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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 3 (June 1, 1936)

The Soldiers and the Land

The Soldiers and the Land.

Post-war legislation of a very harassing character occupied the attention of the Massey Government after the National Cabinet had come to an end. The principal problem was the making of provision for the repatriated soldiers of the Dominion. All those who wished to become farmers were assisted to settle on the land. Land was bought at high prices, while the country was still at the top of the boom for production, and thousands of returned men were placed on sections acquired at absurdly inflated values. Here the usual canny vision and sound judgment of Mr. Massey deserted him. He and his colleagues should have foreseen the collapse of high prices for produce; such a fall was inevitable once the war was over. But they carried on as if war prices would last for ever. The result was disastrous to many soldier-settlers, whose sections were loaded with charges far in excess of the normal and reasonable. This was the principal error of judgment which must be written against the Massey postwar regime.

Against this debit is to be set the creditable record of the sturdy Prime Minister, an unshakeable pillar of the British Commonwealth structure that resisted the heaviest shocks of war.