top of page

The Communal Settlements Part 3 (final)

 



Now the problems start to Appear

..............................................

Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Friday 8 March 1895, page 2

Co-operative Groups.

Deserters From Mizpah.  ; It is reported that three members of the Mizpah Co-operative Group, living on the land near Chinchilla, have applied for railway passes to bring them and their families back to Brisbane.

……………

Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Monday 11 March 1895, page 2

The following appeared in our Second Edition on Saturday,

Mizpah Croup. Defection of Members. Land Declared Unsuitable

Two members of the Mizpah group, Messrs. H. Fellowes and Joseph Kerr, arrived in Brisbane from Chinchilla last week. Mr. Fellowes was secretary of the community during the first year of its existence, at the conclusion of which term he resigned the post. He and Mr. Kerr have left the group believing that for various reasons, its efforts are not likely to be crowned with success.

When Mr. Kerr called at this office on Friday, a representative of the Telegraph asked him, "Why have you left?

Because, he at once replied, I am of opinion that it would have been a waste of time to remain there any longer in the hope of making a living. The principal ground on which I base this opinion is that the land is not suitable for agriculture, nor even for grazing . I think the group has been badly treated in regard to land.

 The Under Secretary for Agriculture advised us strongly to take up the land at Chinchilla. He said it was just the place for us. It has been well tried now, and I cannot see that it is of much use. It is so hard that four horses in a plough could not work more than two or three hours at a stretch. Mr. M'Lean said the land was suitable for wheat, but it has a terrible clay bottom and therefore will not do for that cereal. There are, however, about 40 acres on which fruit trees would grow well. Another thing is that about two-thirds of the 4,000 acres is a mass of prickly pear. Of the Parliamentary visitors, Mr. Wilkinson was the only one who saw the portion of the land that is overrun with that plant pest.

But the group accepted the land after its representatives had inspected it ?

Yes; we appointed three men to go and see the land and they said it would do. The other 31 men had not seen the land at all till they got to Chinchilla.

What cultivation is there at the present time ?

They have just taken off two acres of tobacco, which had a fairly good leaf. About six acres of maize, the same area of broom millet, about three acres of sweet potatoes, and two or three acres close to the dwellings sown with kaffir corn and maize make up the cultivated area.

Stock ?

There are about 40 head of cattle— cows and calves. Most of the cows were acquired in lieu of cash for work done.

You had some outside work ?

Yes ; but there another mistake was made. Three groups were placed inside a radius of 10 miles. It is a poor district, and most of the selectors have to help themselves along by taking work on stations. In contracting for work the groups were pitted against the settlers as well as against each other. The result was that prices were cut. For instance, we did some fencing at £12 per mile that was worth £18.

How many members are staying on ?

Ten members have left and two more leave next week, so that 22 will remain. Most of the men who left are in work.

What hopes have those who remain ?

 They reckon they will be able to go on for two months more, at least. They seem to think they will be able to pull through, but in my opinion the group will eventually smash up. The expenses have not been extravagant. We have been living at from 1s. 4d. to 1s. 7d. per week per head of population during the last four or five months. Some profit is made out of a store which was set up out of a few of the members' private funds, but there is very little cash about. The Government's monetary assistance is now used for rations only. I for one did not see how I could provide clothing for my wife and children, and the winter up there is very severe.

Have the settlers agreed among themselves ?

Everything went along satisfactorily for the first six months, but as soon as those members who had had any experience saw that the land was no good, dissensions began to creep in.

What was the system of management?

We followed the Act. and regulations, and found them to work fairly well. There was a committee of management, which met every week, and the general meeting of members was held once a fortnight. A foreman was chosen, but he was really the mouthpiece of the committee. It would have been a good thing if we had had a competent agriculturist as director and instructor, at any rate at the start ; but I think that an experienced man would have soon pronounced the land unsuitable and advocated the shifting of the group to another site.

Has the health of the community been good ?

Generally it has, but in the summer it was almost impossible to grow vegetables, and some of the children suffered from blood troubles, the diet being largely beef. The members are well housed.

Have you given "the land" up?

No ; although a tradesman I like the life, and I hope to take to farming near Toowoomba. I feel it very hard having to leave the Mizpah group, of which I was one of the promoters, but I see no prospect of success. Still I think the co-operative community scheme would work out well, given smaller and more scattered groups and, most important of all, good land.

…………………………………………………….

Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Saturday 16 March 1895, page 5

Group Settlements.

To the Editor. — Sir, — Having noticed an article on the co-operative groups in your paper, would you kindly allow space for a few facts in connection with the last mentioned — the Industrial.

This group has been 12 months on the ground, and at present consists of 23 members, three fully paid-up members having left. On the formation of this group a code of rules was drawn up for our guidance, &c., the principal one being the growing of our own necessaries. The majority, however, have ignored this on the grounds that it would not pay to  grow wheat with flour selling at £7 10s. a ton ; the prevailing idea being that the Government would not see us stuck for food.

Tho majority propose to feed 115 mouths and make the group a success by means of dairying, fruit, and pig-rearing, with 23 milch cows, 17 young pigs, 2 dozen young peach and orange trees, and no more private means or capital. Another rule states that each member shall take up 50 shares of £1 each, 25 of the said shares to  be paid up before joining the settlement. Eleven members were induced to join on these terms, but the promoters, contrary to this rule, only paid various sums from £5 to £17, promising to realise on their Brisbane properties and pay up the remainder, which, however, has not been fulfilled. These individuals have had control of the group since commencement, one of them holding all the offices in the group. The result is that with twelve months' work and the expenditure of £1,000 we have 14 acres of land broken up with the plough, 10 acres of which are under maize, Kaffir corn, and sweet potatoes, and the other 4 acres under English potatoes.

It is generally understood outside that this group is composed of advanced democrats and socialists. The practical application of socialism in our time by men who were prominent in labour organisations when in Brisbane and constantly talking about the tyranny of capital, &c., but who being vested with a little authority prove themselves veritable autocrats, which is proved by the fact that no one except our director-in-chief is allowed to speak to or interview a visitor.

This individual is a second edition of W. Lane, of New Australia, and was the principal promoter of this group, which was to prove that W. Lane's scheme was practical in Queensland, and considering that we had the advantage of other groups in money, convenience to rail, and soil, should have been a success, but, under existing management is a complete failure, which is borne out by Mr. M'Mahon's report of his recent visit.

It is quite time an inquiry was held into the working of this group, as the rations supplied by the Government are frequently sold to outsiders.

Trusting you will find space in your valuable paper. —

Yours. &e.. WARRA.  Industrial Group,  Warra.

……………………………………..

Warwick Argus (Qld. : 1879 - 1901), Tuesday 19 March 1895, page 2

TUESDAY. MARCH 19, 1895.

