PROCEEDINGS OF THE LEGISLATIVE
Tuesday, October 5.
Mr. Davenport presented a petition from Mr. Robert Milne Lyon Milne, praying that the Government would layout the £1500 voted in the Estimates for a road to the North Arm, without
requiring any sum to be advanced by
His Excellency laid on the table a despatch, confirming several ordinances (which have been
proclaimed in the Government Gazette). Among these is the City Assessment Act, which repeals the Corporation Act. With reference to this
last, it would be remembered, that an hon. member, now absent (Mr. Morphett), had asked if he (the Governor) intended to place a bill on the table for the purpose of re-establishing the Corporation. He had then pointed out that they were not in a position to re-enact the Corporation, as, by the Royal Instructions, he had been forbidden to legislate on the subject. In trans- mitting the Assessment Act, he took occasion to ask if her Majesty objected to the measure being
re-enacted. He had received an answer to the effect, as we understood, that the prohibition was withdrawn; and that it was now in the option of the Governor to re-establish the Corpo- ration if he thought fit. A question had also been put to him, with reference to certain emigrants who had come out at the expense of the land fund of this colony, but who had gone on immediately to New South Wales. He had received a despatch enclosing a report from the Land and Emigration Commissioners on the subject (which was read), to the effect that the ships in which those emigrants were conveyed, were chartered by the Australian Mining Company, and were not under their exclusive super- intendence ; but that system was now at an end, and they were extremely cautious in sending emi- grants, and required declarations that their desti- nation was for this colony only. Hon. members would recollect, that last year a Land League had been formed, of which information was given in
the "Register" and "Observer" newspapers. It was his duty, of course, to report upon that to the Secretary of State, and he had now received an an answer from Lord Grey, which, though not specially requiring him to take any new course in the disposal of land, sufficiently indicated the sentiments of her Majesty's Government on the subject. The Governor's despatch, and the answer of Lord Grey, were read, and ordered to be printed. They are as follows :-
No. 138. Adelaide, South Australia,
26th Oct., 1846.
Sir-- Enclosed I have the honor to forward a statement of the waste lands of the Crown sold at the auction sale on the 17th inst.
The first page embraces lands known to contain ore, or to be in its immediate vicinity ; the re- mainder are quarter-acre lots in the new townships
of Guichen Bay and Rivoli Bay.
Of the mineral lands, one block of 80 acres yielded £18 16s. 6d. per acre, and the remainder on the average £1 6s. 6d. per acre. The prices were understood to have been kept down by a
coalition of the various monied interests in the
colony, under the denomination of the Land
The objects of the League were set forth in one of the local newspapers ("Observer," 10th Oct., and "Register," 7th October, 1846) lately trans- mitted, was intended to keep down competition
to very little beyond the upset price, and then to divide the purchases by lot afterwards.
This system, if persevered in, may necessitate the putting up of mineral lands as special country lots, at higher upset prices than £1 per acre ; but it would be exceedingly difficult to determine
what would be the fair upset price in each case.
Some of the lots sold at very high prices in July last have not, as yet, it is said, yielded any cop-
The township lots were put up at rates com- puted at £10 the acre. Those at Guichen Bay yielded, on the average, £32 4s. 8½d. the acre aud those at Rivoli Bay £15 17s. the acre, the preference being given to Guichen Bay as a safe anchorage for shipping, which Rivoli Bay is not.
This sale has added £5,226 4s. to the land fund, as previously reported at the close of the
FRED. H. ROBE,
To the Right Hon. W. G. Gladstone, Esq.,
&c., &c., &c.
Downing-street, 18th May, 1847.
SIR-- I have received your despatch, dated 26th of October last, No. 138, enclosing a statement of the Crown Lands sold by public auction on the 17th of that month.
I learn with regret, from this communication, that the price of the mineral lands was supposed to have been generally lowered by a coalition of
various monied interests in the colony, under the denomination of a Land League, the object of which is to keep down competition, so that the land put up may be sold very little beyond the upset price, and the purchases afterwards divided
by lot amongst the parties to this combination.
I should approve of your adopting, in order to check this abuse, the plan you had in contempla- tion of putting up lands supposed to contain mi-
nerals as special country lots, at a higher upset price than £1 an acre.
It is true that the difficulty you point out would be experienced in determining the value to be put on different lots of land, nor do I anticipate
that, if a large proportion of the more wealthy colonists should be parties to a combination to depress the value of land, you could entirely de- feat such an attempt, though it would be your duty to endeavor to do so. I trust, however, that further reflection, and their own good sense, will prevent the colonists generally, from continuing
to encourage a practice which can only be in- jurious to themselves. The Crown has no interest
in the matter, except in its capacity of trustee for the public ; but, considering the great scarcity of labor in South Australia, it is obvious that it will be a serious injury to the colony if the receipts from the sale of land, and consequently the amount of the funds available for immigration, should be considerably reduced by the combina- tion you describe. The tendency of such a practice is to sacrifice the interests of the Com- munity at large, for the benefit of a few indivi- duals who may have the good fortune, in the distribution of the purchases by lot, to be enabled to obtain land below its real value.
