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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 71

Development of Resorces

page 26

Development of Resorces.

Work is Worship.

IIn Victoria, in early days, several individuals—the Clarkes, [unclear: Chirnsides], Ormondes, Glasses, Wilsons and others—were fortunate [unclear: in] being enabled to acquire a large extent of territory eaaily and cheaply; in New South Wales down to 1876, if not to a much later period, the state of the law was such that squatters could buy up the lands they held on lease at the rate of over 1000 acres annually until an acreage larger than many a German principality came into their ownership; but to fertile New Zealand must be extended the equivocal honour of being peculiarly the land of big estates. In this beautiful land, the property of the people—the property essentially necessary for the support of the people in the hereafter—has been thrown into the hands of a few with a reckless carelessness and want of prevision equivalent to a crime. In the hall or the Museum in Christcehurch, New Zealand, hangs a map displaying the original settlement in the County of Selwyn, Province of Canterbury, The land is shown parcelled out in sections of from 5000 up to 30,000 acres in extent, with the names of the first holders!

The large tracts of country held by the barons in England and on the continent i came into the possession of privileged families as [unclear: one] of the natural results of the Feudal System. As all wealth is originally derived from the soil, so as states progressed the lands inquired increased more and more in value, and the families in whose hands they were became richer and richer. In the Mother Land the rapid accumulation of the National debt, and the extremely extravagant manner in which it was raised—from 1792 to 1801 the average price of 3 per cent, stock was £57 17s. 6d., and from 1803 to the close of the war £60 17s. 6d.—enabled those who were fortunate enough—the landed gentry principally—to be in a position to assist the Government to very greatly increase their incomes; and this again has been followed by the opportunities afforded through the developments of the century in India, America and the colonies, together with production manufactories, and commerce until, as the result of financial investments, wealth is found flowing in upon the country in great streams It is evident that, throughout the whole of history, the holders of big estates have had all the advantages; that they have continued [unclear: rich] for generation after generation, whilst the great bulk of the people [unclear: hi] remained sunk in hopeless poverty; that when at last the condition of the mass of the people—through invention and industry, all their [unclear: one] page 27 —gradually improved the values of their property, and the opportunities for profitably investing the capital derived through their property was still more largely increased, at length the spectacle is reached which the Old World presents to-day of vast accumulations of wealth in few hands upon one side, and starving millions upon the other, so that the minds of statesmen, philosophers, and thoughtful men are perhaps a little perplexed and sometimes a little apprehensive of what the end will be. Forty, fifty years ago—although the position was not so acute as it has since become—all this was very well known by public men, for books had been written upon the subject, and more particularly upon the rights asserted and held by the few to close up the development of the resources of the soil to the labour and the necessities of the many. Yet, notwithstanding these obvious facts, in all the colonies the richest and the fairest portions of land have been apportioned to a favoured few to the disadvantage of the many of to-day, and the millions of the future. Having thus blundered egregiously—having thus carefully sown the seeds of future division into classes and masses—having laid the foundation of the nation that is to be upon rottenness at the very inception of our occupation of the country, surely it should be held by every patriotic colonist as a first duty to sedulously seek to undo the mischief that has been done? Surely no one desires to see the spectacle of the rich growing richer, the poor growing poorer, repeated in these new lands? Surely every fair minded man is anxious that, in the future, his children's children will witness wealth distributed upon a fairer basis than that which now obtains in the old countries of the world? Surely it is infinitely wiser to seek now to ensure peace, content, and happiness than to persist in a line of action certain to lead to discontent, bitterness, the ebullition of violent passion, and possibly revolutionary disruption? Let every reader ponder this thing; then, not improbably, he will conclude that the task of reacquiring the large estates—upon a basis founded upon the most absolute justice—must be insisted upon as a leading feature of the policy of his country, whether it be so-called Liberals or so-called Tories that hold the reins of power.

In the three most populous colonies a very few years more will see only a comparatively few acres left in the hands of the Crown to dispose of; except, perhaps, for recent legislation, the whole estate of New Zealand would have been in the hands of a numerically small but politically powerful class; and already landlordism, to a considerable extent, has made its baneful appearance. Under landlordism the owner of the soil lives in luxury and ease, whilst others toil to sustain him. The story of the landlord and his bailiff or factor, as told by Burns. "is extant and writ in choice Italian" all over the face of England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Continent of Europe, and no one need be told of it. To secure, as far as practicable, the more equal distribution of wealth in the future, it is essential that the great fountain from which it flows should be broken in order that the fructifying page 28 waters may radiate in as numerous sprays as possible, and as [unclear: measr] as possible be refreshed in its life sustaining moisture.

