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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

Chapter I. Early History of the Victorian Land System

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Chapter I. Early History of the Victorian Land System.

The history of the tenure of land in the Colony of Victoria has passed through four distinct and successive stages; each of which is rendered remarkable by peculiar features, the result of the period of national growth to which it belongs. The first stage of this process of the development of oar land laws and customs was that which preceded government control in Australia; when land was selected and taken possession of by the first comer on the old principle of Roman Law, quod nullius est occupanti conceditur, which, according to some political philosophers, marks the origin of what is now known as absolute private property in land. The second period was that in which the rudely and crudely organised administration representing the British Government in Australia interfered with and prevented the unlicensed occupation of waste lands, and proceeded to impose upon the occupants payment of a nominal rent, reserved upon a yearly license. The third epoch marked the transition from executive to legislative regulation, and the inauguration of an administrative scheme constructed by the Imperial Parliament, and promulgated in the Act 5 and 6 Victoria, chapter 36, for the guidance of the local Government. Finally the Imperial Parliament gave to the Australian Colonies local self-government, and the control of waste lands of the Crown a.

This country was originally, like the United States of America, settled by squatters, who, roaming along the coast and into the interior, took up and inhabited unoccupied lands wherever they could find them b. These enterprising settlers were called "squatters," from a very imperfect analogy derived from the American term "squatters." The American squatters were really what we called selectors in Australia—that is, free-selection-be-fore-survey men. The early squatters of Australia were a bolder and more ambitious class. They took lip vast territories of unoccupied land as large as German principalities, which they pos-

a See House of Commons Papers, 12th June, 1846

b See speech of Mr. A. Michle, Victorian June, Hansard, old series, vol. 1, p. 155.

page 5 sessed for many years with very considerable advantage to themselves. Sir George Gipps, one of the early Governors of New South Wales, thus described the mode in which these settlers took up the land:—"The 'run,' or portion of the country severally appropriated by them, was limited only by their own moderation or the pressure of other squatters upon them." Mr. Edward Hunter writes:—"When a new district is opened by some enterprising colonists, there is a general rush for runs. The first comer takes a bird's eye view of an extensive and well watered valley, and, without any reference to the extent required for his stock, he says: 'This is my run.' The next follows his example, and, in a short time, the whole district is parcelled out" a. In a proclamation of the Governor, dated 21st May, 1839, the act of encroaching on any station previously occupied is said to be contrary to the previous usage of the colony b.

From these facts it appears that the practice of squatting was of an earlier date than any executive regulation or legislative enactment. It was the spontaneous growth of private adventure, and became recognised as a part of the pastoral system c. In 1835 the expediency of this unauthorised occupation of waste lands was first questioned. It then began to be feared that if the squatters were allowed to remain in possession, they would hereafter contend—as they really did d—that this permissive occupancy was a recognition of their rights to demand titles of absolute proprietorship. Then the local executive imposed a nominal rent upon occupation, which was subsequently commuted into a nominal fee, payable annually, for an occupation license. This license fee was not intended to be a payment of rent for the use of the land, but merely "as a certificate of the character, and a recognition of the precarious nature of the title of the occupant "e.

Such was the origin and principal features of the early history of the squatting system in New South Wales, Port Phillip being then a province of that colony. In the words of the report of the Grown Lands Commission of Victoria, 1854-5:—"Founded rather in default of laws applicable to the subject, than in contravention of any subsequently recognised by local statutes and regulations, it constituted a general tenure of Crown Lands strictly provisional, while the title conferred upon the individual occupants was entirely at the sufferance and discretion of the representative of the Crown." The provisions of these early regulations were enforced by certain Crown Lands Commissioners, who exercised magisterial functions.

a See House of Commons Papers 1st May, 1845, p. 4

b New South Wales Gazette, 22nd May, 1839.

c Report of Crown Land Commissioners, Victoria, 1854-5.

d Victorian Hansard, vol. 1, p. 1216, Mr. McCombie's speech.

e See House of Commons Papers 12th June, 1846, p. 15.

page 6 The occupation license system may be thus summarised:—The right was given to depasture waste lands beyond the boundaries of location, or under a license, obtainable on the approval of the Crown Lands Commissioner of the district. The license was in force for a year. It was issued without regard to the extent of area occupied, upon payment of an uniform fee of £10. Separate licenses were required for separate stations. Renewal of the license was granted to the licensee in possession, subject to the recommendation of the Commissioners. The licensee was liable to dispossession at any time if the land was required for the purpose of public sale; nor was the licensee entitled to compensation for improvements. These regulations gave great power to the Commissioners, and did not satisfy the squatters. But they remained the principal features of the system until the proclamation of the Imperial Statute of 28th August, 1846 (9 and 10 Victoria, c. 104), with the Order of the Queen in Council founded thereon, dated 9th March, 1847.

