THE PRESENT IMPOUNDING ACT.
TO THE EDITOR.
Sir—Perhaps you will be kind enough to insert the following in your journal, as no doubt but it daily meets the eye of those who have a voice in the framing of a new or the alteration of the present Impounding Act, which in clause 6 states that “no person holding the office of Ranger shall at the same time fill the situation of Poundkeeper.” But it does not prevent a Poundkeeper from aiding and assisting a Ranger in the impounding cattle from Waste Crown lands, which is certainly done in many parts of the colony. No doubt can exist as to the meaning of the clause, viz., that Poundkeepers who derive a benefit from the impounding should have no authority of impounding in such cases.
Again, clause No. 7 states that a Poundkeeper shall supply cattle impounded with food and water at least twice a day at stated times, and are liable to a penalty not exceeding £5 in neglect of this matter. Now, Sir, I should like to know how it is that a Poundkeeper is allowed, where no Municipal Corporation or District Council exist, to turn a body of cattle from the Public Pound and feed them on Crown waste lands, when any other individual is liable, under the Crown Waste Lands Act, to a penalty per one beast for the first offence in the sum of £10, and then charging the owner with 9d. per head for food, viz., eating grass from Crown waste lands. Several inconveniences arise from their so doing. Firstly, the cattle are driven a mile or even miles from the Pound to feed. You are informed of this on your arrival at the Pound after a long journey. You then have to seek them, which I have had to do myself, and perhaps after all your trouble you don’t even find them until they are brought home in the evening by the Poundkeeper or his servant; perhaps at sunset, when, by clause 18, you cannot compel them to deliver them to you until next day, which causes them to charge you another day’s fees.
I doubt the legality of their taking cattle from the Pound to feed upon waste Crown lands, and I think, so far as my humble opinion goes, that if a person took possession then of his cattle there could be no remedy for the Poundkeeper in the matter.
Clause No. 14 of the said Act also states:—”It shall be lawful for any person, or the tenant, agent, overseer, or bailiff of any person upon whose land any cattle shall be found trespassing, or for any Ranger, to lead or drive such cattle to the Public Pound nearest to the said land; and the person impounding any such cattle shall give notice to the keeper of the said Pound, specifying the number and kinds of the cattle impounded.” It is evident to me that this clause does not give authority to a Poundkeeper to act as agent or to clear squatters’ runs on a written agreement or authority at so much per head, and then obtaining his fees again as before mentioned. Many grievances exist through this very fact, which I can perfectly explain to the Commissioner of Crown Lands if he wishes it, and through occurrences this past week in our locality I have been asked by several to draw the attention of those in power—through the press—to this matter.
Again, in Victoria, all sales of cattle impounded take place on one certain day, at the same hour, which prevents agreements being made by Pound keepers in regard of sales of cattle to each other. They also have to advertise the amount of damage claimed, when impounded, and by whom, which is certainly a more satisfactory plan than our South Australian.
I believe legal advice is about to be taken in this district in regard to some occurrences similar to what l have here stated. Perhaps we may then arrive at a better conclusion in the matter.
You must excuse me this time for trespassing on your columns; but believing you are at all times open to expose or remedy a grievance.
I am, Sir, &c.,
THOMAS SMITH, Mintaro.
Mintaro, July 20, 1863.
THE PRESENT IMPOUNDING ACT.