The Manawatu Times. SATURDAY, JULY 14, 1877.
Manawatu Times, Rōrahi II, Putanga 77, 14 Hōngongoi 1877, Page 2
The Manawatu Times. SATURDAY, JULY 14, 1877.
A Parliamentary session is now at hand, find a new Land Bill, is .one of the fruits it'is expected to yield. At such a time the press cannot express -too frequently the public interests that are involved m the land question. The tendency hitherto manifestedJbjt-i^-^^Kfiun-niatiA-Jsi-to-isjuis~Tisoe~tae ~Tisoe~tae future interests of' the country for the sake of a present advantage. The Government is m need of money; the land fund requires augmentation. To satisfy this requirement the Government is anxious to sell largely for cash. At the same time the capitalist is eager for a good investment of his capital. He steps in*; buys largely from the G-overnment; secures a -landed estate, and helps to fill the public exchequer. Meantime the man of small means is ignored. It is more to the immediate interests of the Government to take cash, or even a percentage for i 10,000 acres, than it is to deal with the man who cannot afford to pay cash ' for his fifty acres. Hence it is that 1 the schemes of* special settlement | and deferred payments have not I been faVorite schemes with the Government. ■ The process of 1 a man earning his acres gradually and by the sweat of his brow does not respond sufficiently to the " awri sacra -fames" that sometimes controls the state as well as the individual. But at best it is a shortsighted policy that would sacrifice a long future for a short present.- It savors greatly of the spendthrift m the hands of the money lenders. The process of selling the public lands to speculators is purely a process of undermining the stability , and producing power of the country for a temporary advantage. The magnitude of the public debt has proved the expenditure of this country to be m excess of its present recuperative powers. -The policy' of the Gfovern- , ment should therefore be, not to strain the resources of the country to produce a temporary equilibrium, but to encourage its industries so as. to -ensure a growing power of recuperation m the future. It is, then, not the speculator who is content to pay down his cash and' remain for an indefinite number of years^ihe possessor of an unimproved estate that the Government ought to favor, but the improving and producing factors of the community, which, as a rule, are men of small means—men who are willing to live by a few acres of land. The Government are now talking of withdrawing the, subsidies from Counties and Road Boards. Let us • ask What possible system of taxation will compensate for these subsidies ifthe number of. small holdings is no,t largely multipled ? And how can the number of holdings be largely multiplied whilethe Government persists in' selling large estates to single individualsand
throwing every hindrance m the way of small farm associations? Let us consider what the Government propose — To withdraw the subsidies from the local bodies, to discourage the increase of small properties, from the rating of which the local body might gather a compensatory revenue. ' At the same time the local body must find revenue wherewith to perform adequately its Governmental duties. _ This sort of. rule is very like that- of the ancient Pharaoh, when he commanded that the full tale of bricks should be made, but that- no —straw should be given to make them -with. It is not an easy matter to induce the Government to place land m the market on terms at all conducive to hona fide settlement. They havehitherto shewn a most culpable neglect of the true interests or the country by opposing settlement, .as far as they dare. There is a good deal said about the deferred payment system-»of purchase, and about special settlement (and Sandon is a standing testimony of the value of special settlement m founding a prosperous community.) But although the Go-1 vemment admit the principle of these modes of colonization, their manifest partiality for the speculator, places ' their concessions to the settler more m the-* character of 2,' ' placebo than of an honest patriotism. Whenever the Government can do so with any grace they place the poor settler m competition with the capitalist m the matter of land purchase :-although this may swell the land fund, no policy can be conceived more ruin- ] ous to the future of the country. An illustrative 5 instance occurred re 7 i cently m the "Wairarapa. The Waste Lands Board (the members of which are creatures of the Government).refused to set apart a block of land for. special settlement. They insisted on placing it m the open market, and it was only m deference to the loud declaim provoked by their refusal that they consented to reconsider ,the application. But for an instance of this kind of perversity need not go so far as the Makakaha block. The Kiwitea block has been placed m the open market under the deferred payment system, after the Government had refused to grant it as a special settlement. The Government's conduct as a whole, in-relation to this land question is not the conduct, of faithful stewards of the people. The very BoardJa-JJ"^--aEe_anDotntp<l—>-« -50 between - the country and the country's government m administering the public land are far removed from all responsibility to the people whose interests they control. These Boards consist entirely of nominees of the Governor. This should not be. Some, at least, of the members should be elected by the people' so as to ensure a fair representation of popular interests^ If in i this particular the Waste Lands Act should be amended nexb session, the change would prove fortunate, not only for the agricultural community, but for the country generally. But it is concerning the coming Lands Bill that ,the most solicitude is felt. That part of the Government policy which has been foreshadowed m the " Native Lands Act" is not encouraging, and has been almost universally condemned by the press of the country. If the Lands Act is to be cast m the same mould it will deservedly meet with a much stronger reprobation/ But the House will hardly endorse* the pauperising policy of the Government m the face of a universal censure. Although the drift of the Cabinet is unmistakeably m the wrong direction, their measures have yet to run the gauntlet of a pretty strong Opposition which comprises not a few triends of the people. J$ the vicious, land measures are not thrown out by these it is to be hoped that they will at least be shorn of 'their main defects. There is nothing that could at this time give a more wide spread satisfaction than the production of a land law favorable to that class that forms the sinews of the country, and if the coming session will produce such a phenomenon this one good deed will be sufficient to hide a multitude of parliamentary sins.