The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. TUESDAY, SEPJEMBER 3,1889. LAND DUMMYING.
The debate m the House of Represen- J atives last Wednesday, raised by MrJ Joyce's question as to the working of the ballot system of apportioning land to applicants, was one of the most interesting and instructive of the session. Mr Joyce implied that the system was being abused by land speculators picking out the beßt lots and lodging bundles of dummy applications so as to increase the chance of one of them being drawn m the ballot. Minister for Lands admitted the existence of this dodge, which, however, he called v legitimate dummyism," practiced by bona fide intending settlers to improve their chance of gett ng a selection they had set their minds upon. Only ten oat of 375 selections taken up by this system m the Wellington district during the last eighteen months, he said, had been transferred from the original selector. Further, the Mkister stated that the keen demand for land which this plethora of applications showed to exist was confined to the Wellington district. Of coarse the adjournment of the House was at once moved, and members of all shades of opinion — end they are many — upon the Land Laws proceeded to show how much more than the Minister they knew about the matter. The ballot system was denounced all round as an utter failure, and instances of rampant dummyism and speculative land-jobbing whereby genuine intending settlers were kept without land were given by almost every speaker, one member declaring that not one-fifth of the applications for land m the Wellington district were genuine, more than four-fifths being dummies, and another stated that a Bomber of the House who did not even belong to the North Island who had been successful at the ballot had been offered £50 premium on his selection, and bad applied to the Land Board for a transfer. We can assure the Minister for Lands that the evil is not confined to the Wellington district. A sale of allotments m bouth Canterbury is fresh to our memory wßere, the price of the land being far below its value, the ballot box was so stuffed with dummy applications that most of the selections went to one family, who will never be bona fide settlers to the end of their life. The sale at Oamaru too, a few day 8 ago, was to all appearance tarred with the same brush. The fact of the matter is that sales of land under this system are nothing more nor less than a fetate lottery, chances of which are only limited by the number of deposits the applicant is able to lodge, and m which the money of the unsuccessful applicants is returned. The whole system is being worked for the benefit of capitalists who by their dummy applications can swamp the solitary deposit of the man of limited means or experience, but who wants the land to make a home upon and not to sell at a premium. Various remedies for this state of affairs were suggested. Mr Marchant believed one cure would be found m enforcing residence after, say, the first eighteen months after purchase; toother was to refuse transfers, and a thjrd, to throw open more land for sale so as to offer applicants a wider choice. Major Steward thought that what was wanted, was that all Crown Lands which are unsold or unleaeed should be open for purchase or lease within the prescribed limits on tbe simple plan of first come first served. Mr Joyce intends to persevere with his enquiries into the scandal by moving for a return showing tbe applicants for each section, defining m each case the unsuccessful applicant ; and also particulars of allotments transferred, to whom transfered, and the price obtained. Tbe return asked for is only for the Wellington district, but might well include all recent sales. It needs co return, however, to show that tbe regulations are being grossly abused, and the Minister for Lands cannot disregard the facts disclosed during the discussion of the subject, but must take action without delay to put a stop to such scandalous proceedings.