The Ashburton Guardian. Magna et Veritas et Prævalebit. MONDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1890. LAND SETTLEMENT.
The Wellington Land Board hns passed a resolution within the past few days, calling upon the Minister of Lands to issue tmch regulations under Clause 4 of the L;uid Act of 18,85 as will cualjle the Land Doard to reject from the applications for lands all those that appear to be antagonistic to t,he interests of bona fide settlement, and for thnt purpose to have power to examine applicants on oath, i\s an additional guarantee to th<e declaration required by the. Act. This yecommehdaftion is well-timed. .The recent Ditnimyism inquiry has shown that large quantities of the Ijest Crown lands have been taken up durinfg the past three years for, speculative purposes, and not for immediate settlement. £fy means of a subtle prdcess of duplication i)l application?l, which permits of endless extension, unprincipled speculators haye availed tliemselvesy and are daily availing themselves of loop-holes hi the " improvements" iqade m the, Land A<?ts by tire present Ministry to seize large blocks: of land intended for small settlement. The present Minister of Lands ; stsinds idly by, and .either .shuts his eyes or /winks at these evasions of the spirit of the public land settlement poliicy. .No doubt he would continue to do so if not stirred lip every now and. then by Parliamentary representatives and indignant settlers, but when vigorous protests and strong recommendations pour m upon him, he cannot do otherwise than pay attentibn to tihe wishes of t!td people. The recommendation of the.Wellington Land ifeoard, therefore, coming immediately apon the heels of the , strong deliverance oi the Pummyisra Committee, is a step m the right direction. iTn fthe South Island there is ; little 'or no first-class agricultural or pastoral | Crown land for" ; Settlement; thie iiajority of such acreage is either locked up under lease for twenty-one years, or hasbeen sold outright to land speculators who have m many cases reaped a rich 'harvest by re-selling m small lots to industri6us settlers -who are how engaged m a lengthy struggle to pay oft' the encumbrances upon their holdings. In the North Island, howiever, m addition to fertile lands already m the, hands of the Crown, other valuable lands are being acquired by the State from the h.ative owners. These,lands will shortly be thrown open, for selection m large and small blocks, and m order to roakethorasuitable for settlement Parliament hag sanctioned the completion of railway* .and', .-the construction of railways and bridges.? The lion's share of the balance of loan taoneys has been allocated to works m the North Island to open up these lands for settlement, and it is to the interests of every settler m the colony—North and' South—that the best return snail be obtained for this expenditure. This will certainly not be the raise if the land* now being, opened up is >to be dummied as lands m the South Island have been. Tho interests of the South Island during the .past session have been made entirely subservient to the North ; but if the land m the North is fairly parcelled out, and becomes dotted over with reasonable-sized farms and homesteads, tiie sacrifice' made by southern members during last session will not have been m. vain. If, on the other hand, the land is allowed to fall into the hands of speculators instead of industrious settlers, it would be better for the welfare of ■the colony as a whole that the last of the loan money should remain unexpended, and the land remain m the possession of its duskyskinned owners. By ft*r too much public money has been already expended m New Zealand m the interests of land speculators and landed companies ; and jit is to the interests of everyone concerned to see to it that a repetition of past land bungling is not repeated, now that closer settlement has been determined upon m the North Island of New Zealand. We have not much faith m the present Minister of Lands to check dunimyism —he. either cannot or will not take steps to suppress the evil; but we sincerely trust, nevertheless, that the Press of the North Island and the people will be fully alive to their own interests, and bring such persistent pressure to bear on the Land Department that the fertile lands m that part of the colony at least will not fall into the hands of speculators. One of the strongest;'steps they can' take m this direction is to return at the forthcoming ele^bions men pledged to oust the present^ Ministry-—or at least the present Minister of Lands—from office.