EVIDENCE of the actual or impending failure of the co-operative groups settled in various parts of the colony under the Act of 1893 continues to multiply. The latest contribution to the literature of the subject comes in the form of a remarkably candid letter written to the Telegraph by a member of the Industrial Group, settled in the neighbourhood of Warra, on the Western line.

The group consists of twenty-three members --seven short of the statutory number, be it noted--and they have been twelve months on the ground. Originally they intended to grow sufficient food for their own consumption, but this idea was early abandoned on the ground that it would not pay to grow wheat while flour was selling at £7 10s. per ton, and because "the prevailing idea is that the Government will not see us stuck for food." The bosses of the settlement "propose to fill 115 mouths and make the group a success by means of dairying, fruit-growing, and pig-raising." They have twenty-three milking cows, 17 young pigs, two dozen young peach and orange trees, " and no private means or capital."

Our country friends will be able to form a shrewd idea as to the prospects of success under such conditions. The correspondent continues: "As a result of twelve months' work and the expenditure of £1000 we have 14 acres of land broken up with the plough, 10 acres of which are under maize, Kaffir corn, and sweet potatoes, and the other 4 acres under English potatoes.

It is generally understood outside that this group is composed of advanced democrats and socialists. This is the practical application of 'socialism in our time' by men who were prominent in labor organisations when in Brisbane and who were constantly talking about the tyranny of capital, &c., but who, being vested with a little authority, prove themselves veritable autocrats, which is proved by the fact that no one except our director-in-chief is allowed to speak to or interview a visitor.

This individual is a second edition of W. Lane, of New Australia, and was the principal promoter of this group, which was to prove that W. Lane's scheme was practical in Queensland, and considering that it had the advantage of other groups in money, convenience to rail, and soil, should have been a success, but, under existing management, it is a complete failure, which is borne out by Mr. M'Mahon's report of his recent visit.

It is quite time an inquiry was held into the working of this group, as the rations supplied by the Government are frequently sold to outsiders."

The allegation contained in the last sentence is a most serious one, and should form the subject of official inquiry. If the statement is untrue, the author of it should be drummed out of the group; if it is true, the members of the group, or those of them responsible for the breach of the law, should be prosecuted for the mis-appropriation of public funds. It is quite evident that none of the groups are complying with the requirements of the law under which they were formed. Some of them have not the required number of members, while others have drawn a great deal more money than they were entitled to receive.

The former should be disbanded, the latter should be called to account for furnishing incorrect returns, and the officials charged with the administration of the Act should be made to explain their neglect in allowing the statutory grant per head to be exceeded.

…………………………………………

Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Tuesday 26 March 1895, page 2

Group Settlements. ( re the Industrial Group, near Warra)

To the Editor. — Sir, —

"When we organised this group, we would have been very foolish indeed, to have expected that every  man who joined us would prove immaculate, and that we would be proof against the designs of self-seeking adventurers. Our community has, so far, proved no exceptions to the general rule ; we have our discontents; but fortunately in our case, the discontent, to call it by a mild name, is confined to a very small number— namely, three men; two of these came from a long distance, and we had no means of ascertaining anything  about them before they joined us ; in the other case the poor fellow's training has been so sadly neglected that he ought to be referred back by nature to a more primitive civilisation than our own.

 These have for some time past made themselves so extremely obnoxious to the great majority of their fellow members, that, I regret to state, we have been compelled, in sheer self-defence, and for the protection of our wives and families, to resort to extreme measures  and to expel them from  the group.

"Well now, sir, as to a few of their foots. They commence by stating that the group consists of 23 members, when as a matter of fact their own expulsion forms were signed  by 25 members, --there are five members up here, beside themselves, who did not sign, and several members working away from the settlement had no opportunity of signing. Fact No. 1.

They then state " that the  majority have ignored the desirability of providing for  our own necessities " when there is not a man, so far as I know, in the settlement who is opposed to growing everything we  possibly can for our own consumption, including wheat ; but we have it on the highest authority that without the aid of expensive machinery it would be folly for  us to attempt to grow wheat for the outside markets with flour selling at £7 2s. 6d. per ton (not £7 10s.) They state we have 23 milch cows, but they omit to tell you that we have other 60 head of cattle, some of them good milkers gone dry, and other young heifers coming on; also that we have the offer of a good number of station cows, on loan, to milk, and that we are just about to avail ourselves of the offer.

We have it on the authority of Mr. Mahon, manager of the travelling dairy, and of Professor Shelton, that our land is bettor adapted for dairying than for cultivation, and we are well satisfied we have a better chance of getting a return in this direction than from wheat-growing under present conditions, especially since the visit of the travelling dairy to our settlement a fortnight ago.

They would lead you to infer that each of them put in £25 whilst only one has put in more than £5, the smallest payment any member has been admitted on. The statement that three of the £25 members have left the group is totally untrue. Two of those referred to have been granted time off at their own request, and there is a probability of their returning to the settlement at any time. The other, though he left the settlement did so in the most friendly and honourable manner, and is still a member of the group.

As to their series of statements regarding our cultivation, some two months ago when a Government official was up here valuing our improvements, we  were credited with about 60 acres of cultivation and 500 acres ringbarked; and yet the writers of this letter I am referring to tell you we have only 14 acres.  We are compelled to admit, to our sorrow, that during the past three or four months a large part of our cultivation has been shamefully neglected, but it is only since these same three men were put in charge of our cultivation paddock — they claiming to have had better knowledge than anyone else in the group, of agricultural matters.

The disgraceful manner they have planted our last potatoes renders it next to hopeless for us to expect any return from them. They wantonly out down row after row of corn just coming into cob, thus losing us probably 100 bushels of maize. They picked pumpkins by the ton in a green state, which ought to have been left to ripen for winter use. They spent weeks and weeks pulling the cobs of 8 acres of maize, and when asked by the general meeting of members to commence breaking up land for wheat, refused point blank to comply, giving no reason for their refusal.

Is it any wonder, sir, that the patience of the rest of the members became at last exhausted?  Whether the methods I advocate are the right ones time will show.

 Their last shot "that rations supplied by the Government are frequently sold to outsiders," is as vindictive  as it is untrue ; the only goods, paid for by Government money, sold to outsiders have been a little  flour and sugar to travellers, sufficient to. carry them on to their next stage, and even this not more than three or four times. Our books will prove the correctness of my statement. —

Yours, &c. William Floyd.

Secretary, and Director-in-chief Industrial Group. Brigalow, March 20, 1895

……………………………………….

Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), Thursday 28 March 1895, page 4

News has reached us of the death of Mr. Walter Atkins, a member of the Monmouth Co-operative Group, settled in the vicinity of Chinchilla. Our informant of the sad occurrence writes as follows:-

" The primary cause of death was a carbuncle of the very worst kind on the back of the neck, eventuating in blood-poisoning. Mr. Atkins was under treatment in the Dalby Hospital until Thursday, the 21st instant, when he passed away peacefully. He leaves a widow and one son to mourn their loss."

