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2-261 (Raw)

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addressee author,male,Select Committee on Crown Lands,un
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Clark, 1977
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They cannot but regret that tracts as rich as any of an equal extent in the world, should, for the present at all events, be placed by an undue price, out of the reach of permanent occupation. Without permanent occupation - without, in fact, actual property in the soil - men never apply themselves to the arts of settled industry, or study to develop the latent capabilities which a country may possess. Your Committee therefore consider, that such a facility for obtaining land, should be afforded to persons emigrating to this Colony, as would induce them to settle permanently. Pastoral pursuits must, of course, for a long time, form the principal occupation of the Colonists, and the chief source of Colonial wealth - therefore they should not be discouraged. They afford the best and readiest means of dispersing civilised inhabitants over the face of the wilderness; and there can be no question, that it would be but wise to afford those inhabitants, such facilities in obtaining possession of the soil, as would induce them to occupy it permanently, and to bring around them all the arts and improvements of civilised life. [243] With reference to squatting, as superseding, through means of the increased price of land, the old system of settling, it has been correctly remarked by a recent writer, that - "They [the squatters] plant no breadth of land - form no enclosures - raise no buildings - make no outlay of capital". They have no fixed interest in the soil. With reference to the waste lands of the Colony, it should not be forgotten, that there are in Australia, whatever may be its general character, many millions of acres, calculated to reward the industry, and supply the wants of man. At present that land is unproductive - it is so much of the national wealth lying dormant. It is to be rendered profitable, not by selling it at a high price, but by bringing it under occupancy and cultivation. If it be sold, the price should be proportionate to the profit derivable from it. At present, pastoral pursuits are those alone, in the remote districts at all events, to which the settler can direct his attention; and if he buy land he can of course only give that price, which those pursuits will enable him to pay. Now it appears according to the lowest calculation, that three acres of land, are required for the support of a single sheep. Therefore, if a settler had to buy runs for five thousand sheep, at three acres each, at the present minimum price, he should lay out £15,000, in land. The interest of that sum, at 8 per cent, would subject him to a rental of £1,200, a year, making each sheep for feeding alone, cost him 4s. 10d. per annum. The annual net return from the animal, after the payment of shepherd's wages, and other expenses, would be about sixpence or a shilling: hence it appears, that land, for sheep farming at all events, will not pay at 20s. an acre. A newly arrived settler therefore, wishing to invest his capital in that which is the general occupation of the Colonists, must go far into the interior and squat beyond the limits. This is a step which scarcely any man with a family would like to take, and therefore, though it is sometimes adopted by those who are actually in the Colony, it is quite enough to deter persons of that description, from coming to this country. [...]
From all these considerations which have been borne out by the evidence which has been given, and the experience of the Colony, your Committee come to the conclusion, that the Act of Parliament, under their consideration, so far as it applies to New South Wales, cannot but be injurious in its operation - that it is calculated to prevent immigration to these shores, to withdraw capital from the country, and to prevent the permanent occupancy of the soil. Your Committee see, in the great territory of Australia, an important element of national wealth, lying, for the most part, dormant and unemployed; but they believe if the present restrictions were removed from the soil, that capital and population would pour into the Colony - that settlers would spread over the face of the vast interior, forming farms, settlements, and townships - each a nucleus around which population would gradually condense; that the inherent capabilities of the country would be developed, and that Australia would become - what she once promised to be - the emporium of the Southern Hemisphere, and one of the most important of the Colonial Dependencies of England. [244]