The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12
Protest Against the Bill
Protest Against the Bill.
At the same time that the Convention took these proceedings it also adopted the following protest against the bill, intended more especially as a warning to capitalists and others whom it might concern, that no public faith was pledged to the recognition of any interests that the bill might pretend to vest in the pastoral tenants, and that such interests, if created by it, would be annulled by the first Parliament in which the people of the Colony should find themselves represented.
Of the Convention now assembled in Melbourne against the Land Bill at present before the Legislative Assembly of Victoria.
|1st||Because it is framed in contravention of the manifest intention and spirit of the Constitution Act sanctioned by her Majesty the Queen, conceding the lands and mines of the colony to the Legislature in the capacity of trustees, for the disposal of the same in a manner just and satisfactory to the people.|
|2nd||Because the said bill concedes exclusive rights over the public domain to seven hundred and twenty persons to the manifest wrong and the grievous injury of all the other inhabitants.|
|3rd||Because, in a vote of 32 to 22, twelve of the persons interested in thus possessing themselves of vast tracts of the public land have been suffered to vote in the majority on this bill, which concedes the lands to themselves for indefinite periods, and for nominal rents, a proceeding utterly repugnant to justice and to the genius and usage of the British Constitution.|
|4th||Because several other members of the majority on this bill have broken their pledges to their constituents, and their faith to the public, and have voted on this bill contrary to those pledges and the repeated remonstrances of their constituents.|
|5th||Because the members of the House of Assembly generally, under the present Electoral Act, represent but a small minority of the people, whilst the great majority of the colony, whose interests are most deeply involved, have no voice whatever, by representation or otherwise, in the framing of this bill.|
|6th||Because petitions, bearing the signatures of more than seventy thousand adult males, have been presented against this bill, and not one petition has been presented in its favor: because these petitions have not only been disregarded, but have been treated by the majority with contumely and derision; and, moreover, because the bill itself has been indecently forced forward against the usual forms of Parliamentary proceedings, in defiance of the protest of the minority, and with the declared intention of passing it into law before public meetings of the people of the colony could have an op-portunity of expressing upon it their deliberate opinion.|
|7th||Because, on the admission of the present advisers of the Crown, the House of Assembly needs, and is to receive, a thorough reform: and it must, therefore, be considered incapable at present to legislate upon a bill that will convey away the public property of the people before the people themselves are permitted a voice in the matter.|
|8th||For these and for other reasons, we declare that no public faith is pledged to the recognition of any pretended rights that may be hereafter claimed under this bill, should it become law; that the people of this colony are no parties to the compact; that the Act (if the bill is ever passed) will be a fraudulent enactment for the confiscation of the public lands; and that so far as it may purport to vest any rights it will be repudiated by the people, and repealed by the first Parliament in which they find themselves represented.|
|1||That the protest now adopted by this Convention be printed, and that each delegate be requested to send copies of it to the district from which he has been delegated.|
|2||That the several delegates be requested, on their return to their several districts from this Convention, to submit this protest for the approbation of a public meeting convened for the purpose, and that they report the result to such central body as may remain in Melbourne.|
|3||That the several delegates pledge themselves to use every effort in their localities to orga- page 24 nise such localities, both locally and in connection with a central organization, for the purpose of carrying out the object of this Convention, and among other objects to give effect to this protest and declaration.|
|4||That a copy of this protest and declaration and of those resolutions, be forwarded to the principal mercantile houses and to all the banks in this and the mother country; also to the members of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly; and to the members of the Cabinet and of both Houses of Parliament at home.|