THE BIG ESTATES QUESTION.
One of the most earnest advocates of a policy of true liberalism—a policy calculated to ensure progressive colonisation and the well-being of colonists —is our southern contemporary the " Temuka Leader," whose editor and proprietor constantly and consistently devotes himself to the worthy task of endeavouring to indicate the true way to remove the depression and difficulties which have fallen upon New Zealand, and to substitute therefor progress and prosperity. Nor is he content merely with the sphere comJ manded by the circulation of a country journal, but has availed himself of the columns" of our metropolitan big brother, the. "Lyttelton Times," to bring his ideas under the notice of readers in all parts of the colony. During last month, that journal printed a series of letters over the signature of Mr J. M;; Twomey, which deserve more than passing notice, and which have indeed been very favorably commented upon by prominent men among the liberal party. Mr Twomey sees, as no thoughtful man can fail to see, that the work of settlement* is not pron ceeding as it ought to proceed, and that an entire change in the administration of our lands must be brought about, if we would see a resumption of. a healthy' condition of affairs. He contrasts very effectively the administration of the lands under Mr Ballance with that under Mr; Richardson, the present Minister for Landsi and greatly to the advantage of the former, and urges that the'system of special settlements introduced by the hon. member for Wanganui, or a modification thereof, should be resumed, as also the introduction of capitalist, immigration so sucr cessfully initiated under the StoutVogel, Government. He also urges that in order -to obviate the deterrent effect upon this class of. immigrants of the present Property-tax, that all implements, machinery, etc., employed in industrial development, . including farming,, up to a value of' £3000, should be exempt from taxation. He advocates strongly the scheme of Labor, Settlements, i.e., the providing of homesteads for< agricultural laborers, which has for years past been championed by the members for Waimate, Timaru, Waitakd, Christchurch Spifyh,, and others, and further show,s,,jbhat there can be no real progress in many districts of the South .Island until the subdivision of its enormous landed estates is in some way secured. Yet he does not pose as the advocate of a bursting-up tax or of / compulsory expropriation, making a suggestion of his own which is certainly worthy of attention.' That -suggestion is "that owners'of large estates should be compelled to lease their lands in suitably-sized farms, and under Government supervision, for a term of twenty-one years, and at a rental of 5 per cent on the Property-, tax value of the land." Writing more in detail of the proposal as above formulated Mr Twomey says :—" The most practical proposal respecting the settlement of large estates, which has hitherto been t>ut before the public, is that which the Land Acquisition Bill contains. The machinery in that Bill is excellent. . . . Under it corruption would be impossible ; the State could not sustain a loss, and the landowners would receive a fair value for their property." But he goes. on to show that " a great change has takea place during the past three years, and the' Land Acquisition Bill, which was practicable three years ago is not so now, because we have no money., Sir Harry has borrowed and spent the money with which large estates might have been settled, consequently the Land Acquisition Bill could not be worked, and large estates must remain intact if we cannot find a way out of the difficulty. Now I think I have found it. Let Parliament enact that large estates shall be divided into reasonably-sized farms and leases for a term of twenty-one years at a rental of 5 per cent on the Property-tax value of the land. Let provisions be made for preventing landlord tyranny, and fori giving tenants compensation 1 fdi* improvements. Now, much as I ad-, mire the Land Acquisition Bill, I think that for simplicity aud effectiveness this proposal is .far better than it. The landowner gets very fair interest on his capital and can't complain, thetenant gets the land on ( reasonable, terms, and the Stat^ get&all-the-ad-~j vantages-of increased population and extended settlement without having to incur the, slightest risk.- - Everyone' is treated fairly and honestly, and it appears to me that it is. a< suggestion' which ought to be adopted forthwith. To the man who says-this is not in accordance with the most advanced ideas on the land question, 1^ say it is the best we can do at present. Mr Hayhurst has in Temuka about five thousand acres, on which close on forty families live as tenants; and I believe that through all the depression not a single case of insolvency occurred on the estate. Not far - off are' larger estates, oh which live only a manager, and a few shepherds. ;I ask, which is the best? Qn Mr Hay hurst's estate; families are brought up accustomed to rural pursuits, on .the other estates there are no families; for who has not seen the stereotyped advertisement, " Wanted, a married couple without encumbrances. "No babies need apply on such estates; and in the face of that fact, how can we expect population to increase ?" As we have already said, the proposal thus treated of certainly deserves consideration, and Mr Twomey is entitled to thanks for having at least endeavored to find a solution for what is really the most pressing difficulty of the day. It may be objected that 5 per cent would be' an insufficient rental, because less than the value of money invested, but that is a mere matter of detail; and given that the rentals fixed were equal to what money woll-invested will yield— say 6 to 7 per cent—it really does not appear that, under the proposed scheme, any rccil injustice would be done.
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THE BIG ESTATES QUESTION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2445, 19 June 1890
THE BIG ESTATES QUESTION. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2445, 19 June 1890
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