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Old Time Echoes., Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 46, 12 January 1907
Old Time Echoes.
REMINISCENCES OF LAND LEGISLATION. (By Andrew Kinross). As the land question is now _ attracting unusual interest, _ I think that my ‘ experience of it will interest those of your readers who care for history or politics. I have studied it for more than fifty years, as an unsuccessful applicant, a farmer, a legislator, and an administrator. In Victoria I foolishly fell in love, and in 1853 married comparatively young. Hard luck has followed me through life, but for three montha before marriage I had none. During that time I had saved £l5O, but I have never done s© well since. I had no trade or profession, but I had ten bullocks, dray, etc., and cash. I was city bred, and preferred a suitable city life, but it seemed to me that the surest way of providing a home for my girl was to buy a section of rural crown land, and turn farmer. At that time sections were submitted at auction at an upset of £1 per acre, and sold unconditionally to the highest bidder. I inspected some blocks of land, and attended sales, but could not compete with squatters, monopolists, anh speculators. There was strong and continuous agitation for a more liberal land law, but the upper house always opposed such legislation. As the roads got improved and feed got scarce, in 1854 I sold the bullocks and bought a horse team. As I could not buy rural land, to save a high rental .1 bought a section in North Melbourne for £9O, and had a three-roomed cottage and a stable built. The Nicholson Land Act provided that no one could buy more than 640 acres within a certain period. Applications with deposits had to bo lodged, and the bidding at subsequent auctions was confined to applicants. In 1861 I applied for a section of 112 acres on one of the runs of Mr Hugh Glass, a Melbourne resident, who leased several runs. I had carted wool from the station, and before the sale at Maryborough I told the manager I would be a good neighbour if he would not oppose me. Squatters usually said, if they got the pastoral land they would not oppose the settlement of the agricultural. However, I found that Mr Glass and his "dummies” had applied for every agricultural section on the run, and the manager’s instructions were to buy all at any price. The Heales Liberal Government was then in office, and at the request ol Mr Brooke, Minister of Land, I furnished a written report of the sale, and he said he would not place any more land on the market till the law was altered.
I liked Victoria, but for seven years I tried to get a farm, and never succeeded. However, after I left, the deferred payment system became law. This is the best system I have known for promoting settlement and checking monopoly. On September 21st, 1861 I shipped three horses and two drays' for Port Chalmers in the hope that I would make money and get a permanent home in another land. During the following winter I had a hard life—cartage was low, and I was undecided how to act. However, when Hartley and Riley got 87 pounds of gold at the Dunstan I requested my wife to let or sell the house and come to Dunedin. Soon after her arrival I removed to Invercargill, and requested her to follow by steamer. I rented a shabby cottage of two rooms and a garret at 30s weekly rent, as there was little choice. After a time I bought three sections and built a house for ourselves, and three others to let. The frames were of Tasmanian hardwood. For Baltic flooring I paid 42s a hundred, for lining 38s, and other building material in proportion. When I decided to remain in New Zealand I sold my house and land in North Melbourne for £9O, less commission though they cost over £3OO. In May, 1865, I bought a farm at Myross Bush, containing 187 acres 3 roods 8 perches at £3 an acre. 'A portion had been fenced and cultivated, and there was a valuable new house on it. I paid-cash for' land, stock, implements, and labour, and never required to borrow. As the road w T as so bad I did not shift my wife, family, and furniture from Invercargill till December. During the eleven years I was on tne roads I did not spend one-fourth of the time inside a house, and so long as those who were dependent on me were all right I never studied my own comfort. As I could not plough I engaged a ploughman for the first season. Afterwards I always worked the horses myself, and when I was absent from home they played.
I was born a Liberal and a politician, so after I got a farm and a vote, I tried to help others to get the same privileges. For some years I wrote and spoke more on these subjects than any one in Southland. The Southland Provincial Council consissed of 20 members, and in April, 1869, I was elected a member. The business of the Council was conducted in the same maimer as the House of Representatives, and members were entitled to receive £1 a day. However, through the greatest mismanagement the province was practically insolvent, and there was no money to pay our honorarium. It seemed to me that the best mode of relieving us from our difficulties was to re-unite with Otago. In October I was elected for Roslyn on that ticket. The Council met on 3.oth November, and Mr Johnstone was elected Speaker without -opposition. For the Superinbendency the voting was Wood 12, Cowan 7. Mr Wood was a very poor politician, but a very fortunate man. Mr Jas. Wilson was appointed Provincial Treasurer. Little work was attached to the offices, and I moved that the Superintendent’s salary be reduced from £SOO to £4OO, and the Treasurer’s from £350 to £3OO, and these reductions were agreed to. In December I was 1 asked to join the Executive Council, and I accepted the appointment. Mr Calder was the most experienced and influential mem-, ber of the Executive. Shortly before reunion the General Government gave the Southland Provincial Government £3OOO to pay some of the liabilities. (To be Continued).
Old Time Echoes., Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 46, 12 January 1907
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