Alexandra Times at KellyGang 2/6/1868 (8)
PUBLIC MEETING AT THORNTON
A meeting of farmers and land selectors was hold at the Old House at Home, Thornton, on Monday evening, to consider the subject of deferred payments, as selected land in the event of a dissolution. (Mr Stephen Jones in the chair)
The chairman said that he went at it hart and soul for the object sought by the meeting.
Mr Ryan moved the first resolution, "That it is the unanimous opinion of this meeting that £1 per acre is sufficient for land, and that it would be for tile public advantage to have it paid by instalments." Mr Ryan observed that he felt convinced nine tenths of the farmers would be unable to pay the £1 down; hence the most of them would have to be evicted from their holdings, and lose the benefit of their improvements.
Mr Jeffrey seconded the motion. and most cordially concurred in what the previous speaker had said.
Mr Tindall Macintyre moved the second resolution, to the effect, "That, in the opinion of this meeting, no candidate for Parliamentary honors was worthy of public confidence unless he supports to its full extent the principle of deferred payments.' In moving the resolution, Mr Macintyre said, I need not refer to my previous exertions in the cause of the farmer, and the noble stand Thornton has made on this question, suffice it to say, that Thornton was first to begin the agitation, and give an intellectual charter to the movement. We led in the van of battle, and we now take up the rear. The principle we contend for is plain and intelligible. We want to pay 2s per acre per annum for five years; at the end of the fifth year. 2s 6d, making 12s 6d in all; then give a title to the land, and pay 7s 6d in three annual instalments, making in all £1. The great fault our respective Governments committed, was to deal with the land on the commercial principle. The Americans did not commit this mistake - they considered settlement the primary object, and revenue a secondary one. - hence their unparalleled prosperity.
Our respective Governments in their land policy, made revenue the' primary, and settlement a secondary point hence our small progress. If we had made a present of 3,000,000 acres of land to our farmers twelve or fifteen years ago, on condition of improvement, we were this day at least £30,000,000 a richer country. We would not then have to be sending £3,000,000 annually to America for breadstuffs, inasmuch as we could have raised them at home. Makes a country rich and it is an easy matter to raise tares from it. I may say that Mr Grant has not given his full adherents to this movement; his male objections are as follows:- 1st, the land is worth more than £1 per acre. 2nd, If we give a title in the land then the selector is entitled to it in equity. 3rd, He had more trouble in collecting the money due under Duffy's system than under his own. 4th. It would require a tedious process in equity to evict for non-payment of rents. 5th, As the Government paid 6 per cent. for money borrowed he was willing to make the rent a per cent. instead of 10.
I think the above embody all his objections. In reference to the first, I would observe that it may be seen Grant still hankers after the commercial principle. Nor it is no doubt true that some farms are worth £2 per acre, but they are the exceptions. If a few acres of land on a farm is worth £2 per acre, a great many are not worth 10s, and still more are not worth 5s per acre, so that £I is a high price even in Australia, being four times the price of land in America. As to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th objections, they are easily met on the ground that 12s 6d per acre is paid before a title is given, and those who do not pay the remaining three half-crowns will be few indeed, seeing that they have three years to pay them in.
With respect to the fifth point, It may clearly be seen that Mr Grant never probed very far into the dept is of philosophy. It is still the commercial principle revenue, and not settlement. We admit the Government pay six percent for money borrowed from England, but what of that? Lend is different to any other species of property, inasmuch as it is the basis of all property ? it is the gift of nature. Money and all other property is the result of human exertion. Now it is only right to pay for the loan of the results of accumulated exertions; but thin is no reason why we should also pay interest for the gifts of nature.
England charges her six per cent for £3,000,000, but God charges no percentage for his gifts. "Freely ye have received ? give.” I think is sufficient reply to Mr Grant. I admit Grant has done his duty nobly; he has settled 20,000 people on the lands; this is the beat evidence of the public merits. But the question now is, hew secure those 20,000 in their holdings ? We have pointed out the way, and he who accomplishes this grand object will richly deserve "a niche in the Temple of Fame." I should consider this object a far higher and nobler one to secure than the £20,000 to Lady Darling, for how many far nobler hearts than even Lady Darling has are among those 20,000 families settled on the lands, and much more deserving to him their hearts and homes permanently secured to them. My sympathies have always been with the farmer, and I pray God from my heart that the object for which we are assembled this evening may shortly be brought to a triumphant issue. Mr Macintyre sat down amidst loud cheering.
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