The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30
He believed that this question was the one on which the Government had fallen, and it was the question that was being used now with the greatest effect against the Government by the large property owners. For the first time it laid down a principle he had long advocated, and one which, he believed, met with the approval of the people. They had made the tax progressive, so that it would fall with heavier incidence on the wealthier than upon the poorer classes, and that was the greatest crime, in his opinion, which the Government had committed. (Cheers.) It would, however, be for the country to say whether that was a crime in their eyes or page 10 not. If they realised the enormous increase given to the value of the private lands of the colony to the large estates especially, by the construction of public works upon which the colony was paying interest, they would come to the same conclusion as himself, that the incidence of taxation as set forth in the budget was one that was fair even to those classes themselves, and fair to every class in the community. (Applause.) The organs of these men had made an attempt to do away with all exemptions, Mr Ballance explained the working of the exemption clause, and showed that the proposal of the Government was that over £2200 there should be no exemption, but that under that sum the ordinary exemption should be allowed. The rate for those who owned more than £2200 worth of property would pay a penny in the £, and under that sum only 13-16ths of a penny in the £. The result of this would be that, while the smaller class of taxpayers were exempt from any further increase of taxation, the larger and wealthier taxpayers of the colony would be asked to contribute to this source of revenue £75,000. If the exemptions were abolished the larger class, numbering 21,591, would pay an increase of 83 percent, while the wealthier class, numbering but 6235, would only increase their taxation by an average of 4 per cent. He put it to them whether they would have a graduated taxation on the basis the Government had proposed, or the reduction of the exemption. That was the question the country would have to answer.