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The Land Question.


In reply to inquiries made from the Victorian Government by the Wellington Land Board as to how dummyism was dealt with in Victoria,' the Surveyor-,. General replied that in 1869 the law was altered, and local land boards called into existence, -armed -with the '-following powers:—... ; It waß the duty of these boards to inquire, into the bona fides of all applications for land, and to recommend whether the applications should .be{granted or refused ; and one of their mos^ important functions was (incases where' there was more than one applicant for the same lot), to select, and. recommend the applicant to whom the selection should be granted. No system of balloting was allowed ; the Board had to -determine and name the applicant, subject to an appeal to the Muusfer.i; The tasttwas a difficult and often an'invidiousjone ; but by questioning * the: various applicants as to their means, occupations, .and| other circumstances, and in cases whewrthere were rival applicants allowing them to crossquestion each other, the Board could form a pretty good idea who was bona fide arid who was not. By this procedure the Minister virtually exercised the power of selecting the selector. Further, during tHe currency of the licence or probationary period a strict watch was maintained over the conduct of the selector by the Crown land bailiff, and if it was found that he, was. not .comply ing with the conditions ofhie license or [otherwise conducting himself in a manner to -create doubts of his, lon% fides he was at once brought up before the local Land Board, or a special board, to • show cause why his license should not be cancelled and the selection thrown open again ; and, if he failed to satisfy the Board, he not only lost his selection but was debarred from again selecting^ This procedure was probably somewhat arbitrary, but the evil was a. crying one Avhich only sharp measures, could put down. Even under these condition's numerous attempts were made to dummy selections,,but it was soon found that the game was too risky, and it ceased" to prevail to any large extent before the passing of our present Act. Under this Act there is not the same inducement, and we now hear very little of dummyism. You will gather from this that in the - administration of our land laws the Minister of Lands wields an arbitrary power, by means of which we have been able to a great extent to prevent our lands passing into the hands of undesirable persons. I think that you could not do better than follow our example as to the mode of dealing with selecters. Let your Board inquire into' the circumstances and bona fides of applicants in open Court, abolish ballot, and when there is more than one applicant for the same lot, give the selection to the one who, in the opinion of the Board, is likely to make the best settler, and you will go far to put down dummyism and secure the most desirable class of settlers. I am unable to suggest any better method of attaining this object.

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Bibliographic details

The Land Question., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2442, 16 June 1890

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The Land Question. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2442, 16 June 1890

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