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5. CHAPTER V

THE FIRST YEARS OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT — GETTING THE MACHINERY INTO ORDER—IMMIGRATION—MILITARY DEFENCE— OCEAN COMMUNICATION—THE ELECTORAL LAW—THE LAND QUESTION —THE FORMATION OF PARTIES.

THE first idea of a Ministry was a Coalition—the short road chosen by short-sighted men to the solution of political difficulties. A gentleman of much influence, still living in England, waited upon me and sounded me as to my rendering assistance to the composition of the Government. But at that time the thought of accepting office had not passed through my mind, and my party sympathies were adverse to the gentleman who had been honoured by the Governor's commission. Mr., afterwards Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson, was the person selected to form the first Responsible Ministry. He was a man of many fine qualities—of frank, open mind, of fluent speech, and of reputed skill in finance. The men who had stood together unitedly in the abolition of transportation, and in opposition to the unpopular provisions of Mr. Wentworth's Constitution, found themselves divided into opposing sides in the new Parliament. A nebulous kind of weak Conservatism seized the minds of some who thought others were inclined to go too far, and the first Ministry was formed with a


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visible endeavour to represent this nondescript feeling. The effect was to throw into closer union the members who joined in a common dissent from the steps taken by the gentleman who formed the Government. Party organisations of definite character could hardly be said to exist, and men joined the Liberal Party, as the Opposition called themselves, who had their own rather than the country's purposes to serve.

Mr. Donaldson's Ministry was palpably before our eyes—the tangible result of all our agitations; the first fruits of the precious tree we had been so many years laboriously planting was in our mouths; and neither the sight nor the taste was to our liking. Mr. Donaldson brought in as his Treasurer Mr. Thomas Holt, a well-meaning gentleman, who was held to be politically weak; as his Attorney-General, Sir W. M. Manning, who had held the office of Solicitor-General under the old order of things; as his Solicitor-General, Mr. John Bayly Darvall, a seceder from the Liberal camp; and in the office of Auditor-General, Mr. George Robert Nichols, who notoriously had no knowledge of figures, and who owed his popularity to his free-and-easy character, and his flaunting advocacy of extreme Radical opinion. This was the Ministry which was to satisfy the Conservative craving, and at the same time pacify the angered Liberals. It existed for two months and twenty days. Yet I doubt if any other combination would have met with a better fate. Indeed the next Ministry, formed from the young Liberal party, with the late Sir Charles Cowper at its head, was doomed to a like brief existence. During these first few months


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the men elected from the legal profession, or the ranks of trade, or fresh from the associations of the bush, had difficulty in finding their depths in the flood of political progress which had set in upon them. Nothing was done, and nothing could be done, by those brief-lived Ministries. The third Ministry, formed by the late Sir Henry Watson Parker, existed nearly a year, and from its advent commenced the conflicts of policy, from time to time assuming more distinct features, which divided the early Parliaments. At the same time legislation of a progressive character set in, and made steady advances. In the next three or four years the electoral system was reformed, State aid to religion was abolished, and John Robertson's sweeping Land Bill, the principles of which had horrified many worthy souls, was carried into law.

On the opening of the first Parliament the election of Speaker gave rise to a severe and animated contest. Mr. Henry Watson Parker had been Chairman of Committees in the old nominee Council, and he was proposed for the Chair in the new Conservative interest. On the part of the Liberals, Mr. Cooper (now Sir Daniel Cooper, Bart.) was put forward, and was elected by the narrowest majority. That contest had served very effectually to give cohesion and definite form to parties slowly gathering round selected leaders, and Charles Cowper became the chief of the Liberals. Mr. Cowper was a gentleman of good address and high personal character, the son of an Archdeacon of the Anglican Church; his Church principles were accepted as of the true pattern, but his Liberal political opinions had


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to be cultivated. Step by step he forced himself, or allowed himself to be forced, to a somewhat uncertain level with his followers. He had a familiar acquaintance with the affairs of the colony, quick insight in dealing with surrounding circumstances, and much good humour and tact in dealing with individuals. His political adroitness was such that it secured for him the popular sobriquet of ‘Slippery Charley.’But Mr. Cowper was well suited to the demands of the time, and supplied a valuable link in connecting the old with the new. Apart from the Legislature, he was a good administrator, and did excellent service in fitting the state ship for her far-extending voyage. His second Administration took office on September 7, 1857, and lasted until October 26, 1859. It was a Ministry of many changes in its composition; though there were only seven offices, no fewer than thirteen persons were sworn as holders of them at different times. In the Treasury Richard Jones (a highly respected man, still living) was followed by Robert Campbell, a man who was loved by the people, long since dead, and he was followed by Elias C. Weekes, who was Treasurer twice afterwards. The late Sir John Robertson took office for the first time in this Ministry as the successor to Terence Aubrey Murray on January 13, 1858. John Robertson at this time was regarded by many as a wild visionary, who would abolish the Upper Chamber, and do other extreme things, and I have heard one of the Ministers say in company that the Premier, after having made the offer of office to him, reported it to the Cabinet in the words, ‘I have been and done it!’ He was,


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however, the only man who had made up his mind on the land question, in favour of ‘men choosing homes for themselves,’and his views met with wide and enthusiastic acceptation and support. In a short time, if difficulties beset the Ministry, it was safe to appeal to the constituencies on the influence of John Robertson's name.

As was to be expected, the questions which were taken up most warmly in the new Legislature were the administration and disposal of the public lands and Electoral Reform. The first two Governments had too brief an existence even to pull themselves into working order. The third Ministry faced in earnest several questions of reform; and was wrecked on an attempt to change the Electoral law. It was composed of men who deserved well of the country, two of whom are still living, Sir John Hay and Sir William Manning (November, 1891). Among the earliest changes was an enactment repealing so much of the Constitution Act as rendered a two-thirds majority necessary to the amendment of the Constitution in other particulars; and a decision of the assembly bringing the Ministerial arrangement more in harmony with the operation of the new principles of Government. Mr. Martin, who had given much attention to this matter before the introduction of Responsible Government, proposed that there should be four Principal Secretaries, and that ‘one of the Secretaries should occupy a position in reference to his colleagues similar to that occupied by the First Lord of the Treasury in England.’The motions actually carried were in substance that there should be four Departments:


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(1) The Principal Secretary; (2) The Treasury; (3) The Attorney-General; (4) Lands and Public Works. Acts were passed for the improvement of the administration of justice, and for the better management of the newly-discovered goldfields. It sounds strange to find the Governor, on closing the first Session, using the following words in reference to that part of the teritory which now forms the colony of Queensland: ‘The reasonable demands of the northern district of the colony have been amply met by the establishment at Moreton Bay of a court possessing the most comprehensive jurisdiction, both civil and criminal.’Yet what was done in that first Session was a great improvement on the state of things previously existing. In the generation which has since passed away, Queensland has sprung into existence and has made her name known throughout the world. Another question had prominence in the Governor's closing speech which is now almost banished from Australian politics, that of the policy of introducing new population. The speech says: ‘A liberal amount has been granted for the promotion of immigration; and as this question is one of very vital interest to the colony, it will, during the recess, engage the most anxious consideration of the Government’; and the hope is expressed that a system would be devised that would ‘lead to the introduction of a steady and continuous supply of useful labour.’The Prorogation Speech also foreshadowed, as one of the blessings of the future, ‘an enlightened and comprehensive system of education.’

