The Land Ballot.
In New South'Wiift^tho same difficulty is experienced with* "regard to the ballot for land as lihb been found here, as the following remarks "from the "Sydney Mail" show :— One of the new Grievances to which the attention of the Minister was directed m tiic Legislative Assembly the other night is found m the working of those provisions of the land lrtvr under which the ballot is _ resorted to for the purpose of determining che priority of applications for conditional leases when.' two or more relating to the same land are tendered simultaneously. The liability of the system to be abused appears to have been demonstrated experimentally during the late rush for land m the Eastern division. The ballot system was introduced with a view of giving every person desirous of taking up the land an equal opportunity, whatever his circumstances might be. What could be fairer, it was thought, than appeal to chance? What better means could be devised for preventing corruption or favoritism, or the acquisition of special opportunities by the man with the longest purse ? Tins was the theory. In practice, hoAvever, the system appears to have opened a way to clever scheming, or what may be regarded M virtual fraud. In theory every applicant has his erne chance m the lottery, and nothing more. In practice one applicant has found means to secure a number of chances, and to get the coveted land by means of practically fictitious applications, to the disadvantage of others who have asted us straightforward men. As explained by Mr Gough, a number of persons put m applications, nominally m their own interest, but really m the interest of a relative or friend, aud withdrew those applications when the purpose had been served. The practicability of this proceeding is traced to the proviso which permits any applicant, either before or immediately after the ballot, to withdraw his application and to obtain a refund of any money paid m connection with it. If this could not be done the operation would involve expense ; as it is, it may be carried out cheaply. No doubt this proviso as to withdrawals and refunds was intended to protect the interests of bona fide applicants. The section under which the ballot system is provided for was discussed at great length when the Bill was m committee. Presumably, Parliament was satisfied at last that it had been hammered into the right shape; but it is actual experience that puts the workmanship of the! lawmaker to th» teat. The Minister says he has made the strongest efforts to thwart the abuses m connection with the ballot system, and ' he intimates that he has' had to take strong action to prevent abuses m connection with special areas. " During the recent two; months,? he says, " all kinds of and devices have been practised with a view of blocking settlement." The information is neither gratifying nor unexpected. Our land ;law has never for nearly thirty years token . adequate account of the weakness of human nature or the force of natural instinct. If we had' been trying all the while to make mater run uphill, we should almost certainly have seen: some of -it trickling down again. Our land laws have had so strong a tendency to promote the, conflict of rival interests that even well-meant attempts to cure one set of evils are likely to be followed by the development of others.
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The Land Ballot., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2526, 24 September 1890
The Land Ballot. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2526, 24 September 1890
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