THE GENESIS OF OMARAMA
AS EXPLAINED BY MR BODKIN
Speaking at Momona on Monday night the Opposition candidate for Otago Central made the following observations in reference to tho above:
At the opening of my campaign I Bade Certain charges against the Minister of Lands and tho Reform party. These charges I placed before tho editor of the ‘ Daily Times ’ in' tho form of a challenge, and undertook, if he could prove me wrong to retire from the contest and to forfeit £SO to the Belgian relief fund. Tho editor has made no attempt to prove those statements, or even one of them, to be wrong, but he has simply shuffled over tho position and tried to mislead the Rectors in every possible way. . . • 'lbis question has been discussed on sides. 1 was the first to mention it, but reference has since been made to it by Mr Macpherson. and now by Mr Mason. We are nil making charges, and how much of the truth have you had from tlie newspaper.'
. . . If the reputation of the Reform party is not worth defence, or if it is not worth their time to place the plain facts before the people, surely it is not worth my time to trouble over tho matter. 1 have made certain statements, and am quite prepared to prove them before the propeA tribunal, but not through the medium of the columns of the newspaper. 1 am not prepared to go so far as Mr Macpherson went, because, apparently, lie has information that 1 have not. But I am prepared to prove tho facts of tho case before a proper tribunal, provided members of the Land Board are present, as thev might easily he. The facts of the matter arc briefly those:—ln 1915 the Classification Commissioners of the Land Board visited Omarama to classify it into smaller holdings. Under tho pastoral leases system, if that had been adopted for tho classification, tho outgoing tenant, according to the provisions of Mr Massey’s Land Bill of 1913. would have been entitled to tho free selection of a run as soon as the land was subdivided. The tenant was a Healthy absentee. But tho Otago Land Board would have nothing to do with this, and were determined that the land, when subdivided, should be reserved lor the bonafide settlers of tho country. The beard refused to classify it as pastoral leas;;;-., and classified it as small grating runs, and the recommendations went forward to tin; Minister of Lands. r l hey did not meet with his approval, and ho recommended the board to classify it as pastoral runs. Tliis recommendation was not adopted. Bid apparently the Minister of Lands is prepared to go to any lengths. In the Lands Amendment Act of 1914, section 17 gives the wealthy absentee in London the absolute right of selection, independent of the classification of the Otago Land Board So the board did their utmost to prevent the absentee from getting the right, and the Prime Minister gave the right to the iiOscntee in defiance of the Land Board. That is what I said in Alexandra constituted the greatest lain! scandal ever perpetrated in tho history ol the land legislation in the country. 1 admit that there have been many land scandals in tho country, but most of them are scandals in which the land boards have been responsible. But here you have exnress legislation placed on tho .■statute Book that gives tho wealthy squatter in the country and the wealthy absentee rights that no other section or tho community enjoys, and that is why I say it is a land scandal, and a scandal in land legislation. This is not in the interests of the community as a whole.
Air Bodkin went on to say that the land legislation of 1914, which gave these advantages to Lady Voting, the absentee lessee of Oinarama, conferred valuable rights em the wealthy squatters of the Doininion; and ho declared that if a proper tribunal wove set up his contention would he proved end the facts bo placed on record. He went on to say : Pukotei, on? of the. best runs in me Otago hind district, is held in two leas?,-. One man holds a lease and his wire the oilier. It is practically one run as a family concern. Although ibis squatter is a wealthy man, Jiving in London, Inis entitled to take tho best block of his run. ami his wife is entitled to do the same, do this wealthy squatter of Puketei gets two selections—another instance of undue preference. Go to Moa I'lat, where there is another wealthy squatter, and see how- the Land Bill will affect him. He has anything from 12.UC0 to Io.C'UO acres of freehold, the very best pastoral lam! in Otago, and I think he has enough. In addition, he holds ;i big pastoral lease alongside the freehold, and I am given to understand that hje t holds a large pastoral lease near Hanmcr Springs. Then, should he got preference over the bona fide landless people of tho country, or over you or me coming forward to a ballet '! Apparently Air Alas.sey and the Reform party think so, for the Bill expressly confers on this ma.u. irrespective of the fact that ho has 16,000 acres of tho freehold, tho right to select tho best run when the pastoral lease expires. If it is not national endowment land he can buy the fee simple. Ho can take it under "the pastoral lease or tho small gearing run system. I could tell yon of a fourth ease'—that of_ Galloway, alongside. Alexandra. This is held by R. Campbell and Sons, also wealth absentees, and 'when it falls due Campbell and Sons cun take the best of the subdivisions. Is my statement an exaggeration when 1 say it is tiio greatest land scandal ever placed on the Statute Book? The legislation of the past has always professed to give the landless applicants preference over the squatter, toil here you have legislation which expressly confers on the wealthy squatter opportunities that are denied to tho rest of the community. The Land Board have refused to allow any man with land at all to go to tho land ballot. and take a chance : but the legislation introduced last year gives to a man holding 16,090 acres tho absolute right to select under any class of tenure. Is that Lind legislation in the interests of the communin' ?
Permanent link to this item
THE GENESIS OF OMARAMA, Evening Star, Issue 15666, 3 December 1914