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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12

Resolutions Finally Adopted as the Basis of a Land Bill Likely to Satisfy the Country

Resolutions Finally Adopted as the Basis of a Land Bill Likely to Satisfy the Country.

The following were the resolutions which, after much careful and anxious page 7 consideration, and after discussion protracted through several evenings, were ultimately adopted by the Convention, as embodying the principles on which a bill that would satisfy the wants and wishes of the country should be based. These resolutions were submitted for discussion one by one; and, in many instances, each resolution was divided into several propositions, and these propositions separately considered, debated, and voted on.

1st Resolution—That all exclusive occupation of unalienated Crown lands for pastoral purposes should cease, and such lands should be open as free pasturage for the public.

2nd Resolution—That every adult person in the colony should have a right to select a claim of land not exceeding——acres, at a uniform price, without auction; such right of selection to extend over all the unalienated lands of the colony, surveyed or unsurveyed: this right, however, to be subject to the following conditions and qualifications:—

1stcondition—Substantial occupation.
2ndcondition—Payment of ten per cent, of the purchase-money on entering into occupation. The time of paying the subsequent instalments left an open question, to be determined at a future time.
3rdcondition—All persons taking up their claims beyond the State survey, to take them subject to having the boundaries of such claims adjusted to the boundaries of the lots as afterwards run by the survey.
4thcondition—Certain lands that have been long withheld from sale, lying in the neighborhood of settlements, and which have thus acquired an exceptional value, to be exempt from this right of selection, and to be specially dealt with.
5thcondition—All the gold-fields of the colony, as well as all auriferous land in their neighborhood, to be exempt from such selection: the Crown, in disposing of all waste lands, whether by selection or other mode of sale, to reserve all gold and minerals in such lands, retaining the right to resume such lands, and to permit mining upon them under certain regulations.
6thcondition—All waters and water frontages with convenient rights-of-way thereto, to be reserved from selection, as more generally provided for in resolution No. 3, hereafter following.
7thcondition—Price: The amount of the uniform price to be hereafter fixed, but not to exceed .£1 per acre. Opinions in the Convention varied between 10s. and £1.

The Convention recognised that a question will arise hereafter as to the restriction of this right, as well as the general right of purchasing land, to races of certain extraction, but they consider the question to be one of detail, on which it is not now necessary for them to adopt any resolution.

The Convention decided by a considerable majority that the number of acres be, for the present, left blank in the above resolution, leaving the number to future opinion to determine; but they also directed it to be made public, that opinion in the Convention ranged from a maximum of 160 to a maximum of 320—preponderating in favor of 320.

3rd resolution—That in all sales of land the Government should reserve all waters and water frontages, with rights-of-way leading thereto at convenient intervals, as easements for the public.

4th resolution—That all lands alienated from the Crown, whether cultivated or uncultivated, should be subjected to equal taxation for municipal and local purposes; and that uncultivated lands should be further subjected to a special State tax.

5th resolution—That, in surveying the lands of the colony, all discretion and all possible favoritism by surveyors, as to the size and boundaries of lots, be excluded, by making all lots of one uniform size, and running the boundaries by right lines.

Purchasers for Money Merely, without Condition of Cultivation or Occupancy.

Resolved—That while this Convention recommends that the actual cultivator be invested with the special rights set forth in the foregoing resolutions, they are of opinion that persons who may find it inconvenient or impossible to proceed to cultivate at once should not, therefore, be wholly debarred from purchasing from the State; but they are of opinion that this right of purchase should be controlled by such reasonable regulations as may discourage monopoly without shackling enterprise or obstructing fair investment.

Resolved—That this Convention will not at present attempt to define the exact restrictions by which such purchasers should be controlled; but, holding in view that practical legislation on this subject must still be at least some months distant, they will only suggest certain general principles on which they think those restrictions might be based, leaving the closer definition of them to the result of public discussion and the further ripening of opinion.

Resolved—That, as principles likely to be effective in framing such restrictions, they suggest—
1stThat the purchaser for money merely, should not, like the actual cultivator, have access to all the lands of the colony, but only to lands brought into market district by district, as the course of previous settlement by the free selection of actual cultivators advances and thus indicates the districts suitable to be brought in.page 8
2ndThat such purchasers be permitted to buy for ready money only.
3rdThat, as provided in a foregoing resolution, No. 4, purchased lands remaining uncultivated be subject to a special State taxation.
4thThat, as provided for in a foregoing resolution, No. 5, no discretion or possibility of favoritism be left to surveyors in determining the size or boundaries of lots, but that all lots be surveyed by right lines and made of uniform size, such size as may be considered the unit of a reasonably small farm, so that purchasers for money merely, if desirous of having larger tracts of land, shall not, as hitherto, be protected from general competition, but shall encounter, lot by lot, the competition of the small purchaser, besides being preceded by the free selector.