Snowy River: The McGregor Saga (1993) s02e07 Episode Script

Servant of the People

(serene music) Good morning Mr.
Russell, would you like a paper? Morning Mr.
Russell, Kitty.
Matt McGregor, is it? Fighting the Land Act? Yes it is, he's in Melbourne now appearing before the committee.
Well, he left it a little late for us.
You're not moving out, Mr.
Russell? What choice have we got? I lived all my life in that place, born and raised there.
Kitty and I worked our hearts out trying to leave something for our own children.
You can fight, you can stay on and fight.
At least wait until Matt McGregor's had time to do something.
We've been made an offer.
Not enough to cover our debts, but an offer anyway.
And I can't afford to turn it down.
How long before you have to decide? They've given us a week.
(bell rings) With all due respect, Minister, I don't think any of you city people quite understand the problem.
You do me a disservice, McGregor.
I'm a cattle man myself.
Yes, but there's a difference between sitting in a saddle all day and having a manager do it for you.
(chuckles) Remind me not to recommend you for the diplomatic service.
You speak your mind a little too openly.
These small farmers are being pushed off their land.
Land that their fathers handed down to them.
At least most of them.
The way I hear it, they're simply selling out, moving on.
These men have small holdings of land on the flat.
Hardly enough to earn a living from.
You take away the leases they have in the high country, where they run their cattle during the summer months, and they can't survive.
Those leases expire this year.
There's nothing you and I can do about it, it's enshrined in the law.
So we change the law to extend those leases.
That's what we're voting on.
I want that law changed.
Be careful, Matt.
You take up this fight, you're up against some of the richest and most powerful men in this country.
Those farmers have already lost.
Don't let them take you down with them.
Minister, these people are losing their homes and their living.
If I go down, I go down fighting.
Can I count on your support in this? Already told you, Matt.
I'm a cattle man myself.
Oh, I'm sorry, but most of the local people here don't even have birth certificates.
And half the older ones can't read or write.
Some of them still sign with a mark, an X.
They must have some title to their land, though, Herbert.
We've got to find documentation to prove it.
I mean, there's only a few days before Parliament votes on it.
You see, when their fathers or grandfathers saw a bit of land they liked, they just took it.
Ran their cattle on it and called it theirs.
Passed it on to their kids, and their kids' kids, and then somewhere along the way, someone somewhere drew up a map and a few lease documents and made it all legal.
Well I want to see those documents and the map.
We don't have a town hall, so I thought the bank Would've held the records.
You're probably right.
Probably? You see, this was the original bank.
My grandfather built it.
He didn't live to see what happened to it.
Bush fires in the '60s razed half the town.
Including the bank? It was the first to go.
And the records, if there were any, went with it.
Given time, you might find copies hidden away somewhere.
Well I don't have time.
Thanks, Herbert.
I'm sorry I couldn't help.
Mind you, some people never trusted the banks.
Kept their valuables at home under the bed.
Herbert, you've helped more than you know.
It's not as if these people are being evicted.
They're being paid for their land.
Yes, a pittance.
And they want to stay.
These are hard-working farmers and their families, Mr.
Their leases are finished, they've got precious little to sell, and it makes no difference to whom they sell it or for how much.
Well it does to them.
I'd like this typeset.
You're wasting your time.
There's nothing you can do.
Well we'll see, won't we? (neighing) (hammering) Do you think you could stop long enough for tea and scones? You should see it from up here, Emily.
You should see it.
I'm coming up.
You be careful.
(gasps) (groans) What's wrong? Nothing.
It's nothing.
(bell ringing) (dog barking) (footsteps walking) So did you all give your parents my note saying why we wanted them? Yes Miss.
We seem to have done very well.
Now what we're looking for is anything to do with land sales or leases in the district.
I want you to look through your papers and see if you can find any of those words, or if you can find any maps among them.
Hey Miss.
Yes Blue? Looks like the termites have been at this.
(laughing) Hey, it's a map, look.
Well done, Blue.
Let me see.
Miss, Miss, what's a land tenure? - Good girl, Darlene.