The fourth Ministry, formed by the late Sir Charles


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Cowper, took office on September 7, 1857, and before Christmas, having been defeated on December 17, on a Bill to increase the assessments and rents of the squatters, they dissolved Parliament. Three of the ex-Ministers, among the best men the colony has at any time possessed—Parker, Donaldson, and Hay—never again took office.

Sir John Hay still occupies an honourable place in the public life of New South Wales. After serving nearly five years as an independent member, he was elected, on October 14, 1862, to the Chair, being the third Speaker since May, 1856. A few years later, on July 8, 1873, on my recommendation, Sir John Hay was appointed by the Crown to the high office of President of the Legislative Council, which he still holds (November, 1891). A few years later still he received from Her Majesty the K.C.M.G. Sir John Hay is a man of peculiar graciousness in his personal bearing, which seems to have grown in the formation of his character from an innate love of truth and justice tempered by an unfailing kindliness of feeling. His political views are on the side of progress, giving much weight to the counsels of wisdom. Among Conservatives he would be held to be a Liberal; among extreme Democrats he would be regarded as a Conservative. In every walk of life he has been an exemplary citizen, and one of whom any country might be proud.

During these and the next few years I worked hard and without rest in advocating the principles which I thought essential in the growth of a free commonwealth. From the first I contended for the military defence of


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the country by its own citizens, and warmly supported the first enrolment of Volunteers. In those early days I raised my voice and gave my vote in favour of immigration from the mother-country, at the same time insisting upon care and discrimination in the selection of suitable persons and precautionary steps against exceeding the means of absorption in the industrial pursuits of the colony. In my judgment, in no sense modified by my life-long experiences, the unreasoning opposition of a portion of the working classes to all immigration is little short of a craze. My argument has always been, and is still, that if there were four times the people in the country, the men and women of the right stamp, sober, industrious, and self-helping, every one of the present population would be better off from the economic effects produced by the larger numbers. Nothing is so valuable or so much wanted in a new country as labour. One of my first motions after my election to the old Council in 1854 was in favour of an improved system of immigration, and I remember that among those who congratulated me on that effort was Daniel Henry Deniehy, one of the truest Democrats that ever lived. A quarter of a century afterwards, on March 10, 1881, I advocated the estimate for immigration which I submitted to the Legislative Assembly as Prime Minister, in the following speech:

Sir HENRY PARKES: I am much surprised at the manner in which this question has been discussed by the honourable member for Newcastle.note Certainly the estimate is not brought


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down with any such views as those he seems to entertain—I mean with such views of the abstract question. The honourable member for Newcastle has considered the subject from first to last as if it were a mere question of introducing labour to depress the labour market. I have no such view as that, nor do I think that any advocate of immigration to a new country who understands what he is doing can entertain any such object. I am not surprised that the honourable member should oppose this vote, inasmuch as from what I gather from his speech, he has never once looked at the question in the light in which it is regarded by the Government. I have been an advocate of immigration throughout the whole period of my public life; but I never supported it on any such grounds as have been set forth by the honourable member, and I may be pardoned if, at the very commencement, I ask what I can have to gain personally by advocating immigration? I am not identified with the class of large employers. Even my family will all have to fight their own way in as hard a battle of life as any other person; and I can promise one thing that they will never get assistance from me as a Minister. I am identified with the poorer classes of the people—people who must win their own way; and it is because I believe I am identified with the great classes of the people which lie at the foundation of society that I am an advocate of immigration. But why? Because without the element of population we cannot build up a nation in this new country. I want men and women—free men and women—of our own stock to assist us in laying the broad foundations of an empire; and when the question is narrowed down to this inconceivable contention between labour and capital, I would like to ask this one pregnant question: Are not all, or nearly all, the employers of labour in this country men who have sprung from the ranks of labour? If we could trace the immigrants who have arrived here by the assistance of the State, we should find that they are the very men who, by their perseverance, by their provident habits, by their enterprise and their insight into industrial affairs, have become the great employers in this country. They do not come here to remain


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serfs; but to fight the battle of freemen where there is ample room for their exertions. I do not feel surprised at the indignation of some of the first men in the mother-country at the illiberal views of colonists in trying to resist the influx of their brothers and sisters from the old country. It is incomprehensible to men of enlightened minds in England that such mean and detestable feelings can exist as would prevent others from coming to our shores to share in the benefits of these new lands which are just as much a portion of the empire as any other.

Mr. FLETCHER: We do not try to prevent them.

Sir HENRY PARKES: The honourable member does; and those who for the sake of the colour of decency resist this trifling expenditure would resist the influx of immigrants altogether if they could. What a specious attempt at argument it is to say that the people of this country are taxed for the purpose of defraying the expense of immigration! Do not these broad domains belong to the people? And do they not in reality belong to the English people who may come here as well as to those who are here? And, if this is the case, why should not a portion of the money derived from the sale of these lands be expended to enable us to hold out the hand of fellowship to our brothers and sisters in the old country? I shall return to this part of the subject by-and-bye, but I state at once that I can neither entertain sympathy with the honourable member's views nor comprehend his motives or his objects in making the speech he has delivered. I have to perform what to me is a very unpleasant duty before I come fully to the advocacy of immigration—before I come to the question as to the object and the purposes of introducing new population. The question is one surrounded with difficulties, and with many painful differences of opinion. Whilst the opponents of immigration by the aid of the State funds are against us, we find that persons who are in favour of immigration are also opposed to us on other grounds. I, for instance, though extremely anxious for the introduction of new population, and believing that there can be no grander policy for a new country—for


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instead of being a paltry question between capital and labour, it is a large question of national policy—one of the very grandest of all policies for a new country—I, nevertheless, whilst entertaining this view, confess that, in the introduction of new population, I am likely to come into conflict with people who entertain my own views on that question, and who have cheered me during the last few minutes. I am anxious to preserve the present elements of the population. I am, therefore, not of opinion with the honourable member for Boorowa, as I heard him express himself some weeks ago, that we ought to establish any system of immigration irrespective of the question whether it would be likely to change the character of the population of this country. I am as willing as I can be to assist in bringing Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen here; but I am not willing to bring the people of one country at the expense of the people of another kingdom. I would not, I say at once, give my support to any immigration which had a tendency to change the British character of the population as it now exists. I disclaim any hostility to the people of any of the three kingdoms; but I would lend no advocacy of mine—on the contrary, I would advance every opposition in my power—to the bringing here of a majority of people from Ireland. I hope I may be able to express this opinion boldly and without reserve, without being charged with bigotry or with a dislike to the Irish people. I say that I want to preserve a majority of Englishmen and the descendants of Englishmen in this country. I say, moreover, and, unpleasant and painful as it may be, it is a matter which ought not to be shirked, that I want to preserve the teaching and influence of the Protestant religion in the country, and I would lend no assistance whatever to any scheme which would have a tendency to depress the Protestant elements now in existence. For this reason I am an advocate for the immigration to this country being regulated by whatever the census returns will show to be the elements of the population of the three kingdoms now existing in the colony. I think that is quite fair and equitable, and that there ought to be no objection to it. I do not think that we ought to be charged with


