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MR HISLOP FURTHER EXPLAINS., Issue 8017, 20 September 1889
MR HISLOP FURTHER EXPLAINS.
The ex-Colonial Secretary addressed alarge meeting of his constituents last night, and dealt at some length with general questions. He said, in regard to
THE LAND, that no district or constituency had escaped being slandered on this important subject. It seemed to him almost unnecessary that he should speak to an Oamaru audience of his views on the land question, or have to justify his action in that connection to them, since they had known his views so clearly on it. However, wide-mouthed and gallpenned people had spoken and written against him as to his action, and notwithstanding that while these very people were taking their ease and were oblivious to the effects of the land question, he had been actively interested and had had the honor of having the lands in this and other districts besides opened up for settlement. The difficulty was to get land laws made whereby persons would be enabled to take up land in such areas as they wanted and in such areas as would not be detrimental to the colony. In the past they had had great difficulty in getting Land Bills passed which were at all fair to the general settler. They had either a plethora of land when people were unable to purchase it, or dearth of land when people were in a position to buy it. The consequence was that large blocks were obtained and held by single individuals. Subsequently to that there were the terms upon which people could purchase. Many were for forcing perpetual lease as against freehold tenure a system with which everyone waß familiar. But he himself took up this position, and had held it and acted upon it right along, that so long as they limited the area of land held by single individuals, it did not matter whether the person held it on lease or in freehold, provided every facility was given to settle upon the land. From the very commencement of his career as a politician he had endeavored to have the land of the colony thrown open in small areas so as to enable persons to take it up under such conditions as would enable them to pay off the principal and interest as they were able. Almost the first thiDg done by the Government of which he was a member was to introduce the LAND SILL OF 1887,
and its main features were approved by gentlemen like Mr M'Kenzie, member for Waihemo, and Mr Duncan—men of practical experience, and men who assisted in the passing of the Bill. There were proposals in the Bill which were not given effect to, and one was the abolition of the land boards, and the non-adop-tion of that (it was rejected by two) provision had given rise to a vast amount of adverse criticism even by those men who at the time voted against it. The land boards were not responsible to anyone, and could over-ride the actions of the Minister of Lands. They wanted to abolish the boards in order that the Minister might be brought face to face with the actual necessities of intending settlers, and with agents in different localities, the requirements of each district could be at once made known to the Minister of Lands. He next went on to show the effects of the practical administration of the Bill of 1887, and compared it with the workings of previous land laws. Last year under this Act 741 persons had settled on land of areas from one acre up to fifty acres. Three-fifths of the land taken up was under perpetual lease, onefifth for cash, and one-fifth under deferred payment. The measure was working well, and was becoming more and more popular, as was evidenced by the fact of there having been 500 more settlers placed on the land than there had been the first year the Bill was in operation. It was administered, too, with economy. All this settlement had been carried out at a saving of LI 6,000 as compared with the previous year, and of L 30.000 as compared with that of 1885 and 1886. But the Government had not confined themselves to simply administering the waste lands of the colony, for a proposal was brought forward for the sotting aside of LIO,OOO for purchasing land held near towns—such land as that about Oamaru—for the purpose of forming labor settlements for the relief of laborers when the labor market became congested. Besides that, they had diverted a large sum of money, originally set aside for the North Island Main Trunk Railway, to the purchase of Native lands, to prevent their falling into the hands of speculators. Their proposal for the purchase of lands to relieve the labor market had not been allowed to become legal, but Sir H. Atkinson had promised to formulate some such scheme during the recess, and it was to be hoped he would be successful. He next I showed how the Minister of Lands and Mr Duncan and himself had worked together for the primary object of having the Kurow block closer settled.
