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3-121 (Text)

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author,male,Gold Fields Commission,un addressee
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Clark, 1975
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3-121-plain.txt — 3 KB

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The administration of the gold fields under this Act has, unfortunately, not resulted in realizing the favourable anticipations of its promoters. To account for this circumstance, besides the general unsuitableness of the whole system now rendered more visible by further experience, the Commission may allude to two facts of important bearing, namely, that the yield of gold has very considerably fallen off and that the Government have not responded to the recommendation of the committee that the Crown lands should be liberally sold to the miners. The spirit of dissatisfaction appears to have become gradually more general and snore deeply rooted. Public meetings, numerously attended, have been repeatedly assembled at each principal gold field to protest alike against the laws and regulations and the mode of their administration. A feeling of estrangement and distrust between the authorities and the people has been widely diffusing itself. This feeling has originated in the harsh operation of the laws, in the want of a political and general status to the miner that might have aided him in procuring redress, and it has been subsequently aggravated by the suspicion of corruption in the authorities. The Eureka riot of October last at Ballarat was a natural extreme of this feeling, which, as the subsequent inquiry demonstrated, with regard to one member of the stipendiary magistracy, was not without foundation. The more serious outbreak of the two following months at the same place exhibited the sad spectacle of civil strife and bloodshed, happily now a rare feature among the British people and upon the soil of a prosperous colony.
The Commission have gathered from the various evidence on the subject submitted to them, that this discontent, so far as it bears a general character and is distinguishable from individual grievances, may be attributed to the following causes: 
(1) The license fee, or more properly the unseemly violence often necessary for its due collection - a result entirely unavoidable in thus taxing for this considerable rate every individual of a great mass of labouring population; involving as it did repeated conflicts with the police, an ill-will to the authorities, from their almost continuous "hunt" to detect unlicensed persons, and the constant infraction of the law on the part of the miners, resulting Sometimes from accident in losing the license document, or from absolute inability to pay for it, as well as from any attempt to evade the charge. 
(2) The land grievance - the inadequacy of the supplies of land as compared with the wants of the population - the want of sufficiently frequent opportunities, and upon reasonable terms, for the acquisition of a piece of land - the difficulty amounting with thousands to an impossibility of investing their small capital 'Or their earnings of gold upon a section of ground; from want of which facilities many thousands, it is to be feared, have left and are still leaving this colony to enrich other countries with their industry and capital.
(3) The want of political rights and recognized status, the mining population of this colony having been hitherto; in fact, an entirely non-privileged body, invidiously distinct from the remainder of the colonists, consisting of large numbers without gradations of public rank, political representation, or any system for self-elected local authority; in short contributing largely to the wealth and greatness of the colony, without enjoying any voice whatever in its public administration. 
The Commission will venture on a few remarks upon each of these several heads.