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illiberality because we object to a movement of the population which would change the character of the country. I will explain what are the changes in the regulations which the Government propose to establish if this vote is passed. We propose in the first place to ask the immigrants to pay one-half the amount of their passage-money. That is a higher proportion than they have paid hitherto; but we have reason to think that we can get as many immigrants as this vote would cover if the amount to be paid were increased to that extent; hence, under the new regulations, this 50,000l. will bring out as large a number of immigrants as could be introduced if a sum of 100,000l. were voted without the regulation being in existence. If it be a fact that we can get immigrants who would be prepared to pay half the cost of their own passage, there is in that fact alone some evidence of provident habits; for it may be roughly assumed that those of the working-classes who are able to save money for purposes of this kind are in moral respects superior to those who have not been able to save. We shall have some evidence, therefore, under the new regulations of obtaining a better, a more provident, steady, and sober class of immigrants. That in itself would be a good thing, besides the fact that the vote would extend over a much larger surface. In the 3rd section of the regulations it is laid down with a little more precision than in former regulations that the immigrants shall be chosen in proportion to the elements of the population of the three kingdoms, as shown by the census returns, to be taken this year. The 4th section provides that instead of 20 per cent. of the immigrants being unmarried women, not more than one-third may be unmarried women. Then we seek to abolish the system of what I may call arbitrary nomination in the colony. We continue the system of nomination in the colony, but we subject these nominations to a system of inspection as to the fitness of the persons nominated in the mother-country. The reason for this is that in the working of the immigration regulations it has been found that notwithstanding we say that the immigrants shall only come in a proportion corresponding to the population of the three kingdoms, Ireland


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has had one-half of the nominations. It has arisen in this way—nominations made in the colony by people from Ireland have been so far in excess of those made by the people from England and Scotland that they have absorbed nearly the whole of the money available by the regulation, and a considerable proportion more. The Agent-General had no means whatever of accepting emigrants from Ireland itself. I have laid on the table to-day a letter on the subject from the late Agent-General, and I will point out a passage in it inviting the attention of the Government to this anomaly in the working of the regulations. Writing on March 27, 1879, after describing what the immigration regulations are, the late Agent-General says: ‘But I find that in the six nomination-lists in the colony, from July to December, 1878, 483 Irish statute adults have been approved out of a total of 838 adults, being 57½ per cent. of Irish, or nearly double the census proportion.’

That is, instead of only one-third being emigrants from Ireland availing themselves of this system of nomination by friends in the colony, the emigrants from that country are nearly double that proportion, or 57½ per cent. of the whole. The Agent-General goes on to say, ‘It will be evident to you that if such infractions of the rule be permitted in the colony, it becomes most difficult, if not impossible, for me to regulate properly the numbers approved here in such a manner as to ensure the proper proportions in making up the aggregate totals of emigrants nominated in the colony and selected in the United Kingdom.’

To show that this is really the case, I take the report of the Agent for Immigration, which was laid on the table the other day, and I find if we take the religions which pretty fairly represent the three kingdoms, that 1,470 Roman Catholics came out as compared with 1,649 Protestants of all denominations, or that the Roman Catholics were within 179 of the Protestants of all persuasions. This shows how this system of nomination in the colony works to bring about these great anomalies—indeed breaches of the regulations. It must be admitted, and I admit it to the credit of the Irish people, that the Irish are more careful to send for their poor relations than people from the other


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two kingdoms. That is highly to their credit; but it does not follow that, because of the existence of this virtue so greatly to their honour, we should assist in bringing about a result like that which I speak of, and which would in a few years entirely change the elements of the population. In dealing with this difficult and rather painful subject, though I express my opinion freely and strongly, I hope I do so without giving personal offence to any gentleman who differs from me. However, these regulations are framed with a view of insisting upon the proportion of immigrants from each of the three kingdoms corresponding with the proportion of the population. Permission will still be given for the nomination of immigrants by persons in the colony, but all those so nominated must be treated in just the same way, under the responsibility of the Agent-General, as immigrants selected by his own officers. They must be of the right age, they must be of sound mental and bodily health, and they must not be in excess of the proportions defined by the regulations, or they will not be admitted. The only other matter in the regulations which is new, is the obligation thrown upon the Government to send home a report as to the state of the labour market every three months. The Agent-General will be required to be guided by this report so as not, when any trade is in a depressed state, to send out immigrants of that trade until he has received further advices. That, I think, will be a great assistance, and in many ways useful in promoting a sound and healthy system of immigration. I have before me the result of the working of the present system for the past four years, ending December 31, and I find by this return that nearly 6,000 immigrants were sent for by their friends. Now, whilst I object to the working of the present regulations in permitting the people of one kingdom to absorb the immigration grants so unfairly to the people of the other two kingdoms, I also admit, and have fully admitted, that there is great virtue in persons putting themselves to inconvenience, as they very frequently do, in raising money to send for their poor relations. I should like to ask whether, if the friends of these 6,000 who have come out during the last four years had felt that it was


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impossible for them to get employment, they would have sent for them? Would they have sent for them at their own expense? Surely that is an answer to the assertion that we do not want immigrants! Surely, if people in the colony belonging to the working-classes save up their shillings and sixpences to assist their poor relatives to come here, it is because they believe they are bringing them to a better country. I do not see how that argument is to be met. Surely it shows that those who understand the working-classes well, who understand their conditions much better even than those honourable members who profess to understand them, but who are withdrawn from them, do not think the country is over-populated! I say that if these people at their own expense, depriving themselves of little luxuries and necessaries, provide the means of sending for their own relatives, that is an unanswerable argument against the statement that this is not the place for working-men. But where have the immigrants gone? During the past four years 20,000 have arrived in the country, about 5,000 annually. Where have they gone to? Do we hear much about dissatisfaction amongst them? It would be strange indeed if there were not one or two bush lawyers amongst 20,000 people. In the settling of a new country great hardships may be expected, privation and hard work must be encountered. All these things are incidental to the founding of a new country. They were just as prevalent and far more trying to the Pilgrim Fathers than they have been to the immigrants arriving in this country. Making allowance for all that, there is every evidence that these people have, in a natural process, mingled with the rest of the population, and have advanced to their own satisfaction in their various industrial callings. By reason of the office I hold, I have not had the satisfaction of attending the meetings of the committee presided over by the honourable member for The Hunter. Time hardly ever permitted me to attend those meetings, and having lost the run of the business, I thought it better not to attend. I am told by the honourable member for The Hunter, however, that the committee can find no evidence to support the view that there are two or three men to be


