The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 56
Land System of New South Wales
Land System of New South Wales.
The recent enactment known as "The Crown Lands Act of 1884" (48 Vic. No. 18), which came into operation on 1st January, 1885, is a repeal of previous land legislation, and inaugurates a change in the method of dealing with the public estate.page 9
Among the prominent features introduced are—(a) The territorial division of the colony into the Eastern, Central, and Western divisions, for the dealing with lands differently influenced by climate, settlement, and other causes; (b) the division of the several pastoral runs each into two fairly equal portions, of which the one is resumed by the Crown for subsequent alienation, leasehold, or reserve, the other remaining in the leasehold occupation of the pastoralist, under fixity of tenure for a term of years; (c) the creation of new classes of leasehold (explained in detail post); (d) the conservation of the landed security of the colony by a limitation of the aggregate area of Crown lands permitted to be annually sold by auction; (e) the abolition of the lessees' right to purchase by virtue of improvements; (f) the decentralization of the machinery for the working of the Act; together with (g) regulations of a stringent character intended to ensure the bona fides of those seeking the advantages of the law.
From the short period which has elapsed since the date of the commencement of the Act, it would be futile to endeavour to show any important statistical result of its actual working.
The condition of the public estate as on the 1st January, 1885, may be stated approximately as follows:—
|Eastern division||60,452,000 acres.|
|Central division||55,400,000 acres.|
|Western division||79,970,000 acres.|
|Total, as above||195, 882, 000 acres.|
The area alienated at that date may be estimated, in round numbers, as 37.000,000 acres; the relative proportion of alienated to gross area being—in the Eastern division, about one-third; in the Central, between one-third and one-fourth; and in the Western division, only a little more than one-fortieth.
In connection with these figures, it should be observed that the Eastern division has a greater and more regular rainfall, a denser population, and greater accessibility to market than either the Central or Western divisions, and land is consequently more in demand in the former, although railway construction is causing the Central division to become an important field for agriculture; while, except in special areas, the Western division remains the chief grazing tract of the colony.
Proceeding to view the Act in detail, we may first refer to its general administrative provisions.