The squatters regarded the Land Commissioners as intolerable despots, and agitated for fixity of tenure and pre-emption, as a security for permanent improvements. Headed by Mr. Benjamin Boyd (who held 1300 square miles of country), they applied for concession of the rights and privileges they claimed from the Home Government. "They managed their business nicely in Downing-street," said an orator, who once took an active part in land reform legislation in Victoria, "and in 1847, on the shortest possible notice, came these famous Orders in Council, and then the squatter assumed a vastly different bearing. The humility was gone, and he strutted in a surprising manner. The colonists were astonished at the new state of things. They found that the squatters had got more than they asked for, and, having got it, they kept it" a. It will be necessary, in order to throw light on the merits of the subsequent struggles, to present the main provisions of the Statute and the Order of the Queen in Council.

The first section of the Act gave Her Majesty in Council power to demise for any term of years, not exceeding fourteen, to any person, any waste lands of the Crown in the colonies of New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia, or to grant to any person a license for the occupation for any term of years, not exceeding fourteen, of any such waste lands, and to reserve upon such demise or license any such rent or service, and to insert therein certain conditions and clauses of forfeiture. Section 7 authorised Her Majesty to make rules and regulations for the purposes of the Act, to have the force and effect of law in the colonies.

The second section of chapter 2 of the Order in Council, founded

a Speech of A. Michie, on Captain Clarke's Land Resolution. Victorian Hansard, Vol. 1, p. 155.

page 7 on this Act, provided—"It shall be lawful for the Governor of the colony to grant leases of runs of land within the unsettled districts to such person or persons as he shall think fit, for any term or terms of years, not exceeding fourteen years in duration, for pastoral purposes, with permission, nevertheless, for the lessee to cultivate so much of the lands respectively comprised in the said runs as may be necessary to provide such grain, hay, vegetables, or fruit for the use and supply of the family and establishment of such lessee, but not for the purpose of sale or barter; and so, nevertheless, that such leases shall in no case prejudice, interrupt, or interfere with the right of the Governor or other officer for the time being administering the government of the said colony to enter upon any of the lands comprised in the said leases for any purpose of public defence, safety, improvement, convenience, utility, or enjoyment, agreeably to the provisions for those purposes contained in the ninth section of the second chapter of this Order in Council, or otherwise." The only other important sections material to quote are sections 9 and 10 of chapter 2.

Sect. 9.—"That nothing in these regulations or in any lease to be granted shall prevent the Governor from making grants or sales of any lands within the limits of the run or lands comprised in such lease, for public purposes, or disposing of in such other manner as for the public interest may seem best, such lands as may be required for the sites of churches, schools or parsonages, or for the construction of the high roads or railways and railway stations, or other internal communications, whether by land or water, or for the use or benefit of the aboriginal inhabitants of the country, or for public buildings, or as places for the interment of the dead, or places for the recreation and amusement of the inhabitants of any town or village, or as the sites of public quays, or landing places on the sea coast or shores of navigable streams, or for the purpose of sinking shafts and digging for coals, iron, copper, lead, or other minerals, and effectually working coal, or iron, or copper, lead or other minerals, or for any other purpose of public defence, safety, utility, convenience or enjoyment or for otherwise facilitating the improvement and settlement of the colony; but so that the quantity of land which may be granted or sold to any railway company shall not exceed in all the rate of one hundred acres for every mile thereof in length."

Sect. 10.—"That if at any future period a railroad be made through or near to the districts comprising unsettled lands, all lands within the distance of two miles from that railroad shall, notwithstanding any lease of the run within which such lands shall be situated, be liable to be sold at the end of each successive year from the date of the said lease: Provided that at least sixty days' previous notice shall have been given to the lessee, and so that page 8 such lessee shall be entitled to all the same conditions, reserving to the previous lessee the right of pre-emption and the value of improvements as are hereinafter mentioned, with reference to the case of a sale at the expiration of the full term of such lease."