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obtained where one is wanted, and I declare that I have never seen that state of affairs in my life in this country. I have mixed with various classes, and I have shared the hard brunt of labour with people who toil for their daily bread. I do not want to boast of anything of that kind; but I am not ashamed of it. Why should I be? I have toiled for my bread with as much privation and hardship as any person. When I arrived in this country, bread was 2s. 8d. per loaf, and potatoes were 4d. per lb. For a long time I ate bread composed for the most part of rice meal, because I could not afford to buy wheaten bread. I have endured toil and hardship as much as any working-man can possibly do. I must confess that I never was confined to working only eight hours a day; if I had, I do not suppose I should have been here to-day. Why, then, should I not have sympathy with the working-classes? Who would be bold enough to say that I have no feeling for them? I declare that there is no sight from one end of society to another which is more gratifying to me, which gives me a higher sense of the character of my countrymen, than to see a well-regulated, well-filled home among the working-classes. More than this—I say that the happiest, the finest, the best regulated homes I think I have ever seen in my life have belonged to mechanics of the English labouring-classes. My sympathies are entirely with the industrial classes; and I say this without any personal object whatever. Nothing gratifies me more than to see any man steadily emerging from these classes by dint of his own perseverance and intelligence and habits of sober thought to a rank above that of the classes he has left. But I do not believe we can find any specific to convert all the working-classes into gentlemen. I do not believe that, and I never did. I believe there must always be a large class at the foundations of society who will live by manual labour.

Mr. MELVILLE: They are none the less gentlemen.

Sir HENRY PARKES: Perhaps I was not quite understood in my use of the term ‘gentlemen’; I used it in a very conventional sense. I think I have admitted already that there must be a great number of gentlemen among the working-classes—


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the truest of all gentlemen. But I was going to say that the real progress of the working-classes consists in their having leisure, means of education, and opportunities for the exercise of those faculties which will enable them to rise into some other class. In this country, on the right hand and on the left, wherever we tread, we find men of that character. The very centres of influence in this country are men who have risen by their own efforts from the great labouring-classes. I believe that applies to immigrants just as much as to any other class in the country. I have no doubt whatever that if the impossible were possible—if we could follow our immigrants and trace their daily life—we should find them steadily accumulating a wealth of comfort around them and acquiring the means, perhaps, of rising to positions of great influence in the country. Before I leave this return I should like to state the composition of the 20,000 persons who have arrived here in these four years. We find—of course this return applies only to male adults—that there were 4,725 farm labourers. These men, I venture to say, are scattered all over the country. Some few of them may have drifted away into the other colonies, but while they have done so a similar, and perhaps a larger, number have come from other colonies to us. Then there were 513 miners—that is, about 125 annually. They were miners of all kinds. There were 1,000 belonging to the building trades, and 598 belonging to the iron trades. I imagine that number would include blacksmiths, who would go into the country towns. I presume it would not be confined to engineers who are employed in the large works in this city; I imagine that it would include any who work in any way upon iron. There were 233 belonging to the clothing trades, 128 belonging to the provision trades, and 162 belonging to other manufacturing trades. Then, of boys over twelve years of age and men engaged in general trades, there were 676. It would be difficult to get a fairer proportion of the industrial classes of the old country than this, or a proportion which on the face of it seems more suited to the industrial callings of the colony. Something was said just now by the honourable member for Newcastle as to the character of the


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immigrants. I have not had many opportunities of forming a judgment of their character, but I have been on board one or two immigrant vessels on their arrival. I have had special reason for visiting the vessels, and I declare that I have seldom seen a finer body of men and women than those immigrants. The Treasurer had occasion to pay more than one visit to the ship Northampton, which arrived the other day, and with regard to them he entertains the same opinion. I do not think the Treasurer would form a mistaken judgment of the character of men and women—as to their physical appearance and their general suitableness for the colony. This vote of 50,000l. will, under the new regulations, carry with it another 50,000l., and that sum of 100,000l. will bring out 7,000 immigrants. Will anyone say that the addition of 7,000 persons to the population will be anything but a blessing to the country? I lay down this rule—of course it only expresses my opinion, and it is a thing which cannot be proved simply because one cannot prove what lies in the future—that if in this country instead of something like a million people—and I hope that number will be shown by the census to be taken next month—you had 4,000,000, and they were men and women of the right sort, every person who is in the country now would be better off for the increase. To a colony like ours there is nothing so valuable as human muscle, skill, and intelligence. It is impossible to pass through this country without observing in all directions property which is dilapidated and falling into decay for want of human effort. You may tell me that there are persons here and there, or that there is a number in a particular district who cannot obtain employment.

Mr. MELVILLE: It is the case all over the country.

Sir HENRY PARKES: My answer to these statements is that you cannot find any city on the face of the earth where there are not some people out of employment. It is inseparable from our system of civilisation. Wherever civilisation exists, there will always be a large number of persons congregating in centres of population who, from one cause or another, often inexplicable, are out of employment. Go through Sydney or the


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country on any festive occasion, or on any occasion which assumes the character of a holiday, and you will find more people well dressed, having an abundance of all the comforts of life, with leisure, with strong constitutions, and with every capability of enjoyment, than you will find in any other country in the world. You will not find such evidences of substantial prosperity in any other country. In most countries, not excepting the United States, shoals of people perish for want of the necessaries of life; but do we ever hear of any case in this colony in which a person perishes from such a cause? It is impossible for such a state of things to exist; and, beyond all doubt, the country is yet so new, so full of resources, so full of unopened avenues of labour, that any person who has the requisite nous may carve out for himself a means of employment by which he may go on progressing until he is in an independent position. But, in all directions and in all times there will be a certain number of unemployed. A district may be in a state of stagnation, and may make no progress for a number of years—six, ten, or more years, perhaps—until some enterprising man with his wits about him goes into that district and sees sources of wealth where no one else saw them. He may see chances for industrial enterprise where no one else saw them, and he becomes an agency for the employment of other people, bettering the whole district. The more men of self-reliant character, of enterprise and industrial skill, we introduce into this country—as long as we do not introduce them in such excessive numbers as to cause anything like a glut—by such a gradual process as is now proposed, the better will it be for every man, woman, and child in the country. Our prosperity consists, and must consist, in the number of human souls—or, to put it in a more material way, in the number of capable hands and of thinking minds, in the store of energy and intelligence we possess, to convert the rude country into a land of fruitfulness and plenty. Our prosperity must depend upon that, and the more people we can get the better for us. What is the grand criterion by which we distinguish between the more important and the less important of the colonies in this group? Every country of our stock