As it is desirable that the sentiments enter-
tained by her Majesty's Government on this sub- ject shouid be known throughout the colony, you will take the necessary steps for giving publicity to the contents of the present despatch.
He had also communicated with, the Home Go-
vernment respecting the delay in receiving his own despatches by way of Sydney, and had transmitted a memorial from the merchants here, praying that mails should in future be sent by
ships direct. He had received a despatch in explanation, stating that the mails had been sent by the Sydney packets at the request of Governor Grey, and announcing that the grievance would be remedied. In future, letters would be de- spatched direct, unless specially directed other- wise, and to the Government originals would he sent by ships direct, and duplicates via Sydney. He had also received a despatch, announcing that £65,000 had been placed to the credit of the colony for emigration purposes. The whole sum which had been credited for emigration was £125,000. Last year a petition to her Majesty, signed by 2,000 persons, had been sent to him, praying that no moneys be granted by Government for the promotion of
religious instruction. This he had transmitted, and had received the following despatch in
answer. (Read by the Clerk).
Downing-street, 23th May, 1817.
SIR.-- I have received your despatch, dated the 24th December, 1846, No. 158. I have laid be-
fore the Queen the petition which it encloses,
praying that her Majesty would instruct you not to prefer or assent to any measure for the appli- cation of any part of the public funds of South Australia for the support of religion.
You will acquaint the petitioners that I have not been able to advise the Queen to assent to
the request ; on the contrary, it has been my duty humbly to submit to her Majesty my opinion that the course pursued by the Local Legislature, in applying some part of the local revenue towards the promotion of religion, knowledge, and edu- cation in the colony, merits her Majesty's entire approbation ; and it is not in any respect at va- riance with the terms of the Act of Parliament under which the colony was originally founded. The Queen has been graciously pleased to adopt and sanction that opinion.
To Lieut. Governor Robe.
The Governor also laid on the table a des- patch, to the effect that, in consequence of his own wish to relinquish the civil service of the Queen, and to return to the military profes- sion, the Government had acceded thereto, and had, in consequence, appointed Sir Henry Young as Lieutenant Governor of the pro-
The Advocate-General, in laying on the table the amendments as printed, said that he pro- osed dividing the resolutions into four heads. First, as to the preliminary steps, before a proposal for a bill could be entertained ; se- cond, the proceedings of the Standing Order Committee ; third, the proceedings of the Com- mittee on the bill; fourth, all the clauses that would be required to be inserted in a bill.
A number of resolutions, as amended and printed, were then read and agreed to.
Captain Bagot said that, with reference to the select committee, he understood its object to be to take evidence as to the practicability
and utility of the line, and thought tie com- mittee should be composed of all the members
except his Excellency.
The Advocate-General opposed this, as in- convenient and unprecedented. It could not be done under the standing orders, which regu- lated the general business of the Council.
Captain Bagot said railway business was of
peculiar importance, and all the members might feel an interest in it. He suggested a com- mittee of seven members, as in the House of
Commons, and three as a quorum.
The Colonial Secretary strongly objected to such a committee, as some of the members might have a pecuniary interest in the railway -- besides, it could not be called select if all the members were nominated.
Mr. Hagen would not object to excluding the members having pecuniary interest, and would support a resolution to that effect ; but
excepting them, he thought all should have a right to attend such committees.
Captain Bagot said, when he spoke of in- terest, he meant national, not pecuniary inte- rest. A national interest would be felt par- ticularly by the non-official members.
His Excellency did not see why any dif-
ference should be made in appointing this com- mittee. After all, they were only to report on matters of fact, which could be done by the
Clerk of Council.
Mr Hagen said that the committee had, im-
portant duties-- for they took evidence as to the best line, as to the engineering difficulties, and in the House of Commons the late of a bill was determined by the report of the com- mittee. He thought there should be no ex- clusion, and contended for .an open committee. The Advocate-General said it was of the utmost importance to devolve such a duty on
particular persons, who would be responsible for its correct performance. Upon the report being laid on the table, the Council could exa- mine and review it ; and they were not bound by it in any degree, as was the case then with the report before them. Hon. members could cut and carve on it as they liked. They were few in numbers, but it would not be always so ; and it would prove excessively inconvenient to
have witnesses examined by a committee of the whole house. It was important to have select persons-- not any of the Council who chose to attend, or who happened to take an interest in the measure in progress, some of whom, if no special appointment were made, would attend one day, and some another. The business in such a case must be done loosely and imperfectly.
Captain Bagot insisted that all the members should have right to attend and act. His ob- ject was, that no one should be excluded from party or political views or interests.
Mr. Hagen moved, and Captain Bagot se- conded, that the committee should be open.
