THE INCOME TAX.
MEETING AT QUEENSTOWN.
The public meeting convened by the Chairman of the Town Board in response to a requisition from the ratepayers "to consider the grossly inequitable income tax which the Government is attempting to collect in defiance of the will of the people," and held on Thursday evening at the Academy of Music, was crowded to the doors, every one present appear- ing unanimous to resist the demands
made on them. Mr H. J. Clarke occupied the chair, and said they had assembled there that night to unite in sending a strong pro- test out against the income tax. Mr W. H. Taylour was received with applause, and said he could safely say the people of Queenstown were law- abiding citizens, and valued their politi- cal rights and their political freedom. Before proceeding to discuss the demerits (he could not say merits) of the in- come tax, he would ask them to go back to the time when the Lewis-Bird Government was uncere- moniously kicked out of office for trying to foist on the people an unjust income tax. The people said they would not submit to be taxed unfairly. The Propsting Government went into power on the distinct understanding that they would not impose a tax on personal exertion. He was sure the whole of them were prepared to pay a small sum for the upkeep of the State. But to take away the money that was re- quired to purchase the necessaries of life was iniquitous. The Legislative Council forced the Government to allow the Income Tax Bill to remain on the Statute Book. The Legislative Council said that revenue was wanted, but he was prepared to show that it was not. The revenue absolutely paid into the Treasury in 1903 was £858,204, and the re-estimated expenditure £875,000, ex- clusive of the cost of the smallpox epidemic. The increase in revenue over 1902 was £1,204, but owing to the small- pox epidemic they had a bill to meet amounting to £20,000, but they had money coming in to pay that. They were told Tasmania was taking a case into the High Court, claiming £11,000, alleged to belong to the State, and wrongly collected in Victoria. On the top of that they were to get between £7,000 and £8,000 as their proportion in the State Customs readjustment, which they were bound to receive. Therefore, they had £20,000 with which to wipe out any necessary obligations, and it seemed that the State of Tasmania was quite able to pay her way in 1903, even with the added cost of the outbreak of smallpox, and at the end of 1904 would have £1,00o to her credit. Where, therefore, was the need for any income tax. Certainly they had defici- encies amounting to £240,000, but they could be liquidated. When they were all asked to vote in favor of Federation they were told even by the old gentle- man who presided over the Upper House, and by others, that if they agreed they would be relieved of the incubus of large State Departments they had to maintain. Had they been relieved of them? (Cries of "No, no.") Instead they found they were asked to pay additional taxation. He must admit the present Government had been trying to find means of curtail- ing the expenditure of the State. But how had they tried? They had asked one or two gentlemen to advise them as to how money could be saved in the State Departments. But he (the speaker) did not think those gentlemen were qualified to dive Into the whole of the Civil Service.
Why? For the simple reason everyone of them was bound up and wound up with so much red tape that it was an impossibility for them to find where money could be saved in the admistra- tion of the State Departments. (Loud applause.) Why did they not obtain the services of some competent man or men. If that were done one half the money now expended could be saved. He was satisfied the staff of the Mount Lyell Company could do the whole of the work, and be off every afternoon at 5 o'clock. They wanted men of the
Graham Berry stamp and calibre, who would not keep drones in the service. (Loud applause.) With respect to the Propsting Government he would say a few words. He had been looking for- ward to a Government who would show the Legislative Council that they must not be chocks in the wheel of progress. No Government ever had such an oppor- tunity to show the backbone they were possessed of, and step in and adopt the Constitutional method of refusing to vote supplies. That idea did not come from a fevered imagination. It they consulted any work on poli- tical law they would find it set down that the way to bring the gentle- men who were in the Upper House to their bearings was to cease to vote sup- plies. Sir Adye Douglas had been paid by the State for a considerable period out of the taxation imposed on the people, but when a taxation measure went up to the Upper House that did not meet with his approval and it was thrown out he stood up and applauded those men whose vote had brought about its rejection. He had all honor and re- spect for old age, but Sir Adye Douglas had outlived his usefulness. He (Mr Taylour) hoped he was not wearying them. (Cries of "No," "Go on," "You've got the true grip of the thing.") As to the income tax. In New South Wales all incomes up to £200 were exempt. Here in Tasmania a man who got £2 a week under their income tax had to pay 12s out of it. If he got £2 10s a week he had to pay £1 15s. In Victoria for the same wage he paid nothing. (And here, let it be said, Victoria had a much larger debt than Tasmania.) A man in Tas- mania who received £2 10s a week had to pay out nearly the whole of it. He could not do it, and he was a fool if he attempted to. (Loud and prolonged applause.) He was certain, as he had said before, that there was nobody