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which has entered on the broad path of nationhood has made every exertion in its power to bring population to its shores. We are told that the United States do not pay for their immigrants. I say that they do. They alienate their lands in a manner calculated to induce people to go there. Is not that the same as paying for them from the proceeds of land sales? Now, I for one would not favour the idea of introducing a number of people here to settle all at once upon the public lands, or all at once to follow any vocation in the country as employers. I have invariably advised those who have been introduced to me—and for years past a number of persons have brought letters of introduction to me from the mother-country—even where they had money, to make a point of obtaining employment at first, in order to learn the ways and usages of the colony; to understand the population and the opportunities of embarking in some pursuit on their own account. Even men of good family, who have brought letters of credit for large amounts, I have advised to obtain employment in the first instance. I say that a system of immigration which brings people here, and, in the first instance, distributes them into the avenues of labour, is the best system. The better class of persons will soon find a way to emerge from these avenues of mere manual labour. The doctrine of the Darwinian philosophy as to the survival of the fittest applies here in an eminent degree. The fittest will prosper most, and, of course, the unfit will have to go on in the walks of manual labour. But this state of affairs is in no way affected by a part of the passage-money being paid by the State. Why do we propose to pay a part of the passage-money? Because on account of the costliness of the journey we stand no fair chance in competing with either Canada or the United States for the redundant population of England, unless we assist that population. Are we justified in this expenditure? Is it a good thing to introduce new population? Of course I have nothing to say to those gentlemen who would build up a wall round the country and treat all outside as foreigners. I have nothing to say to those who think that this country belongs to them, and to them only. I say that it belongs to


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every man and woman who acknowledges the empire of our Queen, and that the territory of this country will be just as much theirs when they come here as it is ours. If the country wants new population, I say that new population which is partly assisted by the State is just as valuable as new population which is entirely paid for out of its own resources. I said, in an early part of my speech, that some of those who are opposed to paying away public money for the introduction of immigrants would be opposed to immigrants coming here altogether if they had the opportunity.

Mr. MELVILLE: Who says so?

Sir HENRY PARKES: I suppose the honourable member would say so.

Mr. MELVILLE: Never.

Sir HENRY PARKES: Then I have the honourable member's denial. He admits that it is a proper thing to have new population.

Mr. MELVILLE: At their own expense.

Sir HENRY PARKES: He admits that it is a good thing for population to come here?

Mr. MELVILLE: If there is anything for them to do.

Sir HENRY PARKES: Does the honourable member mean that this colony is not a place where they can find employment?

Mr. MELVILLE: I say that at the present time there is no employment for the people you wish to bring here. There is a large number of unemployed, and you want to overcrowd the market.

Sir HENRY PARKES: I want to ascertain the honourable member's views upon this one point. Is he prepared to admit that there is room for any persons if they come here at their own expense?

Mr. MELVILLE: At the present time there is not sufficient employment for people who are inclined to work.

Sir HENRY PARKES: Then he says that we do not want any more?

Mr. MELVILLE: At the present time.

Sir HENRY PARKES: If we do not want them now we most probably never shall want them, for we are in as great a state


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of prosperity now as we were last year or are likely to be next year. If there are many gentlemen holding the views of the honourable member for Northumberland, their condition is simply hopeless; they are irredeemable, they are beyond conversion. They say that with a population of 900,000 upon a territory which could support 9,000,000 we do not want a single soul more. I have nothing to say to them. If the honourable gentleman admits that it is a good thing to have new population at their own expense, then I say that, if it is good in that degree, it is good in a greater degree. If the population is good when brought at its own expense, it is equally good when brought partly at the expense of the State. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr. Fletcher) says we have no right to tax the people to bring others here to compete with them in the labour market. I say we are not taxing people to bring others here. We are simply employing a portion of the proceeds from the alienation of the territory to introduce people who by a gradual process and natural course of events will settle on the land so alienated. By no other means can you attempt to build up a great nation. You cannot have a nation without people.

Mr. MELVILLE: We can have it by wise legislation.

Sir HENRY PARKES: I should like to know what wise legislation would be of any avail in the absence of people. If the honourable member means that we are to rehabilitate the country by protective laws, he is introducing an element which I decline to discuss now. I contend, in the face of everyone, that in a new country like ours it is a wise course of policy to introduce as many persons as you can, provided they are of industrious habits, and of sober and steady character, and that you do not introduce them in such numbers as to paralyse the industrial operations of the country. There is no fear of any dangerous results from the proposals now made by the Government. They will have a salutary effect in infusing new blood throughout the ramifications of society, and the consequence from all reasoning from probabilities would be to give more employment to those who seek it, and to add to the prosperity of all classes of the people. I hope that the example set by the honourable member


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for Newcastle, and, I think, by myself, of trying to say the most we can from our points of view, will be followed, and that we shall not have this question, which is simply one of national policy, warped by an attempt at obstruction, or to bring about ridiculous reductions. Let us fight the battle out fairly; let opportunity be given to every man to vent his opinion; and let those who are elected here to represent the whole colony, arrive at a decision. That is all I ask; with these observations I submit this vote. I do not intend to address the committee again, unless to answer any inquiry which may be made, for I think I have already said as much as I need say.

I have given this speech because it fairly states the case for immigration from my point of examination, and because the interruptions by Mr. Melville supply a good illustration of the untenable position taken up by its opponents. Mr. Melville appeared as one of the members for a coal-mining constituency where the feeling against all new-comers was too earnest to be disguised. It would have cost him his seat if he had ventured to support immigration. But the debate which followed upon my proposal showed that other members were beginning to modify their opinions to meet the prejudices of those least capable of reasoning justly on the subject. In the end my estimate was reduced by 10,000l.; and since then little has been heard of assisted immigration. It is a disastrous mistake. The progress of the country for many years to come could be best assisted by new population. Nothing can arrest Australian progress, and as imaginary stages of an advance not actually before our eyes will never be taken into account, we shall have no means of comparing what might have been with what is; but the thoughtful will


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need no argument to prove to them how much greater Australia might have been to-day, if it had not been for the narrow and selfish policy of those who seek to deny to civilisation itself its principle of evangelising brotherhood. If there is a land under the sun which ought to offer a home to all good men, it is Australia, and if in any land good men are wanted to assist in securing the fruits of freedom and civilisation, it is in Australia. Yet there are to be found men blind enough to resist in the noble work of making a nation the support of their fellow-countrymen.

On the question of military defence, I took up the position that even if it were advisable to depend upon imperial troops, the colony could not afford the cost of the maintenance of a sufficient number of men, and that compulsory inactivity in a colony must necessarily prove prejudicial to efficient training and discipline, and that such defence would always be liable, in times of national danger, to be withdrawn to meet the exigencies of the Empire. I illustrated my arguments by examples chiefly drawn from America; and while I always combated the views of those who held that we needed no defence at all, that ‘nobody would ever attack us,’I urged that we must depend upon ourselves for our security.

Early in the third Parliament, on December 20, 1859, I moved the following resolutions:—

That this House, having had under its consideration the subject of the defence of the colony, resolves as follows:

1. That having regard to the present complications of foreign Governments, and the hold which the great maritime


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powers have in the seas of this hemisphere, it is impolitic and unsafe to neglect the means of preparation at our command for protecting the colony in the event of its being attacked by an enemy.

2. That the maintenance of regular troops in the colony for its protection is unwise in policy, and cannot be effective without becoming an excessive burden on the public revenue.

3. That the true principle of military defence, and the only course which would ensure effective resistance in extreme circumstances, is to habituate the subjects of the Queen in this colony to the use of arms, and to foster among all classes a loyal and patriotic spirit of reliance on their own valour and military organisation.

4. That any opinion herein expressed is not intended to apply to the protection afforded by Her Majesty's ships of war in the Australian waters.