- [Boy] I've got a mortgage, Miss.
[Students] Miss, Miss, Miss.
All right, all right.
The Crusades ended with Richard the Lionheart, and they achieved about as much as you will.
I am not on a crusade, Mr.
I've found records that may be important to the farmers who are being driven off.
I want the people who haven't sold yet to know that there may be some hope.
Which is exactly why I'm going to Melbourne.
Thank you.
Ah, good morning.
You look pleased, McGregor.
Good news? Yes.
Our local paper.
And it is good news.
Well, if you'll excuse me, I have to send a telegram.
Gary, one moment.
Yes sir.
I have something that needs doing.
It seems Mrs.
O'Neil's out to make trouble for us.
Stop her.
So you stoke your furnace, check your pressure, and you pull this.
(whistling) See you later.
Okay, see you mate.
Thank you.
No, that's fine.
(neighing) Was that interesting? It was all right.
I wouldn't mind going if I could ride up the front, though.
Well you can't do that, Michael.
Do I have to go to Melbourne? Yes you do, you've grown out of all the clothes you've got.
It's only for a few days.
I don't think the class could take Mr.
Gleeson for longer than that.
Emily, Colin.
I didn't know you were coming to Melbourne.
We're seeing a doctor.
Thank you.
A specialist, actually.
I hope there's nothing wrong.
No, no, we're just taking precautions, that's all.
(grunts) What have you got in here, lead? Look, just hold your tongue and put it aboard, will you? Gold, eh? Keep your mouth shut.
All right? (whistling) Michael, come on.
(blows whistle) (train whistling) Come on, come on.
Michael, manners.
Emily, there are some dry biscuits if you're feeling queasy.
No, I'm fine.
It's just It's called morning sickness, now finish your breakfast.
Come on, get down.
Come on, let's go.
Come on, right over.
You two with me.
What's happening? Just stay in the carriage, ma'am.
I'm going to see what's going on.
[Michael] I'll come.
Get back in the carriage.
This tree's been cut deliberately.
Quickly, Michael.
Back to the carriage.
What's the matter? Just run.
(gun fires) (gun fires) George.
(gun fires) Don't shoot.
They're shooting at us.
Not at us, the driver.
Keep down.
Did you see anyone? Keep away from the train.
Pick up your bloke and bring him over here.
(gun fires) All right, all right.
We're coming.
- [Michael] What can you see, Mum? - Just stay down, Michael.
Colin, what's happening? What do you see? Who's there? A man.
There must be others out in the bush.
- [Michael] What do they want? - I don't know.
They've made the railway men go with them.
I don't know why.
No, Michael.
I don't think they intend to shoot us, but until we find out what they're after It's the gold.
What gold? The gold in the luggage van.
Elliott put it there.
He didn't want anyone to find out.
Well, it seems as though they have.
It's all right.
You stay.
You have to let us move on.
- Colin, come back! - No, Emily! I tried to stop him, but he just went out there.
It's all right, Michael, it's all right.
Can you hear me? (gun fires) Colin please, come back! There's a pregnant woman on board.
It's my wife.
She's not well.
Now if you don't let us go Get back on the train, preacher.
You have to clear the line.
(gun fires) (screams) Michael, get some water.
I don't know what you think you were doing out there.
I thought if they had an ounce of decency left in them, maybe, if they knew about Emily.
A costly way of finding out.
Oh, Colin.
Thank you, gentlemen.
We'll adjourn until tomorrow.
The land tenure bill is coming up tomorrow.
I hope I can rely on your support in getting it amended.
My support? I think you're laboring under some misapprehension, McGregor.
I've said nothing about supporting your stand.
- You led me to believe that - Times are changing, McGregor.
The future lies with the big developer.
The man with the wealth to expand and grow.
There's no place here for the peasant farmer.
I'll fight you on this one, Minister.
Then you'll lose.
Wake up to yourself, Matt.
There's money to be made here.
Land to be had, at the right price, for all of us.
Don't place too much hope in Mrs.
O'Neil and her documents.
O'Neil] It's only a flesh wound.
But it's very nasty.
I don't understand it.