It forms no part of the design of these papers to [unclear: consider] question of the tenure upon which Land should be held; it is [unclear: enough] to point out the evils certain to develop in any laud where the [unclear: use] the soil is held in monopoly. It may be said here, however, that [unclear: a] writer, if he desired to become a land owner, is quite confident of [unclear: the] nature of the tenure under which lie would prefer to hold; this [unclear: measr] however, be quite a sentimental selfishness upon his part. No [unclear: down] throughout the colonies, there are thousands of others who quite she with him upon the question of tenure, and the feeling may [unclear: poasi] be quite a sentimental weakness upon their part. The question is what is best calculated to meet the views of this individual or that [unclear: cha] of people, but what is best for the whole population. Practically, [unclear: the] land belongs to the people; the people derive their interest in it [unclear: from] the fact that it is upon the produce of the land they are [unclear: dependent] subsistence. No man has a moral right to close the land [unclear: against] labour of his brother so that he is left on the other side of the [unclear: wall] starve. No doubt, if practicable, it would be far better to [unclear: have] landlordism of the State, which at all events would be [unclear: governed] general principles and be based upon a measure of equality, than [unclear: to] exposed to the rapacious graspings of individual landlords. [unclear: The] Nationalisation of the land is an idea based upon strict justice, [unclear: and] one time or another there is reason to believe it was in [unclear: practice] operation in every country. The difficulties interfering with its [unclear: and] now are the reacquisition of the lands which have passed into the possession of individuals, and the vast amount of work which [unclear: would] cast upon the State in valuing, classifying, inspecting and [unclear: collection] after the land had been reacquired and indisposed of upon some [unclear: often] tenure. Finance and administration are the questions which [unclear: appred] to govern the situation and stop the way in this direction. If the [unclear: status] enters upon the work of reacquiring the big estates, and instead [unclear: of] selling the land in small farms leases it, then it is evident that [unclear: the] rentals paid by the lessees must, in the aggregate, not only [unclear: provide] amount sufficient to pay the interest on the money expended [unclear: in] acquisition, but a balance, however small, to go towards the [unclear: repayment] of the principal outlay, otherwise it is clear that in operations of [unclear: the] kind the public indebtedness will be considerably increased. On [unclear: the] other hand, if the State, upon the leacquisition of large acreages [unclear: subdivided] into small holdings and again sold upon the freehold [unclear: tenus] the payments made by the purchasers would refund the money [unclear: paid] for reacquisition, and enable the work of forwarding a more [unclear: extensive] settlement to go forward with far greater rapidity. The obvious [unclear: objetion] to this plan is that, when the work had all been done, there [unclear: would] be nothing to prevent a wealthy man who desired to possess an [unclear: extecsive] freehold property from purchasing the small lots from [unclear: the] individual holders, and so the whole scheme might come to naught.

page 29

In Victoria, the "Miner's Right," which coat 20s. annually, conferred upon the digger a privilege to occupy a quarter of an acre anywhere upon Crown Lands, and very valuable buildings have been erected upon no other title than this. All the digger had to do, was to take proper care that his "Right" was renewed from year to year, and he held an indefeasible title of the simplest kind. Of course, if his "Right" was not renewed, his land, house, orchard, every fixture that was his, was "jumpable." Although, in times past, the jumping of mining claims was of common occurrence, this writer is not aware of any instance in which, through the coveteousness of his neighbour, any man's home was ever assailed in this way. This is an instance, in quite modern times, of free selection without survey, an un unassailable title upon payment of an annual rental, with the cost of collection and administration reduced to a minimum.

