Page:Problems of Empire.djvu/230

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PROBLEMS OF EMPIRE.

by the hope of being able to sell these intervening blocks at an enhanced price. A further reason for the spreading out of the settlement arose from the fact that people would ask for a number of contiguous blocks to be reserved for themselves and their friends, and after the land had been reserved for them, only one or two blocks were taken up or cultivated. This Mr. Chaffey stated in his evidence before the Commission, as well as to me personally, and the statement is corroborated by Mr. Salmon, a valuer, who reported adversely on Mildura as an investment for his clients. Which of us, if we had been in the position of men desirous of making money for the company, would not have been influenced by the same motives? It is very easy to be wise after the event, and to say that every block in each square mile of land should have been taken up before settlers were allowed to select land further out.

The supply of water.To describe the arrangements for the supply of water for irrigation purposes would take too long. There are four separate pumping plants raising water from the river, the most important of which is that known as the Billabong system, and which utilises a creek or billabong as a reservoir. From the Billabong the water is lifted by successive stages into the 50 foot channel, thence into the 70 foot channels, and thence into the 85 and 90 foot channels centrifugal pumps being used. There are 127 miles of main channels and 250 miles of smaller subsidiary channels commanding 33,000 acres of land, over 31,000 acres of which are attached to the Billabong system. When the financial resources of the company became straitened the pumping machinery was allowed to get into a bad state of repair. At the same time from various causes the channels became incapable of

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