who wanted to shirk his just payment towards the upkeep of the State. But when they knew the wealthy people of the State did not pay in accordance with their ability, then it was time for them to rise up and say they would not pay. (Loud applause, and "Quite right.") It was no use sending in resolutions unless they were determined to stand shoulder to shoulder. (Applause.) Unquestionably, the big landholders in the State did not pay their fair proportion towards the up- keep of the State. Were they — the people -- going to sit down gently and pay the income tax and deprive their wives and families of what they wanted? (Loud cries of "No.") He would con- clude by moving:— "That the people of Queenstown, in public meeting assembled, whilst having no desire to shirk the payment of their fair share of the cost of the government of the State, most emphatically protest against the imposition of the personal exertion tax under the Income Tax Act, 1902, on the following. grounds:— (a) That the tax is shamefully Inequitable in its incidence; (b) that it outrages the principles of just taxation; (c) that the revenue obtainable from the tax is not required to meet
the revenue needed to extinguish the ac- cumulated deficit can be made available by judicious retrenchment consequent upon a simplification of the present cumberous and costly system of government." Mr A.A. Winch said it gave him great pleasure to second the motion. They all knew the tax was an iniquitous one, chiefly because it was a measure to re- lieve the man who ought to pay. It was said by the Legislative Council that revenue was wanted. The mover of the motion had shown very ably and very clearly that it was not wanted. There were many ways of raising revenue with- out any income tax at all. It was a matter of laughter and sport in all parts of the world that Tasmania was over governed. When the Government was asked to appoint a Commission, or a man outside the colony, to grapple with the reduction of the number of Civil
servants, they said, "Oh, no; look at the Commission in Western Australia; they have been sitting for three years." Was there ever such an absurd argu- ment. Fancy, comparing the compact State of Tasmania with the vast area and scattered population of Western Australia. No poor man's son could now enter the Civil Service of Tasmania. Brains and ability were no recommenda- tion or qualification. If he got in, how was it done? Why, by some crawling, political bribe. The positions were only for those whose fathers or relations were in office, or moved in Society. (Laughter and applause.) Sir Arthur Havelock was about to depart from the shores of Tasmania, and here was a chance to do away with a State Governor. They did not want a Governor. He was simply kept up so that certain people in Hobart might visit Government House. (Loud applause, and laughter.) He was going to speak out straight from the shoulder, and did not care who he offended, when he said the House of Assembly was responsible for a deal of what they were now suffering. Were there any men then fit to take up the reins of
Government? Mr Winch then proceeded [to] scathingly denounce the Legislative Council, his remarks eliciting loud applause and approving interjections. Having also dealt with the land ques- tion, he went on to say that so far as he was concerned he was not going to pay the income tax till he was forced. (Loud applause) He would go before the tri- bunals of his country to protest against such an unjust tax (Loud applause.) The resolution was thereupon put by the Chairman, and carried unanimously, not one hand being raised against it. Mr Archd. Douglas said the Premier, according to that day's paper, had said it was absolutely useless to call Parlia- ment together. They were told some- thing of the same sort when the Mul- cahy Ministry was in power. A mass meeting was held in Cairns' Hall and at that juncture Tasmania was practically
watching the West Coast to see what could be done, and that being so they could rest assured that their efforts on this occasion would not be without effect. That night in Launces- ton a mass meeting was being held, and the same course being pursued as they were adopting. Some might say it was useless, but let him tell them that he was credibly informed from Hobart that the Government, although they were sending out the demands to the people, they hoped the people would not pay. That was rather an astounding state- ment, but he perfectly believed it, (Loud applause.) The motion he was to move that evening runs :— "That the people of Queenstown, in public meeting assembled, respectfully request
the Government to recall Parliament at the earliest possible date to introduce another Bill for the abolition of the un- just personal exertion tax, and in the meanwhile to refrain from enforcing the penal provision of the Income Tax Act." The latter part of the motion was for the purpose of of gaining time, and doubtless the Propsting Government would see on which side their bread was buttered, and would repeal the tax. They could de- pend on it that what he said in refer- ence to the Government's anxiety that the tax should not be paid would not be very far out. (Applause.) Mr W.H. Candy seconded the resolu- tion in a most earnest and forcible speech, and his utterances were loudly applauded. The motion was put and carried in just the same unanimous manner as the previous one. On the motion of Mr Geo. Phillips seconded by Mr D.A. Nichols, the Chairman was empowered to telegraph a copy of the resolutions to Hobart. An apology for absence was received from Mr Geo. Burns, M.H.A. who was unable to attend owing to illness.