At this time there was a widespread apprehension in England as to the designs of Napoleon III. Lord Lyndhurst had just made his stirring speech in the House of Lords on the activity in the French dockyards and the perfidious and aggressive character of the new Empire. Tennyson was fanning the national uneasiness by the bellicose lyrics:

Riflemen form! Riflemen form!

I copy some extracts from my opening speech:—

It was scarcely possible to attach too much importance to the necessary provision for protecting their national honour as a British community. Nor was he amongst those who thought that the time of hostility and warfare amongst the nations of the civilised world had passed away. Looking to the advance of arms in Europe, and to the unscrupulous character of particular Governments, they might be fully prepared to anticipate any aggression that was practicable from


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those powers; since the only considerations about such an aggression would be the probability of its success, and whether success would contribute to the end those powers had in view. That this danger—the danger of a rupture between the parent land and some one or more of the Great Powers of Europe—was admitted by persons most competent to form an opinion on the subject he should be prepared to show. But the most satisfactory way of proving this would be for him to lay before the House the opinions of men entitled by their experience and standing in the political world to be accepted as authorities. He should not attempt to detain the House with any discussion to prove the value of these authorities, but should confine himself to quoting from the speeches made in the House of Lords by Lords Lyndhurst and Ellenborough. The powers from which danger was to be apprehended were France, in the event of a rupture with England, and Russia in connection with China, although that was a more remote contingency in point of time; but the danger of a rupture with France was imminent, and the relations between the two countries were uncertain from one day to another—whilst from intelligence received mail after mail it seemed to be an almost universal opinion that war would not be averted.

After quoting from Lord Lyndhurst at some length, including the old statesman's noble words—‘I will not consent to live in dependence on the friendship or the forbearance of any country. I rely solely on my own vigour, my own exertion, my own intelligence’—words containing eternal truths for the free life of nations, I continued my speech as follows:—

Let them look at the situation of the colony. We had at the present time an artillery corps, containing a trifle above a hundred men, who were supplemented by the infantry at the barracks, making the number altogether about 583 men. Now he could not believe that in any attack that might be made


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upon the colony this force would be of much avail to the community. He had every confidence that these men, before an army of soldiers sixfold their number, or perhaps a greater proportion, would do their duty; but he thought they would lead a very forlorn hope, and the result would be their own destruction without any protection to the country. The cost of these men, comparatively speaking, was enormous; the sum placed on the estimates for the payment of the 583 men was no less than 16,308l., and we were paying only the artillery in full, giving an allowance to the infantry in barracks. So that for this distant colony the cost of a very small and inefficient force was 16,308l. It struck him very forcibly that a long residence in a colony was not the best possible mode of discipline for regular troops, and he should scarcely be inclined to expect the same amount of efficiency in troops lying idle in the colony for a number of years as in those under a more regular employment, and who had more frequent opportunities of going into active service. But be that as it might, these regular troops were not formed of a different class, of a different nation, of a different birth, of a different material from the common population of the colony. They were recruited—as all persons acquainted with recruiting operations in England would know—chiefly in the English towns; and there was nothing in the circumstances or condition or character of the men who formed the standing army of England that could place them in a better position for effective service than any body of our fellow-colonists who might be enrolled and disciplined in the same manner here upon an altogether different principle. If this system continued we must have a sufficient number of these troops in the colony for the effective resistance of such a force as would be sure to be collected for an organised attack on the part of any of the great maritime powers; and thus, by incurring an enormous expenditure, unnecessarily burden the resources of the colony. There was no argument that he could discover why an Imperial force should be more effective for the purposes of defence than a force composed of residents in the colony. That we ought to raise such a force he did not think required any argument. Even


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the advocates of the Peace Society in England deemed that England ought to be placed in a state of effective preparation against attempted invasion. Both Mr. Bright and Mr. Cobden had within the last few months expressed their opinion that the country ought to be placed in an effective state of defence; and this being admitted so generally, argument was not required to show its necessity here. The question he wished to raise was whether it was advisable to create a force of our own by enrolling the inhabitants of the colony, or to depend upon the armed forces that were eating out our vitals without contributing to our industrial powers or being of sufficient strength for our defence.

A lengthy debate took place upon my motion, and an amendment by the Premier was carried, substituting for the second section the following words: ‘That the maintenance of regular troops in the colony ought to be supplemented by the formation of a national militia composed of citizens of the country.’In this amended form the resolutions were agreed to by 42 to 8 votes.

It may be fairly said that this decision of the Legislative Assembly implanted the patriotic principle of self-dependence in the system of military defence throughout Australia. The principle had to contend with disfavour and ridicule for some time, but the Volunteer movement through several changes grew steadily until the force in every colony may be regarded as a little ‘citizen army.’Some ten years after my motion in the Assembly, Sir Charles Cowper (the Premier of New South Wales), proposed to the Imperial Government to retain in the colony four companies of infantry at an increased rate, on the condition that they should not be withdrawn in a time of war. This was


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the last effort of the old spirit of former days clinging to the Imperial arm. But the Secretary of State, Earl Granville, sent the following depressing answer:—

Although Her Majesty's Government readily acknowledge the reciprocal duty of defending every portion of the Empire, and that a colony which pays for the presence of troops during peace may fairly expect that they should not be removed during war except under the strongest necessity, yet the exigencies of a state of war are so unexpected, and the necessity for entire freedom of action so great, that it would not be possible for them to give a pledge to that effect.

A few years later still, another Secretary of State (the Earl of Carnarvon) proposed to return to the former system of defending the colonies by Imperial troops. I will deal with this proposal when I come to the proceedings of the first Ministry formed by myself, and the state of affairs then and during the next few years. At this time the proposal was warmly favoured by the well-to-do classes. ‘Let us pay for Imperial troops and feel safe,’was the substance of the opinions often expressed by those whose first consideration and chief glory are in their worldly possessions—the men who, I fear, are to be found all over the world, who believe that money can purchase anything, from a family pedigree to a ‘reserved seat’in Heaven.

During my service in the early Parliaments, I paid much attention to the means of ocean communication. Looking to the geographical position of New South Wales in relation to the other colonies, and to the important islands of the Pacific, I was among the first to advocate the Trans-Pacific route, the idea in those days


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being to cross the American continent by the Isthmus of Panama. The gigantic trans-continental railway systems which now pierce the United States and the Canadian Dominion, connecting the Pacific with the Atlantic Ocean, had not then assumed form in the speculations of enthusiasts. But the short land journey from Panama to Aspinwall seemed ready made by the hand of nature. One or two steamships made experimental passages, and eventually two successive companies were formed in England to establish the service between Sydney and Panama viâ New Zealand. Years before this was attempted I moved in the Legislative Assembly, on August 6, 1858, the following resolutions:—

1. That the experience hitherto gained of steam communication between Australia and England viâ India has led to general disappointment and dissatisfaction in this colony.

2. That any new arrangement for the performance of the mail service by the India route, though it ensured postal regularity and speed, would confer no other considerable benefits on New South Wales, while it must necessarily place this community, as the last point of intercourse in the Australian system, at a permanent disadvantage in relation to the Southern colonies.

