University of Wollongong Historical Journal

Article Title

Robertson's Land Act - success or failure?


It is generally assumed that the Robertson Land Acts failed because they did not produce a closely settled rural population cf small farming freeholders. In this sense it is undoubtedly true that land reform in New South Wales "failed’', but this assumption presupposes that Robertson's Land Acts were formulated and passed primarily and fundamentally for the specific purpose which they failed to meet. It is suggest in this essay that behind the purported objective of 'unlocking the lands' for the benefit of the small farmer might be found aspects which alter the significance of the Land Acts, and give emphasis to the political, rather than social motivations of Sir John Robertson and his followers.