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Australian National University (2010)

When fully improved : closer pastoral settlement in the western division of New South Wales

Cooper, Janice Elizabeth

Titre : When fully improved : closer pastoral settlement in the western division of New South Wales

Auteur : Cooper, Janice Elizabeth

Université de soutenance : Australian National University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2010

Description partielle
This is a study of government sponsored closer settlement in the semi-arid and arid far west of New South Wales (NSW) since 1884. That year, the region was named the ’Western Division’ for NSW land administration purposes. The study was inspired by disjuncture. First, disjuncture between the little that has been written about closer settlement in NSW and what I felt was its reality in the Division, in particular its acceptance of closer settlement without freeholding and commercial agriculture, hence my phrase ’closer pastoral settlement’. This was redistribution of land from one white person to another without expectation of a ’higher use’. Second, disjuncture between popular beliefs about the unpredictability of the western natural resource and the tough independence of landholders on the one hand, and evidence of bureaucratic controls and equity concepts, rural socialism, on the other. Third, between what varying government historical accounts of closer settlement there said, and what I knew to be the case, and finally, between what landholders and a Western Lands Commissioner in the 1980s argued to be the case and what I argue here. I trace the actions and motivations of political, legislative and bureaucratic actors prominent in the process from 1884 to 1985 and argue that closer settlement in the Division developed and displayed the characteristics of a ’policy paradigm’, a deeply shared and accepted collection of concepts and tools wielded by politicians, bureaucrats, landholders, and courts, and particularly bureaucrats. All shared a vocabulary peculiar to it, each seeking benefit from it, hence its strength and persistence. Given the frequency with which land was redistributed to those already with land, the study suggests ways general descriptions of closer settlement in Australia warrant elaboration. The last two chapters examine the problems of what would replace the paradigm once the irrelevance of these controls and concepts became obvious when there was no more land to redistribute, and when there were wide concerns about over-allocation of land and loss of the natural resource. Concerns about the natural resource were raised throughout the period and though usually overwhelmed by the power of the closer settlement paradigm and the politics surrounding it, it is important to trace them. I argue that when bureaucrats and politicians finally responded, they simply tried to convert the tools of closer settlement into tools of conservation


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