not have been satisfactory to Nelson, and as their member he tried to avert what he thought would be a calamity. He placed himself in communication with the officials of the Nelson Railway League, and the whole matter was of so delicate a nature—the Government favoring the Company's request—that they could not make known what they were doing. But the officials of the League knew all that was going on. In Nelson there was public agitation in respect to the matter—and it was very natural to and it was decided to send a deputation to Wellington, They deputation saw him in Wellington, and on receiving an explation of what had been done, they magnanimously said they were page 11 absolutely satisfied that all had been done that was possible. One of those gentlemen said he was astonished at the grasp he, the speaker, had of the subject. The members of that deputation offered their best services, which was very kind of them. (Applause.) One hour before the vote was taken Mr Wilson, the Company's representative, came to him, Mr Graham, and said " We aro going to loose this vote, and you will be sorry for it for we have £50,000 set aside to fight the Colony, and we shall make you pay." Now the arbitration had come on, and it had been proved that the Government had acted legally. The Colony, and especially Nelson owed a debt of gratitude also to one gentleman who had strongly assisted their member. The same gentleman had also magnanimously fought the case before Arbitration Court without reward. (Loud applause.) He referred to Sir Robert Stout—[Loud applause]—and however, they might differ with that gentleman, and lie did frequently differ with him, he admired and recognised in him one of the most able men in the House. He had some what he the speaker, thought were fads—and probably they all had fads—and it was unfortunate that Sir Robert Stout had; it he could By put some of those in the background his talent and honesty of purpose was sufficient for all they required. Regarding the present position of the Midland line from 'Belgrove, the Government had decided to carry it on towards the Motupiko, and the Government intended that they should as soon as possible have the line into Motueka Valley—to a point which would serve all the valleys on the other side of Spooner's Rauge. He visited the locality about three weeks ago, and, with the assistance of some of the leading settlers there he ascertained that the number of settlers in the Motupiko, Tadmor, Sherry, Wangapeka, Baton, etc., was no fewer than 119 settlers, who lived on their own hand, producing products for market, and they and their families numbered early 1,000 souls. Therefore there would be an immediate return for carrying the line to the point indicated, Besides this there were tens of thousands of acres of land locked up, land that their young men had been waiting for—[Hear, hear.]—and when that land was open they would not only have the present settlers, but many others located there, and the Railway would benefit them, and they would benefit the Railway, what benefited the country would benefit the town. He had consulted the Hon. Mr MacKenzie as to the throwing open of that land, and the Minister told him that he was anxious that it should be thrown open as soon as possible; that he had referred the question of their ability to throw it open to the law officers of the Crown; and that he had surveyors ready, and the plans for subdividing the land as soon as they could. He, the speaker, pointed out that however desirable was the acquisition of land for settlement purposes, it was wrong that colonists page 12 should be kept waiting for the opening up of thousands of acres which had now been locked up too long. Mr McKenzie agreed with what he said, and promised to let him know as soon as he could. (Applause.) He had since asked the Minister again by letter when the land would be thrown open, and he had hoped to have received a reply by that night, but he had not. He hoped however that the land would he available in the near future.
On this he would be glad to answer any questions. He urged that the benefits of their system was shown in the ever increasing intelligence and sobriety of the rising generation. In 1893 education cost the Colony £381,000; in 1894, £396,000; and in 1895, £420,000. It was a large amount, and their duty was to see that the people derived the utmost advantage. A fifth of the population was attending the schools.