In the beginning of the year one of the present dispensation, Great Britain contained about one million semi-barbarians. During the 1892 years that have passed away since those days of darkness, very many thousands of the Anglo-Saxon race have left her we11-loved shores, and to-day her children—despite slaughters and pestilences—may be counted by the 100 million. At the census taken in April of last yearf the population of England, Wales, and Scotland, was reckoned at 33,023,725, and now upon the surface of the globe there is no spot of earth of the same extent that can in any way compare with Great Britain for the wealth which that one island contains. The wealth and material greatness of the country is amazing. Now, as the hope may fairly be entertained that neither foreign or domestic wars ner decimating pestilences will interfere to check the development of population in these fair islands of the Southern seas, but instead a steady flow of immigration to increase the parentage, a very few years ought to prove productive of very great change. A few days ago a Minister of the Crown, speaking in his place in the Parliament of New Zealand, estimated that when 1907 shall have been reached, the population of the colony will be one million; but this surely is making no allowance for the immigration that may be anticipated, and must be regarded as a very moderate computation. Any way, there will come a time when New Zealand will contain a population of many millions, and no doubt the country will be enabled to afford to its people very comfortable support. New Zealand contains an area of some 15,000 square miles more than Great Britain; her soil is equally productive, and she is plentifully blessed with conl, gold, iron, and other mineral treasures; therefore, it would indeed be wonderful if she did not contain within her shores the capacity to sustain a population ol" many millions m circumstances of great prosperity. New Zealand is here taken for purposes of convenience, but these observations apply with equal force to the other colonies. From these considerations it naturally follows, as the night the day, that in a land so spaeious and so endowed, every man, woman, and child of the 626,000 her soil con- page 30 tains to-day should be rich, They are in the circumstances of [unclear: the] semi-savages of Great Britain 1900 years ago, absolutely [unclear: surrounded] with all the elements of wealth if they only knew how—and, [unclear: knowing] how, put forth their energies—to develop them. That 600,000 [unclear: people] in sucli a bounteously fertile—such a treasure-invested land—[unclear: should] with their knowledge of appliances, have had to pass through [unclear: such] period of abnormally severe depression as that from which New [unclear: Zealand] is now happily emerging, argues the grossest [unclear: mismanagement] somewhere.

New South Wales is just about three times larger than New [unclear: Zealand], whilst the latter is 16,148 square miles larger than Victoria; [unclear: but] what New Zealand lacks in territory as compared with the [unclear: Mothe] Colony, is more than made up in other ways. For instance, in [unclear: Australia] it takes three acres to feed one sheep; whilst New Zealand grasses can carry three sheep to the acre. As Mark Twain would [unclear: say] this marks an "awful discrepancy." Again, in agricultural [unclear: productstion] the yield of New Zealand soil and climate is as 30 to 10 [unclear: compared] with that of any of the Australian Colonies; with such a liberal [unclear: marging] it is difficult to realise how Colonial Governments—let them [unclear: struggle] as they may with the imposition of protective duties—can [unclear: every] succeed in shutting out New Zealand productions from their [unclear: market] The geographical position of New Zealand—right in the track of c[unclear: omerce] and more closely in the vicinity of the islands of the [unclear: Southern] Ocean—must give to her a great advantage in the future.

Now, is this brief summary of the position and resources of [unclear: New] Zealand to be regarded in the light of a fairy tale, or is it true? [unclear: Those] who hold it to be no more than the light exuberance of a lively [unclear: fancy] are certainly to be excused, but if accepted as the simple truth [unclear: there] what a stimulus it mast give to confidence and energy on the part [unclear: of] the people of the colony! Let them awake, arise, and go forward [unclear: to] the achievement of the destiny that lies openly before them!

As far back as 1865, the colony of Victoria arrived at [unclear: something] like finality in the matter of Land Bills. In New South Wales, at [unclear: least] until lately, if the land laws were liberal to the people they were [unclear: as] less so to the capitalist, the squatter, and the jobber. In New [unclear: Zealand]—the colony par excellence of big estates—the Legislature in its [unclear: last] session was found still struggling with Land Bills; but in the matter [unclear: of] Village and Special Settlements New Zealand has led the way, [unclear: and] the Governments of both the colonies above referred to are at [unclear: this] moment engaged in studying the lesson she has taught them in [unclear: this] respect. Whilst they are so engaged it may perchance be worthy [unclear: of] consideration whether the principle which has proved so [unclear: successful] when applied to village settlements—that of the State lending [unclear: assistance] and encouragement to the individual—is not capable of [unclear: expansion] The State lends money to local bodies, which are no more than [unclear: as] aggregation of individuals—and individuals, too, specially endowed [unclear: with] the power, and quite able, to meet all financial difficulties by [unclear: the] page 31 simple process of taxing themselves. If the State can do tins thing with a number, how can the State logically refuse to do it with the few, until the individual solus is reached? Is it the fact that the number is constituted of more or less wealthy land owners that makes the difference between those worthy of assistance and those who are not?

