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Yesterday representatives of the Alexandra Progressive League took advantage of the presence of the Hon. W. Fraser, Minister of Public Works, at Alexandra, to place before him one of the pressing needs of the district.
The deputation that waited on him consisted of Messrs E. Marslin (chairman of the league), C. Weaver (chairman Vincent County Council), C. Murphy, G. Rivers, and W. A. Bodkin (members of the league). The deputation was introduced by Mr R. Scott, M.P. Mr Marslin said that they desired to impress on him the necessity of placing a certain sum of money on the Estimates or by other means starting the Manuherikia irrigation scheme as soon as possible. The position was that the dredges at the present time in Alexandra were on the wane, and they wanted to see the irrigation started.
The land that commanded the Manuherikia scheme belonged to the Crown, and at present it was not bringing in a penny per acre. The Minister could see for himself the possibilities of the district for fruit growing. The whole of the flat between Alexandra and Clyde was Crown land, and some of it was an endowment of the Alexandra Borough Council. If that could be cut up into small areas it would settle a vast population.
They heard that the Otago Central railway was not paying. If the line was to pay they must have a population to grow sufficient produce. There were people who had made homes and reared families in the district, and they were faced with the possibility of having to leave. All they wanted was water and if the Government could see its way to start the Manuherikia scheme as soon as possible it would be a great boon to the district. They knew the surveyors were at work, but they would like to see something done.
Mr Weaver, who was introduced as the originator of the Manuherikia scheme, said that he felt sure that irrigation was possibly the only thing that was going to save the district. Mr Murphy said that there were at present 780 people in the district, and the mining industry was on the wane.
The land commanded by the Manuherikia scheme was able to produce no less than 20,000 tons of fruit per annum.
The onions they could produce were second to none in Australasia - (Mr Fraser: "That is so.") - and, continued the speaker, they could produce 12,000 tons of them. People said that the Otago Central railway was not paying.
They did not want a white elephant running to their doors, but they wanted the railway to be productive so that the Government could extend it to other needy districts. The Manuherikia scheme would bring 3000 of a population with smiling homesteads and happy families instead of people growling from morn to night.
The Minister, in replying, said he knew the country. He was confident it would repay amply the expense of bringing the water in. This was country that could be settled in small areas very profitably, and irrigation was the only way to bring prosperity to the district. He quite realised all those facts, and was thoroughly in sympathy with the views of the speakers and of the people of the district.
• All hope of the missing German-Australian Liner Augsberg ever being rescued has now been abandoned, and it appears as if her end must be added to the long list of mysteries of the sea.
Hope has gradually dwindled down until now even the most optimistic persons have realised that the good old steamer has gone to the "port of missing ships".
- ODT, 22.11.1912.
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