MEETING AT MINTARO.
On Wednesday morning the Hon. J. Colton met electors at the Mintaro Hotel. The township presented a gay appearance by the display of bunting, and about 50 persons were at the meeting; Mr. Jolly in the chair.
Mr. COLTON said he appeared before them at the request of people in various parts of the district. It would be necessary for the next Parliament to consider many important measures—amongst them a new Land Bill; it being quite clear that the other colonies were bidding for our population. He was not in favour of giving away the real estate of the colony, for they must recollect we had a large national debt to provide for. The provisions of the proposed Land Bill would be found more advantageous than at present existed in the other colony. The proposed agricultural districts would embrace the best land in the colony, the upset price to be 30s. per acre, to be reduced to 20s. in one month, on the credit system. Such a system would be the means of having a contented settled population. (A Voice—”I hope so,” and cheers.) With regard to the tariff, many articles that could be produced in the colony should be to a certain extent protected. The Government would be in favour of giving encouragement to manufactories, such as iron, woollens, or hemp; for the purpose of increasing our products and exports. (Cheers). The insolvency laws required amendment. The Bill lately thrown out by the Upper House proposed to place insolvents estates in the hands of their creditors, instead of having them swallowed up by the processes of the Insolvent Court, and fraudulent debtors dealt with by the Criminal Court. No insolvent should have power to make an assignment without first calling a meeting of his creditors. (Hear.) The question of payment to members would be necessary to take into consideration. Many suitable candidates would be induced to come forward if their reasonable expenses were defrayed. The education question was a most important one, and he regretted that there was considerable apathy in the country on the subject. Where there was such a liberal franchise as prevailed in the colonies the education of the young should be attended to. He would not ignore the use of the Bible in schools, but no aid should be given to any but strictly secular schools. (Cheers.) He would now speak of the twopence an acre question. (Laughter and cheers.) That measure was the action of the Government, who had been frequently requested to devise means to raise a revenue for the maintenance of the main roads; but after the measure had been brought forward no assistance was offered by the House. They would recollect that their late member, Mr. Bright, stated that the roads should be maintained out of the General Revenue as heretofore—(“Quite right too”)—but he would tell them that additional taxation would become imperative. (“Absentees.”) He would not advocate class legislation, but a system should be devised that would meet all classes. (Cheers.)
Mr. JAMES TORR, on rising, was received with ironical cheers. He recommended them to vote for Colton and himself. (Laughter.) They wanted men who would work, and those who did not should be sent to the Stockade. (Renewed laughter.) They required land at 15s. an acre, or less, and should he be returned, and get the position of Commissioner of Crown Lands, he would promise them a liberal land measure. (Loud laughter.)
Mr. GEORGE FAULKNER wished that a more liberal Land Bill had been brought forward before, so that the best part of the Bundaleer run would have been prevented from falling into the hands of one individual. (Hear.) He hoped the memorial lately forwarded, asking that all sales of Crown lands should be “postponed until “the Land Bill was brought forward, would be favourably entertained. (Cheers.)
Mr. COLTON had no hesitation in saying that the Government were sincere in their desire to open up the best lands in the colony, but a revenue must be raised. In answer to an Elector, he said that in future care would be taken to make water reserves for the public.
Mr. FAULKNER had no objection to meet his neighbours, but objected to have to compete with land agents at sales.
Mr. COLTON said the agricultural areas or districts would remedy the evil.
Mr. PATRICK DOWD—Will the Government support the construction of a railway from Port Augusta northwards?
Mr. COLTON—They will favourably entertain a guarantee of 5 per cent. for 30 years, providing the cost of construction does not exceed the fixed amount. (Cheers.)
Mr. FAULKNER—Will the Government place third-class carriages on the Burra Railway and provide blinds for second-class carriages. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. COLTON would not make any rash promises, but it was contemplated to reduce the passenger charges to about the price of the third class—(cheers)—and in travelling on the line yesterday he had observed the necessity for blinds to the windows, and the matter should be attended to.
Mr. LATHLEAN wished the attention of the Commissioner drawn to the fact that great in convenience was felt by the train remaining at Manoora whilst the line had been finished for some time beyond Mintaro.
Mr. COLTON—Such arrangements would shortly be made as would give every satisfaction.
Mr. DOWD—Is the Commissioner in favour of handing the money now expended by the Central Road Board to District Councils?
Mr. COLTON—The question was very important, requiring mature reflection. The time would arrive when a different system would have to be devised. The Board had given pretty general satisfaction. In answer to an elector, he would certainly be in favour of making the roads and approaches to the railway stations.
Mr. WILLIAM THOMAS—Is Mr. Colton in favour of the Clare and Wallaroo Tramway and reducing telegraphic charges?
Mr. COLTON would, if returned, advocate a tramway if proved to be necessary. It would be wise policy to reduce the telegraph charges, as lately done by Victoria. (Hear, hear.) In answer to a query, he would not support any tax on newspapers. In reply to Mr. Giles, the Government were prepared to redress any grievance in connection with the Catholic Orphanage; to Mr. G. Faulkner, he would be in favour of equalizing the salaries of the Ministry; to Mr. Thomas, the office of Attorney-General should be a non-political one.
Messrs. FAULKNER, BRADY, and PRIEST called the Commissioner’s attention to the fact that the Government had surveyed and advertised a township at Farrell’s Flat Station, and the land had been a public reserve.
Mr. COLTON recommended that immediate action should be taken by those interested to enquire into the matter.
Mr. Richard Lathlean proposed Mr. J. Colton, and Mr. Thomas Ninnes seconded. Mr. Peter Brady proposed as an amendment—”That the Hon. J. Colton is not a fit and proper person to represent the district.”‘ Seconded by Mr. Richard Hill. Amendment carried. Mr. Brady called for cheers for Mr. Torr, which were given. Mr. Horan proposed Mr. Torr; seconded by Mr. Brady. Thanks to the Chairman closed an orderly meeting.