Page:Oliver Spence.djvu/26

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19
THE COMING TERROR.

of hired labourers for the syndicates, that it appeared to most of them impossible to farm successfully upon a small scale. Such of them as were inclined to try, however, were at once advanced in the notes of the National Bank, sufficient sums of money at very low rates of interest, to enable them to earn their living from Mother Earth without crowding into the already over-populated cities. Others were encouraged by the same means to form co-operative agricultural companies; and the rest of them, those who appeared to require some person or persons whom they might look upon as employers, were placed upon huge State farms, where they were employed under the direction of competent State officials.

In the meantime it became quite evident to the Dictator that to successfully carry on a National Bank at such a time of popular disturbance as that following a terrible civil war, required a very considerable gold basis for the Bank's note issue. To secure this gold basis, he, therefore, took possession of the whole of the coin and bullion remaining in the vaults of the Federal Money Stronghold. This amounted to several hundred millions sterling, for although some members of the ring—forseeing the triumph of the Revolutionists—had escaped from Australia in their private yachts, most of the financiers had remained, and believing that their army would overthrow the Revolutionists, had lodged their valuables for safety in the Money Stronghold.

There were, of course, a few men who still had sufficient hardihood to shriek "confiscation" and "robbery" at the Dictator's action, but he heeded them not, for he did not forget that the reason why the Paris Commune of 1871 was overthrown was that the Commune refused to touch the money in the Banks of Paris, and was thus bereft of the most necessary "sinews of war." The Dictator also called to mind the frightful vengeance of the plutocratic conquerors of the Commune, and he resolved to put it out of the power of the financiers to accomplish in Australia such a hideous butchery as their class had perpetrated in France.

To meet the necessary expenses of Government the Dictator imposed a tax upon land values, which was heavy where the demand for certain land was great, and light where the demand was small, thus the most productive or otherwise most desirable land 1aid the heaviest tax, which, however, was not oppressively felt, as the amount required for the cost of maintaining what was decidedly the least expensive Government ever seen in Australia was very small.

The Dictator crowned his acts of "confiscation" by declaring private property in land a crime against the people of Australia. All land should in future, he proclaimed, be leased from the State, and should return to the State at the death of the leaseholder. The leaseholder, could, however, possess property in his own improvements, which he might dispose of, as it pleased him. It was also proclaimed that every man of the age of 21 or over should be entitled to lease land from the State free of all charges, except the ordinary tax on land values. To encourage young men to marry and make a home, a loan from the funds of the National Bank of Issue was made to every young married man leasing a homestead.