3. That it is in the highest degree necessary that immediate steps should be taken to prevent the public inconvenience and injury which would result from a total stoppage in the mail service, with which the colonies are at present threatened, and that the interests of New South Wales would be best promoted in this emergency by opening communication with America and Europe, viâ the Isthmus of Panama.

4. That there are reasonable grounds for believing that a line of steamers of the requisite power and capacity, running between Sydney and Panama, in addition to the advantages of


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regular postal communication, would induce a spontaneous and valuable passenger traffic to these shores from the large numbers of persons constantly arriving on the Isthmus from the United States, British North America, and the West Indies, as well as from the countries of Europe and from the communities of Anglo-American origin in the Pacific.

5. That in coming to a right determination on this subject the question of cost is not the first for consideration, but that the efficiency of the service to be performed should be secured beyond probability of failure, and that especial regard should be had to those social and commercial consequences which would tend most to the progress and prosperity of the colony of New South Wales.

I give some extracts from the speech by which I supported my motion. To be fairly considered, they must of course be read without reference to the progress of steam navigation across the Pacific since that period:—

Mr. PARKES, in moving the resolutions standing in his name, said he hoped that however inefficiently he might treat them, the importance of the subject would at least commend them to the attention of the House. He should endeavour to be as brief as he well could, and the decision to which the House was invited must have an effect one way or the other, for good or for evil, to determine not simply the relative prosperity of this colony, but its position as a country in the new empire now in course of being founded in this hemisphere. He submitted these resolutions not alone as involving the question of postal communication with England; they might be supported upon different and far higher grounds affecting the future character and comparative greatness of the country. It had always seemed to him that the question of obtaining regular means of communication with the Isthmus of Panama included the question of a supply of that element without which the progress of this country would be slow and unsatisfactory—the


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element of fresh streams of industrious, enterprising population. Although desponding views might be taken at a time of temporary distress like the present, though loud might be the cry among some classes against immigration, it was only by means of a large amount of population that the colony could rise to its true place and its people enjoy permanent prosperity. He was one who thought that immigration to the country would be healthy just in proportion as it embodies in its volume a due proportion of capital and labour to carry on the operations of civilised society; and for that reason he thought a great advance would be made on all former systems if it were entirely voluntary and of a spontaneous character. In that case, if they could offer sufficient attraction, and if other circumstances combined to direct the great movement of population to these shores, they would receive the most enterprising and the most self-reliant class of persons, those who have made provision to assist themselves; but so long as immigration continued to be promoted chiefly by the funds derived from this side it would consist of persons to a large extent the least provident, the least energetic, the least qualified, and therefore the least capable of assisting in the advancement of the colony.

This country had little in common with the inhabitants of the Asiatic countries. Beyond taking from them supplies of tea, sugar, and spices, they had scarcely any commerce with those countries; they had very little of social affinity with any of the populations of the East; their only connection with the Eastern world was one of Imperial policy. But these objections would not apply to the trans-Pacific route. It would be found that there were many reasons, which he would touch upon presently, why they should desire that the route he proposed should be opened. To a very large extent it appeared to him that the establishment of steam communication with India was an Imperial question. It was to the interest of the British Government to keep up rapid communication with India for political reasons, but those reasons did not affect this colony. It was most desirable that rapid and frequent communication


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should exist between England and the East, and of course any branch steam service that would tend in any degree to support the lines of communication between London and India would be of very great service to the mother-country; but he contended that the Australian colonies had scarcely any interest in maintaining a line of steam communication viâ India, except so far as it might be made an efficient and rapid means of postal communication, and at the same time to some small extent a convenience for the purposes of their Indian commerce. But a great objection, in addition to those already stated, existed in the case of this colony on account of its position rendering it absolutely necessary that it should always be the last port of arrival and the first of departure, and therefore placed at a greater postal distance from Europe than the sister communities.

......

He affirmed that it was to the interest of this country to get such a means of communication established at the earliest possible moment; and if it were to the interest of the country to do this, the necessary cost was not the first thing they should regard so long as there was no waste. Being determined by this means to maintain the colony in a leading position, they should secure this end without a niggardly regard to price so long as they secured efficiency in the performance of the contract, without which it would be comparatively useless. For his own part, he thought that if this could not be obtained at less cost, it would be wise for the House to vote half a million of money to have this communication established without the possibility of interruption. He believed, so far as the subsidy was concerned, it would be wise to give whatever sum was necessary to have this communication in their own hands; and, depending—as they might reasonably do—no receiving a contribution from New Zealand, and perhaps something from the Southern colonies, it would not be a very costly undertaking for the Government of this country. But he felt persuaded that the cost would be as nothing compared with the benefits to be derived, not only from the improved means of


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postal communication and the additions to our population, but from the new spirit which it would be the active cause of infusing into the commercial enterprise and social life of the colony. They had here a country richer than any other of the colonies, notwithstanding the rapid strides which Victoria had made in colonising enterprise. The natural resources of New South Wales were inexhaustible: its varieties of soil—its marvellous wealth of minerals—its many other advantages—made it second to none. And this highway across the Pacific seemed pointed out as by the hand of Providence to connect them with other countries—other countries, too, where the grand experiment of founding new empires, with a common origin and a common destiny, was going on. Those lands must be the teachers of this, for in no other part of the world were English liberty and English commerce transplanted to work out their ends on a new soil.

In my early parliamentary life I made it a rule in dealing with votes for the improvement of the interior —though I was one of the members for Sydney—that my support should be given to the proposed work, unless I was in possession of information which satisfied me that it was not a justifiable expenditure. Men of this generation in the colony can hardly conceive the state of the roads, and of the bridgeless creeks which dwellers in the country had to face in those days. Next to its public school system, the improved means of communication throughout the vast territory is the most creditable fruit of responsible government in New South Wales.

I gave my support to the Electoral Bill of the Cowper Government, voting with Ministers in nearly every division. This Bill passed into law, largely extending the franchise, more equally dividing the


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colony into electoral districts, and establishing the system of secret voting. I also gave my general support to the Robertson Land Bill, which passed through a determined opposition, and became law eventually, after the violent expedient of ‘swamping the Upper House,’which swamping, however, had no practical or immediate effect, as the old members, including the President, retired in a body when the new members attempted to take their seats. By the constitution the first Council was appointed for five years only,note and the term was near its expiration when this historical incident occurred. So nothing could be done with the Bill, or anything else, until the next Council was appointed, whose term was for life. In giving my general support to the Robertson Land Bill, I took strong exception to the principle of ‘deferred payments’and to the provision for selling ‘back lands’at five shillings per acre. I urged the view that it would be unwise, and not free from danger, to place a large class of citizens in the industrial walks of life in the position of Crown debtors; that the Government had already an embarrassing class of Crown tenants, and that, if we added to that class a still larger class of Crown debtors, who owed to the State the balances on their purchases of land, it must tend to sap the political independence of the population. I went much further, and argued that, if men took up small holdings


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of forty, eighty, or 120 acres, and lived upon the land, and turned the soil to the best account both for themselves and society by systematic and productive cultivation, they were entitled to the freehold on the first payment of five shillings; and that the sense of absolute ownership would sweeten their labours, and breed a feeling of mingled pride and contentment in our peasant proprietors. At the same time I opposed the proposal to sell the ‘back lands’at five shillings per acre, as that vague description would include much of the finest soil of the territory, while so reckless a mode of alienation would only facilitate the accumulation of large estates, and encourage mere land speculation.

