Lecture on the Land Laws
21 August 1906 The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser
Last night Mr. H. R. McWilliam, of Wagga, gave a most interesting ad- dress on "Our Lost Heritage, or the History of the Land Laws."
Mr. McWilliam depicted the early days of settlement, and pointed out how the defects in our land system could be said to date from the famous Orders-in-Council of 1847, which practically handed over N.S.W. to the pastoralist, irrespective of whether the land were pastoral or agricultural.
Following up the "orders" it was observed by the lecturer that the 1861 Act had resulted in more mischievous consequences than had any other statute passed by the N.S.W. Parliament.
It set the agricultural and pastoral industries in direct antagonism, and resulted in the complete supremacy of the latter, to the detriment of the best interests of the State.
The further history of the system was given in more or less detail, and it was shown that the 1895 Act was the most successful land measure yet passed in settling people on the soil.
Speaker also spoke in high praise of the provisions of the Closer Settlement Act, and of the new system of C.P. Leases recently introduced by Mr. Ashton.
The address should serve as a lesson showing how great is the need of undoing the evil past and unlocking to the use of the many the lands that are at present held by so few.
The lecturer appealed to his hearers to take a keener interest in their country's welfare, to be more active in politics, and more particular in the selection of their members.
He alleged that our bad land laws were due to the people alone, who were too apathetic to look after their own interests.
He concluded by expressing the belief that if the 4,000,000 people in Australia did not properly develop Australia, some other race would ultimately step in and do it for them.