The Liquor Question
was an everlasting one. Last session there was an amending Bill which gave some large reforms. Every elector would have the opportunity to vote on any one or two of the proposals, and his vote would be cast for the option he liked best or next best The vote was to be taken on the day of the general election so a to get a large vote. The question as to whether the number of licenses should remain or be reduced would be determined by a simple majority, but for total prohibition the majority must be three-fifths. If reduction were carried the bill provided that is districts where there were ten or less, at least one license was by be refused, and where larger numbers existed the minimum education would be in proportion. On election day, too, the hotel were to close from noon till 7 p.m., and that was, he thought, [unclear: a] wise provision. (Applause.) The number of members of a committee was to be reduced from 9 to 6, and the Stipendise Magistrate was to be the president. These were reforms which placed them in advance of many countries, and while he though it was right the people should decide the question, he agreed that it was proper and better that the enforcement of prohibition should be by a larger than a bare majority. He was nota a [unclear: as] hibitionist, but he did say it was right to do all they could promote temperate living. He did not think it right for one [unclear: J] dictate to another whether he should drink stout or tea-by thought they were both good in their place and in moderation He thought every good citizen should do all he could to preved excess in drinking as in everything else. In New Zealad sobriety had been increasing gradually and regularly for years and in his opinion such a gradual improvement was [unclear: a] effective than any arbitrary or dictatorial measures were likely to be, (Applause.) The latest statistics showed that when in 1878 the annual consumption of spirits per head of adult [unclear: ma] page 13 was 4¾ gallons, it was now less than half that, while the consumption of beer had decreased from If gallons to a 1¾ gallon per head of all, males and females, over 15. That ought to be regarded as a very satisfactory record. 'I he consumption of alcoholic liquors was less in New Zealand than in almost any colony or state. In Queensland it amounted to £4 17s 6d, in Victoria £8 4s, and in New Zealand £2 17s 2d per head. New Zealand was one of the most sober countries in the world.
Regarding the proposed reciprocity treaty between Canada and South Austra ia and New Zealand be thought the Colonial treasurer had made a mistake in including both treaties in one bill, for there were many objections to the Treaty with Canada that did not exist against that with South Australia. The in-clusion of both caused the Bill to be rejected, but it was brought up again altered so as to refer only to South Australia. Under The proposed treaty: South Australia was to have opened her ports free to New Zealand hops, barley, oats, and horses, while New Zealand was to have admitted for South Australia olive oil, wine, salt, and fruit. Some objection was raised to the free introduction of wine in the interest of wine makers at Wangunui and perhaps elsewhere in New Zealand, and it was agreed to impose half duties on wines, but the result was that South Australia rejected the treaty. This was a great misfortune for New Zealand and especially for the Nelson Provincial District, inasmuch as under that treaty they would have been able to export all their hops In 1894 the acreage in hops in the Colony was 778, and of these no fewer than 751 acres were in the Nelson District, the total production being 7,665 cwt, of which 3,940 cwt. Were consumed in the Colony, leaving available for export 3,725 cwt, the remission of the duty of 6d per lb upon which would have meant no less a sum than £10,400. The remission of the duty on barley would also have been directly beneficial to the Nelson district, while in regard to oats the farmers of the large Southern provinces would have been largely benefited and through them the Colony generally, it had been said that one of the largest exporters of wine from South Australia was instrumental in causing New Zealand to provide for the charge of half duty as it was contended that without duty inferior wines would have been shipped to this Colony, but he would have thought that that would soon have cured itself. During last session it was proposed that
An Additional Minister
should be appointed, and the Premier pathetically assured the House that Ministers were worked night and day. But shortly after that they had the resignation of three ministers and notwithstanding the work the vacancies remained unfilled for two months—that did not look as though there was too much work page 14 for the full number. He did not think it was necessary or advisable to have more ministers than were at present allowed by law; and the more they increased the number of ministers, the more they increased their voting power. In a small house seven ministers and too whips, nine men were pledged before anything was discussed. As to ministerial interference at elections he thought it was the duty of ministers to go to any part of the Colony and explain their policy, but he did not think it was right that two or three ministers should go at election time to influence the electors in favor of any particular candidate [Applause.]—and he believed that the intelligence of the electors of this Colony was sufficient to enable them to decide as to who should represent them.
Rating on Unimproved Value.
