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3-150 (Raw)

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addressee author,male,Lewes, Henry S.,un
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Government English
Petitions & Proclamations
Clark, 1975
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3-150-raw.txt — 5 KB

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To the Honorable the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. I The petition of the undersigned inhabitants of the Pastoral District of Moama, Humbly Sheweth:
That your petitioners have learned, with extreme regret and considerable alarm, that a Bill intituled "A Bill to amend the Electoral Law," recently laid before your Honorable House, contains clauses which would - as your petitioners verily believe - if passed into law, inflict upon a large and most important class of the community a great and overwhelming injustice; while at the same time, they would tend to sap, if not totally destroy, the great source of the prosperity of the whole colony.
That the Bill would prove a very serious injustice to the digging population of the colony, as from the migratory nature of their occupation, they would not be able to comply with the conditions of the Act, and would be equally disfranchised with regard to property qualification.
Your petitioners, while fully recognising the right of every class to possess an amount of representation in the Parliament of the colony, in, as nearly as practicable, an exact proportion to their contributions to the prosperity and welfare of the whole community, must beg leave most earnestly and emphatically to protest against the enactment of any law that would place the idle, profligate man, who does not aid, but retard the moral and material advancement of the community upon a level - by giving him equal political power - with the man who by his industry and enterprising energy, adds, perhaps in an eminent degree, to the general wealth and advancement of the colony. [205]
Your petitioners would further beg leave to point out, that should the proposed bill be enacted, its operation would be vastly unequal, inasmuch as while in large towns and thickly peopled districts it would greatly and effectively extend the elective franchise, its provisions, as far as regarded the extension of the manhood suffrage to the pastoral inhabitants of the far interior, forming as they do a. section of the community, second to none other as contributors to the wealth of the country, would be rendered by the nature of their occupations alone, inapplicable and all but totally nugatory, because it is manifestly impossible that the large class of people engaged in the daily or nightly tending of sheep, in herding cattle or horses could, in scarcely any instance, register their votes. While, as it appears to your petitioners, the numerous shepherds and drovers employed during many months of the year in the important operation of transporting live stock through the vast interior to a distant market would not, under the proposed law, hold the elective franchise at all.
Your petitioners further believe that the proposed law would be unjust inasmuch as it would apportion but twelve members, in an Assembly consisting of sixty-eight, to represent the purely pastoral districts of the whole colony of New South Wales; while, at the same time, as your petitioners firmly believe, and confidently assert, the population of those districts contribute to the wealth and prosperity of the colony many times more than all the other classes combined, inasmuch as they are the producers of nearly half, if not more, of the food of the inhabitants of the colony, and of exports of wool, tallow, and hides, sheep, cattle, and horses, of the annual value of nearly, if not quite, three millions of pounds sterling.
Your petitioners view with feelings of unfeigned astonishment and alarm that by the proposed law it is intended to allot fourteen members to represent in your honourable House the city of Sydney, and its suburbs; and taking into their serious consideration the comparative ease with which every member of the population of a large city can exercise his elective franchise; how, by powerful combinations, easily effected, by crowded and often tumultuous meetings of large masses of the people who, themselves necessarily ignorant of either the requirements or resources of the- colony, are too frequently led by the misstatements of worthless, demagogues and professed agitators to entertain feelings of blind hostility towards the inland classes of the community the productions of whose industry being at the same time, in reality the mainspring and chief support of the commercial prosperity of the metropolis. Considering these things and the many other influences a dense population can bring to bear upon the course of legislation pursued by a Parliament held in its midst; and comparing these advantages with the impossibility of the large mass of the pastoral population being able even to record their votes. [206] Your petitioners do unavoidably come to the conclusion that the whole governing power of the colony would in reality be centred in the population of Sydney, and that the far off pastoral districts would possess no other share in the representation than the mockery of its name.
Your petitioners do, therefore most humbly pray that your honorable House will not permit the proposed Electoral Bill to pass into law until its provisions shall have been so modified as to give to every class of the community a practicable, just and fair share of representation in the Legislature, in proportion to their contributions to the general welfare and prosperity of the colony. And your petitioners will ever pray.
Signed in virtue of a resolution passed by a meeting of the inhabitants of Moama, held at Moama, on the first of May, 1858.
HENRY S. LEWES, Chairman.