Mr. Atkins was well known in Ipswich, having resided here for some time, and the news of his demise will be learned with regret by his many old friends. During his sojourn in this town he took a deep interest in educational matters, and he acted in the capacity of secretary to the Literary Circle for a considerable time. It will be remembered that he took a prominent part in the formation of the Monmouth Group, and he has been a most exemplary member thereof. 

………………………………………………

Western Star and Roma Advertiser (Qld. : 1875 - 1948), Wednesday 10 April 1895, page 2

The dissatisfaction reported to exist in the co-operative groups, is apparently reaching the culminating point. We were under the impression that the Rockybank communities had been unfortunate enough, but were hardly prepared for the rumored speedy exit from the Chinchilla settlements. They were looked upon as the most likely to succeed, as they had some advantages not possessed by other isolated groups.

According to the Dalby Herald however, a large number of men are anxious to leave, and have applied for free railway passes. The Minister has agreed to grant passes, provided the applicant desires to take up his residence in some agricultural district outside Brisbane. The experiment, however unsuccessful, has served a useful purpose, and as it has been borne by the taxpayers benefit will be all the more appreciated. Settlement on the land is one thing, but building up an agricultural population is another. The first may be done artificially, but the latter is the work of a generation or two.

…………………………………….

Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette (Qld. : 1868 - 1919), Tuesday 14 May 1895, page 3

From a resident of Gympie, who recently paid a visit to the Mizpah Co-operative Group at Chinchilla, 200 miles from Brisbane on the S. and W. railway, we have received some fine-looking samples of tobacco loaf grown on the ground. One sample is grown from plants imported from the Fly River, New Guinea, and we are informed that a quantity of similar leaf to this, grown at Chinchilla, was sent to London and realised a good price. The other lot is Virginia leaf, lighter in color and much larger than the New Guinea variety.

Our informant stated that he was surprised at the way the group of settlers, who number about 60, was progressing. They had about 10 tons of tobacco leaf in the drying sheds, about 60 pigs, a fine herd of cattle, and about 50 or 60 acres of ground under cultivation. The land was very good and an orchard of between 400 and 500 young trees was getting on well. The ground was divided into plots, each being kept for the product for which it was best suited. The work done on the ground was of a substantial nature, and in addition to the buildings already erected, a large barn is being put up for the purpose of holding the crops that are now coming on, which include a fine crop of corn. The group has had great success with the growing of broom millet, a crop of which was recently harvested and sent to the Blind, Deaf, and Dumb Institute at Brisbane, where it realised £30. The superintendent of the institution in acknowledging receipt of the consignment said that it was the best sample, he had seen grown in the colony, and this letter was shown to our informant on his visit. The samples of tobacco from the group can be inspected at the office of this journal. 

…………………………………………………..

Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), Tuesday 28 May 1895, page 3

The Monmouth Cooperative Group.

We understand that a communication has been received from some of the members of the Monmouth Co-operative Group, at Chinchilla, protesting against the actions of some other members as being opposed to the spirit of co-operation and calculated to make ineffective the purpose for which the group was formed.

The protesting members state that they are actuated in this action by a sense of duty to their wives and children. Among other things, they say that drink has played the chief part in all their disturbances; indeed, drunkenness was manifest on the first day that the main body of the group arrived on the land, and has never ceased to show itself since then, and at times unmistakably so, although an endeavour had been made to check it. They complain of one offender in this respect in particular, who, they state, has given more trouble perhaps than any other ten men. He had been a source of annoyance to the residents of Chinchilla, and has twice appeared at the local Police Court, once for assaulting a man during a drunken brawl, and once for defrauding the group.

They also complain of the cowardly action of two members of the group in assaulting two others, and lodge a protest against the re-admission as a member of the group of a person who left some time ago of his own accord.

In conclusion, those who signed the communication make an appeal to the authorities to take such action as will tend to benefit all. They contend that it is not reasonable to expect that those who are honest, sober, and industrious, and are striving to make a home, and who wish to live at peace, should have to suffer through the iniquities of others.

They had, they stated, sacrificed homes that in some cases had taken years of hard labour to make, and some had given up employment, and others business; but they had sacrificed all cheerfully, and in a like manner they took to their work, being aware that hardships would be encountered before the goal of success could be reached. Now, however, life was almost a misery to them, and they had not the spirit to work with any degree of energy; and how could it be expected that they could have any in the face of what was being done? They, therefore, appeal for some protection from the Government, so that they may not be compelled to leave the settlement.

………………………………….

Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), Saturday 15 June 1895, page 5

THE MONMOUTH SETTLEMENT.

To the Editor of the Queensland Times.

Sir,-Allow me to contradict a statement that appeared in your issue of May 28th regarding the conduct of some of the members of the Monmouth Group. The complainants accuse me of appearing twice at the local Police Court, and the statement implies that I was found "Guilty" of the charges preferred against me. On the contrary, I was honourably acquitted of both, and those gentlemen laughed at, after losing something to the tune of £6 or £7, as a reference to the Police Magistrate will prove.

I am also credited with being a source of annoyance to the residents of Chinchilla; but I am respected by every resident in the district, which fact has caused a lot of this jealous feeling towards me on the part of your narrow-minded informants.

They also aver that I have given them more trouble than any other ten men, and, in that, they are partly right, as I had the pleasure of seeing them spend the above sum of money through their own ignorance and petty spite towards me; but I can get any member of the group who is worthy of the name of man to prove that I have been of more benefit to the group than any ten of those who, I presume, are your informants.

They state that they sacrificed a lot to come up here to make a home; but I can assure you, Mr. Editor, that those very men are neither capable nor willing to do anything better than sow the seeds of discontent in the minds of working men. If they were to go on with their work, as the men do, there would be no need of these quarrels. Instead of doing so, they want to show us what they can do as officers. Hence the Court case and their own discomfiture and humiliation, also their loss of £6 or £7.

I might also add, Mr. Editor, that the sacrifice happens to be on the wrong side, as one of those men, according to his own declaration, had to subsist with his wife and four children for a week on the sum of ls. 6d. Another gave up his business, but it needs no words of mine to tell at least the people of Ipswich what an extensive and lucrative business ------------- (name omitted) sacrificed. The working men of the group are getting dissatisfied with their doings, and they are afraid of expulsion, as one of their pals a short time since was undergoing a sentence in gaol. The opinion of the sane men of the group is that the only protection these badly used men want is a straight-jacket for each.

I will conclude, Mr. Editor, by thanking you in anticipation for inserting the above. I have the honour to remain, yours faithfully,

WILLIAM HICKEY

Monmouth Settlement, Chinchilla, June 3.

………………………………………

Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929), Saturday 22 June 1895, page 10

Part of a Speech by an MLA from North Qld

In the first session of Parliament a bill called the Co operative Settlements Bill was passed  --a bill that was intended to settle the unemployed (of whom there were a great many at the time in Brisbane) on the lands of the colony. He had his doubts about the measure, and was almost the only member of the House who expressed any doubt.

