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3-156 (Original)

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addressee author,male,Deniehy, Daniel Henry,30
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Deniehy, 1884
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MR. DENIEHY, after warmly thanking the electors for the great honour they had done him in a second time returning him for their county, said that had it not been for the approaching battle on the great subject of electoral reform and the present ominous state of affairs, it was questionable whether he would have offered himself for re-election. At very great personal sacrifice, indeed at the risk of absolute ruin, he had entered the Legislature at all; and as a professional man resident in the country, his continuance in Parliament would be impossible, were it not for certain changes in his private affairs which he contemplated making. He had entered the Assembly at a crisis for the purpose of doing what as an Australian he considered his duty to his country, and he had done it. 
In February last they had sent him into Parliament to aid in the removal from office of Mr. H. Watson Parker's Government. Ousted that Ministry accordingly was, and he (Mr. Deniehy) should for the present have rested satisfied with the share in the good work, did he not see that a season more critical than any since the inauguration of responsible government had come upon them. That had come to pass which was more to be feared than all the combinations of squatterdom. There was a disintegration of the popular party. The people had to some extent broken away from and turned upon their old friends and leaders - had for one error of governmental policy trampled upon the loyal and intrepid services of long years in their cause. The people's enemies had been favoured with a consummation they had never even dared to pray for. The popular foe, he believed, had uniformly looked to their own special strength for victory, not to that more potent force, disunion and strife in the people's camp, and a violent hand raised by the masses against the first Ministry pledged to reform, because its first measure happened to be defective. He had a right to speak in this tone, because he was one of those who strove to impart into the Cowper Ministers' Land Bill what would have met a very just and very equitable demand the people had made, and he was one of those who had led the movement which caused the withdrawal of the Bill. He therefore felt it was a time when the people wanted the assistance of every true friend - of every honest and intelligent man who loved his country, who had its best interests at heart, and he had again come forward. He would for a moment advert to some remarks concerning his conduct in connection with the Land Bill which had appeared in one of the local journals. He had with reference to this been branded as joining a band of conspirators against his country's well-being, as falling into the ranks of place hunters, and turning around at the last moment to cover what he found to be a false move by endeavouring to introduce popular clauses into the Bill. In first addressing the House on Mr. Cowper's Bill, which, though extremely defective, he looked upon as a good beginning, as fraught with benefit by its simple enactment of reducing the price, as inserting the wedge into the present pastoral system, he had stated that he would seek in committee to introduce several new provisions into the Bill. [64]
The Selection clauses prepared by his honourable friend, the present Minister for Lands and Works, embodied these principles in their entirety; and it is within the knowledge of the recent Member for the Southern Boroughs, Mr. Murray, that immediately after the second reading of the Bill, Mr. Robertson himself had declared his intention of infusing, if possible, into the measure a selection principle to co-exist with the auction system, and had several interviews on the subject with Mr. Murray, then Secretary for Land and Works. It was but bare justice to Mr. Murray to say that he was in favour of the proposed clauses. With the sober caution of an astute statesman, he had intimated his fear of experimentalising, but stated at the same time his thorough readiness to support the provision, if they could show him warrant for it in the land legislation of America, which he, Mr. Murray, regarded as one of the most pre-eminently successful of policies. Mr. Robertson and himself, Mr. Deniehy, undertook to produce American precedent for the principle; but so sincere was Mr. Murray in his expressions, that he himself was the first who produced authority on the subject in the Act of Congress, September 4th, 1841. As he was on this matter, and as it formed the most important part of his conduct in the Assembly besides, as principles embodied in the clauses in question had been pretty fairly assailed, the greater part of the explanation he was there that day to offer might be given at once. He for one would never support any Land Bill that did not give bona fide settlers a right, upon conditions which should guard the privileges for such settlers, of selection at minimum prices. Mr. Robertson's clauses proposed to give the bonâ fide settlers a right of selection and purchase, without auction or competition, of some 160 acres more or less on condition of residence thereon by the purchaser or his assigns for five years, and cultivation within that term of twenty-five per cent. of the total acreage. The purchaser was to pay twenty-five per cent. on making the selection, and the residue in five years. Now the introduction of these clauses, he was sorry to say, had been bitterly opposed by the Ministry and neglected by the Assembly. The Auction system pure and simple was alone what the Government and the House would hear of. The Ministry and several gentlemen who supported them cried out with triumphant complacency that that was the system which obtained In America. Black and white, noonday and