chapter  9
Wakefield's Influence-The Convict System
Pages 11

THE LAND POLICY of Australia was intimately bound up with the labour supply and for half a century possessed peculiar features because that labour supply consisted of transported convicts. The facts that Australia was primarily a convict settlement,! that felons nearly equalled the free population for forty years, that the Government was one of unusual restraint to deal with such a population, and that there was a conflict between bond and free labour, all influenced the land situation. And, in agitating for a new policy in 1830, the Wakefield reformers had to take these factors into account. At first, Governor Phillip,2 who had received no instructions in this

regard, attempted to make small farmers out of untrustworthy convicts but, for thirty years, the tiny farms of the emancipists were a trouble to the administration. The lack of capital, the want of training, unsteady habits and undue reliance on the GovernmentS soon combined to make it clear that no solution of the labour or production problems could be reached by means of a convict peasant proprietary.