First of all, from his practical knowledge of farming and the class of men he had come in contact with as successful farmers, he thought that the unemployed were not the class of men to succeed as farmers. They were ignorant altogether of what to do with the land when they got it. There were among them great numbers of tradesmen of every description — men who had never been accustomed to anything like hard work. However, it was thought that if they were put on the land and granted certain assistance they would succeed. The assistance was granted ; but last session a hill was introduced to give them further assistance, and this year he was satisfied there would be another bill brought forward to grant them further assistance still.

Having his doubts about the success of the settlement he visited two groups near Chinchilla, in the Southern division, and found— as he had expected— that they were in a very bad way, one particularly. The members had no practical knowledge of farming and had merely pottered about, and, so far as he could see, they were not likely to make much progress. This group was established on communal principles — the principles that each should share equally, that no particular man had any particular stake in the land or any particular right to what he produced, and that everything belonged to the community, but one man, more enterprising than his fellows, had got a few fowls, which he used for himself. Others objected to that and contended that the birds belonged to the settlement. Consequently there was irritation, and it was evident that before long the group would break up.

………………………………

Darling Downs Gazette (Qld. : 1881 - 1922), Saturday 28 September 1895, page 5

Enclosed cattle have, I am told, fared much better than the sheep. The Industrial Group, near Warra, have not lost one of their 100 beasts, and up to quite recently have supplied surrounding residents with butter, besides sending parcels to Roma and Brisbane, where its reception was  most encouraging. But for the bad season and inferior land, which have opposed the efforts of this industrious group, no doubt, they must have made a very fair success of their undertaking.

…………………………………………….

Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Monday 7 October 1895, page 5

Co-operators' Quarrels.

An extract from a letter signed by 12 members of the Monmouth group, Chinchilla, near Dalby, reads: "Drink has played the chief part in all our disturbances. It has disgraced us everywhere. It has reduced us to a nuisance to the law-abiding inhabitants of Chinchilla. Drunkenness was manifest on the first day the main body of the group arrived here, and has never ceased to show itself since. The efforts to check it have proved futile." 

……………………………………….

Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs General Advertiser (Qld. : 1875 - 1902), Saturday 30 November 1895, page 2

Exactly 12 months ago last Saturday week a special representative of this journal accompanied the Parliamentary Party that paid a visit of inspection to the Communal Settlements at Chinchilla. The result of that visit was detailed by our representative in an article published on the following Tuesday, and in view of events that have occurred this week the following extract from that article should be of special interest just now : —

To sum up the Chinchilla groups I may say it is entirely too soon to pronounce a definite opinion yet as to their ultimate success or failure. But one or two conclusions cannot help forcing themselves on the mind. The first matter is that of location. To deposit those people 200 miles inland, on soil that no stretch of imagination could call rich, is a very severe handicap at the start. When I say that there are thousands of acres of better land available within about 100 miles at most of the coast, and contiguous to rail communication, I do not overstate a fact. Then, admitting that the energy of the people succeed in raising crops from this poor land, where is the market? As one of Mizpahites remarked to me on Saturday; " We can grow food to a large extent, but we cannot grow clothes. We must be clothed, and sell something to get money to buy clothes, or else earn it in some way."

Exactly. But where is the market at Chinchilla, or contiguous to it to absorb the surplus production of these three settlements? The Roma people have their own producers, and to some extent the same may be said of the Dalby people. Where is the market that it will pay to send this produce from Chinchilla to ? If farming at present prices of produce does not pay under the most favorable conditions of soil and location within 100 miles of Brisbane, how is it going to pay on poorer soil near Chinchilla?

Then again, the self-supporting stage has been by no means reached yet in any of the groups ? Despite the low cost of living (1s. 4d. per head per week), they have not reached that stage yet that they can do without Government aid. And they have had an exceptionally good season. Suppose it had been a season of drought instead, and I presume Chinchilla, like other parts, has known droughts? What would have happened? All those are questions that suggest themselves, and so do many others. To many of them the future alone can supply answers.

Such were our representative's impressions after a visit of a few hours to three of the groups from which the most encouraging reports had been received. Only a month previously the Minister for Lands speaking in the Legislative Assembly on the general condition of affairs prevailing at the communal settlements went so far as to declare " there are five of the groups which are more or less failures." Mr. Barlow on that occasion gave a summary of the position of the various groups from the reports of the Land Commissioners, and among these the reports of the Chinchilla groups were most encouraging.

Our representative came to the conclusion that if the outlook of the Chinchilla groups was the most encouraging of the lot, the future of some of the others, who were even less favorably situated, looked anything but bright. "They have  had an exceptionally good season," said our representative, alluding to the Chinchilla groups. "Suppose it had  been a season of drought, what  would have happened?" Well, a season of drought has occurred since those words were written, and if it has not killed the Chinchilla Communal Settlements, it has been a most important factor in effectually settling the Roma groups. Last Tuesday evening the remnants of three of the co-operative groups who have abandoned their settlements on Rocky-bank run resumption, near Roma, left that town by train and returned to Brisbane, where they are at present quartered in the Immigration Depot. The names of those groups are the Nil Desperandum, Obertown Model, and Excel Pioneers. Their story, as disclosed to a Courier representative on Wednesday night, is a melancholy record of failure. 

 

 

And it comes to an end

Mackay Mercury (Qld. : 1887 - 1905), Saturday 15 February 1896, page 2

Communal Settlement. — Notices appear In the Government Gazette dissolving “The Obertown Model Group,”. “The Protestant Unity Group,” and 'The Mizpah Group.” 

……………………………………………………..

Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), Tuesday 25 February 1896, page 5

Co-operative Groups. -:o: OF THE SETTLERS.

The whole of the twelve groups of persons who originally took up areas under the Cooperative Communities Land Settlement Act of 1893 have now been dissolved under the Amendment Act of 1895. The proclamation was made at the request of the settlers themselves, it being the intention of existing members--that is, members at present resident on the areas--to apply under the provisions of the last-mentioned Act for individual allotments on the respective areas lately occupied by the groups. Instructions will be issued shortly to the land commissioners for the districts in which these areas are situated to proceed to the lands and arrange an equitable division of both the land and the assets of the groups amongst existing members. The present strength of the various groups is as follows:-

Mizpah 14; Monmouth 18; Industrial 8;

Nil  Desperandum 1; Obertown Model 0; Excel Pioneers 5 ;Reliance 7; Woolloongabba Exemplars 5; Resolute 16; Bon Accord 8; Byrnestown  15; Protestant Union 23; Total 120.

Of these 120 existing members, it is more than likely that only three-fourths will apply for individual selections when the commissioners visit the land to divide it. At present, however, nothing can be said definitely as to the number of applicants.