The Advocate-General said such a motion was subversive of the standing orders, which vested the appointment of committees in the President of the Council.
Captain Bagot repeated that his object was, that the committee might not be packed ; and he could not see how hon. members could op- pose his reasonable proposition, unless they wished to preserve the means of packing com-
Major O'Halloran said he now saw that they would be interfering with the privileges of the President, if they agreed to the hon. member's motion ; and he thought they ought not to imagine that their President would do so base a thing as pack a committee.
Mr. Hagen withdrew his motion.
Captain Bagot then moved, and Mr. Hagen seconded, that all committees on railways should consist of seven members, three of whom should be a quorum.
The Colonial Secretary opposed the motion, because some might have a pecuniary interest,
His Excellency said the practical effect would
be to exclude the Governor.
Mr. Hagen had no such intention.
Captain Bagot, also, did not wish to exclude his Excellency, but thought they could not be wrong in having the same number as Parlia-
His Excellence said that reasoning would be good, if the Parliamentary Committee con-
sisted of 500 members.
The Advocate-General said the instructions were most pointed in vesting in the Governor the sole power of appointing committees, and that power was most important, as the Go- vernor was enabled to devolve a certain duty on certain members-- and they were thus ren- dered individually responsible for its perform-
His Excellency read from the royal instruc- tions a passage to the effect that the standing orders were binding on the Council, until her Majesty's sanction was obtained to their altera- tion or repeal.
Mr. Hagen-- And we now merely state our opinion that they ought to be altered.
Major O'Halloran was still of opinion that the privilege of choosing committees ought to remain vested in the President, and opposed the
After a little further conversation,
Mr. Hagen again withdrew his motion, and tabled another, to the effect that every member of Council should have power to attend rail- way committees and ask questions.
Capt. Bagot seconded the motion.
Mr. Davenport could see no reason why they should change their standing orders in refer- ence to railways. If so, they might as well
have the same in reference to roads and all
Capt. Bagot said roads were not under con- sideration. They ought to keep to the matter which was before the Council.
Mr. Hagen expatiated on the peruliar im-- portance of railways, and upon the vast atten- tion bestowed, and special rules framed, for railway business by the House of Commons.
The Registrar-General said it could not be a select committee, if all could attend and act.
Mr. Davenport thought the business could not be so conveniently or so efficiently per- formed as by a committee specially appointed ; and he could not agree that members having private interests should be allowed to act.
When the report was brought up, there would be sufficient opportunity for every member to express his views.
The Advocate-General spoke to a similiar effect. According to the standing orders, every question must be put by the Chairman ; and it would have a most prejudicial effect, if
members of Council should betray partialities , by voluntarily attending committees, and put- ting questions.
Mr. Hagen said, as his motion was considered
to supersede the standing orders, he would withdraw it, and move another (a laugh). It
was to the effect that no evidence should be
taken before the sub-committee, but by the whole Council in committee. He had, as we understood him to say, been unable, to form a opinion as to the necessity for a committee
at all ; but if a committee was to act, all the members ought to be entitled to attend.
The Advocate-General said that this motion
would deprive the Governor of power to gun-
point a committee, and make it compulsory on
the members to hear all the evidence in rail-
way cases. He could not see any reason for this jealous distrust of his Excellency's power of appointing committees. This very discus-
sion on the report of a sub-committee showed that they were completely unfettered. In truth, the appointment of a sub-committee was only a saving of trouble to the rest, who, at the same time retained their right of discuss-
ing and of confirming or rejecting its recom- mendations, or any part of them. He depre- cated altering the rules and constitution of the Council by a side-wind, and taking away a power which was vested in the chairman of
most public bodies.
Mr. Hagen strongly denied that his motion
Mr. Davenport thought it would be very in- convenient to compel the whole Council to examine numerous, witnesses, and that the business would be much better performed by
Mr. Hagen had another motion, but ulti- mately withdrew it.
His Excellency suggested that they ought to fix upon a gauge.
Captain Bagot agreed, but thought they ought to consult the other colonies.
His Excellency said that was of no moment, as the distance was so great.
Mr Hagen, said the question was of great indifference, but he had a very strong opinion that the point should be left over, and that the gauge fixed on by the first company should be the gauge for the colony. He also thought they ought to consult Port Phillip.
His Excellency said the narrow gauge was
in use all over England except on the Great Western Railway, and a Committee
of the House of Commons had reported that the narrow gauge was the best, as being least
expensive and most convenient. He thought it would be better to determine the point now, that companies at home may know what gauge of carriage they ought to send out. His own opinion was in favour of the narrow gauge, as, although there was less speed, the expense
was much less.
On the motion of the Colonial Secretary, seconded by the Registrar General, the narrow gauge of 4ft. 8½in. was adopted as the gauge of the colony.
The report was brought up, and the Council
His Excellency then adjourned the Council sine die.