7 / 2/1874
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THE BENALLA LAND INQUIRY
[BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH]
(FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT)
The land board appointed to inquire into certain alleged violations of the Land Act in this district continued its sitting at 10 am. The board, which consists of Mr Holmes, PM, and Mr Barclay, superintendent of police, sits both under the authority of the Board of Land and Works, and by virtue of a commission issued by the Governor, appointing it to inquire into certain violations of the Land Act and to report to him, under the 75th section of the act of 1860. Mr G P Smith conducts the cases on behalf of the Lands Department, and Mr Purves is retained for the defence.
The first case proceeded with has been that of the Tallygaroopna run, near Shepparton, the property of Mr William Fraser. The National Bank is interested, and holds the licence in its name. Cases of alleged dummyism have taken place on this run, and Mr William Fraser, the owner, and the following selectors have been called upon to explain their action in the matter, viz.: John, David, Mary Anne, and William Fraser, children of the squatter, and Grace Howe (the wife of John Fraser), Annie and George Howe, and three station hands Dooley, M'lntosh, and Brascher.
Evidence was taken on Thursday on behalf of the Lands department.
William Fraser, jun., was examined, and when asked when he had last seen the three station bands, stated that they had been discharged from their employment the day after his father returned from Melbourne-the 1st January-when he ascertained that these proceedings were to be taken. He stated that he paid them their wages, accompanied them to the Murray , and saw them across the river. Dooley rode one of the station horses, and had a saddle and bridle given him from the station.
It was proved that the selections applied for by Dooley, M'lntosh, and Brascher were in the immediate vicinity of the sheepwash, woolshed, and the pre-emptive section, and, except for some narrow loads, cut off all access to these places.
John Fraser was also examined, and he admitted that a letter purporting to be signed by George Howe was in his (witness's) hand- writing.
Another letter, purporting to be signed by Dooley, was then put into his hand, claiming the return of £17 for survey fees and rent. The writing was disguised, and the spelling was bad. The witness, when asked whether he had not written the letter, refused to answer, and his counsel, Mr Purves, objected when it was proposed to swear him.
A letter, alleged to have been written by M'lntosh to the Lands department, complaining of delay in obtaining his selection was admitted by Wm Fraser, jun., to have been written by himself, but he stated that M'lntosh instructed him to do so.
The district surveyor, Mr Nixon, proved that the selections were in places which would interfere greatly with the squatter, and would be likely to be strenuously opposed by him. Some of the selections nearly cut the run in half, and prevented access to the squatter's reserves.
Mr Leo, a surveyor, who had surveyed the selections, stated that John Fraser had marked them out on the plan, and he had seen none of the selectors except Dooley. The survey fees were paid by Mr Fraser. He proved also that Dooley was a marksman. All the applications were made on the same day within an hour or two of each other.
Constable M'Cracken proved that on none of the selections were there improvements of the value required by law, and that none of the Frasers had resided on their selections. On the selections of Mary and David Fraser a two-roomed stabled hut had been erected on the boundary line, but it was not occupied, and on those of John and William Fraser there were huts, only occupied by them when engaged in mustering sheep.
The case for the defence was entered upon to-day.
Mr Fraser, sen, was examined, and stated that the land was taken up for the benefit of his children. He had paid all fees, rent, &c,
for the improvements made, and had given the money, not as a loan, but as a free gift. His children resided with him and not on their selections. His sheep grazed over the land. The selections were not cultivated, but the land had been grubbed and the trees ringed.
All the selectors except the three station hands were likewise examined, and stated that they had made no agreement with their father with regard to the land, who had pro raised the allotments should be theirs. He had made all improvements at his own expense. They had no means of their own. These cases will be concluded to-day, and counsel will make their speeches. .
The other cases, those of Messrs Spicer, and Cowell, of Taminick station, and Mr Younghusband, of Seven Creeks station, will be postponed probably for a fortnight, as Mr Holmes will have to attend to his magisterial duties.
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