Letter re The Gadara Run
2 June 1864 The Sydney Morning Herald
Sir,-I have read over your articles on the reservation from lease of the Gocup and Gadara runs, and will feel obliged by your allowing me to correct one or two mistakes which you have made, and also to make a few remarks on the subject myself, - first expressing my thanks for your having given publicity to a former letter of mine, with reference to these reservations, both in the Herald and in the Sydney Mail.
You seem to write under the impression that both runs are owned by one individual; this is not the case - Gocup belongs to J. A. Broughton, and Gadara to R. K. Broughton.
Again, with reference to Crain's free selection, you say, ''Mr. Broughton makes a special complaint that an improved clover paddock adjoining his purchased land has been selected by a neighbour, though his own application to purchase it was rejected.
But it would seem that his application was made under the pre-emptive right, and that right was extinguished by the proclamation of the reserve.
He had improvements on this lend, which he valued at £50, but that was not enough to protect a paddock of 160 acres, as according to the Act the improvements to give the owner a pre-emptive claim must be worth at least a pound an acre." No; the fact is, the paddock comprises under sixty acres, consisting of 400 rods of fencing, not square, and the surveyor who measured it off for Crain must have known this.
I applied for 160 acres in the first instance, because under my pre-emptive right a less area could not be bought; but, subsequently, I applied in due form under the Land Act, as directed by the Government.
Thus, then, taking into consideration the value of the clover, I am entitled to the land under this clause pointed out by you. Independent of which I received a letter from the Acting Surveyor-General, dated 7th January, 1864, informing me "that the surveyor who measured Crain's land has valued the improvements erected upon it at £18, which will, of course, be no bar to selection. Should you desire to appeal to an appraiser in the matter, on your notifying your intention to me, immediate steps will be taken to carry out the appraisement."
I wrote twice in reply to this letter, in February and March, pressing the settlement of the matter by appraisement, but have never received any answer.
I said "the surveyor does not appear to have taken into consideration the fact of the paddock being clovered to a considerable extent, and thus rendered doubly valuable."
Why clovered land should not be regarded as improved land I cannot comprehend.
It would be thought monstrous to take a paddock under potatoes or corn, and yet four acres of well clovered land will turn in more cash in the year by fattening stock than twice that area will realise by growing grain upon it.
I am also under the conviction that you err when you say, "having perused the evidence given before a select committee, we are bound to say that it does not prove that the Minister for Lands acted with any intentional unfairness or in an arbitrary manner."
You admit a breach of his own Act: was not that arbitrary? and was it not unfair to do so for a special and partial purpose.
All I can say is that at a warmly contested election a pledge was demanded of and given by the Government candidate, who, from his peculiar connection and position, was supposed to be able to fulfil his promise, that these runs in question should be thrown open to selection, that the pledge then given was afterwards carried out, and through a gross violation of the law the choicest of the lands in question fell into the hands of the most active supporters of the Government candidate, while the public were looking forward to purchasing these very lands at auction.
Thus were his enemies punished and his friends rewarded, and, as you very justly remark, "the revenue defrauded."
If Mr. Robertson was ignorant of Mr. Cowper's pledge, why did he violate his own bill to make good that pledge?
If there really was the pressing demand for land that the Government has stated that there was, how is it that the land remained month after month, when it was already surveyed, without being brought to the hammer?
Why was a petition acted upon without first giving those interested an opportunity of protesting against it, and of showing probably) that the land was unfit for the purposes set forth in the petition, or not required at all?
Had this been done an adjustment of clashing claims upon the Government would have followed as in the case of Watson and Real's run upon Adelong.
Here the legitimate wants of the petitioners were complied with and the leaseholders not ruined or unnecessarily injured.
Is the law of the land to be violated, the public gulled, "the revenue defrauded," private individuals sacrificed, to make good a member's return at a contested election, and yet the violators of the law, the perpetrators of this dark deed "done on the quiet," to be exempted from the blame of having acted with intentional unfairness or in an arbitrary manner ?
With regard to the following paragraph- "Mr. Broughton's sufferings, however, do not seem to require much commiseration when he or some member of his family has enjoyed quiet possession of the run for more than twenty years."
I would ask, does twenty years' possession justify the illegal withdrawal of my run from lease (I thought length of possession strengthened right instead of nullifying it); and why am I, on that account, to be shut out from sympathy?
It has been too much the fashion of late in this colony to withdraw sympathy from those who are defrauded, and to bestow it on those who defraud them; but I certainly, Sir, did not expect that you would advocate such a course.
Having originally occupied the lands in question, by great labour and privation, and at no inconsiderable risk of life and property, after having paid without demur all rents and charges demanded of me by the Government, I think I am entitled to the commiseration of the public when these land« are torn from me without a moment's notice by a gross breach of the law.
Again you say "it would not be fair to turn out one leasehold squatter to put in another leasehold squatter, but it would be fair to displace him to make way for freehold graziers."
According to the wording of my lease in the reservation clause thereof, I think it would be quite illegal to do so, but free selectors have grazing rights equal to three times the area of their selections, such a right even according to your view of the case, would be unfair, and these rights on my run were sublet by the free selectors to my utter ruin.
Upon the whole it seems to me not quite fair and somewhat "kindless," to temper the windy discussion that is arising, not to the "shorn lambs”, but to the late Minister for Lands, and our sometime member for Tumut who, like wicked Haman, sold me and my children because I did not do political obeisance to him and vote against my conscience.
In conclusion, I must, in apology for this lengthy intrusion upon your columns, ask you to bear with me as a man daily and hourly smarting under the torturing effects of misrule.
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
R. K. Broughton.