The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8, 1890. DUMMYING THE LAND.
One of the boasts of the Atkinson Ministry has'been the largo amount ot settlement on Crown. Lands that has taken place, during their term of ofHc<\ The Minister of Lands h.'is nihVd to representatives of tho Press on every po-. iblo oconsion, pointing with pride and satisfaction to the increased .icreH,«.p oi! l.uid di>pos"d of owin^ to the changes intiodurod by his Ministry m tho method of disposal, and the increased confidence ot the people m legislators of the colony. The voluminous evidence taken before the Dumrayism Inquiry Committee during the recent session oi Parliament has, however, thrown some new light on the matter. A large amount of land has, it is true, been disposed of, but the circumstances under which the sales have taken place are anything but satisfactory. Cases of. aggravated dummyism have been, laid bare, while the system of "family " dummying has been rampant. The evidence of the Crown ' Lands Commissioners, with the .solitary exception of Mr J. P. Maitlaiwd (Otago), who appeared to know little or nothing of tho conduct of his ] department, is to' the effect that dummyism—especially of the "family" character, where fathers, mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, duplicate applications for the same allotment—has been rampant during the Aidririson Ministerial term of office. The evidence was so conclusive on these points that the Committee submitted the following report:—" The Waste JLaiuls Committee have the honor to that the evidence adduced before them during the dummyism enquiry, having! shown conclusively that the Land Act* have been m a number of inst; uic«s evaded by false declarations, i oade with a view to dummying, the Committee is of opinion that it is the d!uty, of the Govornment to take steps, to •nforce the law; and recommend thsit' offenders against whom a charge will Jib' be prosecuted, with a view to puttti ig a stop to like practices m the future." That is the recommendation of tl ie Committee ; but it remains to be see n"; whether the Government will act upon l it. The Ministry are mno hurry aboi it the matter, as a full month has elapse d since the report was adopted, and thel c' is not yet a whisper of prosecuturtis being entered upon, though there are glaring cases Avhcrein a charge vsll lie. The Government's procrastii jrition may perhaps be explained fr am the fact that, notwithstanding the strong deliverance of the Cpmmitt *«, the Minister of Lands subsequon tly asserted m the House that there v ras practically no dummyism m the coloi ly. How this statement of the Minister'is refuted may bs gathered from the. evidence of Mr Baker, Crown Lands Commissioner of Canterbury, who stated that nine persons m the empl :oy of the New Zealand and Australi an Land Company put m applications . for certain lauds iv .South Canterbury, ostensibly for their own exclusive v ise and cultivation, but really for and on behalf of the Company. The chequ.es submitted m payment for these sections, 1932 acre*, were drawn.' by tUe manager of a banking institution on his own bank, and countersigned m, favor of the Receiver of Land Revenue. This latter stop was taken no doubt with the intention of preventing: the Department from ascertaining whowere tho actual buyers of the land, but; the cheques, being numbered consecutively, aroused suspiiini, and caused., inquires to be made, which revealed as." gross, a case of dummying the land as; ever occurred m the colony. Other cases equally glaring were dealt with during tho inquiry, but we shall be 1 much surprised if the Government tako any action m the matter—judging by the attitude of the Minister of Lands, during the inquiry, and his previous record for rushing land into th& market to be disposed of to whoever, will buy, irrespective of whether tho land is purchased for speculative purposes or settlement. The policy of the Ministry has been land disposal, not land settlement, and if any proof were wanted of this, the simple statement will suffice that of 27,000 acres dis-' posed of m Canterbury last year, only 7000 acres were taken up on settlement conditions, the - remainder falling into the hands of adjacent laud-owners who, m many cases, have already more land than i= good for tbe: welfare of the colony. What has been the case m Canterbury has been the case everywhere else m the colony— those who had large holdings have added to them, and the number of new settlers have been few and far between ; certainly so few as to cause the Minister's boast of pushing on land settlement to appear ridiculous. We observe that since the Dummyism inquiry the Minister has- not run after the Press agents so frequently, and that the Ministry have judiciously kept their " land-settlement policy " —save the mark !—in the back-ground.