Labour importation in the works

The centre of Southland's inland railway traffic - a glimpse of Main Street, Gore. - Otago...
The centre of Southland's inland railway traffic - a glimpse of Main Street, Gore. - Otago Witness, 18.12.1912.

The deputation representing the Dunedin Expansion League that waited on the Hon H. D. Bell, Minister of Immigration yesterday, to make representations to him concerning the system upon which immigration to the dominion is being regulated, had the satisfaction of receiving the first indication that has been publicly offered of the intentions of the Government on the subject.

Mr Bell discussed the whole question somewhat fully in his reply, which was marked by the lucidity and explicitness that are characteristic of his utterances. It was explained by the Minister that when the present Government came into office the policy which was in force was to extend Government assistance to two classes only of immigrants- namely, agricultural labourers and domestic assistants.

The deputation was assured by Mr Bell that it had been definitely settled that the importation of farm labourers and of domestic assistants would be largely increased. That is an announcement which will be received with a great deal of pleasure by farmers who experience a considerable difficulty in obtaining labour and by hard-wrought housewives whose inability to obtain the services of competent assistants has rendered their lives almost burdensome.

Mr Bell afforded, moreover, a good deal of encouragement to the expectation that the Government will generally pursue a more active policy of immigration than was followed by it's predecessors, whom, however, he chivalrously defended from attack on one or two grounds.

He carefully abstained from expressing the opinion that the Government could employ better methods than have been utilised in the past, but he made it clear that further methods would be adopted to induce a flow of immigration. This declaration was received, also, with feelings of lively satisfaction throughout the country excepting, perhaps, on the part of that section of the community which obstinately refuses to see that the progress of a country is promoted by the growth of its population.

At the present time it is notoriously the case that the development of the resources and industries of the dominion is seriously hampered through a shortage of labour, and if the Government will only have the courage to embark on a vigorous policy of immigration it will contribute greatly to the advancement of our prosperity.

• Recently a foreman in one of the principal railway workshops (says the New Zealand Officer's Advocate), when crossing the yard to where some men were busily engaged unloading a quantity of very heavy sheet iron, picked up a portion of a human finger nearly an inch in length. On mentioning the fact to the gang, one of the workmen looked at his hand and exclaimed: ''By Jove. it's mine. I felt a bit of a pinch a while ago. but I didn't know my finger was off.''

The square edges to two plates of the iron coming together had squeezed off the point of the man's finger, at the same time closing the stump so that no blood escaped.

It seems scarcely credible that such a thing could happen without the unfortunate individual becoming immediately aware of it, but assurance is given that the facts are exactly as stated, and that the accident happened fully half an hour prior to the foreman making his discovery.

-ODT, 14.12.1912.




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