In Victoria there are at present at least three firms in a position to tender for the construction of locomotives for Colonial railways. In New Zealand, in 1885, before the imposition of duties of a protective nature, a Christchurch firm successfully executed a contract for the manufacture of ten locomotives. In New South Wales, about the beginning of 1890, the Free Trade Government of Sir Henry Parkes, by the offer of most liberal terms and most advantageous considerations, sought to induce the establishment of locomotive and engineering works upon a large scale. Success at one period promised to attend the effort, but at the last moment the company, which was almost incorporated, abandoned the enterprise, lu one respect, however, Hew South Wales, thanks to the spirit of one or two individuals, has advanced beyond any other of the colonies. Samples of her iron ores having been sent Home for analyses and test, they were pronounced of excellent quality, and thereupon an expert was sent out to report on the colony's resources in iron. Again the report was satisfactory, and but for the discouraging aspect thrown upon the labour question by the great strike, it is almost certain that British companies would have undertaken the establishment of smelting works. The development of this great and most important manufacture in New South Wales is only delayed for a time, and once it is fairly initiated the practical results to industry that will follow in that colony can scarcely be over estimated. On all the earth's surface there is probably no land so rich in minerals as New Zealand, and probably there is no land where so little has been done to seek to develop resources in that direction. In Australia, diamond drills, prospecting votes, and the encouragement of offered rewards are liberally given to the miner, but the Parliament of New Zealand appears to have consisted of men whose whole political vision has been concentrated upon sheep, and cattle, and craps as comprehending the entire elements of national prosperity, Nevetheless, it must be evident that no country can ever attain to greatness in production, manufactures or commerce until labour has been successfully applied to the realisation of the wealth that lies hidden under the soil as well as to that which grows upon its surface.

Wealth lies hid in the mountains, it grows in the trees,
It waves in fat pastures, it swarms in the seas,
It is borne in the tall ships that bend to the breeze,
It shines in the golden crops rich with their grain,
It speaks in the cattle that graze o'er thr plain,
And no one should lack It nor seek it in vain.

page 32

During the past twelve years there has scarcely been a [unclear: session] a Colonial Parliament in which the greater portion of the time [unclear: has] been spent in the discussion of "fads. Instead of accomplishing the [unclear: prattical] work of developing the vast resources of the colonies and so [unclear: render] ing them attractive to suffering peoples in other lands—instead of [unclear: doing] the real work for which they were designed—the whole efforts of [unclear: the] political machinery have been devoted to apparently futile [unclear: endeavouring] to perfect itself. Now woman's suffrage, local option, and [unclear: similar] questions may be right enough in their way, but both [unclear: Government] and peoples would be much better in position if some [unclear: considerable] portion of their vast resources were turned into cash. It is to the [unclear: materal] interest of every one that there should be a change in this respect, [unclear: and] every one can contribute some influence to bring it about. Let [unclear: electa] insist that their representatives, ceasing to squabble and fight over [unclear: fancy] questions, shall give their attention to the real work of [unclear: development] and it will be done. If it be true that he is a public [unclear: benefactor] who causes two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before then, not improbably, the man who opens up a new field of production or starts a new industry, giving employment to hundreds—[unclear: perchance] indirectly to thousands—is of more genuine advantage to a young country than the labours of a whole session of its Parliament. It is perhaps, not too much to affirm that the man who first succeeds [unclear: is] establishing iron smelting works upon a profitable basis, will [unclear: confer] greater and more lasting benefits upon his colony than any [unclear: statesment] that Australasia has yet seen. Colonists are themselves to blame. [unclear: If] they will continue to be pleased with a rattle and tickled with a straw, what is to be expected but that their Parliaments shall furnish only too faithful reflections of their humour? Once let the people of any one of these young communities wake up to the fact that they would all be richer, and the whole State in an infinitely more prosperous position, if its attention was concentrated upon the practical work of development and their colony will at once bound forward upon a career of uninterrupted progress and prosperity.