………………………………………………

Darling Downs Gazette (Qld. : 1881 - 1922), Wednesday 4 March 1896, page 5

THE GENERAL ELECTION,

MR. BELL AT DALBY. An Excellent Reception, (His speech, in part)

“The Co-operative Communities Bill provided that men should be allowed to bind themselves together to form groups to go upon the land, and that they should receive assistance from the Government up to £15, which was afterwards increased to £20.  He was interested in inducing the first group formed, the Mizpah, to come to Chinchilla, and it was quickly  followed by the Monmouth and the Industrial groups; he did his best in trying to make these groups a success ; he did what he could, getting every assistance for them from the Government departments.  He took the trouble and the expense of causing a large party of members of Parliament to visit the groups in order to obtain their assistance. He was sorry however, to say that the history of the groups was saddening. Not one of them was successful.

 There was no lack of industry, as every man worked hard and well. The groups had not succeeded ; they had quarrelled among themselves, and had either dispersed or were now dispersing. There was some attempt upon the part of those opposed to the Government to place the blame of failure upon the Government, upon account of the quality of the land. There was, however, one group placed upon land inferior to no land in Queensland, and yet  it had fallen to pieces. Nothing could be more unfair than to put the whole blame of failure upon the quality of the land.”

…………………………………….

Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Friday 3 April 1896, page 5

CO-OPERATIVE SETTLEMENT GROUPS.

The lands and assets of the Mizpah, Monmouth, and Industrial Co-operative groups, Dalby district, are now being divided by the land commissioner under the Amendment Act of 1895, with the result that applications, have been conditionally approved for sixteen selections on the Monmouth Group lands, eight on the Mizpah, and four on the Industrial Group lands

Each selection totals 160 acres, and, in several cases they are apportioned in two separate lots, so as to comprise part of the land already cultivated by the groups. The settlers are ex-members of the groups, thus bringing the total number who have decided to pursue the cultivation of the soil on the old lines after an experience of the co-operative community system to fifty-one.

Of these, twenty-eight have selected as stated on the Dalby groups and twenty-three on the Gympie district groups (Woolloongabba Exemplars and Protestant Unity). The land commissioners for the Burnett and Roma districts are arranging the divisions of the groups in their district, and the Rockhampton land commissioner is attending to the Reliance Group lands.

In the case of the Protestant Unity and the Woolloongabba Exemplars, instructions have already been issued, but owing to the wet weather the commissioners have not been able to proceed to the areas.-Telegraph.

…………………………………………

Worker (Brisbane, Qld. : 1890 - 1955), Saturday 16 May 1896, page 10

The Warra Industrial Dispute

Ed. Worker —I have a grievance to lay before the public. Mr. Holloway was a member of the Co-operative Industrial Group Warra, was a member of the working committee, and also acted the part of secretary for some time. I joined the group according to the rules, which represented to me that each member was to pay £25 previous to entering the settlement, and £25 in calls when required.

Most of the members were on the settlement about three months before I became a member. They were therefore in a position to know how they stood financially, and whether there was any prospect of the settlement being a success. Mr. Floyd represented the group in Brisbane. I  asked him particularly how many men had joined on the understanding of paying less than the stated amount. He stated only two or three specialists. At this time Mr. Holloway was acting secretary of the group.

It was necessary after being nominated as a candidate that I should be approved by the group before I became a bona fide member. It was resolved by the members of the group in Brisbane that I should become a member, and my name was sent up to the settlement, where  Mr. Holloway was acting secretary and approved  by the members there also. I thought I had taken all due precaution, as I was on the eve of making a great sacrifice. To be in a position to fulfil my financial obligation to the group, I sold my house for a mere song, as I had only a fortnight to sell it in. I had the offer of £20 more for it the following day. That did not affect me as I had co-operation at heart, and seeing the group, as represented to me, would be in possession of a capital of about £1700 and Government rations, there was every prospect of success.

But when I went on the settlement to my great surprise, I found out that only four or five members had paid their £25. I was sadly disappointed. My heart almost bled to think that I was so taken in by working men, as most of them only paid about £5 each. I could see at a glance that the settlement would be a failure, as it would be an impossibility to work it without money under the present economy. I spoke to Mr. Holloway and asked him why he did not advertise that most  of the members had only paid about £5, instead of advertising in the Worker that each member was admitted by paying £15 down and £25 in calls. He stated than he had paid his £25. But that was about four months ago; things then had a different appearance. I said you knew when I joined that the group had its full complement of members and what money they had arranged to pay.

Mr. Holloway turned a deaf ear. He left the settlement, after being there a few months, to go to Brisbane, but he was still kept on the books. The inevitable came about 12 months after Mr. Holloway went to Brisbane. The group was wound up. Mr. Holloway got a share of what was left. I got nothing, though Mr. Holloway left the group six months before I did. I wish to know whether Mr. Holloway is willing to refund a portion of what he received and ask others to do likewise in order that I and others may get a little of what is our due?

Yours faithfully, John Griffith, Dalby.

………………………………….

Appendix 1. The Bill Originally presented to Parliament

Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Friday 4 August 1893, page 7

PARLIAMENT. THURSDAY, AUGUST 3. LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY. SETTLEMENT BY CO-OPERATIVE COMMUNITIES.

Mr. BARLOW, the House having gone into committee, moved a resolution affirming the desirableness of introducing a bill to amend the Crown Lands Acts, 1884 to 1892, and to promote settlement by co-operative communities. In doing so he said that he trusted that the passing of the bill through the House, and the administration of it, might be attended by good results, and might lead to the modification of some of the suffering found in our midst, and to the settlement of some of the surplus population on the lands of the colony.

To that end his best efforts would be directed. He was glad to have an opportunity to present to the House a measure which he believed was entirely non-contentious. The bill was divided into two parts, the first dealing with self-governing communities and the second with labour colonies. The idea of self-governing communities was that a number of men should associate themselves together, whether with or without means, and choosing to cast their means into a common stock, be provided with areas of land upon which to settle, and within those areas they should have the utmost liberty of self-government that it was possible to give them.

One of the great difficulties in framing the bill was that they had to face an entirely new condition of things, and it had been found best so to frame the bill that when the conditions are fulfilled and the people have got a freehold and divided the land among themselves, they would have the utmost liberty to work out their own salvation. When they had worked out the occupation clauses there were two pro-visions, one by which they might divide the land and acquire a freehold to it upon the terms laid down by the Governor-in-Council, and for which the utmost latitude was given in the bill. The other provision provided that if they thought fit, they could continue in the community system and hold the land upon a perpetual lease. That was a lease which could be renewed at the end of a term of years if the community still so desired.

The labour colonies were intended for men who were comparatively destitute. The bill gave power to the Governor-in-Council to give a certain amount of assistance either in money, goods, material for shelter, or food, at its discretion, so there would be no fear of the colony collapsing for want of such assistance. The colonies would be vested in trustees, and they would have the power of discipline and management, and would work their affairs in their own way. It was desired that there should be as little compulsion and as much self-government as possible.

