[Editor: An article regarding the practice of “peacocking” used by some squatters. Published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 August 1875.]
“Peacocking” a run. —
The Border Post says:— As far as we can ascertain, to Messrs. Ronald and M’Bain is due the honour of being the first pastoral tenants in Riverina, if not in New South Wales, who have availed themselves of the advantages contained in the 31st, or what is popularly known as the “peacocks’,” clause of the Amending Land Act of New South Wales, which came into operation on the 12th instant.
The clause entitles the pastoral tenant to the pre-emptive right of purchase of 640 acres — in every run containing 3200 acres — by virtue of improvements intended to be erected. As the square mile can be taken up in forty-acre allotments, every five square miles may have, at the option of the squatter, sixteen “eyes,” and the holder of an area of 20,000 acres can have as many “eyes” as Argus spread over the run like a peacock’s tail, to the intense mortification of the cockatoos.
The gentlemen referred to picked six “eyes” in their run on Thursday last, at the Wagga Wagga Land Office. Before three months are over, the occupation of the land sharks will be gone, and for ever. Peacocking will henceforth be a favourite and lucrative pastime.
[With reference to the above, we are requested, in order to prevent misapprehension and mischief, to draw attention to the law as to the taking up of Crown lands by virtue of prospective improvements, to be made by holders thereof. The Border Post (Albury) states that the 31st clause of the Amending Land Act “entitles the pastoral tenant to the pre-emptive right of purchase of 640 acres in every run containing 3200 acres, by virtue of improvements intended to be erected.”
The 31st clause of the Act alluded to says ;— “Any person holding Crown lands under lease or promise of lease for pastoral purposes,” may make “an application in writing for liberty, by reason and in virtue of improvements intended to be made thereon, to purchase any area of such land not exceeding 640 acres, nor less than 40 acres.” . . . “Provided also that no such application to purchase as aforesaid shall be made for more than one square mile within each block of five miles square, out of each lease, or a proportionate quantity out of any holding of less area.”
From these extracts from the clause it will be evident — 1st, that only one square mile can be taken out of every twenty-five square miles, or, in other words only 640 acres out of every 16,000 acres — and not, as stated by the Post, 640 acres out of 3200 acres. Secondly, that the holder of the pastoral lease can only make one application under that clause, and if such holder makes one application for 40 acres out of this lease be exhausts the power conferred upon him by the clause.
In support of this view, we would draw attention to the 10th section of the regulations under the Act, viz.:— “No application can be made for more than one portion not exceeding 640 acres within each block of five miles square of the applicant’s leasehold, or a proportionate quantity out of any holding of less area.” The paragraph alluded to states that the square mile can be taken up in sixteen separate 40-acre blocks. Such is clearly not the case, and those who have made such applications will find out their mistake. Indeed, we have been authoritatively informed that applications of this character have been already rejected by the Minister for Lands. — Ed. S. M. H.]
The Sydney Morning Herald, (Sydney, NSW), 30 August 1875, p. 4
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]