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3-108 (Raw)

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author,male,Papineau, P.,un addressee
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Clark, 1975
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What you say about the License Tax is all quite true; but I wonder that shrewd, educated, hard-working, hard-headed men, like yourself, do not see that you are overlooking the greatest grievance of all, the redress of which would include the redress of all other causes of discontent. Representative rights - good Government - a just system of taxation - security - independence - prosperity - comfort - happiness, all these would be ours if we had our rightful share of the LAND; and if instead of leaving your holes to attend tumultuous meetings assembled on the narrow ground of a repeal of the License Tax, you and all our brother diggers and brother laborers, throughout the length and breadth of the Colony, would unite for a better and nobler object, and adopt the cry "HOMESTEADS FOR THE PEOPLE AND MANHOOD SUFFRAGE," there would soon be an end to the present delusive system of Sales by Auction and Cabbage Garden patches, and Victoria would be for the Victorians, and we should at last be A PEOPLE. For is it not a fact, and a most lamentable fact, that with our population, of some 300,000 souls, we are not A PEOPLE in the true sense of the word, but a mere accidental fluctuating aggregation of individual atoms, wanting some strong principle of cohesion to bind us into a mass - each of us actuated only by his own selfish motives - without homes - without ties or attachments to the soil, anxious only to get as much as possible, and as quickly as possible, out of the Colony and each other, and then to leave it for some better governed country, where the hard working industrious man of small capital can acquire land, BY SELECTION, in a locality that suits him, at a low fixed price, and in sufficient quantity to ensure the due reward of his industry - a peaceful and prosperous home, and the permanent establishment of his family. [104]
And why should this be, John? Why should we who have come 16,000 miles to push our fortunes in this new world, why should we who are its very life blood, be thus cast from its bosom? It is because we have never been appreciated as we deserve to because when patient and quiet we are to be kept down - when discontented and agitated by oppression, to be put down - because it is the policy of our rulers, or rather the rulers of our rulers, THE LAND OWNING AND MONIED INTEREST (a factious minority into whose hands the Government of the Colony appears to have been committed,) to perpetuate the absurd Wakefield principle, which was invented for the express purpose of preventing us rising above the condition of laborers. Above all, having no legal representative in the present Legislature, mockery as it is, and having too much relied upon our professed advocates in the Press and the Council, we have by them been misrepresented and betrayed. In fact, because you, dear John, and I, and most of us affect long beards and short pipes, because we wear serge instead of broad cloth, moleskin instead of kerseymere, wide-a-wakes instead of "bell toppers". - because toiling hard from "dewy morn till day's decline," absorbed in the labors of our precarious occupation, we have never yet made our power really felt, or recognised, as we can and must do, those drones of the hive - THE MONIED INTEREST - who squeeze out of our labor the taxes their own property should bear, have at last come to regard us in no other light than as a community of Aliens, providentially supplied as beasts of burden to toil for their aggrandisement, having no sympathies in common with them, and having no rights but such as they choose to concede to us.
I want you, John, and through you all our fellow-diggers and fellow - laborers in Victoria, to consider well this all - important subject - "THE APPROPRIATION OF THE LANDS OF THE COLONY," Let us recollect that we have an enormous extent of really good agricultural land, uncultivated and unappropriated; that we are paying to our neighbors and foreigners for flour, grain, potatoes, hay, &c. the appalling sum of £2,250,000 a year; that for butter, cheese, and beer, all of which we could and ought to produce for ourselves, we are paying another million a year, making altogether £3,250,000 to foreigners to supply us at exorbitant prices with these articles of prime necessity, all of which, I repeat, ought to be raised within the Colony itself. Consider these figures; think of three millions and a quarter, or over 800,000 ounces of gold, subtracted annually from the wages of the Colony, and say if in the eyes of the world, we must not stand convicted of insanity so long as this gross absurdity continues.
The only definite meaning which at present appears to have attached to the stupid cuckoo cry, "Unlock the Lands," is, put up the lands to auction in small lots, and on this system the land is being doled out by the Government. Now, in the first place, the land thus sold, with few exceptions, may, in its average quality, be estimated as the very refuse of the public lands; in the next place, the working-man who knows his own business, and can alone judge of what will best suit him, has no power to choose, but must be thankful if he can get a piece wherever it suits the whim or convenience of the Surveyor-General to have an auction; and, finally, the man of small capital has to encounter a phalanx of competition in the purchase of land under the present vicious system. [105] In Melbourne the monied interest and the land jobbers compete with him for every acre. In the country he has not only the monied men but also the police magistrates, their clerks, commissioners, officers of police, and other local land jobbers, created by the system, all bidding against him, and besides all this he has the competition of his own class. He has indeed a perplexing variety of choices. He may buy bad land at a low price, or fair land at a high price; low-priced bad land that would be dear at a gift, high-priced fair land which, if he buys in a large quantity, swallows up his capital and leaves him without the means of settling upon it properly - if in a small quantity condemns him to become a grower of cabbages or other perishable produce, and affords him no prospect but that of being a poor man and a laborer for the rest of his days. What the industrious man requires is an ample sphere of action, an area of land, and of good land, which he himself can select in a suitable locality, of such an extent that he may be able to raise from it the nobler produce of the soil, and by hard work and economy, gradually bringing it into cultivation, have the reasonable prospect of competence and independence. Another alternative the working-man certainly has; and that is, not to attend the land sales at all, and this is his wisest course. Let him keep his money and wait - he will not have to wait long.