He believed that the two portions of the bill would be found to meet all cases. He trusted the House would consider the bill in the spirit in which it was framed, and pointed out how the introduction of the measure proved that the declaration of the Premier was thoroughly sincere.

Mr. POWERS said it was encouraging to find the Government taking up what had been called fads. When Mr. Drake had brought the matter before the House in some clauses providing for land settlement, he could only find eleven members who would vote with him, but it was now found they were on the right track. Possibly the Government would find that the measure would have a greater support from the Opposition than from the Government side of the House. If not it would be very satisfactory to find that members on the other side had changed their views.

He believed they might have saved the New Australia movement if the bill had been brought in earlier, but he hoped it would prevent for the future any New Australia movement. [Labour members: "Hear, hear."]

(note: the New Australia movement led to the creation of a communal settlement in South America; see Wikipedia extract below.)

He hoped that on the second reading Mr. Barlow would let the House know some of the lands it was proposed to let the people settle on, and that the settlements would not, like some village settlements, be put a long way out.

The resolution was adopted, the bill introduced, read a first time, and the second reading made an Order of the Day for Tuesday next.

……………………………….

Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Friday 11 August 1893, page 7

PARLIAMENT. THURSDAY AUGUST 10. LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY.' CO-OPERATIVE COMMUNITIES BILL

Mr. BARLOW, in moving the second reading of the Co-operative Communities Settlement Bill, said that the measure was the outcome of a statement made by the Premier on 21st June. The Premier then said that no country was so liberal with land as Queensland ; in fact, they would give the land for nothing. The Premier further said he was most undoubtedly in favour of meeting combinations for settlement. He (Mr. Barlow) hoped that when they got into committee, he would be able to show where the Government would be prepared to grant land. He and the Surveyor-General had been unceasing in scanning the country to see where there was suitable land available. Every effort would be made to provide land where it was desirable there should be settlement.

As to the objection that this kind of settlement was likely to  interfere with the farmers, he could assure the House that there was little ground for any such fears. The Government would take care not to bring any unfair competition against the men who had borne the burden and heat of the day. He believed that when he went into details of the settlements, they would find that these settlements would form the main part of an agricultural college. They would be made the centres of agricultural training and education. It did not follow that these settlements would be pauper settlements.

There might be some young men who, rather than depend upon Government employment or other city labour, would go on to the land ; and he hoped that these settlements would be enabled to do the best part of the work of an agricultural college. As to funds, there was £ 8000 on the Estimates for the Labor Bureau. He hoped that under the bill a portion of that money would be laid out to better advantage than at the present time. It was not to be supposed that money was to be profusely spent by the Treasury. To do so would be to bring about competition against those already on the land.

The main object of the bill was to enable those who had a desire to go on the land to do so. In doing that, it was hoped that those who were ignorant of agriculture would somehow mix up with those who had some knowledge of it.

Of course, there would be a residuum who could not be dealt with, and the bill would not dispose of them. He did not expect that it would do away with pauperism and distress, but it was hoped that it would relieve the stress of the over-population of towns.

The bona fide selector had to reside continuously on his selection, and had been restricted from going out to work. If he had been allowed to do so, he would probably have worked harmoniously with his big neighbours, and have been helped on by the squatter either in money or stock. This had been successful in the early days of New South Wales. The selector, too, under the Land Acts of the colony had been compelled to erect unnecessary improvements.

The colony had now decided that it was possible for the big and the small man to work side by side, and the Government were by the present bill taking a further step. He looked for the assistance of every well-wisher in the land to aid in making the bill a success. In producing from the land, it should be the endeavour of settlers to obtain something from the land which could be produced in large quantities which would be largely consumed in the colony, as well as having a value in the markets of the world.

The bill began by inferentially repealing all provisions m the Acts 1884-92 which were contrary to its own provisions. It was divided into four portions. Dealing with the portion applying to self-governing communities, clause 4 would, he said, give the gist of the intentions of the bill. It provided that whenever any male persons, not less than thirty, eligible to apply for and hold land under the provisions of Part IV. of the principal Acts, associated themselves together for the purpose of co-operative land settlement, they might apply to the Minister to be recognised as a "Group" under a name stated, and upon depositing with the Minister a copy of the rules of the group signed by every member thereof, they might be recognised by the Minister as a group. The settlements would have distinguishing names, such, for instance, as " Excelsior," " Good Hope," &c.

No person could join the groups who was not a naturalised or a natural-born subject. It was not too much to ask that any persons not naturalised should, if they desired to benefit under the Act, become naturalised before they became members of a group. No man could be a member of more than one group. The fifth section provided that no person should be disqualified from being a member of a group by reason only of his having already received a deed of grant in fee-simple of an agricultural farm under the provisions of the 74th section of the Crown Lands Act of 1884, or of any Act amending that Act.

There were a large number of men in the colony who had lost their homesteads by misfortune and through no fault of their own, and he thought it was not stretching the matter very far to allow such men to have another chance of getting a home in the country.

A great difficulty had presented itself in the compilation of the measure as to the manner in which the people should be incorporated. To have incorporated them under the Companies Act of 1808 would have been quite sufficient to upset the whole working of the scheme. Nor would the provisions relating to a simple partner-ship have been  sufficient, for that would have meant that each man would have been responsible for the liabilities of the others or of any other in the group. At the suggestion of Mr. Thynne, it was decided to give the groups the power to incorporate themselves under the Friendly Societies Act as specially authorised Friendly Societies. Those who did not choose to do this had the option of remaining on the land simply as a community.

If they remained as a community, it was absolutely necessary that the Government should have somebody to look to as the head of that community, and he had arrived at the conclusion that the man whose name appeared first on the list of members should be the man to whom all official communications should be made from the Government. If that name was not represented, then the next name on the list would be regarded as the name of the head, and so on till the register was exhausted, when the first occupant who had entered the community after the original group had been formed would be recognised as the person with whom the Government should communicate. It did not follow that the leader should be a scholar; if he could not do the work of the head of the group himself he would find men who would do it for him.

The tenth clause stated that the Governor-in-Council could set apart an area for the purposes of any group not exceeding a total acreage calculated at the rate of 100 acres for each member. It did not follow, however, that in all cases the area given would be calculated at the rate of 160 acres each. The clause also provided that an excess area might be included in the proclamation, in order to make provision for roads, reserves, and other matters for the expansion and the general convenience of the group.  If a township was found necessary, it could be provided for out of the excess area.

The eleventh clause provided that no area under the bill should be set apart for a period longer than twelve, nor less than six years. He did not think the period of six years was too long. The twelfth clause referred to the occupation of the land by a group, and provided that within three months after the issue of the proclamation, at least one-half of the members must enter upon the area and take possession, and that thereafter, during the period the area must be continuously and bond fide occupied and improved.

