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1856.]
365
The Progress of the Colony of Victoria.

field's views, directed Governor Bourke to raise the price of land in New South Wales to one pound per acre. He, however, foreseeing the bad results that would follow, acted on his own responsibility and continued the former upset price of five shillings.

Unfortunately for the colony, Governor Bourke was in 1838 superseded by Sir George Gipps; and the Wakefield party renewing their demands, the home government directed that the land in New South Wales should be raised to twelve shillings per acre; at the same time instructing the governor to take measures for checking the sale of land even at twelve shillings, if he should observe that the extension of the population took place with a rapidity beyond what was desirable, and that the want of labour continued to be seriously felt.

But nothing was gained by the change. People would not pay the high price for land; settlers continued to spread over the country as squatters; the land-sales almost entirely ceased, and so did emigration.

Still the home government was prepared to go farther in backing up Mr. Wakefield; and in 1842 they passed an Act (5 and 6 Vict. c. 36) "for regulating the sale of waste land belonging the crown in the Australian colonies." The substance of this Act was, that no lands must be held unless they had been bought or were held by licence; the lowest upset price to be £1 per acre; leases to be granted for not longer than twelve months; and half of the proceeds of the land-sales to be applied towards introducing emigrants from home. It was left to the governor to raise the price of any land he thought worth more than £1 per acre, and to issue such regulations as he might see fit for the occupation of waste lands.

Empowered by this Act, Sir George Gipps issued a code of regulations, reducing the size of "runs" to twenty square miles. On these he imposed an annual licence of £IO; and by assessments on stock and other regulations he did all in his power to force the squatters to buy their runs; which it was clearly impossible they could do, at the high price at which alone land was legally sold—since a "reduced" run of twenty square miles would require a sum of upwards of £12,000 to purchase it.

As might be expected, these regulations met with strong opposition; not only from the squatters, but from the rest of the community, who foresaw in the downfall of the squatters their own ruin. They formed an association for the vindication of their rights; claimed fixity of tenure by lease, with right of pre-emption; and refused to pay taxes. The whole country was convulsed; meetings were held in Sydney and in Melbourne, at which the speakers advocated total separation from the mother country, if the obnoxious regulations were not rescinded.

After the retirement of Sir George Gipps in 1847, the government went from one extreme to another. Instead of refusing, as heretofore, to make any concession, they passed an order in council which virtually handed over the whole colony into the hands of the squatters. They were granted leases, (with the right of pre-emption, for 320 acres or upwards, at one pound per acre without auction) and at the termination the lease they might claim compensation for im-