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Beferring farther to the results of the labors of the Bans Classification Commissioners, ot which we had something to say m last issue, and assuming that the maps for the portion of South Canterbury then alluded to are fairly indicative of the method pursued throughout, we congratulate the gentlemen appointed to the important task of the Commission upon the manner m which they have carried out their duties, and have no hesitation m saying that it is the best piece of work which has been done under the authority of the Lands Department for many a long day. If also the Government are willing to •mend any errors of classification which may be pointed out, as it is alleged, they are, then m connection with the classification itself there will remain nothing to be desired. But the time available for the discovery of such errors and their correction is exceedingly short, and it is to be hoped therefore that all the local governing bodies and all who are interested m the wise administration of the colony's landed estate — and who is not ? — will be on the gui vive, and that the plans will be carefully and thoroughly examined, and not a moment lost m forwarding representations as to any alterations m the classifications which are desirable m the interests of settlement. Those representations can be most appropriately sent through the members for the respective districts, who, we feel sure, will be glad to back them up by their own individual efforts. But if all this be done, and the classification be finally satisfactorily settled,; much then will depend upon the action of Mr Bichardson and the Government as a whole. The very first thing that j j should be done is to withdraw all the lands included m Classeß 2 and 8 — that is to say all lands suitable for pastoral holdings of 5000 acres or less, | and all lands of which any part is suitable for agriculture — from tbe area of the Buns to bo submitted on the 29th of next month. The Buns then disposed of under permanent tenure (i.e., long indeterminable leases) will consist ! wholly of land suitable only for large pastoral holdings, and will indeed comprise only rough remote country, none of which is likely to be required for settlement for many years to come. And with regard to the land withdrawn from the Hun Sales, that is to say the whole of Classes 2 and 8, ample notice should be given of their being open for application under j the amended Land Act. They should be freely advertised, and that m detail, especially m the districts m which the particular lands are situated, and lastly — and this is the kernel of the whole ] matter — they should be offered to the public at prices for cash or rental corresponding with the fair value of the various holdings or allotments. Without this the labors of the Commission m the classification of the lands will be rendered absolutely nugatory, and will be but so much labor lost. For it must be remembered that the whole of the land now placed m Classes 3 and § has been open for purchase for cash at £2 an acre for many years, and the fact that it / has not been purchased is proof positive that the price has been too high, and to advertise the lands m Classes 2 and 3 as open for application without reducing the price materially will be simply a mockery. If on the other hand it be offered at a fair cash price (which under the new Land Act implies the option of lease at 5 per cent rental on the declared cash value) then large ' numbers of holdings' will assuredly be taken up by the right class ot men, and agricultural and pastoral settlement will be greatly promoted. The Legislature has placed ample powers m the hands of the Government, Section J.O of the Land Act Amendment Act of 1887 providing that lands ascertained to be of inferior value can be declared to be *' secondclass lands," and Section 4 of the same Act providing that the cash price of such lands can be reduced to any figure pot less than 10s per acre ; and -it remains only for the Government to exerciße that power to give a great impetus to the progress of settlement m Canterbury. Mr Bichardson has a magnificent opportunity ; such an opportunity as will fall to no other Minister for Lands for nearly a generation, and if b.O use it well his name will be remembered with honor j while if he misuses it be will do irreparable injury to thjs Provincial district m particular, and through it to the colony as a whole. Which is it to be?

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2093, 21 March 1889

Word Count

THE RUNS CLASSIFICATION Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2093, 21 March 1889