The rent to be paid for each run was to be proportioned to the number of sheep, or an equivalent number of cattle, which it was capable of carrying. Each run was to be deemed capable of carrying at least 4000 sheep, or an equivalent number of cattle. In no case was a run to be let at a lower rental than £10 per annum, to which £2 10s. per annum was to be added for every additional 1000 sheep depastured on it. During the continuance of any lease the land comprised in it was not open to purchase by any one except the lessee, but the Government could sell to the lessees any of the land comprised in the lease, an area not exceeding 160 acres,' at a price not below £1 per acre. Leases of new runs were to be tendered for. The mode of acquiring leases of previously existing runs was:—"All occupants of Crown lands who had been in licensed occupation of the same for at least one year at the time when this Order in Council shall come into effect, were entitled to demand leases of their respective runs under the "regulations, within six months from the date of the publication of this Order, but not afterwards; and all occupants who had been in licensed occupation of their lands for a shorter period than the term of one year, were entitled, upon the expiration of the same term of one year, without having forfeited their respective licenses, to demand leases of their respective runs under the regulations herein contained: Provided such lease shall be lawfully demanded within six months after the expiration of the said term of one year, but not afterwards." For the protection of improvements made by Crown tenants provision made in the conditions under which any sale could take place after the expiration of a lease. By section 15 of chapter 2—"Upon the expiration of a lease, it was competent for the Governor to put up all or any part of the lands included in a run for sale, subject to the following conditions:—

"First—The previous lessee shall have the option of purchasing the land for its fair value in an unimproved state, which shall never be estimated at less than £1 per acre.

"Second—If declined by the previous lessee, the value of any improvement on the land offered for sale shall be ascertained by valuers appointed under the provisions contained in section three of the second chapter of this Order in Council: Provided, nevertheless, that the sum so to be estimated and allowed for is in no case to exceed the amount of the actual outlay made by the lessee.

"Third—The upset price shall then consist of the joint value of the land and the improvements, and, if the land be sold, the amount of the improvements shall be paid over to the previous page 9 lessee, and only the balance he retained by the Government."

In the intermediate districts the Governor was authorised to grant leases not exceeding eight years in duration. In the settled districts the Governor could grant leases of land exclusively for pastoral purposes, not exceeding one year in duration. He was empowered to make rules under which owners of purchased lands within the settled districts could be permitted to depasture on adjacent Crown lands free of charge. This was the beginning of the principle of free commonage, very strongly advocated by liberal land reformers when it was proposed to leave it out of the Victorian Land Bill.

Although the Orders in Council arrived in the colony in 1847, they could not be enforced for several years afterwards. The claimants under the 11th section promptly sent in their applications for leases, but after the lapse of a considerable time they were exasperated to find that there was no immediate prospect of their getting their leases before the year 1851. The explanation of this delay, which was a fortunate circumstance for Victoria, was very simple. There were practical and physical difficulties opposed to the issue of the leases. A proclamation, issued 7th October, 1847, stated that it would be impossible to issue leases on demand. The districts had to be grouped into settled, intermediate and unsettled districts. Boundaries of districts and runs had to be surveyed, and surveys were expensive and difficult. Before these matters were settled, an event occurred in Victoria—in the meantime separated from New South Wales—which changed the destinies of the country, and gave an entirely new aspect to the land problem. Gold was discovered, and an eager population began to pour to these shores from all parts of the world. The squatting party in Melbourne became alarmed, and moved the Nominee Council to present an address to the Lieutenant-Governor (Mr. Latrobe) on the subject, which was clone on 20th August, 1852. In reply, His Excellency stated that no leases could be issued for the present, fend, under the circumstances, he expressed his intention to refer the whole question to the Home Government, and declined to pledge the faith of the local Administration. This was undoubtedly a most prudent policy, for which the Lieutenant-Governor deserves every commendation. Unfortunately, however, his determination not to issue leases to the pastoral tenants was coupled with another, which proved disastrous to the infant colony—that was to suspend the sale of town lands. This caused landed property already purchased to rise to an enormous value. Old holders sold out at big prices. Then began the cry: "Unlock the lands." The sale of town lands was resumed, and next came a collapse. Those who had bought alienated land at high premium were ruined, and demanded the recall of the Lieutenant-Governor. It page 10 was alleged that his policy was to favor the old land-owners of Melbourne. His friends, on the other hand, asserted that he had prevented the squatters from grasping the public land.

