Free Selection Before Survey [1 December 1860]

[Editor: A poem published in The Maitland Mercury, 1 December 1860.]

Free Selection Before Survey.

Arise, ye poor sons of the soil,
In slavery no longer toil;
Arise, en masse, for now is the hour,
Down with Hay, the squatting power.
Follow your leader, follow brave Jack,
Who manfully sticks to your back;
Fight for your rights, and never give way,
Have free selection before survey.

Sit ye not still, be not content,
For landlords, they must have their rent;
But vote for the man of free selection,
And you’ll be sure of half a section.
Then, forward march, join hand in hand,
And take possession of the land;
Show squatters, and their leader, Hay,
That you’ll select before survey.

Long they’ve enjoyed what we now want,
With fortunes made they’re not content;
They would make us serfs, and keep us poor,
And have us begging at their door.
For generations yet to rise,
Their children, ours, would tyrannise,
For, hark! it’s now I hear them say,
“No free selection before survey.”

Why left you your dear native shore?
The Pacific, wild, why crossed you o’er?
Did you to Australia come
To gain an independent home?
Oh, then, if you have come so far,
Up, like men, and brave the war,
And you are sure to gain the day,
And free selection before survey.

A. Ploughman.
Raymond Terrace, Nov. 27th, 1860.

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (West Maitland, NSW), 1 December 1860, p. 5

Editor’s notes:
This poem was written regarding the December 1860 elections in New South Wales. It refers to John Hay (1816-1892), who was elected to the seat of Murray, and to John (Jack) Robertson (1816-1891), who was elected unopposed to the seat of Upper Hunter. Coincidentally, the two men were born in the same year and died a year apart.
See: 1) “The Murray – 1860 (Roll: 722)”, Parliament of New South Wales (accessed 17 March 2014)
2) “The Upper Hunter – 1860 (Roll: 1,334)”, Parliament of New South Wales (accessed 17 March 2014)

free selection = land legislation in Australia in the1860s was passed by several colonies which enabled people to obtain land for farming, whereby they could nominate a limited area of land to rent or buy, being able to select land which had not yet been surveyed (hence the phrase “free selection before survey”) and even obtain land previously leased by squatters (although squatters were able to buy sections of their land, up to a designated limit; with many of them buying up further sections under the names of family members, friends, and employees)

Hay = John Hay (1816-1892), New South Wales parliamentarian
See: 1) A. W. Martin, “Hay, Sir John (1816–1892)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University (accessed 17 March 2014)
2) “John Hay (politician)”, Wikipedia (accessed 17 March 2014)

Jack = John Robertson (1816-1891), known as Jack Robertson, New South Wales parliamentarian, who was five times Premier of NSW
See: 1) Bede Nairn, “Robertson, Sir John (1816–1891)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University (accessed 17 March 2014)
2) “John Robertson (New South Wales Premier)”, Wikipedia (accessed 17 March 2014)
3) “Memories of Sir John Robertson”, The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW), 29 September 1904, p. 19
4) “The Land Act of 1884”, The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW), 17 July 1886, p. 13

o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)

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