Mr. PARKES said: He denied the sound policy of a free trade in the public lands of the colony. He drew a wide distinction between the nature of those lands and the nature of personal property. The Legislature, in dealing with the virgin lands of the colony, was bound to consider what would be the effect upon society in all time to come of the mode in which those lands were now alienated. No doubt land ought to be open for disposal to all who desired to purchase, but its disposal did not stand on the same footing as other property created by human labour and skill. The amendment he now submitted would give the free selector, who should effect the required improvements, the land in fee-simple without any further payment than the first five shillings deposit. No stinted liberality ought to characterise the manner in which they approached the question of the alienation of the public lands to that class of colonists who, by their industry and discernment, would make them most productive for the whole. When they were satisfied that there was a bonâ fide purpose to improve and cultivate, all further payment should be remitted. It was doubted by many hon. members whether payment would be made if the system of deferred payments


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were adopted—[Mr. ROBERTSON: Not by me]—at all events, there was provision made for such payments standing over for an indefinite period. He contended that no persons ought ever to be placed in individual and direct subordination to the State—in a relation different from that occupied by other classes. Under all the circumstances the justice of the case recommended the adoption of a wise liberality in dealing with this part of the subject.

During the debate one of the Ministers (Mr. Arnold) argued that the accumulation of the unpaid balances of the conditional purchasers (‘deferred payments’) would ‘enable the State to raise by a sound system of borrowing the money required for public works.’

Mr. PARKES continued: The committee would not have failed to notice how the Government had changed their ground in reference to this Bill. Hitherto the principle was not to derive revenue from the sale of the lands, but the greater, though more remote, advantage of settling the people on the soil. Now, however, the Government based their arguments on the money value of the land. The committee must decide whether they were going to lend themselves to create an interminable class of Crown debtors in the country—upon whose indebtedness loans were to be contracted: for the Government contemplated paying for their railways out of the proceeds of those debts which were to remain for ever! [Mr. ARNOLD: At the option of the debtor.] The way to obtain railways was not by the miserably inadequate revenue to be derived from the land itself, but by increasing the population, and by the consequent natural increase of the revenue from the legitimate extension of taxation over as wide a surface as possible. The course pursued by the framer of the Bill could only be defended on the ground that these sales to free selectors were special and for special objects. Notwithstanding what had been said by the hon. Secretary for Public Works (Mr Arnold), he should think that a free selector would


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not fail to appreciate the difference between the semi-serf condition which it was proposed to create for him and the possession of the fee-simple of his land. Under the conditions proposed, would the persons who free-selected land know whether they were living under the blessings of the hon. gentleman's government or under the Czar of Russia, when they had to go year after year with their 9d. per acre to some Government official, while they called land their own which was in fact not their own? The advantage to be gained by the State from insisting upon this money balance from the free selectors would be trifling and embarrassing, and the provision would take away, to a great extent, the sweetness of possession, which it should be one of the objects of their legislation to encourage the free selector to desire.

In the light of our experience of the operation of the Land laws, I look back with some misgiving as to the wisdom of my opposition to the system of ‘deferred payments.’Not that I entertain any doubt of the soundness of the principles I advocated, if we could have been sure of the bonâ fides of the men who free-selected land under that provision of the Act of 1861. But in a short time a system of ‘dummying’grew up, by which men fraudulently got possession of large tracts of the choicest land with only a mock compliance with the conditions of the law, and in direct contravention of its spirit and intention.

The following are extracts from the speech in which I opposed the provision for selling ‘back lands’by auction at an upset price of five shillings. The clause was negatived on division, the Minister himself voting against it:—

Mr. PARKES: He should give his vote so as to continue the upset price—if they were to continue to sell lands by auction—


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at 1l. This might appear inconsistent with the course he took last night, when he moved an amendment to remit the balance of 15s. for land taken up under free selection, but on that occasion he acted on the special grounds that those who free-selected land would enter upon it under conditions enforcing them to its improvement. But here it was proposed to pass a provision which would open the door to mere trade in land—a thing entirely different from possession on condition of cultivation and improvement. It seemed to him that the class of persons they should encourage above all others by their legislation was that of small cultivators of the soil—men who by their industry would turn the land to the best possible account. If, however, they were to reduce the price in alienating the land to 5s. they would open the door to great abuse. The only argument in support of such reduction was that some of the land was not worth 5s. But that argument might lead to the adoption of an upset price of one penny, because he believed that there was land in this country not worth having at a gift on terms of compulsory occupation. Five shillings per acre would not reach the real minimum; it would only be an arbitrary price. What they had to fear under this provision was that some of the richest and most valuable tracts of land would be alienated as inferior land. The condition of this country was likely to facilitate such abuse. We had here a number of old and wealthy families with numerous connections— numbering, in some instances, as many as one hundred persons. In addition to these we had another class—the pastoral tenants— who, by reason of their pursuits, had also a practical acquaintance with the country. So that, although we were a small community, we had among us a comparatively large number of wealthy people, who had the colony, as it were, at their fingers' ends. And this clause, just as though it had been framed on purpose, would suit the purposes of those speculative persons.

He believed that this provision of the Bill, if carried, would not have the effect of alienating from the Crown land which was


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not worth more than 5s., but it would be operative in alienating land in the highest degree valuable, but the valuable qualities of which would be known only to a few persons at the time of sale. It seemed to him very inconsistent to take such a course as that when they had extracted the 20s. per acre from the bonâ fide cultivators. Surely, in alienating the public land for the good of all, they ought to consider the use to which it was to be applied. They were not to obstruct the operations of the capitalist in any way, but, at the same time, it was no part of their duty to smooth the way for his making a large fortune out of the public lands.

Sir John Robertson's Act did immense good. Its broad scope was to enable men to select land for themselves in blocks from 40 to 320 acres, at 1l. per acre, without waiting for any surveyor or other Government official, but subject to the conditions of a deposit of five shillings per acre, actual residence, and improvements to the value of one pound per acre in value. The balance of the purchase-money was to remain for a time, not limited by date, at 5 per cent. interest. It is no figure of speech to say that this law unlocked the lands to the industrious settler, and notwithstanding the abuses which too widely grew up, it was the means of bringing into existence hundreds of comfortable homes in all parts of the colony, where the name of its author is held in grateful remembrance. It will have been seen in a previous chapter what a network of difficulties surrounded the man of small means who tried to obtain a rural home in former years; and perhaps the highest tribute to the memory of Sir John Robertson is that, after all the amendments which have


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been carried, the chief principles of his Act are still embedded in the law of the country.

After the battle for unlocking the lands had been in reality fought and won, in the midst of the last act of the drama, I embarked for England, having lived in the colony upwards of twenty-two years.

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