Meanwhile the squatters continued their agitation. On 2nd September, 1852, a meeting of licensed occupants of Crown lands was held at the Prince of Wales Hotel. The report of the proceedings, which appeared in the squatting organs of the day, described it as a large and influential meeting. J. Cane Riddell, Esq., occupied the chair. It was proposed by Mr. John Goodman, J.P., seconded by Mr. Alexander Cunningham, J.P., and carried unanimously—" That the pastoral tenants of the Crown having been assured of the possession of leases for eight or fourteen years respectively, in the settled, intermediate and unsettled districts, by Her Majesty's Orders in Council, dated 8th May, 1847, provided in an Act of the Imperial Parliament, have a just claim to have those orders, which came into operation on 7th October, 1847, carried out according to their spirit and real intention, as more fully explained in Lord Grey's despatches of 20th November, 1846, and 20th March, 1847." It was then proposed by Mr. W. Campbell, M.L.C., and seconded by Mr. W. F. Splatt, M.L.C., and carried—"That claims to leases, with the privilege of purchasing at a valuation, became marketable through the sanction of the Government, by the proclamation of 1st January, 1848, and that a very large proportion of the present holders have purchased their claims at a higher value, so that property to a large extent has changed hands, under such pledges of public faith, and in the fullest confidence that the law affecting so great an interest, would be held sacred by the British Parliament." The third resolution was proposed by Mr. Wm. Forelonge, and seconded by Mr. A. Campbell, and carried—"That the demand for land is fully provided for by many millions of acres within the settled and intermediate districts, which, under the Orders in Council, may be made available for agricultural purposes." Mr. Colin Campbell moved, and Mr. Horace Wills seconded—"That the squatters of this colony, while they admit that the agricultural wants of the community should be amply provided for, are also of opinion that the maintenance of the pastoral interest is of still greater importance, as they supply a large extent of wool required at home for manufacturing purposes, and at the same time provide a sufficient supply of animal food, which cannot be imported for the use of a rapidly increasing population, and that a system of long leases for pastoral purposes is calculated greatly to develope the resources of the colony, by justifying the expenditure of capital on valuable improvements" a.

These unique resolutions set forth in ample and undisguised

a Campbell's Crown Lands of Australia, No. 51, p. 135.

page 11 terms the squatting policy of 1852, which was to maintain Victoria a vast sheep walk. One statement contained in the first resolution referring to the squatters claim to 8 or 14 years' lease for certain, as supported by Lord Grey's despatches, must be referred to; it can be easily refuted.

On 29th November, 1846, Earl Grey sent a despatch to the Governor of New South Wales, containing a draft of certain Orders in Council, which it was proposed to pass under the Imperial Act. This despatch contained the following expression:—"Land in the unsettled districts, according to these regulations, would be put absolutely out of the power of the Crown, and be rendered unavailable for settlement for the long period of 14 years." On the strength of this despatch it was contended that it was the intention of the Imperial Government that the maximum terms of 14 years' leases in unsettled districts, and 8 years' leases in intermediate districts, should in every case be granted. It was, however, overlooked by the advocates of this doctrine that the words of the draft orders, "for term of 14 years duration" in unsettled districts, were not incorporated in the Orders in Council, as finally passed on the 9th March, 1847, which state that leases might be granted for terms not exceeding 14 years in unsettled districts, and not exceeding 8 years in intermediate districts. Besides Lord Grey's own construction of the order was clearly and unmistakably given in a despatch to the Governor (Sir Charles Fitzroy), dated 6th August, 1849, in which this passage occurs:—"But inasmuch as the order of 9th March leaves the term of years to be granted entirely at your discretion, you will be able and justly entitled to refuse to such persons any lease for more than a year, unless they are willing to accede to the insertion of such conditions as you may require." A report of a Select Committee of the Legislative Council of N.S.W., dated September, 1847, stated:—"That the period of the lease both in the unsettled and intermediate lands appears to be left entirely to the discretion of the Governor." The Crown Law Officers of New South Wales gave a similar opinion. The Crown Lands Commission of Victoria, 1854-5, supported the same view.