In order to keep a check upon the doings of the communal settlements, it was proposed that the whole term of the period should be divided into four equal portions of time, and that during each of such portions the sum of at least 2s. 6d. per acre should be expended by the group in substantial and permanent improvements on the area. He did not think that the required value of the improvements--10s. per acre, spread over the whole period -- would be excessive. If the improvements were of such a character as would not tend to carry out the objects of the bill, the village would receive notice that such was the case.

The 15th clause provided that no member should have an individual property in the improvements made upon the area, but that the same should be vested in the Minister. He thought this would work well. The improvements mentioned did not refer to movable property. By the 16th clause it would be remarked that in the bill it had been endeavoured to do without the lawyers. The members of the co-operation would have to settle their disputes amongst themselves, and if they resorted to any contentious proceedings, if they went to law or attempted to go to law with one another, they would cease to be members of the society.

The 17th clause provided for the acquisition of freehold.

The 19th clause referred to the division of the area. It was necessary to devise some way in which the area acquired by each group should be divided among the members. The clause provided for the division to be made and decided by the members themselves, and he could only hope that the good sense of the co-operators would be such that they would make a rough survey of the land, and as far as possible plot out the land among themselves with a view to a final division. The reason the Government did not survey the land was on account of the cost of survey; survey before occupation would in that case be an almost absolute impossibility. He had great hope that the co-operators would arrange the survey in such a manner that the division would be easy. If the members were unable to agree upon a division, the Minister would direct the Commissioner to convene a meeting of the members and to endeavour to mediate between them. If this failed, an assessor would be appointed by the members, and this assessor and the Commissioner would choose another assessor. If the Commissioner and the assessor failed to agree upon the appointment of a second assessor, the Minister would appoint two assessors, and their decision, after being confirmed by the Minister, would be final. No party to any such proceeding could be represented by any legal adviser, but could be represented by an agent not a practising barrister or solicitor, or the clerk of either.

The twenty-sixth clause provided for the rights and liabilities of members relative to trespass, impounding, and fencing. On a vacation of membership the group would elect a successor, and the Minister would appoint same, being guided by equity and good conscience, and by a due regard to the wishes of the deceased member. He thought that the fairness of the members of the group would insure the election of the heir of any member as that member's successor in the community.

Clause 28 provided for the advances the Government make to groups in the form of money, food, tools, or materials for shelter, and stipulated that no advance should be made to any group exceeding, in money and otherwise, £20 for each member. It did not follow that if there were thirty members in the group it would get £600 to make ducks and drakes of. Clause 29 provided for aid being advanced to the wife of any member not living within the area for her support and that of her children.

Clause 39 provided for the commencement of rating according to law, by the local authority, from the expiration of five years from the commencement of the first period. He thought that, exemption from rating locally for five years would be a fair thing.

Mr. GROOM : "Who will make the roads within the area for the first five years?

Mr. BARLOW : They will make their own roads.

Mr. REID: "Who will make the approaches to the settlement ?

Mr. BARLOW said that would require consideration.

He had endeavoured to give the utmost opportunity for self-government, and he did not think it would be necessary when the bill was in operation for men to go away from Queensland to set up settlements in places about which they knew very little, and where they had not got the advantages of British law. Instead of going to places where the climate was unfavourable, where the laws were not at all favourable, and from which return was difficult if not impossible, if there was a spirit of comradeship among them, and  they were prepared to make sacrifices and put into the venture their common stock, they could do so under the bill, and might be able to work out the experiment under the eyes of the colony.

…………………………………………………………

 

 

Appendix 2 The New Australia Settlement

New Australia was a utopian socialist settlement in Paraguay created by the New Australian Movement. The colony was officially founded on 28 September 1893 as Colonia Nueva Australia and comprised 238 people.

 


 

Map of Paraguay, drawn by John Lane, brother of William Lane. New Australia and Cosme were both southeast of Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, Nueva Londres, just northwest of Coronel Oviedo and Cosme, near Villarrica.

History

 

New Australia settlement between 1892 and 1905

 

The New Australia Co-operative Settlement Association, known in short as the New Australia Movement, was founded by William Lane in 1892. Lane was a prominent figure in the Australian labour movement and had founded Australia's first labour newspaper—The Worker—in 1890. A split in the Australian labour movement between those who went on to form the Australian Labor Party spurred Lane's intent to found a socialist utopia outside Australia. Lane's ideal was to build a society based on:

1.      A common-hold, rather than a commonwealth

2.      A brotherhood of English-speaking Whites

3.      Life marriage

4.      Preservation of the 'Colour-Line'

5.      Teetotalism

6.      Communism

His concept of 'common-hold' was that each member of a society should be able to withdraw their proportion of the society's wealth if they chose to leave.

Lane's was not the only influence urging Australians at the time towards a socialist community: utopian Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward was also popular with socialists and led many urban followers of Lane to expect that they would live in luxury in a socialist commune like that of Bellamy's fiction.

Paraguay was chosen as the site of the settlement. Lane recruited many, and the first ship left Sydney in July 1893 for Paraguay, where the government was keen to get white settlers and had offered the group a large area of good land. While it is generally agreed that there were some able settlers, there seems to be some dispute about the character of the New Australia settlers as a whole. It has been described as a Cave of Adullam to misfits, failures, and malcontents of the left-wing of Australian democracy.  Notable Australian individuals who joined the colony included Mary Gilmore, Rose Summerfield, Gilbert Stephen Casey, and George Birks and his family. But according to M. de C. Findlay, the Second Secretary of the Legation at Buenos Aires, who was sent to the colony by the British Consul at Asunción, they were, "a fine class of men".  Men were required to pay a minimum of £60 (but including all their assets) to join the colony, a sum large enough in 1893 Australia to usually require the selling of a home, so complete failures would have been necessarily excluded.

The founding of the settlement was of interest to left-wing thinkers worldwide: on the subject, Peter Kropotkin said,

The fact that men and women, who have made Australia what it is, are compelled to migrate from it, speaks volumes in itself. 'Make the land, be the dung which renders it productive, build the centres of civilisation which render it valuable — and go away!' That is the true picture of modern capitalist management. The same here, the same at the antipodes — always the same! ‘

 

 


New Australia, Paraguay

 

One group of settlers came from the Union movement—John Naphthali "Jack" Dias (11 May 1861 – 13 August 1924) and a handful of followers, dispirited after the failure of the 1890 Australian maritime dispute, 1891 Australian shearers' strike, and the 1892 Broken Hill miners' strike, were among those who decided there was no hope for workers in Australia, and under the influence of Lane's oratory joined the cooperative that purchased the ship Royal Tar to take them to Paraguay and "New Australia".  According to Voltaire Molesworth, who was brought to the colony by his father as an infant, a farewell gathering was held at the Sydney Domain prior to the departure of Royal Tar. The meeting was chaired by future prime minister Chris Watson and also featured an address by William Holman, with Watson reportedly speaking of "the workingman's paradise to be established in the hinterland of tropical America". 

