Co-operative Communities Land Settlement Act of 1893

Enacted in 1893, the Co-operative Communities Land Settlement Act was experimental legislation introduced in response to the economic depression and violent class struggle prevailing in Queensland. There were two distinct components of the legislation, the first of which encouraged registered groups comprising ‘not less than thirty’ native-born or naturalised males to form ‘self-governing communities’. Each member of the group was entitled to lease 160 acres within a designated communal area which, at the conclusion of a suitable qualifying period, could be acquired in fee-simple on an individual basis. The second component of the legislation was directed towards the creation of ‘labour colonies’, whereby the government provided Crown land close to urban centres which allowed a limited degree of self-sufficiency for the unemployed. Queensland’s first ‘self-governing community’ arose on the Alice River near Barcaldine, where 70 unemployed shearers established themselves on vacant Crown land just prior to the passing of this legislation. Similar communities sprouted throughout Queensland, particularly in the Burnett River district, and in many ways the provisions of this Act provided a blueprint for the settlement of returned soldiers during and after World War I.


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