We now come to the result of Governor Latrobe's reference to the Home Government of the legal definition of the squatters' rights. In a despatch to the Lieutenant-Governor, the Duke of Newcastle, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, stated:—" That Her Majesty's Government were perfectly satisfied with the reasons adduced why the portion of the Orders in Council, which declares that actual leases shall be granted on demand, has hitherto remained a dead letter, and most probably will remain so, unless some equitable adjustment intervenes. They are satisfied that the circumstances of the colony have rendered the surveys, which page 12 are considered essential perliminaries, to the execution of the leases impracticable, and that such extensive surveys will long be impracticable. This is an obstacle which no one fully appreciated before hand, and for which no one is justly responsible. But the occupants have, in addition, no grounds to complain of this delay, because the burden, in fact, lay on them, and not on the local Government, to furnish such descriptions of their runs as might render it possible to grant a lease, and the assistance of survey was a benefit offered them by the local Government, and no part of their rights, and still more because, in the absence of leases, they seem to have engaged up to this time the full practical benefit of leases."

In the course of the same despatch the Duke of Newcastle explained the position which, in the opinion of the Home Government, the squatters occupied. It was intended to give them adequate use of the land, and adequate protection against disturbance in it; but not any advantages over any other member of the community in becoming purchasers of it, except to the very limited extent required for their actual accommodation; still less was it intended that they should become speculators in land purchasing, on terms peculiar to themselves, in order to sell again in the general market, and least of all was it intended that their pastoral occupation should stand in the way of the development of general population and industry. "If," said the Duke, "the occupants insist in the extreme view of their right as controlling the obvious meaning of the concessions made to them, it becomes incumbent on the Government to protect the public, by insisting on the rigorous interpretation of the Orders in Council when its provisions seem to clash with the public interests. They are entitled to the exclusive right to purchase when the Government thinks fit to sell them land during the currency of their lease."

Such was the position of affairs when, on 2nd November, 1854, the Crown Lands Commission of Victoria was appointed by Sir Charles Hotham, to inquire into the laws and usages then existing by virtue of which the waste lands of the Crown in the colony of Victoria were occupied; what alterations thereof were necessary for the public advantage and convenience, and the nature and extent of all claims which may have arisen under such laws and usages. The members of the Commission were the Hon. Wm. Foster Stawell, Attorney-General; the Hon. James Fred. Palmer, Speaker of the Legislative Council; Captain Andrew Clarke, Surveyor-General; Charles James Griffiths, Esq., President of the Commissioners of Sewerage and Water Supply; and Messrs. J. O'Shanassy, J. F. Strachan, J. P. Fawkner, Wm. Nicholson, Wm. Clarke Haines, Charles Bradshawe, Wm. Forelonge, members of the Council. The report of the Commission, dated 8th June, 1855, page 13 concludes as follows:—

"It will now, we believe, be admitted that the system constructed by the Waste Lands Occupation Act and the Orders in Council does not satisfy the conditions of this question, or effect a proper balance of the various interests involved. A strict adherence to the provisions of the existing law, while it might not prove beneficial to the occupants themselves, would be most embarrassing to the community at large. At the same time, those strict rights, of whatever extent, as well as those claims to general consideration which the pastoral class confessedly possesses, must be recognised and respected. This object will, we submit, be best attained by that commutation of the present tenure of the squatters which we are about to recommend. Sound policy, in truth, dictates an entire and radical re-adjustment, upon the basis of compromise, of a question surrounded by so much complexity of interest, and points, first, to the extinction of all rights and pretensions opposed to the paramount claims of permanent settlement; and, secondly, to the expediency of conceding to the pastoral class—which adds to its indeterminate rights, under the existing law, the claims arising from actual possession and invested capital—such security as the nature of the case may admit, and upon terms of payment which may at once secure some equivalent for the benefit conferred, and may discourage unproductive occupation.