There was conflict among the settlers from the beginning over prohibition of alcohol, relations with the locals, and Lane's leadership: "I can't help feeling that the movement cannot result in success if that incompetent man Lane continues to mismanage so utterly as he has done up to the present," wrote colonist Tom Westwood.  Problems intensified after a second group of colonists arrived in 1894. Dissension caused a rift in the colony, and in May 1894, Lane and 58 others left New Australia to found Cosme, a new colony 72 kilometres farther south. Eventually, New Australia was dissolved as a cooperative by the government of Paraguay, and each settler was given their own piece of land.

Some colonists founded communes elsewhere in Paraguay, others went home to Australia or on to England; some 2,000 descendants of the New Australia colonists still live in Paraguay.

(Wikipedia, accessed 6 Jan. 2024)

…………………………………………………..

 

Appendix 3 – The Rules of the Industrial Group

Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Monday 7 August 1893, page 2

LAND SETTLEMENT. INDUSTRIAL  CO-OPERATIVE ASSOCIATION’S SCHEME.

(The origin of the Industrial Group, BEFORE the Qld Government Bill was passed)

One of the latest and most practical schemes for land settlement is that of the Industrial Co-operative Settlement Association, an organisation which has been working quietly but successfully for the past few months. The scheme is in many respects similar to that of the " New Australia," except of course that its sphere of operations is in Queensland instead of in a foreign country. Many of the ideas of the promoters have been incorporated in the bill which on Thursday last was introduced into the House by the Minister for Lands, and meetings are now being held in the various agricultural districts around Brisbane.

The object of this association is to establish a co-operative colony for the purpose of realising for the benefit of its members, and demonstrating in the public interests, the advantages of combined effort is all industrial pursuits over the unorganised, competitive and individualistic methods in operation elsewhere. In order completely to give effect to these aims it is considered necessary that land, buildings, and machinery shall be common property, and that all industry, whether agricultural, manufacturing, or distributive, shall be organised on a mutual co-operative system. With this object it is proposed to acquire a tract of land and to develop it by laying out the area on a comprehensive plan which shall provide ample space for residential, commercial, agricultural, and recreative purposes; by the erection of a comfortable detached house for each family, in order that domestic privacy shall not be in any way encroached upon; by the erection of general store, workshops, baths, gymnasium, library, school, assembly rooms, &c.; by the establishment and maintenance of various industries on co-operative principles, with the view of rendering the colony to the utmost extent self-sustaining, and enabling its members reciprocally to supply each other's needs.

Care is to be taken that all members of the association are of good moral character and sober in their habits, and women will be accorded all the rights and privileges of the men. “One member one vote" is the principle on which the local government franchise is to be based, and a very useful clause is one which allows any member having goods which can be used collectively to hand them over to the association, and, if accepted, granting their value in credits.

The shares are to be of the value of £1, and of two kinds namely, debentures, bearing interest at the rate of 5 per cent per annum and ordinary shares, participating in net profits to a proportion of not greater than one-fourth. Each working member is to hold a minimum of fifty shares fully paid up, at least half the amount to be paid before entering the settlement, and security given for the payment of any balance within a specified time approved of by the members and if necessary, debentures may be issued, as above, to an amount not exceeding one-third that of the members' paid-up capital. To preserve for all time the absolute indivisibility of the productive capital, a sinking fund will be established to acquire the shares of any member passing, by bequest to heirs who do not wish to become members, or held by any female who desires to marry outside the colony; or those of any member expelled from or who desires to leave the settlement.

The community will be divided into as many industrial sections as may be deemed advisable, each having a director appointed by and responsible to the community. These directors will constitute a committee of industry, one of the number being chairman. The position of chairman will carry the title of director-in-chief. All offices with the exception of director in-chief (who will be elected annually) and the trustees (who will hold office during the pleasure of the members will be elected half-yearly. A two-thirds majority is required to remove an officer who does not give satisfaction. All services tendered to the community or to any member of it by working members will be paid for in credits representing the number of days' work done, which credits will be available in payment of all services rendered, to the bearer by the  community, or any member thereof.

Until such time as the association has a reserve fund and is out of debt the weekly wages will be paid in labour-note money, exchangeable at the store for all necessary articles at their full-face value. A small proportion of these labour notes may be exchanged for gold should any  member desire temporarily to go outside the bounds of the settlement, or for any other legitimate purpose approved by the members. The weekly wages paid will not exceed one-half the total earned, the balance being credited to the worker's account.

Each worker's share of the withheld wages and the profits will be credited annually to his account, and a final settlement shall take place as soon as the association has sufficient funds at its disposal. Since the members live rent free, since nearly all necessaries are raised by the community and retailed at the bare cost of production, and all other articles at cost price, it is considered this half wage will have a greater purchasing power than a full wage outside the colony. All industry will be carried on co-operatively, no member being allowed to employ any other member, or outsider, for wages, or to follow any private business or calling within the colony. In the village reserve a comfortable house, together with a suitable area of land, will be secured to the head of each family, on an indeterminate lease, at a peppercorn rental. No intoxicating liquor as a beverage will be allowed in the colony for the first two years, after which local option will prevail, the women having an equal voice with the men in this as in all matters affecting the general welfare.

An insurance fund for the support through life of the widow, and until attaining adult age of the children of deceased members, and providing for the medical attendance and support of the sick, and burial of the dead, will be instituted from the commencement, to which it will be compulsory for all to subscribe. Provision will also be made for the education of the children in technical studies as well as in ordinary school routine. All cash profits obtained through payments for services rendered by the community, or any of its members, to members or outsiders, or through the sale of surplus products in the outside markets, are to be distributed as follows:

 In paying interest on debentures; in paying dividends on shares ;in paying off capital by the purchase of shares, as above provided;in paying for goods imported, and to any other purpose a majority of the members may deem advisable.

After all cash debts are paid the entire profits of the settlement, arising from sale of their surplus products, will be devoted to paying for such goods as cannot be produced within the settlement and must be imported, especially in the purchase of machinery for the working up of raw material grown within the settlement or imported, such importations becoming relatively less and less in quantity as the population increases and the colony is better able to provide for its own needs. Mr. Floyd, who has for years been an ardent supporter of co-operative undertakings and village settlement, is secretary to the new movement.

………………………………………………….

 

THE END

 

I hope you found these stories as interesting as I did. I grew up vaguely aware that both Mizpah and Monmouth settlements were part of Chinchilla’s history. But I had no idea of the whole sad story, until I began to read these old newspapers. No doubt there is more information to be found in official files, but here we have first-hand accounts from the settlers themselves. Nothing could be more poignant than their own personal stories.

Barbara Randell

 

Still available to purchase on my website : barbararandell.com

 

 

35 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page