Assessment on Stock Act Amendment Bill 1861


Second Reading


The Hon. the CHIEF SECRETARY said, in moving the second reading of that Bill, the subject had been well discussed during the past session. The object of the present Bill was to alter the scale of the assessment on stock. The former Act contained a maximum and minimum, but the present Act contained neither. The word “situation” was in the present Bill, and had led to much discussion elsewhere. The Bill was originally laid before Parliament did not contain the word "situation''—(hear)—the assessment being levied simply according to the carrying capabilities of the runs. Parties holding poor runs would not be assessed to the same amount as if they had good runs. Much land would be not worth taking up in consequence of its poor quality ; it had been proved that a great deal of land in the colony would not carry 50 sheep to the mile. It was desirable in their legislation to facilitate as far as possible the production of exports, and this would be done by the provision he had named. He had already said that the word "situation" was not in the Bill, as originally introduced into Parliament, but had been inserted in the other House; he would leave hon, members to consider the matter, but he might say that he thought any alteration the Council might make in that word would probably meet with opposition from the other House, and the Bill would thereby be imperilled. Rather than such a result should happen, hon. members would perhaps give up their private feeling in the matter. The Government would take every guarantee that the work would be done by the party entrusted with it in the fairest possible manner. The matter had been standing over since 1858, and it was very desirable that it should be settled. It was desirable that the assessment should be made according to the carrying capabilities of the runs. They were formerly assessed according to the number of sheep actually upon them, but that plan was attended with inconvenience. The plan of the present Bill was better, and the occupier could place what sheep on the run he thought best.

The Hon. H. AYERS seconded the motion, although the Bill did not go so far as might be desired. He thought, however, that it was better to pass it than to make alterations, and lose more time.

The Hon. S. DAVENPORT could not regard the Bill as a measure founded on sound principles, as it made the Executive of the country—a class interested in making as much money as possible out of the class for which the legislation  of the Bill was intended—judges of the value of the property without arbitration and without appeal. The voice of the party who had to pay should certainly be heard. The Bill was therefore unsound in principle. It was desirable on all sides that the measure should be passed, and it was a matter for some congratulation that, after struggling on since 1858, a rather better measure was brought before them. Still it was imperfect, and would not, he felt sure, work satisfactorily. It was useless to attempt to control nature by means of artificial limits, and it was well known that over a vast expanse of country, and comprising a large amount of the wealth of the colony, not 20 sheep could be carried to the square mile. The Bill came before the House with the word "situation," which he thought was not only useless but perplexing. He could only imagine one mode in which "situation" could be taken into account in connection with an assessment based upon the number of sheep depastured. A man near a market might be said to have more sheep on his run than he actually had, because he could fatten and sell them in six months and restock his run. In that sense the word "situation" might be said to represent numbers. The Hon. the Chief Secretary spoke of the Act affecting the assessment which was payable in the year 1860. He was not prepared to move an amendment, but he thought in honor the Government should go back to the year 1859. Any excess of assessment which had been paid then, if demanded back, should be refunded.

The Hon. G. HALL did not rise to oppose the motion, but would like the Hon. the Chief Secretary to define the word "situation." (Laughter.) Runs were variously assessed at 10s, 15s, or 20s, per mile, but was something more per head for situation to be added to the carrying capabilities of the runs? It was true the Bill contained no maximum nor minimum ; but he did not envy the Commissioner of Crown Lands his berth when all the questions of situation came before him. The present Bill was better than the former one, but it was not all that was required.


Assessment on Stock Act Amendment Bill - Debate Resumed.

The Bill was then read a second time, and the Council went into Committee upon it.
In Committee.
Preamble postponed.
Clause 1, passed as printed.
Clause 2.

The Hon. C. G. EVERARD thought the word "situation" would be better struck out. He could not understand it, and thought it was of no use; perhaps the Hon. the Chief Secretary could explain it.

The Hon. the CHIEF SECRETARY said that so far from being able to explain it, he thought it would puzzle a conjuror. (Laughter.) Tho Government would, however, do their duty in reference to the matter, and see that the assessment was carried out fairly.

The Hon. S. DAVENPORT was not intending to oppose but did not like the clause to pass without expressing his opinion. The Select Committee appointed to consider the question on a former occasion, had recommended as a principle of fairness the power of appeal, but the Bill before them made no such provision. In the other colonies more justice was done, and in the new colony of Queensland, where they seemed to be adopting the cream of legislation from the other colonies, they provided for appeal; but here if persons felt aggrieved, they must take their case to the Supreme Court, and might have to travel 500 miles, and go to great expense in in order to recover damages for over assessment. Such a state of things was neither convenient for individuals nor for the Government, and they should not pass laws disregarding the interests of a portion of the community, the more so as the assessment was to be regulated by the Executive. Fortunately, at present they had a gentleman to manage it who was in every way qualified, and who was formerly a stockholder himself. The Government had lately had an opportunity of availing themselves of his high intelligence on such matters, but hereafter they might not have so good an opportunity. The same gentleman might not be available when they next required his services in a similar way. Many years' experience was needed for such an office. The class of persons interested was a large class, and represented nearly one-third of the ... (incomplete)