CO-OPERATIVE LAND SETTLEMENT.
The ' Sydney Morning Herald,' in an article on the latest effort of legislation to bring about the settlement of the land in New South Wales, gives the following account of wliat is being done privately in the way of co-operative settlement, remarking that the problem is not a sentimental but an intensely practical one ; as such it has to be solved ; as such it had better throughout be considered. It happens that an experiment of the highest interest is proceeding in several districts of the Riverina and the Central farming country. At the present time there are five large Riverina stations — Momalong, Mnlwala, Boomanoomana, Tarramia, and Barooga — upon which farmers are now settled under a varying contract with the landholders to share profits. On the four last-named estates 11,000 acres will be under wheat this season, in arrears of 2,000, 2,000, 3,000, and 4,000 acres respectively. In each case the laud is let on the basis of half the crop, and one station, Mnlwala, also supplies seed wheat and bags for harvesting, the present extension being the outcome of a very successful experiment last season with 150 acres only. At Momalong the tenure is different, being merely extended purchase ; but here again the seller takes his payment in the crop, which is altogether his. Also, about Albury, we learn that several district stations have cleared thousands of acres, ploughed them, and offer them to farmers on the basis of one-third of the crop. At landra, in the Young district, a similar course is being pursued. The majority of the Riverina settlers are from Victoria or Tasmania, and this being so, the Protectionist argument about the effect of our cereal tariff will not have much weight, for if these duties were the only stimulus needed by agriculturists, why did the fanners leave their own highly protected colonies? Protection has only the slightest bearing iv this instance ; it is because the can get virgin land cheap that they pass over into New South Wales, and the exodus of fanners from the South began long before the existing tariff was in force, or seemed likely to be so. It may be pointed out, too, in this connection, that in the irrigation schemes of several Riverina towns there is likely to be a growing scope for co-operation. Wentworth already has its Act ; other towns, like Balranald, are pressing for theirs. At Mildura and Renmark the settlers have common rights, markets, and interests tending to friendly co-operation. And such must be the tendency of similar settlements in this colony. The coming policy of irrigation in Riverina and along the Darling, taken together with the highly important change in the relation of squatter and settler to which attention has been called — a relation which realises by private good sense more than the Socialist school in politics can hope to effect by State compulsion — offers a prospect equally agreeable to capital and labor. The co-operative farming shows that the large landholder is ready to sell or to lease as soon as a legitimate demand exists for his land.