Victorian Land League

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John Joseph Walsh, secretary of the Victoria Land League, which he had begun in December 1856 with Thomas Loader, invited 'a Congressional Assembly of Delegates' on 20 June 1857 to formulate a programme of constitutional and land reform. The response, especially from the goldfields, vindicated his initiative. Secretary to the subsequent Victorian Convention (July-August) and its standing council, he published Resolutions, Proceedings, and Documents of the Victorian Convention in Melbourne that year and sent 400 copies to the New South Wales Land League in Sydney; he also edited single issues of the Freesoil Papers for the People (1857) and The Freeholder and Convention Expositor (1858), and published and edited The Convention and True Colonizer, February-June, 1859. When an attempt to convene a second convention failed that year he organized the Land Bill Central Committee's support in 1860 for the 'Convention Corner' members of the Victorian Legislative Assembly.[1]

VICTORIA LAND LEAGUE. PRELIMINARY MEETING.

The provisional committee and a number of other gentlemen interested in the forming of a Victorian Land League met on Saturday in the Australasian Hotel, to discuss the resolutions prepared by sub-committees in pursuance of orders from the provisional committee, and intended for submittal to a public meeting of the inhabitants of Melbourne. Almost all the provisional committee were present, as were also many others, amongst whom was a'considerable number of working men and several members of the learned professions. In consoquence of an advertisement which named half-past five o'clock as the hour of meeting, some persons were present at that hour; but as it appeared that the general expectation was that the meeting was to take place at seven o'clock, the gentlemen present adjourned to that hour. At seven o'clock there was a full attendance.

In the absence of Dr. Mackay, Mr. ... was called to the chair. The different sub committees brought up the resolutions they had prepared ; and after several hours anxious and animated discussion, the following were adopted by a large majority of those present as the resolutions whioh will be submitted to a public meeting of the inhabitants of the city :

That this ... with dissatisfaction ... the resolutions submitted to the Legislative Assembly as the ... bill to consolidate tho laws at present in force relating to tho public lands of this colony, resolves to form a Victorian Land League, with the object of obtaining by constitutional means a code of land laws at once equitable, comprehensive, and liberal, ... whioh the rights of the people will be secured, ... this colony be enabled to compete with the (... land markets of the world. That It Is the opinion of this meeting that every citizen of Victoria wishing to become an actual occupier of land should be permitted, without being harassed by forms or delays, to enter into once upon a limited quantity of the public lands ..., not to exceed 100 acres), with perfect freedom of choice over all tho unalienated lands of the colony, and that he should obtain this land at tho flxod upset prlce, without auction, whenever the district in which he ... is brought to public sale; that whatever ... district is so brought to ... sale and tho lands sltuato In It aro thus offered to purchasers for monoy mordy, without conditions of sottlement, they should he submitted to publie auction ; and that all lauds not sold at the auction should thenceforth be open for selection at the upset price. That this meeting disapproves of the proposal to lease the public lands of this colony to the present occupiers of pastoral runs, or to any other persons, considering the waste lands to be the commonage of tho people, and that all colonists have equal rights to ... uso of them for grazing until taken up for ... cultural purposes by bona fide settlers. That the people in the mining districts be requested to forward to this committee their views upon tho land question generally, especially as relating to auriferous lands. That a Melbourne committee of tho Victorian Land League be now appointed, with power to add to their numbor. That the committee be authorised to correspond with and invite the co-oporation of the people in tho country and mining districts, and to take ... and suggestions upon the land question from gentlemen willing to give their information for the benefit of the League, and also to prepare a report showing the best plan of opening the public land of Victoria, and to submit the same to this meeting upon an early date. That the Surveyor-General be respectfully requested to defer tho consideration of the resolutions relating to the land standing in his name in the Legislative Assembly, until the people at large have an opportunity of expressing an opinion thereon. That the committee be instructed co prepare portions for signature by the people, embodying the principles of tho foregoing resolutions, ami to immediately prosont tho same to both Houses of Parliament. That the committee be empowered to Inaugurate and cany ont tho business of the League, and to reçoive'subscriptions. Tho sum of ono shilling or more to constitute membership. It was furthet resolved, on the motion of one of tho committee, that the resolutions adopted by the provisional committee and others bo handed to the reporters for publication, in order that tho public ho made fully aware of tho Uno of policy that the Victorian Land League has decided upon laying before the people of Melbourne.

The meeting was then, in consequent of the lateness of the hour-half-past eleven o'clock-adjourned until seven o'clock on Wednesday evening, at tho same place, until which time the honorary secretaries, Messrs,J. J. Walsh and ¡Thomas Loader, were requested to receive any communications addressed to the League.[2]