There was a measure proposed last session providing for rates being levied on the unimproved value of property, and, its application being made optional, it passed the Lower House Many thought it would be an advantage in the country district but he questioned its effects when applied to towns, and asked the Treasurer whether he was right. He instanced the effect of the proposed measure by supposing two similar properties the unimproved value of each was £500. On one property there was a good building, the improvements being valued at 2,400, making the total value £2,900, and on a penny rate at present that property would pay £12 Is 8d a year. In the other property the improvements were only valued at £100, making a total value of £600, and that, at the present rate of one penny, would pay £210s Those two properties would together pay £14 11s 8d and to obtain the same revenue they would each have to pay, provided they were rated on unimproved value, £7 5s 10d. The rich man with the fine building would have a reduction, but the difference would be made up by an addition to the rates of the poor man. They would thus see that rating on unimproved values, applied to towns would have to receive very careful consideration, and it would be for the ratepayers' to consider which was the better principle. He would just refer to
It had been said of him that if he did not mind his stop his constituents would suffer. Now he had on many subjects taken an independent view, though he had at the same time continued on the most friendly and amicable terms with ministers, and his actions had not affected his constituents in any way, What had the Government done for them ? First in the session of 1894 there was the Harbor dredging, the necessity of which he urged, and on which altogether £2,700 had been expended He secured a police station Cottage in town, and, on its being represented that a railway station was needed at Appleby for the rain traffic and the convenience of the farmers adjacent, he page 15 secured a promise that it should be provided without delay and in three months the station was open. Various other small votes were agreed to. In 1895 the Government authorised the erection of a new cottage at the Lighthouse—not before it was wanted; they granted £"200 for alterations to the Police Station; Reed to erect a waiting room and offices at the Port; and panted an endowment of 2,000 acres for a public reading room. That endowment was asked for by their former member, but without success. Now he trusted they would soon have a free public reading room open. (Applause.) Then, after every effor old failed to secure for the Volunteers new guns in placo of their old ones he got them two Nordenfeldts, and this year, to assist the unemployed he got a vote for the Crow track, to open what was expected to be a profitable diggings. This all showed that his constituents had not suffered because he had sought to act as he believed to be best in their general interests. Regarding his supporting the Government, he thought he had made it clear that the alternative was the old Opposition, who favored the property Tax and the keeping of as much land by individuals as each could lay hold of. There was no other party at present, and the only way to effect an improvement was to alter the personel of the House so that independent members might endeavor to say to the Government, if you don't do as we wish we shall try to turn you out, but to turn the present Government out under Present conditions was only to return the old Opposition to power. They had now a so-called National Association, and he had been asked, who are they; who compose it ? Well the National Association was exactly the old Opposition, and it included such men as Dr. Newman, Captain Russell, Mr Buchanan, and Mr Allan Captain Russell was one of the most honorable and up-right of gentlemen in New Zealand but he, the speaker, disagreed with him about the Land and Income and Property Taxes. The old Property Tax meant a tax on property whether it was reproductive or not. Por example, if there were two mining companies each of which had expended say £50,000 on its works, and one was returning £100,000 a year while the other did not yield as many pence. Under the Property Tax each would have to pay the same sum in taxation. Now the Land and Income Tax
meant that they had to pay according to their earnings—[Applause.]—and he was sure they would agree that the company that made £100,000 a year was better able to pay than the one that earned nothing, and that it should be made to pay. (Applause.) There was the difference, and that was one of the great points on which Captain Russell and he disagreed As land owners the National Association were also in favor of the large land owners retaining great blocks of country. Every man had a right to live,-and to sufficient of the earth's surface to enable him to do so. The present law enables the proprietors of the page 16 land to live, and to hold sufficient for all reasonable reqerments. A man could hold 640 acres of first-class land, 2,000 acres of second-class land, and from 5,000 to 20,000 acres of pastoral country. He urged, however, that it ought to be most their concern to sec all men lived in comfort, than to see some in affluence and others in penury. (Loud applause.) He wanted to give them an opportunity to ask questions and he would merely add that he had nothing to hide. (Loud applause.)
Mr McGregor asked whether Mr Graham favored the scheme credited Mr Ward of providing a navy.
Mr Graham answered in the negative.
Mr Stewart briefly moved a vote of thanks to Mr Gray for his very excellent and interesting address, and coupled with it a vote of confidence in him as their member, adding that [unclear: a] did not intend thus to imply confidence in the Government.
Mr Brown, in seconding the motion, said it was clear Mr Graham was not one of the dumb Parliamentary dogs.
Mr Pettit moved as an amendment a simple vote of thanks.
Mr A. S. Atkinson seconded the amendment.
On the question being put there were not more than eight hands held up in favor of the amendment, and a great man hands were held up against.
The Chairman then put the motion, which was carrid amidst applause.
Mr Graham, in acknowledging the vote, said he esteem their vote highly. While he was their member, he should [unclear: a] he had, try to do his best, and if he lost faith in their eyes [unclear: a] wish was that they might send some one in his place. He then moved a hearty vote of thanks to Mr Sharp for the able [unclear: a] had conducted the meeting.
The motion was carried by acclamation.
Mr Sharp said he would like to say a word. He had [unclear: a] before presided over so appreciative or decorous a meeting, [unclear: a] he attributed the result to the ladies, who had kept them all order.
Those present then dispersed.
Bond, Finney, and Co, Printers. Nelson.