THE OTEKAIKE RUNS. Another matter which had agitated the people of the district, and which was being used by his enemies against him, was the matter of the Otekaike runs. The newspapers had never said a word about this particular matter until a letter appeared in the columns of the • North Otago Times * attacking Mr Duncan and the ' Oamaru Mail' for not having given attention to the Otekaike runs falling in. That was a few days before the sale, and he had heard nothing privately till the day after that. Next day he received a petition signed by seventeen persons, urging that the land should be cut up into smaller areas. Previous to receiving this petition he had looked at the maps and made inquiries about the land, finding that the runs included both Big and Little Domett, and that a leading ridge ran through the centre of the runs. Those mountains were shown as 6,000 ft high, and if they had only a rise of 1 in 1 they would take up a third of the runs. He concluded, then, that the letter in the newspaper had referred to the third Otekaike run which fell in in 1892, and was good country. He, however, made inquiries about it, and telegraphed to Mr Duncan and friends in Oamaru about the matter. On the 25th of February (the sale took place on the 28th) he telegraphed
I have received no communication re Otekaike runs, but have looked through papers. In former cases Government have acted on the principle that if the land ii suitable, and bona fide purchasers are available, the land should be put up under this system.- In the case of Otekaike the only persons recommending this course are seventeen petitioners who do not say they wish to take up runs themselves. Maps show country to be terribly high, and therefore prima facie not capable of improvement as contemplated under this system. I think if land suitable, those wishing it should have had matter brought under notice of Government, and some proof offered that land would be taken up, as it is very .disastrous to have it unoccupied. Petition only received 16th, to which reply was sent that runß would practically bu pat up in 8mal) areas. Presume you have eeen It. To this no reply has been sent. Mr Duncan, who i* generally urgent in these, has sent no recommendation. -Am asking Mr Richardson to get information, and on receipt will let you know what is to bo done. In meantime if can get me any information will be glad to receive it.
Mr Hislop explained that when the petition was received on the 16th letters had been sent to the two gentlemen whose names appeared first on the petition, asking for further information, but no reply was received, and he concluded that they had discovered in the meantime that it was the other run to which they referred, and not those containing the mountains. The following telegram, dated the 25th, was also sent to a private person in Oamaru:—" If you have any information on subject of runs 28 and 28a, for correctness of which you can vouch, please reply collect. I intend seeiDg Mr Clark, who will be here to-morrow, and we shall then determine what is to be done." The result was that it was decided the runs should be withdrawn, and it was not till the evening of the 2Sth that he found out that the rune had been sold, fie was disgusted with this after the trouble he had taken, and after the trouble others had taken to secure the runs. They all knew the history of the mistake that had occurred, and how the runs had been sold. Although his colleague desired to have the runs cut up. and he himself had worked to have the runs thrown open for settlement, and although the chance for the present was lost, was it not childish to suppose that the settlement of the country depended upon the cutting up of these runs, which.
were not fit for agricultural purpose*, being only mountain tops, and being entirely devoid of , winter , country! It wcul' be better, now that those lands had been leased, were those people who were blending all their energies in bemoaning the loss to the country to devote all their powpr to have the other ran—the good Otekaike Run—cut up when it falls due. He hoped that the agitation about the third run would be successful. If the people had not been so earnest about the other as they might have been, and brought the matter under the notice of the Government sooner, they would be more alive to their interests in the future, and the Government also would—seeing that this mistake had been made—be more alive to the interests of the district. He also referred to his action in regard to the Oamaru-Naseby road and to getting Station Peak Run (Canterbury), held by R. Campbell and Sons, thrown open for settlement. CONCLUSION. He asked them to consider that the present Government, of which he had been a member, had done more than any other Government to reduce the expenditure and put the finances of the colony on a sound basis; had done more to put a spirit of selfreliance into the people than any other Government that had ever existed in the colony; and had, as a Government, worked hard and successfully in promoting the settlement of the land. Mistakes there might have been, but none of any importance, which was evident from the fact that so little had been stated against the Government. He claimed that he was justified in stating that what he had done had been done for the good of the colony, and to the best of his ability; and to the present Government were due much of that spirit of self-reliance and hope among the people—a spirit which had not been approached is thoroughness since 1880. Mr Anthony Rodgers: Mr Hislop, it i» baid that 10,000 people have left the colony within the last two years or so. If that has been the case, will you explain the cause 1
A Voice: Now you'll catch it, Rodger*. Mr Eislop said he knew Mr Rodger* liked to be exact, and he would therefor* give that gentleman the figures as printed in the Government returns. Those who had left the colony numbered not 10,000, but 9,580. The exodus, as it had been called, had been caused principally by the cessation of public works, and by the drop which had taken place in the prices of the colony's produota. Latterly they had been spending not half what they had been in the habit of spending on publie works, and that alone accounted to a great extent for people leaving the country. But if anyone were desirous of getting what he considered a comprehensive statement of the case, that would be obtained on page 10 of the Financial Statement delivered this year. And in connection with this matter there was one fact which should never be lost sight of—namely, that the decrease in the population had been made up of those whe had formerly been employed on publie works, and that there had been an increase in the number of those taking part in the industrial oceupations in the colony.—(Applause.) Mr W. H. Barnes proposed a vote of confidence, which was carried by acolamation, only four hands being held up against it.— Abridged from ' North Otago Time*.'
MR HISLOP FURTHER EXPLAINS., Issue 8017, 20 September 1889
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