If they know there's gold, why don't they just come and take it? I don't know.
They may think there's an armed guard in the van, or maybe they're waiting for night.
I don't know.
I'm afraid this is gonna get more painful as the shock wears off.
It's all I can do.
Thank you, it's fine.
Colin? What's this? Some sort of inspection port, I suppose.
Close it, Michael.
I'm sorry, I have to Emily? Michael, help me with Emily.
You rest, Colin.
Mum said not to worry, Emily's all right.
Michael, you said you went up to the cab with the driver.
Yeah, it was great.
I hope he's all right.
He was really nice.
He showed me everything.
Do you want to tell me how it works? First you increase the pressure to 90, I think it is They're in there talking about trains as though they haven't got a worry in the world.
(chuckling) You wonder when they ever grow up.
Fatherhood will help, believe me.
I'm not sure I want him to.
Leave the door open, in case I have to get back.
What's that? Someone lit the engine.
Michael? (gun firing) (explodes) Colin.
Michael! - What's going on? - They've blown up the tracks.
How could you let Michael run off like that? I'm sorry, Kathleen.
I didn't want him to follow me.
- I'm going after him.
- No, look.
Michael, he's got a good head on his shoulders.
I'm sure he'll follow the line back home.
Colin, Colin help me! It's the baby.
I'm sorry, Colin.
I'm truly sorry.
But she lost the baby.
(shouting) Gentlemen.
I have the right to be heard.
As elected representative of the place and the people whose futures are being decided here, I believe I have that right.
And you are duty bound to listen.
Of course, Matthew.
We may not, none of us agree with what you say, but we don't deny you the right to say it.
- Yeah.
- Here, here.
(gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) Stop there.
I won't miss next time.
Here's the gold you're after.
Just take it.
Just take it and let us go.
There's a woman on board who lost her baby last night.
We have to get her to a hospital or she may die.
So please just take the gold and send back the driver and the fireman.
You've got what you wanted, just let us go! Now as you know, Minister, I was hoping to have some documentation to back up my speech here today.
Documents which would prove that legal safeguards do exist to protect the leases of the small farmers of the Snowy River area.
In the absence of such documentation, McGregor, I'm afraid you'll have to back your no doubt admirable stand with some other argument.
And I'm quite sure that the gentlemen of the committee would be very happy to grant you a few moments to place those arguments before us.
- Yeah.
- Here.
A few moments, Minister? I was under the impression that standing orders allowed me to speak for as long as necessary to present my case.
Technically, yes.
But do try to remember our lunch, would you McGregor? (chuckling) Here here.
Hey! Stop! (neighing) Whoa.
Are you all right? Please, I have to get to Langara.
The McGregor place? Yes.
The train's been held up by bush rangers.
I need to get some help.
Climb up.
[Michael] Thanks.
Is she sleeping? Yes.
Kathleen, I'm so worried.
Colin, she's going to be all right.
She's a strong girl, and she's got you to look after her.
I'll wait with her.
The gold chest is still out there.
All they had to do was walk out and take it.
They must know by now that we're not armed.
I don't understand.
Neither do I.
Either they're not interested in the gold, or they've gone.
I'm going out to see.
I'll go.
No, you stay with Emily.
I'll be all right.
I'm gonna cut across country and then follow the train line.
How many were there, Michael? I didn't see them.
A few though.
You shouldn't be going alone.
It's all right.
I've sent one of the men into town to get some help.
If it's Herbert's gold, he'll make sure something's done about it.
Be careful.
Michael's lucky you were passing.
He wouldn't have made it.
Oh, I think he would've made it.
But I wasn't passing.
I need to speak to your father.
Well, he's away in Melbourne.
Oh, he can't be.
He should be back tomorrow or the next day.
Why do you need him? To help find my father.
Look, I'm staying in the hotel in town, could you please ask him to contact me when he gets back? All right.
Take care.
Does your father live around here? I don't know.
I haven't seen him in 20 years.
They just took off.
Left everything.
Including the gold.
Can you still drive the train? No.
I can.
With his help.
And someone to stoke the fire.
