South Australia Act 1834
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|South Australia Act 1834|
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|An Act to empower His Majesty to erect South Australia into a British Province or Provinces and to provide for the Colonisation and Government thereof|
|Citation||4 & 5 Will. IV c. 95|
|Enacted by||Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Date enacted||15 August 1834|
|30 July 1842|
It provided for the settlement of a province or multiple provinces on the lands between 132 degrees east and 141 degrees of east longitude, and between the Southern Ocean, and 26 degrees south latitude, including the islands adjacent to the coastline. It was put into effect on 15 August 1834.
The Act largely reflected the views of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who proposed to reform Britain's convict/penal colonisation and mismanagement of crown lands by systematic colonisation, with sales of land creating an Emigration Fund to establish "a free labouring population beyond the seas – a bridge over the ocean".
The Act was repealed by the South Australia Act 1842.
The Act recognised that these lands were inhabitable, and made provision for colonisation, government, and the funding of the new settlement on these lands. The Act states that the land specified by the Act is 'waste' and 'uninhabited' (this statement was subsequently modified by the Letters Patent establishing the Province of South Australia in 1836). The Act specifically provided for a limited independence of Government, whereby all laws made by the government in South Australia were to be presented to the King-in-Council in the United Kingdom. The Act stated that 802,511 square kilometres (309,851 sq mi)[dubious ] would be allotted to the colony and to be convict-free. The plan was for the colony to be the ideal embodiment of the best qualities of British society, that is, no religious discrimination or unemployment.
The Act allowed for three or more appointed commissioners, called the "Colonization Commissioners for South Australia", to oversee the sale and leasing of land in South Australia to British subjects. The province and its capital were named prior to settlement. The name of the colony is a tautological place name (Australia being Latin for "southern land"), even though its territory was not the southernmost part of the Australian continent, nor of mainland Australia.
The Act further specified that it was to be self-sufficient; £20,000 surety had to be created and £35,000 worth of land had to be sold in the new colony before any settlement was permitted. These conditions were fulfilled by the close of 1835. The Act specifies the minimum price of land at twelve shillings sterling per English acre, and for the selling price of land to be an equal price per acre, irrespective of the quality of the land. The money raised by the sale and leasing of land constituted what was called an Emigration Fund which was to be applied to the cost of conveying further immigrants from Great Britain and Ireland.
These commissioners were empowered by the Act in a number of areas. They were able to appoint officers, delegate responsibilities, and make payment for the services provided. They were empowered to seek financing for the costs of starting the settlement. One method specifically prescribed in the Act was for the issuing of bonds under the seal of the commissioners in two separate and distinct areas. Firstly, they were able to issue what was named "South Australia public lands securities" up to a sum of fifty thousand pounds. This financing was to pay for the cost of transporting immigrants, until the time when the funds from land sales was sufficient to cover the cost of transportation. Secondly, they were able to issue what was named "South Australian Colonial Revenue Securities", up to a sum of two hundred thousand pounds. This funding was a public debt on the colonial governance, which was to provide money for the operation of the settlement. It was to be repaid by the rates and taxes imposed on the colonists. The commissioners were required to submit to Parliament once a year a full and detailed report of the proceedings in South Australia.
The Act authorised the appointment of trustees, who would oversee a guarantee against the expense of settling South Australia, purchased out of the funds raised as South Australian Colonial Revenue Securities. This guarantee could be either Exchequer bills or other government securities in England. The amount was specified as twenty thousand pounds.
The Act specified that those immigrating to South Australia, under the Emigration Fund, should be a married couple under the age of thirty, and that they both, along with any children they had, must immigrate to South Australia. The Act also specifically forbade the transportation of convicts to South Australia.
The Act provided for the establishment of local government, specifying that the local population should exceed fifty thousand.
The Act allowed for the liquidation of public land, if at the end of a ten-year period, the population of the province or provinces had not reached twenty thousand "natural born Subjects of His Majesty". This was to also repay any remaining debts of the South Australian Public Lands Securities.
The Act finally placed a proviso on any establishment of settlements in South Australia. The Act specifically forbade the commencement of settlements until twenty thousand pounds had been raised and invested in the government securities or Exchequer bills. In addition no settlement could proceed until public lands to the value of thirty-five thousand pounds had been sold.
- "Transcript of the South Australia Act, 1834" (PDF). Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.
- "South Australia Act, or Foundation Act, of 1834 (UK)". Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.
- "Continental Extremities". Geoscience Australia.