"We therefore recommend:—
"1.That the survey and sale of the Crown lands of the Colony should proceed continuously, with reference to the requirements of all classes of purchasers, and in quantities sufficient to prevent the price from greatly exceeding at any time the present upset price, as prescribed by law.
"2.That yearly licenses, renewable from year to year, should be given to the present occupants for pastoral purposes only, which should hold good against any other licensee.
"3.That the rent to be paid should be regulated by the grazing capability of each run, subject to a mode of decision to be proposed, and should be at the rate of 6d. for every sheep, 4s. for every head of cattle, and 10s. for every horse which the run should be estimated as capable of carrying.
"4.That the above general rate per head of stock should be open to periodical re-adjustment at the expiration of each period of five years from the date of occupation under the proposed system; to be effected by competent authority, and to be applicable in common to all occupants.
"5.That a minimum limit, based on extent, should be im- page 14 posed of 1d. per acre.
"6.That a legal tribunal, in the nature of a court of appeal from valuation, should be constituted, to which either the Government or the occupant should be at liberty to appeal against the existing estimate of grazing capability.
"7.That the proposed regulations should take effect indifferently upon all waste lands of the Crown throughout the colony, the present territorial classification, and the regulations dependent upon it, being abandoned."

It was the Governor's intention to have submitted to the Council a bill containing provisions for the final adjustment of the question during the current session, but, owing to the late period of the session at which the report was received, he was precluded from doing so.

It may be here convenient to draw attention to some of the grievances of which the people of the colony complained against these "princes of wool and lords of tallow," who were so determined in their agitation for further concessions. In 1853 there were 335 squatting runs in Victoria; in 1854 there were 351; in 1855 the number decreased to 260; in 1856 there were 278. Some of these squattages were of an enormous extent. Two persons in the Wimmera held allotments 789 miles in area. One person held 62,000 acres, and returned himself as being in occupation of 35,000. In the Portland district a well-known pioneer had 57,000, carrying a. sheep to the acre. The following squattages were in full bloom in the year 1857:—There were 20 squatters holding from 150,000 to 200,000 acres; 52 squatters holding from 150,000 to 100,000 acres; 150 squatters holding between 50,000 and 100,000 acres; 341 holding between 20,000 and 50,000 acres; and 227 holding between 10,000 and 20,000 acres. What was the consideration given to the country for these enormous estates? Under the original executive regulations, as already seen, they had to pay a, £10 license for each holding. This tax would not pay anything like their fair share of police protection and mail communication. Then the squatters generously consented to pay an assessment of a half-penny per sheep, in order to help to pay something like their share of the cost of government. Every shilling of this assessment was, of course, absorbed in paying for their own convenience, nothing going towards the general revenue. For example the proceeds of the assessment of New South Wales for the year 1849 amounted to £13,854 13s. 4d; the proceeds of the assessment of Port Phillip district amounted to £10,413. The expenses charged in the Sydney assessment were £11,940; whilst those charged in the Port Phillip assessment were £8713 a. It was subsequently stated by Mr. J. P. Fawkner in the

a Votes and proceedings Sydney Council, 1849.

page 15 Victorian Legislative Council that, if the proportionate share of the squatters' expenses of the mails and police were examined, it would be found that they had the whole of the assessment, and licensed money paid by them for that year swallowed up, and nothing paid by them went towards the general cost of government a. In 1852 the squatters, who were the predominant party in the Legislative Council of Victoria, repealed the half-penny assessment, thus depriving the colony of its revenue of £20,000 per annum. In the following session, however, on the urgent advice of Mr. Fawkner, an assessment of 2d. per sheep was adopted. At about the same time the same venerable pioneer advocated the necessity of the extension of the settled district of Victoria, but the proposal was lost by 9 to 18 members b. On 23rd November, 1855, Victoria received the new constitution and representative government. With that constitution the Imperial Parliament handed over to the Parliament of Victoria the control management and disposal of all the waste lands of the Crown within its boundaries. The Imperial statute which ratified our constitution (previously drawn in the colony) repealed the Land Sales Act 5 and 6 Victoria, chapter 36, and the Amending Act 9 and 10 Victoria, chapter 104, so far as they were repugnant with the Constitution Act. The Orders in Council were not repealed, but the Act stipulated expressly that nothing therein contained would prevent, or be construed to prevent, the fulfilment of any promise, or contract, or engagement, made by, or on behalf of, Her Majesty, where such contract, promise, or engagement had been lawfully made before the Act. From this it will be seen that the Orders in Council, in reference to the lands of the colony would remain in force until the Victorian Parliament took steps to pass new laws, inconsistent with the old ones. In this manner the Parliament of Great Britain abdicated its right of sovereignty over 57,245,760 acres of the finest land in the world, worth, at the very least, £100,000,000 in upset value. Let us now see how those entrusted with the destinies of the young country exercised the power thus conferred.

a Victorian Hansard, vol. 1, p. 1214.

b Idem supra.