(grunting) Funny thing, they weren't even interested in the gold.
What were they after? I think I know.
They wanted to stop those documents from getting to Matt.
Did you overhear anything like that? When they were clearing out, they said something about a vote, and they said they'd kept us here long enough.
They might be right, they're voting today.
Now, the grass that grows in the low country is mostly native grass.
But there's a fair bit of subterranean clover, which has been introduced over the years.
It's good feed and the cattle grow fat on it during the winter.
(clock chiming) Minister, could I suggest that we have our meal brought in here? I've still got quite a bit to cover.
I don't think so, McGregor.
We will break and take our meal in the Parliamentary dining room.
Whatever you say, sir, I'll continue after lunch.
(groaning) (chattering) I wouldn't give a great deal for your political future at the moment, McGregor.
You know, Minister, I feel exactly the same way about yours.
We need to get Emily to a doctor.
How long do you think it will take us to get to Melbourne? After we get rid of the tree, one, maybe two hours.
Kathleen, I'm all right.
You've got to get to Matthew before that vote.
Don't like the chances of that.
Have you seen Michael? He's fine, he's at Langara.
He told us what happened.
- Said you were held up by bush rangers.
- I'll tell you about it later.
Right now we have to move this tree.
Have you tried to move it with the train? It's getting jammed against the others.
Got any rope? Take a look.
Is this gonna work? Yeah.
How's your arm? It's not too bad.
The train can get it moving, I'll turn it with my horse.
When I give you the signal, back the train up slowly.
(train whistling) Never replace the horse.
Thanks Rob.
It's a great job.
How's Emily? She lost the baby.
Oh, Colin.
Come on.
100 head of two year old short haul needs at least a couple of hundred acres of good pasture land.
(coughing) Just to keep them in reasonable condition.
(coughs) Excuse me.
If the member for the high country has finished his highly diverting lecture But 100 head of cattle is hardly enough for a property to break even.
I know these people.
The Russells have been neighbors of mine since the time we were boys.
He's a good, god-fearing man.
Devoted to his family, and devoted to the land.
These men will work their land for two and three generations.
They've given the land the love and devotion that some people, some city people, could never understand.
They've raised their children on those farms, and they buried their parents there.
(sighs) Look, maybe the land doesn't belong to them.
Maybe all they have is a lease that's run its day.
It might not belong to them, but they belong to the land.
Lose them and the land'll be poor indeed.
(clapping) And it seems as if they are going to lose that land.
(door opens) (chattering) What's the meaning of this interruption, madam? I have something for Mr.
Something that might save you from making a terrible mistake.
(chattering) Oh, I beg your pardon, I should've introduced you.
The right honorable Mr.
Daley, Minister of Lands.
Kathleen O'Neil, no doubt.
If you'll excuse us, Mrs.
Thank you, Mrs.
My pleasure, Mr.
(chattering) Well gentlemen, you'll be pleased to hear that this shouldn't take long.
(clears throat) The first document I seek leave to table is a lease agreement for the high country holding number 765.
If you study that agreement, you'll see that although the lease is indeed about to expire, the current holder has the option of renewing the lease for a further 99 years.
There is no need for the small farmer, indeed, any small farmer, to have to leave their homes.
(chattering) Who wants a lift, then? I do.
You do? All right.
In you go.
I've got you to thank, Matt.
Not just me, but all of us.
All the small farmers.
Thanks for saving our homes.
Kathleen did all the hard work.
I just did the talking.
Well, look after yourself.
See you soon.
Thank you.
Well family, let's go home.
So the minister knew this all along, that the farmers had the option to renew.
Yes, he also knew that all the records had been destroyed in the bank fire.
He's the sort of character representing us in Parliament.
Not for much longer.
Daley was buying up all the small farms in the area using a family company name.
He got the farms and the high country leases for a song.
Great, nice fella.
Rob, weren't you going to bring those horses up from Nine Mile? I've done that.
Why don't you take them back? Take them back? Mhmm.
That was cruel.
He was really interested.
Yeah, I know.
I feel really bad about it.
Don't feel too bad.
(serene music)