midnight, were not more widely different than the American and Australian auctions. But he, Mr. Deniehy, went further; there was, as regarded the bona fide settler in America, no auction at all. The immigrant could choose, anywhere it lay unsold, one hundred and sixty acres of land, without competition of any kind, upon the simple condition of settling there. The American land policy, he contended, lay at the root of the national prosperity of the United States. During the fifty-seven years it had obtained, it had peopled the country by tens of thousands; it had created and added to the Federation sovereign state after sovereign state ; it had called into existence city after city in what had before been waste places of the forest. It had carried religion, law, letters, industry, and the human affections into the heart of the wilderness, and it had borne Anglo-Saxon civilisation, with freedom and plenty in its train, from the shores of the Atlantic to the sea-board of the Pacific. It had brought about a new state of things, in which the hand of the labourer could not hew out the line of railroad from one vast centre of population to another fast enough, but locomotive steam excavators must needs be sent to scoop out the way. By this policy was not the Union, if not the first power in the world, yet ere long destined to be so? By this Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, yesterday but barren names on the map of North America, were at this hour thriving and rapidly increasing states of the magnificent Federation. But by a policy directly the reverse of this, and brought about by the selfish, the interested, and the dishonest, had New South Wales stopped short in her growth, and, though the mother colony of the group, with a native population of her own, been flung to the rear by the junior Australian states. By it had immigration been strangled, her development totally arrested, and, after she had been plunged in debt for one-half of the few immigrants she had received, her exchequer left empty. He, Mr. Deniehy, was uncompromisingly in favour of the reduction of pastoral lands to 5s. an acre. This was the cardinal point of his land creed. And though the returning officer had some half- hour before certified to his, Mr. Deniehy's, return to serve in the Legislature in the coming session as a member representing the fair county of Argyle, yet if they thought him wrong here, or believed his opinions vitiated his fitness to serve them, he was that moment ready to retire, and return into their hands the honour and the trust they had just invested him with. It was worse than useless, it had been sure destruction to the country's progress, this demand for 20s. an acre for what was frequently not worth twenty pence. It served the squatter's purpose, for in point of fact it gave him a fee simple of the public lands at a trifling cost. Till somebody appeared who would give a pound an acre all round for the half million of acres, superior and inferior, as it was, which some people occupied, the said same people (they knew who he meant) might hold it till the day of judgment. [65] [66] [67] 
To the squatter himself, the bona fide squatter, who was willing to become a colonist if he were allowed to do so, it was unjust, and, in this way, as a national policy, ruinous. 
Mr. Deniehy then proceeded to give his views on the electoral question which would be the battle-ground of next session, declaring that population ought to be the basis of representation. 
Having defended his motion for making the magistracy elective, Mr. Deniehy concluded by remarking that it was no unfitting time, on that occasion of his second return without opposition for their county, to say to them with the sincerity that kindles itself in depths of gratitude, that it had been the cherished hope of his boyhood, and that hope was still bright and strong and warm within him, that he would live to be of some service to this his dear native land. He had even had the hope, - for images beautiful and benign as this ever haunt the path of boyhood, - and he said it with all modesty and with the humility with which some experience of the average abilities of mankind had taught him to regard himself, - that such talents as nature had endowed him with and sedulously cultivated, might even do some honour to his beloved country. They, the men of Argyle, had favoured him, comparatively a stranger to them, with an opportunity of serving the country, and of testing whether he possessed the abilities which would entitle him to record amongst those sons of the soil, who, whilst, as every true man must do, making a position for themselves, had done services and evinced powers entitling their memories to honour amongst their fellow-men. For this he again thanked them from his heart; and what such humble intelligence as he possessed, directed to the advancement and protection of their interests, could do, and whatever of energy, of loyalty, and courage was in him, should be exerted in return. But it was a sense of duty alone, and a conviction that his country required the services of every faithful son of hers, which induced him to re-enter political life. He neither sought nor cared for place. He had long since made up his mind that every shilling he should ever own should be earned by himself, and he was proud of that determination. He had a right to expect that he should one day be in the government of his country, but that he confessed had for him nothing very alluring about it. He knew too well by how frail a tenure political power and political popularity were held to set store by that. It would go hard with him if their children yet did not regard with feelings very different to those with which a memorial of discredit is contemplated, the fact that Argyle had once upon a time sent into Parliament as her member a young man who was the first native born Australian who had forged his way into the Legislature of the land on his own merits, and without the aid of wealth, family, or influence. [68]