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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

Opinions of the Districts

Opinions of the Districts.

Two evenings were accordingly spent in receiving the opinions of the Delegates.

Some of the Delegates came entrusted with resolutions expressing the views of their districts. A few of these will indicate the opinions which predominated in these districts. The Delegates from Ballaarta presented the following credentials:—

To all whom it may Concern.

The people of Ballaarat, in public meeting assembled, at the Victoria Theatae, on Saturday, the eleventh day of July, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and lefty-seven, agreed to the following resolutions:—

Resolved—That the Victorian Crown lands are the property of the people, and that in order to secure the peace and future prosperity of the country, the following principles should form the basis of future legislation:—

1st. That the actual cultivator should be allowed to select tor himself a moderate-sized farm, 300 acres being the maximum, at the uniform price of one pound per acre, without auction.

2nd. That the actual cultivator should be enabled to enter upon his farm on payment of a deposit of ten per cent, on the purchase-money, the payment of the balance to extend over a period of five years—10 percent, the first year, and 90 per cent, the second, and each succeeding year, till the amount of the purchase-money is paid up.

3rd. That all lands in existing towns and their neighborhood which have obtained an exceptionable value should be specially dealt with, and not subject to the above conditions.

4th That all unalienated Crown lands should constitute an open country for pasturage, free to the people, and that the present system of squatting is unjust in principle, oppressive in practice, and opposed to the progress of the colony.

5th.That, in the opinion of this meeting, it is the duty of the Government to resume the Crown lands of the country from the pastoral tenants, and that, in no case, should any new tenancies be created when these lands are resumed filth.

6th.That all the gold fields of the colony, as well as all the known auriferous lands in their neighborhood, should be reserved from sale.

And Further

That four Delegates be sent to attend the Melbourne Conference, and that a subscription be at once opened to defray the expenses of the delegation.

That the resolutions passed at this meeting be signed by the Chairman, and submitted to the Delegates for their guidance at the Melbourne Conference, to be held on the 15thinstant.

page 6

And I hereby certify, that—

John Yates, Member of the Local Court of Ballaarat,

Alfred Arthur O'Connor, Member of the Local Court of Ballaarat,

Duncan Gillies, Member of the Local Court of Ballaarat,

John Cathie, Merchant of Ballaarat,

Are declared by me to be duly elected as Delegates to represent Ballaarat at the National Congrass to be held at Melbourne.

Joseph Henry Dunne

, Chairman of the Meeting, Ballaarat.

Mr. Strickland, from the Ovens, presented the following solutions, adopted in his district:—

1st. That it is the opinion of this meeting that a bill for facilitating the selecting and settlement of the public lands should be passed as quickly as possible, but that they are of opinion that the proposed bill of the Government would be injurious to the interests of a large majority of the community, and will retard the progress of the colony.

2nd. That it is the opinion of this meeting, that, should the Government adopt the unwise policy of forcing these objectionable bills upon the country, it will be utterly impossible to carry them into operation, from their injurious tendency, and the general spirit of opposition manifested to them on the gold-fields.

3rd. That this meeting is of opinion that our delegate shall represent to the Melbourne Convention that 10s. per acre should be fixed as the upset price for all unalienated land. That the land should be open to free selection, at the upset price. Should any dispute arise as to who is the first occupant, it should be settled by four assessors. That the present system of squatting should be entirely abolished, and all unalienated lands should be open to all.

That the unalienated Crown Lands of the colony be open to the public for purchase by selection. That the cost price of agricultural land so selected shall not exceed 10s. per acre, payable in two installments; fifty per cent, on occupation, the balance in three years. That the maximum area that can be settled by any one person shall be 040 acres, but whatever the quantity, the water frontage shall in no case exceed the depth.

Mr. Mooney, of Sebastopol, presented, from that district, a document, from which the following is an extract:—

As respects the public lands, the condition upon which actual cultivating occupiers shall have portions of the public domain, we submit for consideration as follows :—

Farms of 160 acres up to 320 acres, the most that any one person can hold in his own right.

The farms to be open to selection; price ten shillings an acre : five shillings per acre cash on taking possession, the remaining five shillings to be paid at the end of three years. When any fraud is practiced by persons holding more land, in contravention of this law, such lands' may be "jumped." that is, taken possession of by the first person electing the fraud. All lands, when sold, to bear a public tax per acre towards the public revenue, and especially towards public roads and schools. The unsold portion of the public domain to be considered a common, open to all, but a suitable tax to be levied yearly per head upon all grazing stock of every kind found on the public domain, whether they belong to squatter, miner, merchant, or farmer. New townships to be suffered to gather and grow by the presence and necessities of immigrants. All mines and minerals of every kind to be reserved in all sales for the benefit of the whole people, to whom, in common, they belong. The right to mine upon property already purchased to be fully recognized.

To extract from the speeches delivered by Delegates would exceed the space of this paper. They were generally in accordance with the views expressed in the above documents. The condemnation of the present land bill was universal.

Having elicited the opinions of the Delegates, the Convention proceeded to frame resolutions which would embody the general views that had been expressed, and which would receive the assent of the Delegates, and of the districts they represented.

Contemporaneously with this business, the Convention arranged an interview with the Chief Secretary, Mr. Haines, and with the minority who were opposed to the Land Bill in the House of Assembly, memorialized the House of Assembly, and adopted a protest against the bill.